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.

Baptism Sunday – March 6, 2022

On Sunday, March 6, 2022, at Wildwood Community Church, we celebrated the baptisms of 17 individuals.  Before these baptisms in our 8:30 and 9:45 worship service, I shared a few thoughts about baptism in light of our recent study of Revelation 1-3.  Below you will find links to the videos of the services, audio from the message in the first two services, and slides from the message in the first two services.

 

To listen to the message offline, click the link:

Baptism Sunday 3.6.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the baptisms from the 8:30 Service, use YouTube:

 

To watch the 9:45 full service stream, use YouTube:

 

To watch the baptisms from the 11:00 service, use YouTube:

For a link to all the baptism testimonies from this morning, click here.

Lord of the Church (part 9) Sermon Questions, Audio, and Video

On Sunday, February 27, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 3:14-22.  This message was part 9 in the “Lord of the Church” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 3:14-22
  3. Have you ever considered that how you live your life and the decisions you make actually MATTER to Jesus Christ?  In this week’s verses He says some behavior makes Him “sick” while other behavior is motivated by His love … and He is pursuing us.  How we live really maters to Him!
  4. In this message we talk about a lukewarm faith that is “useless.”  This kind of faith may trust Jesus for our eternity, but it does not trust Him for our day to day lives.  Has there ever been a time in your life where you have had a “lukewarm” or “useless” faith?
  5. Even though the Laodiceans were rich in this world, they were spiritually poor … but their worldly wealth prevented them from recognizing their need for Jesus.  In what ways do you see any parallels with the American church today?
  6. How does your sense of “need” show up in your prayer life, Bible study, church attendance, etc.?
  7. Jesus tells the Laodiceans to “repent” and “be useful” for Him by turning to Him for true riches, righteousness, and spiritual insight.  Which of these things (mentioned in 3:18) most stands out to you today?
  8. Jesus knocks on the doors of our churches and our lives and asks to come in and fellowship with us.  Have you ever opened the door of your life to Him?  Are you currently welcoming Him into every area of your life today?  
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

Access these questions in pdf format by clicking here.

 

To listen offline, use the link below:

The Lord of the Church #9 2.20.22

 

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Lord of the Church (part 9) Sermon Preview

What disgusts you?

I know … weird question, right?  But what really upsets you?  What causes you to react with a strong sense of rejection?  And I am not just talking about foods you don’t like … I mean at a deeper level, what really bothers you?

As someone who has followed and played sports all my life, I have often heard coaches or commentators mention that it drives them crazy when they see a highly skilled and gifted athlete waste their talent with lack of effort or poor life choices.

You might also know of technology experts who roll their eyes and shake their heads when they see people using machines capable of launching the space shuttle to only play minesweeper or solitaire.

Educators might bemoan the national merit scholar who is only a “C” student because they have not fully applied themselves to their academic studies.

Employers complain about employees failing to give their all … or parents shaking their heads over their children who insist on only doing the minimum, instead of going the extra mile.

In each of these examples, you might imagine a coach, expert, educator, employer, or parent comment that these situations “make them sick.”  These people are in a position to know the ceiling of an individual, so it drives them crazy when someone they care about routinely under-deliver on their potential.

Now, I want to ask you a question … do you know what makes Jesus “sick”?  What turns His stomach?  We don’t have to guess.  He tells us in Revelation 3:14-22.  It isn’t a mystery.  He tells us what makes Him want to vomit.

Before I reveal what this is, can I make a side comment?  The God of the Universe … the One who created ALL THINGS … CARES WHAT WE DO.  He is not detached.  He is not aloof.  He is the Lord of the Church.  He is connected to the church, and the individuals that make it up.  And how we live our lives can either lead to His delight or His disgust.  And in Revelation 3:14-22, He tells us that there is one way we can live that makes Him want to spit us out of His mouth.

So what is it?  What is it that we do that so disgusts and disappoints our Savior?

It is when we exhibit a “useless” faith.

