Follow (part 2) Sermon Preview

Three weeks ago at Wildwood, we celebrated the baptisms of 15 individuals.  These 15 were some of the over 80 who have been baptized at Wildwood in the past year.  At Wildwood, when we baptize people we allow them to share their stories of how they came to faith in Jesus Christ, and all that Jesus has done and is doing in their lives.  (See highlights here, and testimonies here.)  These services are very encouraging times and a celebration of some of what God is doing. 

At our baptism services in July, we had nearly 1,000 people come and hear the stories of the greatness of Jesus.  Most of us even applauded again and again as an act of celebration and worship as people came up out of the waters of baptism, thanking God for His grace. It is hard in that setting to NOT say “YES!” to Jesus and desire to follow Him.  But what happens when we leave that service?  What happens when we leave that room?  Will we follow Jesus consistently in our own lives? 

I want to assert today that in the 19 days since that baptism service, all of us who applauded saying “YES JESUS!” in that moment, have said “NO” to Him in another.  Sure, for some in attendance who are still exploring the claims of Christ, their “no” or “not yet” is a consistent expression of the process of discovery they are on.  But I want to suggest that all of us – even those of us who have been a Christian for decades now – amazingly have said “NO” to following Jesus several times in the last few weeks.  Don’t believe me?

  • Jesus invites us to forgive those who have wronged us, but have we followed Him there?  Some of us have said “NO” to following Him down the path of granting forgiveness.
  • Jesus invites us to share the Gospel message with those who don’t know it, but have we followed Him there?  Some of us have said “NO” to following Him down the Roman road of evangelism.
  • Jesus invites us to be pure in our thoughts and actions, but have we followed Him there?  Some of us have said “NO” to following Him there and fed impure thoughts, motives, and actions.

Why do we do this?  Why do we say “NO” to Someone so great?  Well, we are going to talk about that this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church as we talk about what it means to “Follow” from Matthew 8:18-34.  Our strange pension to say “NO” to Jesus in different areas of our lives is mirrored in the lives of those who gathered around Him in the first century during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  We will look at some of their struggles and make parallels in our own life.  We will also talk about the forgiveness found for all of us in Jesus, AND how we might say YES to following Him more this week.

Make plans to join us this Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service!

Follow (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 13, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8.  This message was part 1 of the “Follow” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share.


To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

Follow #1 08.13.17


To listen online, use the media player below:

Follow (part 1) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, August 13, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8.  This message was part 1 in the “Follow” series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8
  3. As you look at your schedule/plans for this fall, are you feeling excited?  Overwhelmed?  How does your walk with God factor into your life plans this fall?
  4. What were your first thoughts of Jesus, the first time you learned about Him?  How have those thoughts changed over the years?  Do you find yourself more drawn to follow Him today or less drawn to follow Him?  What has led to the change?
  5. What are ways in which you KNOW you NEED Jesus today?  How do you express this need to Jesus on a regular basis?
  6. What are some of the reasons why God does miracles (as demonstrated in today’s Scripture passage)?  Have you ever seen God do a (what you would consider to be) a miracle today?
  7. How does remembering that Jesus is God help encourage you to FOLLOW HIM this year?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Follow (part 1) Preview

OK.  You have a busy day.  One of those days where you feel like there is no way you can get everything done that you need to do.  Your calendar is crammed . . . every minute is accounted for.  You know days like this . . .

Now, think about this – who has the power to disrupt your schedule on a day like that BY YOUR CHOICE?  Who has such an influence on you that you would rearrange other priorities to make space for an unexpected visitor?

For most of us, those with the power to override our schedule fall into one of three categories:

  1. Someone we love. I may have a lot going on during a busy day, but if my wife shows up at the office, I am glad to see her.
  2. Someone we need.  Many of us have had the experience of waiting for results from a medical test.  Regardless of what else is happening, when the phone rings and the doctor’s office number shows up in the caller ID, you interrupt your regular scheduled program to answer the call.  If you have no current medical emergency, you probably let the doc leave a message.
  3. Someone we revere.  Regardless of political affiliation, if a current or former President of the United States stopped by your home, you would invite them inside.  Regardless of school affiliation, if Bob Stoops invites you to dinner, you probably say “yes.”

Knowing that there are those with the power to tear up our “to do” list, I want you to think about the year you have in front of you.  No doubt, it is full of a lot of things.  You have a lot projects at work, activities for the kids, classes to study for, events to plan and attend, etc., etc.

Now, before you get totally stressed out with the items on your calendar, I want to let you know something amazing.  Someone we love (and who loves us), someone we need, and someone we revere is standing on your today and inviting you into tomorrow.  In fact, it is the same Someone for each of us.  It is the person of Jesus Christ.  He has promised to be with us always . . . even today.  His invitation to us is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago – “FOLLOW ME.” 

As people with busy schedules, it seems tough to think of following Jesus.  Especially if we assume it is just another thing to add to our “to do” list.  To be fair, following Jesus will impact your calendar . . . but it is FAR MORE THAN THAT.  Jesus wants to walk with you through your work week, be with you in your family life, join you in your volunteer commitments.  He is with us ALWAYS.

So what does it look like for us to follow Jesus?  Over the next 7 weeks at Wildwood we will be starting a new school year by talking about what it means to “FOLLOW.”  This Sunday we will kick off this series by looking at the identity of the One we are invited to follow from Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8.  I hope you make space in your calendar to join us at Wildwood this Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service as we fix our eyes on Following Him together this year.  Join us, and bring a friend!

The 7 weeks of this series will focus on:

  • August 13: The One We Follow  (Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8)
  • August 20: Why Don’t We Follow? (Matthew 8:18-34)
  • August 27:  Who Can Follow? (Matthew 9:9-17)
  • September 3:  Faith to Follow (Matthew 9:18-34)
  • September 10:  Inviting More to Follow (Matthew 9:35-10:15)
  • September 17:  Fear of the Follower (Matthew 10:16-33)
  • September 24:  Reward of the Follower (Matthew 10:34-42)