5 Follows (part 3) Sermon Audio, Video & Questions

On Sunday, August 16, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 4-5.  This message was part 3 in the “5 Follows” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the sermon for further reflection or group discussion.  Also, below you will find the sermon audio and video to listen to, watch, download, or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 4-5
  3. When you think of “worship,” what do you think of?  Is it something you think is important for you?  Why or why not?
  4. In the world in which we live, there are many things that tempt us to think that God is not in control.  How does the vision of heaven from Revelation 4-5 encourage you?
  5. The posture of those worshipping in heaven is “falling down.”  In what ways do you mimic this sentiment as you worship today?  (HINT:  it does not HAVE to be simply falling on your knees)
  6. The focus of worship is God (Father, Spirit … and an emphasis on the SON!)  Is the focus of your worship Jesus or something else?
  7. 4 Specifics were mentioned regarding ways to worship:  giving, praying, singing, and obeying.  Which of these actions of worship are most missing in your life today?  What is one thing you can do this week to change that?
  8. Have you trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins?  If not, why not?  What is keeping you from doing so?
  9. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to the sermon offline, click the link:

5 Follows #3 8.16.20

 

To listen to the sermon online, use the media player:

 

To watch the video of the stream, use YouTube online:

 

5 Follows (part 3) Preview

Isn’t it amazing how we treat famous people in our country?  Because someone is on television, in our newspapers, or talked about on our radios, we feel like we know him/her . . . and we feel like we can criticize.  People who cannot decide what to have for dinner blast politicians for “flip flopping” their positions over a period of several years.  People who played right field on their little league baseball teams yell obscenities at major leaguers for not turning a tough double play.  People who only broke even on their charity bake sale want to give fiscal advice to the CEO of a major corporation.  In a sense, I think the distance between “us” and “them” allows us to depersonalize the situation and shift our perspective of our “American Idols” to the point that we take on the persona of Simon Cowell.

I have participated in this kind of action in my life as well.  I have been a major OU Football fan for many years.  As such, on many Monday mornings I have gathered with friends and shared my advice on what OU could have done better the previous weekend.  Even though I have not played a competitive football game since 1989 and even though I have never coached anything in my life, somehow there are times I think I know better than Hall of Fame Coaches.  Of course this perspective is preposterous, but the distance that normally exists between me and the team allows me to relate to the coaches in this critical fashion.

However, that dynamic changed several yeas ago when I was asked to present a devotional to the OU football team at a chapel service before one of their games.  Most all of the team and their coaches would be there . . . including (the amazing) Coach Bob Stoops.  I arrived about 20 minutes early and was waiting in the conference room for the team to arrive when Coach Stoops came into the room.  He looked just like I had seen on television, only more impressive.  He graciously strode over and shook my hand, introducing himself to me.  We had a moment of small talk before the chapel service began.  All that day, I had the privilege of standing on the sidelines and hearing the coaching staff interact with their team.  At the end of the day, the distance that had once existed between “me” and “them” was removed, and I no longer felt the desire to criticize . . . just to appreciate all they are.

Now, I want to transition from that story to an amazing set of chapters in the Bible – Revelation 4-5.  In these great chapters, the Apostle John is invited by Jesus to journey up to heaven with Him and record for us what he saw.  John’s journey to heaven reveals a throne encircled by a rainbow, a sea of glass, 24 elders dressed in white laying their crowns at the feet of the King, and majestic angelic creatures shouting out in loud voices praise to their God.  This vision of heaven was awe-inspiring to John and should be to us also as we read it today.

It is important to remember, however, that before John was invited to tour heaven, he was working in a hard prison camp on the island of Patmos.  That island had to feel a great distance away from heaven for John.  From that distant place, John might have been tempted to question God.  He might have wondered why God had allowed Him to be placed in prison.  He might have wondered why Jesus had waited so long to return.  It is possible that his perspective on God had shifted from “the God of wonders” to “God: I wonder where He is at?”

In light of that, and in light of my experience with Coach Stoops, I wonder if part of the reason for Jesus inviting John into heaven and showing him the awesomeness of it all was to remind him (and us) of the greatness of our God and how He is worthy of our praise.  At the end of this trip to heaven, the distance between “us” and “Him” is removed and we can just appreciate Him for who He really is.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our Sunday morning services, we will be in part 3 of our “5 Follows” series, looking at what it means to Follow Jesus into Worship.  Our text for the day will be Revelation 4-5.  Hope you will make plans to join us as we journey into the throne room of heaven (in this Scripture passage) to remind us of WHO we worship, and why.  Make plans to join us in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 worship service (indoors with full children’s ministry and adult classes running all 3 hours, and student ministry meeting at 9:00 and 10:15) … at the 8AM outdoor chapel service … or on the livestream at 10:15 (or anytime thereafter) – wildwoodchurch.org/live .  Hope to see you Sunday!

