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







Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Davidic Kingdom


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

With the many chapters of the Old Testament, Jeremiah 33 is among the most forward-looking chapters, not so much in detail, but in generous helpings of hope for a people who are losing their homeland. This is a timely chapter for the Jews of that day! 


Living without hope is a nearly impossible task. Hopelessness leads to depression, which leads to more hopelessness, and then a person is on a revolving cycle, their depression getting worse and worse as hopelessness also builds. That’s why this chapter is so vital for us even today. Chapter 33 leads us to a view of “The Davidic Kingdom” for Jews, and the Millennial Kingdom for Christians. 

A Son of David, descended from the Tribe of Judah will take the Throne of David, and it will be a great blessing for the Jews and the Gentiles. That same Son of David will come again, just as He promised, and will reign from David’s Throne, restoring the land and the people, and reconciling all things to Himself. It will be a time of great blessing to all mankind. 

This chapter brings us to the prophetic fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, spoken by God all the way back in Genesis 12; Verse 3 of Genesis 12 closes with this phrase: “…and in thee, shall all families of the Earth be blessed.” 

What does all this mean? It means hope restored for all mankind, Jew and Gentile alike! Jeremiah’s words given by God teach us to wait on the Lord because His promises like this one are yet ahead. 

And for today’s believers, we are tempted to wonder where God is, in the midst of all the social unrest, violence and hatred. THIS is a timely chapter for us too, for in His Word, we find our hope:
“And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:12 and Revelation 21:3).

Today's Audio Message: "The Davidic Kingdom"

Jeremiah prophecies of the future Davidic kingdom. Though the Lord is delivering Judah into the hands of the Chaldeans in judgment, they are not cast off forever. Jeremiah prophecies of a future day coming when God will restore the people to the land of Israel. He confirms and reaffirms the covenant that He made with David, and the promises that lead us to the Lord, Jesus Christ, the gospel of salvation and the future hope of all who have put their trust in Him. The Lord Himself will execute judgment and righteousness in the land. Jehovah-tsidkenu - The Lord our righteousness! Our righteousness is in Jesus Christ alone who sits at the right hand of the Father, and who will sit on the throne of this universe forever.

There are 2 people groups according to scripture, The Jews, and then everyone else (the Gentiles). In Romans 11:11–24 Paul compares Israel to the natural branches of a cultivated olive tree and the Gentile believers to the branches of a wild olive tree. The natural branches (Israel) were broken off, and the wild branches (Gentiles) were grafted in (verse 17). The Gentiles, then, have been made partakers of the promises and inherit the blessings of God’s salvation.

While the “natural branches” were cut off because Israel failed, God’s purposes are not complete until Israel is also fully restored and sharing in the promises to Abraham and his seed. This brings full circle God’s larger redemptive plan for both Jews and Gentiles as distinct populations within the people of God in the Davidic (or Millennial) Kingdom.







Saturday, June 13, 2020

I Will Bring Them Again


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


God’s covenant with Abram was dedicated to a time far off into the future. His off-spring would be a blessing to all mankind, but at the time of the covenant-promise, Abram had not one single child! The prophecy was for his heritage and legacy! (Genesis 12:1-3 / 15:1-5 & Hebrews 11:4-14)

God does not want us to be ignorant, so He informs us of what He has in mind for the future… OUR future. He tells us in His Word; He tells us by the Holy Spirit; He reveals things to us through the lips of others. God does not want us to be uninformed, for even today’s Media gives us an idea of what the future is likely to be! (Scary stuff!)
BUT! God does not want us so focused on today that we lose sight of His promises! God knows that His children will suffer in this world!

Jeremiah was waiting for his country to be taken over by Chaldeans, people with a different ideology. Are we not watching something similar in our own country today? And if, as the Jews endured Babylon, it happens to us, will we keep faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? 

God cares not what kind of a human government we live under. He cares that we remain faithful to Him, and loving towards our fellow man. Can we keep faith in spite of recent events in Wuhan, China? Do the events in Minneapolis and other cities around the world make you want to scream and pull out your hair? 

GOOD! For now you have real reason to put your faith in Jesus Christ! Mankind will always let us down. We will always fall short of God’s righteousness. (Psalm 118:8,9)

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” - Psalm 27:13,14

Today's Audio Message: "I Will Bring Them Again"


The state of where we are now in our nation, and around the world, are the very things that Jeremiah has been dealing with and what we will address in this chapter.

As we read about the world situations; domestic chaos in our own country; the unrest, division, and general spirit of divisiveness. We are witnessing every man doing what is pleasing and right IN HIS OWN EYES (Judges 17:6). The height of self-centeredness is the height of entitlement, the 'me first' mindset.

