The New Normal (part 3) Sermon Audio, Video, and Questions

On Sunday, January 17, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 1:11-24.  This message was part 3 in the “New Normal” sermon series.  Below you will find a series of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the sermon audio and video to listen to.watch or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 1:11-24
  3. What is the biggest life change that you have ever seen (in your life or in the life of someone you know)?
  4. Christianity is not a man-made religion, but was God’s idea from the start.  How does remembering this encourage you about God’s disposition toward you?
  5. Knowing that the Gospel is God’s Work that we receive by faith, begs the question … have you placed your faith in what Jesus has done for you on the cross?  How has that made a difference in your life?
  6. What is the hero of your story?  How can you share your story and more effectively remind all who hear it that Jesus is the One to receive the glory?
  7. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Normal #3 1.17.21

 

To listen online, use media player below:

 

To watch, use YouTube stream online:

 

The New Normal (part 3) Sermon Preview

What is the biggest change you can imagine right now?  I don’t mean losing ten pounds to fit into pre-pandemic clothing … I mean REAL CHANGE.  Epic transformation.  What would it be?

I’m talking… 

  • Colin Cowherd in a Baker Mayfield jersey
  • Sean Hannity becoming a Democrat
  • Kevin Durant as the next mayor of Oklahoma City
  • Nancy Pelosi wearing a “Trump in ’24” button
  • Michael Buble releasing a rap album

You know … BIG CHANGE.

What would you think if you opened the newspaper this morning and saw any of those items as stories?  After some expression of shock, you might say, “What happened?”  In other words, something WILD has taken place that defies natural or normal expectations.  Many of those items above, we might assume would require an act of God …

Well, let me take you back to the Damascus Daily News, front page article in 33 AD.  Some local Jewish woman was drinking her coffee and headed out to pick up the papyri and see what the day’s headline was.  Upon opening the paper, she shrieked, dropped her coffee and passed out cold … so surprised was she at the news that led that morning’s Daily.  Upon coming to, she looks again to make sure she read it right the first time.  Saul of Tarsus had converted to Christianity.

Now, while I don’t know HOW news was distributed in the first century, I do know that the revelation that Saul was now a Jesus follower was absolutely stunning.  10000x more stunning than any of the transformations I mention above.  Saul was a killer of Christians … someone dead set on destroying the new Jesus movement, and now he was proclaiming Jesus as GOD?  WHAT HAPPENED?

Well, this historical event is the backdrop of Paul’s ministry among the Galatians, including the message he was preaching and that we have been talking about on Sunday mornings at Wildwood in our “New Normal” series.  This Sunday, we will begin to listen as Paul tells the story of  WHAT HAPPENED that led to his transformation, and how that connects to the new that Jesus had normalized for all of us.

I hope to see you this Sunday, January 17, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service (in person and with ministries running for children, students, and adults) or online at 10:15 in the stream – wildwoodchurch.org/live as we will look at Galatians 1:11-24 in part 3 of this series.  We will also be celebrating communion together at the end of this week’s services.  Hope you can join us!

NOTE:  In this week’s services, the sermon will be first in the order of worship, with singing and communion at the end.  Hope to see you this Sunday!

The New Normal (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio/Video

On Sunday, January 10, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 1:6-10.  This message was part 2 of the “New Normal” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal 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 Galatians 1:6-10
  3. What kinds of things typically cause you to get “outraged” or upset enough to speak out on a topic?
  4. When was the last time you saw the Gospel message twisted or changed in some way?
  5. To the best of your understanding, what is the Gospel message?
  6. In what ways do you hear people twisting the Gospel to a “Jesus +” message?  In what way does this take away from the true GOOD NEWS of Jesus?
  7. Why do you think Paul reacts so strongly to people changing the Gospel message?
  8. Who in your life are you praying for that they might trust Jesus as their Savior?  How can you invite them to follow Him this year?
  9. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The New Normal #2 1.10.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service stream, use YouTube online:

 

The New Normal (part 2) Sermon Preview

This has been a really difficult week, hasn’t it?  Like many of you, I watched yesterday afternoon as people stormed the United States Capital … leading to four deaths and damage to a place representing the rule of law.  Literally, my mouth was open and my heart heavy as I watched the events unfold. 

In 2021, everyone has a microphone and no one has an editor.  Anyone can say whatever they want to say and (through the amplification of social media) broadcast that perspective to the universe.  Those proclamations lead to a lot of things.  At times inspiring revival.  At other times inciting riots.  Words matter … and we should be careful how we use them.  

I was thinking about this today as I read Galatians 1:6-10 in preparation for Sunday.  What I saw in those verses is the Apostle Paul grabbing the “microphone” of his pen and writing a letter to the churches in Galatia to share with them what he was outraged about.  There was something that made his heart heavy and something that caused his mouth to fall open with surprise.  AND … Paul’s response was not just a late night reaction, but something that had passed through the ultimate editor-in-chief, the Holy Spirit of God, and still made its way to publication.  That means that the thing that Paul was so outraged about was something WORTH being outraged about.

What was it that got him so worked up?  An election?  A personal offense?  His favorite sports team?  These are the things that motivate us to post our unedited outrage.  What was Paul so worked up about?

Paul was worked up about the distortion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The integrity of the Gospel of Jesus was more important than all else.  After all, it is through the Gospel of Grace that men and women are saved from eternal destruction.  It is through the Gospel of  Jesus Christ that men and women are rescued from “this present evil age.”  The rest of our lives show us our need for Jesus … His Gospel is the answer to the questions created in all other venues.  Any perversion of the Gospel message by adding to or subtracting from it has extremely dire consequences for humankind.

The Apostle Paul made this quite clear in the early stages of a letter he wrote to a collection of churches he planted in Galatia as he posted, “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:9)”  

In response to the news that there were people teaching a different Gospel in the Galatian churches, Paul was justifiably outraged and (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) called down judgment from God on all who were perpetrating these lies.

Why was he so outraged?  After all, Paul never got this worked up over another’s political leanings or leisure time activities.  Paul’s response here is even more aggressive than his response to some of the bizarre moral actions of the Corinthians.  Why does he come so unglued over perversions to the Gospel message in Galatia?

We will explore why this was so serious this Sunday, January 10, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church in part 2 of our series “The New Normal” as we look at Galatians 1:6-10.  It is my hope that God might use this message to clarify for us just how important the Gospel message is  FOR US, as we clarify it, cling to it, and share it with a lost and dying world. 

What we believe matters.  I am not saying that we should not have perspectives on politics, family, or football (or that we shouldn’t express our views on those items via social media or engage to bring about change where appropriate) … what I am saying is that we should care about the Gospel MORE … because through it the world has hope, peace, and grace — 3 things we all desperately need – and they are found in Jesus Christ.  See you Sunday at 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 (in person and with children, student, and adult classes meeting) or 10:15 on the livestream (wildwoodchurch.org/live)

The New Normal (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio and Video

On Sunday, January 3, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 1:1-5. This message was part 1 of “The New Normal” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this 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 Galatians 1:1-5
  3. What kind of “new” things have you tended to resist in your life?
  4. Paul talks about his credentials to proclaim the “new” that the Jews resisted.  He anchors that credential NOT to any earthly council, but to Divine appointment.  What earthly “councils” and groups have you seen try to change God’s ways over the years of your life.  What makes Paul’s “new” he proclaimed different from the changes that are trying to be effected in our day?
  5. Jesus came to save us from our sin.  In your own words, what does this mean?  Have you trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?
  6. Jesus also came to deliver us from this present evil age.  In what ways have you seen this present age as “evil”?  How does the “Jesus way” rescue us from the evil around us?
  7. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Normal #1 1.3.21

 

To access audio online, use media player below:

 

To watch the service stream, use YouTube online:

 

The New Normal (Part 1) Sermon Preview

Well, we made it.  2020 is nearly in our rearview mirror.  Ahead of us lies 2021.  But what awaits us in the new year?  One too many times we have been reminded that 2021 will not be a return to the past, but the establishment of a “new normal.”  But what does that even mean?

Well, much has been written and editorialized about the brave new world that is forming:  more people working remotely, more virtual options for schooling, more conservative estimates on economic growth. Even researchers who are studying the future of the church see long term changes in the way many will worship (or not worship) in the years ahead.

As we ponder these changes, we all could make our own “plus/minus” list about the things we like about these changes, and the things that are driving us crazy.  But in the end, most people I talk to have some sense of uneasiness about the change around us.  Again, some of the things changing may be improvements while others are abject disasters … but just the fact that all of this is “new” unsettles us and forces us to establish a new equilibrium.

“New” is hard because it changes the “old” … and sometimes we like the “old”!  This is especially true in situations where the “new” cannot be added alongside the old, but must replace it.

I was thinking about this dynamic today as we prepare for Sunday and the start of a new year together as a church family.  This Sunday we will be starting a new sermon series called “The New Normal.”  Now, some of you are rolling your eyes right now.  I know, I know … but hang with me.  This is not a series about how to use Zoom for business meetings or Canvas/See Saw for online education.  This is a series about a massive change that happened 2,000 years ago when Jesus ushered in a New Covenant between God and man.  

