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.
Last week Pastor Craig focused on the physical relief that comes from refuge in Christ. This week he returns to the example of the refugee in Deuteronomy 19:1-10 to emphasize the spiritual shelter we find in The Lord. Our souls cry out for protection and rescue from our sin (not just in times of pain, grief, or depression). Yet where can we go but to Christ to find true and lasting peace? God knows each and every fiber of our beings, which is why His Word speaks so often of the peace we find under His wings. We desperately need the Spirit of God to use the Truth of God to realign our lives. It is where we must turn when the world offers false hope in the form of a remedy to the wrong problem, so that rather than making excuses and choosing the world, we will mature in Christ. Imagine the desperation of the man who flees retribution day and night without rest, seeking the city of refuge—are we that desperate for refuge and maturity in Christ? Listen to the whole sermon here.
Pastor Craig Bailey returns to Deuteronomy 19, specifically focusing on verses 1-10, which expounds on the sixth commandment “You shall not kill.” Craig reminds us that there is not one single flaw in the perspective of God, and we must return to “the second law” to reorient ourselves around God’s Truth in the midst of a sinful world. Much like the cities of refuge that God commands to be built in central locations and far-reaching, easily accessible roads, we can find refuge in passages like this when the world wants to lead us astray. What does the existence of these cities tell us about God’s heart? What truth is it that He is trying to communicate about Himself? In answer, Craig points to the positive side of the sixth commandment as “You shall preserve life.” God seeks to preserve life because we are created in His image. As the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13), we must continuously love our neighbors and enemies alike, as God loves us, often times by asking hard questions such as, “Where do I place myself in relation to others?” or “Am I, as an image-bearer of Christ, making it my mission to preserve life through every thought, word, and deed?” Listen to the whole sermon here.
In this week’s sermon, our insightful guest pastor David Wright expounds on Psalm 13:1-6, in which the Psalmist cries out to God, asking “How long, Lord…?” How long will he suffer? How often do we, as God’s beloved children, ask Him the same question? Much like the seasons come and go, there are times in everyone’s life when feeling depressed and isolated from God leads us to identify more with our unworthiness, and less with the unconditional love of the Lord’s promise. In such times, prayer is the simplest, and yet, often the most difficult step toward the restoration of our faith in the Lord. Midway through the passage, King David pleads with the Lord to look on him, give answer, and light his eyes with the Truth that only comes from God, rather than the hopelessness that Satan uses against us, to pull us into sin. Mr. Wright points us to verses 5-6, to remind us that God is, was, and always will be good to us, because God is faithful—even when we don’t notice. Listen to the whole sermon here.
This week’s sermon from II Samuel 18:9-15, 28-33 is a must-hear message in which guest pastor Shawn Maze studied the account of the death of Absalom in order to highlight our all-too-common tendency to live self-serving lives. In the process he identified the dire consequences of such an approach to life, encouraging us to ask ourselves the question, “What will all my self-serving cost me?” Ultimately, he pointed us to the good news that in Jesus Christ God has provided us not only the awareness of our selfishness and the gift of repentance, but also complete forgiveness for it and the grace and peace to live a life that is right in God’s sight. That life will not only mean peace for us but also will bring peace to others and to our community, even as was seen through the gracious response of the families of the Emmanuel AME Church shooting victims. Listen to the whole sermon here.
Be drawn into the drama of Mark 1: Lepers were defined by their disease, living alone, dwelling outside, and having no physical contact with anyone. The leper in verses 40-45 rushes over to Jesus–urgently, without timidity–into his personal space, threatening Christ with his urgent cry, “Heal me.” Jesus was willing to take this man’s pollution, his disease, his exile, and his sin. Listen to the whole sermon here.
A special thanks to Rev. David Donovan, associate pastor of our sister church in West Ashley, for filling in for our vacationing senior pastor.
Last week The Post and Courier printed a list of hate groups in South Carolina, as determined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, defining a hate group as “those who have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people typically for their immutable characteristics.” Yet everyone who has ever lived throughout all of history has been born into sin and has been born a sinner. We cannot change that immutable characteristic about ourselves. So if churches seek to bring change into people’s lives, we’ll be considered a hate group. What brings change into people’s lives? The Gospel.
The day is coming–or perhaps is already here–when those who speak the Gospel will be labeled as those who hate.
How do we live as a church in such a culture? How should we respond to it? Deuteronomy 18 has some answers for us: Our job is not to hate or retreat. We are to be in the world, shining like stars with the light of Christ, living as children of the light. Listen to the whole sermon here.
Last year The Age of Individualism was published by The New York Times. Though it began “IN the future, it seems, there will be only one “ism” — Individualism — and its rule will never end. As for religion, it shall decline;…” the article goes on to argue “that the human desire for community and authority cannot be permanently buried.”
As we’ve studied Deuteronomy in our current sermon series at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, we’ve seen how community is at the heart of the structure for daily life that God puts in place for his people. God ordained feasts, festivals, judges, priests, prophets, and eventually kings for their daily life, so the community wouldn’t fracture. So it is with us: God wants us to live together in community, and he designed us to live in community. But living in community calls for great vulnerability. Listen to the whole sermon here.
We make getting involved in community easy here at Redeemer! Check out our community groups page to find a vibrant community of believers living, working, and serving near you.