Authentic (part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 1, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 23:1-12.  This message was part 3 in the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from the message to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Authentic #3 9.1.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

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

 

Authentic (part 3) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 1, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 23:1-12.  This message was part 3 in the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 23:1-12
  3. What are some of the ways you see people “acting” religious?
  4. From what you know, how does Jesus HELP US in attaining righteousness, instead of simply TELLING US to “be good”?
  5. What are some of the things you are tempted to do/say/post so that others will know you are “spiritual”?  How can you ensure that your relationship with God is more than just “social media” deep?
  6. Have you ever struggled with finding your authority primarily in human authors/pastors/theologians MORE THAN in Jesus and the Scriptures?  What do these verses say about that?
  7. How do you balance giving proper respect to earthly authorities, with having God as your chief authority?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Authentic (week 3) Sermon Preview

Every February people all over the United States gather to watch the Academy Awards . . . a night celebrating the year in film, and a night to honor the most outstanding achievements of the past year.

Two of the most coveted Oscars handed out on that night are the prizes for best actor and best actress.  Over the past 5 years, these awards have gone to:

  • 2018 – Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  • 2017 – Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Frances McDormand (3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • 2016 –   Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Emma Stone (La La Land)
  • 2015 – Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Brie Larson (Room)
  • 2014 – Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

These roles represent a lot of variety in genre and personality . . . but each of these roles share something in common.  All 10 of these Oscars were awarded to people who were not playing themselves.  Gary Oldman won the award for playing Winston Churchill not himself.  Emma Stone won for playing Mia Dolan, not Emma Stone.  Now, you may be saying, “Of course!!!!  It is an award for ACTING, not BEING!”  In fact the bigger the gap between the actor’s native persona and the character they play, the greater the acting job (see Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking as exhibit “A”.)

Now I say that, because in this Sunday’s Scripture passage (Matthew 23:1-12), Jesus confronts the Pharisees and Scribes of His day and says they are merely ACTING like God’s children.  Jesus sees a big gap between what these religious leaders were saying and doing, and who they really were on the inside.  Far from giving them an award, Jesus was calling these hypocrites out for judgment.  They may have received the support of the academy of their peers, but God saw past the show . . . and was not impressed.

Can you and I relate to this story?  Do we talk a better “game” than we live?  Do we put on a show at Bible study and church that is better than we really are?  And if so . . . so what?  And if we want to change . . . how do we change?  And what HOPE does Jesus provide in the midst of this all (HINT:  A LOT OF HOPE!!!)

These are just some of the things we will be looking at as we tackle part 3 of our “Authentic” sermon series this Sunday at Wildwood.  Hope to see you in our 9:45 or 11:00 service.  Join us for worship, the Lord’s Supper, community, and a deep dive into God’s Word.  See you Sunday!

Authentic (Part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 25, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32.  This message was part 2 of the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below is the audio from the sermon to listen to online, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Authentic #2 8.25.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

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

 

Authentic (part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, August 25, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32.  This message was part 2 in the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below, you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32
  3. What are some examples you can think of where an “imitation” has proven hurtful to you in your life?
  4. Think of your experience with religion (particularly Christian religion) in your past.  What are some of the activities you have seen Christians do that could have the possibility of being merely a “leaf” (having the appearance of godliness, but no real substance behind it)?  In your experience, how can you tell if someone’s relationship with God (including your own) is bearing the “fruit” of authenticity?
  5. On a scale of 1-10 (where “1” is non-existent and “10” is exemplary), how would you rate your prayer life right now?  What is the correlation you see between an authentic faith and going before the Lord in prayer?  What is one thing you can do to increase your dependence upon the Lord in prayer?
  6. In the parable Jesus tells of the two sons in 21:28-32, which of the two sons do you resonate with the most?  (NOTE:  We ALL can be the “obedient” son if we simply choose to respond in faith to Jesus today!)
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

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.