Monthly Message Jun 2022

Dear friends,

How are you?  No, I mean how are you really?  Not just physically or mentally but spiritually, deep in your soul?  Probably there – in our soul and the soul of our church – we might be aware that all is not as it should be.  Do we long to go deeper into the things of God, do we hanker after a clearer sense of God’s presence in our worship and to see more power and fruit in our evangelism?  Are we aware of a need for greater holiness, for Jesus to be at the centre?  In short are we praying for revival and renewal for ourselves, our churches, our nation?  If so, David’s prayer in Psalm 51 could well be ours, especially verses 10 to 12.

V10a “Create in me a pure heart, O God”.

David is repenting of his grievous sin of adultery and murder; he knows the absolute wretchedness of his heart.  He desires a new, pure heart so he asks God to create just that.  Only God can create. And certainly only God can create pure hearts.  Let us pray for such a miracle in ourselves, our churches, our nation.  See Ezekiel 36:26.

V10b “and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

This is the cry of the repentant – to be renewed, restored.  All too often our spiritual lives are dependent upon our mood or our circumstances. Consequently they go up and down.   David asks for steadfastness of spirit.  He hadn’t been exactly steadfast when he succumbed to the temptation to lust and a murderous attempt to cover it up.  He sees the need for that now.  But such steadfastness comes as the result of the Holy Spirit’s working within us.  David is doubtless remembering how the Spirit departed from his predecessor, Saul.  So he cries out: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me”. (v11).

V12 “grant me a willing spirit to sustain me”

The word here suggests an ‘enthusiastic volunteer’. We serve and worship the Lord not because we have to but because we want to, on account of our great love for him, prompted by his infinitely greater love for us.  So here is God’s gracious gift of an antidote to our tendency to drift away into sin and temptation: a willing spirit!   Such a spirit delights in God’s will rather than one’s own: “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart”  (Psalm 40:8).

And all this is of God himself, not something we can work up or achieve.  David (and we ourselves) asks God to create (a pure heart), to renew (a steadfast spirit) and to grant (a willing spirit).

Just imagine what would happen if we all prayed like that!

I look forward to seeing you at Bible Focus on September 10th.  Do make sure the date is in your diary and don’t forget to tell your friends!

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

Monthly Message May 2022

Dear friends,

I wonder how people planning to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in June realize that the idea of Jubilee comes from the Old Testament?  Leviticus 25, in fact.

The Israelites were to count off seven periods of seven years, a total of 49 years, and then the following year, the 50th, was to be a jubilee.  It was to be heralded by a trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement or, Yom Kippur.  Lev. 25:10 says: “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants”.  In that fiftieth year everyone was to return to their family property and to their own clan. Furthermore, they were only to eat cultivated crops, not what was growing wild.  People were to be free, and nature was to be free.

So what was all that about?  Like so much of OT requirements, it was pointing to a fulfilment of something in God’s grander plan.  But what was that?  Isaiah, (chapter 61), spoke about the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord being upon his Servant to, among other things, “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”. That was a reference to jubilee.  Centuries later, Jesus, in the synagogue at Capernaum read from that same passage. He stopped right there at the mention of the “year of the Lord’s favour” and declared: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”!

Her Majesty’s 70 year reign has been a most remarkable achievement of selfless dedication and service to the nation and Commonwealth, and a great example of godly living and principles to us all.  We thank God for her and her reign.  But sound the trumpet for the Jubilee of King Jesus! By his sinless obedience to the Father’s will, culminating in his death, resurrection and glorious ascension to the Father’s throne where “he always lives to intercede for” those who come to God through him (Heb. 7:25), he has brought total and everlasting jubilee freedom.  Nor is this something that has to be renewed every fifty years.  “He sacrificed for (our) sins once for all when he offered himself” (Heb 7:27).

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 
Luke 4:18-19

Let us rejoice in the glorious truth that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

Monthly Message Mar-Apr 2022

Apologies for no Monthly Message in March; I must have been pre-occupied with the Spring Event!  Here, as an Easter reflection, is a summary of something I spoke about on that occasion,

Jesus said: But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32). That word “draw” occurs five times in John and once in Acts. It is used of Peter drawing his sword, of hauling and dragging a net full of fish, and of dragging Paul and Silas into the marketplace.  It is also used of being drawn to Jesus, here in John 12, but also in 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

So it is a word that conveys something very powerful: pulling out a sword to use it, dragging ashore a full net, dragging someone before a crowd – and drawing sinners to a Saviour!  It takes power to draw a sword, haul a load of fish, drag a reluctant person.  And it takes divine power to draw a sinner to Christ!

People are saved as they are powerfully drawn to Jesus through the cross.  So let us pray for ever more powerful preaching of the cross in our day, and in our churches.

Jesus described the cross here as “When I am lifted up from the earth…”. Remember how he said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life”.  He was referring to Numbers 21, where God sent venomous snakes among the people on account of their rebellious grumbling. Moses was to put a bronze snake on a pole so that everyone who looked at that snake would live. That was but a foreshadowing of what Jesus would eventually accomplish on the cross: “…so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life”.  Notice the word “must”.  The cross is not ‘a’ remedy for sin; it is ‘the’ one and only remedy. Only in the cross can the demands of God’s holiness and righteousness – and love – be met.

Jesus used the term ‘lifted up’ “to show the kind of death he was going to die”. But the same word is used in Acts of Christ’s exaltation to God’s right hand.Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:33) and “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour…” (Acts 5:31).  And, when we humbly come to Christ in repentance and faith we, too, are lifted up.  James 4:10  “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” and I Peter 5:6  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time”.  Jesus was lifted up on the cross, so that he might lift us up to glory!

May you, this Easter time, be drawn afresh to the Saviour, and may he lift you up.

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason