Saturday, June 26, 2021

Treasure Found

Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The “Kingdom of Heaven” analogies continue. These simple explanations are made to help the Apostles understand a bit more about the perfect mind of their perfect God. These are His thoughts about what our lives could be like, were it not for sin entering the world and blinding men through the flesh, and distracting them from the Spirit realm. Overcoming sin is now our purpose.
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  -  Galatians 5:17
Trying to blend the flesh and the Spirit is like mixing oil and water; they do not mix. What one cannot do is to mix them and expect them to stay mixed. The density of the oil will always cause it to rise and float on the surface of the water.

This was always problematic for lubricant companies, trying to make a lubricant that would not separate out from water. We are all familiar with the spray lubricant, WD-40. The key for them in developing the product was to alter the molecular structure of oil so that lubricant could be used around or even under water. They wanted an oil product that would displace water, rather than vice-versa. They succeeded after 40 individual formulas were tested. Now we have this wonderfully versatile lubricant, “Water Displacement-40,” more commonly known as simply WD-40.

But, the oil molecules still stick together, and the water molecules still stick to other water molecules. The final formula added silicone to the oil, so now the oil is less dense than water, but still retains the property of not fully mixing with water. So, reiterating the quote above, “these are contrary the one to the other: “ They cannot be fully integrated one to the other.

So too, the flesh and the Spirit cannot be integrated, or melded together.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected (through) the flesh?”  - Galatians 3:3
Jesus wants all of us, not just a portion. And since flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, the Spirit must displace the flesh. (1 Cor. 15:50)
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”  - Galatians 5:16
(Think of Jesus, in the Spirit, walking on the water.)

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 13:44-58 - "Treasure Found!"


The parables of the "treasure hid in a field" and the "one pearl of great price" both teach the same basic truth under two different figures, just as did the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven. The latter two spoke of evil entering the growing kingdom. These two, on the other hand, both speak of the tremendous value of becoming true citizens of the kingdom. In both cases, the one finding the kingdom gave up everything he had to gain it. The value of the kingdom of heaven is so great that everything else is worthless in comparison. Paul, like the men who liquidated everything they had to gain the treasure they found, counted as worthless everything else compared to priceless treasure of life in Christ. Just so, Paul said, "I have suffered the loss of all things...that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). God is pleased with those who - like the men in these two parables - "diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

How much do you value life in Christ? If you are not a believer, someone who has placed their faith alone in Jesus Christ for salvation from sin – what is holding you back? What are you counting as worth more than life with Him? Believers – what is holding you back from being all that you know that you should be in serving Him? What could possibly have more value than living for Christ?

If per chance you think there is something, the next parable should put things back into reality.

The parable of the dragnet (net) is similar to the wheat and the tares, except for the emphasis is not on the fact that the good and bad are now mixed together, but rather the emphasis is on the judgment at the end when the good and bad will be separated. God is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish but that all should repent (2 Peter 3:9), that is why He is so tolerant of sinful men and women at this present time, but a day is coming in which His period of patience will end and judgment will come. That judgment will seem quick when it comes, but that is only because sinful man refuses to see the warning signs. A fish swimming through the water does not think twice about a net should it happen to bump into it. It simply swims away from it thinking itself to be free. But slowly, the net draws around it and only as that net closes together do the fish become excited and start thrashing about, but by then it is too late. They are caught in the net and gathered, the good will be separated from the bad, and the bad will be cast out forever. Hell is not a place you want to go to even if you do have friends there, for it is not a place where sinners will be gathered together in camaraderie to enjoy sins perverted pleasure. It is a place of constant torment, misery, and pain that will last forever.

Lastly, in the Parable of the Householder, His disciples are to be like scribes. Since they have understood both the Old Testament and these new truths about the kingdom of God, then they should be like the head of a household that provides for his family by giving them what is needed. They should provide the way of eternal life to others by teaching them what they have learned - that God has provided a way of salvation to people who are currently on the path to Hell. Christian, are you spreading the message, both the warning and the hope of the gospel?

Saturday, June 19, 2021

That Tares It !

Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

This 13th chapter of Matthew introduces us to several “Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.”  We looked last week at the first mystery, the Parable of the Sower. He sowed his seeds broadly, without heed to any specific soil type. Given the diversity of soil types throughout Israel, every sower of plant seed would recognize what they had experienced themselves. Such is the way God spreads His Good News to the world.

The Word of God is to be spread wide and broad, without regard to nation, race or ethnicity. Where the seed falls is important. The spreading of it is what God directs us to do. It is the condition of the “landing zone” which usually determines the success of the seed developing and providing fruit. The point is that all of us need to be exposed to God’s Word. That’s the intention of Evangelism. But not everyone’s heart is prepared to receive it.

The parables of the tares, the mustard seed and the leaven introduce us to problems resulting in compromised doctrine, exposing laxness in the handling God’s Word, and human deceivers who zealously attack the Church and her doctrines that should be zealously defended!

