November 27- Jesus is God: Sign #1

The year was 1957.  IBM had created a device which would change the world as we know it.  This device was large by today’s standards, taking up several cabinets of space.  This machine was also expensive, costing nearly $80,000 to purchase.  What is this large and expensive machine that changed the world?  An electronic calculator.

Now, I realize that we do not normally consider the calculator to be a world changing device, but that is because we have grown up with it.  We have grown accustomed to it, and thus we take it for granted.  If you were born prior to 1957, all math was done in your head.  If you are like me, you grew up in elementary school learning to add, subtract, multiply, or divide by hand.   And if you are like me, math became difficult for you when dealing with numbers that outstretched your number of fingers and toes!  Because of my difficulty with math, I welcomed the day I got to use my first calculator to aid in solving problems in school.  It was as liberating as it was accurate.  It also opened new vistas into deeper fields of mathematics (things like trigonometry and calculus) which would be nearly impossible without the use of a machine.  The machine IBM invented in 1957 did not invent math … it was based on the same numbers and truths as long division … but it did reinvent how higher math was computed, placing a powerful tool in the hands of people everywhere.   

In John 2:1-11, Jesus performed a miracle filled with symbolism to reveal to His followers that He was creating a New Covenant by which mankind would relate to God.  For centuries, God’s people had related to Him under the Old Covenant based on the Old Testament Law which was filled with the Ten Commandments, ritual cleansing, and animal sacrifices.  While the miracle of John 2 may look like Jesus was simply providing some good wine to a few thirsty guests at a wedding feast, a closer look reveals that Jesus was actually highlighting a significant truth about His identity and the gift He was offering.  By taking the water from the Old Covenant ceremonial jars and turning it into something new (and better), Jesus was actually foreshadowing the fact that He was creating a New Covenant that would change the spiritual lives of all who would embrace it.  This New Covenant would be very expensive, costing Jesus His blood.  This New Covenant that Jesus was establishing was what we know of as Christianity.  

Now, I realize that as Americans, we can take for granted the amazing revolution that life in Christ creates, but that is because many of us have grown up with it.  If you lived your life before the time of Christ, all spiritual interaction with God was based on strict adherence to the Law.  If you are like me, you find God’s Law beautiful but too lofty to adhere to 100 percent of the time.  Because of our inability to keep God’s Law, we should welcome the amazing extension of God’s grace to us in Christ.  It is as liberating as it is holy.  It provides forgiveness for our sins once and for all in Christ and opens new vistas for our spiritual lives including mission, purpose, a close and personal relationship with God, and gracious provision to actually live out the Christian life.  The New Covenant did not invent holiness—it was based on the same righteousness prescribed in the Law—but it did reinvent how our spiritual lives would be lived out, placing the powerful life of Christ in the hearts of people everywhere.

Like wine out of water, Jesus has saved the best for last.  Take a moment and praise God for creating us as people who are arriving at the feast of history at this time.  Like wedding guests in Cana, we can enjoy the blessing that Jesus creates out of an old pot.  

Turning water to wine at the wedding in Cana was the first “sign” of Jesus’ divinity referenced by John.  Only God Himself could initiate this new covenant.  This miracle, and its symbolic significance pointed to Jesus’ true identity.

 

This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

November 2022 Baptism Sunday Recap

On Sunday, November 20, 2022 at Wildwood, we had the great joy of baptizing 22 individuals who had placed their faith in Christ.  Before each of their baptisms, we heard the story of how God had worked in their lives, then we got to witness their water baptism as an outward picture of their inner connection to Jesus.  Below you will find links to the baptisms in each service, as well as a link to the Vimeo channel that includes all of their testimonies.  Join us in praising God for His great work!  As we sang today, “How Great Thou Art!”

To watch the 8:30 service baptisms, use this YouTube video online:

 

To watch the 9:45 service baptisms (and full service), use this YouTube video online:

 

To watch the 11:00 service baptisms use this YouTube video online:

 

To access the Vimeo channel with all 22 testimonies shared this morning, click here.

 

Also, in the 8:30 service, time allowed for a longer sermon (than in the other two services).  This sermon is podcasted for those who missed it and be can downloaded or shared.

To listen offline to the 8:30AM service sermon, click on the link:

Baptism Sunday 11.20.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Baptism Sunday Preview (November 20, 2022)

At Wildwood we are FOR following JESUS together to the glory of God. Because of that, we celebrate when people begin to follow Jesus, and Baptism is a time for the church congregation to celebrate these beginnings! This Sunday (November 20) at Wildwood, we will have the privilege of seeing 22 people baptized. We will hear their stories, pray over them, rejoice with them, and witness their water baptism. We will also sing of Jesus’ goodness, open God’s Word together, and be encouraged as we head into Thanksgiving week together as a church family. Hope you can join us in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service!

