Sunday, January 30, 2022


Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The story of Jesus on the sea of Galilee calming the winds, is one of the most breathtaking examples of the power of God. Suddenly, as the Apostles in the boat with Him, they grew fearful of loosing their lives, Jesus stood up and calmed the wind and the seas.

Most in the boat with Jesus were seasoned fishermen, and familiar with the weather patterns that blew through the Arbel from the Mediterranean Sea. And just as suddenly as the winds died down, the Apostles beheld Jesus in awe and wonder.

Mark 4:39-41 –

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, peace be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him.’”

Jesus showed the Apostles something specific about Himself. Clearly, He was more than just a man, and this was something they should never forget. They should have, should have been reminded of the Psalm of David. Psalm 6:6-7- “The one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples,…”

How often have we read of storms in the Old Testament that worked out in favor of the Israelites in battles against their enemies. The One who controls the weather can control all things.

When we hear of two popular winds, El Nino, and La Nina off the Pacific Coast, we can see how these storms of God can impact lives in a variety of ways. We are currently in the midst of La Nina. It is a cold wind off the ocean, and it alters our “jet stream” and changes how winter weather patterns affect our whole nation.

The years of La Nina are the years I am personally most wary of. When we talk of climate change we are not speaking of global warming. To me, it means multiple freezes and thaws, sometimes on a daily basis. It raises havoc with our frail bodies and puts additional stress on our immune system. If you have respiratory distress of any kind, then you hate El Nina years like I do.

Consequently, church is not open tomorrow. If the threat of Omicron, or Covid’s most recent variants aren’t enough, then colds, bronchitis and maybe pneumonia round out the threat to our lungs and our ability to breath.

When we think that God’s Word says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, then we can identify our strengths and our weaknesses. Remain flexible; follow the leadings of the Lord, and know when He says, “rest a while.” No soldier of God is ever on the front lines of the battle 24/7/365. Be ready to rest in Him when He calls you aside.

Announcement:  Because service had to be cancelled this week, there will not be an audio message.  We will resume our study in the book of Matthew, next week.  Join us as we study God's Word.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Prayer is Essential

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our on-going Study through the Gospel of Matthew, we are otherwise approaching the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is there in the garden, prior to His arrest that He asked His chosen Apostles to pray with Him for an hour.

Prayer is central to the Gospel; praying for our own needs, and interceding for others. And as Christians, our walk with the Lord grows and our faith deepens based on three things:

1) Daily reading of His scriptures,
2) Daily prayer time with Him,
3) A regular time to gather together with other Believers, sharing what God has done in our lives recently, and ministering hope to others. (This last building block of our faith is clearly stated in Hebrews 10:25!)

To know Christ Jesus better is at the core of all three of these, but our Prayer time with Him is doubtless the most personal time with Him. And, this personal time in prayer is more of a conversation with Him. He already knows what things are going on in our hearts, so as with any conversation, there is a time to speak, and a time to listen.

I recall an older man who is home with the Lord now, asking me why he never hears from God? He had said, "I pray and pray, and the Lord never speaks to me." Iasked the man if He ever gives the Lord time to speak after you laid out your petitions? He was dumbfounded that he never thought of that himself.

Even in his 70's he bounded into church the next Sunday all grins and excited because the Lord spoke to his heart all week, simply because he didn't rush off after his part of the conversation. Were it a person we were speaking with, and we ran off before they had a chance to speak, they would think we were rude! The last thing we want to do is to be rude to the Lord.

Prayers are laced throughout the Bible. King David's writings bear witness to that. But Jesus' own teachings give us examples too throughout the New Testament. Barren women prayed to have children, and their prayers were answered: Abraham's wife, Sarah; Isaac's wife Rebecca; and Jacob's wife Rachel! These three were the Patriarchs of Judaism, and therefore the Patriarchs of Christianity as well. Elizabeth was barren well beyond her child-bearing years, and John the Baptist was born. Prayer is a powerful tool for every Believer.

It is a tool that is also humbling, as we ask God for things that we are powerless to provide for ourselves. It is also a reality check for us. Jesus said if we ask anything according to his will, it will be done. And it's only through a knowledge of His word that we can learn what His will is for us.

And Jesus asks us to learn how to multi-task... 1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul writes, 

While we go about our daily tasks and responsibilities, keep a part of you always attuned to hear God's voice, that "still small voice from within."

Announcement:  There isn't a recording for this week's service. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Alabaster Box

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

From Palm Sunday in Matthew 21, the next few chapters cover the final days leading up to the Crucifixion. But here in Matthew 26, we learn specifically that Passover is “after two days” (verse 2) of the events here in today’s text.

