Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas + 1 Day

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the final days of Moses (Deuteronomy 33, 34), we learn of his blessings upon each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. They are at the cusp of entering The Promised Land, and out of the plains of Moab, Moses went up Mt. Nebo, not far from Jericho. From that mountain top, the Lord showed him all of the land which God had sworn to Israel and his descendants.

Moses died there, seeing the Promised Land, but he was unable to enter into it with the Tribes. Moses was buried there in an unknown grave in Moab. Because Moses is iconic to the Jews, if they had been able to create shrine at his grave, it would have been a shrine to a man, and not to God.

The heart of man enshrines its leaders and places where great events occur. The Muslims are the example: if something great has occurred in their faith, a shrine is built, and the shrines of others are torn down. Medina, Mecca, and the Temple Mount at Jerusalem with the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome Of The Rock are all examples. Statues and monuments have been destroyed here too!

God buried Moses in an unknown grave because He did not want the Jews to enshrine Moses, but to worship Him. Celebrations of Moses would stand side-by-side with God’s great works, and that raises a man up much higher than he deserves. When Lucifer tried this, he was cast to the lower parts of the earth!

The location of the Garden of Eden is also unknown, and likely for the same reasons. And I believe the same reasoning is why we do not know the precise date of Jesus’ birth. God wanted Messiah’s arrival recognized, nothing more.

Garish displays in every culture proclaim Jesus’ birth according to each culture, and they do it on a day which was chosen by men, not by God. And the result is what God wanted to avoid: a party atmosphere instead of holiness.

If you are celebrating Jesus’ birth, His humble beginnings should set the atmosphere for family and friends. He Himself directed us to remember His sacrifice, rather than His birth. He knows us so well!

Praise Him for His mighty works, and not for whom He chose to bring them about.

Key passages to consider for this day:

Genesis 3:15

Isaiah 7:14

Isaiah 9:6,7

1 John 5:5-8

John 1:1-14

John 4:20-26

Matthew 16:16

Mark 8:29

John 6:69; 11:27

There are hundreds more references in scripture.  You can find them in the subject index of a good study bible. 

Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 1:18-25 - "Christmas + 1 Day"

In the story of Jesus’ birth, we have learned about many of the fascinating people that God chose, that God used, and those who tried to thwart the plan of God.

In the gospel accounts, we learned about the prophetic ancestral lines concerning the coming Messiah. We learned about the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth. We learned about the miracle birth of the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, and his parents, Elizabeth (the cousin of Mary) and Zacharias, a priest. We learned about the Messenger of God, Gabriel, and his announcements not only to this couple, but to Mary, chosen to give birth to the Son of God. We learned about the Magi from the East, the miraculous Star. We learned about the wicked ruler Herod and his plot to kill Jesus, who is the true King of Israel. We learned about the Shepherds keeping flock at night. And we have learned about the virgin Mary, the annunciation to Mary, the name of the coming Messiah, the Holy Spirit coming upon her, and her visit to Elizabeth. We learned about Mary’s Magnificat in response to Elizabeth which gives praise to God for the great things He has done. The Magnificat proclaims God’s intervention in authentic human existence. It is a proclamation of the divine fulfillment of God’s Word.

But what about Joseph? He doesn’t get much of the spotlight in the Christmas story. What is often overlooked is Joseph’s part in Jesus’ birth. His faith and actions play a vital role in this story, and the ultimate plan of God.

Not much is said about Joseph in the Bible, but Matthew wrote about him, shedding light on what would have been a huge trial in the lives of a young couple about to marry.

Joseph was the son of Jacob. He was from Bethlehem in Judea but lived in Nazareth in Galilee. He is from the royal line of David according to Matthew chapter 1. He was a carpenter by trade. He was a poor man. He was a devout keeper of the Law. Though we don’t know how old Joseph was, most writers agree that he was a young man, probably a teenager, which makes his role in Jesus’ birth quite remarkable. He was betrothed to Mary, an arranged marriage in ancient Jewish custom, pledged to each other by a signed contract. Their betrothal would last a year before being formally married in a public wedding ceremony. Joseph would become the stepfather of Jesus.

We have this young couple who were as good as married, and Mary turns up pregnant, but Jospeh is not the father. We can only imagine what that conversation was like, how he felt, or what was going through his mind. What a predicament! What a trial! What will people say? What will he do?

The greatness of Jospeh is this, that he loved God, he loved Mary, and his love covered what appeared to be her shame. He was an observant Jew who kept the law, and He was a righteous man, meaning he wanted to do what was right in the eyes of God. While he did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he thought about putting her away privately – a divorce, the breaking off of their agreement by legal means.

Enter the angel of the Lord. An angel of the Lord appears to Jospeh in a dream. He is told not to be afraid to take Mary home as his wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

While this might seem strange to most, it was not strange to Joseph. In the Bible, God spoke to people through dreams, Joseph knew this. To Jospeh, this was the assurance he needed. God meets Joseph in this trial, at the point of his deepest need, and precisely at the right time.

As the Lord does with all of His own, fear is replaced with confidence. Joseph doubts replaced with faith and trust in His God.

The angel tells Joseph that Mary will give birth to a son, and that he is to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.

When Jospeh woke up, he did exactly as the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He married her quickly and protected her reputation. He kept her a virgin until Jesus was born, protecting the miracle of Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit, and the fulfillment of prophecy. He names the baby Jesus at His birth and raises Him as his own.

As believers we are faced with many trials in our lives. What we need to understand is that God is working in our lives, just as He did in the lives of Mary and Joseph. God has a plan for our lives as well. We may not have been chosen to bear the Son of God, but whatever He has chosen us to do, He equips us for, and enables us to do by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives.

The purpose of trials in our lives are to teach us to trust God more, that we may grow in faith. We need to know God more, and we need to know Him better, and we do this by experiencing more of His love and compassion in our lives. More of His grace and mercy. More of His forgiveness and more of His instruction, by His Word.

Those things that we learn, we are to show to others. We need to be encouragers and we need to build up the body of Christ. How can we do that unless we ourselves are first open to what He wants to do in our lives. Too many people are busy running around making their own plans for their lives. Have you considered what God wants to do in and through you? What His plans are for you?

Thankfully Joseph was a righteous man, who yielded himself to God. He loved God. He listened to God’s messenger and did precisely as he was shown. Because of this, he was blessed, Mary was blessed, as was all of mankind.

God knows what He is doing. His plans are from the beginning. He has given us His Word and every detail of every word will be fulfilled

Celebrating Jesus!

A Christmas Bobservation –
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Merry Christmas to all of you, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. I read a couple of weeks ago that the Church did not celebrate Christmas until about 400 A.D. Well, it was 336 A.D in the fourth century. There are several theories as to how December 25th was identified as the date of Jesus’ birth, but none of them definitively rise to the level of being verifiably authentic.

During the first two hundred years of the Church, the Church Fathers disdained the pagan custom of celebrating birthdates, particularly those of Church Martyrs, much less that of Jesus Himself. If they were to be remembered, it would be better to acknowledge the dates of their sacrifice. But in 221 A.D. things changed.

Sextus Julius Africanus, (b. circa AD 180, Jerusalem—d. circa 250), was the first Christian historian known to produce a chronology that was universally accepted. His life is not well documented, but evidence indicates that Africanus traveled considerably in Asia, Egypt, and Italy and later lived chiefly at Emmaus, in Palestine, where he served as Prefect. He was named Regional Ambassador to Rome about 222, when Emperor Severus Alexander made him a protégé.

Africanus’ greatest work in chronologies was Chronographiai (221), a treatise of five volumes on sacred and profane history from the Creation (which he placed at 5499 BC) to AD 221. Relying on the Bible as the basis of his calculations, he incorporated and synchronized Egyptian and Chaldaean chronologies, Greek mythology, and Judaic history with Christianity. His work raised the prestige of early Christianity by placing it within a historical context. He also developed the critical work on Jesus’ genealogies we now find in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

It is most likely Africanus’ work that convinced many to use December 25th as Jesus’’ birthdate. But there still remains an absence of scriptural authentication, in spite of Africanus’ work. But all his work centered around God’s Word, and His Word-Made-Flesh, who dwelled among us, Jesus the Christ, Messiah and Redeemer.

Other lesser-known theories likewise lack scriptural proof, and but as the Gospel spread around the world from that first Pentecost after the Resurrection, Christmas has been celebrated in as many different ways as there are nations and cultures where Christianity gained a foothold. Each adapted the celebration according to their own cultures.

Today in 2021, here in the United States, the celebration of Christmas is so far from being a celebration of Jesus’ birth as to be unrecognizable to the early Church Fathers as a holy religious celebration, except in some churches.

Flashing lights, parties, and gifts for all the kiddies give the day the atmosphere of secular Reno, or Las Vegas, Nevada. Our nation’s roots in Judeo-Christian principles have come further and further away from those principles over the decades as God and His Commandments have been barred from the schools of our children, as well as the halls of government.

As we do celebrate Christmas this year, many of our neighbors will merely be exchanging presents without necessarily being believers. Of twenty houses on my street, I know of only two others besides mine whose owners attend church every week.

Growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, I recall 60% or more of those on my street attended a church or synagogue of some kind. Religion is in decline. Churches are on a decline. Faith itself is in decline. Yet Christ Jesus still reigns and rules on His throne in heaven. How do I know this?

I know this because His prophecies are still coming true, and all will be fulfilled in His time. Even this temporary decline is prophesied!

Keep Jesus at the core of this celebration. And as for December 25th? Celebrate Jesus every day!

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” 
Matthew 24:35 / Mark 13:31 / Luke 21:33

On this Christmas Eve,

Let this be a silent night.

Let this be a Holy Night.

Jesus has already been born!

Ref. Encyclopedia Britanica

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Spirit Of God In Action

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the Book of Esther, God is not mentioned a single time. The Holy Spirit of God is, however, clearly evident in that Book of the Bible as He works silently behind the scenes, orchestrating the events from chapter to chapter.

In stark contrast, these initial chapters of the Gospel of Luke, reveals several fillings of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence being palpable right off the pages as God sends His Angel to so many of the characters of the Gospels. The Angel Gabriel is mentioned four times in the Scriptures, and two of those times are here in Luke. (He is mentioned two other times in Daniel.)

He is the Angel for announcements, learning, and understanding. His ministry to mankind is not to be taken lightly. It is surely God who dispatches Gabriel to where he is needed. He identifies himself as “the Angel who stands in God’s presence!” And when Gabriel arrives, people are filled with the Holy Spirit. Spiritual Revelations take place and are recorded for posterity in fulfillment of God’s Prophecies.

What privilege this angel holds, to stand continually in the presence of God! I am reminded of how the face of Moses shined after being on Mt. Sinai of Arabia. His face shined so brightly that the Israelites could not bear to look directly on his face. So, a covering was draped across the face of Moses when he spoke to them in the days following his time on the mountain with God. This is what standing in the presence of God does. All uncleanness is removed and the true reflection of God’s brightness shines through.

And because of this day of Christ’s First Advent that we celebrate, we can expect the same. Sin and uncleanness are washed away, and His brightness will shine through; the darkness of sin shall be vanquished, and though “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.” (1 John 3:2)

Sin will have been dealt with, ...
“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...’ 
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created
He him; male and female created He them.” ~ Genesis 1:26,27

Today's Audio Message:
Luke 1:46-80 - "The Spirit Of God In Action"


In the past couple of weeks, we have been studying about two births that were foretold. One would prepare the way of the Lord, and the other is the promised Messiah.

As we finish up chapter one of Luke's Gospel, these are the events that occur just before the birth of Jesus, and after the birth of, John the Baptist.

