Questions for Reflection – July 10, 2022

On Sunday, July 10, 2022, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Spiritual Gifts – Part 2” from our sermon series“Divinely Designed to Serve”. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. Think of a time when something you got or bought didn’t fit what you needed it for, OR a time when you discovered something you had that no longer fit. Share a little about it. In a sense, we want our key ministry/serving activities to “fit” with the way God designed us to serve.

2. Bruce talked about the “3 V’s of Gifts” from 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. He mentioned how the “3 V’s” assist us in abstaining from the comparison syndrome. Why is that true?

3. Bruce talked about the 9 Consensus Spiritual Gifts. Which among those nine was a newer idea for you? Did you readily identify with one or more of those nine?

4. Bruce mentioned 3 Fascinating Facets about gifts. Can you recall what those were? What do you think about the idea that all the nine spiritual gifts are designed to be models or prototypes to inspire other believers?

5. How do you sense that the Holy Spirit may be encouraging you to be more active in ministry?

6. Who could you encourage this week as you’ve observed them be effective in ministering to and serving others?

7. When you take the Spiritual Gift Indicator profile, discuss the results with at least one other person.

​​​​​​​8. Take time to praise God for divinely designing you to serve Him and others.

Sneak Peak – Sunday, July 10, 2022

Hey Wildwood Family!

The weather the past few days reminded me of a movie song from the 80’s, entitled, The Heat is On. The chorus is simple
The heat is on, the heat is on
The heat is on
Oh it’s on the street The heat is… on
Yep. Pretty much describes the past week in Norman America. I pray you’ve been able to stay cool!

I’m very excited to move into message #2 in our July series on Divinely Designed to Serve. After week one I pray many of you were spiritually refreshed by being reminded that we are God’s workmanship, His handiwork, His masterpiece. We are investigating the question: How did He S-H-A-P-E us to serve Him and others?

This Sunday we will continue the S-H-A-P-E acrostic by delving deeper into the subject of spiritual gifts. I think you will find the message highly informative and helpful. We also will share how you can take our Spiritual Gift Indicator profile to gain insight to your spiritual gifts.

Stay cool and see you Sunday!

Bruce

Questions for Reflection – Sunday, July 3, 2022

On Sunday, July 3, 2022, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Spiritual Gifts” from our sermon series “Devinely Designed to Serve”. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

  1. What are some of your favorite aspects of God’s divine handiwork in this world?  Bruce mentioned majestic mountain scenes, sunsets ablaze with colors, and the intricacies of individual snowflakes.  What others might you include?  Explain some
  2. The core passage from part 1 of our series on being Devinely Designed to Serve is Ephesians 2:10.  Read it out loud.  Read it again and this time put your name in the verse (e.g., Bruce is His workmanship… so that he would walk in them.  Do you believe that?  Why do we sometimes struggle believing that concept?
  3. Ray Stedman said, “The whole subject of spiritual gifs is the lost treasure of Christianity.”  Why is that?  What should we do to “recover” that lost treasure?
  4. Bruce stated that the truth about each one of us receiving a spiritual gift(s) alleviates what he called the “I have nothing to offer syndrome.” Why do we sometimes feel like we have little to offer in serving others?
  5. Bruce cited several verses that exhort believers about spiritual gifts. As honestly as possible, might the Holy Spirit be using one of the verses below as directed at/or descriptive of you?  Elaborate
    1. Don’t neglect the spiritual gift that is in you (1 Timothy 4:14)
    2. As you’ve received a spiritual gift employ it in serving one another (1 Peter 4:10)
    3. Rekindle the gift of Gid which is in you (2 Timothy 1:6)
  6. Prayerfully be asking yourself this week: How can I serve and invest in others?

Sneak Peek – Sunday, July 3, 2022

Hey Wildwood Family!

This has been a “different” week for the Hess family.  Our 42-year-old daughter, Emily, started chemo treatment on Tuesday for stage 4 mucinous adeno carcinoma which she’s been diagnosed.  Em has been a traveling surgical technician for some years now.  Currently she is staying with us as she undergoes treatment.

