Sunday, January 26, 2014

LIFT UP THY FEET

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all circumstances would always say “My king, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect. He makes no mistakes!” One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty from losing a finger.

Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman asked “Is God good? If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost my finger.” The slave replied: “My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and he knows why these things happened. What God does is perfect. He is never wrong!”

Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave. Later, the King left for another hunt, this time alone. He was captured by savages who engaged in human sacrifices. On the altar and ready to sacrifice the nobleman, the savages discovered that their victim did not have one of his fingers. According to them, only a whole person with all his/her parts intact could be offered to the gods. The King without a finger was deemed an abominable sacrifice for their gods. So they released the King.

Upon his return to the palace, the King authorized the release of his slave. He received the slave affectionately. He asked his slave, “God was really good to me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a single finger, I was let go! But I have a question: if God is so good, why did he allow me to put you in jail?”

The slave answered, “My King, if I had gone with you on this hunt, I would have been sacrificed instead because I have no missing finger. Remember everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong. He made you keep me in jail so I would not be with you on the hunt.”

Often we complain about life, and negative things that happen to us, forgetting that nothing is random and that everything has a purpose. Every morning, offer your day to God, don’t be in a rush. Ask God to inspire your thoughts, guide your actions, and ease your feelings. And do not be afraid. God is never wrong!

Do you know why this message is for you? I do not know, but God knows, because He never makes mistakes… “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~ Now, compare this with Genesis 50 : 20

Our faithful Lord is the Silver Lining of every cloud.








Saturday, January 18, 2014

MY PORTION FOREVER

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz


The woman in the picture at left is Lettie Cowman… No, she is not one of my long-lost ancestors, but she was a sister-in-the-Lord. Her writings have blessed people around the world. You likely know her better as Mrs. Charles Cowman, author of the 1925 Bible Devotional, “STREAMS IN THE DESERT.” Even when Volume 2 of the devotional came out, she deliberately concealed herself by using her husband’s name. As a missionary, Charles (on Lettie’s right) founded the Oriental Missions Society in Japan and the Far East. Their work in the Mission Fields of the Orient is monumental, and here in the West, it is Lettie’s books that still delight and minister to believers almost a century later. Seeking no fame for herself, her books compile the words of her favorite devotionals and authors both known and unknown, as they wrote on Christian Living. In many ways, her life was hid in her husband and his ministry, and I admit, I had to do some digging to learn her given first name.

When people hear of us, or of our works, do they see our names, or only the name of Jesus our husbandman? Lettie was thoroughly content with her husband’s name and humbly sought no personal recognition as “Lettie.” Her joy in life was belonging to and being recognized through his identity. Her authorship of seven books all bear the name of Mrs. Charles Cowman.

The world prods us to fame and fortune, as we see in today’s Psalm (the 73rd). Success is rated by the world in possessions and position; in wealth and influence, but Jesus calls us to be separate from the world; to be “in” the world, but not “of” it. Jesus calls us to a life of humility. If we are to be remembered for anything, let it be for a life lived in humility, rather than humiliation. True victory is found with our lives hid in Christ Jesus. He is our covering.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

HE SHALL COME DOWN

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

 
In Acts 17, Luke honors the people of Berea and commends them. They were open to hearing new teachings, AND they were diligent to compare those teachings with the written word they already had. They literally held the Apostle Paul accountable to the scriptures from which he taught. What a great blessing to be able to determine if the teachings we hear are from God, or if they are just man’s words instead.

Many years ago I heard a teaching that was precisely in agreement with the Gospels, but from Genesis 5. The teacher was well respected and interesting to listen to. He took the names of Genesis 5’s genealogy, and translated each name for us. With each meaning “the secret message” of the Gospel was there in Genesis. “Man appointed mortal sorrow, the blessed God shall come down teaching, His death shall bring the despairing rest.” That was the message derived from the meanings of Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lemech, and Noah.

Today, we see one of those word/names again in Psalm 72:6 : Jared, meaning “he shall come down.” Seeing it here in the Psalm, I was prompted to go back to my notes from the genealogy and compare them with a Hebrew dictionary. My surprise was that some names were translated accurately by that teacher, but some were not! Instead of teaching a message from the scriptures, the scriptures were massaged to develop a teaching!

First, I was upset that I had been duped by that teacher, but then I was thankful that God has preserved His Word for us to look at, to read, and to study. Later I was upset with myself for not being like the Bereans, and holding a teacher of God’s Word accountable to the Word Himself. I didn’t do it because the man was so well respected, and highly esteemed by the leadership of the church that sponsored his visit. Luke 16;15 says, “that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

This is a verse that should caution every teacher, pastor, minister, and priest. God’s Word is pure and undefiled, and though the “translated” message was in agreement with the Gospel, it wasn’t accurate to the text. If a man will take that liberty with one scripture, then we must ask if he hasn’t done it with his other teachings also, because it was The Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus never changes!

 
Being a Berean is a good thing!

Such a habit protects the Believer from false teachings and false doctrine that are developed by massaging God’s Word to man’s own purpose.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

CONTINUAL HOPE

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Did you feel it this past week? The pressure of the Christmas and Holiday Season is gone? As busy as the holidays get, we enjoy every one of them, and when they are over, we breathe a sigh of relief. My neighbors put their tree out to the curb the day after Christmas. Maybe you’re among those that does not take it down until after the Twelve Days of Christmas. It really doesn’t matter when the tree comes down; the “pressure” is off, so to speak. Your shoulders relax a bit and your calendar is less congested, and you may already be reminiscing over the new memories of “Holidays 2013,” all of them.

The next big holidays for the Church are Good Friday and Resurrection Day. National holidays are coming up though: Martin Luther King Day, President’s Week to name a couple; “Hallmark Holidays” are coming too, like Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day (unless you are Irish, and then St. Pat’s is a National Holiday”). And don’t forget that April 15th immediately follows April 1st.

We live from month to month and day to day with calendars that are marked for special days. If you are a Christian, you will relish every day and give thanks to the Lord Jesus for giving you a desire and a hope that better days are ahead. Hope is that big motivator that propels us forward with a purpose. The calendar will slip by regardless, but without hope, the days become drudgery. Every new day should be considered a fresh new opportunity.

Even as Believers, if we hope only in Christ, we are “men most miserable” the scriptures say. To focus on only Jesus is to narrow our field of vision to His suffering and death, for His life teaches us that the flesh must be put to death. It seems that drawing hope from that is an exercise in frustration because as long as we are alive, we are trapped in fleshly bodies that must be put off. What I truly put my hope in is the New Life of the Resurrection that Jesus has availed to us all!

Jesus put off the flesh for us as an example, but He looked beyond the cross to the joy that lay before Him. HOPE! Jesus had an assurance of hope that better days are ahead. For us to live is Christ, and to die is gain! Holidays will come and go, but stop and consider the hope we have before us… Resurrection, Redemption, and New Life!

1 Corinthians 15:19,20 - “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are all men most miserable. But now, Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” 







 






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