Monthly Message Feb 2018

Can there be anything more encouraging than to know that, in our weakness, in our sin, in our struggle with temptation, in our doubt or despair, none other than Jesus Christ himself intercedes for us, and that that intercession really is effective?  Moreover, Christ is not pleading passionately before a stony, reluctant God.  Not a bit of it!  He is the enthroned Priest-King whose will is exactly in line with the Father’s. So he asks whatever he wills from his heavenly Father (and ours) who always hears and always grants his request.  He and the Father are one, so what he asks is what the Father is willing and wanting to grant. In fact, as has been said, “Our Lord’s life in heaven is His prayer.”

But what is the nature and content of this intercessory prayer, made on our behalf?  We have a clue from two instances of Christ’s prayers when on earth, both of which took place on the same night, the night of his betrayal.  To Simon Peter he said, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus had prayed for Simon Peter that his faith would be strong, that he would repent when he fell, and that consequently he would strengthen and encourage his brothers.  Then John 17 gives us the prayer that is commonly called Christ’s high priestly prayer, where he prays for his disciples and for those who would believe through them.  (That includes us!)  He prays:

  • for our protection from the evil one, and the full measure of his joy in us.
  • that we may be “set apart” by the truth of God’s word.
  • for a oneness that testifies to the incarnate Christ, and God’s love for the world.
  • for us ultimately to share his glory, and continually experience God’s love.

So, by his intercession, “he is able to save completely those who come to God through him.”  His work of salvation was completed on the Cross, but it is being continually applied from the Throne. F.F. Bruce wrote: “His once-completed self-offering is utterly acceptable and efficacious; his contact with the Father is immediate and unbroken; his priestly ministry on his people’s behalf is never-ending, and therefore the salvation which he secures to them is absolute.”

Warmest greetings in Christ,

Tony Mason

 

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

Monthly Message Feb 2018

Monthly Message Jan 2018

Although very late in the month – a happy New Year to you!  May it be a year in which you are especially conscious of the Lord’s presence with you in whatever you do and wherever you go.

As Jesus’ ministry progressed there were many occasions when his presence was an encouragement, instilling courage into otherwise fearful hearts.  Both Matthew and Mark record the story of Jesus stilling the storm on the lake, a story that illustrates how futile it is to be afraid in his presence.  There he was in the boat with his disciples, and he was fast asleep.  A sudden storm blew up, threatening the boat.  The disciples woke him. “Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”  Jesus must have detected an element of panic in their voices, for he referred to their ‘little faith’ and their being ‘afraid’.  “We’re going to drown!” hardly sounds like a statement born of faith and trust.  Yet if, as they declared, he was ‘Lord’ were they not safe?  Just as safe as he was?  There is a strange illogicality in saying, in the same breath, both “Lord!” and “We’re going to drown!”  Christians need be constantly aware that, whatever the outward circumstances may seem to be and to suggest, we are secure when we are in the presence of the Master.  And when are we not in that presence?

Plans are well in progress for this year’s Bible Focus, so if you haven’t already done so, do put Saturday 29th September in your diary.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Warmest greetings in Christ,

Tony Mason

 

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

 

Monthly Message Jan 2018

Monthly Message Dec 2017

I don’t suppose the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel ranks highly in your Advent reading list.  It doesn’t sound a particularly promising way to prepare for Christmas.  Closer inspection, however, will reveal some interesting features, not least the women who are mentioned.

First, we have Tamar who was Judah’s daughter-in-law. She posed as a prostitute, and consequently bore Judah twin sons, one of whom, Perez, takes his place in the genealogy. She was possibly a Canaanite.  Next we read of Rahab, also probably a Canaanite.  Now it is not certain whether she was the Rahab who sheltered the spies in Jericho, but if she was then we have a prostitute (or innkeeper?), albeit a deeply God-fearing one, in Jesus’ lineage.

In the next line Ruth is mentioned, and she was a Moabitess, in other words she too was a foreigner to Israel.

The fourth woman in the list (other than Mary herself, of course) is Bathsheba who was the wife of Uriah the Hittite.  So maybe she too was a Hittite.  What is certain, though, is that she committed adultery with David, later becoming his wife and the mother of Solomon.

It is worth reflecting on why special mention is made of these women (not all the mothers are mentioned!).  Would the list not read just as well without these names?  I am so glad they are mentioned.  The fact that most if not all of them were non-Israelites foreshadows the significance of the visit to the infant Jesus of the Magi – that the gospel is for all nations.  The fact that most of them have blemished characters, yet received grace from the hand of God and stand in the line of Jesus, indicates that no-one is beyond his redemption.  The fact that they are mentioned assures us that, by his grace, God can use the most unlikely and unworthy.  I am so glad of that, because that includes you and me.

May the Baby of Bethlehem and the Christ of Calvary be your comfort and joy this Christmas and throughout the coming year.

 

Tony Mason

 

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

PS Before I go, here are a few things that I hope you will find of interest:

 

  1. The date of next year’s Bible Focus is Saturday, September 29th 2018.  The organizing team is carefully considering the venue as we were very close to capacity this year.  Also, we are working on the theme, which is likely to be along the lines of God’s holiness and holiness in God’s people.  If you have any thoughts to share with us on this, please feel free to contact us on swbible.focus@gmail.com
  2. Keep an eye on our website www.waldenbiblefocus.com for updates as they arise. Here you can listen again to Jonathan’s ministry to us in September.
  3. Other websites you may like to visit are www.keswickministries.org where you can listen to or download a whole range of Keswick teaching.  (Incidentally, as a result of attending Saffron Walden Bible Focus one couple have booked to go to Keswick next July!).  There is a range of teaching available also on www.claytontv and for books why not go to www.10ofthose.com, the good people who supplied our bookstall.
Monthly Message Dec 2017