Follow (Part 4) Preview

We have a common enemy . . . and this enemy appears to be winning.

  • People spend billions of dollars each year trying to avoid this enemy.
  • People devote countless hours each year to escape its icy grip.
  • People concoct stories and develop philosophies to make sense of it.

Who is this enemy?  Death.  Death is our common enemy.  In our lives, all of us will feel the sting of losing a loved one, and most of us have at least some fear about the process of death and what lies beyond the grave.  Though the Grim Reaper is coming for all of us, we are doing what we can to avoid it.

  • Three common causes of death are disease, accidents, and old age.  We spend billions each year treating our illnesses, making our lives safer, and having procedures to disguise the effects of old age.
  • Health clubs are full of people investing hours of their lives exercising to avoid death’s decay. 
  • World religions all try to answer the questions death asks.

Canadian Physician G.B. Hardy once said, “When I looked at religion I said, I have two questions. One, has anybody ever conquered death, and two, if they have, did they make a way for me to conquer death? I checked the tomb of Buddha, and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Confucius and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Mohammed and it was occupied, and I came to the tomb of Jesus and it was empty. And I said, there is one who conquered death. And I asked the second question, Did He make a way for me to do it? And I opened the Bible and discovered that He said, ‘Because I live ye shall live also.’”

Jesus is the only one who provides a solution to the problem of death.  We certainly see this in His personal resurrection from the grave on that first Easter morning, but we also see Him triumph over death throughout His earthly ministry.  In Matthew 9:18-26, Jesus performs two miracles which demonstrate His absolute victory over death.  One miracle was performed on a young girl, just 12 years old (a sudden death). The second miracle was performed on an older woman who had suffered from an affliction for 12 years (a slow death). One miracle happens to the daughter of a prominent leader who everyone knew.  The second miracle happens to a woman who society wanted to forget.  Death comes for all of us . . . but Jesus provides hope for all, if we will trust Him.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services, we will continue our “Follow” series by looking at these two miracles and finding hope to overcome our common enemy of death.  It appears that death is winning, but take heart . . . He has overcome the grave! 

Because He lives, ye shall we also live!  Join us Sunday at Wildwood as we reflect on this awesome truth.

Follow (part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 27, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 9:9-17.  This message was part 3 in the “Follow” series.  Below you will find the audio from this message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Follow #3 8.27.17

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Follow (part 3) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, August 27, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 9:9-17.  This message was part 3 in the “Follow” series.  Below are a series of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 9:9-17
  3. Imagine that you are one of Jesus’ disciples and MATTHEW is added to the team.  What do you think they were thinking?  Have you ever had a challenging situation with someone joining a team you were on that you had a bad history with?
  4. “Understanding our sin is a prerequisite for us knowing Jesus as our Savior.”  What do you think this previous sentence means?
  5. Do you have a small group or community this fall where you gather around Jesus together?  If so, what led you to join that community?  If not, why not?
  6. What are some of the things that you tend to find your hope in BESIDES Jesus?  What does it mean for you to find your ultimate hope in Jesus alone?
  7. Have you ever demonstrated love to someone and because of that demonstration been looked down upon by other Christians or religious people?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Follow (part 3) Sermon Preview

2,000 years ago Jesus walked the earth.  He really was born in Bethlehem.  He really did spend time in Egypt as a toddler.  He really did grow up in Nazareth with His family.  He really conducted a public ministry that included miracles and teaching with authority.  He really cast out demons.  He really died on the cross.  He really rose from the dead.  He really is the Son of God!

In His very real life, Jesus interacted with very real people.  He talked with fishermen, business people, and tax collectors.  He interacted with men and women – young and old.  He spent time with people of the majority ethnic group in the region where He lived, as well as minorities.  He talked with the sophisticated and the simple; hung out with religious leaders and notorious sinners; had friends from red states and blue ones and who “voted” for all kinds of political candidates.

As He interacted with these diverse groups, there was a powerful consistency to His message.  Everywhere He went, He invited people to simply, “Follow.”  In Matthew chapters 8-10 alone, there are eight references to people following Jesus or Jesus asking people to follow Him. 

