Saturday, August 24, 2013

BRING BACK THE CAPTIVITY

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz 
 
As brand new Christians, we become aware of Satan’s tricks to hinder our growth in Christ. While planning to go to Church services and studies, we have all experienced times when our attention is drawn away by other things. Our own tiredness, or an unexpected “emergency” of some kind arises, and we tell ourselves, “I’ll go next week.” Sleeping through our alarm clocks can only be used as an excuse just so many times. Genuine sicknesses and health problems do come up, there’s no doubt about that. Family emergencies do occur. It’s difficult to think of a household that hasn’t been affected by these things.

But preparations can avoid many of the things that hinder our fellowship. We should remember that Satan is looking for those he might devour. Exhausting Saturdays and “living for the weekends” can make us weak and vulnerable prey.

When it’s a school night, we make sure the kidos are in bed on time so they can function in the classroom the next day. For jobs and work, we make sure we ourselves are in bed to get enough sleep so that we aren’t late for work, or too groggy to perform our jobs the next day. Why is the Lord any less important than school or work? I am not unsympathetic to this plight we all share. Temptations to skip church come to all of us, but we need one another.

If Satan is roaming about, then busy Saturdays and recreation times are among the socially acceptable ways Satan uses to rob us of the blessings of church and fellowship. The very things that build us up for weekday battles are cast aside for idle pleasures far too often. We need one another.

We plan for work, school, and for relaxation and recreation. Budgeting our time to optimize our schedules can mean we must trade one thing off for another. I pray that none of us would ever short-change Jesus for the time He wants to spend with us; the time that He knows we need. We need one another.

- Hebrews 10:24,25 -

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see that day approaching.”






Saturday, August 17, 2013

EXAMINE SELF; DISCERN OTHERS

Bobservation Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Many years ago, a woman came to me with a difficulty she was having about tithing. Her desire was to give a tithe of a large sum of money given to her by her brother. What troubled her was the source of the money. You see, her brother didn’t always conduct his business with honesty and integrity. She did not want to sully the church tithe box with money that wasn’t gained in an upright manner.

Her brother knew a portion of the gift would go to her church; it was his way of performing a good work. Some of the money would do good for others, but it put his sister into inner turmoil. She had done well to question the gift. She examined her own heart and came to the conclusion that her intents were righteous in obedience. She also did well to question the funds, for she knew her brother’s life by the fruit of it.
Judas Iscariot also had a love for money, and betrayed the Lord because of it. Though he repented and returned the money to the High Priests, they rejected it, for it was now “blood money.” It would defile their coffers if they returned the money to the Temple Funds.


Judas went out and hanged himself because of the betrayal. And the Priests eventually used the money to bless the poor by purchasing a Potter’s field to bury their family members.


God somehow has the ability to turn bad into good (Rom. 8:28). So our Sister-in-Christ determined that she would tithe the money, so the work of the church could continue, and others might be blessed.


Judgment would have come to the Priests for their deeds, and Judas certainly received his reward for his actions. But money has no soul; it can be used for good, or for bad. The heart of the giver determines the difference.

Acts 11:8-9 - “But I said, ‘Not so Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered me again from heaven, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.’” 













Saturday, August 10, 2013

DISCERNING TRUTH

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

It tells us in the scriptures that a prophet is not with honor, except in his own country, among his own people, and in his own house. The households, the Tribes, and the Israelites as a whole did not respect the prophets God sent. Nothing in the scriptures indicates that any of the prophets had a bad reputation to overcome. Yet, the prophets were all killed because the people didn’t like being convicted by God’s Word spoken to them. Jesus’ above words are repeated in all four Gospel accounts, so it must be important. You can find them in Matthew 13:57; in Mark 6:4; in Luke 4:24; and in John 4:44. 

 While all of these verses are attributed to our Lord, only three of the four are printed in red in our red-letter edition Bibles, and all four are worded differently. Such are the dynamics of human language. In this case, we must realize that the four Gospels were written to four different audiences. Matthew wrote to the Jews, Mark to the Greeks, Luke to his friend Theophilus, and John to you and me perhaps in personal, everyday language.

If we do not understand what someone is saying, they might say, “Wait, let me put it to you another way.” Stating the same thing different ways allows more people to grasp what we’re talking about. Underlying every word is the true meaning of a statement, but we need to be careful about listening to a single person’s spin on teachings from God’s Word. This was the heresy of the Gnostics, that only they had the truth.

Jesus taught us, “…the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) Words carry weight, and Jesus’ words carry the weight of our blessed Creator. Words bring the spirit of an idea into an audible language.

If we are not being pushed in Jesus’ direction by the words we hear, then we are cautioned by God’s Word to be discerning and use wisdom. He tells us that Satan is a liar, and the father of lies. The Holy Spirit dwelling inside every Believer, will set off alarms if what we hear draws us away from our Savior. Listen closely to what you hear….. be discerning, because the Bible will reaffirm itself in more than one passage, or chapter.












Monday, August 5, 2013

The Sacrifice of Praise

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the Old Testament, God made seven covenants with His people, Israel. Each one offered provision, protection, and precious promises to the Israelites. The covenants covered everything from their offspring, to their land, and even to their future as a nation. No less than seven times we find these words in the Jewish texts: “…they shall be my people; and I will be their God” almost verbatim. Curious to me is the verb tense used: they shall be my people; I will be their God. It indicates a yet future time when the relation between the Israelites and God will be finalized and complete.

They acknowledged God; worshiped Him; offered sacrifices to Him; they followed the prescribed rituals and visited Jerusalem three times each year during the holiday’s (when they weren’t in captivity). Their lips spoke of Him, but their hearts were far from Him.

An eighth covenant was predicted in Jeremiah 29:31, and His Word would be written in the hearts of the Jews rather than on tablets of stone. Through the purging of their hearts, the people would never leave Him.

It’s impossible to turn our own hearts consistently to the Lord; how will God turn a whole nation to Himself? Honestly, I am clueless… except for the words of Jesus: “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.”

Christians are as prone to wander as the Israelites. Yet we have this covenant in Jesus’ blood to draw us to Him, when we draw from its well. The blood of bullocks and goats is not wanted by God. He tells Believers that there is no more blood sacrifice to be made, because God’s Only Son has been sacrificed for us. That’s how He changes us. That’s how He will change a whole nation. When He reveals Himself to them, they will ask, “Where did you get these wounds?” Then, they shall know. Then shall they see and hear their scriptures in spirit and in truth. He will at last be their God, and they will be His people. Then shall the only remaining sacrifice be made: A sacrifice of praise!









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