Jesus wants our faith to be more than “fire insurance” for eternity … He wants us to be dynamically dependent upon Him for every moment of every day.  He wants us to trust His Word in obedience.  He wants us to trust His Spirit for empowerment.  He wants us to trust His work on the cross for forgiveness.  He wants us to trust His resurrection for giving us a new identity.  He wants all of our lives to be identified with Him.  But why does Jesus want this?  Does He want this because He is on an ego trip?  No … He wants this because He loves us and He knows what our ceiling truly is.  He knows what we were created for.  He knows what He has empowered us to do and be, and it makes Him sad when we settle for something less.  

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will be wrapping up our “Lord of the Church” Sermon series by looking at Revelation 3:14-22 – the letter to the church of Laodicea.  This letter will encourage us to have a “useful” not “useless” faith … and it will also encourage us with the knowledge that Jesus not only gives us His stuff to activate our faith … but He also gives us access to Himself, and a promise to work alongside Him in His Kingdom.  Make plans to be with us for this final message in the series in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service, or online in the stream … and bring friends!

Lord of the Church (part 8) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, February 20, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 3:7-13.  This message was part 8 in the “Lord of the Church” sermon 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 message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 3:7-13
  3. What keys do you have on your keychain?  What do these keys say about your life?  How does knowing the “keys” on Jesus’ “keychain” (see Revelation 1:18 and 3:7) reveal something to you about Jesus?
  4. The OBJECT of our faith is incredibly important.  This section of God’s Word presents Jesus as someone AWESOME and worthy of our faith and trust.  What do you learn about Jesus in this passage that MOST encourages you?
  5. Have you thought much about the fact that one day God will JUDGE this earth?  Revelation 6-19 (a section of God’s Word we will look at later this year) talks about the 7 year season when God will pour out His wrath upon the earth.  This era will include the “mark of the beast” and the presence of the anti-Christ.  However, our passage this week reminds us that if we trust in Jesus now, we will not have to endure this season of judgment upon the earth.  How is that a motivator for you to trust Christ today?  How is that a motivator for you to share Christ with other’s today? 
  6. The security of a believer is highlighted in 3:12.  The believer in Jesus has assurance of His salvation and place in God’s Kingdom forever.  How does this assurance encourage you in your relationship with Christ today?
  7. The key response indicated throughout this section of God’s Word is to “keep the Word” and “hold fast what you have received.”  What are some areas where you are tempted to NOT keep the Word in your life today?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

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

Lord of the Church #8 2.20.22

 

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To watch the stream, use YouTube online:

 

Lord of the Church (part 8) Preview

Take out your keychain right now and see what is on it.  That keychain will say something of the areas of responsibility you have in life.

You probably have a key to where you live, where you work, vehicles you own or have access to, maybe a bike lock, or possibly a key to a storage unit.  All of these keys represent things that you have access to at a level that others do not.  With this access comes increased opportunities AND increased responsibility.  It is actually an interesting exercise from time to time to look at your keys and see some of what the Lord is asking you to steward.

We hold our keys as things of great value.  We don’t want to lose them, and certainly don’t want them to fall into the “wrong hands.”  If someone is up to no good AND they have your keys, they could inflict a lot of damage.  

Now, I want us to think for a moment about Jesus Christ.  Did you know that He has a few keys on His keychain?  They show us a lot about Him … His opportunities and His responsibilities.  In Revelation 1:18, Jesus shows us that He has the keys to “Death and Hades.”  This means that He holds power over death, and He controls access to our destinations after we die (Hades was the “place of the dead” in first century vernacular.)  By showing us that He has the keys to death and Hades, Jesus was saying, death cannot lock me up, and it cannot lock up anyone who believes in Me.  Jesus was saying that He alone holds the key to unlock an eternity in paradise, and He would open the door to heaven for all who trusted in Him.

In Revelation 3:7, Jesus shows us that He has more than just the keys to death and Hades on His keychain, He also has the “Key of David.”  This is a reference to having access to the full treasury of the King.  Jesus is able to bless His followers with all the spiritual blessings in the Heavenly Places, and ultimately to provide us with His riches in eternity.  

By showing us His keychain, Jesus was showing us what He has responsibility over.  Though we don’t have these keys ourselves, we can rest easy.  Access to these blessings is far better off in the hands of the One who is Holy and True (Revelation 3:7).  Jesus is never up to no good.  He is always acting rightly and truthfully.  We can trust Him to take care of us in death, the afterlife, and by giving us access to whatever else we might need.

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will look at the Jesus who holds these keys in order to inspire in us more and more faith and trust in Him.  We will do this by looking at the letter Jesus wrote to the church in Philadelphia as recorded in Revelation 3:7-13 in part 8 of our “Lord of the Church” series.  Hope to see you in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service, or online in the stream.  Hope to see you there!

P.S.  This passage also has a lot to say about a truly unbelievable promise of where the church will be during the period of time when God judges the earth.  You don’t want to miss this great truth!  It is SO ENCOURAGING.

Lord of the Church (part 7) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, February 13, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Revelation 3:1-6.  This message was part 7 of the “Lord of the Church” series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 3:1-6
  3. Can you think of an example from your life where someone’s reputation did not match up with their reality?
  4. Doe the fact that Jesus can see us from the inside out (including our spirit) encourage you or terrify you?  Why or why not?
  5. The church at Sardis apparently was nice and moral, but not openly acknowledging or professing Jesus as their Savior.  Are you ever tempted in life to conceal the fact that you are a Christ follower?  What are the circumstances where you may not want your connection to Christ to be known?  
  6. Jesus calls the silent church to WAKE UP!  Yet He also calls (at least a segment of this church dead).  The only hope we have to “wake the dead” is a resurrection!  Thankfully Jesus is capable of such things!  Where in your life do you need the Spirit to “wake you up” to deeper obedience to Him?
  7. Who are some examples in your life of people who boldly and openly proclaim the name of Jesus regardless of their audience?  How might you learn from their behavior?
  8. Who might the Lord want you to talk to this week about Jesus?
  9. Of the promises Jesus gives to the church here, what most encourages you?  Why?
  10. 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 Church #7 2.13.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the stream, use YouTube online:

Lord of the Church (part 7) Sermon Preview

Our reputation matters to us.  Let’s be honest … we care what others think.  Now, some of you may care LESS about this than others, but all of us (to some degree) spend some time and energy thinking about what others think of us.

One of the difficult components of social media is that it creates a two headed monster: (1) a platform on which we can try to carefully manage an appearance of ourselves for the “world” to see, and (2) a “scorecard” of “likes” or “hearts” or “impressions” or “comments” to let us know if people approve of the version of us we just posted.  This feeds some really terrible tendencies that have filled many counselor’s offices with people who are experiencing anxiety because of their concern of what others think about us.  It is a vicious cycle.

One of the things that must be acknowledged, though, is that sometimes a person’s reputation does not match reality.  Sometimes people are painted as a monster when they are not.  Other times people are painted awesome when they are a mess.  There are limits to our understanding, and with these limits come imperfect evaluations and (at times) mislabeled reputations.

This is not just true of individuals, it is even true of churches.  The reputation of some churches might be awful … while they truly love the Lord and are doing great work.  But the converse is also true … there are also churches that are celebrated by their city, their culture, or even other churches, but they are actually in really bad shape.  

While we may struggle to align reputations with reality, you know who doesn’t struggle in these evaluations?  Jesus Christ.

Jesus sees past the reputations of individuals, pastors, and churches and knows who we REALLY are.  In Revelation 3:1-6, Jesus writes a letter to the church in Sardis.  In this letter, He says, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”  Jesus is not wowed by our reputation.  He is not distracted by the size of our church building, how many people are in the pews, how talented the worship band is, how interesting the pastor’s messages are, how many followers someone has on social media, or any other thing we might want to zero in on.  Jesus sees our hearts.  Is our spirit “alive” or “dead” 

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will talk more about what it means to be spiritually alive or dead, as we “who have ears will hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  See you for part 7 in the “Lord of the Church” series at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship services … on online in the stream.  See you there, and bring friends!