Saturday, March 26, 2022

Another Third Day



Bobservations Column

Pastor Bob Lawrenz

There has long been a debate about the Resurrection occurring three days after Jesus was Crucified. As mentioned previously, was it a full three days and nights? Was it a full three nights and days? (There is a difference.) Is it after three days, or is it “on the third day?”

Regardless of how the three days are measured, the time frame has been the subject of debate, and that ignores the overriding importance of Jesus being Crucified and Raised Up later.

The Apostles and many Disciples had witnessed Jesus doing the impossible for three years; the deaf hearing, the dumb speaking, the blind seeing, the lame walking, the dead being raised up, fish and loaves being multiplied before their eyes... they all witnessed Jesus’ power over the physical world.

And it was just a week or two before His own Resurrection that Jesus raised up Lazarus from the dead. And to assure the people of His power over life and death, Jesus delayed His arrival at the grave, a small cave covered by a stone in which Lazarus was laid. And once there, Jesus said “take away the stone.”

Always the practical one, Lazarus’ sister Martha was set to argue with Jesus: “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”

This is what Jesus always deals with, even among His closest followers: doubt, second-guessing Him, and simple unbelief. Then He prayed aloud for all nearby to hear. “And I know that Thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I (spoke) it, that they might believe that Thou hast sent me.” (John 11:40-44 for the entire passage.). There was unbelief among His faithful followers, and closest friends.

Jesus wants to stir up our faith that we might believe that He is capable of anything and has power over all things. While Martha is sure that her brother is cold, dead, and biodegrading, Jesus wants her faith stirred up to believe in the Power of God imbued in Him.

Jesus has the power and authority to raise Himself up on the third day, after three days, or like Lazarus, four days after He died. When is not the issue. That Jesus overcame death is the power of God in Him.

As Jesus speaks of the bread and the wine being His body and blood, He speaks it while yet in His living body-and-blood-flesh.
Luke 1:37 – “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Today's Audio Message:
Exodus 19:1-25 - "Another Third Day"

Summary/Notes:

While our study is from the nineteenth chapter of Exodus today, it is truly amazing how the gospel of Jesus Christ is clearly and repeatedly foreshadowed throughout the Exodus story. It begins with God making a promise to elect a people as his own. His people are then taken into slavery and ruled by a godless and cruel lord (foreshadowing Satan/sin). Unable to save themselves, God himself intervenes to redeem them from slavery and deliver them into freedom to worship him alone by his miraculous hand (foreshadowing Jesus’ death and resurrection). After taking his people out of Egypt, God’s work with his people continues as he then seeks to get Egypt out of his people (foreshadowing sanctification and purification). Resisting God’s continuing attempt to lead his people as he desires, the people grumble against Moses and long to go back to Egypt (foreshadowing the believers’ wrestling with their flesh).

But, God’s faithfulness persists and he continues to lead his people and provide for their needs out of his love, as he leads them on a journey to a land of rest and promise (foreshadowing heaven). God’s interaction with his people is clearly that of a living God who speaks, acts, loves, declares his laws, judges sin, delivers, redeems, provides, and is present with them. The central picture of the gospel in Exodus is one of redemption, as seen in Exodus 6:6, “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:” and Exodus 15:13a, “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed…”

As we look at Exodus 19, we see the grace of God in redemption gives us the background and the framework whereby we can understand the use and the function of His law. His law is not the way in which His people are saved. His law is not a means which He gives to them whereby they may save themselves. It is the expression for how a people, conformed and transformed into the image of God by His grace, ought to live in gratitude for His redemption. Understanding Exodus 19 helps to understand Exodus chapter 20. This law is given in the context of a redemptive relationship in which God is willing to share great and undeserved blessings with His people.

Exodus chapter 19 also makes it clear that what is about to happen at Sinai is another covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, or the Covenant of God’s Law. God is entering into an explicit, open covenant relationship with an entire nation, and He will ratify His promises to them in this covenant. God’s purpose was for Israel to be a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5,6). As believers we belong to Him, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. As He is Holy, He calls us to be a holy nation, set apart and devoted to Him. 1 peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

In verses 14 and 15 of Exodus chapter 19 there is a stress on the people preparing themselves for this covenant. They are to consecrate themselves to the Lord and prepare to come before Him. It is a serious thing to meet with God. So Moses gives the command for them to consecrate themselves in preparation for meeting with God and when we get to Exodus chapter 19, verses 16 to the end, finally the encounter with God comes. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…”As Moses was the Mediator of the Old Covenant, Jesus Christ is the one and only Mediator between God in men in the New. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” - 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8.





