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

Category: Preaching (Page 1 of 11)

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)

The Pursuit of Preaching

The pursuit of preaching is not preaching. That is idolatry.

The pursuit of preaching is not response or results. That is not only idolatry, but a fool’s errand.

Faithfulness? Yes, but not quite.

Anointing? Yes, but not quite.

What then?

The pursuit of preaching is God.

When God is our pursuit in preaching, He will see that we have whom we seek.

Only then will we be in a position for Him to give Himself through us.

All & Only

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.         Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6)

“Every word of God . . . Do not add to his words.” All and only.

Do not doubt, neglect, or fail to believe any word of God. “Every word of God proves true.” “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). “. . . not one word has failed . . . all have come to pass . . . all have been fulfilled for you” (Joshua 23:14-15). “Every word”!

But only God’s word: “Do not add to his words.” Do not canonize your own thoughts. His words—not my thoughts about His words, not my logical deductions about His words, not my applications of His words.

His words – all and only.

His word “proves true.” My words may be “found a liar.” Note the two outcomes: “proves” and “found.” Words are not idle things. Words have consequences. Words determine destinies.

Let God’s word stand. Let my words bow to His.

Wound-shaped Words

Why speak God’s Word? Why be faithful to the call to “preach the word”? I ran across this great line by poet Sean Thomas Dougherty. I don’t know much about the author. He spoke the words for himself and other poets. But it strikes me as also deeply appropriate for those who speak God’s Word. Why speak?  In his poem “Why Bother?” Dougherty answers:

“Because right now there is someone

out there

with a wound in the exact shape

of your words.”

Faithfulness in the Shadows

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” (Hebrews 6:10)

“… there are countless godly, Bible-centered, Christ-proclaiming faithful preachers who expound the Word of God week in week out, year by year, whom God uses greatly in their own congregations even though the wider world has never heard of them.” (Christopher Catherwood, Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century, p.118)

Labor on in hope, my brothers!

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