Yet this is how “new” religions are formed: Scraps of God’s truth are mixed with the doctrines of men. This is also why “the church” must be careful in it’s teachings, and why its ministers are held to a high standard (Hebrews 12:17). We are warned of false teachers and prophets repeatedly, and therefore, their false teachings as well.

So Chapter 13 of Matthew serves us as a teaching, and also a warning. How we handle the Word of God is vitally important. The scriptures mention in Judges 5:14 “they that handle the pen of the writer.” Genesis 4:21 speaks of musicians who handle the harp and organ.” 1 Chronicles 12:8 speaks of those “that could handle shield and buckler.” In all these cases, a level of practice and expertise is involved to perform designated tasks well. Should Jesus not expect the same expertise from Christians and ministers when handling His Word? It seems that anything less would be sacrilegious, with judgment to follow!
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  - 2 Timothy 2:15

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 13:23-43 - "That Tares It!"

There are over 100 references in the New Testament which show the necessity of having ears that will hear the message of the Gospel, the message of God’s kingdom. Some address the terrible results of not listening to what God has said. From his prison cell, Paul even told Timothy that “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The majority of passages, however, stress the benefits of hearing the message that has been recorded, promising that the more one listens, the more one will understand Kingdom principles.

The Parables of Jesus are full of symbolism.  To understand the symbolism of a scripture, you need to go back and find where it is used in the scriptures, and if it is interpreted in the scripture, then you're on good ground to know exactly what it is. 

There is in the science of scripture interpretation, or hermeneutics, the Law of First Use, which means how it was used.  There is also the Law of Expositional Constancy, which means that the symbolism is consistent from one parable to the next.   In other words, in the Parable of the Sower, the "seed" is always the Word of God.   The "field" is always the people.  The "ground" is always the condition of the heart and so forth.  This type of expositional constancy is extremely important in the understanding of parables. 

Two vivid illustrations from our Lord’s teaching speak to the way eternal truths are received in the world: the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). The illustration of the sower identifies the seed as “the word” and gives us the picture of how we can expect the word to be received when it is “sown” throughout the world. Sometimes the word is not understood (Matthew 13:19), and Satan comes immediately (Mark 4:15) and “takes away the word out of their hearts” (Luke 8:12). Clearly, some hearts will not be receptive to the truths of Scripture; their ears will not hear.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares speaks to this same issue from God’s perspective. The Son of Man  sows “sons of the kingdom,” and the devil sows “sons of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:37-39). The earthly aspect of God's kingdom (essentially churches and other organizations participating in the work of the kingdom in the name of Christ) is in view here. This includes both false Christians as well as true believers. From the Parable of the Sower, it seems that both emotional believers and worldly believers may provide the "soil" in which the "tares" sown by the enemy can thrive, the "leaven" of false doctrine can spread, and "birds of the air" that devour the good seed can lodge. 

The "tares"  or false converts grow along side the "wheat" or true believers until the harvest.  Apparently, even the angels of God are unable to tell the difference (Matthew 13:28-29). They are told to wait and let them grow together until the end of the age before they are authorized to gather “those who practice lawlessness” out of His Kingdom and “cast them into the furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:39-42). Evidently, there are those among the children of the Kingdom who are mistaken for “ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15).

Insert included in today's teaching:  A Reader's Digest Article Critical of the Interfaith World...

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Faith Is The Key

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Faith is the key. Scripture tells us it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). We read that salvation is for all, because we all need it; we all need a Savior, because we all fall short of God’s glory. “But wasn’t man made in God’s image?” Genesis 1:26,27 says “Yes.” But then sin came into the world, and by Genesis 5 sin-in-us had become the norm, inherited from Adam. Seth was made in Adam’s image, but Adam was made in God’s image (Genesis 5:1-3). That’s the problem, Adam had already sinned before Cain, Abel, and Seth were born.

Faith is the key. We have the capacity to bear God’s image, but only after we deal with the sin that changed us in the first place. The Bible points to Jesus as the Savior, God himself in the flesh. Animal sacrifices brought atonement, but they could not remove sin from the hearts of sinners. Can a leopard work towards changing his own spots? Of course not. And like a leopard’s spots, sin became part of us, inherited from Adam. Self-reformation is noble, but insufficient to purify the human heart, purging it from the desire to sin.

Faith is the key. Jesus our Creator (Colossians 1:15-19) came to offer salvation to all because the Father 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)!

Faith is the key, specifically faith in Christ Jesus. He changes everything, His sacrifice not only covered our sin, but His Resurrection brings eternal life to those who believe in Him. That’s faith, blind faith, faith without necessarily knowing the how, where, when, and why of God. But we can know the Who, and that’s Jesus Christ, the anointed of God.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Faith in Jesus is the key to understanding God’s words to us. Faith is a gift from God to us, and without it we cannot even speak the words “Jesus is the Lord.” But faith is a choice, nothing more. Without understanding it fully, we can still choose it! And if you desire understanding, then faith is the key.
“I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:”  Psalm 78:2

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 13:1-23 - "Faith Is The Key"


Beginning in Matthew chapter 13, Jesus is on the Galilee while large crowds began to gather around Him, and He begins to teach in parables. Confused by this, His disciples asked Him why He was teaching them in parables. 

