Two More Minutes . . . 9/29/19

Here are two more minutes with “King of the Mountain” part 2 (Matthew 22:15-22) . . .

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  A few more bullet points on this distinction spelled out by Jesus for His followers living in a secular world:

  • As mentioned in the sermon, we are to pay taxes, pray for our leaders, obey the laws of the land, and respect our government leaders.  In short, followers of Jesus are to be model citizens on almost every level.  If this is true, then why have Christians found themselves opposed by human governments all over the world (whether it is in North Africa, China, India, or any number of other places where Christians face legal opposition today)?  The answer is found NOT in the “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, but in “rendering to God what is God’s.”  Secular governments should LOVE having Christians in their countries (if those Christians were following Jesus’ teaching on citizenship).   The problem is that governments do not generally like having ANY AUTHORITY that is over them . . . including the authority of a Sovereign God.  When Christians find themselves stuck between obeying God or obeying government they choose obeying God . . . which leads to the conflict.  What is interesting to me, though, is that JUST LIKE the follower of Christ cannot escape being a citizen of a particular country . . . so every human government cannot escape being in a universe that is governed by the Sovereign God.  The nations can rage, but the Lord still rules them all (check Psalm 2 to see this idea spelled out more clearly).
  • There is a difference between “legality” and “right and wrong.”  A human government can make laws about many things (marriage, abortion, guns, etc.)  but just because something is legal or illegal does not make it right or wrong.  God ultimately is the authority on our ethics, so we can live in a world where a behavior the Bible describes as sin is celebrated (and legal), but still believe that behavior is sinful.  Since the government is not God, we can both “pay the tax” of living in a particular nation, and still maintain a different personal code of conduct.  There is a difference between our God and our government.
  • If a Law is passed that is in direct opposition to a command of Scripture, what should I do?  The answer to this question is simple.  Obey God rather than man . . . and deal with the consequences.  Jesus’ disciples experienced this in Acts 5 when they were ordered by the local government to not tell anyone about Jesus.  This order by local government was in direct opposition to the great commission they had been given by Jesus Himself.  They chose to obey God rather than men.  It led to their imprisonment, beating, and death . . . but they were still right to disobey the human law to follow the Law of Christ.  There are not many instances in America today where we are required  by our government to disobey the Lord with our conduct, but that is not the case for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.  As our culture becomes more secular, there will most likely be more instances (even in Oklahoma) where this principle will be put to the test.  Until that time, though, let us (as Christ Followers) be model citizens (render unto Caesar), while at the same time worshipping God alone (render unto God.)

King of the Mountain (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 29, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:15-22. This message was part 2 of the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below you will find the audio from this message to download, listen to, or share.

 

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

King of the Mountain #2 9.29.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch the worship service, view our stream from YouTube:

 

King of the Mountain (Part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 29, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:15-22.  This message was part 2 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  See below for questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 22:15-22
  3. Why do you think conversations related to religion and/or politics are so prone to division?
  4. The Pharisees and the Herodians ask Jesus a politically and theologically charged question in these verses.  What evidence do you see in these verses that their question was “insincere”?  In other words, were they really seeking wisdom or something else?
  5. Jesus answer about paying taxes has two facets.  As it relates to taxes, He remarks that they should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” thus legitimizing taxes paid to this pagan leader.  This was because God had established the authority of the Roman Empire to serve people for a purpose, and we talked about some of the blessings those tax dollars paid for.  What are some of the ways your taxes are used by the government to provide blessings for you today?
  6. The New Testament encourages Christians to be great citizens by paying taxes, obeying the law, respecting our leaders, and praying for them.  Do you struggle to apply consistently any one of these commands?
  7. Though we pay taxes to Caesar, there is only One we worship.  What does it look like for you to “render unto God what is God’s”?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 2) Sermon Preview

One day, near the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus’ cousin (John the Baptist) saw Jesus walking towards him, and made a spectacular declaration, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  What John was saying was remarkable . . . Jesus would be the One who would offer His life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty that our sins require.

Jesus would later authenticate this as one of the central purposes of His presence in the world when He says, “For even the Son of Man (a title Jesus used of Himself) came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)   Jesus came to serve us by showing us what God was like in His teaching and healing ministries.  But He also came to willingly and lovingly give up His life on the cross as a payment for our sins.

The idea of Jesus as the Lamb of God has its roots in the Old Testament sacrificial system, where a Passover Lamb was offered for sacrifice each year by a family.  But before the sacrificial lamb was accepted by the priest for sacrifice, it must first be examined to show that it was without spot or blemish. 

