Defeating Death (part 7) Preview

Imagine for a moment that we were able to achieve time travel.  Instead of going back in time, what if we brought forward in time a person living in Jerusalem in 30 A.D. Now, imagine that we were to take this person from 30 A.D. and walk them around Norman, Oklahoma.  What would surprise them?

Electricity, cell phones, airplanes?  Of course those would be amazing to the ancient . . . but those things also would be UNFAMILIAR:  items not found at all in the world they knew.  From what they RECOGNIZE, what would surprise them?  Maybe style of dress, size of home, or accessibility of running water.  But what else would be shocking?

Let’s say that our 2,000 year old friend arrived on a Sunday (and we were not under a “stay at home” order) so you took them to church.  You walk into the lobby, grab your bulletin, and head into the worship center.  At that point, the ancient Jerusalemite would SHRIEK in horror.  Why?  Contrary to what some might imagine, their jaw would drop not at the lack of a robe or tie on the preacher or the presence of drums and electric guitar on the stage.  What would shock them would be the presence of a LARGE WOODEN CROSS on the wall.  That’s right . . . the cross would freak them out.  

Why?

Well, we have not seen a crucifixion, but the ancient has.  In the first century, Rome had “perfected” this heinous form of execution.  It was such an awful form of torture that the Romans would not inflict it on their own citizens (unless ordered by Caesar himself!)  The famous Roman politician of this era, Cicero, commented that crucifixion was not something that Romans should even talk about  . . . it was so awful.

And yet, here in 2020, featured in a prominent way on the wall of our WORSHIP CENTER, highlighted by lighting and sung about in songs, is a giant wooden cross.  The ancient would look at this item and assume we were both deranged and dangerous.  Why would we celebrate such a thing?

So, what happened to change the cross from something educated people did not talk about to something people wear as jewelry and hang on the walls of hallowed halls?  

Jesus happened.

“ [Jesus] who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

By going to the cross, Jesus changed the perception of the cross forever.  Not because crucifixion became less brutal, but because the crucifixion for ONE (Jesus) brought about forgiveness, hope, and eternal life for MANY.  Through that one crucifixion, Jesus not only changed the perception of the cross, but the eternal destination of us forever.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 11AM Livestream, we will be continuing our “Defeating Death” sermon series by looking at Matthew 27:27-44 in part 7 of our series.  We hope you make plans to join us at wildwoodchurch.org/live  and invite all you know to join us as well!  There are plenty of “seats” in this virtual auditorium as we will explore the most important event in the history of the world.   “See you there!” for this Palm Sunday event.

Defeating Death (part 6) Sermon Questions and Audio

On Sunday, March 29, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church I preached a sermon based on Matthew 26:57-68; 27:1-2, 11-26.  This message was part 6 in the “Defeating Death” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message, sermon audio, and sermon video.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 26:57-68; 27:1-2, 11-26
  3. Make a list of as many things as you know about Jesus?  How do you know those things about Him?  What is the source?
  4. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Christ (Savior).  What evidence do you see that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world from the list you made in question 3?
  5. Barabbas was a criminal . . . Jesus was perfect.  Based on Pilate’s decision, the innocent One was killed, while the guilty one went free.  Jesus died in Barabbas’ place.  The cross that was prepared to Barabbas was used on Jesus.  Jesus offers to die for our sins as well.  Make a list (privately) of the sins you remember most in your life.  Spend a moment privately confessing those sins to God . . . and THANK GOD that Jesus died to pay the penalty for those sins if we trust in Him.
  6. How are you responding to Jesus right now?  Are you embracing Him as your Savior, rejecting Him like the mob in the Bible story, or trying to avoid Him like Pilate?  If you are embracing Him by faith, when did you start trusting in Him?  If you are rejecting Him or avoiding Him, why are you responding this way?  Would you consider trusting Him as your Savior today?
  7. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

 

To listen to sermon audio offline, click the link:

Defeating Death #6 3.29.20

 

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

 

To watch the video of the service, watch on YouTube online:

 

Defeating Death (part 6) Sermon Preview

Who someone is really matters . . . doesn’t it?  Just think of the past two weeks.  

