Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Father's To Give



Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In today’s Matthew 20 passage, we are introduced to the human idea of a hierarchy among men. Whether through power, or position, or wealth, or influence, it is an idea based in the sin of pride. We even see it on bumper stickers and recruitment posters. “Where I am is where you really want to be,” is the sentiment, and it’s used to sell everything and promote anything!

“Lord, grant that my brother and I sit one on your right hand, and the other on your left hand when you come into your kingdom.”  When the other Disciples heard it, they became upset, even indignant towards the “sons of thunder.” Were they upset at the audacity of the two, or were they jealous because they had asked first? Maybe a little of both.

We see it in the racial division in our country and others. If they’re not like “me,” then I should be suspicious of them. It was Satan who set this ball rolling as he tempted Eve “to be as gods.” Deceiving us to be something that we’re not is a level of deceit like no other.

It you are old enough, you might remember “L.S.M.F.T. – Lucky Strike means fine tobacco,” leaving us with the idea that other cigarettes were inferior. “Wouldn’t you really rather drive a Buick, this year?” “N.E.S.T.L.E.S, Nestles makes the very best...c h o c ‘ l a t e!” Is it brand loyalty, or arrogence?

This “I’m better than you” mentality separates people, while God’s Word brings us together, in a large, single peer group. With nearly 8 billion people on the Earth, all of us struggle with the same 10 Commandments (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Scripture tells us that all humanity is doomed.... UNLESS we have accepted Jesus! For Christians, this means we are sinners-saved-by-grace. But there’s that separation again, and it’s within the Church! For true followers of Jesus Christ, there is neither bond, nor free, neither Jew, nor Gentile, neither white, nor black, but we are all one in One! Because of Him, there is no room for pride.

To be found in Jesus should be the Believers’ sole desire. To be His child is enough, because of His grace, and mercy. But if there is to be a separation, then let Jesus define it. Saint? Or sinner? Believer? Or rejecter of His love?
“Woe unto you Scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not leave the other undone.” - Matthew 23:23

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 20:20-34 - "The Father's To Give"


As we look at the final verses of this marvelous chapter in Matthew, the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ is presented.  

The mother of Zebedee's sons approach Jesus with her sons desiring a higher position for them in His Kingdom.  Like this mother, many times we too don't know what we are asking from the Lord, and that is a big problem.  Jesus again explains to these disciples what it means to be great in His kingdom.

This world we live in is very proud.  People pushing themselves and promoting themselves before others.  Relationships in our society are literally falling apart - homes, friendships, all of them.  All social inter-relationship is at a stress point, because everybody is looking out for number one - SELF.  Society are consumed with self-glory, self-esteem, self-promotion, and pride. This is the world's standard, not our Lord's.  

It is interesting that even in the church we find these same attitudes. The old nature, worldliness and pride. Those who have given place to pride have exalted pride, and yet scripture is clear that a proud heart is sin (Proverbs 21:4).

As they make their way to Jerusalem, even in the midst of Jesus predicting His own death, the apostles are still thinking of themselves, and who will be greatest.   Jesus will make it clear to them that they do not understand the implications of what they are asking, and they won't until after His crucifixion.

Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?  He will be consuming the wrath poured out for sin. He will be consuming wrath, punishment and guilt that He does not deserve.   Jesus points out that they will drink of His cup.  All the apostles would suffer to some extent for His names sake. 

There is a contrast between how people seek greatness in the world and we should seek greatness in the kingdom of heaven.  We are not to seek power, prestige, and influence.  If we want to be first, we must first be a slave.    We must seek humility and service. Other's before self. 

The ones that the Lord lifts up are the humble. And that’s why Colossians 3:12 says that we are to put on humility.  1 Peter 5:5 says we are to be clothed with humility. In Ephesians 4:1,2, we are to walk in humility. Before honor is humility. This is contrary to our earthly philosophy where pride is ever and always exalted.

Honor comes through humility; and glory through suffering.

The example of leadership is Christ who gave His life for many.  He came not to take, but to give.  The path to greatness is the path of humility, brokenness, selflessness and service.  No matter the cost, he still calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him. 



Saturday, September 18, 2021

Covenant Contract



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Government Contracts vs. Covenant Contracts

Today’s reading in Psalm 89 reminds us of Who it is that has offered to bless us through a Covenant Contract with Him! God offers a contract with us as the beneficiary, just to bless us. In return, He asks us to obey His Word, and to put all our trust in His Son, Jesus.

~The terms of God’s contract with us have never changed.~


WHAT!? That’s unheard of! No one keeps the terms of a contract the same from one year to the next. Rates must change. Benefits must increase. And the term of the contract might even change. And the overall terms of the contract will likely get more and more complicated as time goes by! That’s what we do. That’s how we do things!

In the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-20), the rich man lived sumptuously, while Lazarus hoped for just the crumbs from the man’s table. The man eventually died and learned that he had not racked up any treasures in heaven, only those on Earth which he hoarded for himself. And now in torment, he begged Father Abraham to send Lazarus with a drop of water to cool his tongue. But the request was denied because there were no provisions in the contract for post-mortem second chances (John 11:26).

Read, and re-read Jeremiah 31:35-36 carefully. It tells of God’s faithfulness to Israel as long as the Earth spins on its axis; for when day no longer follows night, Israel itself shall cease to exist. This is in full contradiction of the Abrahamic Covenant on Genesis 12. Or, is it?

God says He will be faithful to Israel throughout all her generations. How about when her generations stop at the end of the world? Now that’s food for thought!

If you are going through a trial of any kind, think about how faithful God is to His rebellious children, Israel. Are we Christians going to be forgotten, and slip through His fingers? Certainly not! Has not God warned us of troublesome times? Should we not expect trials and tribulations?

Believing in Jesus does not exempt us from the hardships of the world. They are all the more reason to believe in Him, and put our faith in Him!
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me, ye might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 20:1-19 - "Covenant Contract"

The LORD not only seeks to save sinners, but as transformed saints, He sends them out to work in His vineyards. We are called at different times in our lives. Some are called early, in the days of their youth; others are called later in life, and some even in the eleventh hour. The point here is that God does the calling, and it is He that sends the laborers into His vineyard. It is all His work in and through us. He saves our souls, indwells us with His Spirit and enables us to serve Him. In fact, we cannot be faithful servants until He does so, and when He does, we count it a great joy to serve Him.