Passion Road #6 Sermon Audio/Video

Passion 6 insta.001

 

This past Sunday, March 22, 2015, I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church based out of Revelation 1:9-20.  This message was part 6 in the series “Passion Road.”  In case you missed the message, or you want to listen to it again, I have included the audio and video below here on my blog:

 

If you want to listen to the message to the message online, use the online media player below:

 

If you want to download the message to listen to later, click on the following link to download:

Passion Road #6

 

If you want to watch the sermon video, watch the Vimeo video below:

 

M+ (part 2) Sermon Audio & Questions

M+ week 1.001

As many of you are aware, I concluded a short two part sermon series this past week at Wildwood entitled, “M+”.  In this series, we were looking more in depth at the events that will occur in the first 1,000 years after the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, as described in Revelation 20-21.  I have had a lot of dialogue with many of you about this short series, so I have decided to post the audio from the sermons here on my blog, as well as write a few questions for further reflection in case you or your small group are interested in exploring the idea further.  May God bless your study of His Word!

Here is the link to the audio from the sermon:  M+ Part 2

or, you can listen to the audio online via the player below:

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Revelation 20:4-21:4
  2. Our lives are very short compared to eternity.  In other words, we will spend much more “time” on the other side of the grave than in this life.  As a result, I make the comment that we should spend some time planning for our life after death.  Do you spend much time thinking about life after death?  If you do, what are your thoughts?  Scared?  Uncertain?  Excited?  Indifferent?
  3. In 20:11-15, the Great White Throne Judgment is described.  All humanity stands before the throne and are judged on the basis of “what they have done.”  Many times people push back toward the concept of God’s judgment because they think it is unfair.  Do you feel it is fair or unfair for God to judge humanity on the basis of our works?  Why or why not?
  4. Though judgment comes on the basis of works, salvation comes only through one’s name being written in the book of life.  I mention in the message that my understanding of the book of life is that it contains the names of those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  Only those with their names written in this book are saved . . . the rest are cast into the lake of fire.  If judgment is on the basis of works (what we have done), then we need better works.  Being identified with Jesus allows His righteous works to be credited to our account, while our sin is fully paid for in His death on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Whose works are you counting on for your salvation?  Your works or His work?  How does this picture of judgment in the end times help you understand more about the salvation offered in Christ?
  5. Revelation 20:4-6 describes the saints reigning with Jesus for 1,000 years in His Kingdom.  Have you ever stopped to think that if we trust Christ now, we get to reign with Jesus in His Kingdom?  This would involve real work on the earth in our “life after death.”  How does understanding that we will get to reign with Christ effect your view of life after death?
  6. Revelation 21:1-4 describes the New Heaven and the New Earth as a return to a “Garden of Eden” like experience . . . living in relationship with God, without sin, or pain, or loss.  This is more of our traditional understanding of heaven.  What about our current world makes you most long for this New Heaven and New Earth that Jesus promises?
  7. What do you most take away from this message, passage for your life today?  In other words, how will you apply the truth talked about in part 2 of this series?

M+ (part 2) Sermon Preview

M+ week 1.001

“Are we there yet?”

“No.  Not yet.”

“How much longer?”

“A while.”

“Ah, man!”

So go many conversations from front seat to back in the Robinson family Truckster on any trip longer than 10 minutes.  I am really getting tired of Kimberly asking that question!

JUST KIDDING!  Of course, these are conversations between parent and child.  The child wants to get to the destination and has little patience for the journey.  The parent, meanwhile, understands that to get from here to there requires planning, provision, and execution.  We don’t live in a Star Trek “beam me up” world, so transit time is our reality.

In the book of Revelation, there is an ongoing conversation between the human population of heaven and our heavenly Father:

“Is the pain, injustice, and suffering of this world over yet?” humanity cries out.

“No.  Not yet,” our Father responds.

“How much longer?” humanity queries.  (Revelation 6:10)

“A while,” our Father responds . . . “I do not wish that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)

“Ah man!  Life is hard here.  Come Lord Jesus!” we reply.

“I will certainly send My Son back to the earth,” Father replies.  “But when I do a swift and permanent judgment will come upon humanity.  The reward for those in Christ is great, but the penalty for those who reject Him is extremely severe.  I have people called from every tribe, every nation, every era (including future ones) . . . so we will wait, until it is time.”

