Pastor Mark begins this series on the Minor Prophets with an overview of the book of Joel. He compares the locust plague of Joel's 9th century BC with unprecedented natural disasters from the year 2011. He encourages the congregation to return to God and rejoice in God.
Pastor Mark ends the "Christmas in Matthew" series with a short, practical message about joy. The sermon explores the joy of the maji. They were "overjoyed." The "joy-killing" attitude of King Herod and the Chief Priests is contrasted with a plan for celebrating the birthday of the King throughout the new year.
This message is a first person message, with Pastor Mark Friz appearing as Joseph "Davidson." Joseph is proud of his Davidic ancestry, but doubts whether to trust his fiancee, Mary, who says she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Later, his faith is challenged as he wonders why God made is so difficult for him to be the father of Jesus. Joseph shares how he "faithed it through" in spite of times when he doubted his beliefs and belived his doubts.
Ezekiel writes to give the people a vision of yhope. Yes, all these bad things have happened that led them into exile. Yes, even after they return from exile, more bad things will happen. But don't give up hope. God is going to win in the end.
This message brings the prophecies of Ezekiel down to a very personal level for the St. Paul's Church Family. Four leaders of our church: Mike Rohman, Jim Graeler, Eric Button, and Frank Serdy, join Pastor Friz to talk about how Ezekiel's prophecy of dry bones coming to life might apply to St. Paul's Church.
Pastor Mark encourages the congregation to look at world events not just through the lenses of politics and economics, but also through the lens of scripture. The coalition of nations in Ezekiel 38 is very similar to the political alignment of many of the nations in the Middle East today. This passage comforts God's people with the news that even the most dangerous of worldly conflicts can be used to bring glory to his name.
Pastor Mark winds up this series with four outward signs of abiding in Christ. While the outward signs can sometimes be conterfeit, the inward sign of trusting in Christ alone is the firm foundation upon which our hope is found.