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
  2. Keep an eye on our website 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 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, the good people who supplied our bookstall.

Monthly Message Nov 2017

I retired from Baptist ministry some twelve years ago, but during one particular period of my ministry I would often conduct what I used to call Encouragement Weekends in various churches around London. Saturday was spent looking at the situation in which the church found itself at the time, what factors indicated its possible future direction, and then what practical steps needed to be taken. However, the first session of the day was always spent looking at the greatness of God. That was always my starting point. I once mentioned this outline to a group of church leaders with whom I was discussing the possibility of such a weekend. They showed me a chart recording the results of a survey they had done of their church. Either side of a vertical line in the middle of the page were a number of bars, of varying lengths, representing some aspect or other of the church’s life. The bars on the left of the line were the negative points, whilst those on the right were the positive ones. I noticed immediately that most of the bars on the left were longer than those on the right, and drew their attention to the fact. “That”, said the pastor, “is because we didn’t start where you do”. If we do not look first at God – his character, his nature, his promises, his power, his grace – then we shall feel the present sufferings, but fail to glimpse the coming glory.

The Bible is not short of encouraging promises about that coming glory. Paul assures us that
“…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” .
and in Revelation we read
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ”
Soon we shall be in the season of Advent, a time that heralds either a time of frenetic, expensive activity or a time that prepares us to reflect again on our wonderful promise- keeping God who, in all things, works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tony Mason


Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

Monthly Message Oct 2017

When the Israelites, after their forty year desert journey, finally found themselves on the verge of entering the promised land, they still needed encouragement – certainly Joshua, their leader, needed it. And God did not fail him. First of all, he promised to Joshua the territory that the Israelites were to inherit (Joshua 1:2-4). Now that must have been most encouraging to Joshua.  After all that time and after all they had gone through, God reiterated his promise to his people, through their appointed leader, of the land he was about to give them.  That encouragement was immediately backed up by another: No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.”  (v5).    So we have a promise of territory, backed by a promise of victory.  But thirdly there was a promise of the divine presence with Joshua in everything that lay in the future, by way of the actual conquering and possessing of the land: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (v5).  This encouragement, through God’s promise of territory, victory and presence was followed by a command to be strong and courageous (v6).   Even that command was backed by an encouraging promise: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” Continue reading “Monthly Message Oct 2017”