What will that time look like?  How do we make sure we are safe on judgment day?  These questions and others will be examined this Sunday as we conclude our 2 part series “M+” by looking at Revelation 20:1-21:4.  Please join us at Wildwood as we contemplate the future of humanity.  Join us in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship services.

M+ (Part 1) Audio & Questions

M+ week 1.001

As many of you are aware, I started a short two part sermon series this past week at Wildwood entitled, “M+”.  In this series, we are looking more in depth at the events that will occur in the first 1,000 years after the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, as described in Revelation 20-21.  I have had a lot of dialogue with many of you about this short series, so I have decided to post the audio from the sermons here on my blog, as well as write a few questions for further reflection in case you or your small group are interested in exploring the idea further.  May God bless your study of His Word!

Here is the link to the audio from the sermon:  M+ part 1

or, you can listen to the audio online via the player below:

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Revelation 20:1-10
  2. When it comes to the problem of evil, what questions do you struggle with?  (For instance: why does God allow it?  Why is there so much pain and suffering, etc.)
  3. In these verses, Satan is described as a deceiver.  In what ways have you seen Satan be a deceiver?  Your answers can include biblical AND examples from your own experience.
  4. When Jesus returns, He quickly imprisons Satan and establishes a kingdom on the earth for 1,000 years.  Do you think this is speaking of a literal 1,000 year Kingdom?  Why or why not?
  5. After the 1,000 years, Jesus lets Satan out and he promptly returns to the business of deception . . . and he is successful!  What does this tell you about Satan?  About humanity?
  6. In 20:7-10, Jesus swiftly judges Satan permanently casting him into the lake of fire.  This shows the elimination of evil (and will be followed by the “recreation of the world” into an idyllic state in chapter 21).  Evil exists and negatively impacts us only for a season (even if that season is thousands of years).  Compared to eternity (time without end) evil’s day is very short.  How does this reality help you answer the questions you have about evil?
  7. Why do you think God allows Satan and evil to have so much swing in the world today?

M+ (sermon preview – part 1)

M+ week 1.001

There are many problems in the world today.  Diseases without cures, hungry children without food, villages without clean drinking water, humans being trafficked, marriages ending in divorce, wars between nations, broken systems attempting to administrate help, and many others.  These problems are not new . . . they are old.  After all the first family (Adam and Eve) saw one son murder another . . . and things have gone downhill from there.  There are many problems in this world.

Alongside all these problems, though, there is also great promise.  Immediately after mankind sinned, God promised to crush the “head of the snake” who tempted mankind (Genesis 3:15).  God initiated a plan to rescue mankind and restore peace and prosperity to the earth.  Promises of a kingdom that knew no end were made, atonement for sins was accomplished, and all eyes looked forward to the day when the lion would lay down with the lamb.  After His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven while His disciples looked on.  No doubt some of them had to think that their hopes of Jesus fulfilling all God’s promises was leaving as well . . . but angels told them otherwise in Acts 1:9-11:

And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.  And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”

In other words — He’s coming back.

The full realization of the promises of God will come in the future, in events that will commence when Jesus returns to this earth.  In fact, after His return, Revelation 20-21 tell us that He will reign on the earth for 1,000 years BEFORE ushering in a new heaven and a new earth.  Where will you be during these 1,000 years and beyond?  What significance does all this have for us today?  We will be examining these questions in a short two week sermon series out of Revelation 20-21 beginning this Sunday at Wildwood.  The series is entitled “M+.”  Hope to see you there in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship services.

Last Words

Hawkeye, Cora, Alice, Uncas, Heyward, and Chingachgook huddled inside a cave behind a waterfall trying to decide what to do next.  They were wet, tired, and scared . . . for good reason.  Quickly closing on them from behind was a band of Huron warriors led by the vengeful Magua who was dead set of killing them all.  Thus, the scene is set for this memorable moment from the 1992 film version of James Fennimore Cooper’s novel, “The Last of the Mohicans.”

With Magua breathing down their neck, greatly outnumbered and with wet gunpowder, Hawkeye decides to take a chance.  Knowing that if Magua caught him with this crowd, that a deadly battle would certainly ensue.  Figuring that Magua would take the other captives back to his village before taking further action, Hawkeye decides to take a flying leap through the waterfall and run to safety.  Before he jumps, however, he gives his beloved Cora a promise.  “Stay alive,” he says.  “I will find you!”  And eventually he does . . . rescuing her from the clutches of the enemy.

I was thinking about Hawkeye’s famous “last words” today as I was reading Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Christian New Testament.  The Old and the New Testaments were written over a period of 1,000 to 1,300 years, from the first strokes of the book of Genesis to the last period in the Revelation.    At the conclusion of the Christian Bible, Jesus gives us some significant “last words.”

Three times in the last 14 verses of the Bible Jesus says, “I am coming soon!”  (See Revelation 22:7, 12, and 20)  These “last words” give us a clue as to the kind of encouragement Jesus felt His followers would need in the (now) 2,000 years since His departure physically from this planet.  As I wonder what all Jesus hoped we would understand from these last words, it helps me to consider Hawkeye and Cora in the cave behind the waterfall.

With Magua close behind, Cora had to be scared.  Magua was the man who had killed her father and betrayed her family.  Hawkeye seemed to be the only one who could stand up to Magua’s brutality, and now he was leaving! However, in order for Hawkeye to have ultimate triumph, it was important for him to leave her for a while before returning in victory.  Before he left her, however, he wanted to make sure she knew that he would not forget her and that he would come back and rescue her . . . therefore, she needed to persevere.

In this world, since the ascension of Christ back to heaven, Jesus’s followers have huddled in caves and congregations feeling pressed upon by evil forces which are fast approaching.  Another friend dies.  Another relationship suffers.  Another sin struggle lingers on.  Like Cora behind the waterfall, we find our comfort in the presence of One who has left the view of our physical sight.  Before Jesus concludes the canon of Scripture, He wants to make sure that we know that He will not forget us and that He will come back and rescue us . . . therefore we need to persevere.

Men and Women of God, take courage!  Though He has jumped through to eternity in His ascension, He has promised us that He will return and find us.  He will take care of all the savage brutality of this life and usher us into the beauty of His Kingdom.  In order for the full plan of God to unfold He chose to leave physically for a time before returning in ultimate triumph.  Because of this, may we be comforted and say with the writer of the book of Revelation “Amen.  Come Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).”

Sweet Baby James

In fall 1994, I had the chance to go see something really cool . . . and I turned it down.

My roommate at the time had graciously invited me to accompany him to see James Taylor in concert at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.   Looking back on this opportunity now, I see that this was an awesome invitation, however, at the time, I somewhat blew it off.  “James who?”  I replied.  Somehow, I had spent 20 years on this planet without ever really listening to James Taylor’s music.

My roommate went on to explain to me with increasing volume what a fool I was for not knowing the music of this American legend.  Sure I had heard “Shower the People” before, but I did not know who sang it.  I grew up on a steady diet of 80’s hair bands like Cinderella and Def Leppard.  James Taylor had two things these bands never had:  a bald head and musical talent.  Therefore, JT’s greatest hits album never graced my tape player.

As a nearly 35 year old man, I still mentally kick myself for missing out on that opportunity to see a musical legend in concert.  My iPod frequently kicks with James Taylor songs, and seeing Sweet Baby James in concert is on my “bucket list.”  After turning down my roommate’s 1994 invitation, I began listening to Taylor’s music, to see what I was missing, and my musical taste has never been the same since.

I believe that many times in life we miss things because of our ignorance.  If we only knew all the information, I believe that many people’s lives would be greatly different.  In Revelation 20-22, in the final 3 chapters of the Bible, the end of the world is described, as well as the creation of the “new heaven” and “new earth.”

This new heaven and earth is better in every way than the world in which we currently live.  It is better physically, as the streets are paved with gold and the gardens are better than Eden.  It is better spiritually, as God Himself is with His people in a physical and tangible way.  It is better emotionally, as every tear is wiped away from our eyes.  The future that God has for His people is unrivaled and awesome.  At the same time, Revelation 20-22 indicates that just as the future is awesomely great for believers in Jesus Christ, it is catastrophically terrible for all who do not know Christ as Savior and Lord.  To the believer in Christ, paradise awaits, but for the unbeliever, hell is place of eternal torment.

This information about the future, should fill our understanding today.  It is possible that people can live out their lives right now, having received an invitation by Christ to an eternity in His presence, however, people still turn down the offer because (I believe), they do not know what they are giving up.  Satan and sin have blinded their eyes (just as it once did ours) and obscured the future promises of God to mankind.

Knowing what I know now about James Taylor, I cannot believe I turned down the chance to see him in concert.  Knowing what I know about Jesus Christ and the future He has planned for us, I cannot believe anyone would turn down His ticket to eternity.

If you do not personally know Christ as Savior, please take a moment to read Revelation 20-22 and see what you will be missing if you enter eternity without Christ.  I cannot go back in time and see JT in person at Lloyd Noble . . . that date is now past.  However, if you are reading this, then it is not too late to educate yourself on the future and accept His ticket of salvation by faith before your date to enter eternity comes.

If you do know Christ as Savior, take a moment to read Revelation 20-22 and see what we have to look forward to in our future.  Praise God for our future and remember His greatness so we never turn down His riches because of our ignorance of His good plans for tomorrow even if today seems difficult.

Marathon Man

At mile 14 I got tired.  At mile 16, my foot got a cramp that I could not shake.  At that point I was quite certain that I was not in the “Happiest Place on Earth,” I don’t care what the brochures and signs say!

You see, in January 2008, I “ran” the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida with a friend.  I say “ran” because the last ten miles of this race for me hardly looked like running.  (Hobbling maybe, but running – no way.)  The cramp in my foot forbid me from taking a full stride, and all I could do was limp toward the finish line.

It was at that point that I began to doubt the wisdom of my decision to run this race.  At my now walking pace, I had plenty of time to think.  At nearly 3 hours out in the Central Florida sun, I also had plenty of time to begin to hallucinate, and so a conversation broke out between two imaginary figures, one on my right shoulder, the other on my left.  On my right shoulder sat Steve Prefontaine, noted Oregon runner and fitness icon.  On my left sat someone who looked like me, in my recliner watching Sportscenter and eating peanuts.  “You can do it Mark,”  Little Steve would shout out.  “I want to take a nap,” I would scowl back.  “Oprah ran a marathon,” Pre would remind me.  “Shut up,” was my quick retort.  I guess deep down I knew Little Steve was right, Oprah had run a marathon before, so I thought I should continue on.  So, I hopped along toward the finish line like James Caan looking for the front door in “Misery.”

At the 26 mile mark, however, something remarkable happened.  A marathon is 26.2 miles, so at that point, I only had less than a half mile to go.  I looked up and saw the giant Epcot Center “ball” towering above me, and I knew the finish line was just on the other side, so I started to run.  After an additional 3 hours of limping along, my legs hardly worked and I tried to pick up the pace, but with some effort, I was slowly gaining ground and at least looked like I was running.  With about a tenth of a mile left in the race, I turned a corner and saw a 100 person Gospel Choir serenading me!  Now, the conversation between Little Steve and me in the easy chair . . . that was a fabrication . . . but this 100 person choir, they were the real deal.  They were singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” as they swayed back and forth to the music in their white robes.  Suddenly, I was a new man.  I began singing with them as I literally jumped up in the air and high fived the choir director on my way by.  As I turned the final corner, I saw the grandstands filled with about 2,000 spectators cheering me on.  At that point, I galloped into a full blown sprint I encouraged the crowd to “raise the roof” a la Kevin Garnett in the NBA finals.  Just steps before the finish line I gave the oversized Chip and Dale chipmunk characters a full body hug before slapping Pluto’s hand and crossing the finish line.  Tears filled my eyes as I remembered all the training that went into that day and the relief that all that pain was now over.  In the end, I was so glad to have persevered to the finish.

I tell you this story today, because in life, many get to about mile 16 and begin to “cramp up” under the stress and strain of this life.  Years of illnesses, death of loved ones, fractured relationships, financial struggles, world wars, sin struggles, addiction, and other problems have left us weary and wanting to give up.  Sometimes we may even have simple conversations in our heads about the value of continuing in the Christian life.  “Keep the faith,” the angel on our right shoulder declares.  “Give up and just entertain yourself,” the red suited man on your left scowls back.  Even if we do continue to walk with God in this life, sometimes we feel like we are limping towards the end.

If that is you, or if that is someone you know, then remember something:  the finish line of this age is even more grand than the grandstands at Disneyworld.  Revelation 19:11-21 describes for us the climactic and triumphant return of Christ at the end of the race of life.  When Jesus returns, He will return with the armies of heaven riding white horses and wearing white robes . . . and it is a large army!  If I thought the “Hallelujah Chorus” was impressive at the Epcot ball, how much more so will it be to see the multitude of heaven returning to earth.  Far better than seeing Pluto and the chipmunks at the end, at the finish line of this age, we will see Christ Himself.

As I read Revelation 19, I am struck by the fact that when Christ returns and helps us cross the finish line into His Kingdom, we will be ecstatic.  I am sure that tears of joy will fill our eyes as we reflect on the fact that we have walked with Him through many years of “training” and rejoice in the fact that the pain of this life is now over.

If you are limping along in life right now, read Revelation 19:11-21 and remember the finish line that lies ahead.  Knowing it is there should give us the courage to pick up our pace and carry on.  In the end, we will be so happy that we have persevered.