Sunday, July 5, 2015

Glorious Liberty



Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
    On this July 4th Holiday weekend, there will be an endless stream of platitudes about our Nation’s freedoms, and remembrances of great victories in the past. From the American War of Independence, to World War II, there is no mistaking the battles won, and the battles lost, all bringing ultimate victory over tyranny of all sorts, from all over the world. Liberty and freedoms came at a high cost in human lives, and continue to do so. 

    But evil and cruel leaders existed long before the United States won her wars. And there is one battle that has gone on since the Garden of Eden. A cruel and jealous ruler wanted to raise himself up to the level of God, and that battle cannot be won, but Satan continues to try to recruit as many as he can. 

    Satan’s lies will never cease. His fiery realm means death for all the souls he wins. The wars that our nation has fought pale in comparison. Even the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have rebuilt and are among the most vibrant cities of the Far East

    However, Satan’s kingdom is eternal; there will be no rebuilding, and there will be no vibrant life for those who are duped by his lies and enticements. The familiar picture on the front depicts a victory on a faraway island, and it came at a high cost: many died trying to win the battle of Iwo Jima, and even in victory, the battle raged on. Some of the men raising that U.S. Flag never made it home. The battle continued in spite of our victorious flag raising.

    Because the war with Satan is a spiritual battle, God sent His only begotten Son to enter the fray, and to win our battle for us, paying with His life. In victory, Jesus rose from the dead and lives on at the right hand of the Father. So while we have victory in Jesus Christ, we know that Satan’s battle rages on, deceiving and tempting every new generation. And, 0ur own battles will not cease until the Lord calls us home. They will continue because we live out our lives in enemy territory. There are pockets of peace and joy here and there, but none can compare with the Glory that lies ahead in God’s Holy presence.

“Because (we ourselves) also shall be delivered from the bondage of

corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” - Romans 8:21















Sunday, June 28, 2015

Great Gain



Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
 
    Thankfulness seems to be a key to happiness in the scriptures. I can envision a door marked “Happiness.” There is a key to open it. Our life mission is to possess the key, and then share it with others. This is one of the messages of the Gospel. With our citizenship in heaven, the focus of every Believer should be our eternal life with Him, and to share the key with others is a desire of our hearts. 

    But there are millions of people who have rejected Jesus, or unbelievably, who have not ever heard of Him, or who remain apathetic towards Him. God has said that He will be found when we search for Him with all our heart. 

    For those that reject God, they seek their happiness in earthly places and Earthly relationships. A whole segment of our culture just received a stamp of approval from the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of them think this will be the key to their happiness: acceptance by their fellow earth-bound citizens. The Apostle Paul has written that those who refuse to worship God, and refuse to be thankful will end up with vain imaginations and darkened hearts.  

    To be thankful, and to worship God keeps our hearts bright and warm, and our imaginations clear and meaningful. When we are in such a state, happiness overflows and a sense of profound contentment washes over us. To be content is to rest from our labors, and look with appreciation to all that we already have at our finger-tips. It is an end of striving for bigger, better, newer, and the next “trending thing.”  

    Those feelings currently being enjoyed because of a Supreme Court Ruling will be short-lived, and disappointing. Soon enough, the daily grind sets in and socks or slacks have to be put on one foot, or one leg at a time. Such a life turns into a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, looking for and striving towards bigger, more frequent highs. It’s an endless cycle, and often frustrating. 

    The difference between these two types of happiness, involves one more component: Godliness. This brings and supplies a profound sense of contentment that the neither the world, nor the Supreme Court will ever bring. 

I Timothy 6:6 – “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”


















   

Sunday, June 14, 2015

House Rules



Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
 
    Happy Father’s Day, to all the Dads here today. We all may smile a bit about what many think is just another Hallmark Holiday. But folks have been celebrating Father’s Day for many years, and it’s not just here in the west. 

    The Monongah Mining Disaster of 1907 took the lives of 361 young men, and more than 260 of them were fathers. The region around Monangah, WV was left with more than a thousand fatherless children. Grace Golden Clayton

was grieving for her own father who had passed away in West Virginia at the time, but with the mining tragedy, she encouraged a local pastor to preach on the honor of fathers within the family. She may have been inspired by another nearby woman who had pushed for Mothers’ Day a couple of years prior. 

