5.30.2014

Coffee with Jessi


Today, Jessi highlights the promises outlined in Romans 8 and the freedom they give us.  She enjoys a warm cup of peppermint tea. 

hi sweet mercies! i’m jessi hunt=) i’ve been a part of redeemer church since i was five years old & i must say; i absolutely love sweet mercies!! every time we come together, i look across the room & my heart becomes full of gratitude. i see so many dear women that have poured into my life & each other’s lives for years upon years, women who have served one another, prayed & interceded for each other, friends & mentors, spiritual mothers & sisters…how i’m so thankful for you all! and romans 8!!! what a rich passage to be studying together!

at our last meeting tambra tested our memory on these verses, & i for one was quite disappointed with how rusty i was. this passage is full of the depth of god’s love for me, full of the truth of my identity in christ, full of his promises to me & that christ himself is interceding for me! this is definitely not a passage that i want to be rusty on. after our meeting i was compelled to memorize romans 8 & know it with my whole heart. i would encourage you women to memorize it afresh as well! for as i’ve been hiding this word in my heart, the spirit has greatly encouraged my soul. verse 28 says: “and we know that in all things god works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” its so easy to quickly skim over a verse like this one. one that you’ve heard a thousand times can just become a dull saying. but friends, i would urge us to fight against this for a moment! for this is the living & active word! this is scripture that is breathed out by god himself! may the lord bless us right now with fresh eyes to see & ears to hear what the spirit is saying! “and we know that in all things, god works together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” this is absolutely amazing! so what does this mean specifically for me? he works out all things for my good?

it means that he has a purpose for every circumstance that arises.

it means that i can trust in the lord with all my heart,

& lean not on my own understanding.

it means that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion!

i’ve been “called according to his purpose.” what good news! this truth gives assurance that “he knows the plans he has for me, plans to prosper me & not to harm me, but to give me a future & a hope!” because he works out all things for my good, i can be anxious in nothing & can count it pure joy when i face trials of various kinds! if it’s hard to believe these promises, just consider the life of daniel…he was taken into captivity by a foreign king, became the victim of jealous schemers, was thrown into a den of vicious lions – and even then, god had a plan! his mighty power was displayed! joseph’s very own brothers betrayed him & sold him into slavery, he was lied about & unjustly thrown into prison for years, & yet, in the end he can still say “you intended to harm me, but god intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” gen 50:20

this same sovereign god, is lord over my life. his ways are higher than my ways! his thoughts are higher than my thoughts! what shall separate us from the love of christ friends? “shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? no! for nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love that is in christ jesus!” he is faithful.

i pray you are encouraged by his promises as i have been!

“the lord will fulfill his purposes for me.” ps 138:8

A little about Jessi:
i'm a musician. i love creation. jesus is my favorite. waking up early is my least favorite. my best friends are my five bro's & my twin sis. i'm 10 minutes late to everything & lose my phone at least once a day. i'm addicted to the word of god. i've been to mexico, haiti & india for missions & hope for more! my future in christ is clear, & my heart is content with that.

it takes me about an hour to write a short bio about myself.

5.27.2014

All Other Ground is Sinking Sand


Two weeks ago, we sang an old favorite of mine, "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand."  As our congregation sang, familiar words and familiar voices filled the auditorium. Yet, the refrain struck me in a new way.  On Christ the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand. So often, when I'm faced with a dilemma, I don't remain on the firm bedrock I have in Christ.  I run to something that feels more tangible. I need to take action NOW.  I need a solution TODAY.   Instead of quieting my soul, I crank up the volume, run around like a crazy person, and try my hardest to create a solution. 

In light of all that we are learning in Romans 8, my usual response not only seems childish, but so wasteful. If I was known by God before my birth, if I was predestined to be His child and changed into the image of Christ, if I was called to Him, justified by Him, and, if one day, I will be glorified with Him, then why do I still feel the need to solve my problems alone? Why do I think my timeline is better? Why do I put more faith in my ability then His? There is no rest in my ability.  Romans 8:6 states, "To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirt is life and peace." When I forget his promises, I'm lost.  I've forgotten my identity. I'm on sinking ground.  It's only a matter of time before my solutions disappear.  But, He promises rest and life. 

This week, I hope to set my mind on Him when problems arise. To stand on His firm foundation rather than running to shallow fixes. To remember, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32) To sing again and again, "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay."

Posted by Heather Kneisler

5.23.2014

Coffee with Rachel


Today, Rachel Bauers shares a little about the freedom found in Romans 8. Her favorite drink is a Caramel Macchiato. 

