Christmas Light (Part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, December 15, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, OK, I preached a message based on Isaiah 42:1-7.  This message was part 3 of the “Christmas Light” series.  Below is the audio from this message to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

Christmas Light #3 12.15.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch the stream of the entire service, visit the Youtube Video:

 

Christmas Light (part 3) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, December 15, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Isaiah 42:1-7.  This message was part 3 of the “Christmas Light” sermon series.  Below you will find a set of questions connected to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Isaiah 42:1-7
  3. What are some examples you can think of where you have felt “stuck”?  Could be stuck in a circumstance, stuck in a sin, etc.?
  4. Jesus has come to unstick the stuck!  We see that in Isaiah’s “servant song” looking towards the person and work of Jesus.  This song talks about Jesus as bringing justice to the world.   Where in our world do you see things “stuck” in injustice?  Don’t you long for a day when this injustice will come to an end?
  5. Jesus also is said to come bringing compassion.  He cares for the weak and wounded.  What does this tell you about God’s heart for you . . . and for those around you?
  6. Jesus also “turns on the light” so that we can see spiritually.  Think of that moment when you first came to faith in Christ.  How did Jesus “turn on the light” for you to come into a relationship with Him?  Who/what did He use to get your attention?  
  7. Jesus has come to set the captives free from their sins.  Do you feel “chained” to any particular sin in your life right now?  How does this passage encourage you as you deal with the failures of your past (and present)?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Christmas Light (part 3) Sermon Preview

Have you ever felt stuck?  I have.  Several times:

  • I once was stuck in an elevator in a dormitory in Volgograd, Russia.  No cell phone, no one there who spoke English (except me . . . and I did not speak any Russian).  I had no idea how I was going to get out of there.
  • I once was stuck in traffic in Dallas . . . actually I have been stuck in traffic MANY times, but this time was particularly notable because it made my 25 minute commute a 3 hour stay on I-30 . . . and I had to go to the bathroom before I got in the car.  I was so uncomfortable to be stuck there.
  • I once was stuck on a rooftop of a house in Grand Prairie.  I was washing windows, and climbed up, but could not reach the fence top to hop down off the roof.  I was scared to move!

Many of us have similar silly stories of times we were stuck.  The fact that I am writing this blog post means that I got out of that elevator, off of the highway, and down from that roof!  But there are other times of being stuck that we all share as well . . . and they are not so silly.

  • Sometimes we feel stuck in an addiction to a destructive behavior.  We don’t know if we can quit!
  • Sometimes we feel chained to a misdeed from our past.  A mistake from years ago (we feel) is branded on our chest, and we don’t know if we can get it off.
  • Sometimes we feel locked in a holding cell awaiting eternal judgment . . . after all the wages of sin is death (and I’ve sinned a lot).

Sometimes we just feel stuck!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a way to get “unstuck” from these more serious situations.  Far more than just making us uncomfortable, confused, or scared, there are things that oppress and depress us.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if Someone were able to unchain us from these sins?  Wouldn’t it be  awesome if some how, some way, Someone would/could turn on the light so we could see straight and leave the dungeon of our despair?

Guess what?  There is a “Someone” who can illumine and unlock our lives.  He is Jesus Christ, and this work of His was described 700 years before His birth in Isaiah 42:1-7 in what is called a “Servant Song.”  Right after Jesus was born, an old man named Simeon sang this “Servant Song” as one of the first “Christmas Carols” ever sung over Jesus (see Luke 2:29-32).  This Sunday at Wildwood, we will look at this song and celebrate the freedom it points to.  See you Sunday . . . and invite your friends to worship with us at 9:45 or 11:00.  Let’s get “unstuck” from our sin and free to follow the Savior!