The parable is a story or an illustration placed along side of a truth with the intention of explaining the one by the other.  An old definition says a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning--some familiar thing of life on earth is placed alongside of some mystery of heaven, that our understanding of the one may help us understand the other.  Jesus drew from the common life of the people to explain some principle or teaching about the kingdom of heaven. In following this method a point of similarity is communicated, as well as a disparity between this life and the life in the kingdom
They are stories meant for every Spirit filled believer who has eyes to see, and ears to hear. He chose to use parables to begin to uncover the faith of true disciples, and to demonstrate judgment on those who refused to see and hear.  Parables are designed to communicate truth in every day terms. But the text says that they also conceal the truth from those who refuse to believe.

True disciples understand the things that Jesus is saying to them because they want to understand it, they believe Him and God has given them the power to understand it.  "He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given."  
Matthew 13:11

Others do not understand it because they do not want to understand it, they do not believe God, His Word, and so they reject their Savior.  God does not bless them with the power to understand it, because they refuse it.  They have no love God, they reject His Word, They love their own ways, not His.  Their hearts are hardened.  Therefore they are blind and deaf to spiritual things.  "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should...understand with their heart and should be converted, and I should heal them."  Matthew 13:15

Here is recorded the Parable of the Sower.  It is recorded in three of the four biblical Gospels – Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:1-15. The human heart is like receptive soil to the seed of the Word of God. Jesus used this analogy in the Parable of the Sower. The soil that the seed fell on represents four categories of hearers' hearts, four different reactions to the Word of God: 
  • The hard heart -  "...some fell by the way side"
  • The shallow heart - "some fell on stony places"
  • The crowded heart - "...some fell among the thorns"
  • The fruitful heart - "...some fell into good ground"
“A man’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart.” D.A. Carson

While the Sower sows the seeds of the Gospel to everyone, not everyone will put their faith and trust in the Lord. It all comes back to the heart.

That which falls on good soil represents those who hear the word of the kingdom, understand it, and produce fruit for the harvest.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

God's House Divided

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the beginning of the chapter last week, we heard of Jesus breaking the Sabbath Laws regarding work, i.e., the exerting of energy to perform a task. The Pharisees were indignant when they heard Jesus teaching scripture to them. The result was they took council against Our Lord in order to destroy Him. This week we read of Jesus’ further works on that Sabbath.

If the Pharisees were indignant in last week’s study, they have gone “ballistic” as this study continues this week. They accuse Jesus of healing by the power of Beelzebub! Clearly, these Temple Leaders show us how much the House of God is divided: false doctrines abounded among the Temple’s teachers. God’s literal Word is brought into question for believability and truth. Last week marked a change in Jesus’ target audience: opening His Word to the Gentiles (Mt. 12:21). God’s only begotten Son has been accused of abandoning the Father! (And we know our God is one God.)

This is the result of legalism in any organization, but especially within the Church. But the love of God, and His grace can overcome division and pitting of people against one another.

I Corinthians 13:4,5 offers us a great exercise in our faith-walk with Jesus: “Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity does not vaunt itself, it is not puffed up. It does not behave itself in an unseemly way, it seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, or thinks evil. It doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth.”  Your faith-walk with Jesus will be challenged with this exercise:

Read through the passage once; then a second time, replacing the word charity with the name of Jesus. Then lastly, read through it again, and where you read the name of Jesus, replace His name with yours.

To borrow from an old cliché/adage, we may “have come a long way baby,” but we have a long way to go. God’s love and grace can overcome all things. His is the truth in all things. Meditate on His Word. (Psalm 1:1-3)

“Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.”  - Psalm 17:7 

Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 12:22-42 - "God's Divided House"


Jesus had an escalating conflict with the Jewish religious leaders.   He
was preaching, teaching and doing mighty works by the power of the Spirit to bring the Spirit’s conviction of sin in their hearts so they might repent and believe. But these Pharisees disregard the call to repent. In fact they had already conspired to destroy Him. 

They are questioning the validity of Christ’s claim as God’s Son. While following the letter of the law, they elevated themselves above the people. They failed to see God's mercy and grace and therefore failed in their interpretation of scripture. They became blind in their pride, rejecting what the Spirit was revealing to the people about Jesus the prophesied Messiah, the One they should have known. Hardened hearts and haughty spirits have brought them dangerously close to blaspheming the Holy Ghost.  Jesus is having none of it and calls them out on it. 

How severe is their rejection? Verse [31], Jesus says, "
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men."

They had come perilously close to crossing a line that would lead to their eternal damnation. The question, of course, is what was that line? The Pharisees were knowledgeable of the prophecies, but they refused to acknowledge the truth when they saw it. Not only that, they publicly rejected Jesus’ claims and said He was demonic. Jesus said that anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Blasphemy involves actively attributing the works of God to Satan, and doing so in spite of the facts and in unbelief.

It is willfully saying the truth is not the truth even though it has been made evident by the Spirit. The consequence of this willful rejection of what one knows to be true is a hardening of the heart, and scriptures warns us that it is the unforgivable sin.

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