Christmas Advent | Wise Men

Christmas Advent - wise men.jpg
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” -Matthew 2:1-12

Did you know that the Gospel of Matthew is the only book with a record of the Wise Men and their visit to see the newborn Messiah? I am so glad that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to include this part of the story because it is such a mysterious and wonderful example of the majesty and wonder of Jesus’s birth.

We don’t know very much about these Wise Men (or Magi, as they are also called) except that they had travelled from a far off land in the East, following a star that had appeared in the sky. We know they were scholars because they recognized the star as unusual. And we know that they came to worship.

This part of the story is so meaningful for several reasons, but the first is the reminder that God reveals Himself to us in a way that we can understand. The Wise Men found Jesus in the manger because God used a physical sign to lead them straight to His Son. The Wise Men are the only people we read of who did not find out about the coming of the Messiah from an angel. God revealed Jesus to them in a way that they understood. This is such a sweet reminder to us of the kindness of God that He KNOWS each and every one of us and speaks to us in ways that we can understand. 

Another significant thing to notice is how, even though the Wise Men followed the star to find this new king, God’s Word played a powerful and necessary part in their understanding of the sign in the sky. It was God’s Word that led them to Bethlehem! We all love when God does miracles, and when are able to see God work in supernatural ways, it causes us to wonder and worship Him because we SEE Him at work. But remember that God’s written Word, the Bible, is not merely the Christian’s study tool or textbook. It is the living, powerful, very Word of Almighty God! The Wise Men were seeking Jesus, according to the miraculous and reliable Word of God. Just as the star took on meaning as the Wise Men considered the Scriptures, the world around us literally comes alive with hope and meaning as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s written Word, the Bible.

Finally, I love the multicultural nature of this part of the story. Though Jesus was born in the nation of Israel, in the line of David, in the little town of Bethlehem, God chose to include people from far off lands in the miracle of Jesus’s birth. To put it simply, Jesus came for everyone. We know that in Revelation, we read that in the end, people of every nation, tribe, and tongue are found before the throne of God in Heaven singing praises to the Lamb of God, Jesus. These foreign Wise Men showed up with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh—very different from the shepherds who came in from the fields at night, in great haste without any sort of gift to present. Just as God’s use of the star and the angels to reveal Jesus were so different, we all bring something very different and beautiful in our differences. Don’t you love to see and hear people from other cultures worship? Some are loud and festive, others filled with reverence and awe. And this is good! We were not all made to be the same, and the precious treasures that the Wise Men brought were opened and laid before the Son of God as worship. What a beautiful picture of the nature of our God, who created us so different from one another, but loves each the same. 

May we remember throughout this season the miracle of how God desires people from every background to come to Jesus. Let us meditate on His Word as we continue seeking Him daily. And finally, let us give thanks to God that He still speaks to us in ways that we can truly hear and understand. Oh come, let us adore Him! 

Laura blog bio.jpg


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Christmas Advent | Mary

Christmas Advent - Mary.jpg

Have you ever imagined what it must have been like for young Mary to be told she was going to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah? Most of us are probably familiar with the story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary. It’s wonderful and exciting to reread the story of Mary receiving the joyous news that she was going to be carrying God’s Son, the Savior of the world! But when you go back to the story, it’s important to see that Mary’s first response was not joy and wonder, but one of uncertainty and fear. Mary wasn’t expecting to receive a visit from an angel any more than we would expect something like this to happen to us on an ordinary day! She was afraid and confused.

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’  But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” -Luke 1:26-29

I love that the Bible doesn’t leave out this part of the story. For me, this is the Mary that I relate to and understand. It’s easy to see characters in the Bible as just that: characters. But we need to remember that these are real people who lived real lives just like ours!

Contrary to many false beliefs, Mary was not perfect. We know this is true because the Bible tells us that there is no one perfect but God Himself. (Romans 3:23, Mark 10:18) Knowing this, it makes it easier to read this part of the story knowing that Mary was a real woman who loved God and still found life to be frightening and full of questions.

Because Mary’s reaction was a real one, we get to see how God responds to us when are afraid or question His plan. Gabriel did not go find another woman who would respond better. He didn’t rebuke or lecture her about her lack of faith or trust in God. The first thing we see Gabriel do in response to Mary’s understandably troubled reaction is to reassure her with WORDS OF COMFORT. 

