Saturday, September 26, 2020

I Will Deliver


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We have repeatedly seen in the scriptures, that when Israel looked to their neighboring countries, they failed to draw the line when it came to the pagan religious beliefs of those neighbors. God’s Commandments were quite specific, and held no room for compromise. In the New Testament we read how we are IN the world, but God calls us to not be OF the world. So the same concept of separation applies to the Church that applied to Israel. This is not a double-minded message; we can live peacefully among those with whom we do not share beliefs and cultures. It’s called “civility.” But we cannot adopt their pagan beliefs without putting our faith at risk of compromise. This is a major pitfall in a multicultural society like our own.

Whether it was Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, or Babylon, it was a rule of international law that you “conquered, or be conquered.” Being at the crossroads of ancient trade routes between three continents, Israel always found themselves with foreigners in the land. And for the biggest and most powerful nations, whoever controlled the Trade Routes, controlled the spread of great wealth. They all had their eye on Israel because of its strategic location.

God is more powerful than them all, so Israel should have been turning to God at every threat. But they didn’t. They turned instead to the pagan gods of enemy nations to supply provision and protection. God eventually used those same foreigners to bring judgment upon His people.

But in God’s anger, He never sought to destroy them, because they were His people. And to free His people from idolatry, He would judge the ones He used to bring judgment upon His own. That’s what these next few chapters are all about: Judgment against the nations that sought to overrun Israel and conquer her, and to use and abuse her people... God’s people! Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, and Babylon all became targets of God’s wrath.

God wants His people to be free, free to live for Him, and free to worship Him only, and free from the world’s habits and tenets.


Today's Audio Message: "I Will Deliver"

As the book of Jeremiah comes to a few remaining chapters, God has some final words for the surrounding Gentile nations who had not escaped God’s judgment for their own sin.  In the OT we have the Word of the Lord against the Gentiles, in the NT we have the Word of the Lord for the Gentiles.  Egypt is the first to be judged. In 605 BC two major world powers would come to a face off.  The Babylonians were on the move to take over as the most powerful nation. God had warned Judah not to go to Egypt because He knew they would be defeated, yet they willfully disobeyed.  Judah would not be safe apart from God, they would be punished for their disobedience and deliberate sinfulness. Egypt is defeated by the Babylonian armies and ceases to be a dominant power. 

Eighteen years is a long time for God to move on His prophetic word, but He did, and He will. Today is no different! As we await the Lord’s return and coming judgment, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God has delayed His coming.  The apostles expected him in the first century, but he did not come. Now many centuries later, those who have given up the hope of His return have fallen away serving themselves and other gods. When you do not take God at His Word, the consequences are devastating. One thing is for sure, He Is Our Hope, We Can Be Sure Of His Word, and He Will Bring It To Pass.  His delayed timing is an act of mercy, giving His children time to repent and turn back to Him. Don’t overlook the years of mercy that He is possibly extending to you, because He will keep His word and it will come to pass! God is merciful, longsuffering and loving, and is not willing that any should perish, but He is also Righteous, Holy and True, and He will not turn a blind eye to sin.

Chapter after chapter we have seen that when we stray there are dire consequences. But we also see when we repent, He forgives and restores us.  When we are overcome by the enemy, He provides protection.  When we feel abandoned, He comes to our rescue.  When we are discouraged, He give us Hope!  And He certainly provides hope for Israel as He reminds them of His promises to come! 

“ . . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Grief To My Sorrow


 
Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the New Testament, Jesus sent the Apostles out two-by-two. Essentially, it was to fulfill the testimony requirements that a thing was established by the witness of two, or three. Hmmm. God follows His own advice! What a concept!

At different times in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul had several different companions in ministry travels: Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. What wonderful co-ministers to work beside him! Also, Aquila and Priscilla, as husband and wife traveled together spreading the Gospel. They even crossed paths with Paul.

In the Old Testament, Moses had his brother Aaron, Abraham and the other prophets all has wives or other helpers with them. So today in Jeremiah 45, we are introduced to Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah. We’ve read of him briefly since chapter 32, but today we see God giving Baruch a message. Just like in our own families, some names tend to repeat from generation to generation. So upon introducing him to us, God differentiates Jeremiah’s Baruch from two other Baruchs in the Old Testament.
 
The family tree is how God does this. This Baruch was the son of Neriah, and the son of Maaseiah. Nehemiah records the other two Baruchs, and they too are identified by their father’s lineage, clearly identifying them as different from each other and Jeremiah’s Baruch.

If I haven’t confused you too badly and you are still following along, we see that God knows all the Baruch’s personally, knowing all about them; who their fathers were and the grandfathers too. Nothing is hid from God. It should remind us that Jesus Christ (God) is a very personal Savior.

Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” When we consider the personal knowledge that God is with us, that last phrase becomes “…there is none other name under heaven by which (insert your name here) must be saved.”
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be batptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?”  - Matthew 3:13, 14
(Notice the personal pronouns used. And this little exchange of words comes between Jesus, and the Baptist, of whom Jesus said, “among men born of women, there is no greater prophet.”)

Jesus is a most personal Savior to all of us!