    In the northwest, locals were trying to do something similar in the State of Washington in 1910. Wider support was sought for the holiday then, and again in 1912. But it wasn’t until 1915 that a Bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress to officially recognize Father’s Day as a holiday. Even then, the celebration only gained momentum slowly. 

    Other nations also had holidays to recognize the role of fathers; all were generally celebrated in late spring to early summer. Today, more than 59 countries around the world recognize Father’s Day as a day to celebrate Dads everywhere. 

    Today as we finish Psalm 119, we see the role that The Father plays in all our lives. Its importance precedes anything that Grace Golden Clayton sought recognition for by about 5900 years, or anything anyone else had done, including Congress. Jehovah’s Ten Commandments are His “House Rules,” if you will. And it is through the keeping of them that we find ourselves in a good and healthy relationship between our heavenly Father and His children. The Father’s love for us shows through His Commandments, His judgments, His testimonies, precepts, and His Word, Jesus Christ. 

    In whatever way your family may celebrate Father’s Day today, make it a day to celebrate and glorify The Father of us all.

“We love him, because he first loved us.”  ~ 1 John 4:19






















PRE-OCCUPIED


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz 

 
In Hebrews chapter 11, the great chapter on faith supplies us with a glimpse of Abraham’s life. We are reminded that as with Abraham, our citizenship is in heaven, not on Earth. But the passage that describes Abraham’s faith-walk (verses 8-19) tells us also of his mindset. Abraham’s life was rooted in Ur of the Chaldees, but following God’s direction, he moved to a land that God promised to show him and to give to him and his descendants.

As progenitor of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Abraham already had a vision for a new land for his family, but also beyond that, he saw something special: “But now they desire a better country, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.” (Vs. 16)

Our faith-walk with Jesus should be similar, with the promise of heaven at the forefront of our minds, and the desire of our hearts. A recent devotional reading described this as being pre-occupied with heaven. As Jesus told the Apostles, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: I go to prepare a place for you.

Will still in high school, my parents had a new home built. It wasn’t far away, but it was the desire of their hearts. As the months passed by, the house went from an empty lot to a beautiful home. There was so much joy in their hearts, and the anticipation was palpable in the whole household. When moving-in day arrived, it was a monumental experience, yet it was still an earthly home, and though built as designed, it had the normal problems of every earthly home. After months of preoccupation with the new house, their new home was exactly what they wanted. But they still looked forward through faith to see a heavenly home with Christ Jesus.

The new house they built is now occupied by another family, and they have gone home to a heavenly reward. Their earthly goals have now passed, and their home now is with Christ. Promises fulfilled!

We have the blessed opportunity to occupy places on Earth of our own choosing, and as His children, we have a spiritual need to pre-occupy ourselves with thoughts of God and His wonderful provision and promises for our future, “in His Father’s mansion.”

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” ~ Philippians 3:20
















 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I Shall Live




Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

A friend passed along a riddle to me this week. And as with most riddles, once you hear the answer, it becomes perfectly obvious. Perhaps you will remember hearing it years ago. The answer to this riddle is a seven-letter word:

It preceded God.
It is greater than God.
It is more evil that Satan himself
Poor people have it.
Rich people are in need of it.
If you eat this, you will die.

        I imagine that a few of you are recalling it already, while others of you are stumped. It’s quite simple really, and it affords us the topic of today’s teaching. 

As King David continues to laud the glorious Word of God, we should find a greater and greater desire for more of it. 

    King David spends about 173 verses of this Psalm describing how phenomenal God’s Word is, and how nothing will replace it, nor surpass it in its role in our hearts and lives. God’s testimony; God’s judgments; God’s Commandments; God’s precepts; God’s statutes; God’s Law; God’s Word: 

    It is this Word of God that was made flesh and dwelt among men. Now the living and breathing Entity of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, will perform all of these things. He has begun a good work in men’s hearts and He will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ. 

