Relating to Children (Sermon Audio)

On Sunday, January 6, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church I preached a message based on Matthew 18:1-6 and 19:13-15.  This message was part 1 in the “Relating to” series and looked at how we are “Relating to Children.”  Below is audio from this sermon to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

Relating to Children 1.6.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

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Relating to Children (Sermon Questions)

On Sunday, January 6, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 18:1-6 and 19:13-15.  This message was the first in the “Relating to _____” series, and talked about how the follower of Christ can relate to children.  Below you will find a series of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 18:1-6; 19:13-15
  3. What are your thought regarding the statistic shared this morning, that 80% of people who trust Christ in America, do so before their 21st birthday?
  4. In what ways are children a great example of humility for the follower of Jesus?
  5. What is going on in your life right now that causes you to want to compare your life to the life of another Christian (for better or worse)?  How does today’s passage encourage or challenge you to be humble (like a child) as you follow Christ?
  6. In what ways are you investing your life FOR the next generation following Jesus?  What are some things you can do to invest more in this area in the new year?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Relating to: Children (Sermon Preview)

Statistics indicate that nearly 80% of all Christians in America first trusted in Jesus before their 21st birthday.

How does that statistic make you feel?  Encouraged?  Discouraged?  Indifferent?

I’ll tell you how it makes me feel — motivated.  Motivated to be involved in being for the next generation following Jesus together to the glory of God. 

God is not obligated to save anyone, so we certainly would not want statistics to serve as demands on what God HAS to do, or restricting our expectations of what God CAN do.  God has to do nothing, and He can do all things.

However, it is fascinating to see this statistic and even to feel some of its relevance in our experience at Wildwood Community Church where the majority of our baptismal candidates have been people under the age of 21.  However, all these minors remind us of something MAJOR . . . something that Jesus said to His first followers in Matthew 18:1-6 and 19:13-15.  Children are an example of what it looks like to come to Him, and we should not hinder them in any way from doing so.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will be launching a new sermon series called “Relating to __________.”  Over the next 8 weeks we will be walking through Matthew 18-20, seeing how Jesus instructs His followers to relate to a variety of topics including marriage, temptation, those who wronged you, leadership, and more.  This week, we will kick off our study by looking at what Jesus says about children in Matthew 18 and 19.  We hope you will make plans to join us in our 9:45 or 11:00 services this Sunday.  Join us . . . and bring your friends as we lift up the name of Jesus together, and look into His Word as we seek to follow Him together in 2019.  See you Sunday!

December 31 – Evermore

December 31

Evermore

Today is New Year’s Eve – the last day of 2018.  At midnight tonight, you will say goodbye to the pervious year.  Now, this may be a positive for you.  You may be ecstatic to see this year go by.  The divorce, chemotherapy, break-up, job loss, etc. may be great to put in the rearview mirror as you drive into 2019.  However, for others, the thought of this year going by may bring sadness.  This may be the last year you have your kids at home with you, the last year before retirement or graduation, the last year before the deployment, the last year in your current town before you move . . . there are a number of reasons why you may want to tap the breaks before celebrating the dawn of a new day.

Whatever your frame of mind on the transition to 2019, we must face the reality – we cannot stay in today, we must walk into tomorrow. 

As we do that, there is a perspective that I think is helpful regardless of our feelings of excitement or regret as 2018 draws to a close.  That perspective is this:  regardless of your feelings, there is one thing that is true today that will be true tomorrow . . . and every other tomorrow that follows.  That “thing” is that God reigns and is sovereign over all.  His rule knows no end and will persist forevermore.  We can take comfort in that security!

This viewpoint is sung beautifully by Phil Wyckham in his song, “Evermore,” where the chorus says, “He shall reign forevermore, Humble King, Sovereign Lord, He shall reign forevermore!” 

As you enter into the new year, may this song remind you of the solid rock our future rests on if we know Christ.

“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him . . . The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.”  (Psalm 103:15-17a, 19)

Evermore – Phil Wyckham

Of the Father’s love begotten

‘Ere the world began to be

He the source of all that has been

And all the future years will see

Evermore, evermore

He shall reign forevermore

Humble King, Sovereign Lord

He shall reign forevermore

Oh, that birth forever blessed

When the chosen virgin go

By the Holy Ghost conceiving

Bore the Savior of our world

Evermore, evermore

He shall reign forevermore

Humble King, Sovereign Lord

He shall reign forevermore

He is found in human fashion

Death and sorrow here to know

That the race of Adam’s children

Doomed by law to endless woe

Need not henceforth die and perish

In the dreadful gulf below

But forever rest in beauty

In the lights of Heaven’s glow

 

 

To access all 31 days of “The Christmas Carols” Devotional, click here.