Since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can expect a consistency to Jesus call in our own lives.  In a very real way, He is inviting us to “follow Him.” 

Like those in the first century, Jesus is issuing this call to “follow” to a very diverse group of people.  Men, women, young, old, white, black, rich, poor, white collar, blue collar, upper class, middle class, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Sooners, Cowboys, and Longhorns . . . we all receive the same call from the Savior . . . come and FOLLOW JESUS!

  • Sometimes we think we are too old to start following Jesus – that we do not have enough time left in our lives to begin following Him.
  • Sometimes we think we are too young to follow Jesus – we will get around to it later.
  • Sometimes we think we are too broken to follow Jesus – we feel unworthy because of past mistakes.
  • Sometimes we think we are too independent to follow Jesus – we are intent on making our own way.

Whatever our excuse, we need to look back on the pages of Scripture and see all the people who followed Jesus WHO WERE JUST LIKE US.  As they got up from their past and followed Jesus into their future, we can find divine inspiration for our own lives. 

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church we will be continuing our “Follow” series by looking at Matthew 9:9-17.  This great passage sees Jesus invite a surprising group of people to Follow Him . . . including the author of the Gospel of Matthew!  In this invitation, we find hope for sinful people like you and me.  Make plans to be in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service as we “Follow” Jesus together.  See you Sunday . . . and bring a friend!

Follow (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 20, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 8:18-34.  This message was part 2 of the “Follow” sermon series.  The audio of the sermon is available below to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

Follow #2 08.20.17

 

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

Follow (part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, August 20, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 8:18-34.  This message was part 2 of the “Follow” series.  Below are a set of questions related to the sermon for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 8:18-34
  3. What are examples from your own life where something much smaller has eclipsed your desire to follow Jesus?
  4. What is some of the cost you have endured because you are following Christ?  Think about Christians around the world today.  What are some of the challenges they face BECAUSE they follow Jesus?
  5. What are the current circumstances in your life that are preventing you from having peace?  How does knowing Jesus is “in the boat” with you change things?
  6. What are some areas in your past or present where you choose your “pigs” over following Jesus?  How does this illustration help you see the folly of that decision?
  7. Forgiveness is available in Christ!  Hope is available in Him.  Let’s fall at His feet and not allow anything in our lives to stay eclipsing the Son for long.
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Follow (part 2) Sermon Preview

Three weeks ago at Wildwood, we celebrated the baptisms of 15 individuals.  These 15 were some of the over 80 who have been baptized at Wildwood in the past year.  At Wildwood, when we baptize people we allow them to share their stories of how they came to faith in Jesus Christ, and all that Jesus has done and is doing in their lives.  (See highlights here, and testimonies here.)  These services are very encouraging times and a celebration of some of what God is doing. 

At our baptism services in July, we had nearly 1,000 people come and hear the stories of the greatness of Jesus.  Most of us even applauded again and again as an act of celebration and worship as people came up out of the waters of baptism, thanking God for His grace. It is hard in that setting to NOT say “YES!” to Jesus and desire to follow Him.  But what happens when we leave that service?  What happens when we leave that room?  Will we follow Jesus consistently in our own lives? 

I want to assert today that in the 19 days since that baptism service, all of us who applauded saying “YES JESUS!” in that moment, have said “NO” to Him in another.  Sure, for some in attendance who are still exploring the claims of Christ, their “no” or “not yet” is a consistent expression of the process of discovery they are on.  But I want to suggest that all of us – even those of us who have been a Christian for decades now – amazingly have said “NO” to following Jesus several times in the last few weeks.  Don’t believe me?

  • Jesus invites us to forgive those who have wronged us, but have we followed Him there?  Some of us have said “NO” to following Him down the path of granting forgiveness.
  • Jesus invites us to share the Gospel message with those who don’t know it, but have we followed Him there?  Some of us have said “NO” to following Him down the Roman road of evangelism.
  • Jesus invites us to be pure in our thoughts and actions, but have we followed Him there?  Some of us have said “NO” to following Him there and fed impure thoughts, motives, and actions.

