“The New Way” (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 9, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Galatians 3:1-14.  This message was part 1 in the “New Way” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 3:1-14
  3. Have you ever been “bewitched” by an idea or movement that turned out to NOT lead you where you hoped it would go?
  4. The “fool” in Galatians 3 is one who thinks that Jesus is not enough for their salvation and spiritual growth.  What are you (or those you know) tempted to ADD TO faith in Jesus as the “secret” to their spiritual growth?  How does this passage warn against such notions?
  5. Share the story of your salvation?  How and when did you first trust in Christ?  How does remembering this story keep you from thinking you need “something else”?
  6. Paul uses 6 Old Testament Scriptures in Galatians 3:6-14 to argue that the “New Jesus Way” is the only way to salvation and spiritual growth.  Which of these verses stands out to you the most, or is most impactful to you today?
  7. What would it look like for you to live out your spiritual life today in the “new way” of faith in Jesus, and not just in the “old way” of fleshly adherence to the law?  (If you can’t answer that question fully today … don’t worry!  We are only in part 1 of this 7 part series.  We will talk more about this as we go!)
  8. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The New Way #1 5.9.21

 

To listen online, use media player below:

 

To watch, use the YouTube stream online:

 

“The New Way” Sermon Series Preview

In 2021, my family has watched all of the new Marvel series that have debuted on Disney+ (both “WandaVision” and “Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”)  Each of these series tell a long-form, several hour long story spread out over 6-10 episodes.  Due to the long nature of these stories, each new episode begins with the tag … :

“Previously on ___(NAME OF SHOW)___ …”

This allows the filmmakers to show a set of clips from previous episodes to catch the audience up on relevant info they may have forgotten or missed.  It is a helpful tool to keep all of their audience moving together in the story.

We began 2021 in a Sermon series from Galatians 1-2 … a series called “The New Normal.”  These messages from January/February were designed to help us see what “new” that Jesus normalized (in His New Covenant).  After a 2 month break for Bruce’s “Tough Times” series, Easter, and the “Perspective” series, we will be returning to Paul’s letter to the Galatians this Sunday at Wildwood.

So, for those who were not with us in January and February, or for those who forgot the content of those verses …

“Previously, in the letter to the Galatians …”

New Normal – 1 (Galatians 1:1-5) We need to remember that the Gospel message is FROM JESUS Himself!  He sent Paul (and others) to carry this message to us, but this message of rescue is ultimately from Him.

New Normal – 2 (Galatians 1:6-10) Since the Gospel is from Jesus, and does not describe A WAY, but THE WAY that someone can be saved … anyone who changes the Gospel in any way must be confronted … the cost is just too high to ignore it.

New Normal – 3 (Galatians 1:11-24) Paul shares his testimony to remind us that the Gospel he proclaimed was not his own invention, but was God’s idea, described God’s work in us, and ultimately led to God being glorified through us.

New Normal – 4 (Galatians 2:1-10) Though we should fight vehemently for the integrity of the original Gospel message, our attitudes toward people should be willing to relax on some secondary issues in order to keep the “main thing” the “main thing.”

New Normal – 5 (Galatians 2:11-14) Peter knew that God had saved Gentiles and given them equal standing in the church, but he still struggled to apply that truth to the way he treated his Gentile believing friends in Galatia when his Jewish friends from Jerusalem were around.We too can struggle with a gap between what we believe and how we live.

New Normal – 6 (Galatians 2:15-21)  In the doctrinal “heart” of this letter, we are encouraged that we are both saved and sanctified by the grace of God in Christ and we receive that grace by faith.  There is no other way.

New Normal – 7 (Galatians 2:20) Paul applies all the truth of the Gospel in a very PERSONAL WAY … and we are encouraged to do the same.  Jesus’ death paid the price for MY sin.  Jesus’ life makes a way for ME to live a God glorifying life today.

Now, with that orientation, you are ready for the launch of our new series, “The New Way” (which will focus on Galatians 3-4) THIS SUNDAY, May 9 at Wildwood Community Church!  This series will help us understand the differences between the “Old” way of the Law and the “New” way of Jesus, as we live out our relationship with God. 

Old things are sometimes cool.  In fact, people sometimes like to make new things that LOOK old (just go to Hobby Lobby sometime).  In many areas, though, “new” has brought progress. 

Which is greater:

  • An iPhone or a rotary dial telephone? 
  • A horse and buggy or an airplane? 
  • An LED flat panel television, or an old black and white tube model? 

