Tomorrow (part 5) Sermon Preview

In this space each week, I write a brief preview of one of the main themes of the upcoming Sunday’s sermon.  While today’s post will also preview this week’s message, the format will utilize a different medium.

This Sunday, we are going to be looking at Matthew 25:14-30 . . . the “Parable of the Talents.”  As we saw last Sunday, parables were sermon illustrations used by Jesus teaching His followers something about God and/or His Kingdom.  The Parable of the Talents is told by Jesus to illustrate part of what it meant to prepare for His second coming.

To help get us ready for this passage of Scripture, I want to share with you a “readers’ theater” drama, based on this parable, written and directed by Wildwood member Michael Kramer, utilizing Wildwood members as actors and actresses.  This audio drama is quite good, and hopefully will help prepare you for the sermon on Sunday as you listen to this retelling of an ancient story in a fresh way.

Listen below, and we will see you Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:45 or 11:00 services!

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The Talents

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Tomorrow (part 4) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, January 26, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 25:1-13.  This message was part 4 in the “Tomorrow” sermon series.  Below you will find audio from the message to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Tomorrow #4 1.26.20

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the video of the service, visit YouTube online:

 

Tomorrow (part 4) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 25:1-13.  This message was part 4 of the “Tomorrow” sermon series.  Below you will find a series of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 25:1-13
  3. What does it look like for you to “prepare” for something on your calendar (event, project, etc.)?  What would it look like for you to “prepare” for the second coming of Jesus?
  4. In this story, the young women are divided into two groups: the wise and the foolish.  What separated the wise from the foolish?  What do they have in common?  How are they different?
  5. When the “hour” came, those with oil could not help those without oil.  When we reflect on this principle for our application, we see that the faith of our friends or family cannot help us if we are not personally spiritually prepared when Jesus comes.  In what ways is your faith “your own” and in what ways are you borrowing the faith of your friends or family?
  6. Sadly, many who wait to follow Jesus now because they don’t want to “miss out” on fun today, run the risk of “missing out” on eternity with Jesus.  Eventually (as in the parable) the door of opportunity will close.  How would you advise a friend who wanted to live their own way today instead of following Jesus in light of what you see in this parable?
  7. Being prepared for the coming of Jesus means that we believe in Him and are trusting in Him for the forgiveness of our sins.  Is this something that you have already done?  If not, what is keeping you from trusting Jesus today?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Tomorrow (part 4) Sermon Preview

One of the mottos of the Boy Scouts is to “Be Prepared.”  But what does that mean?  Well . . .

  • If you are a student, it means you study before the test so you can do well.
  • If you are a homeowner, it may mean buying supplies and taping off the edges before beginning to repaint the living room.
  • If you are a sports team, it means practicing offensive plays or defensive sets so you can work together effectively when the game comes around.

Basically, being prepared means that you get ready BEFORE YOU “NEED TO” DELIVER.  We are used to this concept in so many areas of our lives.  However, are we prepared spiritually?  Are we prepared for the second coming of Jesus or for the moment of our death when we will stand face to face before our Creator and give an account for our lives?  How do we prepare for such a day?  What are some questions I could ask myself to prepare me for this moment BEFORE I get there?

This Sunday at Wildwood we will be continuing our series called “Tomorrow: Preparing for the Son to Rise Again.”  This week, we will be in part 4 of this series looking at Matthew 25:1-13 – a parable Jesus told about 10 members of a wedding party . . . some who wisely prepared, and some who foolishly did not for the coming the groom.  There is a lot of very practical and important stuff in this story for us to reflect on today as we prepare for tomorrow.  See you Sunday . . . and bring your friends to either our 9:45 or 11:00 service.

