The purity of worshiping God is something that we, as sinners, often neglect in preference to a worship that entertains or makes us feel good. In this week’s sermon, Pastor Craig reads from Deuteronomy 23:1-14, which emphasizes what, at first, might sound like archaic practices and harsh rules about how to live our lives well and be worshipful people. But from this passage, we learn yet another truth of God’s endless and undying love for us. The Lord seeks to protect His people from corruption of sin that creeps in under the guise of something fresh or new. It is vital for us, as God’s children, to be mindful and prayerful about what those things are. The worshiping community, both then and now, is a holy and crucial part of our relationship with God, and, as Pastor Craig points out, if He has no standard of holiness for those who worship Him, then who needs Jesus? Listen to the whole sermon here.
On Sunday, October 18 Craig turned our attention to Deuteronomy 22, a passage that, on the surface, seems archaic. God presents rules that appear to make little sense in today’s culture: Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard, do not plow with an ox and a donkey, and do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. It’s important to remember, though, that modern Christians have much to learn about the character of God through His words in the Old Testament. From these commands, God reveals the importance of being set apart from our culture and following the order that God desires for the world. Each commandment of Deuteronomy 22 serves to demonstrate that God’s people are separated to maintain purity and distinction. Listen to the whole sermon here.
This past Sunday, October 11 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, we returned to our Deuteronomy sermon series examining the first few verses of Chapter 22 about our responsibility for our neighbors. The first question asked by a human that’s recorded in the Bible is Cain’s: Am I my brother’s keeper? (meaning am I responsible to take care of my brother?) From the beginning God has given us the responsibility for our neighbors, and it’s been our inclination from the beginning to not do this. In the Deuteronomy passage we see that neighbor or brother means a member of the community, which at that time numbered in the millions. So we may not know our neighbor whom we’re called to help. These verses call us to help our neighbor not only in the catastrophe but also in the mundane and everyday. God calls us to be involved in others’ lives, but there’s a cost. Listen to the whole sermon here.
In this sermon, Craig addresses a tough passage—Deuteronomy 21:18-23—that outlines what parents are to do with a rebellious, wayward child. God requires the parents to take their disobedient child to the elders to be stoned to death. Most modern-day reactions to this command range from laughing (as though it’s a joke) to doubting God’s love (thinking, How could a loving God be so unforgiving and require such a harsh disciplinary action?). But how can we have such reactions to this passage when we know our unchanging God is just and forgiving? How can we understand God’s loving nature through this command? Craig tackles what it means to interpret Scripture by using Scripture to understand passages in the Bible that seem to contradict the characteristics we know to be true about God. Listen to the whole sermon here.
Proverbs 11:10 says, “…through the blessing of the upright, a city is exalted.” This passage speaks volumes to the purpose of Deuteronomy 21, our focus for this week’s sermon. In it, God sets forth multiple scenarios in which His people are to act justly and seek His righteousness over their own desires or the “easy” paths of the world. Pastor Craig emphasizes three of those points: unsolved murder, people from defeated nations, and brokenness in the home. In each scenario, we as God’s people can and must learn how to deal with the brokenness of our communities, whether they be the places we live, the friends we make, or the families God has placed us in. As a family on mission together, it is vital that the world see us gladly pursuing God’s will and commandments. With these three specific examples, we have our starting points for how to treat people justly, protect others’ dignity, and respect those made in the image of God. Craig asks, “How can we, as the people who have the grace of God available to us, let such important things go?” Listen to the whole sermon here.
As we’ve seen the past few weeks in our Deuteronomy sermon series, battle is a constant reality for God’s people. Through this land and these people will come Jesus, the Savior of the world, and God is giving his people instructions in Deuteronomy 20:1-9 about whom he wants fighting in the battle. The fainthearted are given an exception to fighting, told to go home with no judgment or court martial. Not only would these fearful freed-slaves-turned-soldiers be a detriment to themselves and useless to others around them, but God also knows that fear spreads. God didn’t want fearful fighters anywhere near the battlefield.
As our senior pastor shared this past Sunday, September 13, the kingdom of God can only advance through faith not fear. He challenged and warned us with several faith-versus-fear questions:
- What can fear and faithlessness do in our lives to hinder the advancement of the Gospel?
- What might Jesus not do among us because we’re more full of fear than faith? (Mark 6:1-6)
- In which way will we amaze Jesus–with our faith or lack of faith? (Matthew 8:5-13)
The message of Ephesians 3:20 challenges us to not only seek to understand the character of God more fully, but also to strive to live with greater trust and dependence on Him. Unlike the trust fall mishap in the YouTube video, we can fall safely into the arms of God and find rest there. Paul’s words remind us that God is not compatible with our human, finite concepts of time or space.
There are no measurements that can capture the Lord, no boundaries that can contain Him, nothing–death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (Romans 8:38-39)–can limit His mercy or His love.
Throughout Scripture, we are reminded that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. He is the one who spoke life into this earth, and He is the one who has placed eternity in our hearts. Our pasts and our futures are a but a moment in His hands. Our fears and hopes can steer both our anxieties and our imaginations, but we often forget the confines of our scope and live within the bounds of only what we can see. Our vision, however, is tainted by sin; our thoughts are weak and small.
There are plans working in us and through us that we cannot even begin to predict or even to desire. We sometimes cannot even know what to ask for or how to ask for it, but the Lord is faithful to supply our needs in His time. The Lord works in the abundance of eternity, and it is a comfort to know what a mighty God we serve! Listen online to the whole sermon.
As we focused this past Sunday, August 30 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, on Deuteronomy 20:5-9, we see the Lord telling men on the battlefield to go home. Since God wants undivided hearts on the battlefield, he tells some to go home to be with their new wives, live in their new houses, and enjoy their new vineyards. God knows how weak we are and that our hearts aren’t always undivided. Yet there’s no condemnation in this passage because God is not desperate. He sends some to war and some home. For us, there are many, varied facets to building his kingdom: Some of us are on the “front lines” (like serving as a missionary in Africa or telling college students the Good News), but those of us who love our families and our neighbors are advancing the kingdom, too. Listen to the whole sermon here.
This past Sunday Craig turned our attention to Deuteronomy 20, where we find a transition from the “Cities of Refuge” to a time of war for the Israelites. Just as God provided guidelines in previous chapters for the Israelites to preserve life, he also gives his people standards for battle—an inevitability for God’s children. In each sermon, Craig offers a nugget of Biblical truth (you know, one of those quotes that you want to type up with Pinterest-level creativity and hang in your house). This week he said, “Faith reaches back in time to remember what God has done.” Fear causes us to forget the supremacy and might of God; faith remembers each instance in which God has demonstrated his love and omnipotence to his people. Instead of fearing the battles and conflicts we face, we, as Christians, should respond boldly in faith knowing that the strength of God on our side will always overpower our opposition.
The last several weeks at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, we’ve seen the character of God displayed in our Deuteronomy series through his provision of refuge cities. We’ve seen how God provides protection not just for our physical bodies but also for our souls, as we find refuge when we are closely related to Christ and one another.
On Sunday, August 16 our senior pastor preached Deuteronomy 19:11-13, showing us that cities of refuge are not for everyone. The man described in those verses sowed thoughts of hate and reaped plans of murder. The cities of refuge teach us about the Gospel, and the Gospel is the act of God’s justice. That’s why Jesus’ death on the cross is so horrific. The Gospel is the justice of God being satisfied in Jesus. Listen to the whole sermon here.