Sunday, August 25, 2019

Called To Holiness

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today in our reading we read what I think is one of the scariest verses in the entire Bible. God’s chosen people, whom He has called the apple of His eye, have turned their back on Him repeatedly, and He says He leaving them until such time as they come to their senses. He’s leaving them!
Reading in other passages, we know God draws them back, but how could we live without His daily presence, especially after once knowing Him? 

What is it that keeps us turning away from God? We have read it in the Bible: it’s that lie that Satan spoke to Eve. Genesis 3:5 – “For God knows that in the day that you eat the fruit of that tree, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be like gods, knowing good from evil.“ But such Godly knowledge must first be accompanied by Godly wisdom to make it apply to daily living!

Rejecting God takes place everyday. We hear it among our youth and among the strong-willed. Feeling immortal in so many ways, they say “You’re not the boss of me; nobody’s getting hurt here, we’re all consenting.” It is the rejection of authority, and the rejection of God’s warnings. 

Our culture has barred God from having access to our children, our next generation. And even among churched families, Sunday School is not enough; the parents must hold true to teaching their children of God’s plan of salvation, and His laws regarding Godly and ungodly behaviors. There is an epidemic of sin in today’s world: heroin and opioids, crack cocaine, marijuana, and an array of sexuality choices like we’ve never seen before. Yet God’s Word stands as it is, giving warning. Those that eat the fruit of THIS tree shall surely die. 

I wonder how many fentanyl victims, how many heroin victims, how many users of LSD, cocaine, practitioners of a free-love lifestyle and AIDS patients might ask for a “do-over” had they just seen the consequences of their choices. 

“Being as a god” is beyond the finite human mind, but some are not convinced until it’s too late. There’s too many choices, and too much wisdom that we lack! We can be grateful that Christ Jesus saved us from all that, and from His wrath in the future, and we find that God’s Word is absolutely true:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the
knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  ~~ Proverbs 9:10

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Treachery to Triumph

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Just as our families have all been touched by the hand of the Lord, we have seen the devil at work there as well. Too often, the blessings of marriage have been dissolved due to unfaithfulness and/or the waning of affection between husbands and wives. Divorces and separations within the Church are as numerous as in the general population. How fickle the human race can be! Being of one mind one day can turn rapidly into being double-minded the next.
This problem in humanity is one of the weaknesses of the flesh, and it is universal, as statistics show. The reasons can be multiple, and complex, but unless maturity, ethics, and shared goals are in the mix of a relationship, every relationship can be headed down hill! 

As a Pastor, it’s always a blessing to officiate at a wedding. And conversely, it is a horrible disappointment when one of those marriages falls by the wayside into divorce. I’ve married couples whose marriages have lasted 30 years, and others whose marriages lasted just two weeks. And in retrospect, I can truthfully say that the ones that have endured life’s storms, have enjoyed the “staying power” of the Lord Jesus Christ at their core. Each party of those marriages has had a commitment to Christ resulting in His blessings, and their longevity. 

This spiritual relationship is what Jeremiah is speaking of to the northern and southern tribes. But when God impresses this upon them, they are dull of hearing, and filled with hatred towards God’s messenger, Jeremiah. As the Apostle Paul wrote of a Godly marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:20-33, his words should reverberate in our own hearts: “This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:32) 

Jeremiah reminds us today that for the sins of backslidden Israel, God has “put her away,” and given her a bill of divorcement. Yet, God’s promises to the nation remain in-place: “I will bless those that bless you, and curse those that curse you,” (Gen. 12:2) and “Your numbers will be as the sand upon the shores of the seas” (Gen. 22:17). God’s mercy and grace is defined here: Whether we are worthy or not, God stands by those that are His!
“I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”  ~~ Lev. 26:12, 2 Cor. 6:16

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Complacent Faith

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Spiritual condition of today’s Church is reflected in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. John’s letters to each of the seven churches in Asia give us insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the churches, and therefore, of leaders of them and the believers in them. 

Within those letters, there is also a pattern developed that is applicable as the “Church Age” has progressed from that first Pentecost after Jesus’ Resurrection, to the final days of the Church on Earth, which ends at the Rapture of the Church. Ephesus to Laodicea, we can follow Church History during the era of the Church Age. 

From the false professors at Ephesus, to facing the wealth, comfort, and deadness of the Loadicean Church, Solomon would remind us that there is “nothing new under the sun.” His and Jeremiah’s messages remind us that people are the same everywhere throughout history, and faith ebbs and flows as times change from peaceful and easy to difficulty and hardship. But it is always in the more difficult years when faith flows and grows! 

Hardships that press us beyond our abilities cause us to drop to our knees asking for God’s help, and mercy. It is then that we realize that we are helpless, and He alone is our only hope!

Jeremiah’s message to Israel could just as well have been included in John’s letters to the churches in Revelation. Our nations and lands are sick these days. Change begins with us, with the Church. “The west” is as the Roman Empire at its end: we are rotting from within, destroying our nation with infighting, accusations, lies, and all sorts of sin. It should be obvious even to an atheist. But for the Jew and the Christian... even the Law and the Spirit, can turn a nation away from destruction. Maybe even the whole world!

“If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.” ~~2 Chronicles 7:14 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Obedience? Or Sacrifice?

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Prophets of the Old Testament were set as Watchmen over the nation of Israel. The Watchmen over a city were always strategically placed to be able to see enemies approaching, and to sound the trumpet to alert the inhabitants of the city, and prepare to do battle. The Officers on board a military ship do the same: spotting a threat, the alarm sounds, and “Report to battle stations” echoes throughout the ship. Cities and ships all have Watchmen, and with the Prophets, they were told they were assigned as Watchmen over the nation of the Israelites. 

Our reading this morning speaks of the gravity of the position of watchman; one that calls to arms, and an advanced warning system, all from God’s loving provision towards those that are His. 

The Prophet Samuel was sent to King Saul, to give direction concerning the Amalekites! (1 Samuel 15). Saul had disregarded the word of the Lord and failed obliterate and destroy all the descendants of Amalek, and their possessions. After his victory over the Amalekites, pride set in and he decided that a spoil of the Amalekites’ goods was in order. Saul saved the best of their flocks of sheep and oxen. And by failing to obliterate all memory of Amalek, some Amalekites escaped the judgment of God. Later on, it was an Amalekite that slayed Saul! 

So by ignoring the warnings of God’s Watchmen over the nation, the King’s fate was set. It was only a matter of time before Saul’s judgment would come. 

For the Church, Jesus said, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that, miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” 1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11. Among others in the church, God has set prophets to warn, Watchmen to give His Word and to sound an alarm! Remember to heed to Word of the Lord, when the Prophets speak and prophesy.  “Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” ~~1 Samuel 15:22

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