Perspective (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, April 18, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on a variety of verses in the Old and New Testament that talked about humanity.  This message was part 2 in the “Perspective” series and focused on the fact that we were created on purpose and for a purpose.  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. One of the most basic concepts about “the God who is” is that He created us (and not the other way around).  What are the implications you can think of connected to this truth?  To say it another way, SINCE God created us, what does that mean about “us” and our connection to God?
  3. What is the most magnificent thing you have seen in the natural world?  Seeing the order of creation, and the climax of the creation of humanity, how does that impact you as you think about your place in this world?
  4. Are there any people (or groups of people) that you have discounted, dismissed, or dissed?  How does the truths we talked about in this message cause you to think differently about ALL people on the earth?  Any attitude or action you need to adjust regarding your thoughts or behavior connected to a specific person or group of persons?
  5. We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  In the message, we discussed a number of practical ways this plays out in your life.  Where are you most challenged (in response to this message) to live the life you were created for?
  6. I don’t know how many more days until the next “transition point” in your life.  What would it look like specifically for you to glorify God in your life in THIS CURRENT ERA?
  7. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to sermon audio offline, click the link:

Perspective #2 4.18.21

 

To listen to sermon audio online, use media player:

 

To watch the stream, us YouTube online:

 

Perspective (part 2) Sermon Preview

A common theme in worship songs is the idea of FREEDOM.  Songs (both old and new) proclaim the freedom that we have in Christ.  For instance:

  • “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray – I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed Thee.”  – Charles Wesley (“And Can it Be” 1738)
  • “Now we’re free, free, forever we’re free!  Come join the song of all the redeemed.  Yes We’re free, free forever AMEN.  When death was arrested and my life began.” – Heath Balltzglier, Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, and Paul Smith (“Death was Arrested” 2017)

These choruses (of course) are actually anchored in God’s Word.  Just a sampling:

  • “For freedom Christ has set us free …” – Galatians 5:1a
  • “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:7
  • “Live as people who are free …” – 1 Peter 2:16

The concept of freedom is attractive to us, isn’t it?  We love the thought of being set free from the bondage of sin.  However, in our rush to sing of our freedom, let us not allow our eyes to STOP when we see the word “free” in the biblical passages on which this concept is based.  Keep reading:

  • “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slaveryFor your were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:1, 13
  • “For one who has died has been set free from sin … Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” – Romans 6:7, 12-13
  • “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a coverup for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:16-17

See where those passages end up?  We are not set free to simply do whatever WE want to do, but we are set free from sin’s necessary rule so that we might live the life we were CREATED FOR.  We do not make our own purpose (any more than we make our own God.)  God made us … and He made us on purpose and for a purpose.  And the purpose for which God created us is FAR BETTER than whatever else we might cook up.  As it is written:

  • “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him …” – Acts 17:26-27
  • “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
  • “And God blessed them (Humanity).  And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” – Genesis 1:28

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will continue to anchor to the Rock of God’s Word as we look at a truly Christian PERSPECTIVE on humanity.  Who are we?  What were we created for?  These questions are of utmost importance, and much confusion exists today about this matter.  On Sunday we will look at a number of different biblical passages to remind ourselves of who we are, so that we can make more sense of what we have been called to do.  This message will be part 2 of the “Perspective: Viewing today’s world through a Christian lens.”  You can join us in person at Wildwood for our 9:00AM, 10:15AM, or 11:30 AM service on April 18.  Or, you can join us online live at 10:15AM that day (or watch anytime thereafter) at wildwoodchurch.org/live 

As I mentioned last week, this series of messages is really one long message broken into 4 parts.  If you want to look back at last week’s message, you can find it by clicking here. 

Hope you can make it … and hope to see you Sunday!!!  Let’s live the FREE life God has created us for together to the glory of God.

Perspective (Part 1): Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, April 11, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Acts 17:16-34.  This message was part 1 in the “Perspective” series, and focused on the statement, “The God who IS is greater than the God I IMAGINE.”  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Acts 17:16-34
  3. What are some of the ways your “boat has been rocked” by the waves of culture this year?  How have you responded?  Where have you tried to “anchor” and weather the storm?
  4. The Gospel message was relevant and necessary in both the religious synagogue, as well as Pagan Athens.  From your own perspective, is our culture in America today more like the synagogue or a place like Athens?  Why do you say that?
  5. What are some of the “gods” to which people try to anchor to “steady their boat” in today’s world?  What problems have you seen from people anchoring to the wrong thing?
  6. Are you anchoring to the rock of God’s Word?  Which of the 4 kinds of responses best represents your response to this message:  (1) No way I will tie to that Rock! (2) I made the decision long ago to fix to the Rock.  (3) I am fixed to the Rock through others.  (4) I am fixed to the Rock and tie the knot each morning.
  7. How can you help remind others to be fixed to the Rock this week?
  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:

Perspective #1 4.11.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online:

 

Perspective: Series Preview

Have you ever participated in a game of “dizzy bat”?  This relay is straight from the pit of Hades if you ask me.  In this game, people run down to a stationary baseball bat, place one end of the bat on their forehead, the other end on the ground, then spin around as quickly as possible 10 times before “running” back to the start line.  I say “running” because it is next to impossible to run after spinning around that tight of a circle that fast.  When you stop spinning, your world doesn’t … your brain sufficiently scrambled … you either stumble back to the start line like a drunk at the end of a bender, or (if you are like me) fall flat on your back and beg for mercy.  Only after I stop moving can I gain sufficient perspective to get back up and move without falling apart.

I tell you this story because figuratively, I think our society has been playing a professional level game of “dizzy bat” the past 12 months.  With our heads on a “stick” of P’s (pandemics, politics, and protests) we have spun ‘round and ‘round at a disorienting pace in recent days.  As we head into the spring of 2021, many are stumbling toward a new start line, while others are flat on their backs trying to catch their bearings.  Can you relate?

How do we gain PERSPECTIVE in this moment to stop the world from spinning and make sense of what is happening … and (even more importantly) as Christ followers how do we understand our times through a Christian lens and know how we can respond in a God glorifying way in this moment?

Well, over the next 4 weeks at Wildwood Community Church, I am going to do my best to orient us to 4 absolutely critical-to-remember truths to maintain the proper perspective in our day.  These four truths help us maintain a Christian worldview in the midst of a society that wants to keep us spinning.

Most all sermons we preach at Wildwood are parts of larger series of messages, but these next 4 weeks are especially important to hear together.  In a sense, this series is one message in four parts.  I hope you make plans to join us for each of the four weeks for this series entitled, “Perspective:  Viewing today’s world through a Christian Lens.”  The outline of the series is as follows:

  • April 11:  The God who IS vs. the God we IMAGINE (Acts 17:16-34)
  • April 18:  The Human Race, part 1:  Created ON purpose and FOR a purpose (Genesis 1-3, Psalm 139)
  • April 25:  The Human Race, part 2:  What Happened?  (Romans 1-5)
  • May 2:  The BEST Solution (John 3:1-17, Matthew 5:13-16)

In this series, not only will we be looking at these core truths, but also seek to apply these truths to our current dilemmas to see how we might make sense of what is happening around us, and understand the path Christ is calling us to walk.  

I hope you all will join us in person in one of our 3 identical services at Wildwood Community Church – 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 AM or online at wildwoodchurch.org/live.  I will also be posting some additional thoughts and links to resources on this blog throughout the series for those who want to go deeper.  See you Sunday … and invite any friends you know who are also wrestling with these issues.  Let’s look together to see what God says about who He is, who we are, and what we are to do.

Easter Sunday 2021 – Sermon Questions Audio & Video

On Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Luke 24:13-49.  Below you will find questions related to the sermon for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the sermon to listen to, watch, download or share … plus you will also see the slides from the message.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Luke 24:13-49
  3. What images and ideas do you associate with Easter today?  How about when you were growing up?  How do those ideas mesh with the description provided in Luke 24:46-48?
  4. If someone were to ask you, “How do I KNOW that Jesus was the Savior of the world?” – how would you answer them?
  5. Jesus explains His identity to the disciples through the Scriptures.  If this is how we can come to know Jesus, how are you investing time in getting to know Jesus through reading the Bible?  What daily habits are you practicing to help you get to know who Jesus really is?
  6. The bodily resurrection of Jesus provides for us a new identity, a new life, and a new eternity.  Of all the “new” that Jesus makes possible, what excites you the most?  How can you live in light of this “new” this year?
  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 below:

Easter Sunday 4.4.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the worship service, use YouTube online:

 