Isn’t it interesting that God created each one of us individually with certain personalities, certain abilities and gifts. He calls us according to His timing and purposes, and then sends us out ,placing each one in His vineyard to the work that He calls us to. We don’t have to strive or compete for position. We are called to faithfulness and obedience to His Word and in His Service.

What a great joy it is to serve Him. Oh how thankful each of one of us should be to be counted worthy to be of service to our LORD. It is NOT our work, it is His. He is ever with us, leading, directing, enabling and equipping for the work He sets before us. All glory and honor to Him.

There is no place for pride, greed or jealousy. It matters not how long we have labored. What matters is that God called us and He sent us. Our reward is the same. Those who think they deserve more reward than others need to consider the sinfulness of their hearts, like the Pharisees who considered themselves to be above everyone else. We are all deserving of judgment, it is only by His grace that we are even saved. We are all equal in Christ Jesus our Lord, in fact scripture teaches that there is neither Jew, nor Gentile, bond or free, male or female….we are all one in Him.

This is the last time Jesus is in Judea as He and His disciples are heading up to Jerusalem. Jesus takes the twelve aside and tells them that He will be betrayed and put to death. Our compassionate Savior even prepares us for the difficulties we may face ahead. The disciples are about to witness Jesus being betrayed, conspired against, mocked, scourged, falsely accused and crucified. I’m not convinced that they are really grasping this fully at this point, we can certainly relate to the bewilderment of their hearts.

This was God’s plan from the beginning. That Jesus would suffer and die on the cross for the sins of the world. As always, God is faithful to His promise. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, that those who would believe in Him by faith, would receive salvation, forgiveness and newness of life. Jesus did not stay dead and buried in the grave, He rose on the third day and this resurrection from the dead is the gift He offers to all of us. A resurrected life, eternal life, for we too will rise from our graves resurrected to His eternal kingdom with Him forever. This is our great joy and hope!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE


Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Every seamstress and tailor, has become expert at slipping a tiny strand of thread through a sewing needle. This “eye of the needle” is not the subject of today’s Matthew 19 parable.

Try putting a thick knitting yarn through that same tiny needle’s eye. You will ruin the yarn. And that is the point (no pun intended).

In todays’ Matthew 19 passage, the Eye of the Needle, is a people-size doorway in a large City Gate. Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate, so named because it accesses the road to the Port City of Jaffa on the coast, this is a perfect example. The Walled City of Jerusalem is a fortress to provide safety from marauders. At night the large city gates were closed, but residents can still come in through a people-sized door in the large Jaffa Gate itself. It is made for people, but not for large animals. This people-doorway is known as “the eye of the needle.”

Jesus uses the example of Jaffa Gate because all the City residents were familiar with it: the gate is the needle, and the people-door is the eye of it.

Camels carrying large loads can easily go through the large open city gate during the day, but at night, they would never fit through the eye of the needle. (See the picture on the cover of this bulletin.)

So Jesus’ parable today holds true: the gates of heaven are made for people. Those that present themselves at the gates of heaven with their Earthly possessions will be sadly disappointed. When looked at from front or rear (I advise the front), the camel looks like a wide-body jet, perched atop thin, knee-bulging legs. Not only would the camel’s load have to be removed from the animal, but all its ribs would have to be broken to allow its body to slip through a doorway made for people. The animal would be destroyed, and its load would still be outside the gate. An impossible situation.

The old joke that one never sees a Funeral Hearse with a U-Haul hitched to the back provides the same truth. Earthly possessions are for earth, and Treasures built up in Heaven are rewards for our New Life with Christ Jesus.
“Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” - 1 John 3:2 


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 19:16-30 - "The Eye Of The Needle"

In the three and a half years of Christ's earthly ministry, He held thousands of conversations and counseled perhaps many hundreds of people. The Gospels record only a portion of those exchanges, indicating that those dialogues chosen for inclusion in the Bible are of particular importance to us, and we should pay close attention to the lessons there for us.

In this world of sin it is easy to get our values distorted . Property, money, material possessions, or a large bank account seem to give us security, but it is all a dream. We came into this world with nothing and it is certain we will go out with no material possessions. Jesus has promised us eternal life if only we believe on Him and determine to dedicate our lives to Him. So many are bartering away eternity because they consider this world more important, their values are all mixed up. The rich young ruler who came to Jesus had this problem.

As Jesus looked at this young man, he saw in him such promise and such potential. And we are told that as Jesus beheld him, He loved him. And, yet, the story ends in tragedy.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all say that he went away sorrowful. He came to Jesus with a question and went back sad because he did not like the answer.

We find this story in Matthew 19:16 -30; Mark 10:17-30 and in Luke 18:18-30.

He was a wealthy man, and a young man. His eyes were set on religious matters - on teachers, eternal life, good deeds. He had the look of a seeker: he seemed willing to listen and eager to learn. He seemed a disciple-in-the-making. But his story has a dark end. It was he that inspired Jesus famous words "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom." Matthew was there to watch the unfolding of this man’s confrontation with Christ.

As you examine Matthew's account of this encounter, it is important to understand that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

Salvation is not based on something that we do; it is based on what Christ has done (His finished work). We do not contribute to our own salvation; Christ paid it all. Salvation is not working; it is resting on the work of Another, even the Lord Jesus Christ: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5).

Religion is man trying to bring himself to God by human effort, by good works, by ritualism, by traditionalism, by sacraments, etc. Salvation is Christ bringing us to God on the basis of what He did for us on the cross: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

God's holiness utterly condemns the best man ("As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one"--Romans 3:10). God's grace freely justifies the worst man ("For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"--Romans 3:23-24).

The gospel message brings to man not a work to do, but a word to believe about a work done: "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:25).