Saturday, March 19, 2022

Sharing The Faith





















Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

“God be merciful to us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; Selah. (So) That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.” Each week, we close out Sunday services with these two verses from Psalm 67:1, 2.

King David’s Chief Musician penned the six verses of Psalm 67, and it was a song/hymn to be played on stringed instruments called “Neginoth.” Neginoth is always in the plural, and all stringed instruments fell into this category. By way of comparison, today’s orchestras have a “Strings Section,” or Neginoth.

My point here is not the instruments, but that the Jews wanted the world to know of God’s goodness and His saving health that comes from living His way. This speaks of evangelism among the Jews. As God’s face shone on Moses, we are called to share that shining presence with others. And after having finished the Gospel of Matthew last week, I thought it appropriate that we look at the task the Apostles faced as Jesus directs their ministry efforts to share the Good News in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

In the 12th Century A.D., the famous Rabbi, Moses Ben Maimonides, scribed “THE THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES OF THE JEWISH FAITH.” One of these principles says, “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though He tarry, I will wait daily for His coming.” Waiting in faith is what Jews and Christians are both called to do, so we have something in common with those of the Jewish faith. And in evangelizing others, it must be the drawing power of God’s love for us all that must characterize the message.

To condemn another’s belief, rather than drawing from its similarities would turn our Gospel message to what Paul writes to the Corinthian Church:  “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” ...nothing but harsh sounds.

So as we cover consider Maimonides’ principals, it is import to remind others, Jew or Gentile, of the Jewish scriptures, and their fulfillment, to help others see Christ Jesus as the one true Messiah for Who we all await. 

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. - Hebrews 10:36, 37

Today's Audio Message:
Isaiah 11:1-5 & Others - "Sharing The Faith"

Summary/Notes:

All four Gospels, in their records of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, explain that Jesus did not return to heaven before giving His followers a mission. Until His return, He told them, the church is to go forth and preach the gospel to all nations, telling people about Him, calling them to repentance and faith, and discipling them in everything that He taught. This task remains unfinished, and all Christians have a part to play in bringing the gospel to all creation. Ultimately, conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. Spreading the gospel is a way for us to partner with the Holy Spirit in that work.  Ultimately, conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. Spreading the gospel is a way for us to partner with the Holy Spirit in that work.

Evangelizing means sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who don’t know Him. It is an overflow of the “hope that is within us.” It is an act of love, and Christ’s love must be the defining characteristic of every follower of Jesus. Those who walk in the Spirit bear His fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…, and we demonstrate His love in dealing with people. We possess a great gift, it is good news, the best news the world will ever hear. So while we share this good news, we should share it in such a way that it is becoming of His great love for us. (John 3:16).

The Scriptures tell us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (see Romans 10:17). Whether you are witnessing to Jews or Gentiles, most are unfamiliar with the scriptures. Many times we make the mistake of trying to use reason and logic more than using God’s Word when sharing our faith with others. The truth is that the Bible has self-authenticating authority that can touch hearts: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). The Scriptures should be the key benchmark of truth when sharing our faith.

While there are literally hundreds of fulfilled messianic (Jesus-related) prophecies. Jesus lived a miracle-filled and supernaturally empowered existence from his conception to his ascension. Centuries before his birth he was foretold by the prophets which can be clearly seen in the Old Testament scriptures. The Old Testament, which was in existence centuries before Christ, predicted the where (Micah 5:2), the when (Daniel 9:26), and the how (Isaiah 7:14) of Christ’s entry into the world. He would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:15) from the line of Adam’s son Seth (Genesis 4:26), through Noah’s son Shem (Genesis 9:26-27, and Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 15:5). He would come through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) and would be the son of David (2 Samuel 7:12f.). The Old Testament predicted that Christ would die for our sins ((Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 12:10) and would rise from the dead (Psalm 2:7; 16:10).

All of these prophecies were uniquely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is not true of any great religious leader or person who has ever lived.

Today’s message will focus on thirteen basic prophecies that we should all be familiar with when sharing our faith in Jesus Christ with others, whether Jew or Gentile.  These thirteen scriptures will help others understand that Jesus is truly the Messiah.  We cannot assume that the people we share with know anything about the scriptures, or that the Messiah can literally be found in every single book of the Old Testament.  The best representation of Jesus is found in the scriptures.  
While God uses many ways to draw people to Himself through His Holy Spirit – one of these ways is fulfilled 

prophecy.

These prophecies are just a few brief examples of prophecies that can be useful evangelistic tools. They point to a God who is active in His universe and to a Messiah who fulfilled the words of the prophets.

