God Grows His Kingdom

June 16, 2024 • Pastor Mark Schutz • Mark 4:26–34

Usually, a kingdom advances and is secured through things like military might or political force or worldly wealth. It can be tempting to believe the same holds true in the kingdom of God. Perhaps we think churches would flourish if we had the right rulers passing and enforcing the right laws. Or we believe that for a church to do good requires a robust budget. Political force. Worldly wealth. This way of thinking is breathtakingly wrong.

We need God to give us the top-down faith that grasps the fact that kingdom of God advances in ways that are imperceptible. Through something that seems insignificant to most—the gospel—the King of kings establishes his reign in human hearts. Even Jesus himself taught that the gospel seems unimpressive, for he often compared the gospel to a tiny seed. Yet within a seed is hidden life. As the seed of the gospel is planted, the largest of all kingdoms grows. 

God Gives Victory Over the Devil

June 9, 2024 • Pastor Mark Schutz • Genesis 3:8–15

Look at our lives—the problems, the pains—and it’s easy to conclude that we are losing. Look at the world—the brokenness, the bedlam—and it’s easy to believe that the devil is winning. It all can lead us to despair. Yet this turmoil is exactly what God said would happen already in the Garden. There God declared that until the end of time enmity would prevail between the devil and mankind. But God promised more than that. He promised that from humanity would rise one who would completely defeat the devil. We need a top-down faith to understand that things are definitely not what they seem. Yes, the devil and his allies are constantly doing their worst. Their work always brings pain. Yet, ultimately, Jesus always wins. And his victory is our victory. Jesus’ victory is so complete that even when Satan continues to cause chaos, Christ uses it to reveal his glory and grace to those gifted with top-down faith. 

God Gives the Gift of Rest

June 2, 2024 • Pastor Mark Schutz • Mark 2:23–28, Mark 3:1–6

After a long day of work, you have earned the right to sit down in your favorite chair, put your feet up, and watch your favorite program. After a hard week on the job, you have earned the opportunity to relax a bit that weekend. After doing your job well for many months, you have earned those two weeks of vacation at the beach. This is how everyone thinks: rest is something you earn through hard work. We even teach that to our kids: no gaming until homework is done, no playing with friends until chores are complete. Since that concept of rest being earned is so deeply engrained in us, to properly understand spiritual rest requires a top-down faith. God needs to send us the Spirit so that we can grasp this truth. True spiritual rest cannot be earned. In fact, the harder you try, the more restless and the less peaceful you become. Spiritual rest is a gift that God gives. The rest we need most—from guilt, from worry, from shame, from hopelessness—is graciously given to us by the Lord of the Sabbath.

God Delivers on the Gifts He Promises

May 26, 2024 • Pastor Mark Schutz • Romans 8:12–17

No Christian teaching demonstrates that we have a top-down faith more than the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Scripture teaches that there is only one God. Yet that God exists as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Incomprehensible! It is the type of teaching about which the psalmist declares, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:6). We believe in the Triune God without fully comprehending his existence, simply because the Spirit has given us the gift of faith. Our belief in the triune God came from the top down. Not only is the concept of the Trinity itself something unique to the Christian faith, but what the triune God does for us and offers us is also completely unique. Our triune God invites us into the blessed relationship that is part of his very nature. The members of the Trinity share with us an intimacy that they have enjoyed with each other from eternity. Our triune God makes us not servants or subjects but blessed members of his family.