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.

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