The Jews did what was 'right' in their own eyes. They turned their backs on their God, and refused His ways. They fell into gross idolatry and committed gross abominations in the sight of the Lord. Not heading His call to repentance and return to Him, God sends His Judgement to correct them.

The Chaldeans are about to take over the city of Jerusalem, Judah, and the Tribe of Benjamin. Jeremiah is told to purchase the land sold by his cousin right in the heart of the siege, and is asking God what good the land is to him when the enemy is going to overtake it. God's answer discovers the purposes of his wrath against that generation of the Jews, and the purposes of his grace concerning future generations. It is sin, and nothing else, that ruins them. The restoration of Judah and Jerusalem is promised and though they are now brought to despair, God gives hope of mercy which he had in store for them for future generations.

Trials are certainly here, and more are heading our way, but let us remind ourselves this, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:26)  Place your confidence in the Lord and His promises. Our inheritance will come as we place our trust in Him.








Sunday, June 7, 2020

Trials Of Redeeming

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

This first Sunday after Pentecost, we find ourselves back in the study of the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 32. Jeremiah’s ministry so far has been one of frustration, for no one was heeding the warnings he supplied from God. The Chosen People are a rebellious lot, and as God’s Word describes them, “stiff necked.” 

But King Zedekiah is between a rock and a hard place: Surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, going to Babylon, or fight for the City of Jerusalem. 

Jeremiah sees the faithfulness of God towards His people, He knows and has warned Zedekiah and the people that a battle for the City would be fruitless. Their only hope of living was to go to Babylon. So in the midst of such difficult choices, Jeremiah is also given a chance to do something God’s way: as prophesied, his nephew Hanameel (i.e. God is gracious) comes with a proposal for Jeremiah to redeem his field in Anathoth.

The law of redemption fell to Jeremiah as the nearest relative, and he did secure the field of his nephew in his own name. 

Faced with a no win situation, how does God ask us to proceed? Do we cut our losses and look for the nearest escape, or do we follow God’s laws and work with His plan for us? How faithful has God been to us in the past? 

Jeremiah saw only one path forward, and that was to follow God’s directives, for this field in Anathoth was in the City of Jeremiah’s birth, and its name means “answers to prayer.” It was the right thing to do, and it became the reason to make yet another plea to God.

Concerning God, the writer says in Hebrews 6:19 -

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and

steadfast, and that which entereth into that within the veil.”

Today's Audio Message: "Trials of Redeeming"

In chapter 32, Jeremiah, who is in prison for his prophecy, purchased a piece of land signifying, that though Jerusalem was besieged, and the whole country threatened to be laid to waste, that the time would come, when houses, and fields, and vineyards, would once again be possessed by them. His people would be in captivity for 70 years in Babylon by God's hand. But the promise of return is also His promise. 


God's ways are many times not our ways, and when we find ourselves perplexed by His methods, like Jeremiah, we look to who He is, and trust Him. God who is the fountain of life, and power; is there really anything too difficult for Him? He is a God of boundless mercy; and righteous justice; and all of His ways, he directs for the best...our best!

The Jews captivity was brought by their own sin, and though judgment is upon them, God has a plan of redemption and restoration. Whatever trouble we are in, we may comfort ourselves that the Lord sees it, and knows how to remedy it. We must not dispute God's will, but yield to it.
 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Agape’ & Spiritual Gifts

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


Acts 2 opens ten days after the Ascension of Jesus, finding The Eleven Apostles, and Disciples of Jesus together on Pentecost, still one in purpose, waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, as Jesus said would happen.

The Holy Spirit came with power, and enabled the group to speak to people from at least sixteen different languages and dialects. As they spoke of Jesus, each person present heard in his native tongue.

This gift of tongues is multifaceted. Speaking in love, ministering, and for lack of a better description, laying aside their own apprehensions and fears (taking up their cross) so they could be witnesses of Jesus Christ to a diverse body of listeners.

1 Corinthians 12 describes several spiritual gifts, and says that none will work as intended unless used in love. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1John 4:18). So when people are emboldened to speak in love then the Fruit of the Spirit is present: “temperance,” which is self-control (Galatians 5:23), among others.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit bring out in the Believer the Fruit of the Holy Spirit then, keeping us from doing things we should not do, and enabling us to do the things of God’s will and purpose. Remember John 14:26? The Holy Spirit teaches us all things, and brings to our remembrance the things Jesus has said to us. 

Being willing to share with others the things that Jesus has spoken of places us at the crossroads of “me.” If we are Spirit filled, then we will be empowered to lay our lives aside, and empowered to speak about the things Jesus has spoken to us.
“…and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” Acts 1:8

Tell people what you’ve witnessed Jesus do for you.



