Sermon on the Mount (part 8) Preview

As a Pastor, I have the privilege of officiating many weddings.  Over the past 16 years, I think I have officiated over 100 of them.  It is one of the great perks of pastoring, to get to be close to people in the most significant moments of their lives (and get to point them to Jesus in the process). 

My role also allows me to attend many wedding receptions . . . and often times there is a dance floor and DJ ready to pump up the jam.  If the wedding has a good DJ, eventually most people spend at least some time on the dance floor.  Is it because most people have an inner Michael Jackson waiting to moonwalk across the stage of life?  Is it because Gloria Estefan was right, and eventually the “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”?  Or is it because the DJ knows there are a few songs EVERYONE will dance to?  I am going with the latter.  Want proof?

It starts with the Village People’s “YMCA.”  People begin moving to the dance floor when this song comes on.  Anyone left behind on that song will be drawn offsides by the “Cupid Shuffle.”  And anyone who still has not busted a move will be on their feet for the “Cha Cha Slide.”  What do these 3 songs have in common?  They tell you what to do . . . and people feel more confident to improvise during the verse if they know they can be on cue during the chorus. 

Think about it . . . even your Grandma can spell letters with her arms, your Dad can follow cues like “to the left, to the left, to the left, to the left . . ,” and your middle school cousin understands “now stomp three times!”  Songs that give us basic direction, inspire us to action.

Now, why am I going into this kind of detail?  Many people have been invited to the Christian life.  Many even have gone to the altar and connected with Jesus as their Savior.  However, prayer is sometimes a challenge for people in their Christian life.  Knowing this, Jesus addressed the topic of prayer with very specific instruction. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says (in Matthew 6:5-8) that He wants us to free flow from the heart in prayer to God with our minds engaged.  However, this instruction alone (though encouraging) does not really help us “get on the dance floor” in prayer.  So Jesus teaches us a structured “line dance” prayer for our chorus, so that we might improvise prayer in the verses of everyday life. 

This structured prayer is the Lord’s prayer.  In it Jesus gives us an easy to remember 6 point prayer pattern . . . basic direction to inspire us to action.  This prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-15 and we will be looking at this prayer in depth at Wildwood Community Church on Sunday morning as we continue our series on the Sermon on the Mount.  If you are someone who has struggled over time with how or what to pray, join us Sunday as we see Jesus get us moving with rhyme and reason.  See you Sunday, June 25 in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service!

Sermon on the Mount (part 7) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, June 18, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 6:5-8, 16-18.  This message was part 7 in the “Sermon on the Mount” series.  Below is the sermon audio related to the message (as well as a few quotes and lists from the message) for you to listen to or share.

To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

Sermon on the Mount #7

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

Quotes and lists from sermon:

Sermon on the Mount (part 7) Questions

On Sunday, June 18, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 6:5-8, 16-18.  This message was part 7 in the “Sermon on the Mount” series.  Below are a series of questions related to that message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 6:5-8, 16-18
  3. How would you rate the quality of YOUR prayer life? Why?
  4. Prayer is talking with God, but at times, people can get focused on other people instead of on God Himself as they pray.  Have you ever struggled with this?
  5. Jesus reminds us to remember who we are talking to in prayer – our Heavenly Father.  The important thing in prayer is not the number of words we say or how long we pray, but that we are mentally engaged while we are praying.  When you pray are you typically engaged mentally, or just saying prayers in your head that you have heard before without really thinking about them?
  6. Have you ever fasted?  If so, for what purpose?
  7. Jesus again reminds us to keep our fasting as an act between God and us, without us seeking the applause of others.  Are there spiritual disciplines (bible study, prayer, fasting, etc.) that you have done just to gain the approval of others?  How does Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6 address your challenges?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Sermon on the Mount (part 7) Preview

Prayer is an important part of our spiritual lives.  Many people pray before meals, sport’s teams pray before their games, moments of silence start the day in many schools, and church services often have multiple prayers as part of their liturgy.  Truly, prayer is everywhere.

I know there are efforts on the part of some to keep prayer out of certain places (like schools), but it sure seems like those efforts are not very effective.  Just think of all the prayers that precede taking the SAT for high school students or the prayers prayed by the new parents dropping their kids off in Kindergarten for the first time or by the students headed to the principal’s office!  Despite their best efforts, prayer keeps finding its way BACK into school.

Prayer is all around us . . . it is one of the most recognizable aspects of the spiritual life.  But what is prayer?  What should we do as we pray?  What should we NOT do as we pray?  And what about fasting?  Should I fast?  These are just some of the questions we may have about the topic of prayer.

Jesus does not leave us empty handed on this topic.  He taught about prayer often.  In fact, a major section of the Sermon on the Mount focuses on prayer.  The next couple of Sundays at Wildwood we will be looking at what Jesus said about prayer and fasting in the Sermon on the Mount.  Join us as we investigate Matthew 6:5-8, 16-18 this Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services.  Hope to see you there!

