Following Our Shepherd (Sermon Audio)

On Sunday, August 11, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Psalm 23 entitled “Following Our Shepherd.”  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

Following Our Shepherd 8.11.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the video of the service, visit the Facebook Livestream by clicking here.

 

 

Following our Shepherd (Sermon Questions)

On Sunday, August 11, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Psalm 23 entitled “Following our Shepherd.”  Below are a set of questions related to the message for further reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Psalm 23:1-6
  3. Who are some of the “shepherds” in your life?  In other words, who are you trusting, listening to, allowing to guide you?  If you followed them this year, where do you think they will take you?
  4. David reminds us that THE LORD HIMSELF is our “shepherd.”  In what ways is the LORD a superior “shepherd” to any of the other voices/leaders in your life?
  5. What are some of the ways that you have seen the Lord provide for your needs in the past? How does remembering what the Lord has done in your life, encourage you to trust Him more this year?
  6. What “valley of deep darkness” are you walking through right now?  How does knowing the Lord is WITH YOU, encourage you to not fear today?
  7. In this life, we are not removed from the vicinity of our “enemies” . . . yet the Lord can still bless us even in the shadow of these challenges.  Can you think of a time when you were blessed by God, even in the midst of trials?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these messages in pdf format, click here.

Following our Shepherd

It is the second week of August, and for many of us, this is the start of a new year . . . a new school year, a new ministry year, a new season, etc.  Anytime you start something new, it is important to pause and consider our aim.  Where do we want to end up when this year is over?  Who will we follow to get there?

Jesus is called the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4) in the New Testament.  This Sunday at Wildwood, I want to ask you a question . . . is the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd also YOUR shepherd?  Is He the One you are following, listening to, and depending upon?  This is the most central question for each of us to answer.

In the Old Testament times, there was man named David who was King over Israel at a critical time.  But David’s life was not all royal parties and celebrations — he went through some very challenging stuff, walking through some very dark valleys.  Perhaps in the midst of one of these dark valleys he took up a pen and wrote a beautiful song that begins with the eternity altering words – “The LORD is MY shepherd.”  The rest of the lyric focuses on the blessing that comes when we follow the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd.

Psalm 23 has been a chart topping song for 3,000 years.  This Sunday at Wildwood, we will look at this song (Psalm 23) together in our time of worship at 9:45 and 11:00.  As we remember the table He has set before us, we will conclude with a time of communion together.  Make plans to join us this Sunday . . . and bring your friends!

This year, let’s follow Jesus together to the glory of God.  See you Sunday.

 

Core Truth: God is Always There! – Questions for Reflection, July 14, 2019

Sermon - Bible App

On Sunday, July 14, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “CORE Truth: God is Always There!” from Psalm 139. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

  1. Share if you have had a favorite comic strip over the years and tell why you enjoyed it so much.
  2. Bruce pointed out that life has numerous valleys, many of which are dark places with imposing shadows. Reflect on and share about a dark valley that you experienced and how God helped you through it.
  3. Linus’ line in the message’s highlighted Peanuts cartoon is: Sound Theology has a way of doing that (taking a load off of one’s mind). Why is that true?
  4. What is the difference between omnipresence and pantheism?
  5. Remember the repeating phrase from multiple passages: He will not fail you or forsake you ? Why do you think God repeats that statement so often? What are some ways that the author of Hebrews adds depth to it in Hebrews 13:5?
  6. The core truths that God knows me and He is always there when knit together underscore God’s providence in your life and mine. Yet, we can oftentimes feel abandoned by God. Why?
  7. It is exciting to ponder that no matter what happens in the future God has already been there. How best can we remind ourselves of that truth?
  8. Core Truth helps to invigorate and strengthen our worship. Spend some time worshipping God either through prayer or song.

Sermon Preview – July 14, 2019

Sermon - Bible App

If you are an NBA fan—and especially a OKC Thunder fan—the last few days have been highly disorienting.  “This is so disappointing”    “I never saw this coming”   “What do we do now?”   Those kind of reactions aren’t unlike reactions we often have when adversity and difficulty comes our way.

This is where Core Truth comes into play.  This Sunday we will continue our Core Truth series with the second installment. Last week we examined the Core Truth from Psalm 139 that God Knows Me! He knows all about me.  He meticulously designed me.  Sunday we will mine another Core Truth from Psalm 139:7-12; 17-18—God is Always There!

The Core Truth that God is Always There is a true major theme in Scripture. Life has many valleys and some of them are dark places with imposing shadows.  Come Sunday as probe deeply this wonderful core truth, along with looking closely at some profound reality that grows from it.  It will be encouraging!!

Please continue to pray for our 176 high schoolers and middle schoolers who are at camp until Sunday afternoon.  Pray that each of them grows deeply in their knowledge of Jesus.