    Once a man realizes that he cannot live apart from God, then Jesus Christ makes it possible to reconcile with the Father, and not only live, but live eternally. Even the most hardened of hearts will not be able to resist Jesus’ grace and mercy as the living embodiment of God on Earth. Once a man meets Jesus, there will be no turning back, and that’s the testimony of Saul the Persecutor, turned Paul the Apostle. Jesus taught us:


I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.    ~ John 15:5










Sunday, May 31, 2015

Thy Word

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    Relationships are always based upon trust. They may start out in mutual attraction, or in common likes and dislikes, or even in a common goal and purpose, but they grow and flourish in an atmosphere of mutual trust. Without trust, they will flounder and end up on the rocks, and when trust is broken in an established relationship, the relationship is broken too.

     Whether the break is in a marriage, or in some other personal or business relationship, the outcome will be devastating. If it is a valued relationship, much work may be required to mend it. But mending it may, or may not be possible. 


     Jesus never breaks trust though. His Word is true, rock-solid, and steadfast. Jesus reveals to us the path to reconciliation, which runs through Him. The writer of Hebrews makes note of God’s unwavering Word. In a world where a man’s word is only as good as the man, it’s not comforting to learn that man’s heart is wicked and deceitful, from Jeremiah 17:9. But even in this disquieting knowledge, we find the source of true comfort in God’s unerring Word. He knows us better than we know ourselves. 


     In today’s study, we hear the heart of David, and we see his frustration and his fears come out in the printed word. David learned a lesson in relationships. In Psalm 118, David wrote that it was better to trust in the Lord, than to trust in man. David suffered through many broken relationships, some of which were his fault. The heart of an unregenerate man is too fickle, and will always watch for its own best interests, but God’s best interests are all about man’s benefit. Let me say that again: God’s best interests are all about man’s benefit.  


     Quite literally, there is nothing that God will not do to assist a person who is seeking faith, or seeking to deepen faith in Him. And along the way, that person will learn that God is true to His Word, and that His Word is always true. Count on it. Count on Him even when we find ourselves in error.

    “…it was impossible for God to lie, (that) we might have strong consolation,
who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which
hope we have as an anchor for our soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil…”   ~ Hebrews 6:18 & 19
(Within the veil is the Holy of Holies: the presence of Jesus Christ.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Fields Are White


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The religious holiday of Pentecost coincides with the Memorial Day Holiday weekend this year. The Jews celebrated the harvest of wheat, and the sheaves became Wave Offerings to Jehovah God, fifty days after Passover. 

    On that first Pentecost after Jesus’ Resurrection, the holiday did not look back at what God had done in the harvest fields, rather, it pointed to the future and how Jesus was going to grow His Church. New meaning was given to this holiday. While the Jews still celebrate the wheat harvest, Jesus’ Church celebrates the harvest of men’s hearts and souls unto salvation, by the Holy Spirit. 

    Our National Holiday of Memorial Day is a reminder of those who have served in our nation’s Armed Services, many of whom gave their lives for the cause of freedom while defending our country. Wars have taken a costly toll on our military personnel over the years; and there seems to be more new enemies all the time. Countless white crosses adorn the fields of several foreign countries.

    King Solomon wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun.” It should not surprise us that we still fight some of those same enemies. It was President Thomas Jefferson that took our fleet of ships used for our own coastal defenses and formed the U.S. Navy. Among the Navy’s first deployments overseas was to the Mediterranean to fight Muslim Pirates (Barbary) from disrupting the free shipping trade routes along the African coastline, throughout the Mediterranean, and southward along Africa’s Atlantic coast. They would commandeer ships, steal cargo, and plunder coastal villages, threatening and enslaving both sailors and village inhabitants along Africa’s northern and western shores.   

    Some of the countries there still host the spiritual pirates of Islam who threaten, enslave, and kill. If you know a Veteran, thank him for his or her service to our country, and pray for those who serve today against an ancient enemy. See today’s wars as the Spiritual Battles that they truly are. The wars are ancient, yet the Spirit is renewed day by day, sounding the alarm against false gods, and cruel faiths, and Satan, mankind’s most ancient enemy.

BATTLE STATIONS ! ”

“Say not ye, ‘There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?’
Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields;
for they are white already to harvest.”   ~ John 4:35























Sunday, May 17, 2015

WAITING ON THE LORD



Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz 




    Today is my granddaughter’s 12th birthday, and knowing that she and her Mom would be traveling this weekend, my wife and I sent her gift ahead of time. Wednesday evening, she opened the gift we sent. How blessed we were to watch our granddaughter open our present via cell phone video, from her Florida home. 

