Pastor Mark launches this Advent Series with an exploration of Zechariah's Song, the Benedictus. God works in times os silence to deepen our faith and praise. As you listen, you will understand how the 400 years of silence between the testaments, and the 9 months of Zechariah's silence during Elizabeth's pregnancy were important for God's work of preparation for the first Christmas.
Discipleship is much more than conversion. Ruth was a woman who, after making a commitment to Naomi's God, put feet to her faith. Both Ruth and Boaz participated in their own providence through reponsible human behavior. Little by little, Ruth and Naomi begin to see God's plan unfold in their tragic situation.
"Can I trust God when He allows pain and suffering in my life, especially when I see little or not purpose in it?" That is the question raised in the first chapter of Ruth. This message, from Ruth 1:1-22, shares important truths about suffering, which will help God's people see the smiling face of God behind a frowning providence.
Pastor Mark winds up the sermon series on discipleship with a study of Romans 15 and the "one anothers" in this passage. Relationships are foundational for discipleship, but also for a joyful life. Memories of "Life Together" on the family farm, and "Life Together" on the camino illustrate the value of relationships in discipleship.
Pastor Mark continues to discuss the various stages of discipleship, emphasizing what is needed for spiritual growth in each stage. The early church is used as a model, including their devotion to teaching and fellowship (Acts 2:41-47), their emphasis on training others for ministry (Acts 6), and releasing others to make disciples (Acts 8).
As the second sermon in this series, Pastor Mark reflects back on the early pietistic roots of St. Paul's, which was founded in 1843. He observes that the gsopel values of the founders are still living at St. Paul's today, and issues a challenge for the congregation to fulfill it's missions: More Disciples, Better Disciples.
Pastor Mark describes a spiritual conversation he had along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He then reflects upon the spiritual conversation Jesus had with the Woman at the Well, and notes seven behaviors of Jesus which can also enhance our spiritual conversations with others.