 

Tomorrow (part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, January 19, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 24:32-51.  This message was part 3 of the “Tomorrow” 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:

Tomorrow #3 1.19.20

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch the video of the entire service, watch YouTube online:

 

 

Tomorrow (part 3) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, January 19, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, OK, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 24:32-51.  This message was part 3 in the “Tomorrow” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 24:32-51
  3. How do you react when a meteorologist tells you to be “weather aware?”  Do you see any parallels to how people react/don’t react to being “second coming of Jesus” aware?
  4. When Jesus comes back, judgment will come with Him.  This judgment will take people living in that time by surprise.  Given all the Scripture written about the “end times,” why do you think people will still be taken by surprise at His coming?  Do you see any parallels with the time on the earth in the day’s of Noah?
  5. Jesus does not want us to wait to respond in faith to Him.  What are some reasons why people wait to get serious about their relationship with Jesus?
  6. Jesus also wants us to live for Him while we await His return.  If someone were to do an investigative study on your life right now, who would they determine is your “Lord” or “master”?  What would it look like for your life to be characterized by Jesus as your Lord today?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Tomorrow (part 3) Sermon Preview

In many adventure movies, it is common for characters to find a map leading to “treasure” . . . if only they could decipher how the map was oriented.  There is a mountain they are supposed to go around . . . but which mountain is it?  There is a river they are to cross . . . but how do I know if it is the Canadian or the Caney?  There is a cave they are supposed to descend into . . . but which hole in the ground is it?  This plot device has been utilized in scripts from Indiana Jones to Pirates of the Caribbean to Star Wars, and makes for a very entertaining story.  Eventually, Rey or Indy or Captain Jack find a clue that anchors them to the map and helps unveil which “x” marks the spot.

I was thinking about this today as I was preparing for this Sunday’s continuation of our series on the return of Jesus entitled “Tomorrow:  Preparing for the Son to Rise Again.”  Over the first two Sundays of this series, we have seen Jesus talk about the clock counting down to His second coming and the establishment of the Kingdom (in Matthew 24:1-31).  However, is it possible to orient ourselves today to this “map” en route to tomorrow?  And what does Jesus treasure as our response to the “map” He has delivered?  

This Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:45 and 11:00 services, we will be looking at what Jesus had to say about this in Matthew 24:32-51 in part 3 of our series.  Make plans to join us this weekend, as we prepare today for the coming tomorrow.  See you Sunday!

Have you been baptized since trusting in Jesus?

Kimberly and I on the night of our baptisms in 1998

3 events, separated by 25 years, tell the story of my spiritual journey when I came to be a Christ follower. 

The first event was when I was baptized as an infant.  I was born to two amazing parents who wanted to raise me in a Christian home.  They brought me to church each Sunday growing up.  I do not remember a time when church was not a part of my life.  This is such a huge blessing.  When I was just a few months old, my parents had me baptized at the church we attended. 

The second event was when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.  This was a major turning point in my life.  I had attended many church events, memorized many verses, knew the words to many hymns, and even had been confirmed as a church member . . . but I did not know what it all meant.  Jesus was a historical figure . . . Christianity was a subject.  It was not until Easter Sunday 1990 that the Spirit of God convicted me of my sin and I turned to Jesus as my rescuer from sin and judgment.  I have been following Him ever since.

The third event came when I was baptized upon profession of faith in 1998.  At the time I was an Associate Pastor at a church in Coppell, Texas.  I decided to be baptized at that time because as I studied Scripture, I saw a pattern emerge: people believed in Jesus, then they were immersed in water baptism.  This was the pattern of the early church, and it was consistent with the teaching of Jesus.  The Scriptures were clear (in my mind) about the pattern of baptism, but in order to be baptized I had to clear a few hurdles:

  1. I needed to talk to my parents.  I was so thankful for the legacy of following Jesus that they had passed on to me.  I did not desire to reject that heritage by being “re”baptized.  However, my desire to follow the clear teaching of Jesus trumped my risk of offending my family, so I decided to be baptized.  I called my parents to tell them about my decision.  I also wanted to tell them THANK YOU for the spiritual investment they made in my life.  They were so gracious and celebrated this decision with me.
  2. I needed to talk to my Pastor.  As I mentioned, I was already serving as an Associate Pastor at a church.  I was afraid that my Pastor might react negatively to the notion that one of his staff wanted to be baptized!  I met with him and told him what God had been teaching me.  He graciously celebrated this decision with me and together we planned to baptize me at a friend’s swimming pool during a youth group meeting that next Wednesday night — a youth group meeting I was LEADING!  I also had the privilege of baptizing my wife (who had come to a similar conviction) right after I was baptized by Pastor Wayne.    What a night!
  3. I needed to talk to Jesus.  No one’s salvation depends on the act of being immersed in water.  Salvation is by grace through faith, and not as a result of works (including water baptism!)  However, the New Testament is really unfamiliar with the idea that an adult could be a Christ follower and yet intentionally choose to NOT be baptized with water.  If I were to reject His command of baptism, I would be saying “no” to the One who bled and died for my sins.  In prayer, I expressed my decision to be baptized as an outward expression of my inward faith.  I declared to Jesus that I was not baptized in order to BE SAVED, but as an expression of the salvation that was already given.

Friends, I write this note today to encourage everyone who reads this to consider water baptism.  In our culture, sometimes we think baptisms are for children or students (since many of those baptized are younger in age.)  However, the New Testament does not put an age parameter around baptism.  People of ANY age are baptized . . . after they have professed faith in Christ. 

Like me, you may be a college student or adult who has not been baptized since trusting Christ.  Like me, you may have avoided baptism because of the 3 conversations I mentioned above.  You may fear talking to your parents about a christening that happened in your early years.  You may fear talking to me, because you don’t want to appear as someone who does not “have it all together.”  You may have never considered that NOT being baptized was actually saying “no” to Jesus’ command.  Whatever your story, I want to encourage you today with a few thoughts:

  1. Take this opportunity to thank your parents or grandparents for the investment they made in your life.  Being baptized since trusting in Christ is not an affront to your family, it is a public declaration of who you are following today.
  2. Talk to me (or one of our other Pastors/staff) about this.  We will absolutely THROW A PARTY!  We love celebrating any step of faith God is leading you towards — including water baptism!
  3. Take this opportunity to talk to Jesus about it.  Baptism does not save you, but it is a step of faith in following Him!

To help facilitate all of these things, we have a web form found at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism .  Fill that out and we will get back in touch with you ASAP.  We even have some classes about the biblical teaching of baptism that we offer on Sunday January 26 (for children, students, and adults) for all who are interested.  We look forward to hearing from you in preparation for our next baptism service at Wildwood Community Church on March 8.  Hope to hear from you before then!

Tomorrow (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, January 12, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 24:15-31.  This message was part 2 of the “Tomorrow” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from this sermon to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Tomorrow #2 1.12.20

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the video of the service, visit YouTube online:

 

Tomorrow (part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, January 12, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 24:15-31.  This message was part 2 of the “Tomorrow” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to that message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 24:15-31
  3. In what way does knowing Jesus will come back “Tomorrow” give you hope today?
  4. In the last 7 years of human history . . . in the time right before Jesus comes back to the earth . . . the earth will experience the hardest days that it has ever seen.  What are some of the “hardest things” this planet has undergone in your lifetime?  In human history in general?  Knowing the difficulties that have already transpired, what does that tell you about the time that really will be “the end”?  (a time that Jesus calls worse than anything else in human history).
  5. What are some of the false gods that people are tempted to worship today?  How do you manage to keep your focus on the “one true God?”
  6. What are some examples of people in history who have tried to tell others that they are the “savior”?  In what ways is Jesus different from those “false christs”?
  7. When Jesus comes back, no one will “miss it” as many did at His first coming.  However, the response of humanity will vary from “mourning” to being “gathered.”  Have you placed your faith in Christ, so that you might be gathered at His second coming, instead of “mourning” because judgment will soon follow?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.