Today's Audio Message: "Agape' & Spiritual Gifts"

The celebration of Pentecost Sunday reminds us of the reality that we all have the unifying Spirit that was poured out upon the first-century church in Acts 2:1-4. This gift of the Holy Spirit that was promised and given to all believers on the first Pentecost is promised for you and your children and for all who are far off whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:39).

No matter how much we have been gifted with one gift or another, we are all called upon to develop a number of areas mentioned in the lists of spiritual gifts: to be hospitable, to show acts of mercy, to serve one another, to evangelize, etc. As we seek to serve God out of love for the purpose of building up others for His glory, He will bring glory to His name, grow His church, and reward us (1 Corinthians 3:5-8, 12:31–14:1).


Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Law In Our Hearts



















Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


On this Memorial Day Weekend, we recall all those that have gone before us, fighting for our liberties and the liberties of generations to come.

As the song lyrics go, “All gave some; some gave all.” We are all grateful to those that have fought in all our wars since the War for Independence.

Our independence comes at the cost though of personal responsibility. Personal responsibility includes examining our own hearts, and taking others into consideration when making decisions. There are but few decisions we make that only affect us. Usually, decisions affect those close to us as well. We should always be asking ourselves, “Who will my decision effect?” Spiritually, it becomes easy to see how temptations may have far reaching results. All we have to do is think of Adam and Eve’s decision to eat a forbidden fruit. 


As we return to our study in Jeremiah today, we shall see the results of God’s plan for Israel, and ultimately for us. This was His decision: Re-unify Israel; bring them back from Babylon; restore them to their land again, remind them of His faithfulness and undying love for them. 

As Spiritual members of God’s Chosen People, grafted in to all His promises, we will share in all the benefits of God’s Chosen, and because of Jesus Christ, enjoy a liberty from the bondage of sin. It was Jesus who went before us to fight the battle for our minds, our bodies, and our souls. There is no payment we can repay to Him, except with our loyalty to Him, our obedience to His will, and our love because He loved us first. 

Thousands have fought and died for our physical freedoms in our nation. Only Jesus Christ chose to die for our Spiritual freedom from sin.

“And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” - 2 Corinthians 5:15

Today's Audio Message: "The Law In Their Hearts"

A New Heart, A New Nature, A New Covenant - God Promises Are Everlasting!
God continues his message of encouragement by addressing all Israel – not just Northern Israel. He tells them, as it were, that as they leave the land for their time in exile they should remember the way they take. Why? Because their descendants are coming back that very way some day. Verses 21-22. That’s the promise of God.

Jeremiah states that all Israel will enjoy a joyful return to their land. We have watched the regathering of Israel, and even now God's Spirit is resting upon the church. The church is God's instrument upon the earth until the Lord takes His church out. When He does, He will put His Spirit again upon the nation Israel as He deals with them once more nationally. In that day God will make a new covenant with them. He will change their hearts, and write His law upon them. A new heart, a new nature, and upon this New Covenant that God has established with us, will also be established with the house of Israel in that day.





Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Ascension Promise

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


We are entering the celebration of the Lord’s final days physically alive on Earth. It’s after His Resurrection from the dead, and before His glorious Ascension (observed May 21st), to be seated at the right hand of the Father. 

On earth lately, we have had our daily headlines filled with information about the current virus pandemic. I personally think it’s sad that the media hypes our situation, and reports on things that cause us to fear, without also providing a balance of hope for the future. Science and medical experts are determined to resolve this pandemic without God’s help!
Did Jesus not warn us sufficiently? “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33. As we read this verse, Jesus gives us this warning and a hope: overcoming the world, and by way of extension, all of the world’s woes! And, it’s not the Great Tribulation He is speaking of, it’s just life in general. 

Shortly after the Flood of Noah, God recognized that mankind would always rebel against His authority. Genesis 9:1 begins with instructions for Noah and his descendants, in much the same way God gave counsel to Adam and Eve. “Be fruitful and multiply; the animals on the Earth, and the food that Noah’s family should eat. And then God went an extra step: Knowing man’s rebellious heart, God established human government in Genesis 9:5 - 6. With all that His creation provides for man on the Earth, order would have to be kept to produce civility between humans. Rejecting God’s authority, God establishes human government to make men accountable to each other. 

A serious issue, for sure, for without order in an ever-growing population, chaos would take over, and as we have witnessed throughout history, everyone likes to rule over as many others as they can. But is mankind’s plight futile? No, it definitely is not. “For with God, all things are possible.”

Believers around the world have accepted the Authority of God over His Creation, and we look to the teachings of God’s Word to guide us through to His expected end for us.