The Pharisees and Temple Priests firm up their plans, to not just “catch Jesus in His own words,” but to kill him (Mt. 22:15 vs. 26:4). Their motives are based in their own pride, a thing that the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Jesus had put the Herodians to shame and had discomfited the Pharisees in their questions. And a most curious thing about their plotting against Jesus is that the plot will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 52 & 53, and they seem unaware of it. These “Holy Priests” of the Temple are clearly lacking the Holy Spirit who would help them apply the scriptures to their personal actions and choices.

Like King David was ignorant of his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba, it took Nathan the Prophet to point it out to him. It’s easy to simply want what we want, but to examine our hearts before fulfilling our desires is impossible while we are yet thinking in the flesh, instead of God’s desires for us.

This plot originates with Temple Leaders. But in this chapter, we also find the Apostles are indignant about how a valuable item is used. This indignation comes from among the Apostles. Yet this too. is a prophecy fulfilled (Psalm 55:9-16), for the indignation morphed into Judas’ betrayal: the thirty pieces of silver from today’s reading from Zechariah 11. God’s foreknowledge is unmistakable. His knowledge of the human heart is without measure, whether it be for the good, or for evil.

Our pride can often get in the way of God’s will for us, as well as His beneficent promises. And hidden behind within our pride is our own sense of values, and possibilities. Can we ever give God less than our best? – Did God seek to cut corners when it came to our salvation? No, He gave us His best; He gave us His only begotten Son.

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”  “And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up because - there had been no rain in the land.” - 1 Kings 17 : 1 & 7 

Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 26:1-19 - "The Alabaster Box"

In Matthew 26, plans are being made to kill the Son of God. As with some other famous conspiracies to commit murder, this plan did not pan out exactly how the conspirators planned it. However, it did happen exactly as God planned it. 

When Jesus had finished speaking on the Mount of Olives. When He had finished the Olivet Discourse, He shifted to speaking to His disciples in private about what is to come.

At the start of the Passover Feast, Jesus and His disciples sat down at a Passover meal. He tells His disciples that He will be handed over and He will be crucified.  He says that it will happen during the Passover. There is so much beautiful irony found in this fact. The Passover festival celebrated when God spared the people of Israel from slavery and death in Egypt by the sacrifice of a lamb. Well, in Matthew 26, God is about to bring rescue from spiritual death and spiritual slavery through the sacrifice of the ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ.

No one can see how everything is coming together except for Jesus. He knows this must happen, so He again alerts His disciples to this.

The chief priests and the elders had plans of their own. They gathered at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest “. . . and they conspired to arrest Jesus in a treacherous way and kill him.”

They had had enough of Jesus making them look foolish. They had had enough of Jesus not fitting into their box. They had had enough of Jesus not fulfilling their expectations of whom the Messiah should be, so they treacherously plotted against Him.

These men were supposed to be God’s representatives to the people. They were supposed to bring the people closer to God. Instead, they are planning to kill the Son of God. They are rejecting God, and their only means of salvation.

In the midst of all of the Passover festivities, the plotting of the priests, the betrayal and the treachery, Matthew takes us back a bit to reveal to us something that has already happened before the plot to kill Jesus took place. I believe that Matthew does so intentionally to create a contrast of sorts. Sandwiched between the conspiracy against Jesus and the betrayal of Jesus is this beautiful anointing of Jesus.

Mary and the Alabaster Box.  
Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, approached Jesus with an alabaster jar of very precious ointment and poured it on His head while He is eating. She anoints His head, washes His feet with her hair honoring Him. The ointment was worth about a years wages, and the disciples thought it such a waste, criticizing her, specifically Judas.

n verse 12 we learn that she is preparing His body for burial. This fact accomplishes two things: first, it reminds the disciples once again that Jesus is going to die; second, it points to the fact that it will not be possible to anoint Jesus’ body after His death. Typically, after someone died their body would later be anointed for burial after some time had passed. Well, that wasn’t possible with Jesus because His body wasn’t in the grave very long! Jesus is giving us a glimpse of this future reality now.

Never value anything over Jesus. You could give everything that you have for the glory of Jesus and it would still not be too much of a sacrifice! He is worth infinitely more than the collective value of everything in this world! Nothing spent on Jesus is ever a waste!  This was the sacrificial anointing. 

It was bad enough that the religious leaders were conspiring against Jesus. However, it gets worse. We learn in verse 14 that one of Jesus’ own disciples, one of the Twelve, was also conspiring against Jesus. He was planning to willingly betray Jesus.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

At His Second Coming

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today we return to our on-going study in Matthew. We left off in Matthew 25:30 prior to Christmas. Now, fresh from the celebration of His First Coming, we are given insight into His Second Coming in verse 31.