In Luke 1:46–55 Mary responds to Elizabeth’s blessing with what is now commonly called the Magnificat. The Magnificat is a poem of praise to God. Mary is praising Him for His blessing to her and His faithfulness to Israel. The Magnificat also highlights a series of reversals in which the proud are humbled and the humble are exalted—not the least being a poor young girl who will be the mother of the Messiah. Some Bibles will label this passage the “Song of Mary,” although the Bible does not report that she sang it. “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

Mary’s song, is full of quotations of and allusions to passages in the Old Testament, very similar to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1-10. The Magnificat also foreshadows many these that are addressed later in book of Luke and in the ministry of Jesus.

First Mary expresses her joy in the source of that joy which is God. We too should recognize that our true joy is not in ourselves but in our Savior who is the fountain of joy.

She recognizes God's Favor. That He has provided her salvation. That He has done everything necessary to keep us from going to Hell. That He is mindful of hers and our condition. That we have all gone astray, yet God has chosen the lowly to exalt Himself. That it is not those the world would select as instruments, yet God has chosen us, not the rich and powerful, but the poor in spirit who are rich in faith. Mary recognizes her low estate and magnifies God's love. Rather than exalt herself by the honor of being chosen to bear God's Son, she praises God for coming down, stooping to one like her. Rather than basking in fame, she chooses to exalt God.

The next time Zechariah is mentioned is after the birth of his son. At the child’s circumcision, Elizabeth’s family and friends wanted to name the baby after Zechariah, but Elizabeth insisted that his name should be John (Luke 1:59–60). When they consulted Zechariah, he asked for a writing tablet and “to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John’” (verse 63). Immediately, Zechariah was able to speak and began at once to praise the Lord. Luke 1:67–79 records the prophetic words that Zechariah proclaimed, which may have been in the form of a song. His words indicate the change of heart and the faith that had grown during his nine months of muteness.

Zechariah is holding his newborn son and utters promises inspired by the Holy Spirit. He answers the question, how can we be sure of Jesus' ability to save us from our sins? We can trust in Jesus because God says we can. His Word is enough, because His promise will always come true. What He says, He will do.

From Zechariah we learn that, when we faithfully follow the Lord and continue to lift up our prayers to Him, He hears us and answers according to His will for our lives (Luke 1:13; 18:1; 1 John 5:14–15). There is nothing too hard for the Lord. God’s plan may look very different from what we think we want, but His way is always the best. Zechariah may have thought he only wanted a son; God gave him a prophet whose name is forever linked with the story of Jesus Christ.

Zechariah's son would be "the prophet of the Most High." Prophets always pointed to something greater. The angel told Mary her child would be "the Son of the Most High." John the Baptist's task was to remind people that they were in need of the coming One who would forgive sins. Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, and forgiveness of our sins is the reason for His coming. Outside of Christ, we sit in death and darkness.

Zechariah's words help us see the unrivaled glory of our Savior. Christ is the Light and a Hero who sacrifices Himself for His people. He visits us in mercy. One day, His light will shine and never be hidden. His reign will be unchallenged and unending.

God's continued relationship with humanity demonstrates His mercy. He visited us with a purpose, to give us the help we need. His promise is abiding. He personally identifies with His people. The blatancy of our failure is overridden by the relentlessness of God's mercy and faithfulness. He provides for us a "horn of salvation."

God's mercy and love are demonstrated by action. He is the one who works our salvation. He is Emmanuel, God is with us!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

How Shall This Be?

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As a reading for today, during the Christmas Season, Jeremiah 29:11 might seem odd to many. We most often lean on this verse when we are going through personal difficulties. We find strength and purpose in the passage based solely on God’s promises to us. He provides us with faith through His words that encourage us and remind us that our “expected end” is nothing less than His perfect will for us!

But let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the virgin, Mary. Betrothed to a humble carpenter from Nazareth; Nazareth being a town of simple means. “Greatness” did not seem like a word to describe her life. And an angel has come to her announcing events that don’t seem real to her. She even questions the angel, and he does nothing but calm her, and answer all her questions with promises from God. From such humble beginnings, a man of greatness was to be born? So many questions arise, but this angel answers them all. Gabriel is that angel that appeared to Zacharias in the last chapter. And to Zacharias, he said, ‘I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show you these glad tidings.” (Lk. 1:19).

Our God is a God of glad tidings and miracles. For Zacharias and Elizabeth, they prayed for a child even as they were “well stricken in years,” most likely beyond the natural child-bearing years for women. And for Elisabeth’s cousin, Mary, Gabriel was sent to her in her youthful years to announce a most special birth. An impossibility for the older couple turns into another promise fulfilled in Mary’s young life.

As I think of this, it makes me wonder of God’s choreography in the lives of families and individuals. Clearly, God kept track of His most favored blood-line and waited until all things were just right in the timing of Messiah’s coming.

As Believers, there are many glad tidings and promises of God that He has planned for us to see, to witness, and to live through. Let today’s study be a faith builder for you. Have you been praying about something for a long time? He has heard your prayer, and is working all things to your good. His perfect timing will reveal that He is the God who makes all things possible.
“And I will be found of you...” Jeremiah 29:14 (a)

Today's Audio Message:
Luke 1:25-45 - "How Shall This Be?"


The number one most important thing in life is to discover God’s plan and purpose for each of us.  Our lives are but a vapor in time when compared to eternity. Yet even in our limited time in this world, God has a plan and a purpose for our very lives. As we continue on in this Christmas Series, today we will see how this plays out in the life of a young girl, a virgin named Mary.

What do we know about Mary? There is much about her early history that we cannot know for certain. We do know, however, that she lived in the little village of Nazareth—not far from the Sea of Galilee. And we also know that she was engaged to be married to the village carpenter—a good and God-fearing man named Joseph. And we can speculate that she was probably a very young woman at the time of her engagement to Joseph—perhaps still only in her teenage years.

There are a couple of other important things that the Bible very clearly tells us about her. For example, it tells us that she was of royal lineage. According to Luke’s Gospel, she was a descendant of King David—having her royal bloodline through King David’s son Nathan. She shared this pedigree in common with her betrothed husband Joseph—who, according to Matthew’s Gospel, was also of the royal lineage of David through David’s son Solomon. So even though both she and Joseph appear to have been of poor circumstances, our Lord’s mother Mary and His adopted father Joseph were Jewish people of royal blood.

