Authentic (part 2) Sermon Preview

One of the realities of living in our world is dealing with imitations.  

Often, imitations are merely benign alternatives to an original recipe . . . things like:

  • The generic “Dr. Thunder” as a cheaper alternative to Dr. Pepper.
  • The Knights of the Roundtable clothing label as a less expensive Polo.
  • (or my personal favorite) “Stars and Bucks” Coffee shop that I saw in Bethlehem in the West Bank (since it seems Starbucks has not yet expanded to that region!)

These copies are harmless . . . or even beneficial, providing clothing and soft drinks at more affordable prices.  

However, not all imitations are as pain free:

  • I have a friend who received a counterfeit hundred dollar bill at his garage sale.
  • I know many who have been solicited over the phone or by email from someone pretending to be the Social Security Administration or a Utility Company, requesting personal information so they can “help” you.

In these instances, great harm comes from the imposter . . . who looks friendly, but actually is up to no good.

In the first century, Jesus (the authentic Son of God) came into the world to seek and to save the lost.  Upon His arrival, Jesus encounters a brand of imitation religiosity that filled the cup and clothed the bodies of many of His fellow countrymen.  Having a form of “godliness” these contemporaries to Jesus practiced a religion with great pomp and circumstance, but upon further examination, they were exposed as a self-righteous imitation of genuine faith.  To make matters worse, the nature of their counterfeit put themselves (and those under their care) at risk of great harm when judgment would come.  Because Jesus cared for these people, and because He wanted to give them a chance to repent, He spoke forcefully and directly about their condition and where it was headed.  

Though we live 2,000 years later, nothing has changed about the human condition.  People today are just as sinful as they were 2,000 years ago, AND religious people today are just as capable to dealing in imitations than professing an authentic faith.  

What makes the difference between imitation religion and authentic faith in God?  How can we pursue authenticity in our relationship with God . . . and what is at stake?

These are just a few of the questions we will be tackling in part 2 of our “Authentic” sermon series this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church.  We will be looking at Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32.  We look forward to seeing you Sunday in our 9:45 or 11:00 service. 

Authentic (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 18, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 21:12-17.  This message was part 1 of the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from the sermon to listen to online, download, and share.

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Authentic #1 8.18.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the worship service, visit our Facebook stream here.

 

Also, included in the worship service today, were video tributes to Bruce Hess (celebrating his 40 years in ministry).  Those tributes are found below:

Authentic – Part 1 Sermon Preview

Have you ever known someone who rejected Jesus Christ because of an experience they had with organized religion or with someone who was a Christian?  You know, walked away from church because of the treatment they experienced there?  Ever talked to someone who chose agnosticism or atheism or some other “ism” because of what they saw as legalism or hypocritical behavior on the part of a Christian they knew?  Do you know anyone that this describes?  Does it describe you?

Friends, as I read the New Testament, I am so encouraged (and challenged) by what I see.  Jesus Christ – the Son of Man, Son of God, Savior of the World – walked into a world full of religion and religious people.  He interacted with them, and they interacted with Him.  Their conversations are recorded for us on the pages of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.)  In the interactions that Jesus had with many of these religious folks, we find Him rebuking their behavior, not embracing it.  In one dramatic scene (that we will look at this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our morning sermon) He even turned over the tables of the religious elite and ran them out of the Temple because of what He saw.  Based on these accounts, do you know what I have concluded?

Jesus rejected the same version of religion that many people have walked away from today.

It is quite possible that the same things that have disgusted you about religion also have turned the stomach of the God those religions claim to worship!  Jesus came to “clean house” on religious corruption, while simultaneously “cleaning up” those who recognized their need for Him.

An authentic faith that pleases God is possible, by God’s grace, but demonstrating it requires that we avoid the imitations promoted by the religious leaders of the first century, and sadly by many today.  This Sunday (August 18) at Wildwood in our 9:45 and 11:00 services, we will be kicking off a new sermon series called “Authentic” by looking at Matthew 21:12-17 in pursuit together of a genuine and authentic faith.  Hope to see you Sunday as we begin a new school year/ministry year together!

Father Heart of God (part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, June 23, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 23:37-39.  This message was part 3 of the “Father Heart of God” series.  Below you will find audio from this message to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

The Father Heart of God #3 6.23.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the video from the service, see the Facebook Livestream recording by clicking here.