I remember being given the assignment in ninth grade of choosing which page of scripture I would tear from the Bible if I was stranded on a desert island. Of the over 1000 pages of scripture, I chose the passage of Romans 8. The hope and security Romans 8 offers me has deepened in my heart since ninth grade, and it stills holds true for me as a senior in college.

The Lord has used this passage to show me more clearly the way God views me. From a young age, I was zealous to get others' approval and smiles, whether it was from my parents, teachers, friends, or myself. But this year, the Lord has brought me to a place where I feel completely naked before Him-totally stripped of people’s good opinion and from a good opinion of myself. But, it has been through Romans 8 that Jesus has been graciously revealing to me that my identity before Him is not based in how condemned I may feel, how indebted I am to others, or how afraid and weak my heart feels on a given day. His opinion of me is rooted in the fact that I am “in Christ Jesus.” Knowing that His view of me is the only view that matters has brought freedom and rest to my heart. The Spirit has been showing me that this is the only opinion I should have of myself. I can believe these truths of my identity: That I have the life-giving Spirit making a home inside my soul; that I am no longer a foster child, but I am the beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father. This has changed the way I see myself as a woman, a daughter, a student, a single, and a friend. I am learning that this is my only true identity. Knowing that I am “found in Him” despite my every failing to perform to the standards of my given social roles has freed me to find security in the arms of Jesus where before I would have run away in fear of my “condemnation” or “letting people down”.

The hope of my identity in Christ has given me security as I look into a future that can look bleak and frightening to me at times. I am realizing that my being found in Christ and having a God who is for me allows me to handle anything that comes my way in my life. Trusting Him when he says: “…not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” is the only thing that makes me able to say, “I’m okay.” His love is the only thing that gives me courage to face an uncertain future. When Paul says “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” I can confidently reply with the question: “Who is to condemn?” Because God does not condemn me, it is not necessary for me to approve of myself or get the approval I want from authority figures or peers. The promise of Romans 8 is two-fold: In one hand, it gives me the confidence of a sure status before God and sense of “okayness” with myself and then in the other hand, it offers security for a frightening future. Romans 8 gives me the certainty and the truth I so desperately need as a woman. And since life can feel like a desert island at times, Romans 8 is the key to unlocking the hope and security I need to face the day.

A little about Rachel: 
Rachel is currently a senior at Old Dominion University studying English with an concentration in Professional Writing. Her favorite pasttimes include watching BBC shows, editing her brother’s seminary papers, and antiquing with her mom. Though she has several cleaning jobs, she will also be interning at the Food Bank over the summer helping with writing projects. Rachel has been attending Redeemer Church since she was a crazy, unregenerate, curly-haired one-year old. She lives with her parents in Chesapeake and eagerly awaits graduation day.

5.20.2014

Coffee With Heather



Today, Heather Hughes highlights the bedrock truths found in Romans 8. Her favorite drink is strong, hot coffee with half-and-half.

There is an underground river that flows through my parents’ neighborhood. On the surface, all of the yards appear normal, but if you live in one of the homes atop that river and you try to put in a pool, you are going to run into a lot of problems.

My Christian walk has been like that. On the surface I looked like someone who understood God’s love and His grace, but underneath gushed a torrent of accusations from the enemy that I had a hard time dismissing: “How could God love you when you act like that? You better obey or there will be no blessing for you. If you were truly a Christian, you wouldn’t _________.”

As long as I checked the boxes and followed the rules, everything appeared normal. My hard work resulted in beautiful landscaping to show the world. My lawn was meticulously manicured, the flowers were blooming, the beds perfectly mulched. But then I would get angry and blow up at my kids, or disrespect my husband with my judgmental remarks and selfish demands, or burn with jealousy over my friend’s new house or exotic vacation, and that river of accusations would burst forth, flooding all of my work and leaving me feeling weak and guilty, an utter failure.

I love Romans 8. I love that the gospel goldmine of this chapter is sandwiched between two rich, bedrock truths for those IN CHRIST, expressed in the opening and closing verses: There is no condemnation from the wrath of God, and there is no separation from the love of God. I am loved, safe, and secure. In Christ, my standing is free from condemnation. Sometimes I still wrestle with getting beyond that image of God as the Judge. Even when I hear his gavel hit and the words “not guilty!” reverberate, I can at times feel insecure, especially with my accuser ever at the ready to fill my mind with doubts about God’s love. Romans 8 reminds me that when his verdict is read, God sets aside those judicial robes, steps from behind the bench, and approaches me as a Father, wrapping his arms around me in love. I am his daughter, and nothing can wedge itself between me and His everlasting arms. Where once I was hopeless, hostile, and helpless, his Spirit is now enabling me to live a new life, leading me as a child of God, sustaining me in suffering and interceding for me in my weakness. He has set me free from the power of sin and the guilt of sin, and he empowers my Christian life from beginning to end.