Sermon on the Mount (part 6) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, June 11, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 6:1-4, 19-24.  This message was part 6 in the “Sermon on the Mount” series.  Below is the sermon audio from this message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Sermon on the Mount #6

To listen online, use the media player below:

Sermon on the Mount (part 6) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, June 11, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 6:1-4, 19-24.  This message was part 6 in the “Sermon on the Mount” series.  Below are a set of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 6:1-4, 19-24
  3. What are some examples of behavior you have done (or seen done) designed to make someone LOOK religious, even to the point of deception?
  4. In Matthew 5:16 we are called to “SHINE” while in 6:1-4 we are called to NOT let people see our good deeds.  How do you reconcile these two ideas?
  5. Have you ever given a gift that led you to feel somewhat “self-righteous” as you reflected on that gift over time?  What do you think Jesus meant when He said we are not to even let our “left hand know what our right hand is doing”?
  6. What is the “magnet” of your life — things in this world or things in heaven?  What does it look like for you to have your treasure in heaven (and not on earth)?
  7. Who is the master of your life?  What would it look like for you to follow Jesus, and not just the “gain” of this world?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Sermon on the Mount (part 6) Preview

Piety effects your wallet . . . but it is not for sale.  This seems to have been at least part of Jesus’  teaching about giving inside of the Sermon on the Mount.  In this epic sermon, Jesus polishes the tarnish off God’s Law so that we might see the righteousness of God in all its radiant brilliance.  In chapter 5 we saw Jesus clarify God’s righteous standards regarding our anger, thought life, marriages, lying, attitude toward serving, and how we treat our enemies.  In each of these categories, religious leaders had misinterpreted God’s Word and thus developed a standard below God’s best.  In the sermon on the mount, Jesus re-established God’s standard and called people to holy living.

In Matthew 6 (the next section of the sermon on the mount), Jesus talks about a few areas of the a person’s life where their religion shows up:  financial giving, prayer, and fasting.  In Matthew 6:1-4, 19-24, Jesus talks about how our piety will impact what we value and where we spend our money.  However, this clarion call from the Savior also comes with a warning about HOW we should give.  We should not give to “buy” approval from our friends or other people.  This is how the world operates . . . financial investments lead to influence.  However, it is not so in the Kingdom of God.  Since God owns it all anyway, we do not buy influence with our gifts . . . but that does not mean that our gifts are not important! 

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will look at this concept by studying Matthew 6 together.  Join us in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service as we worship Jesus together!

Sermon on the Mount (part 5) Audio

On Sunday, May 28, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 5:17-48.  This message was part 5 of the “Sermon on the Mount” series.  The audio from this message is posted below to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Sermon on the Mount #5

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Sermon on the Mount (Part 5) Questions

On Sunday, May 28, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 5:17-48.  This message was part 5 of the “Sermon on the Mount” series.  Below are a set of questions for personal reflection or group discussion related to the message.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 5:17-48
  3. How has the pain of divorce impacted your life?  How does Jesus’ teaching on divorce encourage/discourage you?
  4. Where are you currently being tempted to exact personal revenge for a past hurt?  How does Jesus’ teaching in 5:38-42 challenge you?
  5. Who is someone who feels “unloveable” to you?  How can you begin to love them through prayer this week?
  6. React to John Stott’s comments on this section of the Sermon on the Mount – “Only a belief in the necessity and the possibility of a new birth can keep us from reading the Sermon on the Mount with either foolish optimism or hopeless despair.”
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Sermon on the Mount (part 5) Preview

Imagine you are in High School or college (I know . . . how dare I ask such a question on the first day of summer break!).  Now imagine you have a big test coming up on Tuesday.  How much do you need to study for that test?  The answer (of course) is tied to the nature of the class,  your aptitude for the subject, and the temperament of the teacher. The more complex the subject, the more you would need to study (calculus vs. PE).  The more challenging the subject is for you, the harder you would need to work (“science people” understand science more easily than poets).  The more a teacher was known for their high standards and difficult tests, the harder we would need to work.

I share this thought with you today in preparation for our final look at Matthew 5:17-48 on Sunday at Wildwood Community Church.  In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is defining for us the “righteous” standard of God.  A standard by which we will be judged.  Jesus lets us know that the nature of this “test” is complex – a high standard that we should not relax (Matthew 5:19).  He lets us know that the standard is challenging for all people – calling us to a standard of righteousness that exceeds the most religious people known (Matthew 5:20).  Further, the “teacher” who sits sovereign over this test is God Himself who is HOLY, and uses His holiness as the standard by which He judges the test (Matthew 5:48).  WOW!  With this test on the horizon, how can we stand?

To this end, John Stott offers a good perspective that offers us hope –

“Only a belief in the necessity and the possibility of a new birth can keep us from reading the Sermon on the Mount with either foolish optimism or hopeless despair.” 

As followers of Christ we have a hope to see His righteousness flow through us from the inside out, impacting our marriages (5:31-32) and our relationships with those who seek to do evil against us (5:38-47).  This Sunday we will look at these verses together in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services.  Hope to see you there!