Saturday, November 27, 2021

Bridesmaids And Servants

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

Do we need a current example?

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

Today's Audio Message:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 20, 2021

A Harvest Of Knowledge

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

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

Today's Audio Message:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Flee Into The Mountains

Bobservations Column:
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today's Audio Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Magnificent Temple

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Today's Audio Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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