Two More . . . from 10/13/19

Two more minutes with King of the Mountain (part 4) – Matthew 22:34-40 . . . 

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (22:39) – This was not the first time Jesus had been asked “what mattered most.”  In Luke 10:25-29, another Lawyer came to Jesus and asked “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus gave the same answer He provided in Matthew 22:34-40 (quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18 reminding them to love God completely and love others consistently.)  Upon hearing this answer, though, the Lawyer followed up by trying to limit the consistent love Jesus commanded and the Law required, by asking “Who is my neighbor” (Luke 10:29).  Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), defining our “neighbor” as basically ANYONE we come into contact with.  

So the “Great Commandment” is defined as loving God completely, and loving ANY WE COME INTO CONTACT WITH consistently.  That standard is SUPER HIGH, isn’t it?  How much easier the standard would be to simply ask us to attend church, give a certain percentage, or read our bibles every day.  The standard is SO MUCH HIGHER . . . so high, when measured against it, we all fall short (Romans 3:23).  Thankfully, though our sins are many, His mercy is more!! 

“Love” and “Love” point more to a relationship, than a religion.  I LOVE that Jesus describes the “most important thing” in relational terms, not religious terms.  We are to choose to love God and commit to Him completely.  We are to choose to love others and consistently seek to serve their needs.  Relationships with God and His children are at the forefront of what matters most.  Christianity is not about me . . . it is about He and we!  We are called into a committed “marriage” with God, not just to “date” Him.   He loves us and pursues us and invites us into a relationship with Him and His children forever.

King of the Mountain (part 4) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, October 13, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:34-40.  This message was part 4 of the “King of the Mountain” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from this message to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

King of the Mountain #4 10.13.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch the entire worship service, view our YouTube feed:

 

 

King of the Mountain (part 4) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, October 13, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:34-40.  This message was part 4 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below are a set of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 22:34-40
  3. What are some times in your life when you have really sought “God’s will” regarding decisions you were making?
  4. While there ARE definitely times we want God’s direction on big decisions on particular days, it is also important to know God’s will for EVERY DAY.  Jesus articulates the direction we are to live, as He shares the Great Commandment with us . . . a commandment with 2 parts.  The first part is to “Love God Completely.”  This includes committing to obeying Him, committing our lives to Him (and trusting Him with our eternity), and committing to allowing Him to transform our minds with His thoughts.  What are some areas where you struggle to Love God Completely?
  5. Jesus also calls us to Love Others Consistently.  1 John 4:20-21 indicates why this is.  Who are people in your life that you struggle to “love”?  What would it look like for you to “love them as yourself?”
  6. While loving God completely and loving others consistently is the standard of the Great Commandment, we all fall short of always living this out.  However, Jesus ALWAYS lived out the Great Commandment . . . and His righteousness is offered to us as a gift.  Have you trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?  Are you trusting in Him to transform you by His love for God and others?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 4) Sermon Preview

What is God’s will for my life?  Most of the time when we ask this question, we have a more particular question in mind:

  • Should I marry him/her?
  • Should I buy this/that?
  • Should I quit my current job?
  • Should I take that new job?
  • Should I move here/there?

And many more questions like these. . . 

While these are all legitimate questions and we often have to make decisions about certain things, there is actually a much broader question about God’s will for us that is not answered only on “some days” but is answered “every day.”  The broader question is this:  what does God desire for my life?  What does He want me to do?  Who does He desire that I be?

Don’t you wish you could ask Jesus Himself that question?  “What do You want me to do, Jesus?  What do You desire for my life?”

Guess what?  The question has already been asked of Jesus . . . by a lawyer in Matthew 22:34-40 . . . and this Sunday we will see how Jesus answers this question in our final installment of the “King of the Mountain” series.  We hope you can join us at Wildwood in our 9:45 or 11:00 service as we dive into God’s Word together . . . and see His revolutionary answer that has great implications for our lives today.  See you Sunday!

Episode 12: This is Wildwood! Following Jesus into Community at “The Well”

Episode 12: This is Wildwood! Following Jesus into Community at “The Well”
Follow into Community

 
 
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Kelly Shockley, Kelly Skrapka, and Ali Swanson – part of the Leadership Team for “The Well”

As we follow Jesus into Community, He grows our faith in Him and our love for others.  This move AWAY from isolation and toward the Body of Christ is seen as a key component of “The Well” – a ministry of encouragement and refreshment to young moms at Wildwood Community Church.  On today’s episode, we talk with Kelly Skrapka (the Well’s Founder and Director) and two key members of her leadership team (Kelly Shockley and Ali Swanson) about how God has been at work in this ministry.  Check it out!

 

  • To find current information about Women’s Ministry at Wildwood (including the Well), click here.

Two More Minutes . . . 10/6/19

Two more minutes with Matthew 22:23-33 (part 3 of Wildwood‘s sermon series – “King of the Mountain”). . .

The Sadducees were an interesting mix of beliefs:

  • Politically, they were rather “pro-Roman.”  As the group that ran the Temple area in Jerusalem, they needed Roman support to maintain their powerful role in Jewish society.  
  • Financially, the Sadducees had turned the Temple into an enterprise that made them very wealthy (as we discussed when we looked at Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple in Matthew 21:12-17).
  • Biblically, the Sadducees considered their understanding of the Scriptures to be pure and undefiled.  Unlike the Pharisees who had embraced many rabbi’s teachings on the Scripture as authoritative, the Sadducees considered only the Scriptures themselves to be truly authoritative.  Strangely, in their effort to be “Bible based” the Sadducees reduced their Scriptures to ONLY the first 5 books of our Old Testament.  If something was not taught in Genesis – Deuteronomy, they did not consider it to be trustworthy.
  • Spiritually, the Sadducees were “earth-bound” in their thinking.  They did not believe in life after death, thinking the soul died with the body.  They also did not believe in the angelic realm (Acts 23:8).  

So, the Sadducees ask Jesus a question about the resurrection, attempting to show (what they believe) is the absurdity of the notion of new life after death.  Jesus answers the Sadducees . . . and (in a sense) He does so on their terms.  Using a key verse (Exodus 3:6) from one of the books they embraced (Exodus), Jesus argues for the resurrection of the dead.  This got me thinking . . .

Today, some have a high view of Jesus Christ, but a low view of much of the other Scriptures.  This position can turn into a “Sadduceean” perspective where the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) have more authority to some than the rest of the Scripture (the New Testament after the Gospels, and all of the Old Testament).  Some of these arguments ignore ethical teaching from the Epistles, prophecy from the Revelation, and the supernatural nature of many events in the Old Testament — clinging only to what Jesus taught in the Gospels — “Red Letter” Only (if you will). 

So let’s imagine that someone were to come to you and say that they have a “favorable view” of Jesus, but doubt the veracity of the Old Testament.  Could you answer them?  What would you say?  Well, using only the words of Jesus and the record of the Gospels, you can make a strong argument in favor of the historicity of some of the wildest Old Testament events:

  • Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5)
  • Cain and Abel (Matthew 23:35)
  • Noah’s Ark (Luke 17:26, Matthew 24:37-39)
  • Abraham (John 8:56-58)
  • Lot & Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-32)
  • Moses and the burning bush (Mark 12:26)
  • Israel eating manna in wilderness (John 6:32)
  • Brass serpent healing snake bits (John 3:14-15)
  • Elijah & Elisha’s miracles (Luke 4:25-27)
  • Jonah (Matthew 12:39-40)
  • Isaiah (Matthew 13:14)
  • Daniel (Matthew 24:15)

In Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus says, “Sadducees, you believe in Moses, but not the resurrection?  Look at what Moses said about the resurrection in Exodus 3:6!” 

Given what we see Jesus saying about the Old Testament, we could also say to modern day skeptics, “Skeptics, you believe in Jesus, but not the Old Testament?  Look at what Jesus says about Noah and the flood, Jonah and the fish, Moses and the burning bush, etc. in the Old Testament?”  

I am going to side with Jesus on all things.  I will take the word of the resurrected One concerning life after death . . . and I am going to take the word of the Eternal One about the things that happened long ago in the Old Testament.  

Even on “their terms” Jesus wins the day.

