Saturday, August 28, 2021


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"

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'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!

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