Emily likes to tease that she is following in her daddy’s footsteps as I’ve battled prostate cancer twice.  The prognosis is unclear at this point, but we would covet your prayers for minimal side effects and maximum effectiveness in the chemo process.  Thank you.

My goodness, you blink your eyes and it’s July!  Better hang onto your hat…it’ll be Christmas soon!! 😉

I’m excited to be speaking in the month of July as we start a new series I’ve entitled, Divinity Designed to Serve.  This is a series for all ages and for all followers of Jesus.  We will be mining the phenomenal truth that as followers of Jesus we are true masterpieces that God has specifically designed to serve Him and others.

Part of what we will be looking at on Sunday will be what Ray Stedman described as “the lost treasure of Christianity.”  What is that?  Well, come Sunday and we’ll investigate together!

Please note that this Sunday is one of our rare “All-in” Sundays, an opportunity for the whole family to attend church together.  This Sunday there will no nursey, children’s, student or adult groups meeting.  Let’s ALL huddle at 8:30; 9:45 or 11:00 and worship together!  All classes will resume as normal next week.

Also, for families with students – please note that Wildwood Students camp registration closes soon.  Don’t miss out!

See you Sunday,

Bruce

Lord of the Earth (part 7) Supplemental Material

Over the past 7 weeks, we have been studying Revelation 6-18, seeing Jesus revealed as the “Lord of the Earth.”  It has been a joy to preach seven sermons, and also to add additional material on this blog, to help us understand these verses better.  It has been my prayer that this study would not just make us more biblically literate, but also that God would use this section of His Word to increase our faith in Him and our love for others.  If you have had any encouragement from this series, I’d love to hear it!  These have been challenging passages to preach, but I believe God has great stuff in here for us!

I want to share just one additional thought about a section of verses (Revelation 17:7-13) I mostly skipped this morning in the sermon.  These verses further describe the anti-christ.  Just to recap some of what we know of the anti-christ from Scripture:

  • The anti-christ is a human leader who comes on the world scene in the last seven years before Jesus returns to the earth. (Revelation 13:1)
  • The anti-christ will be a human pawn used by Satan to mislead the world.  (Revelation 13:4)
  • The anti-christ will preside over a one world government for a period of roughly 3.5 years.  (Revelation 13:5)
  • The anti-christ’s religious leader (the false prophet) will promote the worship of the anti-christ as a god and persecute all who do not worship him.  (Revelation 13:11-18, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
  • The anti-christ will be defeated by Christ at His return and judged severely.  (Revelation 19:20)

In Revelation 17:7-13, we see more details about the anti-christ’s human activity and identity.  We see:

 

