Monthly Message Nov-Dec 2023

“…he always lives to intercede….”  (Hebrews 7:25)

Dear friends,

“Immanuel – God with us” will be on our lips and in our minds a great deal during this Advent and Christmas season.  What an awe-inspiring statement!  The one and only, eternal and almighty Creator God is, in the person of Jesus Christ with US!  For sure, he came among us at his incarnation some two millennia ago but in what practical ways is he with us still today, every day?  Let us reflect on just one aspect of that:  “…because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Heb 7:24,25).

Are you experiencing opposition on account of your faith, or facing enmity in some other way?  Fear not, for Christ is, right now, interceding for you. As the Puritan, Isaac Ambrose, wrote: “It may be he allows people to be merciless on earth, that you may look up, and see how merciful is the one who sits above”.

Are you facing temptation and even finding it hard to pray?  And when you do pray do you find your prayers lack vitality and zeal?  Do not despair.  “…the Spirit (i.e. of Jesus) helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”.  (Romans 8:26)

 And what about sin within – that constant battle with bad habits or unrighteous anger, pride, envy, greed and so on?  Our Saviour Jesus is with us but he has also sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12), the position of power, authority, victory. Verse 13 goes on to declare: “Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool”; “and”, says Isaac Ambrose again, “are not your sins his enemies?”.

“Emmanuel – God is with us” in grace and mercy and in power and victory.

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

Monthly Message Sep-Oct 2023

“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

Dear friends,

Trembling is usually a sign that something is wrong; maybe a neurological disorder, an alcohol problem or perhaps fear or shock;  or just feeling very cold!  But something’s wrong.  And yet there is a form of trembling that is not only right but even warrants God’s esteem – see Isaiah 66:2 quoted above.

Alec Motyer (‘The Prophecy of Isaiah’, p534) points out that “trembles” denotes a sensitive longing to obey, and that “This is the one I esteem” means “to this one will I/do I look…”.  So we might say that God loves to look upon those who are eager to obey his word.  He quotes a 19th century theologian:  “One object in creation, amid suns and stars, secures the gaze of the great Creator”.   Our eagerness to hear and obey the Word of God is not just an evangelical duty, and more than a delight: it “secures the gaze of the great Creator”!

“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made” (Ps 33:6) and the Lord sustains “all things by his powerful word(Heb 1:3); by that same word he deigns to speak to us, his creatures: words of authority, of judgment, of mercy, of grace, of wisdom, of comfort, of guidance, of truth, of holiness, of eternity.

It is so easy to read the Bible lightly or even lay it aside until a more convenient time.  But here none other than the Creator and Sustainer of all speaks to us, words that are “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (II Tim 3:16).  His word is truth, it gives life, it utters judgment and grace, it has power. Barry Webb (‘The Message of Isaiah’, p247) points out that where the recognition of the greatness of God and a heartfelt contrition before God (vv1,2) “is lacking, worship…becomes no better than pagan superstition, angering God and calling forth his righteous judgment”. (3,4).

May we be among those whom God sees as humble, contrite and trembling to obey his word.

Your brother in Christ

Tony Mason

Monthly Message Aug 2023

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds”  (Genesis 9:13)

Dear friends,

What does the rainbow, or its colours, symbolize to you?  For many today it indicates LGBT ideology or, during the Covid pandemic, it appeared in some way to represent the NHS.  Some children’s nurseries also like the rainbow.

But was does it really mean?  Scientifically, we know that when sunlight hits rain droplets, an electromagnetic spectrum is formed.  This is made up of light with many different wavelengths, and each is reflected at a different angle producing a rainbow.  And we call it a rainbow because it is shaped like an archer’s bow.

In Genesis 6:5 we are told that “the Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time”. Such total wickedness deserved the utmost judgment of God and so he determined “to put an end to all people” by sending a devastating flood.  But in his anger he remembered mercy and chose to save a remnant (Noah and his family) through whom he started afresh with the human race.  But more than that, he made a promise and entered a covenant with mankind.  “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood” (8:21).  He then went on to confirm that covenant with a lasting sign.  In v13 he declared: “I have set my rainbow in the clouds”.

God saw the rainbow as symbolizing his promise: “Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life” (9:15).  It is a bow!  And God has hung up his bow for within his covenant of peace, hostility is over!.  When God hung up his bow it was like a foreshadowing of the cross, with Jesus’ cry: “It is finished!” Revelation 4 describes a throne in heaven, encircled by a rainbow and the unceasing worship of the One seated upon it: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come”.

How the devil loves to distort the truth.  The rainbow is God’s sign of peace through his grace and mercy to rebellious men and women, if only they would turn back to him.  It is emphatically not the symbol of Human Pride but of Divine Redeeming Grace.

In Christ,

Tony Mason

PS   Have you booked in for September 16th?