Fulfilled prophecies serve as evidence for God’s working in human history. They testify that the Gospel message is true, and show that the Scriptures are accurate and reliable, and this results in increased openness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 



The following Scripture Chart is a perfect tool to use when sharing the gospel with others. Each prophecy from the Old Testament is followed by the New Testament fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

Prophecies About Jesus

 

 

Old Testament Scriptures

 

New Testament Fulfillment

1.

The Messiah would come from the line of David, and would be a righteous judge.

Isaiah 11:1-5

Matthew 1:1,6; 5:3-5

2.

The Messiah would have a unique birth, which n itself would be a sign from God. He would be called Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Luke 1:30,31-34,35

3.

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, yet He would have a prior existence.

Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:1

4.

The Messiah would come as a male child, and would appear as a light of Galilee. Messiah would be heir to King David’s throne

Isaiah 9:1,2,6,7

Matthew 4:13-16, 21:10-11

5.

The Messiah is uniquely God's Son.

Psalm 2:7

Matthew 3:17

6.

The Messiah would be the Light of the world. He would regather Israel and will also be a light to the Gentiles.

Isaiah 49:6

John 8:12

7.

The Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted. He would bring a message of forgiveness and hope to all people.

Isaiah 61:1

Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 4:18

  8.

The Messiah would usher in a New Covenant with Israel and the Gentiles.

Jeremiah 31:31,32

Luke 22:20

9.

The Messiah the King will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9

Mark 11:7-9

10.

Though innocent, the Messiah would suffer for the sins of the world. 

Isaiah 53:3-12

Matthew 26:67,68; 27:26, 28-31

11.

Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed, forsaken and surrounded by enemies.  They would take His garments.

Psalm 22:1-22

Matthew 27:35

12.

Messiah would be sacrificed as a Lamb. His sacrifice would be complete, once and for all.

Isaiah 53:10

John 1:29; Hebrews 10:10

13.

Messiah would be seated at God’s right hand until He returns to Earth to judge the wicked. 

Psalm 110:1, 4-5

Acts 1:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8







Saturday, March 12, 2022

Will You Believe It?



















Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

While we study and review the Crucifixion of Christ Jesus, there has been a controversy that arose of which the Cults have promoted and have taken advantage. The Cults would like to disprove that Jesus is God,

The roots of this controversy lay in the language. We read it just last week, as the Chief Priests and the Pharisees approached Pilate, “...Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while He was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  Hence, the birth of the controversy is in the quotation of the Priests and Pharisees, and other scriptures. A simple word search of “After three days I will rise again,” will produce not a single reference for Jesus having said those precise words in the Bible. Therefore, a lack of consistency in the language has given rise to the controversy.

Is it “after three days,” or is it “on the third day?” The Priests and Pharisees believe that Jesus taught about the Resurrection, and indeed He did. Some of them did too! But textual consistency is key. Both are used, and hence confusion. Jesus taught the He would rise again; He taught about rebuilding the Temple in three days. This confusion has caused divisions in the Church. The Cults deny Jesus’ Deity as well as the Doctrine of the Trinity. These are foundational to Christianity, yet Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormon Church declare themselves to be Christians, while denying His Deity.

“After three days” implies a Resurrection on the fourth day or later. But as we read in Genesis 1:13 states clearly that a full day is measured from evening to the next morning. The scriptures are sometimes vague about non-salvation issues. Take note of God’s definition of a day: The six days of creation: Genesis 1:5; 1:8; 1:13; 1:19; 1:23; 1:31. Jesus has inferred that at some point on the third day, He would rise again. Perhaps the Temple hierarchy has misquoted Him and implied something other than what Jesus was inferring.

This is disturbing, for it has caused churches to divide and part ways. This is Satan’s plan: Divide & conquer. The minutia of doctrinal details may remain a mystery until we see Him face-to-face. The overall doctrine, however, will stand.
 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." - Romans 10:9
--->THIS is the doctrine that saves. <---
2 Timothy 2:23 and Titus 3:9

Avoid foolish questions, and strivings about the law (doctrine.)


Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 28:1-20 - "Will You Believe It?"

Summary/Notes:

The climax has come! All of our Lord's life and mission have now reached the culmination. The history of man and his fallen state, and the move of our Lord though history and our lives has interwoven to the finishing point. He lived on our behalf. He has died in our place to absorb God's wrath and pay our debt of sin; now, He rises back to life, conquering death, and giving us victory and grace for a life of fulfillment and fullness (Psalm 16:11; 107:09; Isaiah 26:3; John 14:21; Galatians 5:16; 22-23; 1 John 1:7-9; 3 John 4)! This passage contains the ultimate wonder of the universe-the incredible impossible, and the incredible triumph. Jesus was crucified; he died and was buried. Jesus Rose Again!!!