Palm Sunday 2021 Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, March 28, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message as a part of the Palm Sunday celebration.  This message focused on Luke 19:28-44.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Luke 19:28-44
  3. What are some of your favorite Easter Holiday memories over the years?  Do you remember when you first realized that Easter was all about Jesus and what He has done for us through His death and resurrection?
  4. Have you ever stopped to personalize the crowd that gathered around Jesus on Palm Sunday?  These were not “faceless” people but people whose lives had been revolutionized by Jesus Christ.  They were worshipping Him out of their gratitude and experience (not just their expectations).  When you worship God, do you personalize that worship, reflecting on what God has done for you personally in Christ?  Make a list of things God has done for you in your life and have that list be a springboard to a time of worship before Him this week.
  5. Who are some in “authority” or positions of prominence in your life who do not share your understanding of who Jesus really is?  Have you allowed their opposition to quiet your allegiance to Christ?  How does the picture of the Pharisees on Palm Sunday remind you that those in powerful positions or advanced educations are not always “right” about Jesus?
  6. How does the picture of Christ weeping over Jerusalem motivate you about His feelings for you?  For those around you?  If you have not trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, might you do so RIGHT NOW?  For those already following Jesus, who might you invite to follow Jesus with you this week?
  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:

Palm Sunday 3.28.21

 

To listen to sermon online, use media player:

 

To watch stream of worship service, use YouTube online:

 

Palm Sunday Preview 2021

Just East of the city of Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley and dotted with olive groves, stands a very famous hill.  This hill is appropriately named the Mount of Olives.  Many approaching Jerusalem from Jericho in the East would walk up and over this hill to get to the “city of peace.”  2,000 years ago, a very special approach was made over the Mount of Olives by a very famous Person – Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The particular journey of Jesus I am referring to is what we know of today as “Palm Sunday” – one week prior to His resurrection two millennia ago.

I have been to Israel and stood on the Mount of Olives, looking at the city of Jerusalem from that angle.  If you were to stand on the Mount of Olives western slope and look at the city of Jerusalem, you would notice something peculiar about your surroundings … you would be surrounded by graves!  As a part of the “Social Security” program in Israel today, the government will pay for their citizen’s burial expenses in most circumstances.  I say “most,” because people can pay for an upgraded location for their burial.  Many, many Israelis have paid the fee to be buried on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the city of Jerusalem.  Now why would they do that?  Because of the view?  Well, yes … and no.

The view of the city IS impressive, but it is not the current scenery that has people paying the up charge.  It is the view IN THE FUTURE that has people investing their inheritance.  According to Zechariah 14, when the Messiah returns to Israel, He will land on the Mount of Olives and approach the city of Jerusalem from the east.  Devout Jews, in anticipation of their Messiah’s arrival, are buried, feet facing the city, so that when Messiah comes and raises the faithful dead, they will be ready to join Him in a triumphal procession on the last day.

To commemorate and honor the dead buried on the hillside of the Mount of Olives, modern Jews place rocks (not flowers) on the stone enclosures in which their loved ones are buried.  

So, on the Mount of Olives, there are graves covered in rocks, of expectant (yet deceased) Jews awaiting their Messiah’s return.  Seeing this scene adds a bit of poignant irony to what Jesus said as He was entering the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

That day many were singing and shouting praises to Jesus as their hopeful Messiah and King.  The Pharisees saw what was developing and came to Jesus and said, “rebuke your disciples and tell them to be quiet” (the obvious implication being that the Pharisees did not believe Jesus was the Messiah so it was inappropriate for Him to receive this praise.)  But Jesus responded:

“I tell you, if these were silent the VERY STONES would cry out!”

Whoa.  

In a general sense, Jesus was saying, “it is RIGHT for these people to honor me this way because I AM the Messiah and all of creation knows it … even the rocks!”  

However, as I think about that hillside, I am reminded of those rocks I saw on the graves of people waiting for Messiah to come … He already came, and they missed HIM!  Those rocks cry out for a Messiah that came 2,000 years ago, walking down that very hill … in some cases, walking past those very stones.

Thankfully He is coming again for all the world to see, but in the mean time, let’s not let another moment go by when we don’t recognize Jesus for who He really is and worship Him with all our hearts.  We will try to do that this Palm Sunday, March 28, at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 services as we look at Luke 19:28-44 in our Palm Sunday celebration.  Hope to see you then … and bring friends!

NOTE:  The 10:15 service will be live-streamed at wildwoodchurch.org/live

 

NOTE 2:  If you are interested in going to Israel with myself and Mark Burget  as guides over Spring Break 2022, message me and I will get you the details.  We still have a few spots left on that trip!  Would love to stand on the Mount of Olives with you and talk about this again!

The view from the Mount of Olives today … those stone boxes in the foreground are all graves with small rocks set on top.

Questions for Reflection – Sunday, March 21, 2021

  1. Bruce mentioned how sometimes a tough time can “knock the breath out of us,” or “leave us gasping for emotional oxygen.” Share about a time in your life when you felt much like that and why.