We are saved, not because of what we have done, but because of the mercy of God based upon what Christ has done on the cross: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). A person can never be saved by his own good works: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Good works done by sinful man can never please a holy God. The greatest good work is God's work accomplished by Jesus Christ who offered Himself on the cross as the sinner's Substitute. Thus we are not saved by good works, but we are saved unto good works: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

Are you resting fully in the finished work of Christ? Are you trusting in Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done for you and what He has said in His Word? "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:22).








Saturday, September 4, 2021

Moses, The Law Giver


Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


In Chapter 19 of Matthew, Jesus is back in Judea. There, the Temple Leaders approach Him with an issue familiar to us all, even today. They, being Jews represent the faithful of the Old Testament, following The Law to the letter. Their question to Jesus is designed to trick Him into stating something contrary against the Law, thereby giving them reason to declare Him a false teacher.

This brings us to Proverbs 26:27, “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” In the Book of Esther, Haman built a gallows for Esther’s Uncle Mordecai, plotting against him, and planning to have him hanged. But once Esther was declared Queen, the tables were slowly turned as Esther made a plea to her husband the King.

Mordecai was protected and rewarded, and it was Haman himself who was hanged from the gallows that he built. Though God is not mentioned a single time in the Book of Esther, His provision and protection over His Chosen People are never more evident than in that Book.

As believers, this is something that should always lay peacefully in our hearts. God is for us and never overlooks what is going on in our lives, even with things that we cannot see. God is always alert towards us. It is a special and unique relationship that God has with those that believe in Him, and put their trust in Him. His faithfulness is unmatched, and His love never-ending. He is a pillar we can lean on; a tower of strength Who stands with us, watching the minutia of our daily lives.

So as the Temple Leaders are planning to entrap Jesus with His own words, Jesus-the-Living-Word already knows their hearts, and their plan. Our all-knowing Lord cannot be neither surprised, nor caught off-guard. He knows what has been recorded in His Word and what quotes are attributed to whom.

As the Leaders quote Moses, He takes them back further in the scriptures and quotes His own Words. They were caught in their own trap, by the author Himself!
Following The Law can be good, as long as the Law isn’t forced and manipulated by man.

“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;”  - 1 Timothy 1:8


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 19:1-15 - "Moses, The Law Giver"

In today’s passage, Jesus teaches us God’s view of divorce.

We see Jesus leaving Galilee for the last time during his earthly life and traveling to Jerusalem where he would be rejected and killed for the redemption of his people. Jesus would return to Galilee only after his resurrection from the dead.

In this passage we find Jesus, along with a crowd, staying beyond the Jordan where he taught and healed multitudes. While he was there some Pharisees came to him. Now, these Pharisees did not come to the Lord Jesus Christ with the intention of being instructed or healed by him. We know that because they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. These Pharisees were coming to test and trap Jesus.  This has been an ongoing plot to discredit Jesus and get rid of Him.

The Pharisees ask a couple of questions dealing with divorce. The Rabbis were split on this issue, and basically had two schools of thought. The liberal and the conservative….very much like it is today. One school of thought gave the husband freedom to divorce his wife if he in any way was displeased with her. The other school of thought taught that divorce was only right when there was infidelity.

Setting the trap: Wanting Jesus to take sides, first between the two schools of thought amongst the rabbis, and second pitting God’s Word against the word of Moses.

Jesus first responds to their ignorance, their ignorance of God’s Word. As religious leaders, they were scholars of the law….man’s law, yet completely ignorant of God’s Word. Once again Jesus asked them, Haven’t you read the scriptures?

Rather than focus on what the scriptures teach on marriage, their focus is divorce. God’s standard of marriage goes all the way back to beginning. Genesis makes it clear that marriage is intended to be for one man and one woman and is considered the strongest, most permanent covenantal bond ever created.

Marriage between a husband and wife completes the image of God that was separated from the creation of Eve. That God took from Adam’s body to create Eve shows us great insight into why we become one flesh in marriage. Since man is the image of God, and God took a part of that image out of man to create woman, the image of God is now separated into two beings (man and woman). Genesis 2:24 says the man and the woman shall become one flesh being joined together by God. God separated the image of God (Adam) when He created Eve, and now the image of God is brought back together when man and woman are married.

Those differences that you see between you and your spouse are more special because they are God’s design. Your spouse completes you, both perfectly  designed by God to compliment each other. Both created in the image of God. The differences are not a reason for divorce, but they are a gift and a blessing from God.

In response to their second question, Jesus explains that Moses allowed for divorce because of the hardness and sinfulness of man’s heart. It was a concession, not a command. It is not God’s design, in fact God hates divorce.

Though God hates divorce, it is not the unpardonable sin. God is able to forgive and restore sinful man into right relationship with Himself and with others. Though this is a sensitive subject for many, we must discuss it with all the grace and mercy of our Lord.  As followers of Christ, we are to walk in holiness and obedience to His Word.

Jesus’ definitive statement on the issue of marriage and divorce is in verse 9: “‘I say to you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” and in Mark 10:12 we find the opposite is also true: “And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Who is speaking these things? The eternal God, the Word that was made flesh! When Jesus says, “I tell you,” he is giving us the command of God himself governing marriage, and we had better pay attention. Marriage, therefore, is for life. It is a unity God has created and no one is to tamper with or dismantle that unity.

Divorce results from sin, not from God. God’s love is not fickle, it is loyal. His love is not conditional but is everlasting. We see this love on the cross. Christ died for us and lives for us, and he will never leave us nor forsake us.


 

 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

ORDER IN THE CHURCH


Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


The Apostle Paul’s Epistles regularly note the danger of the “Judaizers” who would follow his Evangelical treks, and attempt to put new Gentile believers under the old Jewish Laws.  Jeremiah 31:31 clearly declares that God would make a New Covenant with the House of Israel, and the House of Judah. Did they miss that?

In the Letter to the Hebrews, in 8:7, the writer states; “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.”  This new covenant was to be written in the minds and hearts of believers.

The Law of Forgiveness is integral within the new covenant. Mercy and grace are the ruling tenets of this law, for that’s what Jesus exemplified for believers everywhere, without regard to race, ethnicity, or country of origin. Salvation was open to “whosoever.”