Drawing on His role as a shepherd, Jesus calls the unbelieving Gentile nations and separates them from the Jewish nation. His life on Earth exposed Him to all nations, and just as in all churches, there are true, committed believers, and there are also professing believers who are less than committed to the Word of His Testimony.

There are believers among the Jews, and among the Christians. There are true believers among Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Catholics. And in those same churches, there are others who take Jesus for granted, take His Word at only face value. He calls these two groups sheep and goats, and seeks to separate them one from the other. One group is called to His right, and the other to His left. These cannot be separated by nationality, or ethnicity, or by the names of their religion, or denomination. There are sheep, and there are goats in all of them.

Jesus looks at the heart. He sees behaviors, not just words that we speak. He measures our behaviors up against His Word and His own example. Thus He can look at a womanizing killer and King, and tell us that David had “a heart after God.” He knows what is in our hearts, and is willing to forgive those whose desire is to follow Him, even though our actions may cause others to question our commitment.

The real question is “What is in our hearts, the base of our desires?” Will He beckon us to His right, or to His left. Will He call us to His sheep, or lump us in with the goats. How closely are we following Him? Only we can examine our own hearts, and ask that tough question, for Jesus has already judged sin and disobedience.

“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” - 1 Kings 4:1

Today's Audio Message:
"At His Second Coming" - Matthew 25:31-46

Announcement:  We apologize to our listeners that our audio uploads for the past couple of weeks have been delayed.  We are truly blessed to be able to bring the teaching of God's Word to all of you.  May the Lord bless you as you partake of His Word and apply His truth to your hearts.


Can you imagine a goat in a pasture trying to trick the shepherd into thinking that he was a sheep? He might be able to trick some of us, but he wouldn’t be able to trick the shepherd. In the same way, there will be a day of judgment and Jesus will righteously and precisely sort out the spiritual sheep and the spiritual goats.

Though multitudes claim to be 'believers', there is a vast difference between walking the walk, and talking the talk.  True believers are known by their fruit.  They are known by their love for God, and love for others.  They hunger and thirst for righteousness, they desire to share the truth of God's word with others, and they present the Gospel of Salvation with the lost.  

In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, we are looking at man redeemed and saved, and man condemned and lost. The scriptures here does not suggest that salvation is the result of good works. Scripture does not contradict itself, and the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that salvation is by faith through the grace of God and not by our good works (see John 1:12Acts 15:11Romans 3:22-24Romans 4:4-8Romans 7:24-25Romans 8:12Galatians 3:6-9; and Ephesians 2:8-10). In fact, Jesus Himself makes it clear in the parable that the salvation of the “sheep” is not based on their works—their inheritance was theirs “since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34), long before they could ever do any good works!

The good works mentioned in the parable are not the cause of salvation but the effect of salvation. As Christians we become like Christ (see Romans 8:292 Corinthians 3:18; and Colossians 2:6-7). Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Good works in a Christian’s life are the direct overflow of these traits and are only acceptable to God because of the relationship that exists between servant and Master, the saved and their Savior, the sheep and their Shepherd (see Ephesians 2:10).

The core message of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats is that God’s people will love others. Good works will result from our relationship to the Shepherd. Followers of Christ will treat others with kindness, serving them as if they were serving Christ Himself. The unregenerate live in the opposite manner. While “goats” can indeed perform acts of kindness and charity, their hearts are not right with God, and their actions are not for the right purpose – to honor and worship God.

God is not interested in the outward appearance of a man, but His heart.  Where are we in our relationship with the Lord.  Do we truly belong to Him?  Are we God's Sheep, or are we Goats?   

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Token of the Covenant

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

It was The Law of Moses that permeated the lives of the Jews in Jesus’ day, especially those Jews that lived in the vicinity of Jerusalem’s grand and magnificent Temple. And according to The Law, a newborn child would spawn a number of events: 33 days or more of purification for the mother, and a sacrifice was to be made for her giving birth at the end of those days, then a presentation of a male child in the Temple (36 days for a female child). But when the male child reaches 8 days old, the infant’s circumcision would take place. These things were non-negotiable. This was more than just their culture, it was a Law of God, from Genesis 17. Circumcision was the token of the Abrahamic Covenant. Separating the Jews from the rest of humanity; identifying them as His Chosen.

Identifying with the Jews can be a costly thing to do. Even today, being a friend of Israel on the world stage can elicit a rejection of values, and hatred.