  • Our Mayor or Governor issue instructions about the freedom of our movements and we listen to them.  Why?  Because of who they are, their words are both binding and influential.  We trust the wisdom they have because they have information and perspective we need.
  • The CDC tell us to “wash our hands” and “stop touching our face” and “stay at least 6 feet from each other” . . . and we do it.  Why?  Because of who they are.  There is science behind their recommendations.
  • The Superintendent of schools cancels classes, so we don’t show up.  Why?  Because of who he is.  He has the authority and power to make such a decision.

So, we are reminded again and again that who someone is really matters.  Now, let’s take this principle and apply it to our spiritual lives.  

Should we trust Jesus with our souls for all time?  Well, it all depends on who Jesus is.  If He is the Son of God who has existed forever . . . then YES!  we should entrust our souls to Him.  However, if Jesus were just some middle-eastern rabbi from two millennia ago, then we should not trust Him with something so important.  It matters who He is.

Should we trust Jesus as the Lord of our lives . . . obeying His commands and following His lead?  Well, it all depends on who Jesus is.  If He is the author of life and the creator of all things . . . then YES!  we should obey and follow Him.  However, if Jesus is just a moral man who lived a decent life as a “nice guy” we should not always obey Him because He could be wrong.  It matters who He is.

In this week’s sermon (part 6 of our “Defeating Death” sermon series) at Wildwood Community Church, we will look at two trials Jesus went through on the morning of His crucifixion as recorded in Matthew 26:57-68 and 27:1-2; 11-26.  In these two trials, the conversation shifts from what Jesus had done to WHO HE IS.  Sadly Pilate and Caiaphas never understood, but we might learn from their interactions who Jesus really is, so that we might entrust our souls to Him and follow Him forever.  “See you” Sunday in our 11AM Livestream as we unpack these passages together.  Looking forward to the time, and invite your friends to tune in with you at wildwoodchurch.org/live

Defeating Death (part 5) Sermon Questions & Video

On Sunday, March 22, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 26:36-56; 27:3-10.  This message was part 5 in the “Defeating Death” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this sermon for personal application or group study.  Also (when available) the sermon video and audio will be posted here as well.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 26:36-56; 27:3-10
  3. What adversity are you facing right now?  Seriously . . . make list of all the things you feel like are pressing down around you.
  4. Jesus literally had the weight of the world on His back . . . so what did He do?  He went before the Lord in prayer!  What can you learn from Jesus’ example of prayer in the face of adversity?  How are you praying through the adversity you are facing right now?
  5. Seeing Jesus “in action” in 26:36-56, what stands out to you about His attitude regarding His progress toward the cross?  What does this tell you about who Jesus is and what He thinks of you?
  6. In the message today, we compared genuine “faith” with the “recognition” of the mob and the “regret” of Judas Iscariot.  Faith is something deeper than either of those reactions.  How would you describe the difference between genuine faith and the counterfeit responses of the mob and Judas?
  7. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

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

Defeating Death #5 3.22.20

 

To listen online, use media player below:

 

To watch the video of the service, see online below:

 

Defeating Death (part 5) Sermon Preview

My son runs track and field.  Like many parents in my situation, that places me in the stands to watch meets during the spring time.  Now, I love sports.  I really do.  Almost every sport has great interest for me . . . except track.  I just don’t consider track meets the best sporting experience:  they are long, slow (for a sport based on speed, this is ironic), and repetitive (‘round and ‘round we go).

Now, that said, there are two things I do love about track:

  1. Watching my son race.  (I’m a dad after all!)
  2. Watching every relay.  (Relays, regardless of distance, bring an entirely different element into track that is far more enjoyable for me to watch.)

Some of you are irate at this point (I’m looking at you “track guy”).  You love this sport and my comments are offensive.  I get it.  Start complaining about the NBA, and I may question your intelligence as well.  We all have our interests and hobbies.  Whether you love track or (like me) prefer other sports, most of us do enjoy relays.

In a relay you have multiple “legs” to the race, each running equal distances, with a baton passed from person to person along the way.  This team effort adds drama and excitement to even the longest of relays . . . something new, yet connected is around every turn.