Thinking along this line, Warren Wiersbe has observed, “Jesus was going to die as the Lamb of God, and it was necessary for the Lamb to be examined before Passover (Ex. 12:3-6). If any blemish whatsoever was found on the Lamb, it could not be sacrificed. Jesus was examined publicly by His enemies, and they could find no fault in Him.”

This examination of Jesus takes place in Matthew 21-23 as Jesus is grilled with questions by the chief priests and elders, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Herodians.  These Jewish national leaders at the time, ask Jesus question after question trying to knock Him off the mountain top, but Jesus passes all tests and shows that He is truly “King of the (Temple) Mountain.”

This Sunday, September 29, at Wildwood, we will be in week 2 of our “King of the Mountain” series looking at a question posed to Jesus from the Pharisees and the Herodians, “should we pay our taxes?”  We will see how Jesus responds to this question and what it means for us today as we look at Matthew 22:15-22.  See you then!

Episode 10: This is Wildwood! Following Jesus into Worship with the Worship Team

Episode 10: This is Wildwood! Following Jesus into Worship with the Worship Team
Follow Into Worship

 
 
00:00 / 00:25:44
 
1X
 
Some of Wildwood’s Worship Team after practice one Wednesday night.

We believe that one of the ways that God grows our faith in Him and our love for others is through worship.  Worship Pastor Greg Hill summarizes a definition of worship as, “Responding to all that God is with all that we are.”  This includes so many aspects of our relationship with Him – including obedience, giving, etc. . . . but it certainly includes singing.  At Wildwood, we are so blessed to have a worship team that devotes hours each week to lead us into worship together.  On today’s episode, we get to hear from a number of the members of this worship team – including Pastor Greg Hill, Susan Storm, Adam Shockley, and Diane Nutt – about how worship plays a big role in their lives.

 

  • To see Wildwood’s Spotify playlist with links to songs we sing each week, click here.
  • To get access to song lists, lyric previews, etc. for Sunday singing, join MyWildwood and sign up for the “Sunday Worship” group by clicking here (and following the prompts).
  • To inquire about serving on the worship team, contact Pastor Greg Hill at greghill@wildwoodchurch.org or 405-329-3939.

Two more . . . from 9/22/19

A few more thoughts from this morning’s message (part 1 of “King of the Mountain” focusing on Matthew 21:23-27; 22:41-46):

I thought we just completed a series on Matthew 21-23?”  If you had this thought . . . you are correct!  In fact, this is our third series of messages from these 3 chapters.  In June 2019, we had the “Father Heart of God” series that included 3 messages from Matthew 21-23, and then in August/September 2019, we stayed in these chapters for 5 more sermons in the “Authentic” series.  Rather than organizing these 3 chapters exactly as they were written, our study has tackled them thematically.  The “Father Heart of God” series showed God’s heart for the religious leaders to be saved.  The “Authentic” series showed us Jesus’ rejection of the imitation faith of the Pharisees.  Now in this series, we see Jesus fielding questions from a number of different groups in the Temple Mount area just 48-72 hours before His crucifixion.

SIDE NOTE:  I have been preaching through Matthew’s Gospel now for nearly 3 years.  Though we have organized this Gospel into many different series, we have still walked through this book verse-by-verse.  After this current series, is done, we will only lack 2 more series before completing the entire book.  For those keeping track, the message series from Matthew are:

“David, in the Spirit . . .” (22:43) – I had a question asked after the sermon about what was meant by the statement “David, in the Spirit. . .”  The phrase “in the Spirit” is used by Jesus to indicate that what was to follow was not just David’s opinion, but an inerrant, inspired declaration from God.  In 2 Peter 1:21, Peter says of the writers of the Old Testament, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  The wording “carried along” is used elsewhere in the New Testament to describe the effect of a wind filling a sail.  The idea is that the writers of the Old Testament (and New Testament for that matter) were not simply sharing their opinions, but sharing what God was moving them along to say.  This adds authority to the text of Scripture, and is why Jesus references it here.  Certainly the Pharisees would have had respect for King David . . . but they should have an even GREATER respect for the portions of the Scripture that David wrote, including Psalm 110 which Jesus quotes in Matthew 22:43-45.

“nor did they dare ask Him any more questions.” (22:46) – After their interactions with Jesus, Matthew tells us that the Pharisees stopped asking Him questions.  This statement generally describes Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees as a group.  Just a couple of days after this encounter, the Pharisees are a part of the coalition of Jewish leaders who turn Jesus over to the Romans for crucifixion – they were done with asking questions, they simply wanted to put an end to Jesus’ life and attempt to snuff out His influence.  While this was true of the Pharisees as a group, it was not true of every individual who was a member of their posse.  Pharisee’s like Joseph of Arimathea were already in the process of believing, and Saul (soon to become Paul) would come to faith a few years later.  These examples remind us that salvation is not about belonging to the right group (attending the right church, being from the right family, etc.) but is truly anchored to how we answer the question of questions – “What do you think about the Christ?” (22:41).  Pharisees were not condemned because they were Pharisees . . . but because they rejected the gracious offer of the Savior of the World.  Pharisees who believed in Jesus, were saved by Jesus.