Today's Audio Message: "Grief To My Sorrow"

Chapter 45 is a flashback to the 4th year of Jehoiakim, a king of Judah. While one might think that someone made a mistake placing this chapter towards the back of the book rather than several chapters earlier, they would be wrong. Though the book of Jeremiah is not in chronological order, God makes no mistakes. It is a timely reminder that God is faithful to those He has called, no matter the hardships they face along the way.

We can be very proficient at feeling sorry for ourselves, can’t we? When things don’t go quite the way we expect we are disappointed and discouraged. When we’ve invested our lives in the service of our Lord only to be met with hatred, criticism and even failure, our eyes begin to focus inward.

Here we see Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, feeling beaten down and questioning everything. He would be alongside Jeremiah to pen some of the most difficult prophecies from the Lord, and we see his transparent nature coming out in despair.

We have all been here, haven’t we? Anxiety that overwhelms us, that pit in our stomach caused by fear and doubt until at last we cry, “Woe is me!”

The frustration that had been festering in Baruch’s heart does not go unnoticed by God. In fact, as he is writing down the Words of the Lord, he realizes that these strong words are specifically directed towards him. God chastens those whom He loves. While we are looking for a quick fix to our circumstances, or a way out of them, it is the nature of God in Scripture to give us what we need, not what we want.

The Lord instructs Baruch to stop looking at himself, and shift his eyes to Him.  The Lord instructs us to do the same.  We will endure tough times, and God allows it for our spiritual growth, to correct us, to teach us, to prove our faith,  and to glorify Him. 

The world may crumble around us, but the Lord’s promises are sure. He will never leave or forsake us, and He will fulfill His purposes in the lives of His people. 


Saturday, September 12, 2020

HAVE IT YOUR WAY, BUT . . .























Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

About 125 years before Jeremiah’s chapter 44 , Isaiah prophesied a few words about Judah and those living in Jerusalem. Sennacherib, King of Assyria (Ninevites) spoke with Hezekiah, King of Judah, and told Hezekiah that an invasion was coming. His envoy offered help if the Jews would bow to King Sennacherib. Hezekiah wisely turned down the offer of help from an enemy.

Hezekiah recognized that help from an enemy creates a false hope and an alliance with one’s own enemy. Endangering the nation’s future is the key issue here. Reaching out to another is a humbling experience. Reaching out to an enemy is foolishness, and places the whole nation at future risk.

Today in our country, there are people reaching out to an enemy for the help they perceive they need. “Racism” is a four-letter word these days, and rightfully so. I can’t think of anyone that openly embraces it in my city. ENTER: Black Lives Matter. The problem is that there are two “Black Lives Matter” groups. One is sincerely opposed to racism, hoping to obliterate it from our culture.

The second is an opportunist group, posing as a friend. ”BlackLivesMatter.org” has assumed that moniker to confuse the uninformed. The leaders of the BLM.org group has publicly and proudly identified themselves as dedicated Marxists (Communists). Other evidence points to them being Satanists, and still other observers others accuse them of much more.

If they are Satanists, that explains their hatred toward religious people of every color. BLM.org’s intolerance towards traditional values threatens us all, and the Marxist intolerance of religion and our capitalist culture is also obvious, based on the actions of BLM.org rioters in the streets, in restaurants, and in front of churches. ( Read 2 Peter 2:9-14 ! )

2 Kings 1:3 states that Hezekiah “did that which is right in the eyes of the Lord.” It was not a time to simply pray, but also to act, tearing down the altars and groves set up by evil kings and people willing to compromise their faith, and angering the Lord in the process. May we all be people of a lively faith, moved to tear down the walls racism, and lift others above the lies of the enemy.

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” 
~ James 1:2 (and Romans 2:13-15)

Today's Audio Message: "Have It Your Way, BUT..."

WE WILL NOT HEARKEN UNTO THEE! 

And finally, we see the unraveling of the heart front and center of the people of Judah. What a stubborn and rebellious people! 

Jeremiah makes God’s final appeal to Judah to repent and abandon their idolatry, or face the consequences of their own actions and His wrath. Yet they remain brazenly defiant. They will put other gods before Him and worship the pagan deity Ashteroth in acts of immorality.  In willful disobedience they defy God’s commands on every level. Even more shocking is their arrogance. Jeremiah warns them of what will come, that God would no longer put up with their wickedness, yet they tell Jeremiah they will do what they want to do.  They will follow the words of their own mouth.  What darkness!  What blindness!

Do you see yourself in this passage? 

His final words are words of judgement because they would not Hearken to the Word of the Lord and continued in sin. "I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah" (vs.11). God will not always strive with man, He will ratify their decision because they have continuously hardened their heart against Him. He will let them go their own way.  They would die in their own sins.

The fact is until we are genuine in repentance before God, nothing will ever change.  God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance - (2 Peter 3:9).    God had been patient with Jerusalem, and with Judah, as He is with all of us.  Yet even after all that they had witnessed... that ALL OF GOD'S WORD had come to pass, they still would not believe.   We must come to God on His terms, not ours.  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23










Saturday, September 5, 2020

Fake News!

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The problem with News Sources is that we ourselves rarely know who they are. We place trust in the people that come into our living rooms each evening and present the Headline News stories to us. But who are their “sources?” Before the corruption inside the beltway became a news item itself, there was a movie which flopped in the theaters. “WAG THE DOG” spoofed the Advertising Industry, and was meant to be a comedy.

Advertising Executives created a false truth, and then marketed their commercials to authenticate the lie. They created a false scenario; promoted a false public response; and then marketed a fake solution to a non-existent problem. Personally, it seems to me that lies are now the truth, and the truth is a lie: that’s what fake news is all about.

The "Experts" of the remnant that aligned themselves with Jeremiah heard all his words from God, and then they called him a liar. They believed he had an agenda, and instead they revealed their own agenda: they did not want to repent and change their sinful ways.

A person’s “thoughts and the intents of their heart” is a perfect definition of their personal agenda. Those of Jesus’ were always pure and true; always meant to draw us in, convict us of sin, and bring us to His expected end for us.

Jeremiah, as always, is between a rock and a hard place. His commission was to preach to the Jews of Jerusalem, so he is taken with them to Tahpanhes, Egypt. And there, the Lord spoke to him again. If we go to the world (Egypt), rather than to God for refuge and safety, then our troubles will follow us and the judgment will be upon our worldly refuge.

Fake News? False Idols. Real judgment.
Isaiah 5:20 – “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (And check out verse 19 !)


 Today's Audio Message: "Fake News!"

What we see here in chapter 43 is same thing we have been seeing through the book of Jeremiah. A people who want God’s approval, but not His plan. Seeking God’s approval and not His plan is wrong. It will fail miserably. These rebellious people will again suffer the consequences of their own actions because they WILL NOT HEARKEN to the Word of the Lord. The men of Judah decide Jeremiah is a liar so they will not obey the words of the Lord to come back to their land. They want to go to Egypt where they believe it’s safe and more comfortable. These “leaders” make the decision to disobey God and sadly bring everyone else down with them. There is a cost to their disobedience, but God is still in control. There is no doubt, many times what God asks of us is not easy. The path He lays out takes turns where we once again have to trust Him. Once again we have to rely upon and look to Him. He alone is our refuge and we will dwell in safety only when we obey His word.








Saturday, August 29, 2020

We Will Obey

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


With leadership in disarray, any nation is ripe for a coup d’├ętat. Outside forces watch and wait for opportunities to converge and they set their sights on taking over a nation, or a corporation, or a State, county, or a neighborhood. This, is history repeated over and over again. “Conquer, or be conquered!”

True leadership will restore order and a sense of security for the people. But in Chapter 42 of Jeremiah, the new leader, Johanan is sought out, and by-passed for Jeremiah the Prophet. It is a good thing to see that the Jews were willing to seek out God’s Word, and have Him reveal His plans for them.

But even the Word of God is not enough for some, and the Jews among whom Jeremiah lived, were the same “stiff-necked” people as ever. Self-willed, and sticking together for strength in numbers, they forget that this same path was what brought the judgment of God upon their entire nation.

Suppose that it is our faith that is in disarray. We question our “Leader” and His ability to provide security and safety? Our enemy and His, is waiting and watching for the right moment. Avoiding or rejecting God’s counsel will inevitably end with our vulnerability to a personal spiritual “coup” to take place. Is this too not the same throughout history? The head of Liberty College was just removed because he compromised his faith. These are simple, practical lessons for us, and for our country. The application is both narrow for individuals, and broad for entire nations.

The nation that rejects God, and keeps Him away from its children, its youth, and its citizens cannot maintain its independence and liberty. God’s enemies are rioting in our streets, and they also riot in the heart of mankind. For them, freedom means the removal of all authority over them.

True liberty, however, comes with the removal of fear, and from an orderly society able to hear the Holy Spirit. Clamoring and destructive riots bring fear to the people. That’s not freedom, nor is it liberty, for our liberty comes from God.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.~ 2 Corinthians 3:17 ~

Today's Audio Message: "We Will Obey"

There is something to be said about fear and predetermined thoughts when seeking the Lord. Johanan wants to flee to Egypt, but seeks counsel from Jeremiah first. While they are wise to seek the Lord, are they ready to obey what God asks? “Pray for us, we will do whatever God asks.” Jeremiah goes off to seek the Lord, and as 10 days go by, perhaps patience is wearing thin. It seems that Johanan and those with him had already determined the direction they wanted to go. The call to trust and obey was not what they wanted to hear. The Lord challenged them once again to obey Him, and He also warned them of the danger of following their own counsel, and walking their own way. Destruction will surely follow them. They wanted what seemed to be the easy path. You would think by now they would get it, but like many of us, they are a stubborn and rebellious people. Johanan trusts in his own thoughts and follows his own ways instead of the Lord's.






Saturday, August 22, 2020

Then Were They Glad

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In 2018, the terrorist group Al Qaeda was in disarray with its leadership gone and no one to take their place. Though leadership was absent, the ideology was not. Enter “The Arab Spring,” a period of time when people of Arabia organized a bit more, and tried to bond together with other people of the Muslim faith from Egypt to Iran.


Any time there is a void in a nation’s leadership, you can be sure that some group or person will be raised up among the people to fill the void. Good, bad, or indifferent, the void will be filled. We can see it in the headlines today, and in the historical events of the past. Of such is today’s study in Jeremiah 41; a historical record of a perceived weakness in Governance, or jealousy from someone that perceives they were overlooked, when they had a bloodline right to leadership.