    We are a culture that is used to fast results. Waiting for them is not something we do well any more. It is both a blessing, and a curse. While we love the instant results, we don’t get a chance to develop patience. 

    My car needed to have some work done at the dealership this past week. After checking in at the Service Desk, I was shown to the Customer Lounge, otherwise known as “The Waiting Room.” A mere one-hour wait seemed interminably long. 

    When someone says, “Wait, I’ll be right back,” it’s like terror sets in because we immediately ask them, “How long will you be?” God forbid we are left alone with our own thoughts for even a minute! 

    If waiting isn’t already a lost art, it soon will be. While you wait, there is nothing for you to do. Our next activity is scheduled to be shared with the person who has asked us to wait. And if waiting seems like a waste of time, you are wrong. It could be well be a respite provided by the Lord to draw us into fellowship with Him. Perhaps He will engage us to use these short waiting periods to better our relationship with Him. He might be giving us time to pray, or time to rethink a recent hasty decision. And a simple prayer of “Thanks” is always well received by Him. 

    We even pray, asking to be more like Him. He is plenteous in mercy, and long-suffering while He waits for us. (And I mean really looooooong-suffering!) But while He waits for us, He busies Himself with other things, ready to drop whatever it is to pay attention to us whenever we are ready to give Him all our attention. 

    Recently an acquaintance made a demand of me, and I felt the Lord saying, “Wait.” So I did nothing about the request except pray, and within a few weeks, the situation took care of itself, and required no direct intervention on my part at all. It doesn’t always work that way, but in this case, it did because I spent the intervening time praying, and waiting on the Lord. I was blessed. My acquaintance was also blessed. The Lord’s help is far better than anything a human can do. Practice waiting on the Lord. Cease from fretting. 

    Empty your “full plate” a little. Bring your endless worries to an end. Give your problems to Him, and then dote on Him while Jesus works things out.



“But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength…”  -Isaiah 40:31






















Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Heart of Every Mother



Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz



The media recently covered a mother on a video shot from the riots in Baltimore. She had recognized her son on previous video coverage of the riots, and she was pretty upset about her son throwing rocks and causing bodily harm and property damage. She retrieved her son on-screen. She wanted something better for him than that kind of reputation. Many cheered her on, and quietly wished there were more moms like her. And sadly we must acknowledge that many fall short in that regard.   

    The heart of every Mother is that her children would grow healthy and strong, and learn how to make good decisions for themselves and their families. Along the way, comes the parental responsibility to teach, reprove, correct, and instruct our children. THAT’S what we witnessed on television as we watched that Mom protect her child from himself. 

    Successful children who learn such lessons and become productive members of family and society are a source of endless pride to any parent. On this day, I wonder how Mary dealt with Jesus, and then realize that He would not have gone through “the terrible twos,” or troublesome times as a teen. Then too, it must have been quite a trial to find that at the age of twelve, Jesus was teaching in the Temple, when His Earthly parents thought He was traveling with them, homeward bound after a holiday. 

    Mary’s relationship to her Son was a source of humbled pride, to have been chosen to bring the Savior into the world. From the Annunciation of Gabriel that she was to bear a son, to see Jesus’ ministry take off, and then have Him crucified, and then… to see Him resurrected. Today’s scripture passage is the last time we hear of Mary’s participation in the continuing ministry of her Son. But we can be sure that she took up her role, and performed it admirably, for Jesus had promised to return, and He had commissioned John to take care of her. Mary’s pride and purpose would continue as the Apostles, and His brethren took Jesus’ message to the world. 

"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren." ~Acts 1:14

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!



















Sunday, May 3, 2015

The perfecting of the Saints



Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

   The Lord seems to speak (to me at least) in threes. I guess I have to hear it repeated three times before I give Him my full attention. I’d like to think that it’s each member of the Trinity speaking to me, but I know deep down it’s my pre-occupation with daily life that keeps me distracted. But boy! Am I ever glad that He knows how to get my attention!

    Recently, I heard someone quote Romans 8:28 –

“And we know that all things work together for the good, to them
that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

   At the end of the verse, the person added these words: “If things have not worked out yet to the good of the Believer, then “things” must not be done yet.” So, God’s work is surely continuing!