Based on what we know about our own lives, for how much have we each been forgiven? Yes, we lose count after 10 incidents, for all the rest are repeats of the ten, one for every commandment broken. Yet when we confess them, 1 John 1:9 says God is not only faithful, but just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “POOF! The record of our sins has been more than just redacted, it has been wiped clean as though they never happened! No redaction needed! No redaction even possible! God “chooses” to forget our iniquities.

But we first must acknowledge them, and take ownership of them. If we don’t acknowledge them, how will we know to confess them to Jesus, unto forgiveness? This takes a little quiet introspection, searching our own hearts, as King David did:

~ Psalm 139:23,24 ~
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Jesus’ work of perfecting His living saints begins with each of us individually.


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 18:15-35 - "ORDER IN THE CHURCH!"

Forgiveness is a great virtue, all believers have the capacity to forgive because God’s Spirit indwells the hearts of believers. Forgiveness is the key to loving one another and serving one another in unity and fellowship. It is the key to having truly meaningful relationships. It tears down the barriers we put up that separate us. It is the cure for bitterness, anger and revenge. We live in a world that is so divided. Listening to the commentary on the news, do any of them show mercy, grace, or forgiveness. There is hardly a civil word to be heard. They are like vultures going after their prey, and by their words they devour one another.

That is not the case for the believer. We exemplify the virtues of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God has called us out of this world to shine as lights in darkness. What the world is incapable of, He has enabled us to do. Jesus reminds us that He has forgiven us a great debt, how much more should we be eager to forgive those who sin against us? It is the heart of God to forgive, it should be our heart too.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “It is a man’s glory to pass over a transgression.” In other words, if you want to see man at his best, he is at his best in his ability to forgive. In overlooking a transgression, in forgetting a sin and an evil. Ephesians 4:32 takes the thought even a step further for Christians and it says we are to be “forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us.”

We have received the forgiveness of God in Christ, should we not then offer forgiveness to others? We have been forgiven so much!

Colossians 3:13 “forgiving one another even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” It is the glory of a man that he should forgive another, and particularly for a Christian who has been forgiven so much by God through Christ. And if, in fact, it is the best of men in terms of their character quality to forgive, and if it is that we as Christians have been forgiven everything, how eager we should be to be able to forgive others.

There are many great examples of forgiveness in the Bible, one that stands out is the story of Joseph. You remember the story. Joseph was one of 12 of Jacobs sons, his father’s favorite. His brothers were jealous of him, in fact, they hated him so much that they threw him into a pit, and sold him into slavery. later we learn that because of his ability to interpret dreams, he was made governor of Egypt. He wisely rationed the country’s food supply preparing for famine, and it is during the famine where the opportunity comes to forgive and reconcile with his brothers.

The story of forgiveness and reconciliation can be found in Genesis chapter 50.

Joseph tells his brothers, “As for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly unto them.” That’s quite a good example of forgiveness, yet there was a greater example of forgiveness yet to come.

As we finish up Matthew chapter 18 today, we learn what Jesus teaches on forgiveness.

Following Jesus' discourse on church discipline, Peter asks Him how many times should a brother sin against him, and he forgive him? Peter kind of offers a rather generous number, “till seven times?” Now we know that the Jewish rabbis (or teachers) of Jesus’ day taught that when it comes to forgiveness they are to be generous. The world’s standard is so low that many people refuse to forgive just one time. So the Jewish rabbis taught that you should forgive someone of an offense up to three times.

Now we don’t know what is going on in Peter’s mind, but we do know that he knows the law, and he has been with Jesus for quite a while now. He probably has some inclination that Jesus’ standard will be much higher than that, so he is rather inclined to make the generous gesture of forgiving some one up to seven times.

Jesus’ standard is of course much higher. He tells Peter, not seven times but "seventy times seven times." In other words, you are never done forgiving others. As Christians, we have all experienced the unbelievable forgiveness that God graciously pours out on us through Jesus Christ. Yet, if we are honest, it is incredibly hard to forgive others when they have offended or hurt us. This parable is a painful reminder of this reality. We all want and need forgiveness. We also want others who sin against us to pay the price for their sin while we withhold grace from them. The teaching of Jesus reminds us that our sin against a holy and righteous God is an enormous debt compared to the sins we commit against each other.

He has forgiven us a debt we could not pay, how much more should we be eager to forgive those who sin against us?

It is the heart of God to forgive, and when we forgive we radiate the true nature of God.

To our online listeners:  We are apologize for the delay, our technical difficulties have been resolved. Thank you for your understanding.



Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Cry Out To Jesus!




Encouraging words for such a time as this.  
Excerpts taken from "As Little Children" taught by Pastor Bob Lawrenz.

Father, as we look at the world around us, we can see that what our Lord Jesus said in His Word is exactly the way it is. How affirming that is to know that He knows accurately and precisely all things from beginning to end. The warnings in Your Word about disasters, wars, rumors of wars, plagues, persecution and deceptions are indeed escalating because they are identified as birth pangs, and these these things will grow increasingly intense until the Day of Your Wrath, and Your Second Coming.

You are the God of history, history is Yours and we're part of it. We're part of the history You're writing that ends in eternity and eternal joy. What a blessing. It is tragic that sin entered into this world, yet You allowed it in order that You might demonstrate Your grace, that You might manifest Your salvation, that You might call together a people who love You and serve You, as You display forever to them and to the holy angels Your love and Your goodness and Your forgiveness. Our hearts ache for all those in the world who are caught in the deception of false religion, have nowhere to turn, who live in fear of the impending and very real dangers that they face every day and have no one to give them hope and assurance about life after death.  Draw them to Yourself and show them that You will hear them when they cry out to You.

Lord, help us to be faithful to proclaim the good news, that in a dying world there is a living gospel, and on a dying planet there's a living Savior, and in a dying society there's a living church. There is a future and a hope, one can be delivered from death to life by coming to the true knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior who fill our hearts with peace and everlasting joy, and hope in anticipation of what awaits us. We know that nothing can separate us from His love and one day He will bring His own to glory. Even now while there is so much happening on earth, we know what's going on in heaven, for Jesus said this, "I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, there you may be also."