  • NOTE: On baptism Sundays (as is our tradition) we do not run our elementary, student, college, or adult Sunday morning classes. All Kindergarten and up will be in the worship service together for these services. What a great chance for us to celebrate as a church family!
  • NOTE 2: See the attached pic with details about who is being baptized in which service.
  • NOTE 3: At noon on Sunday, we will begin decorating the church for Christmas.  If you and your family would like to stay and help with this festive event, we’d love to have you!!!  Meet in the Gathering Hall at 12:15.

 

2022 Christmas Devotional Guide – FREE!!!

Imagine you were to get a phone call this afternoon from someone who is really famous (in a circle or industry you care about).  Could be a politician, a famous sports star, an author, an actor, or a titan of industry.  This is a hypothetical, so you get to decide which famous person is calling you.  Upon answering the call, they inform you that they are coming to YOUR HOUSE to celebrate Christmas with YOU!  Now that would be quite a phone call … wouldn’t it?

If you got that call, what would you do next? 

Well if you are like me, you first would want to make sure that the phone call was ACTUALLY from the famous person and not from an impersonator.  You might check the caller ID, request written documentation, evaluate whether their voice sounded like the person they said they were, etc.  I’d be looking for signs to determine if this person really was who they said they were.   

After seeking signs of verification as to their identity, I would next begin to wonder what it was going to be like to have THAT PERSON in MY HOME.  What would we talk about?  What would we serve for dinner?  Should I get them a gift?  Will they bring me one?

These are just some of the things we might do if a famous person announced they were coming over to spend the holidays. Truth is, though, for most of us, we will not get that call this Christmas season.  However, I want to let you know something even more amazing to light up your holidays:  God came to your house.  That’s right … the One who created all things has come to us at Christmas.  

Now hearing that statement, you might ask a couple of questions.  First, how do I KNOW that God really came to earth on that first Christmas?  Second, if God really did come at the first Christmas, what was it like?  What did He do?  What can we learn from it?

Well, this Christmas at Wildwood Community Church, we will be exploring one of Jesus’ nicknames – Immanuel.  This Hebrew word (translated “God with us”) is attributed to Jesus in both Matthew 1:22-23 and Isaiah 7:14.  Christmas is the story of God coming to be with us!  

But how do we know that Jesus is really God?  Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking at evidence to answer this question in daily devotionals (from November 27-December 11).  These 15 daily readings will explore 15 Scripture passages revealing that Jesus is indeed God.  These 15 passages are all rooted in the Gospel of John.  John (one of Jesus’ close earthly friends and followers) wrote His Gospel “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)  John organized His Gospel around 7 miraculous signs, 7 revelatory statements, and one exclamation point (the resurrection) that all made the case of Jesus’ divine identity.  We will explore these 15 passages of John’s Gospel from November 27-December 11.

And … what is it like for God to be with us?  We will explore this in 14 daily readings (from December 12-25).  We will explore many excerpts from the historical account of the first Christmas to see what the experience of “God with us” is trying to teach us about what it is like to live in relationship (and in close proximity) to Almighty God.  

This daily devotional is intended to help you understand more of what it means to say “Immanuel” this holiday season.  Join us on this journey!  Oh, and make plans to be with us on each of the Sundays at Wildwood between November 27 and January 1, as we will have a sermon series exploring these same concepts.  

In addition, Wildwood has produced a Spotify and Apple Music playlist of some of our favorite Christmas songs to help serve as the soundtrack for our season.  We also have a number of different ways for us to serve our community together this time of year.  Find out more about all these opportunities on our website – wildwoodchurch.org/christmas.

We look forward to worshipping with you and your family this Christmas season!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark Robinson

 

NOTE:  The devotional will post one reflection each day from November 27-December 25 to this blog and on my Facebook page.  However, you can also access the entire devotional for download:

To have each day’s devotional emailed to you each morning during Advent, subscribe to this blog in the form located in the right hand column when you access this page from a desktop or laptop.