Gabriel’s response at seeing Mary greatly troubled was this:

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’” -Luke 1:30-33

First, He told her not to fear and reminded her that God loved her. He had already told her this when he first showed up and greeted her as “O favored one!” But Mary was so overcome with fear that she needed to be reminded again in that moment that God was pleased with her. He loved her. This is something that we should all be reminded of on a daily basis. God wants to tell us in our moments of fear or uncertainty, “Remember, I LOVE YOU!” Mary had literally just heard that God favored her moments before, and rather than receiving a lecture on her lack of faith, Gabriel just told her again. 

This is why our Bibles are crammed full of the promises of God! His love, His faithfulness, His goodness, His provision, His comfort! We need to be reminded of these things just like Mary did! When you find yourself in a moment of fear or doubt, get into the promises of God! Open your Bible, and let the Holy Spirit remind you of His very great and precious promises! (2 Peter 1:4)

Finally, I want to point out that after this reminder from Gabriel of God’s favor for Mary and the wondrous things that were going to take place, Mary was bold enough to ask questions! She didn’t understand HOW God was going to make this happen because she was a virgin. There are many times that I don’t understand things and have questions, and I love that we have this example of Mary’s boldness and honesty even with the angel Gabriel! We can ask God when we don’t understand something He has told us, and He wants to GIVE US HOPE!

Gabriel answered Mary’s question of “how this was to be” in this way:

“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’” -Luke 1:34-37

He gave her a brief answer and then He gave her reason to place her TRUST IN GOD: Nothing is impossible with God! Sometimes, we don’t receive all the information we think we need to understand why or how things happen in our lives. But we have a God we can trust. Whether you find yourself in a situation you don’t understand or can’t see how things are going to work out, remember in Whom you trust!

And Mary’s ultimate response after hearing these words was this: 

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” -Luke 1:38

Isn’t this the heart we want to have as well? Bringing our fears and uncertainties to our Heavenly Father, receiving His WORDS OF COMFORT and love, and being reminded that we can TRUST Him! May we be His servants, His children—fully trusting in His plans for us and saying, “Let it be to me according to Your word.” And may this beautiful response resonate in our hearts as we remember the God we trust, His unending LOVE for us, and the miracle of Christmas.

Laura blog bio.jpg


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Global Missions | An Interview with Bethany Massey

Pastor Daniel talks to Bethany Massey about her journey to Florida and Redemption Church and back to Australia, where God has led her now. She shares about the spiritual climate in Australia and her current plans for a personal missions trip to Brazil in January 2018. You can catch up with Bethany and read all about it and support her trip on her website at www.bethbrazil.org.


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Children Dedications | 10-22-17

children dedications 10-22-17.jpg

We had a beautiful ceremony here at Redemption Church on Sunday, October 22 with 5 families dedicating their children to the Lord. It was a wonderful time for our church family to share together as these parents committed to raise up their kids with Jesus as the head of their homes.  Praise Jesus!


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Beach Baptism | 10-14-17

baptism 10-14-17.jpg


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


CONVERSATIONS | with Pastor Joe Williams

CONVERSATIONS with joe williams.jpg

Pastor Daniel talks about evangelism with his dad, Pastor Joe Williams from Calvary Chapel in Tacoma, Washington. Evangelism isn’t just something that pastors do; every Christian is called to evangelize. But what is it? And what are we supposed to do? “If you’re a Christian, you have something to say,” says Pastor Joe. “You have a testimony. Tell people what Christ has done for you. Wherever you are, you are representing Christ. People need to know what you know!” Someone told you the good news about Jesus. Now it’s your turn to tell someone else. Don’t assume that people know what the Bible says. Many people have never heard what the Bible says or read a verse. “People may not read the Bible, but they read us. The Bible does not tell them to come to us, it tells us to go to them.” The gospel is the power of God for salvation, we are told in Romans 1:16. It is the power of God at work when we share the gospel. Don’t be intimidated. Use your own personality. God will work through you. There are many ways of doing it. Just keep at it. What did Jesus do? “Jesus went where the people were. He went to the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4) Go for the one. Win people to Christ one at a time.” These are great words of encouragement and wisdom from a man who has made it his life’s mission to share the gospel with one person every day. “Ask God to give you compassion for the lost. Look for opportunities. Pray for boldness.” Amen to that.