No more DIY landscaping for me. My yard has a new Landscaper, and he has put in a pool, filled with Living Water and overflowing with love, mercy, and grace. My prayer is that I would tend it as a faithful steward, gladly obeying as an act of worship, abiding in Him, and bearing much fruit, all for his glory, and not my own.

A little about Heather:
I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who loves Jesus and lives in a messy house where things aren’t perfect. I’ve been married to my complete opposite, Augie, for 18 1/2 years, and we have 2 teenage daughters, Elise and Claire, and an 11-year-old son, Gordon. My favorite way to relax is to lose myself in a book. I’m an introvert who loves one-on-one conversations but gets freaked out by large crowds. I enjoy baking and pretending that I know how to be crafty.

5.16.2014

Coffee with Kris


Morning Ladies! This is the first post in our new "Coffee Date" series.  This year we are focusing on Romans 8 and asked several women to write a post on the significance of that chapter in their lives. Today, Kris Bering is sharing a little about prayer.  Her favorite coffee is a non-fat mocha with whip from Starbucks. Thanks so much, Kris! 

Six years ago, my two daughters were required to memorize all of Romans 8 over the course of a school year. As a result, the three of us poured over the passage on an almost daily basis and it became a "go to" scripture for me. I was and am still amazed by how one chapter can be so empowering, yet tender. 

One of my favorite verses is 8:26-27, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." How often I am overwhelmed in prayer, not really knowing what or how to pray. Perhaps my prayers would just be wild, disorganized ranting, but The Lord, in his compassion, gave me the Spirit. He intercedes for me. How comforting! Although I'm imperfect, flawed and will continue to be so, I have the Spirit to stand before the throne and plead for me. Thank the Lord!

A Little about Kris
Married 22 years, 3 children, RN, homeschool mom, transplant from Wisconsin.

5.14.2014

Snapshots of Grace







These pics were used to create little magnets for the ladies to take home from our last meeting.  Feel free to pin them, share them, repost them, make them your lock screen... whatever will remind you today that His promises are the truest thing about you. 

Big thanks to Laura Cagle, Maggie Davis, Jacquelyn Smith, and Katie Dipzinski for putting this together. 


5.12.2014

Hebrews: Hold Fast to Jesus



Today, we have a real treat!  Emily Anderson attended our Hebrews Bible Study this spring and agreed to share a little about her time there. 

If you have not yet or not recently been touched by the profound truths and hopeful promises of the book of Hebrews, I encourage you to curl up with your Bible and feast on this section of Scripture.

How did I come to discover the priceless wonders contained in this book? It was through our Hebrews study this spring. I don’t know how I went so many years without truly grasping the sweetness of these thirteen chapters, but like in every Sweet Mercies study, the Spirit opened my eyes to this amazing God-breathed letter like never before.

There is something about studying the passages on my own and then coming together as sisters-in-Christ: the impressions the Spirit had given us, the questions that inspired great discussion, and the many “aha! moments”. Each session had me excitedly underlining verses and scribbling notes in the margins of my study guide. I sat with a different group of women for each gathering and was blessed by the unique ways God works in His daughters. There are few things better than meeting on the common ground of the Word.

I often ask myself silly questions like, “If I could only have one book of the Bible to read for the rest of my life, which would it be?” Hands down, mine would be Hebrews! But I wouldn’t have chosen it before this study. I am in awe of the riches of the Gospel in these pages, as well as the encouragement to hold fast to Jesus as an anchor for our souls. In Hebrews, I fell more in love with my Savior. I came to know Him more intimately and majestically all at the same time.

Through this study, I was blown away by how Hebrews effectively spells out not only the Gospel, but the entirety of the Bible, bringing to light the “what” and “why” of Old Testament ways and how it points to Jesus, the true fulfillment of God’s plan for us. I love how the Bible explains itself! It felt like the writer held my hand and walked me though every reason my faith should be planted firmly in the saving work of Jesus, no matter my circumstances.

I pray, dear sisters, that the truths of Hebrews would steady your hearts and strengthen your tired hands to hold fast to the Lover of your souls!