    Just as when He spoke Creation into existence, it was when His work ceased, that God looked upon all that He had created and declared it to be “very good!” (Genesis 1:31). Then He rested. In a similar way, God will not rest until the work in us is also completed. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Being confident in this very thing; that He which hath begun a good work in you, will complete it until the Day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) God did not begin Creation and stop half-way through. He has shown us the thoroughness with which He works. He begins a work, performs the tasks, and completes His endeavor.

    It is all done with God’s purpose in mind: The perfecting of the Saints. As hard as some days seem to be, God still pushes us through until we are eventually brought to the end of ourselves, and full trust in Him alone.

    Yesterday’s Our Daily Bread also brings the same thing to light. Leaning on the everlasting arms of the Lord we entrust our children to Him, especially those that do not walk with the Lord, for the end of the story is not yet written. And last week’s study in Matthew 24 reminds us, “…see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (v.6)

    Better days lay ahead. Hard days lay ahead, too. But the best days lay beyond!

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song
of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God
Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.’” –Rev 15:3

Saturday, April 25, 2015

LOOK UP!



Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

  
Throughout yesterday, the media kept updating their information on a major earthquake in
Nepal, Asia. Within a few hours, the death toll rose from 600 to over 1,100 people who lost their lives in the quake, and its aftershocks. I’m sure that by the time you read this, the death toll will be much greater.  Relief organizations from around the world have mobilized to get aid to those in that region.

    Besides the initial quake, and its 23 aftershocks (many of which were in excess of 5.0 on the Richter Scale), what the media did not cover, were the 24 OTHER earthquakes that occurred around the globe on Saturday, April 25th. From Nepal, to the Atlantic off the coast of Portugal, to the Dominican Republic, to Oklahoma, California, and Alaska, the US Geological Survey reported four dozen earthquakes in a single day, and that was just by noon, local time.

    Jesus told us that earthquakes in diverse places were but one of the “signs” of the Last Days. When we see these signs and others, we are told to look up, for our salvation (Jesus) draws near. Many people both churched and non-churched are asking what all these signs mean; they sense that something is up, and maybe they’ve heard of Christians talking of that blessed hope, Who keeps us through all our trials.

    The environmentalists speculate about what “Mother Earth” is trying to tell us, but Believers know what God has already told us. Some day the Earth and its heavens will flee from the face of the Lord and there will be no place found for them anymore (Rev 20:11). Every mountain and island will be moved out of its place [Rev. 6:14 (Mt. Everest, and many islands were shaken yesterday!)], and that the stars and planets will be dissolved, and the heavens will be rolled up as a scroll. (Isaiah 34:4). This cataclysmic event(s) will change everything as God prepares for the White Throne (Final) Judgment. (Mt. Everest and many islands were shaken yesterday!)

    The beginning of sorrows started with wars and rumors of wars, with Jesus assuring us, “…but the end is not yet.” But make no mistake; God’s plan is unfolding every day. “Looking up” has a two-fold purpose: First, we look up to see Jesus coming in the clouds as we are taught in Acts 1. That He is coming reminds us to be ready, and welcoming, anticipating the great joy that will overwhelm us, with hope fulfilled, and faith turning to sight. Second, looking up takes our focus off the things that are happening around us to the places we love. Look UP!... so that we are not turning back longingly to what is left behind, as Lot’s wife did. We see Lot and his family; we see Noah and his family, and we see the possibility facing the Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:30), “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy (whole) house.” All are types of the Rapture!

    Believers will escape the Great Tribulation. Others will go through it. But all who endure to the end shall be saved.

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts
of peace, and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end.”  ~ Jeremiah 29:11
















Sunday, April 12, 2015

Delight In God's Word

Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our reading this morning, we find God speaking to David, to the Jews, and to every Believer, that He will be faithful to His own.  It is a covenant statement.

We tend to equate righteousness with holiness, faithfulness, obedience, and devout, unwavering faith.  When we see these outward qualities in an individual, we often wish for that kind of walk with the Lord.  And though that may be mankind's definition of righteousness, it cannot be God's definition , for God does not look upon the outward appearances, but sees the inward heart.