“For I know the thoughts that I have toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” - Jeremiah 29:11


Today's Audio Message: "The Ascension Promise"

The story of Jesus’ Ascension is told in Luke 24:49, Mark 16:19 and Acts 1:3, 9. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared several times to His disciples and others for forty days. During this time, He spoke to them further about the kingdom of God, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, for whom they were to wait (Acts 1:2-9). After 40 days, He was taken up to heaven for the last time (Acts 1:9-11).

We are looking at the final days of Jesus ministry, walking alive on the earth in physical form before He ascends into Heaven. Though He is with us always, His physical presence on earth comes to an end. We then are His witnesses, and we become His physical presence thereafter.

"But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (vs.8)

This prophecy continues today, He wants His Word out there to reach every heart and every ear that is willing to hear. You don't have to be a Bible Scholar to share what Jesus has done for you. A witness is called to give testimony about the things that he/she saw and experienced personally.

What has Jesus done for you? Be a witness and testify of the One who loves you with an everlasting love. Who loved you first before you loved Him.




*To listen to this series, or other audio messages, visit our Media Page!




Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Lord's Family

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers both here, and where ever this message is read. Although Mother’s Day is not a universal holiday, it is observed in much of the world. The second Sunday in May is dedicated to honor mothers everywhere here in the USA, and in Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and Belgium. In Mexico and many parts of Latin America, Mother's Day is celebrated on May 10th of every year. In Thailand, it is celebrated on August 12th, the birthday of the current Queen.

It is pretty clear that mothers hold a special place in hearts the world over. As dutiful wives, career women, or as single mothers, the nurturing role of mothers within the family is the glue that holds families and cultures together. 

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was no different. Even in the patriarchal culture of ancient Judaism, Mary declares her joy in the Gospel record of Luke 1: 46-48 :
“My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” 
All of the Old Testament points to the Savior/Redeemer promised in the early chapters of Genesis. The Torah says the Redeemer was to come from the bloodline of Judah. He would be born in Bethlehem, called back from Egypt, reside in Nazareth, and perform healings of body and spirit. The future of the Israelites depended on these prophecies and looked ever forward to His birth. 

There wasn’t a young woman in all Jewry that did not wish to be the mother to the future Savior of the nation! If they were not of the Tribe of Judah themselves, they could be married to one that was! And for Mary, not only was she of the Tribe of Judah, but so also was Joseph, the man to whom she was betrothed (Genealogies: Matthew 1 and Luke 3).
After His birth, believers everywhere have call her blessed, just as she declared to her cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1, and indeed she is blessed! Out of the sea of humanity, God chose her specifically to give birth to His only begotten (human-born) Son, Jesus! A mother most blessed for sure!

“Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”   - Isaiah 7:14

Today's Audio Message: The Lord's Family"
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was described by God as “highly favored” (Luke 1:28). Chosen by God to be the special vessel out of the sea of humanity to carry and give birth to the Son of God, the promised Savior.

"Highly favored" comes from a Greek word, which means “much grace.” Mary understood that grace is “unmerited favor”; a blessing we receive despite the fact that we do not deserve it. She understood her need for the grace of God, just, as we all should.  Setting the example for us, she directs her worship, adoration, and praise to God alone:

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46–49).
Mary would have more children with Joseph, whose names we will discover, along with other family members. Her loving devotion to her firstborn Son, Jesus, as her Lord and Savior would be her eternal reward.



*To listen to other audio messages, visit our Media Page!


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Emmaus Road Meeting

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

John 1:14 -- "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)

This is the first time that John called the Word the only Son of the Father. You might have wondered who the Word was when John began the Chapter with “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). “Through Him all things were made” (v.3), and “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (v.4) 


In this passage you see that the Word, who existed with the Father from eternity and is the light for humanity, is God’s only Son. The Word alone is the Son, and no one else. Now we understand what John meant when he used the term “Word.” From verse 14 on, John will speak plainly about Christ’s kingdom. Up to this point he spoke with strange and unusual words. They weren’t clear in any language, but now he says, “The Word is the one and only Son.” 

God also has many other children, however, He has only one Son through whom He created everything (Colossians 1:15-17). Rather, these children were created through His only Son, who is co-equal Creator of heaven and Earth with the Father. All the others became children through the Son. The Word alone is, as Paul states in Romans 1:4, the Son of God. And it is through the Son that God makes and rules all things. 

We must hold this passage from the Gospel of John in the highest regard. We should comfort ourselves with it in times of trials, sorrow, and temptation. We should hold onto it in faith, because it reminds us that we too are the children of God, through His beloved Son. 

(From the writings and sermons of Martin Luther, 1483-1546)
Ref. “FAITH ALONE – A Daily Devotional, James C. Galvin, editor

Luther’s words make us think a little “outside the box” when it comes to his use of words. What has come forth from the Father is His Word, and that Word became flesh and dwells with us still. 