So, Lord, we're so thankful that You are now preparing a place in heaven for us while this world careens towards its final judgment. We look forward to the day when we will enter into that place because of Your grace.

Father, we thank You so much for the staggering wonder of Your Word which You've given to us so that we're not in the dark about what's going on. Father, draw to Yourself many, even today, out of this perishing world into that eternal kingdom where all is joy and promise. And we'll thank You and we say this for Your glory alone, Amen.

If you don't know the Lord Jesus Christ, this would be the day to open your heart, confess Him as Lord and Savior, repent of your sin, receive His salvation and heaven and joy.





Saturday, August 21, 2021

As Little Children


Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz


God loves His children, period. As we remind ourselves of John 3:16, we are assured that God loves the whole world, but much of the world rejects God’s love, and He experiences rejection. Being created in His image, we can then be assured that God experiences emotions, though He is not subject to them through the weakness of the flesh.

This sets the stage for the first part of today’s study. It is about a child-like faith. It’s not about being childish, but trusting the Father, trusting Jesus Christ, and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us to heaven. Children are dependent upon their parents. We, are called to be dependent on our heavenly Father. It is the one co-dependent relationship that is beneficial to us.  
(Psalm 118:8,9 is a familiar passage for this belief, in contrast to human co-dependency.).

God never intended for Adam and Eve, or any of their descendants to live apart from Him. He has always wanted relationship with His Creation! He came to save that which was lost!

When God has His flock together, even as few as two or three, they have Him in common. He is there in their midst, and Jesus alone is mediator between them and the Father. No one else is qualified; no one else gave their life for us in obedience to the Father.

We are seeing in the world today a “loss of natural affection.” Is it any wonder? These days, children are given to the state for teachers to raise and impart the wisdom of the world to those children. No wisdom from God is even allowed to be taught or promoted. This is the culmination of efforts by human minds, like Sigmund Freud. In his 1927 book, “The Future Of An Illusion,” Freud lays out his thoughts of displacing God and Religion in society with Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis, right in the Forward of the book! And, who among us has not taken the required course in Psychology 101 in their first year of college? Sadly, these are the highest and most respected thoughts of mankind.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8, 9

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 18:1-17 - "As Little Children"

Summary:
There is so much in today's study!  From understanding the importance of God's Word in our lives and the testing of our faith, to lessons in humility and church discipline.  Our trust is in Jesus Christ, the living Word and His finished work of redemption and reconciliation on the cross for mankind. 

As we continue on in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18 begins with the next conversation the disciples want to have with Jesus. It’s about which one of them will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke tells us this is more of an argument than it is a conversation (Luke 9:46). This seems completely out of line as the disciples had just failed in casting out a demonic spirit from a young man, and had been rebuked for their unbelief. However, this is typical of humanity. Even our great failures don’t cause us to take our eyes off ourselves for very long. In the past couple of chapters we read that even though Jesus rebuked Peter “get thee behind me satan” and told him he was “an offense” for trying to hinder His work, this didn’t take him out of the running for greatest in the Kingdom (Matthew 16:23). Can you hear the argument? He may have just brought up the fact that he was the only one who walked on water with Jesus and was one of three who witnessed the transfiguration (Matthew 14:28-29; 17:1). Our accomplishments usually drown out our failures. No one thinks of the excuses of Moses, or the murderous adultery of David, or the depression and lack of faith of Elijah (Exodus 3:11; 4:1, 10, 13; 2 Samuel 11; I Kings 19:4). Instead we focus on Moses leading the exodus, David defeating Goliath, and Elijah calling fire down from heaven. One thing that is so great about the Bible is that it shows how even the best men that God used have failed. Our questions should never be about us. Our hope always lies elsewhere… in Jesus and Him alone.

A Lesson In Humility - 
Jesus illustrates His point by bringing a child before the disciples. There is nothing more fragile and helpless that could have been chosen. Children are in constant need. They need shelter, food, clothing, and instruction. They can do almost nothing on their own. This of course is the point. Children instinctively know they are in need. Whether it’s arithmetic or learning to tie a shoe, children humbly ask for instruction. They want their parents or teachers to instruct them and pass knowledge onto them. They know they cannot do it alone. This is why Jesus chose a child to place before His disciples. This is why something so small and fragile was an object lesson in humility. Be like children. Know you have needs that you cannot meet on your own. This keeps you focused on Kingdom living. We will never make it on our own. We need Jesus everyday and in every way. To be great, we must become small.

This teaching of Jesus is now working on two levels. We should be like children giving our full trust to Jesus for our lives. We should also protect those who live with this kind of faith. The term “little ones” now represents all those with child like faith that follow our master. Children can be easily taken advantage of. This is also true with followers of Christ. We must not only be careful to keep Jesus first in our lives, but we must also protect others that do the same. It is good to know that if we get off track and begin to wander that Jesus will drop everything and come to our rescue. We must show this same love and determination for one another. Heaven forbid we should be guilty of taking someone’s eyes off Jesus for our own pursuits or vanity. We must be so careful with our own eyes, and responsible for where we influence the gaze of others. May it always be Jesus we look to and turn others towards!







Saturday, August 14, 2021

Our Compassionate Savior


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

“Seemlessly” is a word that has come into popular usage when contrasting issues come together and blend into one. Such a transition is said to be “seemless,” in the smoothness of the change-over.

This comes out today as Jesus deals with the Apostles and a sick young man. Jesus’ Godly compassion mixed with His frustration towards the Apostles gives insight into Jesus’ dual character: fully man, and fully God, in every aspect.

We can all relate to frustrations in life. The Godly will move past negative emotions, and get to the Godliness for which our Savior is noted. No one in this world is exempt from negative human emotions, but as Christian Believers, we are called to “overcome the world.”