King David was less than holy, faithful, obedient, devout, and did not possess an unwavering faith.  The same can be said of the Jews overall, and most certainly of New Testament Believers also.  The scriptures are clear:  "There is none righteous, no not one."  - Romans 3:10; "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23

We conclude then, that righteousness belongs only to the Lord God, and it is somehow entrenched with His glory.

In Psalm 112:1 & 3, it tells us "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments... ( the man's) righteousness endureth forever."  Somhow then, God has the ability, and the desire to share His righteousness with any who fear Him, and delight in His commandments.

Someone who does not delight in God's commandments surely will not fear Him, nor respect  His word.  So now, it is of David, of the Jews, and of the Church that we must examine:  Do any delight in God's commandments?  Do we hang on every word of God?  Do we honor and respect Him in that way, and find ourselves more delighted in His will rather than our own?

If you and I are feeling convicted, and guilty, and find ourselves falling short, then take heart dear Believer.  For God also delights in a few things too!  He delights in mercy and grace, and offers forgiveness to any who ask it.

"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage?  He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy."  - Micah 7:8

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."  - Hebrews 4:16









 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Jesus: God of the Impossible!



Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
 
This week as I gathered my thoughts about what to teach on Resurrection Day, I was blessed to see something come clearly into view that I think we all take by faith, and also take for granted:

Though we’ve learned the story of redemption from the Gospels, and gleaned much from the Old Testament about God’s plan of Salvation, Jesus’ life remains to be an incomprehensible impossibility according to human understanding.

    The ancient gods of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome interacted with humans, but for the most part, they stayed either separate, or aloof from mere mortals. Jesus is unique because He willingly became what He created (Col. 1)

    His Virgin birth? Impossible. His possession of knowledge to teach the scribes and Pharisees? Impossible. His teachings of the same scriptures as the Pharisees, but with grace and authority? Impossible. To heal with a simple touch? Impossible. To heal remotely by the word of His mouth, without any touch at all. Impossible. To feed more than 5,000 with two fish, and five loaves of bread? Impossible. To walk on water? Impossible. To heal a withered hand, make the dumb hear, the blind see, and the mute to speak? All impossible.

     To raise the dead? Impossible. To look beyond the cross, for the joy that lay ahead? Impossible. To go willingly to the cross? Impossible. To dismiss His own spirit? Impossible. To raise Himself up out of a tomb? Impossible. To raise Himself up bodily and be take into a cloud? Impossible.

    A young Virgin, Mary, thought what God had the Angel say to her was impossible. To give birth without knowing a man? Impossible. But from those first words of the Angel Gabriel, we read what Matthew recorded so long ago for us: “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”  (Lk. 1:37)

    Jesus is the God of the impossible. If He did all those things for the Tribes of Israel, can you imagine what He will do for His own Church? If He did all those things for doubters, skeptics, and non-believers, can you then imagine what He might do for you and for me? If only we would ask!

    But it sounds all the more impossible, doesn’t it? Miracles, just for the asking…  


“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, 
that your joy may be full.”    - John 16:24












Saturday, March 28, 2015

TO THE COMING OF MESSIAH


Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

God’s Prophetic Word is sought after and studied, often to simply verify the accuracy of God’s own words in our hearts. Such study settles our faith, and resolves human doubt. Amos 3:7 declares that God will do nothing that He has not already told to His servants, the Prophets. What we have taken and believed by faith, is proven in His Word and recorded deeds.

This is vitally important to us as Believers. While we take it on faith that God is true to His Word, there are others we meet who want and sometimes demand evidence for why we believe what we believe. Fulfilled prophecy becomes a foundation for renewing our faith, and for the new faith of others.

Today’s scripture passages regarding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, are pretty important. For one thing, the event is recorded in all four of the Gospels. Therefore, it is a significant part of the story of His life on Earth. As Messiah, Jesus’ coming was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. David wrote in the Psalms, “In the volume of the book, it is written of me,” but the context of his words show that David was assuredly not speaking of himself; he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write of the One who would inherit his Throne, Jesus. Even David’s phrasing is prophetic: all the information we have about Jesus’ life has been collated into a single “volume’ we know as The Bible. Except that David was Divinely inspired, how could David otherwise know this detail: a single volume?

Today’s celebration of Palm Sunday is a milestone in prophecy. Besides fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks in chapter 9 of Daniel, Zechariah’s words in his chapter 9 are also fulfilled on this day, noted on the Jewish calendar as the 6th of Nisan.

