We often get stuck on the fall and redemption parts of the gospel narrative. After all, that is our experience. We are fallen and full of sin, and only by the person and work of Christ have we been redeemed and called righteous. Yet the gospel is bigger still. The gospel includes the narrative of creation and restoration. The good news includes the fact that we were created with a purpose, from the very beginning. It also includes an invitation to join with our King here and now as He restores and recreates, making all things new.
It can be hard to recognize the brokenness in our hearts when we have the privilege of prosperity and comfort. How we use our privilege (wealth, socioeconomic status, race, religion, or anything else) to protect ourselves or bless others speaks volumes about what we believe about the God we say we worship. In a time when Israel was enjoying prosperity and rest from their enemies, such as the Assyrians, they fell into a pattern of sin and idolatry that led them to grossly elevate the rich and powerful through the oppression of the poor and weak. Their acts of worship became meaningless as they replaced God’s priests and prophets with those of Baalism. So God sent Amos to prophecy of God’s coming judgement toward Israel and to call for a repentance that would lead to God honoring worship, holiness, and justice. His preaching exposes the idolatry of the people’s hearts by pointing to the fruit of their behavior. In what ways are we also blind to our own sinfulness and idolatry? What kind of fruit are we bearing? How is our worship of God benefitting the people we live amongst and the city we dwell in?
How might God use Redemption Church to continue the mission of the early church in Augusta, GA and beyond? One thing is for sure, to see gospel saturation in downtown Augusta and “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) we must be a people who are being saturated with the good news of Jesus ourselves. We should be proclaiming Jesus as LORD before we even open our mouths. When our neighbors see us we want them to see Jesus.
Just what does a life saturated by the good news of Jesus look like? That is just what we want to investigate together over the next several weeks. May we be encouraged to follow Jesus radically together as we see the good news demonstrated in how Christ has gone before us in generosity, servanthood, work, rest, prayer, and all things.
Something new and fundamentally different is about to unfold. So far, the church has been focused entirely in Jerusalem. But with Stephen’s death, and the persecution that follows, the church is scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. This is God at work and the fulfillment of what Jesus said in Acts 1:8; “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The church is on the move.
How Jesus fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah in the Gospel of Matthew.
This Christmas we want to be reminded not only of when Christ was first born on earth, but that Christ is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). God’s heart for us is revealed in Christ in that He also became the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18) to ransom and reconcile us for Himself. Through Christ we have been freed from death and delivered into a life “fully pleasing to Him” (Col. 1:10). But what does that look like?
This is an invitation to step away from the hullabaloo that Christmas has become, and remember this Good News of Great Joy; Christ has come, and Christ will come again. As we remember, we anticipate His return, and we consider Paul’s charge to make “the best use of the time” (Col. 4:5).
A look at how Jesus defines the disciples as the church - the community to act as a forerunner, or foretaste of the kingdom he is coming to establish. They are called, not only to declare the gospel message in word to the outsider but also living it out as a family learning to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering presence and lordship of Jesus.
It can be difficult for us to see things from God’s perspective, which can leave us feeling frustrated. With the book of Habakkuk our heavenly Father hoists us upon His shoulders to see beyond our own ability. Things may often look bad from our perspective, but when we can see the bigger picture of what God is doing we find joy and strength to persevere even in our troubles.
Returned from Babylonian exile, God’s people have a choice to make: will they seek God first and follow His way or will they plot their own path forward and put their trust elsewhere? Haggai speaks into this pivotal moment with the reminder and promise that God is with His people. It is when we abide in that truth, ultimately proven in Jesus, that we begin to see God’s great restoration project at work in and through us.
In Jonah we encountered God in His mercy, grace, compassion, and patience. In Amos we were confronted by God in His justice. In Hosea we will witness God’s jealous love for His people. He is like a husband who passionately pursues the promiscuous heart of his bride. God is faithful to an unfaithful people. He is like a good and trustworthy Father who cares for and lovingly disciplines his children. God is for us more than we are for ourselves.
Maybe you have heard about Jonah, the prophet who spent three days in the belly of a fish, but there is more to the story than Jonah’s deliverance from the depths of the sea. This prophet of God takes some real issue with just who God is and what He does. In rebellion, he runs away from God, resist Him, and throws accusations at Him instead of praise. We may be more like Jonah than we know, but God’s salvation is greater than we may have imagined. This is a story that points us to Christ and reveals a salvation that “belongs to the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). It’s a story of a God who is patient and kind, gracious and merciful, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Jonah 4:2).
Lent is a season of heart posturing as we realize our sin that put Jesus on the cross and celebrate the salvation that He has won by his victory over sin and death. Through this season we will continue to follow Matthew's narrative as Jesus leaves Galilee and enters Jerusalem purposely toward the cross where He will be crucified for our sins.
What is Christmas really about? Who is Jesus? Who did He come for? Why did He come? What does it have to do with you?
The Apostle John writes that “the true Light, which gives Light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9). This is what Christmas is about - Jesus, God in the flesh, stepped into this dark world in order to bring light to everyone. And everyone means you. It also means everyone around you.
Can you imagine a world full of hope, peace, joy, love? Can you imagine a world filled with light? Join us this Advent season as we spend time in John 1 celebrating the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, and looking forward to what He has in store for this world, this city, this church, and you.
When we retell the Christmas story year after year, we focus on the unexpected details of it all. Mary, a virgin, is the one told she will bear the Son of God. Elizabeth, too, conceives a child despite her old age and barrenness. Jesus enters the world as a baby, born in a lowly stable. Angels proclaim his birth to shepherds in the fields. Wise men bring gifts meant for a king, only to find a child.
The fulfillment of God’s long prophesy to save his people comes in a way that none of us could have predicted, a story full of the seemingly impossible. And yet, these details underscore the even greater narrative that He has made possible: Our God is truly with us. He knows us, works among us, and has come to reconcile all things to himself.
It is as Gabriel told Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
In Obadiah’s vision there is good news for those who find themselves humiliated and helpless while their rivals boast and profit from their defeat. What he sees is a sovereign God who promises both just retribution and complete restoration. God is at work for the broken hearted failure, and there is rest for the weary soul in that truth.
The first two chapters of Acts set a stage for the story to come of how the kingdom of God advanced from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and beyond in the earliest days of the church. Luke recalls Jesus risen, what He preached about the kingdom, what He commanded, and what He promised. How would it all connect? How would it all come to fruition? Luke leads us to see that the work of the Apostles and the advance of the early church hinged on Pentecost - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The story of how these first believers experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit should lead us to wholly lean into His presence and work as we join in the mission to take the gospel to the “ends of the earth” (1:8). Afterall, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that our own hearts know Christ. It is by the Holy Spirit that we experience the reality of Christ’s life-giving reign as King in our lives. And it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the kingdom advances.
Songs for Everyday Discipleship
Our faith has the tendency to operate as if, while God is real, He is distant and hardly attached or concerned with our everyday lives and circumstances. The Israelites scattered in exile felt the same tension. However, God has always said different, and through Jesus He has proven different. “God is with us... always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 1:23, 28:20).
The songs spanning the fifteen chapters of Psalms from 120-134 serve to lift the heads of weary disciples living in an already/not yet kingdom to remember the absolute faithfulness of our ever present God. In Him there is truly hope, peace, and courage for the everyday journey of discipleship.
A closer look at Matthew 15:29 - 17:23 where Peter confesses Jesus to be "the Christ, the Son of God," and Peter, James, and John witness the transfiguration of Jesus.
The first letter of Peter reminds us that as believers, we have been set apart from this world and set apart for God through the person and work of Jesus. This place is not our home.
Written to the “elect exiles of the dispersion,” 1 Peter explores the unique tension of living as sojourners in a foreign land. When we experience suffering and discomfort, it’s natural for us to turn inward and focus on ourselves. However, Peter calls us to turn to God and focus on Him. As God’s people, we are set apart to carry and proclaim Jesus back into the darkness from which we were rescued.
By chapter 13 of Acts Luke has told the story of how the early church advanced from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and even a little further. The rest of the way through this book we will see the gospel continue to spread toward the ends of the earth as God uses one of the least likely suspects, Paul, to take the good news of Jesus to the gentiles and make disciples who make disciples.
The Apostles, filled with Holy Spirit, began faithfully bearing witness in Jerusalem that by His death and resurrection Jesus Christ was proven Lord and Savior. Their witness had a multiplying effect.
The people they told about Jesus didn’t see Jesus raised from the dead or ascend into the clouds, but they too became witnesses of Jesus’s Lordship and saving work. By the power of the Holy Spirit, people are still being lead to Jesus today who then lead others to Jesus. Disciples are still making disciples. The Kingdom of God is advancing, and the good news of Jesus is calling us to be His witnesses.
The prophet Zephaniah doesn’t shy away from it, on the Day of the Lord there will be judgement for all those who remain entrenched in idolatry, taking God for granted, and doing injustice to others. However, Zephaniah also invites us to seek the Lord, seek righteousness, seek humility and to find salvation in the arms of our just and loving God.