Relating to the Lost (Sermon Questions)

On Sunday, January 20, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 18:10-14.  This message was part 3 in the “Relating to” series and focused on “Relating to the lost.”  Below are a series of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 18:10-14
  3. Describe a time when you lost something valuable to you.  What did you do to try to recover that item?  What does that experience teach you concerning the heart of God (in light of today’s passage)?
  4. What are some ways in which we are tempted to “despise one of these little ones”?
  5. Have you ever been involved in a conversation with another Christian about “what was more important: finding “lost people” or “discipling found people”?  How does this passage (compared with Luke 15) help us to answer that question?
  6. Describe a time when you felt like the Lord was pursuing you through the testimony and encouragement of other Christians?
  7. Who is God prompting you to pursue and encourage today?  Pray and ask God to bring to mind one brother or sister in Christ who may be “lost” right now?  How can you show them God’s pursuit and love at this time?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Relating to the Lost (Sermon Preview)

When was the last time you lost something of value? 

  • Your middle schooler comes home from school without their retainer. 
  • Your car was parked in parts unknown at the airport.
  • A favorite piece of jewelry is not on the dresser (where you thought you left it).
  • Your child was not at the “pickup spot” after school or practice.
  • The remote control was swallowed in the abyss of the couch cushions.

When things THIS valuable go missing, what do you do?  You begin to search, right?

  • You find yourself sorting through the garbage at the school cafeteria hoping to find the retainer between the half eaten chicken strips.
  • You pace up and down the aisles of the parking lot hitting the “unlock” button on your key fob hoping to hear that familiar “click” somewhere close by.
  • You get on your hands and knees peering under and behind the furniture to see where that earring or ring may have fallen.
  • You call friends to see if your child hitched a ride with them.
  • You move heaven and earth on the sofa to locate the control.

What do you do?  You spring to action, because there is something valuable to you that is missing, and NEEDS to be found!  The way we feel about these “lost” things is a helpful reminder of a tremendous spiritual point.

Spiritually speaking, billions of people who are created in the image of God are “lost.”  Choosing to go their own way, their lives have fallen, they are not waiting for the Lord, and have instead choose to go their own way.  As a result, the Scripture lets us know that they are headed for eternal judgment.  However, God sees them as immensely valuable.  Therefore, He went looking for them.  Jesus came to seek out the lost.  Like a shepherd looking for his lost sheep, Jesus came looking for lost people.  

This point is taught by Jesus on a number of occasions with slightly different emphasis.  For instance, in Luke 15, Jesus teaches this message to emphasize God’s pursuit of the “unsaved.”  In Matthew 18, however, we see Jesus teaching this point connected to the “saved.”  In other words, what happens if a Christ follower begins to wander away . . . what is Jesus’ attitude towards him/her?  Well, He comes after us, with the same passion He pursues the non-believer.

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will continue our “Relating to” series by looking at how Jesus’ perspective on the “lost” impacts His followers.    Join us at 9:45 or 11:00 in our worship services as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and worship together as we look at Matthew 18:10-14 together,  See you Sunday!

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:

 

To watch the livestream via Facebook, visit:

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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:

 

To watch the Facebook Livestream, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwildwoodchurch%2Fvideos%2F486956191828232%2F&show_text=0&width=560

 

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!