King of the Mountain (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 22, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:23-27 and 22:41-46.  This message was part 1 of the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to, download, or share.

 

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

King of the Mountain #1 9.22.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch the video of the service, click here.

 

King of the Mountain (part 1) Sermon Questions

This morning, September 22, 2019, at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, OK, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:23-27; 22:41-46. This message was part 1 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 21:23-27; 22:41-46
  3. What questions do you have about Jesus, Christianity, or what a life looks like that follows Jesus?
  4. John the Baptist’s Message was to “REPENT.”  If someone recognizes their sinfulness and their need for grace, how does that make them in a better position to find out the truth about Jesus?  Have you seen this to be true in your life?
  5. If you had seen Jesus’ Service (or public record of teaching and healing ministry) what might you have concluded about who Jesus was?  
  6. The Scriptures teach us about who Jesus was (and is).  Look at Matthew 22:43-45 (the quotation and comment from Psalm 110).  What all can you learn about Jesus’ identity from these verses?
  7. In today’s verses, Jesus asks the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION EVER:  “What do you say about the Christ?”  Who do you say Jesus is?  What difference does that make for your life? 
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 1) Sermon Preview

When I was a kid, I spent some time each summer in a swimming pool . . . though I do not like to swim.  I enjoyed my friends and the water would feel awesome on warm summer days, but ACTUALLY SWIMMING has always felt to me more like a way to avoid drowning than a leisure-time activity.  

So what do you do when you enjoy the pool but don’t like to swim?  You play games!  Marco Polo . . . sharks and minnows . . . and gutter ball (to name a few), were some of the games I liked playing at the pool. Another game that  we would sometimes play was “King of the Mountain.”  Have you ever played this game?  It is when one person takes an elevated position (like on a floating raft) and tries to remain afloat while everyone else tries to knock him/her off.  This was a  fun game.  Not that I was ever good at “being the king” but it got me in the water and my mind off drowning!

As I read Matthew 21-23, I see Jesus walking up on the “Mountain” where the Jewish Temple was located.  After He ascends to this height, various groups of people try to knock Him off.  The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and others come at Jesus in waves, trying to get Him to make a mistake, stump Him with a tough question, or discredit Him in front of the others.  They all come . . . they all give it their best shot . . . and they all fail miserably.  In the end Jesus is still the “King of the Mount” and no one can take Him down.

We live in a world today where people are still trying to take down the King of Kings.  “He wasn’t REALLY the Son of God,” says the History Channel documentary.  “He was just another Rabbi,” say the University Philosophy instructors.  “His morals are outdated and His teaching is discriminatory,” bemoan the purveyors of “woke” orthodoxy in our culture.  Yet 2,000 years later . . . He still stands tall.  

Over the next four Sundays at Wildwood Community Church (beginning September 22), we will be looking at a number of challenges Jesus received from different groups of people in the last week of His earthly life before going to the cross.  We will see the objections of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians drown as Jesus answers their questions with authority, truth, and grace.  Join us this Sunday for part 1, as we look at Matthew 21:23-27, 22:41-46.

Episode 9: This is Wildwood! For the Church with Laura and Sarah

Episode 9: This is Wildwood! For the Church with Laura and Sarah
For the Church

 
 
00:00 / 00:15:09
 
1X
 
Naomi Reyes with Laura Horstkoetter and Sarah Marcus

At Wildwood, we are FOR THE CHURCH following Jesus together to the glory of God.   By this, we mean that we desire Wildwood members to develop and mature in their faith TOGETHER.  We do not have many congregations here, but one congregation, where many generations follow Jesus together.  On today’s episode, we hear how two Wildwood members are experiencing life in the multi-generational church through the “Adopt-a-Sooner” program.  To tell this story, we are joined by College Ministry Associate Naomi Reyes,  and Wildwood members Laura Horstkoetter and Sarah Marcus.

If you would like more information about:

  • Wildwood’s College Life website, click here.
  • Wildwood’s College Life Facebook, click here.
  • Wildwood’s College Life Instagram, click here.
  • More info about Adopt-a-Sooner, click here.
  • More questions?  Contact Naomi Reyes at naomireyes@wildwoodchurch.org or 405-329-3939.