In a sense, history is a relay.  One generation receives a “baton” from those who proceeded them and then one day pass it on to those who follow.  But even in a greater, macro-level sense, history has unfolded and will continue to unfold as a relay race. Though human history is long, slow developing, and repetitive (nothing new under the sun), there has been a greater story unfolding from the start . . . and this Sunday at Wildwood as we look at Matthew 26 we will see the baton passed at a critical moment in history.  What do I mean?

  • Human history began in a Garden (the Garden of Eden), where humanity first sinned (Genesis 2-3).
  • Human history turned in the Garden (the Garden of Gethsemane), when Jesus stayed the course and went to the cross (Matthew 26:36-56).
  • Human history finishes in the Garden (the New Heaven and New Earth), when Jesus returns people who trust in Him to their full, right, and eternal fellowship with God (Revelation 21-22).

Another way to look at this relay:

  • Humanity fell  at a tree (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3).
  • Humanity is saved when Jesus hung on the tree (the cross) to pay the penalty for our sins (Matthew 27).
  • Humans who trust in Jesus will one day experience eternal life around a tree (the tree of life) living in fellowship with God forever (Revelation 22:1-5).

In both of these relays (“Garden to Garden” and “Tree to Tree”) the middle “leg” is where the race is won.  This Sunday at Wildwood we will look into the Garden of Gethsemane together to see how the rest (of us) are won as Jesus confirms His decision to hang on the tree.  Make plans to join us on our livestream at wildwoodchurch.org/live this Sunday at 11AM in part 5 of our “Defeating Death” sermon series, looking at Matthew 26:36-56, 27:3-10.

Sermon Questions – 3/15/2020

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Avoiding the Pitfall of Failure” from Matthew 26:30-35; 69-75. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

  1. Failure is a part of life. What well-known failure pops into your mind when you think of the whole topic of failure?
  2. We all have personally failed at one time or another. Share about a time when you experienced a failure. Elaborate.
  3. Why do we commonly fear failure so much?
  4. What missteps did Peter make that contributed to his personal failure? [we mentioned three]
  5. Jesus gave a warning to the disciples before they came face-to-face with the potential of failure. Think of some warnings given to us that surface in the New Testament. Elaborate on why you think God has issued such a warning.
  6. Bruce said, “Pride mushrooms in an environment of comparison.” Expand on what you think that means.
  7. One principle that surfaces from our passage is the idea, “pray up or trip up.” Review through the suggested core prayers that Bruce listed:

Lead me               Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18

Teach me             John 14:26; 16:13

Use me                Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10-11

Strengthen me   Ephesians 1:18-20; 3:20

Embolden me     Philippians 1:20; Ephesians 6:19

8. “His grace and mercy are greater than our failures.” Take time to give Him thanks!

Sneak Peek – 3/15/2020

Hey Wildwood Family!!

Wow, it has been wild out there with all the talk and gyrations related to the Coronavirus.  I have no idea where all this is going, but wherever it leads, our God is still fully in charge.  Aren’t you thankful?  Knowing the shepherd is always there with us and always guiding and leading is SO comforting.  Thank Him for loving and caring for you the way He does!!

Talk of the Coronavirus surfaces all kinds of questions.  Be sure to check a subpage on our website  wildwoodchurch.org/health to learn more about both precautions Wildwood is taking and any scheduling adjustments that might arise.  Pray for God’s clear leading on the responses that would be wise for us to implement as a church in the days ahead.

How many of us have experienced personal failure on one level or another?  Yep, ALL of us.  What makes us vulnerable to failure?  What preventative steps can we take to minimize the potential for personal failure?  Those and other perspectives will be our focus on Sunday as we examine the infamous failure of Peter in denying Jesus in Matthew 26.

We will be continuing the Defeating Death series Mark has been leading in Matthew.  I would encourage you to read Matthew 26:30-35 and 26:69-75 before Sunday.  My message is entitled, “Avoiding the Pitfall of Failure.”  Come and join us as we seek to learn truth that can help us more effectively steer around the prospects of personal failure.

 

See you Sunday!!