Pastor Bob



Today's Audio Message:  "Emmaus Road Meeting"

In Luke chapter 24, we read of two disciples who on that day of our Lord's resurrection, were walking down the road heading to Emmaus. It is here that Jesus meets them on the road. "...while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them (vs. 15).

It is a wonderful story of revelation. In it we see how Christ by his Spirit and grace makes himself known to his people. He opens the Scriptures to them. He meets them at his table, and is known to them in the breaking of bread. He opens the eyes of their understanding and they are blessed!

Luke 24 is often seen as a model of the journey that Jesus makes with many of us today, as He opens our eyes, points us to the Word, and reveals Himself along life’s walk as the resurrected Lord and Savior.

We are living in a time where deception and manipulation are the tools to force change. The powers that be are creating planned events to change the course of the world's future. But what does that future look like? It is a future where evil men carry out Satan's agenda. A world that will eventually usher in the Anti-Christ. The world's future is dim indeed. As the Coronavirus, and government restrictions continue, and news organizations continues to provide a false narrative and false information....where do we find the truth? What is really going on? 

As the world continues to spiral out of control, and evil presents itself more and more, who are you going to put your trust in?



*To listen this series, or other audio messages, visit our Media Page!



Thursday, April 30, 2020

As Unto The Lord

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


Paul Writes at the end of 1 Corinthians 14 that all things are to be done decently and in order when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit.  Paul warns the Church there that if everyone is speaking in various tongues, a visitor might think they are all gone mad (14:23).  Jesus teaches of a Roman Centurion in Luke 7 who exhibited an understanding of the "chain of command" within the Holy Trinity.  In Matthew 19 and again in Mark 10, Jesus is quoted as saying that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first when it comes time to inherit everlasting life.  All these and more in scriptures tell us that God loves order.


Do you remember the Fire Drills that we all practiced in school when we were young?  It was to provide for an orderly exit from the building, so the most number of students could be saved in case of a fire.  Confusion and chaos breed pushing and shoving, and no one is saved when it's every man-for-himself.  An orderly exit provided for a steady stream of children safely coming out of the building.

God provides for order, and decency in all things, and He honors those that listen to Him.  Ephesians 6 takes us from the order of Chapter 5 within marriage, to an orderly and decent life in the broader household.  This is still part of our walk as the "new man in Christ."  It begins internally within, then to our most intimate relationships, and finally outward to the rest of the house.  Dare I say that it should then extend to the world around us as well?  Is the world in chaos?  The Gospel brings a central focus for all, and an orderly society in its wake.

Order tends to slow us down and cause us to think about priorities, about the greater good, about selfless acts and accomplishing the most with the least amount of effort, and all with impeccable timing.

Like our Fire Drills when young, we had them frequently to condition us to order, and to train us to accomodate one another.

"...For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of christ."  Ephesians 4:12


Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Horsemen

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

During the days of the Corona Virus shut-down, we’ve all seen and heard media coverage of long lines for free food supplies for those that have been furloughed from their jobs and are without an income. Indeed whole parking lots are lined with row after row of vehicles awaiting their turn at the food pick-up stations, as we view the media’s video clips. 

It is interesting to note, however, that the images are identical day after day, and it’s rather appalling to watch volunteers load bags and boxes of free groceries into the back of a late model Cadillac SUV. The mainstream media is playing us for fools. They don’t play those video clips daily, for many might just catch on, so they play them only a couple times each week, but it’s always the same clips.

I am not suggesting that the threat presented by the Corona virus is not real, for it surely is a serious health problem around the globe! Corona/COVID-19 is a deadly virus and the numbers of infected in just 6 weeks is staggering. 

But the mainstream media is doing its part to hype the virus and instill fear in the hearts of every viewer. This is the same media that has accused our President of impeachable crimes, and has relentlessly harangued his every move and decision since before he even took the oath of office. Yet no impeachable crimes or offenses could be proven after 3½ years of government investigation, and now, we are to believe their reporting?

In our days of the Wild West, there were snake oil salesmen and inventors of Health Elixirs that were unscrupulous; in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, it was used car salesmen from small independent sales lots whose ethics were questionable. Every decade there is someone to fill the gap of “shylock” as new inventions are introduced, or new social issues arise. This is the apparent decade for the news media, and it is evident by listening to the quality and substance of the questions they pose at Press Conferences. Trust is a commodity to be earned, and cherished. Breaking that trust breaks the relationship.
~ 1Thessalonians 5:21:
“Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.”
 ~ Psalm 118:8, 9
 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Days Of Noah

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We watch the News Broadcasts, and it’s like the rest of the world ceased to exist. Prior to the Corona virus, we heard only of continual attacks and charges against the US President by his political enemies. Whether one supports him or not, one thing has become clear: none of the accusations, not a single charge or allegation against the man was provable, and neither did any of his supposed crimes amount to an impeachable offense. I’m not here to defend the President, nor am I here to denigrate him. I’m only writing this as an observation: never before in the history of the United States have I ever heard of such a continual fusillade of criticisms, allegations, and character assassinations as the media has covered, and in many opinions, even furthered against a sitting President of the USA.

Even now in the midst of the Corona virus as a public health threat, some continue to criticize his handling of this crisis. Some have even called it “the Trump virus.”

If we listen only to the mainstream media outlets, everything is the President’s fault. If we stop to pay attention to other lesser known media outlets, we hear Paul Harvey’s voice echo, “And now, the other side of the story,” something that former broadcaster Harvey did regularly. After Harvey retired, and certainly after his death, no one picked up the banner to tell the other side of any story. ABC, CBS, NBC CNBC, CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post… all the major sources of public information have adopted and report the left-wing position, and when the right seeks to defend, it’s labeled propaganda.

These are the wealthiest and most powerful men and women in the world. Between politicians and the media, these are the people that mold western culture and shape the minds of our society’s youth. 



Who are we to believe?


Whom are they to follow? Continual debate just breeds confusion. Our nation and every nation are in turmoil, and unrest. Have Syria and Russia and Turkey ceased to be issues in the Middle East? Has North Korea ceased it’s aggression towards the US and the peace of the world? Have the drug cartels of Columbia stopped their drug shipments? Have physicians stopped prescribing opioids? Did Iran come to peaceful terms with Israel? Of course not. All things continue as they were, now though, hidden behind the Corona headlines.


Who are we to believe?


Many of the rich and powerful both in the headlines and behind them were acquaintances of Jeffery Epstein. Quite a few from the entertainment industry and from politics were invited to Epstein’s private island. They’ve been named, and their pictures have been shown broadcast in the media.
2 Timothy 3:13 says, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Genesis 6:5 says, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” 
Matthew 24:38 says, “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,…”

Who shall we believe? Whom shall we follow?


Opinion contradicts opinion. Liberal? Conservative? Who is right? And who is left to believe?

The first quote above are Paul’s words to a young minister who was easily intimidated and doubted his own ability to teach others. His stomach was often in knots. Confusion reigned in him in spite of the teachings he’d received. Timothy was moving from being a babe in Christ to being a leader for the Ephesian Church.

Paul’s next words to Timothy give us hope and determination to let the confusion slip aside and see the real problem: a lack of the truth. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me”

2 Timothy 3:13-14 says this:
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Governors and Health “experts” are giving us conflicting statements. Conspiracy theories abound. Yes, the virus is real, and it’s deadly for some. Let Godly wisdom prevail in you instead of conflict.

In such confusing days as we are living through today, set the opinions and reports of mere men aside, and look to Jesus to reveal truth to you. Exercise the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit. The fog will lift, and your mind will clear. Stay close to Jesus and know for sure that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;…” John 14:16

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Fishers Of Men

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As a youngster, a favorite place to play among the neighborhood boys was on the banks of a creek that flowed through the back yards across the street from my family’s house. On a summer day, we would often roll up our pant legs and take our shoes off and go wading into the shallows of the creek and look for crayfish, tiny crab-like critters with pinchers. They looked like tiny lobsters. Some of the older boys would use them as bait for fishing in the Erie Canal. Back then, few would dare eat anything out of the Canal, but the fishing was something to do on a warm day.

When Jesus began to minister to people, it was near the town of Capernaum, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Fishing there was not a child’s pastime, but a career for men. The Sea itself was roughly 5 miles wide, and 8 miles long, and with the surrounding hills, it would remind you of our nearby Finger Lakes Region, except without cottages and homes occupying every inch of shoreline.

Catching crayfish, or digging worms to go fishing are the things of children. Fishing to put food on the family table is a man’s job, but it can start in little creek beds, or with worms from your backyard. I wonder what Peter and Andrew did while growing up along the shores of the Galilee. More than likely, they were scooped up by their Dad and taken on the boats to help keep the nets ready for the net casting of their Dad, or learning to mend nets at an early age. I can’t imagine they had time to simply play as we did. But their fathers were teaching them to fish all along the way. Casting a net, mending a net, gathering it back in the boat in a way that few fish would escaped the catch. Sons learn by watching their fathers do what they did.

Jesus knew how to fish, but His “catch-of-the-day” was people like you and me. He took us out from the sea of humanity, and set us upon a rock. He’d love us and grow us into the people He designed us to be. And, He is still doing that work in us.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good
work in you, will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Eight Days, The Number Of New Beginnings

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

It is the week immediately following Easter 2020. On Easter morning, John 20 was the Resurrection Sunday passage that I chose. In verse 24, the Apostles had been gathered together as Jesus appeared to the ten Apostles, but Thomas was not with them, and of course, neither was Judas. A few verses later, eight days had passed and Thomas was with them.