Without faith, disappointment leads to frustration; which leads to emotional upset; which leads to anger, and if not caught in time, anger will lead to a destroyed relationship. Trust will be broken, heart-felt love will be undermined, and Satan will have won. We have all heard of marriages, families, and friendships broken apart this way. But this path begins with disappointment.

It is our own human self that sets the bar for relationships of every kind. Expectations must be communicated and agreed upon. If they are not communicated, then how are we to protect the relationship from unrealistic expectations, and the inevitable disappointments? It starts with faith, plain and simple, faith in Jesus Christ, to be precise. Faith sets the standard for “equal yoking,” and Godly expectations for friendships, business relationships, and marriage relationships.
“That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”Philemon 1:6 
Let Jesus be your guide, and your example. Emotional upset will come, but squelch it before it comes out of your mouth, destroying your witness to Jesus Christ, and those around you just see a hypocrite.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”Ephesians 4:29


Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 17:14-27 - "Our Compassionate Savior"

The point of this whole passage, in many ways, is a summary of the whole testimony of the people of God through all of history: that God moves powerfully when we believe. The power of faith.

In these next verses, we see a pleading father with a son that is demon possessed. We see the powerlessness of His disciples to heal him. We see the perversion of the faithless (disciples are symbolic of a whole generation of faithless people). Here we see the heart of Christ, the pain of His heart, and the disappointment that comes forth from His lips.

"O faithless and perverse generation." Can you sense His frustration? Here we see Jesus respond to the whole scene: the Lord confronts the perversion of the faithless generation, and He heals the child Himself.

The disciples have made a habit of faltering when difficulties arise. They had faith, but it was weak. They had a very difficult time handling what they didn’t have but knew they needed. Faith is the ability to trust God when there are no human resources around. It's one thing to say God can supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.....it's another thing to pray and trust the Lord to deliver on His promise.

Whether the feeding of the 5,000. The storm on the sea; Peter walking on the sea afraid of the boisterous wind. When faith is tested it is easy to see how weak it really is at times. Here is another test of faith and another lesson and opportunity for His disciples to learn and grow.

The principle of the mustard seed is not that it’s this little seed. The principle of the mustard seed is that though it is a little seed, it grows.

Through it all we see the character of our Lord, His heart of compassion. His desire to heal and to save the lost. His patience to teach and prepare His disciples to minister to the needs of the people and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is our salvation.  He is our help. He is our eternal hope.  








Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Future Is Here


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The days of Jesus’ sufferings are fast approaching in the text. The prophecies are coming to fruition. Isaiah 52 and 53 foretells of the cross. Psalm 23 prophesies of it along with others among the Messianic Psalms. Even our reading in Malachi today points to Jesus’ two advents, 400 years before the first, and the second is yet to be fulfilled in the future; he speaks of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

The great day of the Lord is in the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Jesus came to Bethlehem to save us!

The dreadful day of the Lord is yet determined for a future date and time, as foretold on Matthew 25;1-13 and Isaiah 40:10, and dozens of other places in both Testaments, the prophecies culminating in Revelation 20 on His dreadful day of judgment. Satan and those that follow him will be cast into the Lake of Fire with its never ending torment.

Our study in Matthew today tells of Jesus speaking of past prophecies; those to be fulfilled in the immediate future, and those coming at the end of days (end-times). His words are those of His Father put into human language. Jesus is the literal Word of God, which became flesh and dwelt among us. And when we consider that a quarter of the Bible is prophetic, those who read it will be well informed about the past, present, and future. There is no need to fear the unknown, for the “unknown” can be known. And with Jesus near, His first words to us will always be what we find in Matthew 17:7, “Arise, and be not afraid.”

It is easy to list to the news today and be filled with anxiety and worry over what we hear. The choice is ours though; we can either curl up in a ball and recoil at today’s events, or we can stand up and look to Jesus for His comforting words, and regain our sense of peace, which is really His given to us.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11


Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 16:21-28; 17:1-13 - "The Future Is Here"

In this weeks study of Matthew, Jesus is preparing His disciples for what they will be facing in the near future.  He is referring to His own death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead.  

The disciples still have much to learn regarding God’s plan, and the purpose of Christ’s work on earth. Remember it had just been revealed to Peter who Jesus is, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” From spiritual clarity, to spiritual dullness, Peter is reacting to what Jesus revealed to the disciples. His first instinct is to react in the flesh. His emotions are controlling him, and he leans to his own own understanding. He has his own idea of what Jesus should do. He just can’t believe that Jesus would knowingly walk into the trap that awaits Him, His death.

Peter's next words are a complete dissent of his prior revelation. He rebukes Jesus. Think about that for a moment. He rebukes Christ, the Son of the living God attempting to stop Him from fulfilling the will of God. What a picture. Spiritual things MUST be spiritually discerned. Can we understand God's ways without His Spirit revealing it to us? We cannot. Can we change one word of what God has already declared? We cannot. It is not our will - but thine. This is a lesson that Jesus is about to teach His disciples. What is true discipleship, and what does true discipleship cost?

The will of God is the cross of Christ. Jesus alone will pay the price of atonement for our sin. We are redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. That was God's plan from the beginning. This was Christ's purpose.

In last few verses of chapter 16, Jesus is speaking to His disciples and He tells them, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Our spiritual development is a continual work in progress. We don’t just believe in Jesus, and that’s it. We must grow in our faith into spiritual maturity. That means we are ambassadors for Christ. We represent His kingdom, not our own. Remember, the old man has been crucified with Christ, and we are new creations in Him. Therefore if anyone will come after Him, that is be His disciple, and a follower of Him they must deny themselves. This is an essential part of the believer's life. This means not seeking our own way, but yielding to His way. As we pursue holiness, we must deny ourselves, all of our carnal appetites and submit to His will. We must take up our cross - this is a daily battle for the believer. Bearing our cross means submitting our wills, it is a call to absolute surrender to Him.

The key to walking in the Spirit is found in Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." His Word will transform our lives. It is the Word of God that accomplishes the destruction of the flesh. As we submit to His will, which is revealed in His Word, we will be victorious over the flesh. "For whoever seeks to save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."  