See you Sunday!

Bruce

Core Truth: God Knows Me – Sermon Questions

On Sunday, July 7, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, OK was “CORE Truth: God knows Me” from Psalm 139. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. Read Psalm 139:1-6; 13-16

2. From your younger years share about an arena where you often compared yourself to others in a negative way.

3. Truth be admitted, from time-to-time we all struggle with feelings of insignificance or inferiority. Share some current arena where you at times feel inadequate.

4. Why is that we commonly lose sight of Core Truths that God has designed to strengthen and encourage us?

5. God knows all about you! He knows our every movement, every motivation; He knows all of our quirks and warts. Yet He desires to have a deep relationship with us. List some ways that this truth encourages you.

6. God meticulously designed you…you are His workmanship, His masterpiece. Why is it we frequently view ourselves in negative ways?

7. God gave each of us a unique fingerprint and unique DNA. That is a picture of His plan from the womb to use you as His servant to leave a unique imprint on others. Reflect on some ways that God has shaped you for ministry throughout your life.

8. Spend some time in prayer asking God to show you more deeply how He designed you to serve others.

Sermon Preview – Sunday, July 7, 2019

 

Hello Wildwood Family!

I hope you will have some time to be refreshed over this extended July 4th holiday weekend! In the month of July, we will be presenting a 4 part series of messages entitled, CORE truth. While there are numerous CORE truths we could explore we will only be examining four. The first two involve Psalm 139, one of my favorite Psalms.

Have you ever struggled with comparing yourself to others or found yourself feeling insignificant or inferior? Sure, we’ve all been there more often than maybe we’d like to admit. Well, if you’ve found yourself residing in that world, this week’s message is for you.

We will be diving into Psalm 139:1-6, 13-16. The message title is, “God knows you!” When you step back and reflect, that is truly an amazing truth. Come and enjoy a rich time in God’s Word.

Just a reminder, Sunday the 7th is a “full all in” Sunday. There will be no children’s ministry (our children’s staff is getting a very rare break), nor will there be any student or adult ministry. We will ALL gather in one of our two worship services at either 9:45 or 11 am.

Hope to see you Sunday!!

Bruce

Psalm 57

Over the past year, I have been reacquainted with the Psalms.  Through a combination of reading the Psalms in my One Year Bible reading plan and listening to some new modern arrangements of Psalms set to music, I have found these songs to more and more find their way into my personal and corporate prayers.

In particular, I have loved listening to Shane and Shane’s Psalm based albums, as well as Keith and Kristyn Getty’s “North Coast Sessions.”  In each instance, the artists took a particular Psalm as an inspiration to arrange the content in modern vernacular and to contemporary music.

These artists have inspired me to begin writing some Psalm adaptations of my own.  The first one I wrote is based on Psalm 57.  I used the actual Psalm 57 as my prayer in yesterday’s service, but last month, I wrote (without the music) my own version of this Psalm.  I am including it below in case it helps guide you to worship today!

In Your shadow, I will shelter

As the siren sounds around

In Your shadow, I will shelter

’Til the final trumpet sounds

 

My enemies are near

Angry words thrown like spears

Seek to pierce me to the wall

God most High, to you I call

 

In Your shadow, I will shelter

As the siren sounds around

In Your shadow, I will shelter

’Til the final trumpet sounds

 

My enemies make plans

Traps set to fell this man

Wake up now and praise His name

Salvation comes, I will proclaim

 

In Your shadow, I will shelter

As the siren sounds around

In Your shadow, I will shelter

’TIl the final trumpet sounds

 

Lord, Not what I did earn

‘Tis Your mercy I yearn

Look around and see your grace

Comfort, care, a friendly face

 

In Your shadow, I will shelter

As the siren sounds around

In Your shadow, I will shelter

’TIl the final trumpet sounds

 

My heart remains with You

To God alone be true

For the nations hear Your fame

Glory, glory praise Your name

 

In Your shadow, I will shelter

As the siren sounds around

In Your shadow I will shelter

’Til the final trumpet sounds

A few notes about the imagery of this song . . .

  1.  Living in Oklahoma, we are used to “sirens” going off in the spring time, pushing us to our shelters – tornado shelters!  In life, however, we have a more secure “safe place” . . . finding our protection in the shadow of our God.
  2. Old Testament David wrote this Psalm while in a cave hiding from King Saul.  Saul literally tried to pin David to a wall with a spear, yet in Psalm 57, David references the words of Saul, even more than Saul’s spear.  “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not a sentiment shared by David . . . or me.
  3. The mercy of God is demonstrated to David by the kindness of  Jonathan (Saul’s son).  His friendly face gave David hope and encouragement.  So often God’s mercy is demonstrated to us through the kindness of others.

Let me know your thoughts!