Lord of New Heaven and Earth (part 9) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, October 16, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 22:14-21.  This message was part 9 in the “Lord of New Heaven and Earth” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal application or group discussion.  You will also find the sermon audio/video to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 22:14-21
  3. In what ways has our study of the book of Revelation served as a motivator for you in your Christian life?
  4. In today’s verses, we saw that the only ones who are blessed eternally are those who “have washed their robes” (Revelation 7:14 reminds us that the way we wash our robes is in the “blood of the Lamb).  What does this tell you about the condition of everyone’s “robes” apart from being cleansed in Christ?  To the best of your understanding, how does one “wash their robe in the blood of the Lamb”?  What does that mean?
  5. Jesus invites (through the work of the Spirit through the church) all who hear to COME TO HIM and have their eternal thirst quenched.  What are some of the “thirsts” you have that God has used to lead you to Christ?
  6. Are you living your lives “FORWARD” towards what God is offering us in Christ for all eternity?  What in your life needs to change in light of what you have seen in the book of Revelation?  What in your life are you inspired to continue in light of what we have seen in the book of Revelation?  
  7. We have said throughout 2022 that the book of Revelation is a “Revelation of Jesus Christ.”  How have you gotten to know Jesus better through our study of Revelation this year?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The Lord of New Heaven & Earth #9 10.16.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch, use the YouTube stream online:

 

Lord of New Heaven and Earth (part 9) Sermon Preview

This Sunday will be the 42nd Sunday of 2022.  (That’s right … only 10 weeks to Christmas! … but I digress.)  For 29 of those 42 Sundays, we have been walking through the book of Revelation together.  Add in 39 other blog posts from this study, and you have been surrounded by 68 messages from the book of Revelation over the past ten months.  In our study, we have seen that the book of Revelation is a Revelation of Jesus Christ.  It has been our joy to get to know the Savior better as we have read this often neglected section of God’s Word.  Together, we have seen Jesus revealed as the Lord of the Church, the Lord of Heaven, the Lord of the Earth, and the Lord of the New Heaven and Earth.  

This Sunday, October 16, 2022, we will be in part 9 of our “Lord of the New Heaven and Earth” sermon series.  This will also be our final message in Revelation (at least for a while) as we have run out of verses to study!  We will be in the final 8 verses of our Bibles this weekend, looking at Revelation 22:14-21.

Ending this series has me reflecting on the entirety of the book of Revelation and the role it plays in our understanding of the Gospel and our relationship with Christ.  In preparation for Sunday, I have found two quotes particularly relevant:

“Probably no other book of Scripture more sharply contrasts the blessed lot of the saints with the fearful future of those who are lost. No other book of the Bible is more explicit in its description of judgment on the one hand and the saints’ eternal bliss on the other. What a tragedy that so many pass by this book and fail to fathom its wonderful truths, thereby impoverishing their knowledge and hope in Christ Jesus.” – John Walvoord

and

“And Revelation is a ‘pledge of His love’. … Jesus has given it to us as a sacrament of the imagination, to quicken the pulse and set the soul aflame over the gospel which all too often we take for granted.” – Michael Wilcock

This book is designed to “quicken our pulse” and “set our souls aflame over the Gospel!”  I love that language, and have found it to be true in my own life.  The great contrasts in this book drive us to cling to Christ with an urgency sometimes lacking in our day-to-day lives.  

So, make plans to join us Sunday at Wildwood in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service as we wrap up the book of Revelation by looking at the “closing thoughts” of NOT ONLY the book of Revelation, but the entire canon of Scripture.  Hope to see you there … and bring friends!

Lord of New Heaven and Earth (part 8) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, October 9, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 22:6-13.  This message was part 8 in the “Lord of New Heaven and Earth” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 22:6-13
  3. In Church’s like Wildwood, we call the Bible “God’s Word.” To the best of your understanding, what do you think that means?  What does this passage teach you about the nature of God’s Word?
  4. Have you ever been tempted to think that Jesus’ words (the “red letters”) are more authoritative than the writings of Paul or John?  What does this passage teach you about the nature of what Jesus, Paul, and John said in the Scripture they wrote (or spoke in the case of Jesus)?
  5. In what ways are you tempted to “worship the deliverer” of God’s Word instead of God Himself?
  6. What parts of the Bible are you tempted to not want to talk about with others?  
  7. Are you delaying responding to the message of the Gospel today thinking “there will be time to respond later?”
  8. Who is one person you can share the hope you have received from our study of the book of Revelation with this week?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The Lord of New Heaven & Earth #8 10.9.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the Stream, use YouTube online:

Lord of New Heaven and Earth (part 8) Sermon Preview

“I don’t like the church, but I love Jesus.”  

“I don’t care what Paul says (after all he was just a product of his time – with all the prejudices and problems accompanying that era), but I love what Jesus says.”

“The Bible is such a confusing book, I will just stick to the ‘red letter’ parts where Jesus is talking.  The rest can be left to the seminary professors and professionals.”

“Who cares about biblical prophecy anyway.  I wish my Pastor would just stick to the more practical sections.”

Have you ever thought these thoughts?  Have you heard others say similar things?  

