Growing Together in God's Word - Weekly Devotions

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Planted - Final Week

This coming Sunday, May 24, we wrap up our sermon series called "Planted". Over the past four weeks we have been focusing on our mission statement which reads: "Connecting People with the Vibrant Love of Jesus".

The big question we have tried to answer in this series is this: "What does our mission look like in the lives of real people?" So we have laid out a vision to answer just that. We are people who are:

Rooted in Christ
Growing Together in God's Word
Branching Out in Love to Our Community

So far we have talked about how this vision applies to each of us and our individual faith, but this Sunday we are going to take a look at how it impacts our ministry as a congregation.

The vision we have laid out gives us distinct areas to focus on - in fact, the most important areas to focus on: receiving God's gifts in worship (Rooted), being immersed in His Word (Growing), and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Branching Out). By focusing our time and energy on these areas of ministry we can continue grow as disciples of Jesus and invite others to experience the incredible love of Jesus too!

In Christ,

Pastor Nick


If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown me anything, it is the importance of roots. Roots are those beliefs, relationships, or activities which give us hope and confidence in crazy and chaotic times for they hold us steady and connect us to something greater than ourselves. Our roots define how we respond in difficult times and how we move forward together.

As a congregation, our roots are firmly planted in Jesus and His life, death and resurrection. In fact, St. Mark has chosen to articulate our mission statement in this way:

Connecting People to the Vibrant Love of Jesus”.

And, in light of this pandemic, being connected to the love of Jesus is more important than ever.

Over the next five week in a sermon series called PLANTED, I would like to explore how this mission is made manifest in the lives of people. Together we will see how we personally continue to be formed as disciples of Jesus and imagine how we will go with Jesus on his mission to, “...make disciples of all nations…”.

We will also form a common vision for ministry using an image from our region's agricultural history:

Rooted in Christ
Growing Together in God’s Word
Branching Out in Love to Our Community 

In Christ,

Pastor Nick

Jesus is Steadfast

This coming Sunday we will light the third Advent candle on our Advent wreath as our anticipation grows for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Yet, I wonder, does it feel like Jesus is drawing closer and closer to His return? Or, to put it more bluntly: have we lost hope in that return? Have we forgotten that Jesus promised us a resurrection and His eternal presence? Have we been so swept up in life, in activity, in the frenzy of Silicon Valley that we’ve forgotten that God’s plan of salvation hasn’t yet reached its consummation .

Or maybe it seems like God has forgotten us . We’ve watched one too many cable news shows which have drilled into our brains just exactly how far this world has spiraled down and have been forced to conclude that there’s no way Jesus is coming back to redeem and restore this world . It’s too far gone, we say. It’s such a mess, we say. Why would God want anything to do with it?

Lest we continue to be swept away by these currents of life, forgetting that this season of Advent is all about waiting it hopeful expectation for the return of our Savior, Paul’s words from Romans 8 serve as a timely reminder for us. They bring us great comfort and even renew our hope in the promises of Jesus this Advent season. 

Even if we have temporarily forgotten Him and His promises, Jesus has not forgotten us or His promises to us. Even if it seems like sin is winning and Jesus is losing, Christ’s victory is certain. Paul is insistent on these points and insistent that Jesus remains steadfast in finishing what He started when He came to bring God’s rule and reign into this world. 

Here’s what Paul has to say to us as we reach the halfway point of Advent:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 8:35-39)."

Nothing...not ourselves, not this world, not our sin or the sin of others can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing can hinder His plan of salvation. Christ’s promises are certain. Therefore, we can continue to wait in that hopeful expectation that characterizes this season of Advent and, indeed, our whole Christian life. For, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!” 

In Him,

Pastor Nick

Jesus is...Our Shepherd

Have you ever noticed that so many of the big names in the Bible were shepherds? Abraham was a shepherd. Moses was a shepherd. David, before he was king, was a shepherd. Before they were leaders of people, they were leaders of sheep. Indeed, David, before he went off to fight Goliath told King Saul that being a shepherd is was prepared him to face this most formidable foe.

Lest we think of shepherds as easy-going, gentle guides for their flock, David reminds us that being a shepherd was no simple feat. The job wasn’t a passive looking-after- the-flock type of gig. It was an active, warding-off-fierce- predators-to-save-the-sheep type of job. It was a job that required fortitude, determination, strength, and courage. Thus, the role of shepherd is an apt metaphor for the ideal spiritual leader of Israel. Even more so, it’s the perfect image of our God.

This Advent we are asking one question: Who is Jesus? As we saw on Sunday, Jesus is our king. Jesus is also our shepherd. Jesus descends from his royal, heavenly throne in order that we spiritually hungry and searching sheep might be fed by His Word. Jesus descends from his heavenly throne so that we wandering sheep might be brought safely back into God’s flock. Jesus descends from his heavenly throne so that we defenseless sheep might not be taken away by sin, death, or the devil.  

So who is Jesus? Jesus is our faithful shepherd.

In Christ,

Pastor Nick