Make no mistake about it … what Jesus established was an upgrade in every way.  The old required constant animal sacrifices and hundreds of laws.  The new would bring an end to sacrifice (while delivering forgiveness of sins) and would offer just one new commandment: love one another as Jesus has loved us.  The old would require pilgrimage to a distant Temple, while the new placed the Holy Spirit of God IN ALL OUR HEARTS!  The old had a priestly system led by corrupt people with personal agendas, while the new has a Single High Priest who would die for our benefit, and lives today to make intersession for us.  The new Jesus normalized was a massive upgrade. 

But from the moment Jesus normalized this “new” many representatives of the “old” were unsettled.  Their equilibrium was thrown off and they wanted to have the new Jesus established simply added alongside their old covenant with God –  instead of having it replace their old.  They wanted all new Christians to go to their church, but still not eat bacon.  They wanted all new converts to give to their cause, but circumcise their male infants.  They wanted to mix the old they liked with the new Jesus ushered in.

Was this a big deal?  Yes.  This was a big deal.  How big a deal?  

  • This very issue prompted the writing of Paul’s first letter to a church (the letter to the Galatians) where he begins the second paragraph by calling down a curse on those who wanted to mix the old and the new!!! That is serious.
  • This very issue (dressed in different clothes) would be the spark of the Protestant Reformation, in an era where many Christians were martyred by other Christians for their insistence on clinging to the “new” Jesus normalized.

So what is the “new” Jesus normalized, and how do we embrace it together as a church family?  Well, this is what we will be exploring throughout 2021 as we look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians together.  Our first 7 messages from Galatians begin this Sunday in a series called “The New Normal” based on Galatians 1-2.  In part 1 this week, we will get oriented to this letter as we look at Galatians 1:1-5.  We hope you make plans to worship with us this weekend at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 services (in person and with full children, student, and adult classes meeting), or online at 10:15 (wildwoodchurch.org/live)

Let’s learn to live following Jesus FORWARD into the new He has established, resisting the temptation to float back to the “old” we may be comfortable with.  See you Sunday!

Sermon Questions – Sunday, December 27, 2020

On Sunday, December 27, 2020, Global Outreach Director, Kevin Bradford’s message is based on Luke 24:44-47 and is entitled “What The World Needs Now” After reading the passage and asking for the Spirit’s guidance, the following questions may assist your personal reflection or group discussion.
Sermon Questions:
  1. What do you see as the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the church in the United States?
  2. What does it mean for Jesus to describe His teaching as being based upon “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms?”
  3. Can you think of a time when the Lord “opened your mind” to understand the Scriptures in a new way? What was the result of that experience?
  4. Verse 46 focuses on the death and resurrection of Jesus. What is the significance of Jesus directing the disciples’ attention to these events?
  5. Verse 47 speaks of a message being “proclaimed,” and the next verse of disciples being “witnesses.” Are these the same things? If not, how are they different?
  6. What role is Wildwood playing in proclaiming Jesus’ message “in all nations?” What role are you playing? What more do you think could be done with the Spirit’s empowerment (v. 49)?

Jesus is the Gift

Jesus is His name.  And it was not an accident.  It was not Joseph and Mary’s decision to call Him Jesus. It was God’s decision.  God the Father named God the Son.  This is what we find in both Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31:

To Joseph it was said (by the Angel), “She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  

And to Mary it was said (by the Angel), “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”

God the Father named Jesus … but why did He name Him that particular name?  Most names have meaning, or some significance … especially when God is the One who does the naming!  When we hear the name Jesus, it certainly is important to us because we immediately associate it with the Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmas each year.  However, to the first century folks, this was not an abnormal name, but actually a VERY NORMAL NAME.  “Jesus” was a very common name in first century Palestine.  I know what that was like.  My name (Mark) was also common in my growing up years.  In fact there was another “Mark” in most of my elementary school classes, forcing me to be “Mark R” and him “Mark Q.”  You may have had a situation like that in your school.  Jesus was such a common name that they had to add a modifier to help people know WHICH JESUS WAS BEING REFERRED TO.  That is why they called Him “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Which Jesus?  The one that grew up in Nazareth.  Oh … THAT Jesus!