Christmas Light (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, December 8, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, Oklahoma, I preached a sermon based on John 1:1-14. This message was part 2 of the “Christmas Light” series.  Below is the audio from the message to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Christmas Light #2 12.8.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch a video of the entire worship service:

 

 

Christmas Light (part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, December 8, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on John 1:1-14.  This message was part 2 in the “Christmas Light” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read John 1:1-14
  3. Do you normally think of “Life” and “Light” when you think of Jesus?  Why or why not?
  4. What are some examples you can think of in our daily lives where people are “running the wrong direction” to find life and light?
  5. Certainly we CAN live our lives any way we want . . . but there is only one way of living that we were MADE FOR . . . and this is the life Jesus calls us to as we follow Him.  Have you experienced any “breaking” in your own life as you tried to life a life without obedience to Jesus and His Word?
  6. The Light of Jesus illuminates our way.  What is your plan to have YOUR path lit by Jesus (through the Scripture and the Spirit) in the new year ahead?
  7. When you think of your life right now, is it characterized by “receiving” Jesus or “rejecting” Jesus as the Lord of your life?  How do you want your life to be characterized in the year ahead?
  8. You can receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior right now, and experience the benefits and blessings of being a child of God.  Are you trusting in Him today to be your rescuer of sin and judgment?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Christmas Light (Part 2) Sermon Preview

55 years ago, Minnesota Viking Defensive End Jim Marshall was involved in one of the most famous plays in NFL history.  Though no NFL defender has ever played more seasons, and though Marshall recovered an NFL record 30 fumbles in his career, he will always be remembered for a particularly grievous mistake he made in a 1964 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

At a critical point in this game, the Vikings’ “Purple People Eaters” defense forced a fumble from a 49er ball carrier that was scooped up by Marshall.  In the excitement and confusion of the moment, Marshall got turned around and ran 66 yards THE WRONG WAY into his own end zone.  Thinking he just scored a touchdown, he threw the ball out of bounds in celebration, resulting in a safety.  Though he worked hard (recovered a fumble and quickly ran 66 yards), and though he sincerely thought he had scored, he was mistaken.  Instead of “winning” he was “losing” – that moment at least.

I was thinking about Marshall’s moment today as I reflected upon John 1:1-14.  In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is referred to as both “Life” and “Light.”  These are two things that virtually all of humanity wants and needs.  In fact, they are intimately connected.  You cannot have life without light.  When God created the world at the beginning of all things, He FIRST created light, as it was necessary for everything else to survive (Genesis 1:3).  Though all of us want and need life and light, we sometimes run the wrong way to find them.

In the confusion of life, it is all too easy for us to get turned around and headed in the wrong direction.  Sometimes we think that Jesus (or at least the version of Christianity we are familiar with) wants death and darkness for us . . . to remove the fun out of life by telling us what we cannot do.  In the temptation of everyday life, we scoop up an “opportunity” and run in the opposite direction of Jesus, headed towards drugs, pornography, an affair, gossip, the accumulation of material possessions, etc. thinking that if we run hard enough in that direction, we will “win” the satisfaction of enjoyment.  The problem is, these temptations do not produce the celebrations we desire.  When we reach that “end zone,” like Marshall’s “wrong way run,” we find shame and not satisfaction.

When John tells us that Jesus is both Life and Light, he is like a coach reminding us which goal line we were created to move towards.  Jesus does ask us to follow Him as He heads in a particular direction . . . but that direction is always life and not death; light and not darkness.  This is not to say that there will not be challenges as we follow Christ . . . but it is to say that those challenges are momentary, while the “win” is eternal.  When we do not follow Christ, it is just the opposite . . . the ecstatic feelings are fleeting, but the “loss” lasts.  

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will continue our series “Christmas Light” by looking at John 1:1-14.  In this message we will see what is meant by Jesus being Life and Light.  I know you want Life and Light for yourself and for those you know.  Come this Sunday, and invite your friends, as we explore this theme together in God’s Word.  Additionally, the children will be singing this Sunday in our worship services at the end of the services (this is an annual Wildwood tradition!).  We can’t wait to worship with you this holiday season.  See you Sunday at 9:45 or 11:00.

Christmas Light (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, December 1, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Isaiah 9:1-7.  This message was part 1 in the “Christmas Light” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from this message to listen to, download, or share.

