Friday, November 2, 2018

The Silversmiths Revolt

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    Earlier, in Acts (5:34), there a large dispute. The Jews were offended at the Apostles’ teaching and ministering in the name of Jesus. It was the Pharisee Gamaliel that became the voice of reason, discouraging the Jews from doing anything to the Apostles and their service for Christ.

    Gamaliel’s conclusion: If the message of Christ is of the world, the world will not be able to sustain it. But if His message was of God, the Jews would be, as it were, fighting against God. A voice of reason was heard by the Jews.

    There is no doubt that Gamaliel was on God’s side, and on neither the side of the Jews, nor the Apostles. God would decide what would become of the teachings of Jesus.

    This happens again in our study of Acts 2. A voice of reason prevails in returning civility to a heated mob, with charges and accusations against the Apostles being bandied about.

    “There is nothing new under the sun,” Solomon wrote. This week, an accused bomber was apprehended amidst his emotionally charged response to the strong vitriolic words that fueled the unsuccessful attack across the USA. His bombs hurt no one but were considered as a domestic terrorist act. He is facing up to 58 years in prison. Democrats in high position were the targets. The media covered the investigation thoroughly. Police and Government Agencies provided a voice of reason among strong emotions. 

    Earlier this month a young man sent a package of deadly ricin to our President, and high officials at the Pentagon. Again, a man was fueled by strong rhetoric and he had an emotionally charged response against the President and others in the Republican leadership. Oddly, this man was charged with his crime while the hunt for the bomb-maker was in full swing, yet few even heard of the attack, for which he now faces a possible term of life in prison if convicted. Throwing verbal gasoline on a fire has ruined two lives this week. 

    Voices of reason need to be heard in order to diffuse critical situations. A “mob mentality” can take control where there is no one to invoke reason. Verbal attacks need to be silenced on both sides. Reason must rule over emotion.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall 
be called the children of God.”   ~ Matthew 5:9 ~

Ephesus is Filled

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    We read in Acts 2 that there were Disciples from Asia present at Pentecost, and pockets of Believers sprouted up as they took Jesus message back to their homes. Prior to that though, there were Disciples of John the Baptist that had done similarly, taking John’s message of Baptism and Repentance home.

    Part of Jesus’ message to the Apostles and Disciples was that they would do many greater things than just healings and miracles. John 14:12 describes Jesus telling them that because He goes to the Father, Believers shall do many more miraculous works than just what the Apostles saw during Jesus’ ministry of preaching, healing, and feeding large crowds. It is there in John 14 that we find Jesus saying that if He goes up to the Father, His Holy Spirit will come down with, upon, and in the Believers. It is the Holy Spirit who allows us, enables us, and empowers us to greater things than physical miracles.

    We know that Jesus changes hearts. And from that same chapter of John 14, we also know that the Holy Spirit teaches us all things, and reminds us of the things that Jesus has said.

    To not receive the fullness of the Gospel leaves us with only a portion of God’s will for us, and in the case of the church at Ephesus and elsewhere, a full experience of Faith is missing! Some churches today don’t think the Spiritual Gifts are for today, and that must grieve the Holy Spirit! If Jesus were only to have preached a message of salvation, without proof of His mighty ability to change lives, how many would have ever have followed Him. And though John’s message is one of hope, it still presents a salvation based on works: if I repent and be baptized, I will be acceptable to God. That still leaves me with a corrupted heart, and a daily internal struggle for righteousness.         

The greatest work of the Apostles was that they changed the whole world.

“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: 
or else believe me for the very works' sake.”  - John 14:11

Works then, are the evidence of true faith in Christ Jesus.!

Aquila and Priscilla

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    Aquila and Priscilla are a delight to read of in the scriptures. As Jesus sent the Apostles and Disciples out two-by-two, it’s a natural fit when the two are a married couple. When God said in the Garden of Eden that the two shall become one, there are then male and female insights that mesh and bond together like no other pairing. We don’t hear of Aquila or Priscilla without hearing also of the other. Their individual ministries meshed like hand and glove understanding and supporting one another.

    Norine’s Uncle and Aunt spoke to us about the ministry shortly after I was ordained. More specifically, Auntie spoke up and encouraged us strongly to travel and minister together. This Aunt and Uncle had been in ministry for 40 years at the time, and these were words of wisdom from folks experienced in ministry and who loved us in the Lord and in the family.

    It was just a piece of counsel shared casually, and the wisdom of it has born out over the 30 years of our ministry. Being one-in-the-spirit on most everything is a blessing that blesses over and over again. The benefits are mutual support, immediate input from another point of view, and protection for the ministry and the marriage against foreign accusations. These things are immeasurable, and they also take the exercising of our faith to accomplish.

    At times it comes easily, and at other times the requisite humbling of one’s self, as both are encouraged, directed, and then guided to decisions. Aquila and Priscilla’s ministry is not necessarily Earth-shaking, but it is profound and life-changing for others, and a blessing to each other.

    The issues of marriage are the issues of the Church. The Apostle Paul expands upon this in 1 Corinthians 7, and in Ephesians 5, he reminds us that the marriage relationship is as Christ and the Church.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, 
and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”   
~ Ephesians 5:31,32 ~

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