Follow (Part 5) Sermon Preview

In 1940, Great Britain was faced with a terrible dilemma. British troops (together with the remnants of the French and Belgian armies) had been forced to retreat to the beaches of Dunkirk, France after suffering defeat to the Nazi war machine.  Evacuation across the English Channel was the only viable option remaining . . . but even that seemed like a longshot.

Nearly 400,000 British, French, and Belgian forces gathered at Dunkirk while the German armored infantry surrounded the perimeter, and the German Air Force bombed the beaches.  British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered a full evacuation of Dunkirk in late May, 1940, but after one day, only 7,000 troops had made it safely onto evacuation boats.  The need was great . . . and the capacity on the boats were limited.  In his best case estimate, using only military options, Churchill believed they could get 45,000 (a little more than 10%) of the troops home — but this simply was not good enough.  So Great Britain put out a general call to all who owned a sea worthy boat in England.  The need was simple – “Bring our troops home.”  800 non-military boat captains answered this call and headed toward the fight.  Risking their own lives, these civilians took off for France, and amazingly helped bring back over 330,000 troops in just over one week!  This event became known as the “miracle of Dunkirk” and was the subject of one of 2017’s most critically acclaimed movies.

I was thinking of Dunkirk today as I read Matthew 9:35 – 10:4.  In these verses Jesus looked out on the masses and saw their great need.  Jesus knew that His death would be sufficient to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin, but He also knew that (by God’s design) it would take many “boats” to get people to the safety of saving faith.  “The Harvest is plentiful,” Jesus said, “ but the workers are few.  Beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the Harvest.” 

So Jesus called to Himself 12 disciples that He would send out on a mission – “Bring God’s children home.”  2,000 years later, the same call goes out to all the followers of Jesus . . . “Go into all the world and make disciples . . .”

Like the 800 civilian captains in 1940, will you heed the call and head to the fight?  Will you take the life boat of saving faith in Jesus and offer salvation to those who don’t yet know Him?

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will continue our “Follow” series by looking at Jesus’ call of the 12 . . . and His reason for doing so.  Make plans to join us in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service.

Follow (Part 4) Sermon Audio

This morning, September 3, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 9:18-26.  This message was part 4 in the “Follow” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share with a friend.

 

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

Follow (Part 4)

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

Follow (Part 4) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 3, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 9:18-26.  This message was part 4 of the “Follow” series.  Below are a series of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 9:18-26
  3. In what way do you see people trying to fight off “death”?  How successful are their efforts?
  4. In what way can you relate to the desperation of Jairus or the woman?  Have you ever “fallen in faith” at Jesus’ feet when faced with an incurable situation?
  5. What is your plan for overcoming death?  How does Jesus factor into that plan?
  6. In what ways have you seen God “authoring” the story in your life?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

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!