King of the Mountain (part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, October 6, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:23-33.  This message was part 3 of the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below is the audio of the sermon to download, listen to, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

King of the Mountain #3 10.06.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

Watch the Stream of the service on YouTube:

 

King of the Mountain (part 3) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, October 6, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:23-33.  This message was part 3 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 22:23-33
  3. What are the hardest (in your opinion) questions you hear people asking about Jesus or Christianity?  
  4. The Sadducees question Jesus about a resurrection they do not believe in . . . because they hope to show the world how foolish it is to believe in something so supernatural.  Jesus’ response to them is summarized in Matthew 22:29.  What did the Sadducees “not understand” that led to their wrong understanding about the resurrection?
  5. Jesus shows from Scripture that the resurrection is real.  God’s commitment to His people endures even beyond the grave.  What comfort does this give you concerning those who have died before you?  How do you respond to this information in your life today?
  6. Can you think of an example where a wrong understanding of Scripture has led you (or someone you know) to a wrong conclusion about something important?
  7. The Sadducees were “earth bound” in their understanding.  They could not imagine God doing anything better than they could see and experience in this life.  This limitation prevented the Sadducees from correctly understanding the resurrection.  How do we limit God because we have an inadequate understanding of His power?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these question in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 3) Sermon Preview

We live in “echo chambers” today.  Did you know that?  Our world is polarized into red/blue, liberal/conservative, etc.  Today’s 500 channel satellite feeds and always on high speed internet connections have allowed us to dial in the sources of our information to our precise preconceptions.  This allows us to effectively “tune out” opposing viewpoints with the belief that “everyone” or at least “everyone sane” thinks like me.  After all, all my friends think like me, all my radio programs think like me, and all my media outlets think like me.  

Social media has only accentuated this condition.  Facebook, Twitter, and the like have fine tuned algorithms to give you only content that they think you will “like” while concealing other viewpoints.  

In some instances, if our beliefs are RIGHT, then this might help foster more RESOLVE (even if it diminishes the RESPECT we show others who are confused about a particular issue).  However, if we are wrong, these echo chambers can reinforce error making it hard for us to know the mistakes we are making.

While some of the particulars I share above are specific to our modern world, the “echo chamber” effect is as old as human civilizations.  In Matthew 22, we see a group of Sadducees (a group of theological liberals) who approach Jesus with a question they are SURE He will not be able to answer.  Why?  Because all their friends think their question disproves the resurrection . . . and all the conservative Pharisees of their day who have been asked this question have also struggled to answer it.  Their echo chamber had them feeling pretty smart as they approached Jesus in Matthew 22:23-33 with a question about “the resurrection” . . . an idea they thought was ridiculous.  When they ask Jesus this question, though, their echo chamber is punctured, and Truth and Light comes streaming in.  The “new” voice of Jesus is able to answer their question with power and certainty.  

The Sadducees problem was not that they had come up with an unanswerable question . . . it was that they were asking that question to the wrong Person.  Outside their echo chamber was an answer they needed to hear . . . if only they had come to Christ sooner . . . if only they had stayed with Him after the answer came.

This is an important concept for us.  Many have come up with what they think is an “unanswerable” question regarding Christianity:  

  • What about the flood, Noah, and the ark . . . are you serious?
  • Isn’t the New Testament full of errors?
  • Jesus as THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life seems so closed minded in a pluralist world?
  • And many more questions. . . 

We have these questions.  Certain authors we read reinforce our belief that they undercut Christianity.  Our friends may even amen our skepticism or unbelief.  In our echo chambers, the arguments against the God of the Bible may seem iron clad.

But our problem is we are asking our questions to the wrong Person.  We can bring our questions to Jesus Himself.  The One who resurrected from the grave has the answers.

This Sunday, we will look at Jesus interactions with the Sadducees in Matthew 22:23-33 in part 3 of our King of the Mountain series.  I hope you can join us at Wildwood in our 9:45 or 11:00 service as we are reminded to bring our questions to Him.  See you Sunday!

Episode 11: This is Wildwood! For the Nations with John Carswell & Compassion International

Episode 11: This is Wildwood! For the Nations with John Carswell & Compassion International
For the Nations

 
 
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Hanging out with John Carswell from Compassion International on today’s episode.

At Wildwood we are “For the Nations” following Jesus together with us to the glory of God.  The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is truly GREAT, and requires us to work together with many partners as we live out it’s calling.  One of the partnerships Wildwood has in world missions is Compassion International.  Wildwood has helped fund a church plant in Lagoa de Sao Francisco, Brazil in partnership with Compassion, and Wildwood members have sponsored 200 children who live in this community!  On today’s episode, I catch up with John Carswell who works with Compassion helping forge church partnerships.

 

  • To learn more about Compassion’s Ministry, visit their website here.
  • To learn more about Wildwood’s global outreach opportunities, including short term trips (like the one to Brazil in March 2020), click here.