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!

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