Bruce

Defeating Death (part 3) Sermon Questions & Audio

On Sunday, March 1, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 26:17-29.  This message was part 3 in the “Defeating Death” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to that message for personal reflection or group discussion.  Also below is the audio & video from this message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 26:17-29
  3. What kinds of things help you remember important things in your life?
  4. Jesus gave us the symbol of the Lord’s Supper to help us remember what He has done for us through His death on the cross.  What has been your experience with the Lord’s Supper in your life?  What  meaning and place has it held in your life?  What questions do you have about it?
  5. Have you ever felt betrayed by someone close to you?  How does Jesus experience with Judas help you know He can relate to you in that pain?
  6. People with titles and around tables with Jesus can still be FAR from Him (and even reject Him).  How does the example of Judas impact your view of experiences you may encounter inside the church?
  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:

Defeating Death #3 3.1.20

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the stream of the service, watch this YouTube video:

To listen to an Easter playlist connected to this series:

Defeating Death (part 3) Sermon Preview

OK.  Right now, I want you to tell me the phone number of a friend you talk with often on the phone.  What is the number?  Do you know it?  I don’t know the numbers of my friends either.  Isn’t that weird?

To this day, I can tell you the phone number of my friend who grew up across the street from me.  I could type it on the phone right now without making a mistake.  How can it possibly be that I CAN tell you a phone number I have not called in nearly 30 years (360 months for crying out loud!!!!) and yet I CAN’T tell you the phone number of a good friend I talked to just about every other day last week?  That seems nuts to me . . . yet it has a simple explanation.

When I was a kid, there were no “contacts” on the phone bolted to the wall of my family’s dining room.  When I wanted to call my friend, I had to pick up the phone and dial his number.  When you make that phone call 300+ times in a year, every year for a decade, you tend to remember it for the rest of your life!  

In today’s day and age, technology has allowed us a shortcut . . . where I can simply tap a picture or a name, and my phone makes the connection for me.  With machines removing the numbers from my regular routine, I no longer know the phone numbers of my friends (after all, what would be the use?)

I tell you this today because in Matthew 26:17-29 Jesus reminds us of how we might be connected to God . . . through His blood “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).”  Jesus wants to make sure we have GOD in our “contacts” . . . but instead of just giving us His name and a picture, Jesus actually gave us a symbol for us to repeatedly do throughout our lives to remind us not just THAT we might be connected to God, but HOW that connection is possible.  Like the powerful teaching moment of repeatedly typing in a phone number, Jesus takes bread and wine and tells us that we should eat and drink these elements often to remember the NUMBER (or better) the way that we are connected to God.  It is through Jesus’ death on the cross for us that we have life . . . and the cup and plate of communion are instituted as repeated reminders to help us never forget.

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be looking at the night Jesus first instituted the “Lord’s Supper” so we might never forget what Jesus has done for you and for me.  This message will be part 3 of our “Defeating Death” sermon series.  Of course, we will also be having the Lord’s Supper as a part of our worship this weekend as well.  Make plans to join us in our 9:45 or 11:00 service.  After all, there is GREAT USE in remembering how our connection with God is made.

Defeating Death (part 2) Sermon Questions & Audio

On Sunday, February 23, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 26:6-13.  This message was part 2 in the “Defeating Death” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to that message for personal reflection or group discussion.  Also below is the audio & video from this message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 26:6-13
  3. Imagine you got an invitation to a dinner party with Jesus, another man who died and was resurrected the day before, his sisters, and a former leper (who was hosting the party!)  What questions would you want to ask during this meal?
  4. Those who are in fellowship with Jesus have seen Him bless us (and others around the “table” with us) in amazing ways.  What are some things you have seen Jesus do in your life or in the lives of those you know?
  5. Jesus was “worth” the extravagant gift Mary poured out upon Him.  Why do you think Mary had become convinced that Jesus was “worth it”?  
  6. What would it look like for you to value Jesus MOST in your life?
  7. The disciples assumed that the gift could have been used to provide gifts to the poor.  They were not incorrect in their assessment, but there is a priority order here that is identified.  Jesus is more valuable than ALL ELSE . . . in other passages (including the end of Matthew 25), followers of Jesus are called to care for the “least of these.”  What balance do you see between THIS situation in 26:6-13 and the call to care for the “least of these”?  Any applications stand out for your life today? 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:

Defeating Death #2 2.23.20

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the stream of the service, watch this YouTube video:

 

To listen to an Easter playlist connected to this series: