Friday, December 9, 2011
Preaching God's Word
Sermon preparation is both hard and easy. Preachers have to produce a sermon each week for their congregations. They simply cannot stand before the congregation and say, "Sorry, nothing came to me this week." Thus, they (we) must say something even if it is lame.
That is why it is so important to be in God's word each week for the preacher's own personal rather than public spiritual growth. Sermons should be the spill-over of the spiritual life of the preacher. They should be the word of God because God has spoken to them.
Sermons must be given as the preacher has received them. Since God does not produce "on command," sermons take time. Some times God speaks immediately but more often the preacher is forced to seek the Lord with his whole heart to hear what God wants to tell the congregation. It takes prayer (sometimes with fasting) and study of God's word. It takes the surrender of the preacher's personal desire to say what he would like to say. It requires humility since it is only by God's grace that that He speaks to the preacher.
A sermon is a tremendous responsibility. The preacher isn't there to "wow" the congregation, tell the best jokes or become a psycho-therapist. He should consider his sermon as God's word. It should be so carefully prepared that it will reflect the scripture being presented. It will explain and apply this scripture in the context of the hearers. Preaching a sermon should be seen as delivering a much needed medicine to the sick. It should be handled and delivered carefully.
Preparing a sermon is also very easy. God wants to speak to His people. He has called the preacher to deliver this message. He uses this instrument (the preacher) with precision. He speaks to the preacher who listens. Listening is not all that hard. All the preacher has to do is get out of the way and let God speak through him. Sermons are easy once that is done. Of course, the hard part is getting out of the way.
That doesn't mean that sermons don't have humor or personal touches. Look at some of the messages in the Bible. Jesus was asked whose wife a woman would be in the resurrection after she had seven husbands die on her. I imagine His first thought was, "Are you kidding? The real question is 'what is she putting in the soup?' Come now, seven brothers married to the same woman, one at a time and each one dying and there is no suspicion of malevolence!" We should see the humor in humanity as we seek to present the message. I believe that God has to laugh sometimes when He sees some of the things we have done. We should be able to laugh too.
Go to church this weekend (or whenever your church meets). Pray for your preacher in the meantime. Pray that he will deliver God's word to you rather than a well prepared but dry explanation of the scripture. God's word is life-changing.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV)
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.