In most every instance, the new out performs the old.  So why would anyone choose the old over the new?  In technology, transportation, or television (for the most part), “old” vs. “new” is a matter of style and convenience.  However, as it relates to our spiritual lives, the “old” vs. “new” choice carries with it significantly more substantial consequences.  Do we choose the “old” way of the Law (see Old Testament law) or do we live in light of the “new” way of the Spirit (the Jesus way!)  We will explore that together over the next 7 weeks.

I am really looking forward to kicking off this study together this week as we look at Galatians 3:1-14 in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 services (or online at 10:15 at wildwoodchurch.org/live).  See you there!

The New Normal (part 7) Sermon Audio, Video, and Questions

On Sunday, February 14, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 2:20.  This message was part 7 in the “New Normal” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find video from the sermon to watch or share, or audio to download or to listen to online.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 2:20
  3. In 3 sentences, how would you describe the Christian life?
  4. Do you have a hard time imagining that God loves YOU (not just people in general)?
  5. Paul personalized what Jesus had made possible … seeing both Jesus’ death and life as having massive implications for him PERSONALLY.  Have you personalized what Jesus has done and thought about what that means in your life today?
  6. If you are a Christian, your relationship with Jesus is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing about you.  What are some of the other things you tend to find your identity in (besides Jesus)?  How does remembering that your “Jesus connection” is most foundational change the way you look at your life?
  7. We live out our new life in Christ at the old address of our flesh.  Therefore we need a plan that has both power and connection.  Thankfully God has given us both!  Think of a current struggle you are going through.  How does following the action steps lined out in the message today help you practically apply this verse to your life?
  8. 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:

New Normal 7

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service, use the stream on YouTube online:

 

The New Normal (part 7) Sermon Preview

I turned 16 about one week before the start of my sophomore year of high school.  The summer leading up to that fateful day was a flurry of activities to prepare me for a major rite of passage:  getting my driver’s license!

In June I took driver’s education in summer school with Coach Shaffer.  A bit later, I passed a written exam and got my driver’s permit.  A couple of months later I located and purchased a great used car.  And then, on the morning of my birthday, I went to the DMV, took my driving test and secured my driver’s license!  

That afternoon I went home, got in my car, picked up a few friends and cruised around town.  It was one of those great “growing up” moments.

Now, imagine for a moment, though, that that afternoon went a little differently.  What if I took the class, got the permit, got the driver’s license, got the car, had places I wanted to go … but had no gas in the tank?  I’ll tell you what would have happened … I would have gone NO WHERE and the disappointment would have been written all over my face.

Now I share that story with you today because when it comes to the Christian life, all too often we:

  • Have a version of “Christian Ed” where we tell people WHAT they need to do to become a Christian.
  • Tell people things they need to permit (and avoid) as they live out their Christian life.
  • Talk about the vehicle of a new life in Christ that they get to “drive”
  • Encourage people to drive this new life with their friends 

However … many times in our conversations about Christianity, we do ALL THAT, but forget to talk about the fuel God has put in our tanks to actually power this life!  What a shame!  

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be wrapping up our “New Normal” sermon series by looking at just one verse (Galatians 2:20) as we see the incredible fuel God puts in our tank, and the key to ignite it in our everyday lives.  I can’t wait to wrap up this series with you together this weekend.  Hope to see you in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service (in person and with classes for students, children, and adults), or 10:15 online in the stream (wildwoodchurch.org/live).  See you Sunday (and we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together)!!

 

P.S.  This week we are singing 3 of my favorite songs (“In Christ Alone,” “His Mercy is More,” and “Amazing Grace”), looking at one of my favorite passages of Scripture (Galatians 2:20), with my favorite congregation (that’s you),  focusing on the most amazing Savior (Jesus).  What a great weekend. Hope you may it in person or online!

The New Normal (part 6) Sermon Audio/Video and Questions

On Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Galatians 2:15-21.  This message was part 6 in the “New Normal” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 2:15-21
  3. If your spiritual journey were like a “math class” what level would you consider yourself at right now?  Basic arithmetic?  Algebra?  Calculus?  
  4. Peter needed to be reminded of the basics of the Christian life by Paul in Galatians 2:15-21.  How would you summarize the most important truth he shares in Galatians 2:16 in your own words?
  5. Have you ever placed your faith in Jesus for your hope for eternal life?  If so when?  If not, what is preventing you from trusting Him today?
  6. Do you treat others as if our hope is found in the same place (in Christ) or do others perceive you think you are “better” than they are because of some other reason?
  7. Based on your understanding of Galatians 2:17-19, how would you answer the question, “If you are not saved by your good works, why would you do good works at all?”
  8. Do you believe that your soul would really be MOST CONTENT living in obedience to Jesus, or do you think “true life” is found someplace else?  Why do you feel the way that you do?
  9. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To download audio, click the link:

The New Normal #6 2.7.21

 

To listen online, use media player below:

 

To watch stream, use YouTube online:

 

The New Normal (part 6) Sermon Preview

Stuck high up in a tree outside my house sits a branch … a big tree branch that snapped off under the weight of last October’s ice storm.  This branch sits precariously balanced on another branch and needs to be removed before it falls and does some serious damage.  How will this branch come down?

Well, you might think there are hundreds of ways for the branch to fall (and my house to be saved as the branch lands softly in the yard), but really, there are only two ways:

  1. I bring the branch down through some kind of organized activity.

2.  God brings the branch down through His sovereign intervention.

Now just because there are only two basic ways the branch will fall, that does NOT mean that there are not variants inside that plan.  Under option #1, I can think of dozens of possibilities:

  • I throw a football (like Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite”) and hit the branch JUST RIGHT to knock it down into the yard (missing the house and deck.)
  • I climb the tree like an American Ninja Warrior and dislodge the branch and throw it down safely into the yard.
  • I hire a professional tree trimming crew to use a bucket truck to lift and set the branch down in just the right spot.
  • I get a long ladder and climb to an appropriate spot and use a chainsaw the remove the branch a section at a time (guiding it to the ground with a set of ropes and pulleys.)
  • This list could go on and on, but you get the point.  

On the side of sovereign intervention:

  • A bolt of lighting could strike that incinerates the branch where it hangs.
  • A gust of wind could sweep through and blow the branch down
  • Another ice storm could weigh the branch down so it falls just right.
  • God could just speak to the branch and it floats to the ground.
  • This list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Really only two options exist. 

Which will I choose?  Well, the divine intervention options sure are attractive!  After all, my organized activity is dependent upon my ability to pay a cost, figure out a plan, and execute with skill … and my skills, budget, and mind are all limited!  God (on the other hand) has limitless energy, income, and ingenuity.  I would FAR prefer Him to intervene … but will He?  Does He even want to? Because I am not sure about that, I am probably going to hire the tree trimming company to help me out.

Now, I want to transition this conversation from my backyard to all of our spiritual lives.  Our lives all sag under the weight of sin, and are precariously hanging on a moment in this life ready to fall at any time and do some serious damage.  How will we be raised up and saved from this body of death?

Well, the religions of the world seemingly offer hundreds of options, but really there are only two ways:

  1. We work our way TO salvation through some kind of organized religious activity.

2.  God steps in and saves us through His gracious work.

Now, there are just two categories, but nearly all religions offer some form of #1 … work your way to God by keeping some set of rules or commandments.  This is the plan in Islam, Hinduism … even humanism.  It also is the most common understanding of Jews … and even many people who grew up going to Christian churches.  

But Jesus actually offered a different way.  Only Biblical Christianity offers a “divine gracious work” kind of way.  Jesus offered to save us on the basis of His work, not ours … all we have to do is believe in Him, and He will give us new life.

So which will you choose?  The “my work” way (depending on our own finite strength, integrity, and devotion) or the “God’s work” way (depending on His infinite power, wisdom, and steadfastness)?  And is the God’s work way even a real option?  Can I count on it?  Does God really WANT to save us after all?

Well, this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, in part 6 of the “New Normal” sermon series, we will be looking at Galatians 2:15-21 together, as we see that justification is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ (and His work on our behalf) … not in our “works of the law.”  Hope you make plans to be with us as we explore this most important truth together!  If we don’t understand the truth we will look at Sunday, we do not understand what it means to follow Jesus.  Make plans to be with us at our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service (in person and with classes for children, students, and adults).  Or, join us online at wildwoodchurch.org/live at 10:15.

New Normal (part 5) Sermon audio/video and questions

On Sunday, January 31, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 2:11-14.  This message was part 5 in “The New Normal” series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 2:11-14
  3. In what ways do you think the Gospel tries to “straighten” our lives?
  4. Peter’s timeline reminds us that there are certain things that we may be quick to learn in our heads, but slow to apply with our hands and feet.  Can  you think of any examples from your own life where you were “slow” to consistently apply a truth you believed early on?
  5. How has the sin of others impacted your life?  How has your sin impacted the lives of others?  How does remembering the horizontal challenges our sin creates inspire us to deal with our sin and not ignore it?
  6. This week’s passage reminds us that we need “straightening.”  What are 1-2 areas of your life that you sense God wanting to correct you in during this season of your life?
  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 #5 1.31.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch, use the YouTube stream online:

 

New Normal (part 5) Sermon Preview

Do you have anything that needs straightening?  Where do you go?  Well, it depends on what needs to be ironed out.

  • If your teeth are crooked, you go to an orthodontist.
  • If your bones are broken, you go to an orthopedist.
  • If your beliefs are twisted, you need to become more orthodox.

Do you see a pattern there?  The prefix “ortho” precedes many terms in our lexicon.  “Ortho” is a Greek prefix meaning “straight” or “correct.”  This prefix is used often and to great effect.  

In Galatians 2:14, Paul uses this prefix in a combination to point out a problem his friend Peter once had.  A problem of not “walking correctly” in light of the Gospel.  The message Paul proclaimed (the Gospel message that had come from Jesus Himself) was intended to be a brace to shape our lives into proper alignment.  More than just a religion or philosophy, the Christian life would be a supernatural life that would straighten out our lives … particularly the way we treat and relate to others.

However, this straightening process is painful.  Like a teenager going through their first few weeks with a retainer, or an athlete beginning rehab on a torn tendon, the early stages of being “ortho-ed” has its fair share of aches and pains.  Turns out, Peter’s problems are all too familiar to you and me … though the specifics of the story vary, Peter’s  growing pains in the New Testament are our growing pains as well.  We grasp the idea of the Gospel long before we apply it completely in our lives.

This Sunday, January 31, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, we will be looking at Galatians 2:11-14 in part 5 of our “New Normal” series as we see our lives brought into alignment with the new Jesus has normalized.  It may be a bit painful … but the end result is a more beautiful community.  Join us as we take a look this weekend in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service (in person and with children, student, and adult classes) or online at 10:15 (wildwoodchurch.org/live.)  Hope to see you there!

New Normal (part 4) Sermon Questions, Audio, & Video

On Sunday, January 24, 2021, at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 2:1-10.  This message is part 4 in the “New Normal” series.  Below you will find questions related to the sermon for group discussion or personal reflection.  You will also find the audio and video of the sermon to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 2:1-10
  3. When was the last time when someone tried to tell you you had to do something (or couldn’t do something) that you felt like you had a “right” to do?  How did you respond?  Why did you respond that way?
  4. What is a relatively new conviction that you have developed?  Take some time and compare that conviction to biblical truth.  Read a commentary about it, talk with Christian friends about it.  How does your new conviction compare to those sources?
  5. Paul circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3) but did not circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:1-5).  Based on what we talked about in the message, why do you think Paul behaved differently in these situations?  How do you apply any principles you derive from that comparison to issues of Christian liberty today?
  6. What are some examples you have seen of Christians (with different traditions and practices) coming together to proclaim the Gospel or to help the poor?
  7. What would it look like for you to keep the Gospel central and your love for people evident in this season of your life?
  8. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to the sermon offline, click the link:

The New Normal #4 1.24.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch video of service, use YouTube stream below:

 

The New Normal (part 4) Sermon Preview

Liberty.  Freedom.  The ability to do something.  The ability to refrain from doing something.  As Americans we like this thought.  Jefferson declared famously in 1776, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (Declaration of Independence) The idea being that no one should come up with a plan that prevents people from these basic pursuits.

Liberty.  Freedom.  The ability to do something.  The ability to refrain from doing something.  As Christians we like this thought.  Paul famously said in 48, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)  The idea being that no one should come up with a plan that adds to the Gospel other criteria by which someone is saved.

That said …  we live out our American life in a country … a society where our liberties are sometimes curtailed for the sake of the common good.  Think speed limits on highways or occupancy limits for fire safety.

Also, we live out our Christian life in community … a congregation where our liberties are sometimes curtailed for the sake of the common good.  We only sing certain songs each weekend (which may not be your favorite song), we meet at certain times (which may not be your favorite time), etc.  

For the most part in our country and in our churches, people are used to a little give and take to form these social contracts.  However, for all of us there will come those moments where something happens that grabs our attention.  Something happens that makes us want to stand and fight.  Some liberty or preference is infringed on or forced on us, and we want to say “NO!”  When is it ok to stand and fight, and when should we sit and compromise?

Well, if I were to take a poll right now, my guess is that the threshold for civil disobedience in our country and our church is different for all of us.  I really don’t want to take that poll, as I think it would only lead to further disunity.  Instead, I want to turn to God’s Word to see what IT SAYS about where we should draw the line.  Specifically, where we should stand and fight and when we should sit and defer on matters INSIDE THE CHURCH.   Don’t you want to know the answer to that also?

Well, this Sunday, we will look at this very question as we explore Galatians 2:1-10 together in part 4 of our “New Normal” series at Wildwood Community Church.  I hope you plan to join us in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service as we see what we can learn from Paul (as he was directed by the Holy Spirit) about when we should stand and when we should sit on issues of truth and liberty.  

Hope to see you this Sunday in person or on the stream (wildwoodchurch.org/live at 10:15)!