  • The anti-christ is referred to in this section as the “beast.”  (17:7).  This symbol is consistent with the depiction of the anti-christ in 13:1.  He does not sound like a friendly fellow!
  • The anti-christ is described as “coming from the bottomless pit” (17:8).  This speaks to his association with Satan and Satan’s schemes.
  • The anti-christ is also described as “going to destruction” (17:8).  This is a further reminder that his reign and rule will be short and have no future!
  • The anti-christ will be able to mislead the non-Christians on the earth and deceive them into following him during the last days (17:8).  This will happen (in part) because of a deception that the anti-christ will pull off in the last days.  The anti-christ appears to recover from a fatal injury (as described in 13:3-4) and this will impress the people into following the beast.  This phenomena hinted at inside Revelation 17:7-13 with the repeated phrases, “was and is not and is to come.”  The Beast’s fake resurrection is what is hinted at in those phrases.
  • The anti-christ will be connected to seven heads, which are said to represent both seven mountains (17:9) and seven kings (17:10a).  What is this talking about?  Well, in the first century, the city of Rome was said to rest on seven mountains.  Therefore, the connection of the anti-christ to the one seated on seven mountains seems to indicate that the anti-christ will be the leader of a revived Roman Empire.  I will not go into the detail here, but Daniel 9:24-27’s prophetic calendar also implies that the anti-christ will begin his reign from inside a revived version of the Roman Empire (though it may not go by that name, it will be made up of similar people.)  The seven kings, therefore, would represent a team of seven world leaders who make up the new Roman Empire in the end.
  • The anti-christ will ultimately take control of the whole world, including subjugating the other kings of the revived Roman Empire under his rule in as he establishes his worldwide reign in the middle of the Great Tribulation period (17:10-11)
  • The anti-christ will have ten lieutenants (represented by the ten horns) who will serve with him in his worldwide rule (17:12a).  They will support the one world rule of the anti-christ unto the end (17:13).  It is these world leaders who will assemble the army to fight the Lamb and the Lamb’s people in the ultimate “battle of Armageddon.”  This battle is spoke of in 17:14 … and we will look at more of the specifics of this when we get to Revelation 19 later this summer.
  • The anti-christ is Satan’s last best gasp to take over the world … and with all of his work and effort, he is only able to hold his rule for a VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME (see the reference to “one hour” in 17:12b.)  Further … even this short “reign” of Satan and his beast is only possible because the true Lord of the Earth (Jesus Christ) allowed it!  As we saw this morning in 17:17, God allows the Beast this moment only to expose how truly wicked and awful he really is.  A world completely captive to Satan’s lies is a world no one wants to be a part of … when seen in all of its awfulness.

So, friends, these verses in Revelation 17:7-13 further describe for us the Beast.  If we know Jesus as our Savior, we will not be on this earth when this Beast/anti-christ is wielding his power (since the rapture of the church precedes these events) … but seeing these prophecies unfold, hopefully we are encouraged to stay faithful to our God.  This world and its guiding principles are a terrible substitute for our God.  Let’s follow Him wherever He goes.

Lord of the Earth (part 7) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 26, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 17-18.  This message was part 7 in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio/video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 17-18
  3. The picture of Revelation 17:1-18 is of the world system as a “Prostitute” luring the world to embrace its ways.  Based on what we talked about this morning, does the choice of a prostitute as a symbol for the world make sense?  How does that picture resonate with you?
  4. This morning we also talked about the temptation for each of us to have a “price” for which we would sell out Jesus.  For some the price is their life, for others it is their stuff, for others it is their job or reputation, for others it is their pursuit of what “feels right.”  Where are you most tempted to “sell out” and not obey Jesus in your personal life?
  5. The world eventually gets devoured by the same system it is riding today.  It self-destructs in the end, and it wants to wound and rob you of whatever you gained inside its system in the process.  How does this reminder motivate you to stay faithful to Jesus ?
  6. What is the future of the material possessions we cling to today?  How does being reminded of their end impact your stewardship of resources today?
  7. What would it look like for you to “come out from the world’s system” today (18:4)?
  8. 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:

The Lord Of The Earth #7 6.26.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the stream, use YouTube online:

 

“Lord of the Earth” (Part 7) Sermon Preview

Have you ever taken Driver’s Ed.?  I did.  Long ago in the summer of 1989.  In this class I learned about turn signals, emergency brakes, how to parallel park, and how many feet I should leave between me and the car in front of me.  You know what else I learned?  How important it is to obey all traffic laws.

The majority of the instruction in this course was done in lecture format or “in the car” driving sessions with the instructor.  That was sufficient to teach parking techniques and how to appropriately use the blinker.  But when it came time to talk about the importance of traffic laws … the form of pedagogy changed.  They tried to terrify us.

It began with a survey of the fines you have to pay if you break the law.  Then, it progressed to the discussion of having your insurance or driver’s license cancelled.  However (just to close the deal) the instructors saved the big guns for the end … movies detailing gruesome traffic accidents with the not so subtle admonition – if you break the law this could be you!

This summer, my son is taking Driver’s Ed.  I am curious if the tools of the trade have changed at all.  We will soon find out!

I share this today as we prepare for the seventh and final installment in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series at Wildwood.  This weekend we will be looking at Revelation 17-18.  In these verses we have a “gruesome video” detailing the dangers of driving the world’s system.

In Revelation 13:11-18, Satan’s end time’s plan was on display.  Through the work of a false prophet, Satan entices all the world to worship the anti-christ as god.  If they do so, they will receive some form of “blessing” and will be allowed to continue to work and profit inside the world’s system.  For those who refuse to worship the anti-christ, they will be marked for persecution and forbidden the chance to work and make a living in this world.  No doubt this pressure will woo some (in the last days) to worship the beast in order to get the political connection and material gain that he promises.  Though the particulars are different, the same pressures rest on us today.  “Follow the world and fit in … don’t follow the world, and prepare to be cancelled!”

But in Revelation 17-18, Jesus (the Great Educator) debuts  films on where riding the system of this world leads.  To no one’s surprise, the anti-christ and his system provide no permanent relief, and will ultimately turn on you and try to devour you.  Further, the material gain the world economic system promises will ultimately fail.  

Jesus shows these movies to “scare us straight.”  And encourage us to trust the One who will never let us down and invest in what is guaranteed to last.  

Make plans to join us this Sunday as we conclude this series together in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 service.   Join us … and bring friends!

 

A Few More Thoughts on Revelation 14 (Lord of the Earth part 6)

In this morning’s message from Revelation 14, we talked about the question, “Who marks your life?”  We saw how there are two primary things that can mark our lives:  this beastly world, or our Creator God.  Against the backdrop of the end times (and the “666” mark of the beast from Revelation 13 vs. the sealing of the 144,000 with the name of the Lord), we were encouraged to have JESUS be the One who most marks our lives.  

Due to a lack of time, we were not able to finish our study of Revelation 14, so I wanted to supplement this morning’s sermon with a quick look at Revelation 14:14-20.  These verses add an emphatic modifier to the question “Who marks your life?”:

Who marks your life makes a remarkable difference.

This truth comes clear as we reflect further on the last section of chapter 14.  In these verses, a variety of angels (and Jesus Himself!) show up to further drive home the importance of our decision.

First up is Jesus, who is seen sitting on the clouds in 14:14-16 with a large sickle in His hand.  The sickle is a farm instrument used at the time of harvest to cut down the crops.  With this sickle, Jesus is going to bring this current era of history to a close, as He “harvests” His people out of the earth.  This is a dramatic picture of what will happen at the end of this age when Jesus will call ALL PEOPLE to His altar and have them give an account for their lives.  This time before the throne will be experienced by both Christians and non-Christians alike.  What we do matters, and one day we will give an account for our lives to God.  In 14:14-16, Jesus swings His sickle and brings one group of people to account. 

After Jesus swings His sickle, an angel emerges, holding an additional sickle (14:17-20).  This angel is encouraged by a THIRD angel to swing that sickle and continue the harvest of the earth.  The third angel (who encourages the second) is identified as the angel “in charge of the fire.”  What does that mean?  Well, the fire referenced here is most likely the fire burning the incense in heaven containing the prayers of the saints … specifically the prayers begging God to bring justice to the earth and avenge the death and persecution of the martyrs (see Revelation 8:1-5).  This angel also obliges and swings His sickle, bringing about the wrath of God upon the earth.

So what is happening in these two swings of the sickle (one by Jesus and the other by the angel)?  

It seems that these two actions represent something that will take place at the end of this age.  The event of Revelation 14:14-16 seems to be referring to Jesus bringing His church before Him at the end of this age, and rewarding us for any faithful service we have rendered to Him (something we will talk about later in our study of Revelation.)  

The event of Revelation 14:17-20 seems to be referring to the judgment of the people of the world who have not trusted in Christ (and who have persecuted the followers of Christ in the last days).  They will receive the wrath of God in the end, and will see their life crushed like a grape on a winepress.  This graphic description seems to line up with what will happen when Jesus really returns to the earth.  The armies of the earth will be gathered in opposition to God and His people, and will be marching on the city of Jerusalem, hell-bent on killing all Christ-followers found there.  However, Jesus intervenes by returning to the earth and slaughtering the enemy armies in the battle of Armageddon (we will see more of this when we look at Revelation 16:15-19 and 19:11-21 later this summer).  This final battle will occur in Israel in the Jezreel Valley that runs from Meggido in the North (Armageddon means – Mt. Meggido), and Edom in the south.  This stretch of land is about 200 miles long … or in ancient measuring standards, about 1,600 stadia long … and apparently, the enemy armies will be slaughtered there in great numbers with their blood splattering as high as a horse’s bridle throughout that region (Revelation 14:20).  (NOTE: we will talk more about this battle when we get to Revelation 19 later this summer).

These swings of the sickle by the “grim reapers” of Revelation 14 are reminders of the importance of having our lives marked by Jesus.  Real consequences are at stake.  If we find our lives only marked by this beastly world, there will be hell to pay (literally).  And, if Jesus is really the One who has marked our lives, then we should follow Him wherever He goes (in obedience) … knowing that we will one day provide to Him an accounting for our lives.  The graphic descriptions of 14:14-20 are left to further impress us that Who marks our lives is of remarkable importance!

So … who marks your life?  I implore you to trust in Jesus Christ while you have time!

Now, in closing … two more thoughts:

  1. The wrath of God is pictured here as wine (14:17-20).  This bitter wine of judgment is prepared by God and will be poured out on all who reject Jesus.  Thinking of wine as a picture of judgment adds greater meaning to the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42.  There Jesus prays, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”  Jesus is praying just hours before He goes to the cross, and He asks God to remove the cup from Him.  What cup?  The wine cup of God’s wrath!  Yet Jesus says, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”  On the cross, Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath.  All of it.  All who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins see the wine of God’s wrath, earned by our sin, poured out on Jesus who died in our place!  Oh what grace!  The sinless Jesus drinking the wrath intended for sinful us according to God’s plan to redeem us and make us His!  Thank you Jesus for not passing on the Cup, but drinking it for me!
  2. Notice where Jesus is standing in 14:1 (on the rock of Mt. Zion) vs. where Satan is standing in 12:17 (on the sands of the sea).  This picture further drives home the massive differences between being marked by “the beast” and being marked by God.  One is flimsy … as if on shifting sand … while the other is resolute upon the solid rock!  The system of this world is passing away (14:8), and hell awaits those who are only marked by it (14:9-11).  Meanwhile, the Gospel is eternal and universally necessary (14:6-7) and heaven awaits those who are marked by Him (14:13).  

Who marks us is of remarkable importance.  Who marks you?

 

P.S.  One last thing.  Biblical scholars debate which “Mount Zion” is referenced in Revelation 14 … the Mount Zion of earth (around Jerusalem), or the heavenly Mount Zion, talked about in Hebrews 12:22-24.  As I mentioned this morning, I believe this is a reference to the earthly Mount Zion upon the earth.  That is where the 144,000 are located during the time of the tribulation according to Revelation 7, and God’s preservation of them upon the earth (as seen in 12:17, 6, 15-16) is a major contextual clue as to their whereabouts.  That said, a question ensues.  If this is earthly Mount Zion, why is Jesus said to be “with them” there?  After all, Revelation 14:1 PRECEDES Revelation 19:11 when Jesus actually returns to the earth.  If Mount Zion is on earth (in 14:1) how do we understand the reference to Jesus being there?  Well, I think two possibilities exist as explanations here … which I think are actually BOTH true.  First of all, the 144,000 are said to have “followed Jesus wherever He went (14:4).”  This speaks to their Spirit’s following Jesus in obedience in every way.  By saying that Jesus was with them on Mount Zion, it is simply saying that Jesus was WITH THEM IN SPIRIT, protecting them amidst the Satanic attacks of the last days.  Further, the picture of Jesus with the 144,000 on Mount Zion is foreshadowing what will happen when Christ returns in Revelation 19 … He will stand upon Mount Zion … on this Earth (the Earth He is Lord over) … and reign with His people.  

Hope these extra notes are helpful for you in our study of this great Revelation!