To access playlists for all 31 songs, visit:

 

Meditating on His Majesty – Sermon Audio (December 30)

On Sunday, December 30, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I helped facilitate a time of celebrating how we saw the Lord work at Wildwood this past year in helping the church, community, nations, and next generation follow Jesus together to the glory of God.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download the file:

Meditating on His Majesty 12.30.18

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

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Two videos shared in the worship services:

December 30 – Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery

December 30

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery

Over the past month you probably had the opportunity to wrap a lot of presents.  Some presents are easy to box up, fitting neatly under the paper or in the gift bag.  Other presents, however, are hard to package.  Due to their unique size or shape, you were not sure how to cover them. 

I was thinking about that reality as I listened to today’s song, “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery” by Matt Boswell, Michael Bleecker, and Matt Papa.  This song describes a number of the truths about Jesus that are hard for us to wrap up inside our logical minds.  Just a few of the “mysteries” of Jesus mentioned in this song:

  • “The theme of heaven’s praises robed in frail humanity.” – The Son of God being hungry. The Son of God needing a nap.  The Son of God needing His mother’s care.  These realities are hard to imagine.
  • “In His living, in His suffering never trace nor stain of sin.”  – We do not know any person who is without sin . . . yet Jesus was perfect!  What must that have been like to be around in His earthly ministry!
  • “In the stead of ruined sinners hangs the Lamb in victory.”  – Calling the embarrassment and pain of a public crucifixion a victory seems crazy . . . until we think of what Jesus accomplished through that act  – the salvation of His people!
  • “Slain by death the God of life.” – How does the eternal Son of God die?

These realities are rightly called a “Wondrous Mystery” by the hymn writers.  They also remind us that our brains are not smart enough to wrap up all of who God is in neat and logical paper.  God is so great, that His actions and identity simply are beyond our ability to completely package.  Rather than throwing out the gift of Jesus because it does not fit in our box, we are encouraged through this song to wonder at it – to embrace it by faith, and draw comfort from the fact that He is truly an awesome God.

Where are you having a hard time reconciling God’s actions or identity today?  Does His timing seem off, His plans seem unwise, His identity seem illogical to you?  Rather than throwing Him away, sit in the mystery and worship the One who is greater than you.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery – Matt Boswell

Come behold the wondrous mystery

In the dawning of the King

He the theme of heaven’s praises

Robed in frail humanity

In our longing, in our darkness

Now the light of life has come

Look to Christ, who condescended

Took on flesh to ransom us

Come behold the wondrous mystery

He the perfect Son of Man

In His living, in His suffering

Never trace nor stain of sin

See the true and better Adam

Come to save the hell-bound man

Christ the great and sure fulfillment

Of the law; in Him we stand

Come behold the wondrous mystery

Christ the Lord upon the tree

In the stead of ruined sinners

Hangs the Lamb in victory

See the price of our redemption

See the Father’s plan unfold

Bringing many sons to glory

Grace unmeasured, love untold

Come behold the wondrous mystery

Slain by death the God of life

But no grave could e’er restrain Him

Praise the Lord; He is alive!

What a foretaste of deliverance

How unwavering our hope

Christ in power resurrected

As we will be when he comes

 

 

To access all 31 days of “The Christmas Carols” Devotional, click here.

To access playlists for all 31 songs, visit:

 

December 29 – Born to Die

December 29

Born to Die

John 1:18 tells us Jesus came to the earth so that He might “make known” to us who God really is.  In the miracles Jesus worked, we see that God is both powerful and compassionate.  In the sermons Jesus preached, we hear that He is wise and authoritative.  In the interactions with His disciples, we see Jesus’ interest in growing us and using us in His work.  Truly, we learn so much about who God is by looking at Jesus’ life.

However, Jesus did not just come to explain God to people . . . He also came to reconcile people to God.  In Mark 10:45 Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His live as a ransom for many.”  By giving His life for the many, Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice on the cross to pay the ransom (the price necessary to set sinners like you and me free).

