Monthly Message Jul 2023

“He came and preached peace to you…”  (Ephesians 2:17)

Dear friends

In some churches, what used to be referred to as the ‘sermon’ is now called the ‘talk’? The word ‘talk’ suggests to me an interesting discourse such as might occur at a meeting of a local Historical Society or the W.I., whereas ‘sermon’ suggests something altogether different.  Am I quibbling over a word?

In Ephesians 2:17 Paul writes that Christ “came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near”.  Jesus never went to Ephesus at any point during his earthly ministry, and yet Paul asserts that he came to those Ephesians and preached peace!  So,  what he is saying, in effect, is that when men came to Ephesus and preached the gospel it was actually Christ himself who was preaching through them.

Preaching is a noble and holy calling; and so it matters what we call it because it matters how we regard it.  It matters that we realize that when the Word is preached, it is the Lord himself speaking through his chosen instrument.  What power there is in preaching!

The sermon is more than a talk.  It is that event when our Lord Jesus Christ deigns to use the earthen vessel of a preacher to give to his people the priceless treasure of his truth.  The Thessalonians seem to have understood this when Paul wrote of them: “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers”.

Writing around 1658 the Puritan Paul Bayne observed: “…Paul preached to the ear, but Christ to the heart of Lydia.  This must teach us to look upon Christ as the chief Prophet among us, and the chief Preacher whosoever speaketh”.

May this encourage us as we pray for Jonathan Lamb and for all who will gather at Bible Focus on September 16th.  I look forward to seeing you there!

In Christ,

Tony Mason

Monthly Message May-Jun 2023

“Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24)

Dear friends,

What a wonderful picture: Enoch walking with God!  Amos 3:3 poses the question, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”  Such sweet agreement and common purpose there must have been between Enoch and God, and between God and Enoch.

Noah also “walked with God” (Gen 6:9) and of Abraham it is said that he walked before God (Gen 17:1).  All three were men of faith and consequently of obedience; and that is the implication of walking with God.  Indeed, Micah 6:8 points out that what the Lord requires of us (i.e. obedience) includes “walk(ing) humbly with your God”.

But how can we walk with God? Do we not so often part company as we wander down a by-path? Couldn’t we just leave it to the spiritual ‘experts’?  After all Enoch clocked up some 300 years’ experience of walking with God.  But notice what happened to Enoch: “…then he was no more, because God took him away”. Does that not foreshadow our Saviour, Jesus Christ?  He walked with his Father in total and utter obedience.  That walk took him to the cross, and through death to resurrection and ascension, returning to his Father’s side – mission accomplished!  God ‘took him away’ and then sent the Holy Spirit to come alongside, and indwell, his people empowering them to ‘walk with God’ until, one day, we too will go to the Father!

Because Jesus ‘walked with God’ all who are ‘in Christ’ can do so, too.  “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). As with Enoch, so with us, it is possible to walk with God.  But as with Enoch, so with us, it is not by our merit or by God’s free grace.

May he richly bless you as you continue in your walk with him wherever that walk may lead, because ultimately it leads us home to his Father and ours.

In Christ,

Tony Mason

Monthly Message Mar-Apr 2023

Dear friends,

“Let there be light.”  Genesis 1:3

Are you enjoying the lighter mornings and longer evening daylight?  Whether literal or metaphorical, light is always preferable to darkness.

At creation God brought light into darkness, order into chaos and life into lifelessness.  “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters(Gen 1:2). So, even before Day 1, darkness was there but also God was there!  Then the first thing he said was: “Let there be light” – and there was light, because God said so.  (The Hebrew word for ‘word’ is the same as the word for ‘deed’. For the practical Hebrews words and actions went together!   When God speaks, he acts; whatever he says is as good as done. Or, to put it another way, God always acts on his word).  Light is not only the work of God, it is also the will of God.

How much darkness there is and how much we need light; not least in the areas of sexuality, the economy, ethics, personal and international relationships and in our understanding of truth.  Psalm 119:30 says: “The entrance (or, unfolding) of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple”.  Through the Holy Spirit, expository preaching and prayerful personal reading of the Bible is precisely that – the unfolding of the Word of God.   Bible Focus seeks to be one among many means by which God  ‘unfolds’ his Word to give better understanding; and better understanding enriches our discipleship which, in turn, brings yet greater glory to our Lord Jesus Christ through lives reflecting his grace. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin”. (I John 1:7).

Not only did Jesus say that he is the light of the world (John 8:12), but he said that his disciples are, too (Matt 5:14).  What a provision!  What a ministry! What a need!  “O Lord, let there be light”.

Thank you to all those who were able to join us for prayer on the 18th: a time of fellowship and renewal of hope.  Details of the next prayer opportunity will be sent out in due course.

Yours, in Christ,

Tony Mason