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Let me say it again…and again…and again… by Daniel Williams

One of the common themes in the book of Philippians is REJOICING IN THE LORD. How do I know that? Because Paul mentions the word “rejoice” 7 times in this short, little letter! He uses repetition to make a point and has no problem repeating himself so that the listener would understand him. 

Phil 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

Paul isn’t the only one who repeats himself in the Bible:

The apostle Peter wrote 2 letters to the church, and in the second letter he states the importance of reminding people some of the same truths they already knew and he had already written them about.

2 Peter 1:12-13 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder,

Jude writes “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it” and in a similar way, repeats some of the same truths to his listeners. 

And even Jesus repeats certain themes and concepts over and over again as He taught people here on earth. For example, Jesus talked about money a lot and repeated this theme several different times in serval different ways to make the same point: Live for God and not money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. 

So, what’s the deal with all this repeating? 

I think part of repeating yourself is that you want others to absorb what you are saying. We see this play out in parenting. As a parent with younger kids, you find yourself saying some of the same words and concepts over and over again because you want your children to learn. For example, you may say “NO!” 100 times a day so your toddler understands that they shouldn’t do something. Or you may repeat the word “Daddy” 100 times a day to your newborn baby. You know that repeating the word will eventually result in your baby understanding the meaning, repeating it, and ultimately identifying you as their Daddy!

When we repeat something, is shows that it is important. 

As I have been pastoring Redemption Church I have found myself repeating certain truths and sayings as well. For example, our mission is to pursue and proclaim Jesus. We say this a lot at our church :) And you know what? It is no bother for me to repeat it! Why? Because it is important to me as the leader to know that people understand it. I want us to stay focused as a community, I want to be unified in what we are doing as we gather together, and I want ever one to know our purpose as a church. So we repeat this short saying over and over again.

Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 

What are you repeating? 

You may want to pay attention to the words and sayings you are repeating because Jesus told us that out of our heart, our mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Our words can give us insight into what we really value and what we believe. Are your words wholesome, pure, and lovely? Are there common themes that you talk about? Are the words you are repeating biblical and full of grace? 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. -Eph 4:29

Repeat words of life!

I want to encourage you to repeat yourself. Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” It is good to pray for people over and over again and you aren’t wasting your breath. It is good to memorize certain scriptures that minister to you, even if it takes saying it over and over again. It is good preaching the gospel of Jesus over and over again to a world that needs it so desperately. It is good to repeat ourselves over and over again with the things we value —things that bring us life from God’s Word. 

Don't feel bad for repeating yourself!

Just make sure that whatever you are repeating is bringing others value and is full of grace and truth. This is why I make it my goal to repeat myself as a preacher and continually point people to Jesus. There is nothing greater than pointing others to Jesus, and I have no problem repeating myself and repeating His gospel that gives life! My prayer is that, as a church family, we beat the same drum of JESUS and His gospel. I pray that we would never get tired of repeating ourselves in this way. I pray that Jesus is always on our lips, and that He is always the person we preach because we VALUE Him. Because what we we repeat is what we want our listeners to learn. So may we lift up the name of Jesus over and over and over again…it is no bother!

 


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Kids Fest 2017 | PHOTO ESSAY


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Serve Sunday | with Julie Ruse

Serve Sunday with julie.jpg

Julie has been a part of Redemption Church since Summer of 2016 and completed her first 3-month internship at the House of Blessing Orphanage in Bachiniva, Mexico during Summer of 2017. We are excited to share that God has led Julie to return to Bachiniva to finish out the school year as a missionary serving the children and staff of the orphanage through Spring of 2018!

Take a few minutes to watch Julie share some of her journey into missions as well as how God is using her ability gifts and passion for design work at the orphanage!  

And please join us in praying for safety, health, spiritual protection and encouragement, and for the Lord to use her in wonderful ways while she is there! If you would like to contribute to Julie’s trip through financial donations, please CLICK HERE


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.


Beach Baptism 10-14-17 | Photo Essay

IMG_8914.JPG

We were overjoyed to share in the baptism of three people at Gulf Stream Park on Saturday morning. Gary, Lora, and MaryAnn made the decision to take this important step in their relationships with Jesus by being baptized and publicly professing their faith in Him! If you would like to be baptized, please let us know!


You can subscribe to the Redemption Church blog below to receive new posts in your email.