The women went back to the tomb to finish His preparations because they were unable to do so earlier due to the Passover. When they came upon the tomb, the stone was already rolled away and the chamber, where Jesus' body was supposed to be, was empty. They were confused and perplexed. What had happened? Did the Romans take Him? Did the Scribes do something heinous to His body?

Then, suddenly, an angel appeared, striking fear and awe in them. He told them that Jesus has risen, and to go back to Galilee and tell the disciples. The religious leaders were stunned. They quickly tried to spin the situation to their favor by bribing the soldiers to tell lies saying the disciples stole the body. Then, Jesus appeared, eliminating all doubts and questions. He then gave the final marching orders for the purpose and reason of the Christian life-to know Jesus and make Him known!


Jesus has all authority! He proved this by not only being God, but by being willing to come as a man to this earth and live the life we could not, nor would not do. He overcame our sins and our enemies (John 12:31; 16:33; Romans 6:1-7; Revelation 1:17-18)! He kept His promise that He made to Adam to redeem us, and then He sent the Comforter to lead us on (Acts 1:3; 2:24-35; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30-32; 13:33-37)! Jesus is risen. This means He conquered death (Acts 2:24; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58). We too, in Him, will undergo a similar transformation, as we live for Him, forgive in His name, are justified (Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:17), and will arise in eternity (John 11:25-26; Romans 6; Ephesians 1:18-2:10; Colossians 2:9-15; 3:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Peter 1:3).

Jesus is risen-He is risen indeed-Hallelujah!


Saturday, March 5, 2022

And They Crucified Him































Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We begin today with Matthew 27:45, and recall two previous verses: numbers 35 and 36 of the same chapter,
“And they crucified Him,” and “And sitting down they watched Him there.”
As if the horrors of His Passion and Death were not enough, how humiliating to be “on public display” for so long. Those that crucified Him sat and watched Him die. Those from the Jesus’ ministry were no doubt weeping at what had been done to the Messiah, but all the others sat and watched as though He were a side show not to be missed.

There were many statements Jesus had made indicating that He was the Son of God, and therefore anything could happen. The crowd stayed to see either a miracle, or His humiliation.

The Jewish days began about 6AM, so at the 6th hour (noontime), Matthew, Mark and Luke record that there was darkness over all the land until the 9th hour. The life of the “Light of the Word” was being snuffed out.” Under false testimonies, jealousy, the Jews and the Romans just wanted Jesus dead.

When it was the 9th hour of the day, Jesus cried out, and He yielded up his earthly spirit. In those last hours, Jesus experienced a profound separation from the Father. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

THIS is what every half-hearted believer will experience at the point of death. True believers will embrace death with joy untold, being assured of where they are going, and Who they will be with eternally.

Paul writes in Titus 3 about what it means to be born-again. Salvation is not from following the Law, or doing good works. The Soldiers and Priests followed the law! How many people will proclaim that they are a nice person and do things for others. Judgment day is not about those things; It is rather about Who we put our faith in. Even atheists can be nice people, and have good works, but without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, none shall enter into God’s heavenly kingdom.

~ Luke 23:39-43 ~

39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

If one of the thieves on a cross next to Jesus can be promised Heaven by a statement of faith, then it is only the profession of our faith that can save us. There is only one way, and that’s by Christ Jesus.

Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 27:45-66 - "And They Crucified Him"

Summary:

This passage starts out as Jesus hovers at death's door! He summoned the remainder of His energy to once again press His torn feet against the spike, straighten His legs, and take a deep breath. Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?-which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Luke records Jesus' uttering of His last and final cry, possibly no more than an agonized whisper; it is finished. Father! Into Thy hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:44-46; John 19:30). The eternal God dies, and then, the eternal God is buried. Jesus has accomplished His task on earth and fulfilled His life's mission. Jesus was hung on the cross where He paid our debt of sin, suffering the ultimate punishment on our behalf.

This passage continues with the theme of the action of character, as man did his worst, then God showed Himself by doing His best! Man was fulfilling his pride and corrupt desires and condemned the innocent. God's actions showed grace and forgiveness while fulfilling His vow to save man-even when man had proven he was unwilling to be saved and did not deserve to be saved. Yet, Jesus demonstrated His love (Gen. 3:15; John 15:9-13; Rom. 5:12-21). Jesus died and then was buried; but, was that all? Is there more to the story? Friday is here, death has come, but the great hope of humanity is that Sunday is coming! The redemption and salvation of humanity, grace that will be availed, the object of our faith will be at hand and resonate in three days-on a Sunday! And, so it was that His mission to redeem our souls was accomplished. The eternal God still remains eternal, as He proved when He rose from the grave to proclaim our call to tell the world (Matt. 28: 18-20).







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