Why is this important? 
Jesus' genealogy is a fulfillment of many Old Testament promises. The promised Messiah would be the descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12-14) and would one day rule on David’s throne (Isaiah 9:6-7).  The fulfillment of God's Word is a testament to the truth of His Word. Every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God is true. The fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus leave no room for doubt and every reason to trust Him. Every single detail of God’s Word is perfect and perfectly fulfilled. 

Mary is a woman of great faith in God, and we will see this in the way that she responded to the announcement made to her by God’s messenger.

Once again Gabriel enters the story. He is God’s angel messenger, the deliverer of God’s important news. He is sent from God to the city of Galilee, in Nazareth. He is sent to a virgin who is espoused to a man whose name was Joseph. They are of the house of David (royal lineage). The virgin’s name is Mary, and Mary is espoused to Joseph. They are planning their upcoming wedding, and the angel Gabriel shows up, and delivers this important message to her. He tells her that she is highly favoured, that the Lord is with her, "blessed art thou among women." He tells her not to fear. He tells her that she would conceive a son, the promised Messiah, and He shall be called Jesus (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). Jesus’ Name means God is salvation, and it is here that we begin to see what God’s plan is for mankind.

Since sin entered the world through the sin of Adam (Romans 5:12-20), the Bible declares that everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God being holy and just, cannot allow sin to go unpunished, and the wages of sin is death. But...God had a plan for the salvation of mankind.

In God’s plan of salvation, God Himself is the only one who can provide for our salvation. We are utterly unable to save ourselves because of our sin and its consequences. God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1; 14). Jesus lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5) and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice on our behalf (1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:10). Since Jesus is God, His death was of infinite and eternal value. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross fully paid for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). His resurrection from the dead demonstrated that His sacrifice was indeed sufficient and that salvation is now available to all who will believe.

One might wonder why God would choose Mary out of all the women on earth. We cannot answer that with any degree of finality, but we can safely infer that God knew her heart, that she was a young woman of faith, who would agree with God against all odds. She would believe the unreasonable and receive the impossible. She asked, “How shall these things be, seeing that I know not a man?” She was not doubting the word of God, she simply asked how it was going to happen. Gabriel told her and she spoke words of faith, as she said, “Let it be unto me according to your word.”

I would submit that to agree with God against all odds, believing the unreasonable in order to receive the impossible, is exactly where God is leading each one of us. That is the faith life that is pleasing to God, and that results in great reward for those lean not to their understanding, but in all their ways acknowledge Him.

Mary and Joseph had plans, but God disrupted those plans. He had the ultimate plan and purpose for their lives, and as a result changed the course for all of humanity (John 3:16).

Christ the Savior is come! He seeks to save the lost.   He came to save us from our sin by paying the full wage of that sin.  He did not just save us from something, but He saved us for something.  He saved us that we might be reconciled to God so that we can enter into a relationship with Him.  His death and resurrection make this possible. 
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." - 2 Corinthians 5:21

Our morning reading came from Jeremiah 29:11 this morning.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

God has a plan, trust Him, and like Mary, may our words always be, "be it unto me according to thy word."

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Prepare Ye The Way

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Christmas is the time of year when children’s eyes get wide in anticipation of Santa and gifts around the tree. Much of our culture has devalued Jesus’ birth to that degree. It is human nature to celebrate the birth of children. We see it a little bit in Genesis 4:1 as Eve declares, “I have gotten a man from the Lord,” when Cain was born. The excitement must have been palpable, there had never before been a human birth!

But we should keep in mind that Adam’s children were not born until after his disobedience and fall from grace. Eve’s words are striking, with the emphasis on “I have gotten a man from the Lord." No longer were Adam and Eve’s hearts focused on others, for after the fall came their focus on “self. " That was the temptation Satan presented to Eve in Genesis 3:5, “...your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Thus, Satan had launched his evil plan to corrupt all godly things, including God’s plan of Salvation, and His original design for the hearts of mankind.


The Word of God was clear: His promises of a Redeemer would be fulfilled, and it was every Jewish girl's prayer that she might be the one chosen to bring God’s Redeemer (Genesis 3:15) into the world, that He might turn the hearts of mankind back to being “oriented towards others.”

Malachi 4:5&6– “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day* of the Lord: And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the Earth with a curse.”

With today’s reading in Isaiah 40:1-5 and with Isaiah 7:14, a young virgin’s heart was turned to God and the Child she was chosen to bear. Her humble prayer (The Magnificat) is recorded in Luke 1:46-55 as evidence of God’s ability to change hearts.

So, as we enter this humble time of year, the celebrations of Believers should be for the changed hearts of fathers, mothers, and children as we look to the Father of all for what He has gifted to us:
“For unto us, a child is born, unto us a Son is given: ~ Isaiah 9:6(a)

Today's Audio Message:
Luke 1:1-25 - "Prepare Ye The Way"

As we enter the Christmas season, we are taking a break from our in-depth study in the Gospel of Matthew to focus on the reason we celebrate. It is ALL about Jesus. The fulfillment of the promise of His coming. Jesus our Savior, our Redeemer, our Lord and King.  We will resume our ongoing study in Matthew's Gospel after the holidays.

This morning we will be studying the first chapter of Luke.  Luke was a physician and companion of Paul who traveled alongside on many of his journeys. As he was a doctor his attention to detail is shown through the two letters he wrote, which became part of the New Testament as he reflects upon the history and life of Jesus the Christ.

In Luke’s writing of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he details the account of divine intervention in human history. He endeavors to write an “orderly account” of the events surrounding Jesus so that “the full truth about everything which you have been taught” would be known. God is faithful to His promises and will fulfill every detail according to His plan and purposes.

Luke is a careful historian who understands the importance of His writings, the critical importance of an accurate, truthful, and factual account in order to assure his readers that Jesus is not just another human story.  Jesus is not a cultural myth.  He is not a fantasy. The story of Jesus is the revelation of the God of the universe that would become human flesh and dwell amongst us. It is the story of how God works through the events of history, through ordinary people to bring about His plan of redemption.