So why did God pick such a common name for His Son?  Well, first of all, Jesus came in a very common form.  So it reminds us that He looked like us … but second, it was because of what that name meant.  Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua.”  (This is a name that I am actually quite fond of … my son is named Joshua!)  But the name Joshua in Hebrew had a meaning.  It meant “Yahweh Saves” or “God is salvation.”  Jesus was given a name that would point to His very purpose in life.  He came (as Matthew 1:21 told us) to save people from their sins.

And we need saving.  Our world is messed up.  WE ARE MESSED UP.  There is so much pain and confusion and death and suffering and brokenness all around us … this year has reminded us of that!  We need someone to rescue us … but the problem is, all who we look to in this world to rescue us (politicians, philosophies, etc.) are also broken and in need of fixing themselves.  We need HELP!  

Thankfully God gave it through His Son Jesus Christ.  He came to save us from our sins.  Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment our sins deserve so that we might be forgiven.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)”

Even the name of Jesus reminds us that God is our salvation.  Let’s trust in Him, and thank Him this Christmas for the salvation He provides.

December 25: The Gift – Can This House Hold Him?

This devotional is part of the 2020 Christmas Devotional Book, “The Gift.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 25

Can This House Hold Him? (John 1:14, 18)

The year was 959 BC.  The place was Jerusalem.  500 years had passed since God had called His people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea.  King David had passed away and now the ultimate “wise guy,” King Solomon had ascended to the throne.  By God’s design, Solomon completed a project his father David had planned for . . . the construction of a Temple for God in the capital city.  Inside the Temple, the ark of the covenant would be placed and God’s presence would hover.

In the year 959, Solomon dedicated the Temple and the words he shared provide a powerful reminder for us at Christmas time.  In 1 Kings 8:27, Solomon says of the Temple: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built!”

As Solomon looked at the impressive Temple the people of Israel had just constructed, one of the seven “wonders of the ancient world,” he marveled at the thought that God would inhabit such a common place.

Imagine that you were standing in front of the White House, the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace, or Notre Dame Cathedral.  As you look at these impressive structures, despite all their grandeur, you probably would say something similar to Solomon.  As beautiful as the best of our buildings are, it is impossible for mankind to create an adequate “home” for an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient God.

And yet at Christmas time, we celebrate God coming, not to a palace, but a stable!  We celebrate God arriving not in a chariot but in the womb of a teenaged girl riding on a donkey.  We celebrate God not merely sending a telegram through the stars, but arriving in the flesh.  Listen to what John says in His Gospel, John 1:14, 18: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.”

When we look at nativity sets around our houses this Christmas, we should wonder like Solomon did, “Did God indeed dwell upon the earth?”  The answer to this question is an emphatic YES!

Jesus moved into our neighborhood.  Jesus spoke in a way we could understand.  Jesus demonstrated all Grace and Truth so that we might KNOW GOD.  By living out a life in human flesh and having that life preserved for us in the Bible, we can understand what God’s character is like in three dimensions.

Do not let the wonder of the incarnation slip by you this year.  God did indeed dwell on the earth, and we are blessed beyond measure as a result.

Suggested song for today:  “Joy to the World”

 

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 24: The Gift – What Child is This?

This devotional is part of the 2020 Christmas Devotional Book, “The Gift.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 24

What Child is This? (Luke 2:20)

At the age of 29 William Dix was living in Glasgow, Scotland working as an insurance salesman.  He contracted a serious illness that left him in bed, and also (eventually) depressed.  For the promising young hymn writer, it looked like his illness would limit his ministry.  But, the Lord is not restricted by our limitations.  In our weakness, the strength of the Lord is often most clearly seen. 

It was from this bed of despair that William Dix wrote the hymn “What Child is This?”  The song is a simple Q&A style, where the verses ask questions that the chorus answers.  

  • Question:  “What child is this that lay to rest in Mary’s lap sleeping?”  
  • Answer:  “This, this is Christ the King!”  

In Matthew 16:13-20 Jesus asks His disciples who they thought He was.  Dix’s song points Jesus’ words forward to us.  During the Christmas season we see depictions of Baby Jesus everywhere.  As we see these depictions of Jesus, may we ask ourselves the question of the song, “What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping?”  Some may say that Jesus is a prophet or a religious leader.  But who do you say that Jesus is?  Is He just those things, or something more?

May we come to know (as Peter did in Matthew 16) that Jesus is the Christ (Savior), the Son of the Living God.  And because He is a living God, He offers us a living hope, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).”

From a place of personal frailty, Dix reminded us of the power of God in Christ.  The Child that lay sleeping on Mary’s lap offers hope and life to all who come to know His true identity and trust in Him.  Who do you say this child is?

Suggested song for today: “What Child is This?”

 

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links: