Saturday, September 26, 2020

I Will Deliver

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

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

Today's Audio Message: "I Will Deliver"

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Grief To My Sorrow

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is a most personal Savior to all of us!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 12, 2020


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Do you see yourself in this passage? 

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

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

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Fake News!

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Today's Audio Message: "Fake News!"

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

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