After years of prophetic silence, God is supernaturally acting in ways that the world has never seen. He is breaking His silence. He sends His messenger, an angel of the Lord, to announce a birth.  It is the miraculous birth of a son to a faithful couple, an elderly couple.  A couple praying for a child in spite of years of barrenness.  
What seems impossible to man is absolutely possible for God. It is interesting that the name Zecharias actually means, “The Lord remembers,” or The Lord watches over you.” Elisabeth means “My God is an oath,” or “My God is faithful,” or, if you like, “My God keeps his promises.” They would see the fulfillment of prophecies of old (Isaiah 40:1-5; Malachi 4:5,6). 

Who were this couple? They are a picture of true believers. Luke’s beautiful description of them tells us precisely that. We know that Zacharias was a priest, and his wife Elisabeth was the daughter of a priest. More importantly we know they were committed to God. They were righteous before God, serving Him, loving Him, and obeying Him. They walked blameless according to the Levitical law. They were also obscure, humble, common, doubting, fearful and even chastened, just like you and I. God blessed them, and He used them just as He does us.

If you ever doubt God’s promises, His ability, and power, His involvement in the details of our lives, and world events, don’t. God not only knows exactly the who, when, where and how He will fulfill His promises, but He is the One orchestrating the events of history.  He will fulfill every promise, every word because He is faithful and true.  

The announcement illustrates the mystery of God's work throughout history. The events surrounding the birth of Jesus reminds us that the providence of God can be seen at work in ordinary events, both good and bad.

“In the days of Herod, king of Judea...” Herod the Great was a tyrannical, cruel, vindictive maniac of a ruler. His reign was a reign of terror. But there is no darkness that can thwart the work of God.  God brings light to darkness, and He is about to turn on the lights in the most powerful way. The promise of the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” is about to be born, and He will prepare the way of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.

God has heard the prayers of their hearts, and He answers them in His own way and in His own time.  Oh, what joy that will follow.  A joy not only for these parents, but for the whole world. 

Join us as we study God’s word together.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Bridesmaids And Servants

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Every once in a while we hear of a birth, and the mother’s report that she didn’t even know she was pregnant. Though it’s hard to believe, who is going to refute someone else’s personal experience?

At the end of Matthew 24 in verse 50, the scriptures quote Jesus, “The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of.”  Jesus’ arrival will be an unexpected arrival for all that are not discerning the signs of the times. For nations and individuals who reject God, His Word, and His Holy Spirit, they willfully turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the forewarnings and advance arrival notices for the King of kings.

For believers, this is a most foolish move. It goes against our grain for the simple reason that our personal experiences reveal God’s faithfulness to His Word, because God never changes. He tells us that all His Word will be fulfilled, and that He will not change a single word that He has spoken. [Malachi 3:6- “For I am the Lord, I change not....” Matthew 5:18- “For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law.”  Psalm 89:34 - “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”]

Believers stand on the Rock of Ages, not the shifting sands of human cultures or manipulated observations. God’s Word is true. He cannot lie. He will never change, and for this reason we can lean on Him as our strong tower.

Do we need a current example?

People have lost their jobs because of a vaccine mandate, now applied almost universally. But there have never been vaccine mandates for any job description until now. What changed? Fear. God has not changed. People have changed, they have become fearful because of media coverage of the current pandemic. The media didn’t cause the pandemic; they are just reporting the thoughts and whims of specific human leaders, driven by personal gain.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some covet after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” - 1 Timothy 6:10

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 25:1-30 - "Bridesmaids And Servants"


Beginning in chapter 25 of Matthews Gospel, the next couple of parables given by Jesus is with the intent of teaching us the suddenness and the unexpectedness of the coming of the Lord which, therefore, should call us to preparedness so that we are not caught in that unexpected moment unprepared for His coming.

The first time Jesus came, the world was not ready. They should have been. The prophets had marked out very clearly the signs to look for. They said there would be a forerunner. There was. They identified him as a voice crying in the wilderness. That’s exactly what John did. They said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, He was; born of a virgin, He was; of the line of David, He was. They said He would come to Galilee, He did. They said He would have great power, He had it. But the world still was not prepared and not ready.

Jesus came unto His own, and His own received Him not. He was in the world, the world that was made by Him, but the world knew Him not. If they had only known what time it was, if they had only known that He was here, and now it’s too late. And this parable warns the world not to let that happen again. For there will be no recourse in the future.

The theme of the first parable is very simple. The parable is meant to teach us that Jesus is coming. That He is coming to judge sinners and to reward the righteous. That He is coming in a sudden and unexpected moment and everyone should be prepared. And afterward there will be no second chance. People may knock all they want, but the door will be shut. The day of opportunity will have come and gone forever.

The first parable in Matthew 25, is the parable of the ten virgins. 
Their presence symbolizes their interest, and their torch symbolizes their profession of faith in Christ. They show outward marks of watching for the coming of the bridegroom. They show outward marks of readiness. They show outward marks of commitment to Jesus Christ. They’re part of the believing community. They’re gathered as bridesmaids, as it were, ready to be received into this glorious marriage celebration. They profess to love Christ’s appearing. They profess to hear the gospel and believe. They profess to be disciples to wait for the Son, to desire the Kingdom.   At first glance they're not very easy to distinguish. They are all attending to the bride.  They all have their torches.  But as the parable goes on, what is hidden becomes known.  The searcher of our hearts knows.  Outwardly they are indistinguishable, but inwardly they are very different.  

Of these ten virgins, or bridesmaids, there were five that were wise, and five that were foolish. The wise bridesmaids had been preparing for a wedding.  They were excited, watching and waiting in anticipation for the Bridegroom to call. They knew what their role was and they were making themselves ready. The foolish bridesmaids were not ready.  From what we read, we can hardly believe that they took their role seriously.  They did not make time to prepare.  They weren't excitedly anticipating the moment the Bridegroom would call.  They were by all accounts foolish at best, and wicked at worst. They knew what they were supposed to be doing, and they just didn't do it.   They were not committed.  They hadn't taken their responsibility to heart.  They had their lamps, but had no oil.  The oil of the Holy Spirit is true faith.  Born again believers have the oil of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who fills us, seals us and leads us into all truth.  He is the One who sanctifies us and readies us to see Christ. 

The five virgins who have extra oil represent those who are truly born again and who are looking with eagerness to the coming of Christ. They have a saving faith and have determined that, whatever occurs, however long the wait or adverse the circumstances, they will be watching, waiting, and ready when Jesus returns. The five virgins without oil represent those who are false believers. They enjoy church socials and programs and all the benefits, but they have no true love for Christ. No saving faith. They have an intellectual knowledge of the Lord, but don't know Him personally. They offer lip service, and maintain ritual, but there is nothing from the heart.

The second parable is the parable of the talents. The parable deals with entrustment and opportunity in our service to the Lord, its emphasis is on working. while we are waiting and while we are looking and watching, we are to be serving. These two parables provide a masterful balance of living in anticipation of our Lord’s coming.

Everything we have is given to us by God, and we are making the most of our opportunity and stewardship, and magnifying the very role that God has given us to serve Him.

In this parable two of His servants used their opportunity to serve the Lord and therefore proved the genuineness of their salvation. They were willing to spend their time for the sake of their Master. One servant buried his Master’s money in the ground and spent his time doing exactly what he wanted. He called himself a servant, but he wasn’t.  He said he belonged to the Master, but he didn’t and was ultimately thrown out. He didn’t really know his Master. He didn’t think highly of Him. He thought Him to be hard, and to have unfair and unrealistic expectations of him. He lived his life in fear, and hid that which was entrusted to Him. He had no faith in His Master, and didn’t care much about pleasing Him.

Christian, be sure that even though you are outwardly associated with God’s kingdom, that you are also inwardly belonging to Him.

May the Lord examine our hearts and may His Spirit do whatever must be done to bring truth out of falsehood, that our faith would be real.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

A Harvest Of Knowledge

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Jesus tells us of the times and the seasons; of the things in nature meant for signs of things that lay ahead. As early as Genesis 2, He says that the lights in the sky were to divide the day from night, and they were to be used as signs, differentiating seasons, days, and years (Genesis 2:14). And that’s what Jesus does as he begins the next segment of Matthew 24 with The Parable of the Fig Tree. Using something as simple as the blossoming of the fig to show how easy it is to know the times and seasons.

In Matthew 16 as He reminds the apostles that when the evening sky is red, it will be fair weather the next day. As fishermen, it was something they already knew. The signs of the days, or of the times are not hidden from us. Hence the pattern of growth in the trees, and even the calving times of the animal kingdom. The most natural things give us insights into the future. Some would say this is just common sense, for we see these things repeatedly in our lives as everyday events.

All of the “signs” that Jesus taught the Apostles of earlier in this chapter are to be seen as warnings and encouragement to be prepared for what is coming: The Great Tribulation is an event that is determined for the wicked and the evil of this world.

“I would not have you ignorant,” Paul writes concerning the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12; “I would not have you to be ignorant,” Paul writes again in 1 Thessalonians 4, concerning the dead and the order of the Resurrection; And Paul writes a third time, all under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “I would not have you ignorant,” concerning his purpose in coming to see the Roman believers, that he might see some fruit in their lives, like he has seen in other Gentiles.

Jesus also warned often about being deceived. The knowledge of God’s Word will always bring us to truth in every matter. With God, there is no room for deceit or confusion, from His Word comes only truth.
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” - 1 Corinthians 14:33

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 24:32-51 - "A Harvest of Knowledge"


In this dark world of uncertainty, we have the greatest certainty of all to affirm—Jesus Christ is Lord! His Word is TRUE! He IS coming again!

Right after Jesus gives His disciples a picture of what His Second coming will look like, He continues to explain what the signs are that will take place before the end. He begins with the parable of the fig tree. The Fig Tree once again representing the Nation of Israel.

Matthew’s presentation of Jesus as the Messiah is consistent, irrefutable and true. He is Israel’s true King, the “Son of David,” the Messiah of His covenant people and the Savior of the Gentiles and indeed of the world. His prophetic words in the Olivet Discourse are a comfort to those who know Him, and a warning to those who don’t.  Let all Israel hear Him and receive Him.

Jesus proclaims, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” What generation? Jesus was not referring to the generation of His disciples who listened to Him then. This fact is obvious from Matthew 21:43, where He said, “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” He is speaking of the generation that will see all these things happening.

Let's remember two things our Lord has taught us about the time of tribulation this world will face before He returns.  First,  that it will come upon this world swiftly, and second, that it will come upon this world unexpectedly.  Why? Because the world will be living as in the days of Noah.  Just living life, making merry. Eating, drinking, doing their own thing. They are scoffers, mockers and without God, without His knowledge and without any care of eternity.  They reject Him and His Word, and will be without excuse. The unbeliever will be unaware of the signs of His coming, and will be caught completely off guard when these things happen.  God in His Word has given to us in advance these signs and warnings so that we might know what is coming, and that we would watch and be ready.

As regarding the church, we know that just as the Lord “sealed” Noah and His family in the ark, so the Lord seals His church with the seal of Holy Spirit. The church is not appointed unto wrath, but will be saved, or snatched up. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

When the Father tells Jesus it’s time, go get your church, He will come for His bride, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

The church will not see the Great Tribulation, or the Day of Wrath, but rather those who have no time, or interest in eternal matters. Those who have no love for God, or the truth of His word will surely face this tribulation. Those who love their sin are oblivious to the danger that is coming and will not recognize the signs before them .

Watch and Be Ready! It behooves all of us to know God’s Word and heed His warnings. Believers should be making every effort to present the Gospel to everyone they meet.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20).

God’s interests are global—but they start with Israel. Therefore, “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6) and lovingly reach out to His people and to others around the world.

It is so important to know God's Word, and to take heed to His warnings. "Watch" and always "be ready"; and be faithful in your relationship with Him, and the work that He has called us to do!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Flee Into The Mountains

Bobservations Column:
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We left off last week at Matthew 24:14, a bit short of the expected verse 26.

This is such an important section that I wanted to go more in-depth, and make applications of events described, and put them in context of current times. But we must remember a few things.

First, the recorded text was spoken to the Jews in Jerusalem. We can see parallels today around the world, but the events this chapter speaks of are directed to the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus right there in the Holy Land. Secondly, that means that Jerusalem plays a significant role in End-Times Prophecy. And with nearly 25% of the Bible being prophecy, we find that Jerusalem and Israel herself are center-stage in the Bible. And lastly, since there is nothing new under the sun, students of the Bible gain an understanding of current events too. There is always an initial fulfillment of prophecy, and a later, fulfillment also during the last days.

Last week we learned of “the beginning of sorrows,” and that the end is not yet as we witness these events in our modern times. But today, we will learn of that “flash-point” when it is time for the Jews of Jerusalem to seek cover and protection. As with the abomination of desolations in the days of Daniel, it was Antiochus Epiphanes who sacrificed swine on the altar of the Lord, leaving the place “unclean,” defiled, and desolate of the Spirit of God.

We do not know when, or how, but we do know that a world leader, a false Christ will one day stand and declare himself to be the “Savior of the world.” A genius in social, economic, foreign and domestic policies and religions too, he will make his announcement to the world, and sit himself on the Throne of David, a place reserved for Jesus the Son of God, and not a mere man ever. This will be the day for the Jews of Israel to run to Petra, and hide themselves.

Like so many before (Acts 5:34-39), false Christs and false prophets come and go, but Jesus stands forever, patiently waiting for His final Gentile convert.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery,  lest ye should be wise in Your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” - Romans 11:25

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 24:15-31 - "Flee Into The Mountains"

Last week we closed with verse 14 of Matthew 24, as Jesus stated, "Then shall the end come." With these dramatic words, Jesus begins to answer the question of the disciples, "What will be the sign of...the close of the age?"

These studies of the end of times are the prophetic words of Jesus. There is so much more to these verses than there appears to be at first. Jesus is speaking of future events, yet many of these things have already had an initial fulfillment verifying what is a true prophecy, and also a true prophet. It is important to understand that while there is an initial fulfilment of prophecy in these passages of scripture, there is also a long distance, or future fulfillment of these prophecies as well...these are things that are yet to come.

Focusing upon the far-distant period, Jesus describes to His disciples the sign of the close of the age, Matthew 24:15-22.

His somber words speak of a time of trouble that is coming, the like of which has never been seen before in all human history. It will be a time of incredible distress and great peril to human life. A time of staggering atrocities, blood shed and horror such as mankind has never seen before.

The Jews will repossess the temple area, and a third temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. It is hear that Jesus warns them of the coming Antichrist spoken by Daniel the prophet. He will declare himself god, and defile the temple once again. For those who will be living in Judea (in and around Jerusalem), He warns that they will have to flee to the mountains, literally flee for their lives.

When you see these things fulfilled, then you will know that the end of the age has arrived.

God is not done with His people, Israel.  Israel shall be saved.

Psalm 2 reminds us that God will have the last word, that His word is true, that every word will be fulfilled and that He will reign forever!
"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion."

Where is the church in all of this?  1 Thessalonians 5:9 tells us that "God has not appointed us unto wrath."  1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 

This event will take place before the Great Tribulation. The rapture of the church, or the catching away, will be a glorious event. An event that every true believer in Christ should be longing for.  Comfort one another with this words. 


Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Magnificent Temple

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Prophecy: “Stones of stumbling,” “chief cornerstones,” “wars and rumors of wars,” “in the latter days,” “Gog and Magog,” all strange phrases, but we must remember, that neither God, nor the Holy Spirit is the author of confusion (1Corinthians 14:33).  All of these phrases speak of end-times, and the events of that singular, yet multi-facetted time period.

For certain, it will be a time of destruction and judgment against all that is ungodly. It is not a judgment against the faithful of Jesus, but against non-believers, and all that reject Jesus and His authority.  As difficult it may be to live through, the Church will not be part of it!

Paul wrote to the Romans in 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

But to receive the comfort of the scriptures, we should familiarize ourselves with God’s Word. The Word is meant to be read, and the Holy Spirit can bring the understanding. If we are Christ’s, then we should ask Him for His Holy Spirit. He will not deny that request. Learn of Jesus’ escape for His Church!

There is no question that things in this world are on the decline. Socially, economically, and in every other way, we read in the media, and witness it in the lives around us that the wicked get worse and worse. It is what the scriptures have already told us. In order to receive the comfort of the scriptures, we must look at tragedies and hardships of life from the point of view of our Savior. He has written of all these hardships ahead of time, but has unending promises for those redeemed by His blood.

Learn from His Word, and realize what was written by the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the thoughts that I have toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end.”   Several translations of the verse state it a bit differently: “ give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

“But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  - John 14:26


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 24:1-14 - "The Magnificent Temple"

During the last week of His life here on earth, Jesus delivered to His disciples a comprehensive prophecy concerning end time events that would signal His return. Since it was delivered while He and His disciples were sitting on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the city of Jerusalem, it is often referred to as the Olivet Discourse.

Mankind always wants to look into the future, but the only book that prophesies the future with complete accuracy is the Word of God.

The next great event that we’re looking for is the literal, bodily return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ is a major doctrine in the Word of God. It is mentioned no less than 1,200 times in the Old Testament and 300 times in the New Testament. Today’s message will focus on the words of Jesus as He leads us on a journey of prophecy as we look to our age and then to His coming. We will see from the Word of God the fate of planet Earth.

The temple was magnificent and the center of the Jewish life, both spiritually and socially. iii) The temple sat on Mount Moriah, the temple mount. The disciples could not believe that this temple would ever be desolate. The prophecy of the desolation did not make sense to the disciples, yet Jesus had prophesied its destruction.