In the first 13 verses of chapter 17, we learn about The Transfiguration.  Jesus takes 3 of his disciples up into the mountain where they witness a brief glimpse of Jesus in all of His glory as King. Moses and Elijah appeared beside Him. They were two of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament.  Moses representing the Law, also the author of the first 5 books of the Bible.  His presence speaks to the Old Covenant.  Elijah’s speaks to the prophecies of all the prophets foretelling the Messiah.  The prophets standing before Jesus reveals to us that Jesus is the Christ.  He is the One spoken of through the prophets.  He is also the One who would fulfill all the Law, bringing in a New Covenant.  The absolute declaration of God the Father reveals this to the disciples, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”  

There are a lot of voices in this world. Everyone has an opinion of how we should live our lives and what we should be doing. If you want to know God's will for your life, listen to Jesus. He is the Son of the living God, the Christ who died on the cross for your sin and rose victoriously from the grave! He loves you and will never forsake you. He offers salvation freely to anyone who will believe. Believe on Him today!





Saturday, July 31, 2021

Leaven Of The Pharisees


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Jesus has spoken of leaven several times in the scriptures. In the Old Testament it was forbidden to be used in food preparation during the High Holy Days of Passover. In fact their houses had to be purged of it! While allowing dough to rise for baking, it also introduced a spoiling within the bread.

This is the subtlety of leaven, a slow process of rotting and spoiling. Jesus declared Himself to be “the Bread of Life”  in John 6:35 & 48: “...he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  It is in Him that we find no sin, and nothing in Him to corrupt and introduce any rottenness in us. Jesus is Holy, and He is Pure.

The issue is that leaven is pervasive. Once leavened, a substance cannot be unleavened. It is therefore a “type” of sin and corruption. But in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, spreading through the whole lump of dough. In this case, it is a good thing, if we consider ourselves to be that lump of dough.

Jesus, let me be that lump of dough, let me be heavenly minded, let THAT leaven take over all of me, and all of every Believer! May we all be taken over by thoughts of being in heaven with You, Lord. Come, and make us wholly holy for You! This is the leaven of heaven that we should want in our lives and hearts; to be totally His so that no power on Earth can take us away and corrupt us!

We may still be “lumps” and maybe even lumpy, but to be His is all we need and all we should want. To be leavened for the Kingdom of Heaven, unveils a sense of security in our salvation. If our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then it is up to Jesus to get us to where we are truly His and can be ushered into God’s Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the all-powerful God that we serve. (And by the way, the lump doesn’t fight against the baker.)
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” ~ Philippians 1:6
Jesus starts the work in us; Jesus performs the work in us; Jesus finishes the work in us. Let Him work in you!


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 16:1-20 - "Leaven Of The Pharisees"

Summary:

When teaching His disciples, Jesus often used everyday objects to demonstrate spiritual truths.

In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus is warning His disciples to “take heed (or watch carefully), and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”  The word leaven (or yeast) here takes on symbolic connotations.  What does leaven do?  Leaven is a pervasive influence that modifies something.  Literally speaking, leaven is used in baking bread causing the bread to rise over time.  Scripture tells us that “a little leaven, leavens the whole lump,” that is the very nature of leaven. You simply cannot hide it in the mix, because it ultimately affects everything.

So can we just acknowledge that so far there has been a lot of scriptures involving bread in the Gospel of Matthew, and here we find that once again the disciples are unprepared and have forgotten it.  After His encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus warns His disciples of the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Whether they weren't paying attention to what was going on just prior to this, or they were troubled by the fact that they had forgotten the loaves of bread, the disciples are just not understanding Him. He is not speaking about food for the body, as His disciples imagined, He is speaking symbolically as to the spiritual nature of of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Spiritually speaking, leaven can be a good thing, a symbol of the kingdom of heaven. Leaven can also be a bad or evil thing, as is the case here in verse 6.

As Jesus warns His disciples of the “leaven of the Pharisees,” He is specifically speaking about their religious hypocrisy. Their teachings were a pervasive influence over the people and produced hypocrisy and unbelief.  Like yeast in a loaf of bread, their teachings corrupted all those who heeded them.  These religious leaders displayed an outward conformity to the law, but their hearts were full of unbelief and sinfulness.  

Here in Matthew 16, the Pharisees had tested Jesus once again, asking Him to show them a sign from heaven.  At this point in Jesus ministry, He had literally performed thousands of miracles.  Have they not heard the testimony of the witnesses?  Have they not seen the miracles with their own eyes?  Have they not heard Jesus speak and teach?  Why would they need to see more signs from the heavens?  Surely they could test what they were seeing and hearing against the Word of God.

As spiritual leaders they should have known the scriptures and the very signs of the coming Messiah.  The Old Testament prophets spoke about the blind who would see, and the lame who would walk.  Not only should they have known the scriptures, they should have believed the scriptures and should have been looking for those signs that would reveal Jesus as their Messiah.  Yet here they are once again testing Jesus, seeking more signs not because they wanted to know the truth, but rather because they wanted to get rid of Him, to publicly denounce Him and declare Him as false.  They are hypocrites.  They put on a show for the people to make themselves look holy and righteous, yet they deny the truth of God’s Word, and their Savior.  

Here Jesus teaches His disciples to be aware, spiritually focused, to be wary of false teachers who are hypocrites denying the truth.  

The only way to keep ourselves from the deception of false teachers is to spend time sitting at the Lord’s feet in prayer, and opening our bibles allowing His Spirit to teach us, and fill us with the WORD OF TRUTH!







Saturday, July 24, 2021

Always The Need


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

You might recall an event when Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping her serve at a dinner. Jesus answered her comfortingly with a truth: Mary had sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to His every Word, instead of serving with her sister. “Mary has chosen the better part,” Jesus said to Martha.

In every ministry, every Church, and every religious gathering, there is room for those who are gifted to serve, and those who need to simply be listening to the Words of God, as they wash over the entire gathering and minister to all in a way specific to each one. Each person is both unique in themselves, but subject to the common temptations in this world. Martha and Mary are perfect examples of church membership, and it’s up to us to ask for Spiritual gifts to help us learn our role(s) within the Church.