At the core of it all is pride, a thing which the Lord hates, according to Proverbs 6. The rejection of leadership that the Lord has put in place will surely end in infighting and disagreement as to whom has “the right” to sit on a throne of power. The family line has been broken, and jealousies develop concerning who deserves to be sitting on the throne. Former TV hostess Barbara Walters could accurately say, “Welcome, This Is 20/20.”

As King Solomon is recorded to have said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” As Jeremiah is quoted, “The (human) heart is deceitful and desperately wicked: who can know it?” This is the backdrop of the text today: Fighting against the will of God and His agents will bring terrible results to the rebellious, and good results to the People of God. 

It’s obvious even from the history of the Jews that having a right does not make one righteous before the Lord. One may be next in line to the throne, and still prove to be an evil ruler.

Pick a nation, any nation. The events in this chapter are common to all. Revealed is the heart of man as he compares himself to others. Mankind is a fickle lot, and trust from one generation to the next can be unfruitful and detrimental. Don’t look at what they say, but watch what they do.
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” - Matthew 7:20

Today's Audio Message: "Then Were They Glad"

Chapter 41 of Jeremiah is a tragic story showing how evil pursues sinners. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil , as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

Previously, we had learned that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah a great man, he had given him a commission as governor of the land which he had conquered to secure and protect the land, and the remnant of Judah left behind. As the people transition under new leadership, the enemy sees their weakness and is readying himself at their doorstep.

Ishmael, being of the royal seed of David, sought revolt. Jealousy and pride would drive this man on a killing streak that would shock even the most hardened criminal. His entitlement of royal blood would fuel him to stop at nothing in reversing the absolute humility that came from the Babylonian invasion. Through cunning deception, and under the pretense of friendship, he would go on a treacherous murdering streak killing Gedaliah, the Jews that were with him, the Chaldeans, and the men of war. His ruthlessness was not just contained to this event. Pretending to be in mourning, he went on his next slaughtering expedition killing more, and taking captive the people who survived living in Mizpah.

In this historical political drama of the time, no matter how entitled we think we are to something, it should never rule above the authority of God in our lives. Ishmael is ruled by his own pride. He takes matters into his own hands refusing to trust the plan of God. We may not always understand the plan of God, but we must never fight against it.

Gedaliah will be murdered because he did not believe the warnings of Johanan. Similarly, we too can become indifferent to the warnings the Lord is giving us, and in the end, we can let our guard down to be overtaken in sin and the consequences thereof - captivity. When we find ourselves in these circumstances we may consider returning to that which we have been delivered from. Much like the Israelites, we camp on the border of our own Egypt. When things unexpected happen, or we are thrown by some horrific circumstance, we must continue to maintain our relationship with God, being deeply intimate with Him as we wade into what is unfolding before us.

God is faithful still. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bare. He will make a way of escape!





Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Remnant Of Judah

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

 A bit of an Epilogue to the previous chapter, today we see how obedience is rewarded as God takes the remnant left behind and sets into motion the keeping of the land for future generations.


The losses are real. Thousands were carted off to Babylon. Neighborhoods were destroyed, and landmark buildings plundered. But all these things were built by the hand of man, and God’s land remained. 
God promised that the people would return to the land, so when that happened, what would they find, were it not for the remnant left there? 

Since the time of Jeremiah’s being called of God to be a prophet to the people, Jeremiah remembered the words of God concerning Jeremiah’s purpose: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 

I can’t imagine anyone forgetting a conversation with God like that! During his 41 years of ministry, he warned the Jews and surrounding kingdoms of God’s plan, “to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” Jeremiah 1:10 

With the first part of his mission sadly complete, when given his freedom, Jeremiah knew his work was not finished. Re-building and planting was yet to be accomplished so that “the old paths” were in place, and established for when the People came home to the land given to their fathers. The remnant would tend it and keep it. 

From warnings, to encouragement, a prophet’s work is never really done. God will never leave His people without hope. For an entire nation of Prodigals, there will be always be something to come home to.

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Genesis 2:25

Today's Audio Message: "The Remnant Of Judah"

Though the script of history changes a bit, the characters remain the same. There’s the faithful obedient servants of God, and there’s the stiff necked, disobedient rebels. Those who follow God and His ways, and those who follow their own way. We know what happened to disobedient Judah, God’s promised judgment had come.

Today we will see how obedience is rewarded, and how God works all things together for the good of those who trust Him (Romans 8:28). The king is carried off into Babylon, and the servant is saved!

We meet a Babylonian captain who basically preaches to the children of Israel the very things that Jeremiah had preached to them for 40 years. Here is a pagan Babylonian telling the children of Israel they were sinners! As believers, don't we bow in shame when the world publicly announces the sins of the saints?  There are many non-believers who can see God's justice and truth with regard to others, they're always quick to point out the sins of believers.  Though they may be right, they are completely blind of their own sinful condition, and do not themselves heed God's Word and His warning.

Jeremiah is freed from the prison court.  He is given a choice to stay in Judah, or go with them back to Babylon where he will be cared for, for the rest of his life. He is advised to go stay with Gedaliah.  After 40 years of hearing the voice of the Lord, I think Jeremiah already knows what God would have him to do.  There will be two more prophets that the Lord raises up in Babylon, both Ezekiel and Daniel, so Jeremiah stays, along with the remnant who are left to keep the land as God preserves it for future generations.

