Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Technically faithful; Actually unfaithful

“If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak” (Numbers 24:13).

Balak, king of the Amalekites, hired Balaam to curse Israel. But three times Balaam blessed them instead. Predictably, Balak was angry. But Balaam had warned him repeatedly that he would only speak what the Lord spoke to him. Balaam seems to have done this faithfully. He refused to curse those God blessed.

Though Balaam refused to curse Israel he showed Balak a way to get Israel to curse themselves.

“… the women … on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD …” (Numbers 31:15-16).

“Balaam … taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:14).

“Balaam … loved gain from wrongdoing” (2 Peter 2:15).

There is a way to remain technically obedient yet to do evil. We may “preach” faithfully but fail utterly. We must guard our preaching but also our hearts.

“Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16a). It is both “yourself” and your “teaching.” You may remain technically correct in the latter and fail utterly in the former.

“Above all else, guard your heart for from it flows the well spring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

No Road Too Far — Audiobook

I had a lot of fun preparing the audiobook version of No Road Too Far. There was something warmly rewarding about again reading these stories aloud for others. They began as readings for Christmas Eve services over the years. But now, with the space of time, I found myself freshly moved as I once again gave oral expression to them. Reading them aloud brings me deep waves of emotion each time. I hope these readings will similarly move deeply in the hearts of many listeners, guiding each one to a fresh encounter with Jesus.

Six Final Questions

I think my sermon is complete. I’m ready to pack up and head home to rest before tomorrow comes and I must open my Bible and speak.

Not so fast! Here are six final questions to ask myself before I’m truly done with my sermon preparation.

Question #1 — What is the problem I raise?

Every sermon should pose a question, surface a problem, set out an issue that demands an answer. What is mine? Is it the same as the one the Scripture passage raises?

Question #2 — How is Jesus the answer?

No matter which Testament I am preaching from, Jesus is the ultimate answer to the problem that has been raised. How do I set this forth?

Question #3 — Where is the cross/gospel?

As I set out the question and ultimately point to Jesus as its answer, where and how do I hold forth work of the cross and the call of the gospel?

Question #4 — What am I calling/asking for?

What response am I asking for from the listeners? Is it realistic? Is it inviting?

Question #5 — Can I say this more simply?

The path of profundity is marked by the sign of simplicity. Am I following the signs?

Question #6 — Can I say this more succinctly?

“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (Eccl. 6:11, NIV)

« Older posts

© 2023 Light to Live By

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