Why do we do this?  Why do we say “NO” to Someone so great?  Well, we are going to talk about that this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church as we talk about what it means to “Follow” from Matthew 8:18-34.  Our strange pension to say “NO” to Jesus in different areas of our lives is mirrored in the lives of those who gathered around Him in the first century during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  We will look at some of their struggles and make parallels in our own life.  We will also talk about the forgiveness found for all of us in Jesus, AND how we might say YES to following Him more this week.

Make plans to join us this Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service!

Follow (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 13, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8.  This message was part 1 of the “Follow” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

Follow #1 08.13.17

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Follow (part 1) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, August 13, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8.  This message was part 1 in the “Follow” series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8
  3. As you look at your schedule/plans for this fall, are you feeling excited?  Overwhelmed?  How does your walk with God factor into your life plans this fall?
  4. What were your first thoughts of Jesus, the first time you learned about Him?  How have those thoughts changed over the years?  Do you find yourself more drawn to follow Him today or less drawn to follow Him?  What has led to the change?
  5. What are ways in which you KNOW you NEED Jesus today?  How do you express this need to Jesus on a regular basis?
  6. What are some of the reasons why God does miracles (as demonstrated in today’s Scripture passage)?  Have you ever seen God do a (what you would consider to be) a miracle today?
  7. How does remembering that Jesus is God help encourage you to FOLLOW HIM this year?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Follow (part 1) Preview

OK.  You have a busy day.  One of those days where you feel like there is no way you can get everything done that you need to do.  Your calendar is crammed . . . every minute is accounted for.  You know days like this . . .

Now, think about this – who has the power to disrupt your schedule on a day like that BY YOUR CHOICE?  Who has such an influence on you that you would rearrange other priorities to make space for an unexpected visitor?

For most of us, those with the power to override our schedule fall into one of three categories:

  1. Someone we love. I may have a lot going on during a busy day, but if my wife shows up at the office, I am glad to see her.
  2. Someone we need.  Many of us have had the experience of waiting for results from a medical test.  Regardless of what else is happening, when the phone rings and the doctor’s office number shows up in the caller ID, you interrupt your regular scheduled program to answer the call.  If you have no current medical emergency, you probably let the doc leave a message.
  3. Someone we revere.  Regardless of political affiliation, if a current or former President of the United States stopped by your home, you would invite them inside.  Regardless of school affiliation, if Bob Stoops invites you to dinner, you probably say “yes.”

Knowing that there are those with the power to tear up our “to do” list, I want you to think about the year you have in front of you.  No doubt, it is full of a lot of things.  You have a lot projects at work, activities for the kids, classes to study for, events to plan and attend, etc., etc.

Now, before you get totally stressed out with the items on your calendar, I want to let you know something amazing.  Someone we love (and who loves us), someone we need, and someone we revere is standing on your today and inviting you into tomorrow.  In fact, it is the same Someone for each of us.  It is the person of Jesus Christ.  He has promised to be with us always . . . even today.  His invitation to us is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago – “FOLLOW ME.” 

As people with busy schedules, it seems tough to think of following Jesus.  Especially if we assume it is just another thing to add to our “to do” list.  To be fair, following Jesus will impact your calendar . . . but it is FAR MORE THAN THAT.  Jesus wants to walk with you through your work week, be with you in your family life, join you in your volunteer commitments.  He is with us ALWAYS.

So what does it look like for us to follow Jesus?  Over the next 7 weeks at Wildwood we will be starting a new school year by talking about what it means to “FOLLOW.”  This Sunday we will kick off this series by looking at the identity of the One we are invited to follow from Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8.  I hope you make space in your calendar to join us at Wildwood this Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service as we fix our eyes on Following Him together this year.  Join us, and bring a friend!

The 7 weeks of this series will focus on:

  • August 13: The One We Follow  (Matthew 8:1-17, 9:1-8)
  • August 20: Why Don’t We Follow? (Matthew 8:18-34)
  • August 27:  Who Can Follow? (Matthew 9:9-17)
  • September 3:  Faith to Follow (Matthew 9:18-34)
  • September 10:  Inviting More to Follow (Matthew 9:35-10:15)
  • September 17:  Fear of the Follower (Matthew 10:16-33)
  • September 24:  Reward of the Follower (Matthew 10:34-42)