 

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

Christmas Light #1 12.1.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the stream of the entire worship service, watch the YouTube video below:

 

Christmas Light (part 1) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, December 1, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Isaiah 9:1-7 and Matthew 4:12-17.  This message was part 1 in the “Christmas Light” sermon series.  Below are a list of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Isaiah 9:1-7
  3. In what way do you think that “lights” are especially relevant decorations for Christians at Christmas time?
  4. Reading Isaiah 9:1-2, we see the audience described as in anguish, gloom, contempt, and in darkness.  What evidence do you see today that our world also struggles from these conditions?
  5. What are some of the things you see in the world today that make you long for God to intervene and set things “right”?
  6. How have you personally dealt with the “darkness” of the world?  Are you dealing with despair, depression, etc. right now?
  7. The coming of the “child” in Isaiah’s prophecy brings with it a number of “upgrades” described in Isaiah 9:1-7.  Does it surprise you that the coming of Jesus brings with it so many societal changes?  We talk often of Jesus saving us from our sins, but this prophecy speaks of Jesus changing the world!  
  8. Jesus came to turn on the light and rebuild the world.  Have you repented of your sin, and begun living your life in the light of Jesus?
  9. Who will you invite into the light with you this Christmas season?
  10. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To access all 31 days of the “Christmas Light” Devotional, click here.

To access the “Christmas Light” Playlist:

Questions for Reflection: November 17, 2019

On Sunday, November 17, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Providence (Esther) – Remarkable Reversal” from Esther 8:1-10:3. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1.  Bruce shared this quote by John Calvin:
Ignorance of providence is the ultimate of all miseries;
the highest blessedness lies in the knowledge of it
What practical life truths do you think Calvin was seeking to highlight by this statement?

2. Isn’t it incredibly comforting to know that God is never out of touch? He is never fretting or panicking, never bumfuzzled and bewildered, never perplexed, distressed or flustered. He is never impotent, baffled or disoriented; nor ruffled or rattled.

It is astonishingly true that He can work even in selfish, secular, and sinful settings to accomplish His providential plans. He is always at work even in hostile situations, even amidst irresponsible, greedy businesses, even in the face of selfish, misguided leaders. He is always grieved by wrong and injustice (and always holds those responsible accountable), but life is never beyond his providential control and sovereign working.

Why then is it so hard for us to trust Him?

3. God desires for each of us to influence others for His eternal kingdom. We may not ever achieve the recognition of a Queen Esther or a Martin Luther, but He desires us to influence others.

As Ephesians 2:10 highlights, there are good works that He has prepared for each of us to accomplish. To that end, He presents us with opportunities among our family, our neighborhood, our work, school, church, the community, even the world.

Where has the Holy Spirit been nudging you recently about stepping up and making a difference in the lives of others? Elaborate.

How much does the dictum “A turtle only makes progress when it sticks its neck out” apply to you?

4. One of Bruce’s thoughts was: “When you cannot trust what you see, you must trust who you know.”  What does that mean practically in everyday life?

5. Bruce closed in prayer citing 1 Timothy 1:17.  Take some time to praise God for who he is.

Sneak Peek: Sunday, November 17, 2019

Hello Wildwood Family!

Well, did your winter coat smell dusty or have an odd mothball fragrance?  I ask because I know we all grabbed our winter coats from the back of the closet to warm ourselves as the temps dipped into single digit wind-chill levels this week.  Brrr.  It wouldn’t be so bad if we had a pile of snow to frolic in!

Be sure to be praying for our nation and leaders as an impeachment investigation is under way.  Pray for truth to be heard and for justice and unity in our country.

Christmas is coming at us like a snowball rolling down a big hill. Please plan to help with our church decorations a week from Sunday (November 24) right after church.  Pizza and drinks will be served for all workers.  Please let Rebekah Key know if you and/or your family can lend a hand or two ( rebekahkey@wildwoodchurch.org )

Also, we have a wonderful opportunity to touch the lives of the disadvantaged in Norman through the Mission Norman Christmas Shoppe. Opportunities include purchasing or funding gifts and volunteering in multiple ways.  To learn more, to sign up, or to volunteer check our website at wildwoodchurch.org/missionnorman.

Sunday we will conclude our Providence series on the Book of Esther by looking at chapters 8-10 (please read those chapters before Sunday) in a message entitled, “Remarkable Reversal.”  We will also address several common reactions people tend to have to the concept of God’s everyday providence.

 

See you Sunday!

Bruce