At one level, these statements sound spiritual. Who could argue with someone who is affirming their loyalty to Jesus at every step?  Well, I’ll tell you who could argue with that person … JESUS HIMSELF.

Did you know that Jesus Himself created the church (and is building it)?  Did you know that Jesus Himself is speaking through the Scripture to us … through ALL the Scripture, not just the part with the red letters?  Did you know that Paul was not just sharing his opinions, but was moved along by the Spirit of God to communicate God’s truth to us?  Did you know that Jesus cares DEEPLY that we understand the fact that He is coming back to earth one day, and believes it is an incredibly practical message and something we need to prioritize in our study?  

When we say that we want Jesus and not Paul; Jesus and not the church; Jesus and not the rest of Scripture; “how to’s” for daily life and not theology; orthopraxy and not orthodoxy – we are actually moving AWAY from Jesus and not TOWARD Him.  

This principle comes into great clarity as we look at the conclusion to the book of Revelation.  Specifically in 22:6-13 (8 of the last 16 verses in our Bible) we see a discussion of the doctrine of the Scriptures:  how God speaks to us through them, and the importance of our response.

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be in part 8 of our “Lord of New Heaven and Earth” series as we investigate this issue more.  Make plans to join us for our study … and bring friends, to our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service. 

Lord of New Heaven and Earth (part 7) Sermon Questions, Audio, and Video

On Sunday, October 2, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church I preached a sermon based on Revelation 22:1-5.  This message was part 7 in the “Lord of New Heaven and Earth” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio/video of the sermon to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 22:1-5
  3. What do you tend to think about MOST in your mental “free time”?  How do you think that emphasis of thought impacts your life?
  4. The Bible begins and ends in a Garden, with living water, and a tree of life.  When you add these elements to the “jeweled city” we saw last week in 21:9-27, you get a city that has both opulence AND warmth.  Of all the things we have seen about the eternal city, what stands out to you the most?
  5. How are you “planting your life” beside the living water of God’s Word so that you might grow strong in the faith?  What is your plan to study God’s Word this year?
  6. The best part of eternity is that God is there with us!  Eternal life is defined as a relationship with God (in John 17:3, and the description in Revelation 22:1-5).  How are you prioritizing your relationship with Jesus RIGHT NOW?  Are you communicating with Him?  Serving others and obeying Him?  Gathering together with God’s people?  
  7. Interact with this quote from Jim Hamilton, ““Is this the way that you think about Heaven? If you found out that God and Jesus weren’t going to be in Heaven, but the street would still be gold and the gates pearl and the walls jasper and the water living and the tree’s leaves healing, and all your dearly departed there, but Jesus and the Father would not be there, would you still want to go? If you hesitate at all, please recognize that Heaven without Jesus and the Father would be nothing less than a gold-plated Hell. Jesus and the Father are Heaven. And that is no less true now than it will be then.”
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The Lord of New Heaven & Earth #7 10.1.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch, use YouTube online:

 

Lord of New Heaven and Earth (part 7) Sermon Preview

I have a couple of friends who purchased homes without first seeing the inside.  One was a home purchase at a foreclosure auction, and the other was a purchase for an out of town move.  Circumstances required they both act “on faith” with their decisions.  While I admire the adventurous nature of these purchases, I cannot personally relate.  I won’t even buy SHOES without trying them on, much less a home!

When we purchased our home, I “stalked” it on the internet for months (no joke).  It was “for sale,” then “not for sale” … so I kept watching zillow each week, waiting for it to return to market.  In that time, I occasionally would relook at the photos of its interior or drive by its exterior.  I even timed the drive from the home to key locations around town.  I spent a fair amount of my “down time” doing this kind of research.

This is what happens often with things that we look forward to or hope for.  How many times did you look at the ultrasound of your firstborn?  How often did you peruse the photos of the child you would soon adopt?  Pretty often, right?  

Looking at these photos accomplished two things … it satisfied a desire for “fellowship” with our future (home, family, or whatever we were looking at), AND it also fueled desire for the day when the house/child/etc. would join your world.

I say this today because Sunday we will once again be looking at our eternal home in the new heaven and earth.  We have been talking about this all fall as we have toured Revelation 19-22.  This Sunday will be part 7 of this series as we look at Revelation 22:1-5.  You may be thinking, “why are we STILL looking at this?”  Well, why do you look at the ultrasound more than 7 times?  Why do you check the internet listing again?  The answer is obvious … because we WANT TO.  It both satisfies our desire (looking for paradise while we live in a broken and breaking world), and fuels more desire (as we see more clearly the home He has prepared for us.)

Make plans to join us this week for part 7 of this series.  Come …. and bring friends to Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship services.