Lord of the Earth (part 6) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 19, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Revelation 14:1-20.  This message was part 6 in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below you will see 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 Revelation 14
  3. What are examples you have seen of the worldly message that “we can have it all” and that consequences aren’t that important?
  4. In chapters 13 and 14, the mark of the Beast is contrasted with the Mark of the Lamb.  From our study the past couple of weeks, how might you compare and contrast these two?
  5. The one who is truly marked by Jesus is said in 14:1-5 to: be identified with Him, to worship God alone, to follow Jesus wherever He goes, to be redeemed as His, to be a true and faithful witness, and to add a unique “stanza” to the song of praise.  As you processed these in the message, did any particular item referenced challenge you?
  6. Of the reasons given for WHY we should choose Jesus in 14:6-13, which most speaks to the objections to Christianity you either have personally experienced or you hear most from those in your life who are not Christians?
  7. Given the message today, how would you answer the question, “who marks your life?”  If you do not answer “Jesus” what is keeping you from following Him wherever He goes?
  8. 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:

The Lord Of The Earth #6 6.19.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online:

 

Lord of the Earth (part 6) Sermon Preview

We live in a world that makes promises telling us “We can have it all.”  Life without limits.  Blessing without budgets.  Choices without costs.  

This is the basic pitch of almost every advertisement.  “You need this car.”  “You should buy that house.”  “You have to go to that event.”  “Don’t leave the house without wearing these!”  Message after message sells each item in a vacuum.  Isolated, the case is way easier to make.  In the “We can have it all” world, we have unlimited time and money – so we can do everything and buy it all.  And in this mythical/limitless world, attractions are magnified and consequences are forgotten.

There is a serious problem with this worldview, though.  It is absolutely not possible.  All of us have the same amount of time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) – a finite and limited number.  Though some lives are years shorter than others, when compared to eternity, our varying length of days are all look short and limited.  As it relates to money, each of us are entrusted with differing amounts, but a budget constrains all.  With only a few days and dollars, we are forced to demonstrate our priorities by what we experience and expense.  And as it relates to our decisions themselves … they are actually way more consequential than we sometimes realize.  Our choices all carry consequences, even if we don’t perceive them immediately.

So, as it turns out, the world’s promises are really lies.  We can’t have it all, and there really are consequences to our choices.  Given this reality, how do you determine where to spend your life (time and money)?  How do you evaluate the ups and downs of the choices you make?  

What is WORTH investing your life in?  All of us will invest our lives in something.  At the end of the day our time and money will go somewhere.  We will have made our choices.  What choice will you make?

I want to suggest that there is one big choice that will rule the other choices in your life.  And I want to propose that this idea is not just mine … but that I got it from someplace really important —- Revelation 14.  In the middle of the last book of our Bibles, amidst a presentation of Jesus Christ as the Lord of the Earth, we get a chapter that informs us that there is a MASTER CHOICE that we must all make regarding our lives.  Using the perspective of eternity and the context of the end times, this chapter points out that each life will be MARKED by something … really by SOMEONE.

Either we will choose to be MARKED by the BEAST of this world, and invited to be intoxicated by the desires of our flesh, and our desire for self-preservation … OR we will be MARKED by the LAMB OF GOD and determine to follow Him wherever He goes.  Either we will keep our lives in our hands and do and say whatever we need to do and say in order to “fit in” down here, or we will turn our lives over to another who will personally protect and provide for us forever.  What will mark YOU?  What DOES mark you?  

How you answer this question is of a level of importance that cannot be overstated … and the rationale for making this decision is no “blind leap of faith.”  In His last words of the Bible (Revelation), the argument is made for the enduring worth of following Jesus, and the excruciating agony of this beastly world. 

This Sunday at Wildwood, we’ll talk about it, and look at Revelation 14:1-20 to see for ourselves this eternity-shaping reality.  Make plans to join us this Father’s Day for this message and time of worship together.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to know how to be with Him on His day.  Don’t miss it … and bring friends to the 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 services.  See you there!