Jesus’ statement about Mary choosing the better part is interesting. In Hebrews 5:10-14, the writer of Hebrews refers to Jesus as...
“Called of God a high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which (are) the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Clearly then, there is a process of learning, and of serving. While they are two very different Spiritual Gifts they go hand-in-glove in the fullness of the Church. Martha was naturally gifted to serve. Anyone who has hosted a dinner party is able to appreciate Martha’s ability to multi-task for food, and for the comfort of her guests. But others are simply satisfied to sit and focus on Jesus’ Word being spoken and taught.

There also comes a time when every Believer can cross the line and fulfill the role of the other. This is a dynamic of the Holy Spirit. As He quietly and continually points us to Jesus, what comes into focus is Jesus’ ability to serve His children and to teach then at the same time by example.



Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 15:29-39 - "Always The Need"


Summary:

In Matthew 15:32 it says, “Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.’"

Basically, the word compassion comes from the Latin which means to suffer with, but really, in the English, it’s even enriched beyond that, for the English dictionary describes compassion as this: A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the pain and remove its cause. For the Latins, it meant to suffer with, but in English, it has come to mean not only to suffer with someone or to feel their pain and their hurt but to have a strong desire to see its cause permanently eliminated.

And I think that’s a marvelous definition of what was in the heart of our Lord who, looking upon anyone in need, identified with that need, felt sympathy and sorrow for that need, and had a strong desire to see its cause removed. The Greek term itself is a most interesting term. It’s basically a verb form added to a word that means bowels or visceral area or guts, stomach, and it means that Jesus actually felt physical pain in His stomach over the needs of people with which He identified and for whom He desired deliverance.

Now, if you learn anything at all about God, you learn in the Scriptures that He is a God of great compassion. He suffers with people. He feels their pain, and more than that, He seeks to alleviate its cause. And that’s exactly why He moves in the world. That’s exactly why He redeems men. That’s exactly why He heals and comforts and extends grace and mercy and lovingkindness, in order to reach men in their need and deliver them from it.

This is an important portion of scripture as we see Jesus is reaching beyond the covenant people, beyond the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and is reaching out to gentiles, and He is giving us a prophetic picture of the extension of the Kingdom in the purpose of God to encompass the lost of the world. The intention of Christ coming to Israel was never that that was the end but that that was only the means to reaching the world. It was always His intention to reach the world.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:16









Saturday, July 17, 2021

Our Shield And Buckler



Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

 
Today’s study in Matthew 15 gives us insight into how the Jewish Leadership monitored Him, and kept track of events in Jesus’ Ministry. Immediately after coming ashore after Peter’s Baptism, and more healings, the Pharisees confront Jesus about specific behaviors of the Disciples.

Their question reveals that they were present for The Feeding of the Five Thousand, taking in the crowd, and watching the miracle unfold before their eyes. But instead of giving glory to God for this miracle, they were critical of the Disciples, as though they were guilty of some horrible transgression!

Jesus would later teach those around Him to “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” Their own transgressions of the Law were ignored, while they held the Jewish people to a higher standard. Their doctrines were made by man, while they imposed the higher standards of God on the people. This is a precise example of a double standard that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:1-3. And He will speak of it again in Matthew 16, so this is an important topic to God, and to Believers everywhere. Doctrines of men can be rationalizations for sin!

With God, there is no room for hypocrisy. We are to let our yea be yea, and our nay be nay. At the risk of plagiarizing an old cliche’, hypocrites speak with a forked tongue, And we know that it’s that slimy serpent, Satan that is the source of every forked tongue. The traditions of men will always be reproved by the Doctrines of God, for God’s Word is a light unto our path.

Darkness is dispelled by the true light. Even heathens can recognize a truth of God, as evidenced by a Syrophenician woman in this chapter. By nationality, she was Syrian and Phoenician, a mixed race woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon along the northeastern shores of the Mediterranean. As she had discourse with Jesus, she spoke a profession of faith in Him that could not be denied. Though from a heathen nation, her faith was real, and Jesus healed her daughter. A step-in-faith, and a point of contact made the way for yet another miracle. Jesus is our defender, and our buckler!
"But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."  - Psalm 3:3 


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 15:1-28 - "Our Shield And Buckler"

Summary:

The Pharisees! They look righteous and act holy, but their hearts deceive them.  "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."  Matthew 12:34

They had been following Jesus' ministry, and listened to Him teach. They had observed His power, the miraculous healings and yet are blind to understand Who He Is!  They refuse His Words. They fail to acknowledge their sin, let alone repent and receive salvation. They are jealous, sanctimonious, self righteous and conspire against Him.


In Matthew 15 we see the Pharisees criticizing the disciples once again.  What did they do? They did not wash their hands before breaking bread.  Jesus cuts to the chase. Speaking of the heart Jesus tells them that it’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but rather what comes out.   Here's the truth, we simply cannot hide what is really in our hearts, it all comes out eventually.  The Pharisees worked hard to look good on the outside, but the reality is they were corrupt deep within. They knew a lot about God – they simply DID NOT KNOW HIM.

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9


I can’t imagine a more horrifying thing than those who thought they were living for God, possessed good works, stood for justice, mercy, and love and believed that they knew God only to find out that God did not know them. Those who have deceived themselves will not listen to anyone. It’s ironic how many Christians still get into deep arguments and debates with those who have hardened their heart to God considering that when Jesus himself stood before the Pharisees they refused to acknowledge their own sin.

Sinful human nature cannot meet God's standards.  The only way to meet God's standard is to abandon ourselves and receive new life in Him.  
Jesus was going to the cross to provide a new life for all whosoever would lay down their own will and believe in Him.

Unfortunately, the Pharisees wanted to keep their old life and represent God at the same time. When we understand what has been done for us at the cross, we hand our lives over to the gentle authority of Christ. It’s all His.

The Pharisees couldn’t see it, and in the end, most of them didn’t want to.  Are you turning a deaf ear to the Lord,  disregarding His Word in order to follow your own traditions? Your own ways?  

 

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