 

Father Heart of God (part 3) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, June 23, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message from Matthew 23:37-39.  This message was part 3 in the “Father Heart of God” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 23:37-39
  3. Have you ever attended an event that you were not invited to, or that the host of the event did not want you there?  How does that experience differ from an event you attended after a clear and heart-felt invitation?
  4. Knowing that Jesus spoke of a desire to gather together people who rejected Him and were headed for eternal judgment, how do you make sense of the comments of Paul and Peter in 1 Timothy 2:4-5 and 2 Peter 3:9 regarding God’s DESIRE for all people?
  5. What are some of the consequences you have seen regarding sinful living (living a life of rejecting Jesus AND/OR His truth)?
  6. Jesus provides THE WAY to salvation . . . by recognizing who He is and embracing Him by faith.  Are you resting under the protection of His wings today, or are you not willing to to come under His protection and leadership?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Father Heart of God (part 3) Preview

Your heavenly Father loves you.  Did you know this?  He loves you.  He loves you with a deep and enduring and committed love.  When we rebel against Him, it hurts . . . us, and Him.

This Sunday, we will reflect further upon the Father Heart of God by looking at the loving declaration of Jesus’ final words to the crowds in Jerusalem before His arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection from Matthew 23:37-39 in the third and final installment in our “Father Heart of God” sermon series at Wildwood.  Hope to see you in our 9:45 or 11:00 service.  As you prepare for Sunday, reflect upon these words from the song, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend (we will close the service singing this together):

 

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure.

That He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the chosen One, bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon the cross, my sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything, no gifts no power no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward, I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom

 

Father Heart of God (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, June 16, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:1-14.  This message was part 2 of the “Father Heart of God” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio related to this message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the audio:

The Father Heart of God #2 6.16.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the video of the service, view our Facebook stream by clicking here.

 

Father Heart of God (part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, June 16, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:1-14.  This message was part 2 of the “Father Heart of God” series.  Below are a set of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 22:1-14
  3. In this parable, we see the King’s invitations to all to celebrate the wedding feast of his son.  This is a picture of God the Father’s invitation to salvation to people.  What do you notice about these invites in the parable?  What does that tell you about the heart of your Heavenly Father?
  4. The rejection of the Jewish leaders of Jesus results in real consequences for the nation of Israel (and Jerusalem . . . it’s capital).  Jesus’ comments preview what will happen to Jerusalem when it is sacked by Rome in 70AD.  This historical fulfillment reminds us that God is serious about sin and will punish its presence.  Do really believe that God will judge sin one day . . . and that people will give an account for their lives?
  5. God has invited you and I to the “feast.”  Have you responded to this invitation and “come to the table” or have you rejected His invitation?  What are some reasons you have heard people give for NOT responding to the invitation to follow Jesus?
  6. Being “in the room” is not enough . . . we must also be clothed “in the regalia” of the King.  To say it another way, church attendance is not enough.  Approaching God on our own terms is not enough.  Our only hope is found by being “clothed” in the saving work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.  Are you wearing “His clothes” . . . or are you trusting mostly in your attendance or your own performance (as it relates to your salvation)?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Father Heart of God (part 2) Preview

When was the last time you had a party and sent out a variety of invitations?  It may have been for a birthday, wedding, baby shower, graduation, or other occasion where you wanted to invite your network to celebrate with you something significant.  

What if you sent out these invitations and no one came?  What if you addressed, stamped, mailed, and emailed dozens of invites without a single RSVP . . . what would you do?  

This very scenario is discussed by Jesus in a parable in Matthew 22:1-14.  In this true-to-life story, Jesus talks about a King who is having a weeklong celebration for his son who is getting married.  The King invites all the usual suspects inside his kingdom to come and party . . . but none of them come!  So wrapped up in their own agendas, all of those originally on the invite list are NO SHOWS to the wedding feast of the king’s son!  

In this parable that Jesus tells, what happens next reveals an incredibly important principle that ALL OF US need to remember today.  In this one parable Jesus:

  • prophesies about a cataclysmic event that was soon to come (something that happened just a few decades after this parable was told), 
  • promises the extended invitation to salvation for all, yet also 
  • predicts the actual salvation of only some.

What is this event Jesus is talking about?  Are we really invited to the party?  How do we clothe ourselves appropriately for this celebration?  And what does this reveal to us about the Father’s Heart for each of us?

Join us this Sunday, June 16 at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:45 or 11:00 service as we will be looking at Matthew 22 together in part 2 of our “Father Heart of God” series.  We will also be celebrating the Lord’s Supper together on this Father’s Day weekend.  Hope to see you Sunday . . . and bring friends!

Father Heart of God (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, June 9, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:33-46.  This message was part 1 of the “Father Heart of God” series.  Below you will find the audio from the message to listen to, download or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

The Father Heart of God #1 6.9.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch a video of the service, visit our Facebook stream by clicking here.