Today You Are Leaving

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Scripture: “Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.  Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving.” (Exodus 13:3-4)

Observation: The ten plagues have occurred.  Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.  There is a wake of God’s destruction in an unbelieving nation. And God’s people are free.  After 430 years in captivity (Ex. 12:40), the people of God are freed from slavery.  They have made unleavened bread and eaten it in haste, and they have left Egypt with wealth as the Lord made the Egyptians give them their articles of silver, gold and clothing.  But the words that strike me are the words of Moses to the Hebrews: “Today, you are leaving!”  430 years later, dozens of generations, and just like that, they are now set free. After years of bondage, with a simple statement, God tells them about their entirely new reality – “you are leaving!”  They undoubtedly had prayed for the day, waited for the day, hoped for the day, and perhaps given up hope for the day… but now it is here… “Today, you are leaving.”

Application: Why is it so hard to believe that God can set us free with a word?  If he created light with a word, and spoke the universe into existence with a word, why can’t he set captives free with a word?  I imagine that there were many of the Hebrews that scoffed at Moses’ message from God, “Today, you are leaving.”  And yet it was God’s will.  God did not ask, He did not bargain, He did not call them into a committee to deliberate, He simply declared “Today you are leaving!”  I wonder how hard it was for them to believe that it really was happening.  I wonder how frightened they were to leave Egypt – their familiar land of chains.  And I wonder how difficult it is for the forgiven sinner to leave their life of bondage.  They are just as much a slave, and also just as familiar with its constriction.  I wonder how challenging it is to believe the message of God, when He says to you and me, “Today, you are leaving” … when He declares to us that we are no longer the property of the devil.  How hard is it to accept the spoken Word of God that assures us that sin and slavery is no longer our home, and that today He is setting us free and leading us out?  Because that is God’s Word to you and me today, no matter what bondage we find ourselves held captive by – “Today, you are leaving!”

PrayerFather, thank you for speaking your Word of freedom to me today!  Thank you for declaring to me through your Son Jesus that I am free to leave my land of slavery.  Help me to trust you completely that you are calling me out of the darkness into your marvelous light – Today.  Amen!

How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place …

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How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.” 

–   (Psalm 84:1-2)

We live in a place that has such beautiful weather most of the year.  And in fact, we live in a country that is blessed with incredible wealth.  These are wonderful things, and yet they become, for some, an obstacle to searching after God.  Sometimes life on this earth is just so good that people fail to see their need for God.

… And then tragedy happens, or life throws a curve-ball, or you turn on the TV and hear of another school shooting.  Sometimes people even use these crises as reasons for not believing in God, since they can’t understand why a good God allows these bad things to happen.  And yet I believe it’s these very challenges and low points in life that cause us to yearn for the Lord.

Truly, if life on earth were always perfect, would we yearn for the courts of the Lord?  And so, God allows us to experience less than perfection on this earth so that we desire something more.  God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecc 3:11) such that we would long to be with Him.

May your heart and soul yearn, and even faint for the living God!

Waiting for Christ’s Return with you,

Pastor Augie

Worship – Grow – Serve!

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“[Jesus] answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Luke 10:27)

You’ve heard and seen the phrase “Worship – Grow – Serve” at Redeemer for quite some time now.  What does it mean, and why do we repeat it so much?  We are going to spend the last few weeks of January asking and answering those questions on Sunday mornings.  We hope you’ll join us.

In Luke chapter 10, Jesus beautifully summarizes commandments of God in the Old Testament found in Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19.  In modern expression, we refer to this as the “Great Commandment,” which in actuality is a summary of all of God’s commands.  The Great Commandment has two parts to it – Love God and Love Neighbor.  This “vertical” and “horizontal” love comprises the foundational action and attitude of the Christian, and thus it is fitting that a vertical and horizontal line intersect to make a cross.  The Cross is a great visual for loving God and loving neighbor.

At Redeemer, we express loving God and loving neighbor as worship – grow – serve.  “Worship” is where we express our love and devotion to God… both on Sunday morning as well as in our private and daily devotions.  Further, worship is an adoration of God that is expressed through all our thoughts and actions, using our time, talent and treasure.  Therefore, we see the stewardship of our offerings also as an act of worship.  Truly, for the believer, all of life is and should be a worshipful expression of thanks and praise.

Grow” fits well at the intersection of God and neighbor.  It is our goal to grow both in our love and knowledge of God, as well as in our love and relationships of neighbor.  So “Grow” includes our study of the Bible and our fellowship with other believers.  We want to grow in both aspects of our relationship.  In fact, when we grow in our knowledge of God and His commands, He then turns our heart toward our neighbor as the beneficiary of our love toward and faith in Him.  Our Growth Groups at Redeemer are designed to the perfect place for you to grow in both love of God and love of neighbor!

Finally “Serve” is an expression of mature faith as we turn our focus off of ourselves and onto God and our neighbor.  Jesus himself said that He did not come to be served, but to serve (Matt. 20:28).  When we ask the question, “How can I serve the Lord?”  He responds to us, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40).  At Redeemer we serve the Lord by serving our neighbor – both inside our congregation and out in the community.   We seek to serve them both in physical and spiritual needs.

May this New Year be an opportunity for us to follow the Lord’s command to love God and neighbor, through worship, growth and service!

Worshipping, Growing and Serving Christ with you,

Pastor Augie.

What great things He has done!

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“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”  (1 Samuel 12:24)

As we look forward to the year 2014 and with 2013 now in the rear view mirror, I cannot help but marvel at what great things God has done for us!  At Redeemer we have experienced another year of blessing and growth.  We have seen increases in our Sunday School attendance, added new Growth Groups, added new members to the congregation, and have added new office staff!  All these things are only possible because of the powerful hand of the Lord at work.

When the prophet Samuel said these words in 1 Sam. 12, he was encouraging the people to ponder both the Lord’s faithfulness and His might.  For as they went forward, they needed to have a healthy understanding of the Lord’s provision as well as His power.  Samuel knew that while he would not be with them always, the Lord would be.  So Samuel gave his message to prepare the people to go forward in Godly confidence.

At Redeemer, we look forward to the New Year with hope, mindful of God’s faithfulness in the past, and therefore confident of His continued faithfulness in the future.  Lord willing, 2014 has some great things in store!   In fact, Jesus promises His disciples that those who believe in Him and do the work He has called them to, will do “even greater things!” (John 14:12).  May it be that God works even greater things in our midst next year!

But truly, if we accomplish anything great in our congregation, it will not be because of our own cleverness or ability; it will be because of God’s goodness and His faithfulness.  Samuel’s reminder that Israel needed to consider the great things God had done for them was as much a corrective as a comfort.  Our human nature is no different than in Samuel’s day – we want to take the credit for our accomplishments ourselves.  We need to both trust in God to work through us, but also to give Him the glory when He does!

So join me in thanking God for the great things He has done at Redeemer last year!  And with the wonder of Christmas still in our hearts, may we marvel at the great thing that God has done in sending His own Son into the world to take on human flesh!  Through His sinless life and painful death, He won us forgiveness of sins and showed us the way to the even “greater things” that God has in store!

Thankful and Hopeful,

Pastor Augie.