We will also meet Gedaliah, the good governor who is put in authority over the land.  A man who will uphold the law.  Gedaliah is later warned by Johanan of a coming coup led by Ishmael, but he is a man who thought the best in people.

Find out what happens next week!









Sunday, August 9, 2020

Choose Life!

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The fall of Jerusalem is complete. Go to Babylon and live, or fight for what you cannot keep, and die. King Zedekiah had rebelled against his nephew, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, so things did not go well for him when the Chaldean Army tracked him down and captured him.

But the situation for God’s faithful Prophet was far different from that of King Zedekiah. Being taken by the Chaldeans, Nebuchadnezzar’s influence in the land had garnered him a tremendous amount of information about Jeremiah. He learned the words of God spoken by Jeremiah as a warning to the Jews. He simply knew that this Prophet of the Jewish God had inroads and insight into the mind of God. A wise conqueror knows those of the enemy camp. He undoubtedly became aware the behavior of the Jews towards this man of God.

This would set the stage later on when King Nebuchadnezzar needed a holy man of the Jewish faith to interpret a dream he had dreamed. Daniel was that man chosen because he feared God and was bold in faith, refusing to worship any God but Jehovah God.

But for the 39th Chapter, Jerusalem is destroyed, just as God had warned. Those that tried to save the City were soundly defeated, and those citizens that went off to Babylon lived to see another day, and eventually prospered. This too was part of God’s will for His Chosen People.

God had a plan that would win for His people, and not fail them. That is always God’s way. Man most often chooses an easy path, and learns the hard lesson that God’s way is better, and is assured of success. His agenda is always supreme, taking precedence in even the smallest of details.

While the natural man plods through his life, the sanctified man puts his trust in God, assured of His expected end for him, and the magnificent lessons to be learned along the way, and reaped in glory!

“And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I scatter them among the nations, and disperse them among the countries.” ~ Ezekiel 12:15 ~

Today's Audio Message: "Choose Life!"


We have finally come to the terrible climax, of which Jeremiah spent years prophesying God’s warnings to the people during the last years of Jerusalem. God’s word had fallen on deaf ears, His warnings unheeded.

Nebuchadrezzar's siege lasted almost 2 years. Food sources diminished and supply lines were cut off, the people’s suffering grew. Yet, in it all, there was a hardness of heart, and self-righteousness. Jerusalem was so strong, that the inhabitants believed the enemy could never enter it. But sin provoked God to withdraw his protection. The long-suffering patience of GOD gives way to judgment and Jerusalem, whose name means "the foundation of peace," is delivered into the hands of the Gentiles.

It is a fallacy to think that great difficulties will result in repentance and obedience. The truth is, God leaves the decision to us. His way, or our own way? Life or death? Jeremiah was covered under God’s protection, and Zedekiah met with a terrible end! We can obey God and live, or suffer the consequences of our own futile actions! 


Isaiah 55:6-9
"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."






Sunday, August 2, 2020

From Mire To The Court

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

 We left off with King Zedekiah putting God’s Prophet in the dungeon, at the request of the King’s Princes. Zedekiah acquiesced, and let them do as they wished. He admitted he was powerless over his underlings. 


I suspect that Zedekiah was in fear of the Princes under him; most likely they were placed as Princes by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who also installed Zedekiah on Jerusalem’s throne. Oh! What a wicked web men can weave! King Zedekiah’s reign over Jerusalem was as compromised as the Jewish faith of those that lived there. 

Love begets love, and wickedness begets more wickedness. And compromise begets more compromise. For Zedekiah, his own faith was so compromised that he did not recognize the words of the Prophet as the Word from God. But there are serious doubts about his Jewish heritage. Though Zedekiah is a lovely name with Jewish underpinnings, Zedekiah was named Mattaniah by his mother, a woman named Hamutal who was a daughter of a different Jeremiah, from the city of Libnah (25 miles WSW of Jerusalem, in the hills of Judea.). 

Somewhere along the way, a Jewish woman spent time with a Babylonian, and Mattaniah/Zedekiah was born. Marrying outside your Jewish tribe was a compromise. At the time, a Jew marrying outside of Judaism is far beyond a compromise. Zedekiah was a compromised King in more ways than one. 

We only have to look at our own leaders 3,000 years later. We can identify good ones and bad ones. We can identify them in other countries too. Jesus gave us perhaps the most important tool to help us see men as they really are: “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). We can discern the kind of people we would want to be friends with, and those that we should be avoiding. If someone draws us closer to Christ and our beliefs, that person is likely a keeper. But if their friendship draws us away from Christ and His righteousness, it is time to re-evaluate the friendship.

Jesus told us that He alone is the “way, the truth, and the life.” He said “no man gets to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” ~ John 3:18
Compromise? It’s just not worth it!


 Today's Audio Message: "From Mire To The Court"

Continuing in chapter 38 in the book of Jeremiah, we learned that Jeremiah had been cast down to the dungeon to die in the mire after delivering God's Word to the people. The king who delivered him once before, and promised to feed him had again changed his mind.  Why?  Proverbs 29:25 tells us, "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe."  Well we know this king wasn't putting his trust in the Lord, he was a king that scripture tells us did wicked in the eyes of the Lord.  Zedekiah feared the officials under him. Even kings are rendered powerless by compromise. He was weak, compromised, and fearful.

In spite of the king's decision, God had other plans for Jeremiah. All of a sudden, what appears to be out of nowhere, a gentile comes to Jeremiah’s rescue. Ebed-Melech was a eunuch in the kings court who pleads for Jeremiah’s life.  This man is from Ethiopia. Now, Ethiopians in the Old Testament were sometimes called upon as mercenary fighters. So, this man is in Jerusalem probably fighting alongside the Judeans. He’s on their side. He’s no traitor.

And yet, he for some reason cares about what happens to Jeremiah. We will find out why in the next chapter. His concern over the evil injustice of Jeremiah's plight, and his boldness to speak up on Jeremiah's behalf publicly,  speaks volumes of his character. And just as Zedekiah caved to to the wicked officials, he flip flops again and grants the request of the eunuch to release him. A double-minded man like Zedekiah is unstable in all his ways. He wavers and such a one like a wave of the sea – driven with the wind and tossed.

Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to answer His question, and wants a truthful answer. Jeremiah responds cautiously knowing not to trust this king. Nevertheless, the king gives Jeremiah assurance of his safety if he answers the king’s question.  Jeremiah is faithful to God, and once again delivers His Word to Zedekiah. God demands obedience and surrender, if he obeys he will live, if not he will die. The fear of man brings a deadly snare. It's decision time for this king.  The ball is in his court.  God delivered his warning, and now he must choose.  Will he follow the Lord, or will he die?

Jeremiah face much persecution proclaiming God's Word, just as we will. Jesus said, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."  John 15:20.  But we do not have to fear them!  Jeremiah feared the Lord, not kings, princes, priests, or armies, and that’s exactly what God calls us to do. Be faithful, God has a plan!








Saturday, July 25, 2020

Apostasy In Jerusalem

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


 In 1948, C.S. Lewis wrote his lesser known book, “ON LIVING IN AN ATOMIC AGE” just three years after the end of WW II, and the Age of Weapons of Mass Destruction had been ushered in. Though 220,000 died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, millions of other lives were saved. 
Enter 2020: If Lewis were alive today, he might do a book update entitled, “ON LIVING IN THE COVID-19 AGE.” Were Lewis to update his book, only the title would change. Inconsistent information, and contradictory paths for treatment abound. Today, much of the world is paralyzed by fear once again, as it was after atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. If masks work, why are we social distancing? If social distancing works, why are we wearing masks? Hydro-Chloroquine, or some vaccine that doesn’t even exist yet? Whose reports are we to believe?


Lewis reminded us that living in this fleshly world was 100% fatal. No one would request a painful death. But as scientific research gave us the A-bomb, it has also given us anesthesia, pain killers, medical treatments and even cures for much of what ails us!


Lewis also reminded us as Christians, we were not to go hide with long faces. We ware instead to occupy our time with normal human activities: prayer, raising our children, working, teaching, and sharing time with others. We are to pull ourselves together and experience the fullness of peace and joy that Jesus has provided for those that are truly His, and share it with others!


And, with all of science’s advancements, there is still only one cure for death: 

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: …” - John 3:36
The story has been told and re-told of thousands of starfish that lay dying on a beach, baking in the sun after a storm washed them ashore. A child was tossing them back into the sea one by one, when an adult laughed and said to the child that all his work would not matter. Tossing another back into the water, the child responded, “It matters to that one!”
“He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.”Ezekiel 35:5

 Today's Audio Message: "Apostasy In Jerusalem"
 
"When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8.  

When Jesus asked this question, He was talking to the disciples about the importance of prayer and not losing heart.  This is something those living in the last days before Jesus’ return need to grab hold of.  We are living in a time of extreme stress, and chaos.  Christians will be tempted to lose heart and give up in the face of a world that for the most part rejects the message of the Gospel and opposes those who believe it.

That is what is going on in Jeremiah 38.  Jeremiah is delivering God’s warning to the people, and when the princes of Jerusalem heard the words he had spoken to the people, they were angered. There confidence was in human strength and might, not in God. They refuse Jeremiah's warning because they have no faith in God.  This is very like what we see happening in our world today.  Mankind has replaced their faith in God, with faith in themselves. Their anger, and unjust treatment of God's messenger portray hearts that have sunk deep into the mire of their own sin.  Strange that this is exactly what they did to Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is taken and lowered down into a miry dungeon, SUNK IN. 

What a perfect description of apostasy - a deep, sludgy, intractable prison. Regardless of the  difficult situations we will face on earth, God will avenge his own…those who cry out to Him day and night. The question that faces us is will we remain faithful to Him, or will we compromise and walk away?  God’s word cannot be silenced, He is faithful to His Word and it will come to pass. 





Sunday, July 19, 2020

And One More Thing

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As stated before, Jeremiah’s 30th through 36th chapters are the prophet’s writings, but they have been taken out of sequence. It was Chapter 29 that brought us the Prophet’s warnings of the nearing captivity. In the next few chapters, he takes us from King Zedekiah’s Accession, to the Captivity. Zedekiah has made concessions to Pharaoh of Egypt rather than to go peacefully into Babylon. Jeremiah sees what is happening, and turns to his home town of Anathoth. It seems there is nothing left for him to do in Jerusalem. 