We know that the Romans were going to destroy Jerusalem, and there was already an increase of rebellion against Roman rule.Jesus prophesied this, also (Luke 21:20). Forty years later, the Roman army under Titus compassed Jerusalem, just like Jesus had said. What Jesus said, that so many thought unthinkable, happened. Not one stone of the temple was left upon another.

In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked three questions: (1) When will this be? When will the temple be destroyed? (2) What will be the sign of thy coming? They are asking Jesus when He will set up His kingdom and rule and reign. (3) What is the sign of the end of the world? (a) The word “world” in this passage literally means “the end of the age.”

Jesus gives the disciples seven marks of the signs of the times. The signs of the times are the intervening days and ages between the time the disciples lived and when Jesus Christ is going to come again. We will look at these seven marks today.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

They Bid You To Observe

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We see it everywhere in the world: people of every walk-of-life are raised up to positions of authority, and they become different from whom they were prior to being lifted up. From entertainment stars, to politicians, to CEO’s and those that own their own businesses. Judges and Lawyers, teachers and council members, and lesser elected officials; the more they read their own names in the media, the more power they believe is theirs. Yet for all the influence they carry, many forget that their positions are the best that man can do for society. They forget that they themselves are mere humans, and many leave God’s plans and purpose out of the equation for saving the human race.

Their race matters not, nor their education level, nor who their role models are, or growing up rich, or poor; with few exception, they lay heavy burdens on their fellow man, adding laws upon laws, and lining their own pockets, because that’s how this world system works.

John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937) was once asked “How much money is enough?” He answered “Just a little bit more.” “What salary do you think is just enough to be comfortable and happy?” “Right now, I make more money than I spend, but I hit that point back when I started making $75,000/year.”

[Note that these were the dollars of the late 1800’s to early 1900’s! With the rates of inflation since then, Rockefeller would have to be earning $1,633,000/year to maintain his level of comfort, but he would still want  “Just a little more.”]

Is it sinful to be wealthy? No, of course not. But in the hands of sinners, too many ungodly temptations accompany large sums of money. And while I offer you Rockefeller’s quote, I would be remiss if I did not tell you that John D. Rockefeller was a devout Baptist who attended prayer meetings twice each week and taught a Bible Study with his wife. A man named John Penney had a similar result as a devout Christian, as JC Penney Stores grew multi-nationally, and his tithes grew to 90% of his corporate salary in his later years.
“To whom much is given, much will be required.” - Luke 12:48
We are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that our abundance will benefit others too.

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 23:1-39 - "They Bid You To Observe"

The word hypocrisy in Greek was a term used for an actor on stage who played a specific role. Jesus took this word and turned it to mean a charlatan or pretender assuming a role.

The Pharisees’ traditions had become more important than God’s law. They had added their own sets of laws based upon their interpretation of the Law then placed applications. Besides this being a problem and almost unreachable goal for people – they did not follow it themselves. Obeying the Law was a requirement by God to honor Him but over the years they had exalted their own interpretations and traditions and were lost to the true intent of God's law and were ignorant of His Word. They're only concern was how they looked, exalting themselves above all others. Consider the Greek meaning of hypocrite or hypocrisy – the scribes and Pharisees were simply playing a role.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Knowing God

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In today’s reading we learn that Abraham is a friend of God, forever. What an incredible honor! But it’s not just there that we read of this friendship, we find it again in Isaiah 41:8, and yet again in James 2:23. Mentioned twice in the Scrolls of the Old Testament, it is no wonder that the Jews held Abraham in such high esteem as their ancestral father. But mentioning it a third time in James, it’s clear that God Himself wants the Church to also know that we too can be friends with God, by putting faith in Him, as did Abraham.

Friends meet at some point. They find interests that they hold in common; they speak of the same things; they invest time in the relationship. They get to know each other well.

With Abraham though, he was introduced to the Most High God while he was still known as Abram. It was God who gave him the new name, “Abraham”(Genesis 17:5 & Revelation 2:17).

It’s a given that God knew Abraham inside and out, but Abraham learned of God more and more over time. He met the High Priest of God (Melchizedek) and knew immediately to tithe to the Holy Priest. Melchizedek was the King of Salem (Peace). He appears out of nowhere, and then disappears into history; he is a timeless figure, without a beginning and without an end. His presence in the scriptures mimics that of God, whom he serves, who also has no beginning, and He has no end; God is eternal, and so also is His plan for us.

It is in Isaiah 9:6 that we read the prophetic verse referring to God’s Son, the Prince of Peace. Proverbs 30:4 poses the question to every reader if we know the Son’s name. The Bible also tells us that God has known us from before the foundation of the earth, and through the Bible, we can know Him. 
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. ~ Hebrews 11:17

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 22:23-46 - Knowing God!

God is the God of the living, not the dead.  Jesus had claimed to be "the resurrection and the life". All the Sadducees needed to discredit Jesus was then to show the absurdity of the concept of resurrection. The stakes are high. But Jesus showed that the resurrection was not a new idea, but has already been spoken of by God in Exodus. Jesus also spoke about the great power involved, saying that in the resurrection, people will live and love in an entirely new level that exceeds that of marriages here on earth. Find out from this sermon then how the resurrection is of utmost importance to you and how it impacts your life today!

Finally, a legal expert from among the Pharisees asks Jesus one last question in order to test him, “Which commandment in the law is greatest?” (22:36). For him to answer wisely will be a confirmation of his teaching authority. It seems that after a long day of verbal battle, even the Pharisees begin to lose steam and wonder whether their efforts had been worthwhile.

Jesus’ answer is classic. Loving God is the first thing, the most important thing. But, with it comes a corollary: to love God means that you also love God’s people. 

Biblical love is not passive and it is not strictly emotional. In the Old Testament, there are references to many kinds of love, but the love referred to here by Jesus is the love of Deuteronomy 6:5, the love of God. This love is far from passive. It is the active response of the faithful believer to the love of God.

To love God with all one’s heart, and soul, and mind, is to choose to respond to God even as God chooses to love us. 

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