The death Jesus died was not a tragic accident, but an intentional plan.  Jesus was not the victim of a vicious plan by the Jewish leaders or Roman officials.  If Jesus had wanted to avoid the cross, He could have.  The fact that He can do anything, knows everything, and can go anywhere meant that at any time Jesus could have slain His enemies, outsmarted their plans, or avoided their pursuit.  But He chooses not to do that.  Instead, knowing what lay before Him, He walked directly to Jerusalem to offer His life on the cross (see Mathew 16:21-23, 17:22-23, 20:17-19). 

Seeing all this, reminds us that Jesus was “Born to Die” as Bebo Norman said in today’s Christmas song.  We cannot rightly understand the birth of Jesus without reflecting on His death on the cross.  As Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  That is the full extent of the incarnation.

Jesus was born to die.  And His death was a beautiful expression of God’s love for us.  “But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  Will we receive His love this Christmas?  This gift has been specially given just for us.  Don’t return or reject this, but embrace our loving God and allow His death to be the ransom to pay the penalty our sins deserve.

Born to Die – Bebo Norman

They never knew a dark night

Always had the Son’s light on their face

Perfect in glory, broken by the story

Of untold grace, come that day

Majesty had come down, glory had succumbed now

To flesh and bone

In the arms of a manger, in the hands of strangers

That could not know, just who they hold

And the angels filled the sky

All of heaven wondered why

Why their King would choose to be

Be a baby born to die

And all fell silent for the cry of an infant

The voice of God

Was dividing history for those with eyes to see

The Son would shine from earth that night

And the angels filled the sky

All of heaven wondered why

Why their King would choose to be

Be a baby born to die, be a baby born to die

To break the chains of guilt and sin

To find us here, to pull us in

So we can join in heaven’s song

And with one voice around the throne

All the angels filled the sky

And I can’t help but wonder why

Why this King would choose to be

Be a baby born for me, be a baby born

Be a baby born to die

Meditating on His Majesty (December 30 Preview)

Near the end of the Apostle Paul’s life, he writes (in a letter to his friends in Philippi), this sage advice (Philippians 4:8-9): ”

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. . . and the God of peace will be with you.”

There are so many things for us to focus on.  The ups and downs of the stock market, the things that happened or did not happen on the holidays, the uncertainty of the new year.  It is so easy for us to shift our attention to things that are far less than praise worthy.

As we gather together as followers of Jesus Christ at Wildwood Community Church this Sunday, we want to meditate on the majesty of our God, and remember some of the ways in which He has worked in our community this year.  We will do so through song, prayer, Scripture, and testimonies that will highlight His wondrous works among us.

Make plans to join us this Sunday at Wildwood in either our 9:45 or 11:00 service . . . both of which are “All In” (meaning we will not have children, student, or adult classes meeting this week as we are “All In” the worship center to celebrate God’s goodness together.  See you Sunday!

 

December 28 – Hallelujah Light Has Come

December 28

Hallelujah, Light Has Come

Have you ever noticed that we live in a world that everything is dying to get out of?  Think about it:

  • How many house plants have you seen die in your place?  
  • How many gold fish did your kids win at the carnival that you had to flush down the toilet two days later?
  • How many trees in your yard could not weather the storm?
  • How many dogs or cats have come and gone?
  • How many funerals have you attended in your life?

We live in a world where everyone and everything is dying.  This is one of the impacts of living in a fallen world, and it causes much sorrow on its inhabitants.

Additionally, we live in a broken world:

  • What is the life span of the last computer you purchased?  4 or 5 years?  
  • How often do you have to replace light bulbs at your house?
  • How many of you have had to replace your roof from weather related casualties this year?

Things once shiny and new are breaking all the time.  Lights that once shown brightly are extinguished with alarming frequency.

But . . . at Christmas time, we celebrate life and not death.  At Christmas time, we celebrate light and not darkness.  Why?  Because of Jesus.

Listen to what John 1:4-5 says: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  This verse tells us that Jesus came as a giver of life, not a dispenser of death.  In a sense, Jesus was the anti-Grim Reaper.  In a world of death, Jesus brings eternal life.  The Bible tells us that one day Jesus will return to the earth again and set up a kingdom that will never end, filled with people who are eternally alive, and inhabiting a world that is protected from decay.  Why?  Because “In Him was life.”

Additionally, Jesus was a light in this dark world that would never be “overcome.”  That means He would never break or be extinguished.  We have a living and bright future because Jesus will sustain it.

So to all of us who are living in a dying and broken world, there is good news of great joy this (and every) Christmas season.  Jesus’ birth brought Life and Light into the world.  Faith in Christ is more than a decision to follow a new religion. . . it is a step out of your dying and broken destiny into an eternally living and luminous future.  That is why we can sing today’s song aloud, “Hallelujah, Light has Come!”

Hallelujah, Light Has Come – Barlowgirl

Heaven sent you to me

All the world’s been praying

Who will Save?

But who am I

That here tonight

I hold the one

Who’ll Bring us life

Hallelujah,

We’ve been found

A child is born

To save us now

Hallelujah light has come

A Savior who will set us free

A Promise for those who believe

Do you hear the Angels

Sing for you my baby

Men and kings have come to

Bow to you

But here in my arms

So close to me

The son of God

Now all can see

Hallelujah We’ve been found

A child is born to save us now

Jesus Hallelujah light has come

A savior set us free

So praise to God on high

He has heard our cry

 

 

To access all 31 days of “The Christmas Carols” Devotional, click here.

To access playlists for all 31 songs, visit:

 

December 27 – This Baby

December 27

This Baby

All month long we have been reflecting on the miracle of the incarnation – when Jesus (the Son of God) took on flesh and was born in Bethlehem.  It is remarkable to think of the humility it took for the independent and Sovereign God to become a fetus, dependent on an umbilical cord!  But as amazing as that is, it is also wild to imagine the commitment God showed to the incarnation AFTER Jesus’ birth.  He did not simply jump from birth to full grown man . . . No, He grew up in real time, just like any other child.

Jesus had a mother and father; siblings, and friends.  Jesus learned a vocation.  Jesus went through puberty.  The One who walked on water, once had a “first step.”  Jesus was once a Middle Schooler.  Amazing to imagine, right?  Taking some imagination to this notion, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote the song “This Baby” to flesh out the full implications of the 30+ year duration of Jesus’ life.

This notion is confirmed by Luke 2:40, 52, as it says, “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.  And the favor of God was upon Him . . . And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”  Matthew and Luke’s Gospel’s jump from the birth of Jesus to His public ministry.  Mark simply begins with Jesus’ baptism.  The lack of what was written about Jesus’ growing up years should not trick us into thinking that Jesus did not have an adolescent period.  The “Major” was a “minor” at one point.  But why?

Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  This verse reminds us that Jesus can fully identify with us in our human experience, and can provide the help we need in every stage of life. 

Take a moment today to listen to Chapman’s “This Baby” and reflect on the full implications of Jesus’ birth .  . . and life.

This Baby – Steven Curtis Chapman

Well, He cried when He was hungry,

Did all the things that babies do;

He rocked and He napped on His mother’s lap,

And He wiggled and giggled and cooed.

There were the cheers when He took His first step,

And the tears when He got His first teeth;

Almost everything about this little baby

Seemed as natural as it could be.

But this baby made the angels sing,

And this baby made a new star shine in the sky.

This baby had come to change the world.

This baby was God’s own son, this baby was like no other one.

This baby was God with us, this baby was Jesus.

And this baby grew into a young boy,

Who learned to read and write and wrestle with dad;

There was the climbin’ of trees and the scrapin’ of knees,

And all the fun that a boy’s born to have.

He grew taller and some things started changing,

Like His complexion and the sound of His voice;

There was work to be done as a carpenter’s son

And all the neighbors said He’s such a fine boy.

But this boy made the angels sing,

And this boy made a new star shine in the sky.

This boy had come to change the world.

This boy was God’s own son, this boy was like no other one.

This boy was God with us. This boy became a man,

And love made Him laugh and death made Him cry.

With the life that He lived and the death that He died,

He showed us heaven with His hands and His heart,

‘Cause this man was God’s own son.

This man was like no other one,

Holy and human right from the start.

This baby was God with us, this baby, this baby was Jesus!

 

To access all 31 days of “The Christmas Carols” Devotional, click here.

To access playlists for all 31 songs, visit: