Lord of the Earth (part 2) Sermon Preview

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of leading tours of the nation of Israel.  It has been a true joy to help guide hundreds of people in an exploration of the land where much of the events in the Bible took place.  Exploring the oasis of Eingedi where David hid from King Saul, visiting Capernaum – the home base for much of Jesus’ earthly ministry, walking the shores of the Mediterranean where Paul was held captive in Caesarea, peering inside caves where animals were kept in Bethlehem – wondering if that was the spot where Jesus was born, seeing the massive stones that once composed the Temple Mount still cracking the pavement from when they were cast down by Titus in 70AD in the city of Jerusalem … it is an overwhelming journey (and these are just SOME of the amazing sites to behold).  

NOTE:  I am co-leading another trip with my good friend Mark Burget in June 2023 … if you are interested in joining us, please send me a message and I will get you the details!

When I first started going to Israel, I knew I would love visiting the biblical sites.  As a student of the Scriptures I expected that.  However, what I didn’t fully anticipate was my love of the people and modern history of this country.  The guide we partner with in Israel is a remarkable man of tremendous skill, and an Israeli citizen.  One of the highlights of each trip is getting to ask him so many questions about his country and the events unfolding around it.  

One question I asked our guide related to the tribes of Israel.  “What tribe are you from?,” I asked?  I thought this was a good question, as Israel was comprised originally of 12 “tribes” – the descendants of 12 sons of Jacob (whose name was changed by God to Israel).  His answer – “Judah, of course.”  I asked how he knew.  He said they are all “Jews” (a term derived from Judah, though Judah was just one of the 12 tribes.)  He reminded me that the northern 10 tribes lost their identity in the time of the Assyrian invasion 2,600+ years ago.  

This comment got me thinking.  What about the rest of the tribes?  Are they really gone?  Are there no more Levites today, etc.?  Is there anyone who can still distinguish their tribe?  Ancestry.com?  Anything?

Well, turns out, there is One who knows the tribal ancestry of the nation of Israel.  And that One is God Himself.  And, turns out, this tribal identity will matter again one day.  Which day?  The Day of the Lord.  In the time of the judgment upon the earth at the end times and carrying on into the Kingdom that Jesus will reign over after His return, there will be a renewed identity of each of the tribes of the nation of Israel.  

What is the purpose for this?  Where is the church in the midst of all of this?  Who will be the primary human witnesses on the earth for Jesus during the time of God’s seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments? And will ANYONE BELIEVE IN JESUS AND BE SAVED during the last days?  And why does any of this matter to us?

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be looking at Revelation 7:1-17 in part 2 of our series “Lord of the Earth” as we seek to answer these questions (and more).  Hope you make plans to be a part of our time of worship this weekend!  See you at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 … and bring friends!

Lord of the Earth (part 1) Supplemental Thoughts

This past Sunday, we launched our new series “The Lord of the Earth,” looking at Revelation 6-18 where we see Jesus as the Lord of the planet we currently call home.  This past Sunday, we did a survey of 5 chapters (Revelation 6, 8-9, 15-16), and saw Jesus revealed as the King and Judge of the earth and how He desires you and I to respond to Him before the judgment of God comes.  

There are a couple more points I want to reflect on mid-week in light of the verses we looked at last Sunday:

1.  Jesus as the King and Judge is (largely) a forgotten concept today.  We are far more likely to imagine Jesus as our Savior, friend, or brother than we are to imagine Him as our King or Judge.  We emphasize the grace and mercy of Jesus, not His justice and wrath.  We emphasize His accessibility, and minimize His holiness.  I don’t mean to imply that ALL do this, or even that you personally do this (you may not) but as a contemporary evangelical non-denominational church in the American Bible-belt, I think it is a very real tendency.  

Now here is an important point.  Jesus IS gracious merciful, accessible, our Savior, our Friend, and our Brother.  He is!  However, He is ALSO (simultaneously) just, deliverer of God’s Wrath, holy, and our Judge and King.  And (are you ready for this) … He is all of those things all the time.  They are not just different hats He wears.  He possesses all those attributes concurrently.  This is the mystery of the “God-Man.”  Jesus (fully God) took on flesh (fully human) and dwelt among us so that He might explain God to us (making the holy accessible). – for more on this, see John chapter 1.

So, when we think of Jesus, we should think of Him as ALL of these things.  We obey Him and follow Him as our King, while also knowing that He loves us.  We thank Him for the forgiveness He provides on the cross for all who believe in Him, while knowing that He will come again to judge the earth and all who do not embrace Him in faith.  

Quite simply, our vision of Jesus needs to expand.  He is greater than we have previously known.

2.  Historical Patterns in the judgments of God.  On Sunday, I put up the chart of the judgments of God that come in three movements (Seals, Trumpets, Bowls) and 21 waves (7 for each of the movements).  As you have looked over these 21 judgments this week, did they ring a bell to you?  Do they look familiar?  If you have recently read other books of the Bible they should.   Just a few examples …

There are a NUMBER of parallels with the judgments of Revelation 6-18 and the judgments that came to Egypt at the time of the Exodus (see attached chart).  

Another clear example of this is found in the judgment Jesus describes in Matthew 24 … it fits precisely in the context of Revelation 6-18 – particularly the Trumpet and Bowl judgments.

Incidentally, my wife has been studying the book of Ezekiel in her personal study the past few months, and she has commented repeatedly on the common language and themes between Ezekiel and Revelation.  The same could be said about many of the other prophets of the Old Testament when they write about the “Day of the Lord” events related to God’s judgment. 

So, what do we make of these parallels?  Well, I think it is just another evidence of the fact that though there are many human authors God used to bring us the Scripture (John, Matthew, Ezekiel, Moses, etc.) there is only ONE TRUE AUTHOR of Scripture … God Himself.  The Scripture truly is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Though these passages of Scripture were delivered over more than 1,500 years, they have a common voice because they came from a common Source – God Himself.  God is the only one who clearly sees the end, and He is talking consistently about where things are headed throughout His Word.  The wise person takes note!

Additionally, I think it is fascinating when looking at the comparison of the judgments upon Egypt at the time of the Exodus and the judgments upon the world at the end of the world, we are reminded of part of what God was doing through these judgments … He was calling His people Israel BACK front and center.  

When God judged Egypt in 10 judgments years ago, He did so with two audiences in mind:  (1) He was demonstrating His power and sovereignty to Egypt, giving them a chance to repent.  (2) He was demonstrating His power and sovereignty to Israel, inviting them to recognize Him as the ONE TRUE GOD, so they would trust Him and follow Him back to the land He had promised their ancestors.  

During the tribulation judgments of Revelation 6-18, the church is conspicuously missing on the earth (something we will talk more about in this Sunday’s message … an indication of a “pre-tribulational rapture”).  With the church gone, the Lord resumes relating specifically with ethnic Israel.  After all, God had made Israel a number of promises for land, throne, and blessing.  Would God make good on those promises?  The answer from Revelation is clearly YES, but first God has to call Israel BACK TOGETHER as a spiritual entity.  This is what is talked about in the early verses of Revelation 7 (which we will look at Sunday), BUT, as He calls them back, God “signs them a letter” using His personal signature moves demonstrated thousands of years ago in Egypt.  The events of the Exodus are the most precious in Israeli history … they are remembered consistently in the festivals that they celebrate as a people each year.  So, God goes back to the time commemorated from these festivals and begins to act upon the earth in similar ways (darkness, boils, bodies of water turn to blood, etc.) to get their attention.  It is like a the signature on the back of your credit card that verifies you are its rightful owner … when the new plagues come upon the earth, the nation of Israel should recognize the author.  Again, we will talk more about that this coming Sunday.  Isn’t it amazing though, to see God at work THROUGHOUT HISTORY to work His purposes?  We sometimes forget that, and think God only lives in Sunday school classrooms or worship services.  God is at work in history.  Jesus is the Lord of the Earth, not just the Lord of the Church or Lord of Heaven … but He is the Lord of the Earth – His story is our history.

I simply wanted to extrapolate a bit on a couple of points bridging last week’s sermon with this week’s message.  Hope you find it helpful!  

Lord of the Earth (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 15, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 6; 8-9; 15-16.  This message was part 1 of the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below are questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the sermon audio/video to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read these five chapters in Revelation:   6; 8-9; 15-16
  3. As you look around at life on the earth today, does it appear to you that Jesus is the “Lord of the Earth?”  Why or why not?
  4. When Jesus begins to demonstrate His authority over the earth in Revelation 6:1-ff He begins to bring forth judgment upon the earth.  Is the picture of Jesus as Judge a new idea for you?  How does this “revelation” jive with your current understanding of who Jesus is?  
  5. Though we often talk about Jesus’ death for our sins, we sometimes forget that His death REALLY took God’s wrath toward our sin upon the cross.  In a real way, the death Jesus died saves us from the judgment we see in this week’s verses.  How does this reminder encourage you about Christ’s work in your life?  Does it change you current attitude toward your sin?
  6. What is an action that has taken place in the world for which you long to see “judgment come”?  
  7. Jesus delays judgment now AND extends the season of judgment in the last days SO THAT people have a chance to repent (see 2 Peter 3:9).  Think back on your own life for a moment.  Remember when you first trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Express thanks to God that He did not initiate this judgment of the earth three weeks prior to you coming to faith!  And, if you have not yet trusted in Christ as your Savior, have you ever considered the fact that maybe Jesus is waiting to judge the earth just so that you might repent?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The Lord Of The Earth #1 5.15.22

 

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Lord of the Earth (Part 1) Preview

Throughout 2022, on Sundays at Wildwood, we have been walking through the book of Revelation.  So far, I have preached 12 messages from this book that have highlighted two important things revealed about Jesus Christ in Revelation 1-5 … namely, that Jesus is the Lord of the Church (Revelation 1-3), and that He is the Lord of Heaven (Revelation 4-5).  While these titles are not specifically found in the text, they are certainly based on strong textual evidence:

  • The first first 5 words of the book are, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1a).  This is a book about Jesus.
  • The first two chapters show Jesus, “in the midst of the lamp stands” (Revelation 1:13), which represent the “seven churches” (Revelation 1:20b).  Jesus is revealed as One who is deeply connected to the churches, and provides them direction in letters for all of us to hear and heed (Revelation 2-3).
  • In chapters 4-5, Jesus is at the center of what is going on in heaven, as Jesus is physically front and center (Revelation 5:6), and worshipped by the residents of Heaven as God Himself (Revelation 5:8-14).

Now, up to this point, we have seen Jesus as Lord over areas where we might expect Him to be Lord.  Lord of the Church?  Of course!  Lord of Heaven?  Why certainly!  But now, we are headed in a more surprising direction.  Jesus is also Lord of the Earth (Revelation 6-18).

Lord of the Earth?  Really?  This world seems to be run by sin, selfishness, or even Satan himself!  In what way is it appropriate or accurate for us to say that Jesus is the Lord of the Earth?

Well, we will begin to explore that this Sunday morning at Wildwood as we begin a 7 week series walking through verses you probably have never heard preached before.  In fact, I have been a Christ follower for 32 years, and I have never heard these verses preached before.  However, I feel led to preach them over the next couple of months.  Why?  Because we need to know what is still yet to come, so we can realize that Jesus really is the King who sits sovereign over the planet where we live.  That fact has massive implications for each of us, and I can’t wait to walk through these verses with you beginning this Sunday.

This Sunday, I will be preaching on the content of more verses than I will be able to read in the services, so it would benefit you to read ahead.  I will be preaching on the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments found in five chapters of Revelation – 6; 8-9; 15-16.  We will be looking at these verses to see what we learn about the One who sits as Lord over the Earth, and what that tells us about how we should respond to the Lord in faith and obedience.

See you Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00!

Lord of Heaven (part 3) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 8, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 5:8-14.  This message was part 3 of the “Lord of Heaven” series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for further reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 5:8-14
  3. When you imagine heaven, what MOST excites you about it or makes you want to visit?
  4. The posture of heaven is bowing low before Jesus.  Right now, would you consider your posture towards Jesus is more:  (1) You are above Him – you want to go your own way and express your own independence; (2) You are beside Jesus – He is a good example to you, and just one of several influences in your life; (3) You are below Jesus – bowing before Him in obedience and service?
  5. How does the presence of prayers in 5:8 encourage you to continue to pray today even when you feel like you are not getting an answer?
  6. Jesus has purchased us (redeemed us) with His blood shed on the cross SO THAT we might be His, and live following Him in holiness.  Is Jesus your King and Lord in your life?  In what areas are you most tempted to do your own thing, instead of following Him?
  7. The scope of the Great Commission is visible in heaven. What are ways you can participate in helping to fulfill the proclamation of the Gospel among all the peoples of the earth?
  8. Have you ever contemplated that the Father and Son are working together on their plans in the world.  In 5:13, they are both praised for their works together.  The loving Father sent His loving Son to redeem us and invite us to follow Him and be with Him forever.  How does remembering this encourage you about the security of our salvation?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

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

The Lord Of Heaven #3 5.8.22

 

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Lord of Heaven (part 3) Sermon Preview

Five big facts that we cannot forget:

1. Jesus is King.  That is who He is … King Jesus.  Technically, King of Kings Jesus.  

2. And King of Kings Jesus is fully God AND fully man – a paradox our logic can’t package and confine, but truth none-the-less.  The omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent One came to earth.

3. The King of Kings Jesus, the Son of God, came to the earth and died on the cross for the sins of humanity so that we might be redeemed from the bondage of our sins and the death they demand and reconciled to God.

4. King of Kings Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sins, is currently reigning from heaven right now over the hearts and lives of His followers.  Christians are not just people who are a part of a belief system or who attend a social club on the weekends.  They are a purchased people who are citizens of a DIFFERENT KINGDOM THAN ANY KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD.  Their ultimate allegiance is to God, not any other man.  This means that our salvation is a free gift, but our current life is intended to follow and obey the God who loves us and gave Himself for us.

5.  King of Kings Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sins, and is currently reigning from heaven over the hearts and lives of His followers, has commissioned us to proclaim His Gospel message among all the peoples of the earth.  This is why we are still here.  To demonstrate through our lives what our King’s love and life looks like, and to pronounce with our words the way that all can connect and follow Him as well.  And this message is to go out to every tribe, tongue, and nation.  That is not an optional activity … it is the true scope of the mission.

These 5 facts must never be forgotten.

And … to help us remember it, songs are being sung about them right now in heaven.  If you strain your ear you can hear it?  What, you can’t make out the tune or the lyric?  Then tune your heart to Revelation 5:8-14, and turn the dial of your schedule to Wildwood Community Church at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 this Sunday morning as we will be amplifying this heavenly song for all to hear.  You can’t miss this.  Join us Sunday, and bring friends for the third and final part of our “Lord of Heaven” series.  See you then … and bring friends.

Lord of Heaven (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 1, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 5:1-7.   This message was part two in the “Lord of Heaven” series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the sermon to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 5:1-7
  3. Imagine a universe where Jesus was not CURRENTLY ALIVE AND EXALTED?  What would we lose if Jesus were simply retired to heaven and not risen and reigning and preparing to return?
  4. John weeps in heaven because of the (apparent) lack of anyone who can open the scroll (see 5:4).  Based on what we discussed in today’s message, what does the scroll represent, and why do you think it was such a big deal to John?
  5. Have you ever felt like the “weight of the world was on your shoulders”?  When was that?  How did it make you feel?  In Revelation 5, we are reminded that ONLY JESUS is worthy and able to take the “weight of the world” … we were never designed to carry it!
  6. In Revelation 5:5, we see the Elder encourage John with a picture of Jesus.  What stood out to you MOST about the description of Jesus that follow?  Further, who can you encourage to look to Jesus based on this description so that they also may be encouraged?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to the message offline, click the link:

The Lord Of Heaven #2 5.1.22

 

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Lord of Heaven (part 2) Sermon Preview

I am both an OU fan and graduate. I also love sports, and follow the Sooners wherever I can. In this day and age of the “transfer portal,” coaches changing schools, and the very real threat of injuries, fans like me often play the “what if” game.
  • November of last year, it was “what if our coach leaves?”
  • December of last year, it was “what if our quarterback leaves?”
  • This spring it has been, “what if our new quarterback gets hurt?”
  • In basketball, the revolving door of transfers in and out over the past few years have us always asking the question, “what if these guys go pro or transfer?”
I could go on, but you catch my drift. We often worry about what happens if SOMEONE (insert the name of the star of the moment) is not around. This is part of the sport of being a sports fan.
 
Now, I want to make a hard turn, and ask a very important question: What if Jesus were gone? What if He transferred out of the land of the living at the moment of His earthly death on the cross? What if there were no resurrection, no ascension, no contemporary life of Christ, no exaltation, no glorification, no presence of Jesus in heaven above? Where would THAT leave us?
 
I’ll tell you where it would leave us – weeping bitterly and feeling without hope.
 
Why?
 
Well, we will look at that this Sunday morning at Wildwood in part 2 of our “Lord of Heaven” sermon series as we explore Revelation 5:1-7. At one point in the Apostle John’s tour of heaven, he breaks down and weeps bitterly … over and over again. Why was He weeping in heaven? Because He was imagining a reality without the resurrected and reigning Christ … his initial survey of paradise did not spot the All important One. But when he sees Jesus, O man … well, you just need to see it for yourself.
 
See you Sunday at Wildwood in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service … and bring friends.  

Lord of Heaven (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio, and Video

On Sunday, April 24, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 4:1-11.  This message was part 1 in the “Lord of Heaven” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for group discussion or personal reflection.  You will also find the sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 4:1-11
  3. Imagine you were to visit heaven today.  What would you MOST want to see there?  How do you imagine heaven?  What do you think you would see there?  What would you hear?
  4. In what ways do you feel like you are seeing “hell on earth” at times?  How does seeing this vision of heaven from Revelation 4 encourage you?
  5. “Throne” is a very prominent word in chapter 4 (and the entire book of Revelation).  It indicates the seat of power … the driver’s seat (if you will) for the world.  What are some of the things you experience in your life today that cause you to wonder “who is really in charge of this world?”
  6. Warren Wiersbe identifies worship as “using all that we are and have to praise God for all that He is and does.”  What are some ways you can worship God with your time, talent, treasure, emotions, words, lifestyle, etc.?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The Lord Of Heaven #1 4.24.22

 

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Lord of Heaven (part 1) Preview

Let’s suppose for a moment that somehow, someway, you were tasked with planning a single trip for EVERYONE you KNOW.  I don’t just mean your closest circle or family. I mean for EVERY.ONE.YOU.KNOW.  I know this is fantasy, but humor me for a minute.

Now, a couple of parameters:

  1. Money is no issue, so truly pick any place.
  2. The only catch is that your goal is to pick the place that everyone (or nearly everyone) would like.

Where would you go?

Some places you might be considering:

*  The mountains (but some people like the beach)

*  The beach (but some people like the mountains)

*  Europe (but some people don’t like to travel far)

*  Branson (but some people want to go farther than that)

*  New York (but so many people)

*  That island where Tom Hanks got stranded in “Castaway” (not enough people there)

Any other ideas?

The reality is that almost any place you pick … even some pretty amazing places … will not be the preference of a decent number of people.  So, is there any place where we really ALL want to go?

I actually think there is an answer to this riddle.  

Heaven.  We all want to go to heaven.

Now I know that for some of you, you are scoffing at the notion.  “I thought we were only talking about REAL places, Pastor?  Not made up places!”  But, if heaven were a real place, I think all would want to go there.  We would want to AT LEAST visit … but honestly, after visiting, we all would want to live there!  And here is the great news.  Not only is Heaven a real place, but we are going to visit there the next 3 Sundays at Wildwood.  Now, we are not going to actually physically GO to heaven, but we are going to take a tour of Heaven with the Apostle John as our guide.  

After spending the first 3 chapters of the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” reminding us all that Jesus is the “Lord of the Church,” John now reminds us that Jesus is also the “Lord of Heaven.”  In chapters 4-5, John records what he saw when Jesus invited him to tour Heaven and the Spirit prompted John to write down what he saw so we could see it through his eyes.

What do the physical surroundings of heaven look like?  Who is there?  What does it sound like?  What is the focus of heaven?  And what encouragment/direction does all this give to you and I who are living our lives on earth today?

John’s tour of heaven is far more than one of those HGTV shows where you see someone else’s fancy house you will never enter.  This tour is designed to show us life changing, perspective altering realities to shape the way we live and who we are living for.  Join us at Wildwood the next 3 Sundays (beginning this week April 24) at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 as we embark on our new sermon series “Lord of Heaven.”  See you Sunday!  … And bring friends. After all, heaven is a place we all want to go, and Jesus has paid the high cost for us to travel there.