What strikes me about these verses is a simple question: What was Jesus doing during those eight days? Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t mention those eight days. Mark doesn’t either, and Luke 24 does not address the question directly either. But on that first evening after Passover when Jesus appeared to the ten Apostles, Luke tells us of two Disciples traveling on the road to Emmaus on that same day. Emmaus was about six and one-half miles from Jerusalem. (Later, Emmaus would become known as Nicopolis, from 300 AD to the 600’s when it was overrun by Muslim invaders. Imwas, as it was known during modern times was destroyed in 1967 likely during that war.* The City is shown on maps, but the current ruins are in “Canada Park,” a National Park in Israel.) But I digress.

The two travelers were known to Jesus, but they did not recognized Him, in much the same way that Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him early that same morning at the tomb. One of the travelers is identified as Cleopas in Luke 24:18. Notations and cross references point to Cleopas’ identity: “Cleopas” likely a shortened form of the name Cleopatros, OR a Greek form of the name Alphaeus.

Cleophas is identified as the husband to Mary’s sister, Mary. Alphaeus (Meaning “successor”) is also identified in Matthew 10:3 as the father of James the Apostle (a.k.a. James the less, as opposed to James the great, the son of Zebedi. “James the great” and his brother John the Apostle were the sons of thunder, according to Matthew’s Gospel.

In short, this Cleopas on the road to Emmaus was not only a Disciple, but was also married to Jesus’ mother’s sister. He did not recognize Jesus, even though He was most likely Jesus’ earthly uncle!

Risen to life again, Jesus’ body had been perfected with the exception of five identifying marks: the wounds in His hands and feet, and the wound to his side from the Centurion’s sword.

Cleopas and the other traveler did not recognize Him until they had spent time walking and talking with Him, and finally when they sat down and He broke bread with them. This is when the wounds in Jesus’ hands would have been obvious and visible to them.

Then eight days later, the Disciples were again gathered together, and Thomas was there this time. The other Disciples said, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas refused to believe it. It was too incredible, too outlandish! Then Jesus is there among them. He invited Thomas to put his fingers into the nail holes, and his hand in His side (John 20:26—28.) giving Thomas the proof he said he would need to believe.

Imagine for a moment that you are Thomas. Jesus looks you in the eyes, and shows you his hands; your eyes are drawn to His hands. Jesus then invites you to “thrust your hand in my side,” and you look at the wound there.

Then your eyes raise to meet His, and you say, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus says in verse 29, “Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Jesus says that WE are blessed because of the faith He gave us!

We still do not know what Jesus was doing in the eight days between His meetings with the Disciples, but it’s safe to say He was busy teaching, and proving He was indeed raised from the dead, in fulfillment of Psalm 16:9 & 10 –
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my souls in the (grave); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

Saturday, April 11, 2020

After I Am Risen

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Happy Resurrection Day to All ! 

The Easter Season is rife with renewal; new growth, flowers piercing the soils as they shoot upward to bloom and color our gardens and landscapes. It’s a wonderful time of year to watch and witness all kinds of things sprout and grow. The Easter Season is truly a time of new growth.

Personally, I have difficulty referring to the day of Jesus’ Resurrection as “Easter”, and it simply is due to the questionable origins of the name “Easter” itself, and no amount of debate will resolve the issue. 

It has been said by many naysayers that Easter was “stolen” or “hijacked” from the ancient pagans. It was a day of remembrance for the Assyrian goddess “Ishtar” they say. She was the goddess of love, war and sex. ... Clearly our Easter celebrations have nothing to do with her! 

But many scholars believe that the name “Easter” gets its name from Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan goddess of growth and light. But there is scant evidence that any Germanic people actually worshipped her! And Eostre wasn’t just a day, but a whole month, celebrating longer days and springtime growth. 

According to the Bible, it is indeed Jesus our Creator that provides light and growth, both physically and Spiritually. As a Christian, I am convinced of this because that’s what is stated in His Word.

Genesis 1:3- “And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’”

John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 

Revelation 21:23 – “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”



Separation

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

John 15:18-25 says:
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

There has always been a call to separation for God's people. Such is the concept of election and predestination in the scriptures. God has elected His people out of the sea of humanity for a specific purpose.

It reminds me of growing up with my brother. Parental admonishments that I remember were often, "If you two can't behave, we're going to separate you from each other."

Fortunately, it would only be at a distance of one room to another, but the effect was the same. I couldn't cause him to stray from obedience, and he couldn't get me into trouble either.