The day also recalls another milestone in Jesus’ life, because it is the first day of Jesus’ most difficult week on Earth. From the glory of today, to the humiliation and rejection later in the week, Jesus shows us that He identifies with all that we go through. Whether through family, friends, or co-workers; whether through the religious leaders, or through an oppressive government, Jesus knows our trials, and stands as our steadfast advocate in every situation.

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” - 1 John 2:1 












 

Monday, March 23, 2015

TO ALL GENERATIONS



Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
 
    In Psalm 119 today, verse 90 states, “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the Earth, and it abideth.” Like every scripture passage, the depth of these few words goes far beyond just what we read. To dig into them is to retrieve what the Lord refers to as “the hidden manna,” from Revelation 2:17. 

    From Genesis, we understand that God made the heavens and the Earth. But then God established them; He established the physical laws of the universe, and those of the Earth itself during His creative acts. Gravity, time, seasons, and the balance-in-nature. Evaporation, and rain give us a cycle of renewal in our water resources, and the function of humans and plant-life give us the renewal of oxygen and other gases in the air. He established radiant heat from the sun to warm us, and gathered waters together into rivers, lakes and oceans to cool us. 

    Colossians 1 tells us the Jesus made all these things, and Jeremiah 31 tells us that He set the whole universe, the sun, moon, and stars into motion. And within the ordinances of the movement of the galaxies is where we find the seasons, and the night and day. It is the spinning of the earth that gives us night and day. It is an ordinance of God, and for our benefit. Beyond Earth, we find the entire star-field following patterns, and again in Genesis, we are told that they are given to us for signs. Job 38 refers to the movement of the heavens as the “Mazzaroth;” all ordinances from God. 

“If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.”     ~Jeremiah 31:36~ 

    Therefore, the ordinances of God are tied to the existence of Israel, and God’s chosen people. In “establishing” the Earth, God ties the spinning of the planet to the survival of His people. He set the world spinning, and it abides according to the intricacies of the movements of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. 

    The prophecies of the End-Times are at the forefront of the minds of many lately. If you want to know where we are in the end-times time table, keep watch on Israel. God has apparently, made Israel the centerpiece of all Creation.

Psalm 119:90(b) ~ “…thou hast established the Earth, and it abideth.”














Sunday, March 15, 2015

THY WORD IS MUSIC TO MY EARS



Bobservations
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz



    In 2004, Christian songwriters Adam Watts, Andy Dodd, and Jeremy Camp worked together on an album, and one of the songs they came up with is most unusual for a Christian praise and worship album. The title was “Jesus, You Have Carried Me.”

    It is a song of personal introspection, as Jeremy Camp sings the lyrics which gives homage to Jesus’ sustaining grace and power. The melody is a bit eerie, but the words are powerful, Biblical truths:

Jesus You have carried me, When I could not stand
Jesus You have carried me, It's all been part of Your plan
Jesus You have carried me, It's Your footprints in the sand
Jesus You have carried me, It was always in Your hands

    The Poem “FOOTPRINTS” is referenced in the lyrics, and this is exactly the message of today’s passage in Psalm 119: 49-72. And along with today’s Reading, we have an image of God’s faithfulness to Believers, in that He promises to manifest Himself to us.

    The manifestation will not likely be physical, and we may have difficulty putting our finger on exactly what will have happened, but the manifestation will bring peace, and comfort, and assurance to the troubled soul looking to Jesus for deliverance. This is an often repeated theme throughout the Psalms, and it’s an often needed reminder to Christians that Jesus is always within ear-shot of our thoughts, our fears, our worries, and our difficulties. He hears our cries!

    Hope and comfort come from our turning to God in everything. It is the Believers expectation of Jesus to supply for all our needs, but to also “smooth our ruffled feathers” when the world imposes the unexpected upon us.

    And when the Lord brings resolution to us, there is an awe and a desire to worship Him because of His mighty works and abilities. Another popular song comes to mind, from Lenny LeBlanc :  “NO HIGHER CALLING” –

There is no higher calling, No greater honor
Than to bow and kneel Before Your throne
I'm amazed at Your glory, Embraced by Your mercy
Oh Lord I live to worship You
  
God’s Word is like music to our ears!














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