Once in Anathoth, he is recognized, falsely accused, and for the fourth time, Jeremiah is put into prison, this time in the household of one Jonathan. For his speaking the Words of the Father, he is held captive. For doing good, he is looked upon as a traitor.

Perhaps you have experienced similar things: it seems that no matter what you do, there is no good outcome. That’s called being put between a rock, and a hard place. No one benefits in situations like this. It’s “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” Jeremiah is accused of the treasonous action of turning to the Chaldeans.

People assume what they want to assume. Sometimes it’s to seek a scapegoat, sometimes it’s observations from which wrong conclusions are drawn. For whatever the reason, it’s extremely hurtful towards the one being lied about. Even appealing to the King proves to be an exercise in frustration. 

But even as judgment is pronounced against Jeremiah, God has seen fit to cause Zedekiah to make sure that Jeremiah will be taken care of in a safe place, and fed daily. Now, understand this: turmoil surrounds the land. The Chaldeans have retreated upon hearing of Pharaoh’s Army coming. Who is in charge? Who carries authority? What’s going to happen to Jerusalem? Only God knows the answers to these kinds of questions.

Though Jeremiah’s ministry is not finished ! ...
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. ~ 2Timothy 4:7,8 ~


Today's Audio Message: "And One More Thing"

Throughout the book of Jeremiah we have learned about a stiff necked people who had hardened their hearts towards the things of God. They had refused his word, and His prophet, and followed after their own sinful desires. Not even the warning of a coming judgment could get their attention. 

Sound familiar? We’ve all known folks like that. They go on in their sinfulness, ignoring the Lord until their lives begin to fall apart. Quickly they get in touch with someone they know is “tight with the Lord” and ask them for prayer. This is what is going on in Jeremiah 37. Here we find Jeremiah falsely accused and thrown into prison, the king sends for him, and seeks assurances that all will be well. Jeremiah does not hold back, he gives King Zedekiah the whole truth, not exactly what the king was looking for.  Well, Jeremiah has been giving them God’s word for decades. They want deliverance, but they don’t want to repent. Jeremiah doesn't quit, he remains faithful to the Lord in his calling. 

God will take care of His own.  Jeremiah spoke God's word with boldness,  and God gave Jeremiah favor in the eyes of the king. 

Like Jeremiah, Paul was a faithful minister of the Gospel, faithful to the very end. And at the end of his life, he had no regrets. He was able to look forward to hearing his Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” He was able to affirm, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”


Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Word Restored

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


In the days of Israel wandering in the wilderness, towards the end of their journey, Moses was called up onto a mountain. And there he received the Ten Commandments, etched on two stone tablets to share with the People. Now safely away from Pharaoh and his army, and Egypt clearly behind them, the Lord knew they would need laws to guide their lives in a land promised to them by God.

But when Moses came down from the mountain, he was incensed by what the people were doing, and threw the tablets down, breaking them to bits. And today in Jeremiah, we learn that the words of God were an offense to those that held power over the people in Jeremiah's day. 

Are we not watching the same thing happen again in our own land today?

Man's actions are offensive to many, and God’s Word is an offense to those who hold sway over others by instilling fear in the weak and slow to understand. Today’s message leaps out of the Bible and onto the front page of nearly every media outlet available. Solomon was absolutely correct: “There is nothing new under the sun.” 

While many believe we are living in the Last Days, today’s message is one of hope in the future. Whether the laws were broken by Moses, by Jehoiakim, or by those that rebel against western society and our culture, the Laws inspired by God can never be erased from the human heart, and they will be restored one day. But let’s be more specific than just “one day.” Moses broke the tablets in Exodus 32, and God etched new tablets in Exodus 34. If we believe the timeline set forth in many Study Bibles, the Law was restored to the people within a year, if not within days. In the Book of Jeremiah, Jehoiakim destroyed the words of God in chapter 36 and they were restored in the same chapter. 

We are told, and we believe that our nation’s laws were originally founded upon Godly principles found in God’s Word. God’s inspiration to mankind is all around us. I believe the restoration of law and order will be soon. God will not put up with His inspired words being set aside, and removing them or changing them comes with heavy penalties in Revelation 22.



"Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away.”  (Mt. 24:35 ~ Mk. 13:31 ~ Lk. 21:33).



Today's Audio Message: "The Word Restored"


In chapter 36, once again we see God’s wonderful mercy to a sinful nation.

Jehoiakim was an evil king. Unlike his father, King Josiah who honored the word of God with great reverence, Jehoiakim had great contempt for, and rebellion against God’s word.

Jeremiah is instructed to take a scroll and write down all the words that God gives him to be proclaimed before the unrepentant people of Judah. He sends Baruch, his scribe, to proclaim God's Word to the people, and when the officials in the temple heard, their hearts were stirred wanting to hear more. They receive it, authenticate that it is from God, and take it to the King.

Not everyone welcomes God’s word or heeds His warning. . Jehoiakim did not accept God’s word or His warning. He would not believe that God would make good on His threat and bring the Babylonians down upon Judah. He sought to silence God by throwing His words into the fire. So God speaks His word directly through Jeremiah to Jehoiakim - when you despise and reject the Word of God, you're done! You are cut off permanently - and he was.

One of the ways that God vindicates His own Word is through the fact that He fulfills it. Everything happens just as He promises; and when it’s all over, it will be proven that—as it says elsewhere in Scripture—“Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Joshua 21:45).

God’s Word endures forever. God stands behind His own word, and as we see from this passage, He preserves it, He broadcasts it, He authenticates it, He protects it, and He fulfills it!




Sunday, July 5, 2020

King Of Hearts


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


Today in Jeremiah 35, we are introduced to “the Rechabites.” These people come into focus in this chapter only, in the entirety of the Bible. It is thought that they were possibly from a small village, 3 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Little else is known of them, but for reasons laid out in today’s study, their name is recorded in Sacred Scripture for us to read. 

Scripture itself offers us a glimpse of who they might have been: King Saul’s son, Jonathan, had two Captains of the Bands at his disposal. Baanah and Rechab were brothers, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, of the Tribe of Benjamin (2 Samuel 4:2).
[Scriptures also tell us that “Rachab” (spelled with an “a” is also the Greek spelling of Rahab, the harlot who helped Joshua at the taking of Jericho.) We are not to confuse the two.]

Captain Rechab would have lived in the Palace of King Saul, and witnessed much of what went on in the lives of King Saul and Jonathan. He would have witnessed the cost of pride for what had happened in that Royal Family. From the pinnacle of power over Israel, to watching the family be wiped out, if this is the correct Rechab, the fear of the Lord would have been instilled deeply in him. 

The Rechabites, as descendants of Captain Rechab, become an example for Israel to follow. Jeremiah uses them as an example of obedience, and questions why some will give complete obedience to their human ancestry, and others reject God, the Father of us all! Yet in spite of His promises to us, He, His warnings, His prophets, and His Word are rejected regularly.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” ~ Joshua 24:15 

Today's Audio Message: "King Of Hearts"


Jeremiah 35 showcases a group of individuals who paid attention to detail, as it were. This group, known as "the Rechabites" had obeyed the commands of their ancestor Jonadab, who was famous for wisdom and piety. 

He charged his descendants to live their lives separately, as sojourners in the land. They were not to settle in a land that was not their own. They were not to build houses, plant vineyards, or drink wine, among other things, which was the basis for refusing the wine that God had instructed Jeremiah to offer them. They strictly observed these rules, for their safety in times of suffering. 

God draws a sharp contrast between the Rechabites who faithfully obeyed the commands of their earthly father, and the children of Judah who failed to hearken to the commands of their loving heavenly Father. It is the contrast between wisdom and folly (Proverbs 1). 

The wickedness of men’s hearts will ultimately meet with God's judgment. If they will not hearken to the will of God, God will bring correction. 

As Jesus bent His will to the Father’s will, so should we. 

Who is the King of your heart today?






Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Time To Redeem


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


The Prophet Jeremiah was dealing with the powerful family of a foreign Ruler. As a result of that Ruler’s agenda and influence throughout the Middle East, King Zedekiah was seated on the Throne of Jerusalem. The King of Babylon had been working on taking Jerusalem for decades. Babylonian influence seemed everywhere, hence, the defilement of the Temple, and the installation of Zedekiah on the Throne of Jerusalem!
But King after King of Jerusalem, from the days of Josiah and after, “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” [The story line is in 2 Kings 22-24, and it turns out the Zedekiah is actually the uncle of Nebuchadnezzar! Ole “Neb” is his nephew! (2Kings 24:17-20)].


Our first question might be, “How can this be true?” But Babylonian influence had been throughout the region for many years. Zedekiah’s birth name, Mattaniah, had been changed by Nebuchadnezzar after he assumed the Throne of Jerusalem. It was Zedekiah’s mother who had given birth to two of Jerusalem’s Kings. Hardly a Camelot of the Kennedy years, the Royal influence of Babylon’s King was all around in Judea, and the Coastal Plains, and the siege of Jerusalem was at the core of Babylon’s political expansion. The Jews were so compromised in the faith that stopping the expansion would be like trying to single-handedly stop one of Europe’s high-speed trains. Everyone had forgotten Joshua’s judgment to separate from the heathens. 

We see one group’s anger in the toppling of our National Statues. But it was five years ago here in town that a Village landmark statue was removed from the corner because it wasn’t politically correct! Ideologies creep in little by little until our foundations are gone. God’s Word is our foundation, and Jesus Christ is our Victor. Don’t let the enemy steal your foundation!
“Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor’s landmark. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” - Deuteronomy 27:17

Today's Audio Message: "A Time To Redeem"

In chapter 34, the beginning verses are directed at Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. Babylonian influence ran throughout the middle east. In 2 Kings 24, we learn Zedekiah was Nebuchadnezzar’s uncle, and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. The Jews had departed from God’s law and mixed with an idolatrous culture, the king encouraged it. 

Today we are witnessing vain philosophies and ideologies creeping into the church. The Church that was once strong and vibrant in America, is now weak and sickly. It has merged with the world and has welcomed it's strange doctrines. 

We, like the Jews, have committed spiritual idolatry and are departing from the sound Word of God. Babylon, like our enemy, is seeking to expand its kingdom. The battle is for our souls. God in His mercy has been very patient giving warning to us. Jesus is coming, and we must redeem the time by drawing closer to Him, standing on His Word, and shining as beacons of truth in these evil days. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24







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