Sunday, January 26, 2020

The House of the Lord

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Being a “Believer” should be a truly cherished thing, and a protected possession. With the label comes an identity as a “child of God,” following His Word and looking forward to seeing Him face-to-face, and living with Him on into eternity. Being a Believer means that a person is “of the House of the Lord.” And from Jeremiah 22:5, we find that if a dominant number of professing believers are drawn away into the world, the House of the Lord will be left in desolation. (Jer. 22:5) 

While it’s true that every Christian is a sinner-saved-by-grace, that should not be an identity we are comfortable with, for it re-enforces our identification with our “old man.” If one is born-again, then our “old man” in considered dead by Christ, and He affords us the new identity described in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” 

That is the goal of Christ Jesus for all of mankind, that we would embrace Him, and embrace our new identity, leaving the old one behind. The natural man is a sinner; the Spiritual man is a New Creature in Christ. The writer of 2 Corinthians gives us insight in his letter to the Philippians in 3:13: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward unto those things which are before” 

If you detect Paul’s struggle, then you can identify with him. Even within the House of God, the world is always trying to draw us away. We are the devil’s preferred target. Be prepared. Be forewarned.

“Be sober, be vigilant, for adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
1 Peter 5:8

Sunday, January 19, 2020

If It's Of God...

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Years ago, the children were taught a praise song for a church presentation.  The lyrics included this line:  "Praise Him for the good, Praise Him for the bad..."  While Satan is always working against our salvation, God is always working towards it!  And sometimes, that includes His version of "tough love."  It's a reminder of Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for the good, to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose."  All things:  could be a scary prospect, like the consequences of sin!

When we weigh the promises of God I the Bible, against some of our habits and behaviors, it only stands to reason that God will want to get our attention and speak to us about some of them.  Sometimes, He will speak encouraging words to build us up, and other times, they might be somewhat less encouraging and even critical.  And yes, even those times are praise-worthy, because God is looking out for our best interests.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, the Apostle Paul's Spirit-filled words are these:  "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, (and) for instruction in righteousness."  If we dwell on that, we will conclude that God wants His truth, His reproof, His correction, and His righteousness in our lives.  This is where comparing personal behaviors against His Word will bring us to our knees, and drive us back toward Him!

That restores us back into good fellowship with our Maker.  Rather than counting on His grace and mercy, we are affirmed in the relationship!  Of Lazarus' sisters, Martha, and Mary, Jesus said that Mary has chosen the better part, to sit at His feet and hear His words.  And by allowing Jesus' words wash over her, Mary was promoting the renewing of her mind, cleansing it with the washing of water by the word, as husbands are called to do for their wives according to Ephesians 5:26.

Is Jesus your husbandman?  As Christians, we'll respond with a resounding "Yes!"  And this is praise-worthy!

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grevious: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby."  Hebrews 12:11

~ Disciple and Discipline are from the same root word. ~

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Silversmith

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today in our reading, Malachi 3 says the Lord shall be as a refiner of gold and silver. We understand that with all the compromises that the Jews had made in their own faith and worship practices that this message was for them. But in Jeremiah 20, we find that the Prophet himself who speaks God’s Word also needed refining. Jeremiah finds himself under vengeful persecution because he spoke some of God’s harshest words to the people, and the people rebelled!

The Law was clear: Idol worshippers were doomed to eternal torment. Those that reject God, worship something else. We were designed to worship; we will worship something. But even for Believers living in the world, the world will have a conditioning effect on our thinking regarding faith and how/what/whom we worship. This is why Jesus warned that we are IN the world, but we’re not to be OF the world (Think of Lot, living among the citizens of Sodom).

In the case of the Jews of Jeremiah’s time, the Babylonian captivity was their judgment. But for Jeremiah personally, God was as a silversmith, turning up the heat to purify and perfect the one chosen to speak His message to His people. 

The silversmith faithfully watches over the vessel where the silver is being heated. To leave it unwatched is to invite ruining the silver by burning it. He’ll turn up the heat slowly to burn off more and more impurities from the silver. The “dross” is skimmed off as the heat is increased. The silver goes from being a hard gray solid to being a shiny silver in liquid. The silversmith knows when he has pure silver when he can see his own image on the surface of the silver. 

God is at work purifying all those that are His. Are you going through a tough time? It may well be God is turning up the heat. And, He is watching over you as He does so. Perfecting is His goal as He watches over us.

For those that regularly examine their own hearts, 1 John 3:2,3 says, 
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
God shall see Himself in us when we finally reflect Him.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Not Grace But Judgment

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, His commands were clear, and though consequences for breaking them were not given, there were no doubts left in the hearts of the people that there were some. New rules and laws are implemented because of the specific ways in which the lives of people are displeasing to the One in charge. Everyone could relate to each new commandment because they either encouraged or forbade behaviors that were familiar everyone. At the time, there was not an Israelite alive that didn’t relate to the behaviors that the Commandments scrutinized. 

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