A Little about Emily:
I’m a navy wife and stay-at home-mom of two beautiful kids, Hudson and Aubrey. Since marrying my high school sweetheart eight years ago, we’ve moved seven times and lived in four different states. My days are filled with changing diapers, kissing boo-boos, building Legos, and facing momentous goals like getting breakfast’s dishes cleaned up before lunchtime...or at least dinnertime. :) What do I find relaxing? Curling up with a good book or a lap full of crafting supplies, visiting with friends over coffee, and, strangely enough, folding laundry. :)

5.08.2014

From Guilt to Glory

Last week, we gathered and listened to Tambra share the truths locked in Romans 8:29-30.  In these two verses, the mystery and joy of all that God has done on our behalf is beautifully declared. The heart of Sweet Mercies is to increase the assurance and hope of every woman at Redeemer Church, and realizing that our foundation in Jesus is "more fixed and abiding than we could ever imagine" certainly increases my hope and assurance. It has colored my walk in the last week, and changed the weight I've given my day-to-day struggles.  Mountains of laundry, bleak horizons, stressful relationships, and pending bills seem less defeating when I remember that my bedrock is Christ. My life may be messy, trials may be present, but the truest thing about me isn't the chaos and uncertainty of this life. The truest thing about me is that I am redeemed by Christ and he is taking me from guilt to glory. You can listen to message here and below are few notes.

As Christians, we are all on a journey from guilt to glory.  We are all travelers on the road that these verses describe.  We have the same story, regardless of our age, our season, our successes, our failures, our fears, our joys, or our uncertainties. By unpacking the terms in  Romans 8:29-30, Tambra describes the beginning, middle, and glorious ending of our salvation story and helps us see that we can be truly settled in Christ Jesus. "It's as if Paul invites us to bend down with him and touch with our hands the bedrock underneath us- the absolute certainty of God's eternal love toward us- and not only to touch it but to stamp on it with our feet to feel it's absolute solidity, so that we become convinced that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God."

God foreknew you. - Our story starts in the mind and heart of God. He set His love on us long before Jesus died for us, not because of anything we did or did not do, but because He wanted to love us. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ."(Ephesians 2:4-5)

He also predestined you. - Predestination is God's word, and it literally means "to mark out" and "to set apart".  He has set out a destiny for us, and that destiny is spelled out in this verse, "to be confirmed to the image of His Son." Our destinty is a predetermined, inevitable course of events, and those events will make us like Jesus. "In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1: 4-6)

He called you. - Your calling is the point at which God's purpose is actually applied to you, the moment you believe. Calling is translated "grabbed".  God is grabbing you. When you are called, you will come and you will believe. God not only issues the invitation to believe in Christ, He provides the ability and willingness to respond.  "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." (John 6:44)

He justified you. - This is the gospel. "To be justified means to be literally placed in Christ. And so justification is a truth of position. When you were justified by faith, you were pronounced righteous in Christ. It was an instantaneous declaration of a positional truth. In that moment, you were absolved from all your guilt and accepted as righteous through Jesus Christ. You are now, as they say, right in court; a legal term. No sin that you have ever been guilty of shall come against you to condemn you. The book is crossed, the bond is cancelled, and you are no longer dealt with as a criminal, because that is what you were prior to justification, but are owned and loved as a friend and a favorite."

He will glorify you. - This is our hope. He is waiting for us. "Glorification is the future and final work of God upon Christians where he transforms our mortal, physical bodies to our immortal, spiritual bodies in which we dwell forever.  It is the highest height.  It is the end and goal of salvation. We are not just saved to be saved, we are saved to be like Christ in heaven with Him... Glorification means full and entire deliverance from sin and evil, and all their effects and in every respect: body, mind, and spirit. Your whole being will be completely delivered from every tarnishing, polluting effect of sin, and you shall become like Christ, for you shall see Him as He is." Our story does not end with forgiveness, it ends with glorification. "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2)



Throughout the message, Tambra describes a picture of each of these truths forming a link in a golden chain.  "God ties this chain around our waists and pulls us through to eternity- no one is lost along the way." To be settled, means "to rest".  In the storms of our lives, surely we can find rest in these great truths.  In the coming weeks, let us strive to cling to these truths and to allow them to make us a little more like Jesus.

Posted by Heather Kneisler (Note: All definitions were paraphrases or direct quotes from Tambra Murphy's message.)

Romans 8:29-30 Image by Rachel Herman.