 

  1. Since we began the series on Tough Times has some new adversity or difficulty surfaced in your life?  Elaborate.

 

  1. Bruce stated that when in the midst of Tough Times we need to preach to ourselves the truth of the gospel of God’s presence.  Why is this so necessary?

 

  1. Bruce cited many passages during this message: Joshua 1:5, 9; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 139:7-10; Matthew 28:20b; Hebrews 13:5b-6a; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Isaiah 49:14-16a; Isaiah 46:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:23-25; 2 Timothy 2:1; Habakkuk 3:17-19.  Pick two of them you can reflect on more, or, perhaps choose as theme verses for you over the next month.

 

  1. Bruce mentioned three expressions of His grace toward us. What were they (answer is at the bottom of the page).  How can you better tap into those three expressions of His grace in your life?

 

  1. What might be the top principle you have learned from the Tough Times series?

 

  1. In Isaiah 49:16a (NIV) God says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” What was the background of engraving on palms in the culture of that day? What an amazing picture. Take a few moments to thank your Lord that He has engraved your name on the palms of His hand.  “His loving face is always facing you!”

 

  1. Our series ended with the music video “Even If” by Mercy Me. Watch it again on YouTube (the official lyric video) and express your heart to your King.

Sneak Peek for Sunday, March 21, 2021

Hey Wildwood Family!

So far March has been a little “lion-like” weatherwise.  I don’t know about you, but after a heavy pre-Christmas freeze-out and the two strong snowfalls we had, I am more ready than I normally am for some warm, storm-free spring weather.  Lamb-like weather—come on down!

The year 2021 seems to be screaming along. Easter comes early this year which just hastens the sensation. Palm Sunday is a week from this Sunday on March 28 and Easter is April 4. We again want to encourage you to plan ahead to invite your friends for our special services:  Good Friday (April 2) at 6 pm and 7:30 pm, and four services on Easter—7:30am outdoor sunrise service in the back parking lot and our normal three services at 9:00; 10:15; and 11:30 am.

Easter historically has been one of those times of the year where people in our culture seem to be more open to attending church and seeking the Lord.  This past pandemic year could very well heighten that perspective. Be in prayer for God to lead you to folks who might well respond to a personal invite to join us at Easter time. Lord, change some lives!!

This Sunday we will be concluding our series, Tough Times: Finding Perspective in the Face of Suffering, with part 4. As I stated at the start of the series, my biggest concern was being able to cover all the biblical perspectives in four sessions.  This week’s message will again be packed with verses as we look at some of the resources (His presence and His grace) that are available for us as we face Tough Times.  I think at least one aspect of His grace might surprise some of us.

See you Sunday!!

Bruce

Questions for Reflection – Sunday, March 14, 2021

On Sunday, March 14, 2021, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Tough Times – Part 3”. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. Bruce mentioned four common reactions to Tough Times (all of which are spiritually
counterproductive):
– Grin and bear it (grunt and plod through it)
– Get mad (at God and others)
– Withdraw (from God and others and start the pity party)
– Spend the rest of your life in the WHY? zone (demanding explanations)

When you find yourself facing a Tough Time, what has been your most common response?  Elaborate.

2.  One reason why God allows Tough Times in the life of a believer is to deepen our spiritual character. Name some passages in the New Testament that reveal that information. In His spiritual development plan for every follower of Jesus, what is the primary work God is seeking to accomplish?  [hint is found in Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 4:10b]

How have you experienced spiritual development in your life by walking through a Tough Time?

3. Another reason why Tough Times come in our lives is to expand our ministry in serving and encouraging others.  Re-read out loud 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Think about some of your Tough Times. Can you name an instance where what you went through enabled and equipped you to more effectively comfort and encourage someone else?

Ponder this: Ask God how he might turn your mess into ministry or turn your Tough
Time into a testimony. Look around you for those who might need comfort and encouragement.

4. Two more reasons for Tough Times in our life may be 1) to discipline us when we drift significantly, or 2)  to point us to His sufficiency.  Can you identify any Tough Times where God has worked in that way in your life?  Explain.

5. Finally, Bruce said some reasons for Tough Times are part of the mystery of His will. We may never know the “why” this side of heaven.  What Tough Time in your present, or past, would you most like to have “why?” answered?  Explain some.

6. Turn off your phone and the TV.  Read aloud Proverbs 28:13 and Psalm 139:23-24.
Prayerfully reflect on how God may be speaking to you.

7. Close by reading aloud 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.