The intermingling of two sin natures will ALWAYS result in SIN. Likewise, interaction with other Believers, will have the lasting effects of obedience, sanctification, and edification of one another. But what happens to one good apple when thrown into a bushel of bad ones? There is no hope for that apple, unless he is washed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ, and preserved by the Holy Spirit.

We live in a world where the practices of the Canaanites are evident all around us. Idol worship abounds, and our culture has lost its moral underpinnings. Liberal ideologies pervade our schools, campuses, and work places, ...BUT...JESUS HAS PRAYED FOR US!

"Neither pray I for these alone (the apostles) but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." John 17:20








Friday, April 10, 2020

Holy Thursday: Passover Begins

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The trek southward from the Galilee is finished. Jesus’ group has settled in at Bethany, and Jesus’ teachings to them during the days just prior to Thursday are among the most important among Christian doctrines. There is excitement in the air as Passover approaches. It is the grandest holiday of their faith, celebrating their freedom from slavery in Egypt, and following Moses to the Promised Land. The entire population of Jerusalem has prepared for this annual celebration. Like New Year’s Eve in Times Square, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Jerusalem is THE place to be for Passover.

Jesus has two Disciples find “the” man who has an upper room available for a Passover Seder. (On one day’s notice? At the height of Jerusalem’s Tourist season? This would be one of those holidays in Judea when “There was no room for them at the Inn.”). Nonetheless, finding the man was not difficult, for Jesus knew ahead of time who it was and where the room would be; He IS God-in-the-flesh, after all!

We can imagine the Apostles and Disciple’s excitement at being with Jesus at this time. Was this the weekend when Jesus would free the nation from their Roman oppressors? Would Jesus take the Throne of His Ancestor, King David? Their hearts were nearly set upon this happening!

In the Upper Room, there is happy conversation, great fellowship, and joy for living in God’s Holy Land as Seder is about to begin. Then, the mood suddenly changes. Luke records Jesus’ words as they all sat for dinner (Beginning at Luke 22:14~)

“And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve Apostles with Him. And He said unto them, ‘With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.’ And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.'”

We can only imagine the Disciples’ thinking about this curious new teaching! Wonder? Confusion? But then, Jesus literally lowers the boom!

“But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goeth, as it was determined, but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Psalm 55:11-17)

I suspect that one could have heard a pin drop for a moment…

“And then they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.” *

The fellowship of earlier was broken. Personal responsibility became wonder and worry. Other Gospel accounts have the Apostles asking, “Is it I, Lord?”

The young Apostle John asks more directly, as He is leaning (reclined) against the Lord’s breast. “Who it is, Lord?” And to John, Jesus says, “It is he that dippeth his hand with me in the sop.”

Setting the scene:

For a moment, forget about Leonardo Da Vinci’s Masterpiece painting “THE LAST SUPPER.” Leonardo was not there to capture the scene. Social Customs of the time place Jesus second from the end of the table, in the Seat of Honor. To Jesus’ right is John. And at the end to His left, is the gathering’s “host,” Judas, for it was Judas that held the purse of the group, and he would be responsible to pay for the use of the room. At that precise moment, the hand of Judas was dipping bread in the sop with Jesus. John now knows the identity of the betrayer.

The tables would be set up in a “U” pattern, extending from Jesus’ left and around to His right. An open space would be between the tables from which servers would serve the food. The rest of the Apostles would be seated around the perimeter of the table. Peter had taken the “lowest spot,” placing him across from Judas at the other end of the table. “James the greater” would likely have been to the right of his brother John, for he is never mentioned in the Gospels without John being there too.

Now, back to the story line:

*Did you notice? When fellowship with the Lord is broken? Our focus becomes “me” and whomever else is with us. We and others become the topic of our conversations and inquiries. Our eyes are off from Jesus, and onto ourselves. This is exemplified in Matthew 7:21-23. Even in the church, “Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: Depart from me ye that work iniquity.” 
Good works apart from true faith in Jesus Christ are meaningless. Filthy rags they are, until Jesus makes all things beautiful. 

Christian song writer and recording artist, Terry Clark wrote a single years ago, and had an album, both entitled:

“YOUGOTTAKNOWTHEONEWHOMADEYA.”

You’ve got to know the One Who made you.

We simply must have a relationship with the true and living God.

Salvation by association, or by proxy, is no salvation at all.

Be born again, knowing Jesus
(See Titus 3:3-5 for a definition)

N.B. ~ My personal descriptions above are conjecture on my part. For these, I apologize if they create confusion. But the Social Customs of the time are borne out by studies of ancient Roman Culture, and archaeological digs in Jerusalem and Israel from the period of Rome’s occupation of Palestine. The Israeli Government’s “Ministry of Antiquities” sponsors and oversees archaeological digs throughout the nation, and the digs are protected by Israeli Law. – Pastor Bob



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