And basing a nation’s laws on Judeo-Christian standards can cause a rejection and even contempt for those laws by our own citizens. This we have seen in our own country. Banning public religious displays, outlawing prayer in our public schools, and creating a separation of Church and State has gained us at least two generations of heathens, and youth that have been taught a revised version of World History and US History.

The hearts of our children have gone uncircumcised, while circumcision itself has become commonplace in Western Culture, for “health reasons.”

Abraham circumcised both Ishmael, and Isaac. While both bloodlines have been blessed, it is Isaac’s bloodline that would bring Messiah. And the blessing stolen from Esau in that next generation has set the two nations against one another ever since.

The circumcision of the heart means everything because it changes the sensitivity of the heart. The circumcision of the flesh alone merely brings an identity crisis.

Romans 2:29 – “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit (of the law), and not in the letter (of the law); whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Parentheses are mine)

Today's Audio Message:
Luke 2:21-37 - "Token of the Covenant"

As we approach the text before us, Jesus Christ, Messiah, had been born. The long- awaited promised good news had been announced (1:26–38), affirmed (1:39–56), and arrived (2:1–20).

An angel of the Lord informed the shepherds of Messiah’s birth, and so they left their lambs, to find the Lamb. They travelled to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Israel’s great shepherd-king: David. There they met the true Shepherd-King: Jesus, who is Christ the Lord (Micah 5:1–2). The shepherds departed and declared the good news. The world’s first human evangelists were, in the literal sense of the word, pastors.

It was now eight days later, and Jesus underwent the covenantal custom of circumcision (v. 21; cf. Genesis 17:12Leviticus 12:1–3). 

Circumcision of the Flesh - Circumcision of the Heart

In Romans 2:29, Paul discusses the idea of the circumcision of the heart and the role of the Old Testament Law as it relates to Christianity. He argues that Jewish circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to God. However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision is of no avail. A circumcised body and a sinful heart are at odds with each other. Rather than focus on external rites, Paul focuses on the condition of the heart. Using circumcision as a metaphor, he says that only the Holy Spirit can purify a heart and set us apart to God. Ultimately, circumcision cannot make a person right with God; the Law is not enough. A person’s heart must change. Paul calls this change “circumcision of the heart.”

After the days of purification according to the law of Moses, (thirty-two days later), they would return to the temple when and where their faith would be strengthened by two older saints: Simeon and Anna. These faithful believers had, for a long time, anticipated the arrival of God’s promised Messiah. They now experienced what they had been so longingly expecting. Therefore, they celebrated. But this led them to anticipate again. For with the arrival of Messiah, greater things were still to come, not only in the city of Jerusalem, but throughout the nation of Israel and in all the nations.

Their celebration of fulfilment, coupled with their anticipation of future fulfilment, illustrates the biblical truth referred by theologians as “already / not yet.” This is where you and I live—or where we should be.

Like Israel of old, before we came to Christ, God graciously brought us to a point of disillusionment, defeat and, for some, despair, due to our guilt for our sins against holy God.

God then consoled us with “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). We repented of our sins, and believed on Jesus who lived, died, and rose again for us. Celebration was our response. What we longed for was now our experience: We were reconciled to God. But this was only the beginning, for we began to anticipate further blessings—like growth in holiness, a growing devotion to God, and collateral blessings along the way. After all, as the hymn says, Jesus came “to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.” Sometimes those blessings have come sooner, sometimes much later, and some of these blessings have yet to come. But since they are God’s promises, we must continue to faithfully anticipate them. This is the theme of our passage and of this study.

In our brief Christmas Series, we have been confronted with the holy, faithful, merciful, and gracious character of God. We have also seen the condition of man: sinful and in need of a Saviour. And, of course, we have focused intently on Jesus Christ our Saviour and our Lord.

Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, an unnamed angel of the Lord, a heavenly host, shepherds, Simeon, and Anna all testified that Jesus is God’s appointed Redeemer and Saviour. Ultimately, Jesus’ life and death and resurrection proved this.

In our sinful state we are God's enemies, but Christ came to reconcile us to God. Will you confess your sinfulness, trusting him to forgive you? Will you trust him to reconcile you wholly to our holy God? That is, will you trust him to bring peace between you and God? Are you willing to forsake this world and follow Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life? Salvation and forgiveness of sins is not about following steps. It is about receiving Christ as Savior and recognizing that He has done all of the work for us. God requires one step of us—receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin and fully trusting in Him alone as the way of salvation.

The good news is that, though we are sinners, the anticipated Saviour has come. There is nothing more to do than to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.

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