Reading time: about a minute and a half, or less. C’mon, it’s Lent!
I’m going to recant. I’m ready to admit I have been wrong; if not completely wrong, at least partially.
For years I’ve been teaching the importance of a personal quiet time, a time for devotional Bible reading and prayer that is separate from sermon preparation. I’ve been saying that if you’re reading the Bible because it’s a part of your called responsibility, you shouldn’t count that as devotional Bible reading time.
While I still believe that the two are quite different, I’m going to suggest that for pastors this week and next, your sermon preparation time can and should indeed be your personal devotional time.
Let me explain…
I’ve kind of been talking out of both sides of my mouth in recent years, because I’ve also said a thousand times that a sermon is really just a fancy word for a personal testimony. The people tell us, “Go get a word from the Lord!” and on Sundays we give our report. “God’s word touched me this week. Let my put what God has said to me, the difference He’s made in my life, into words that will translate for you.”
The messages you’ll preach coming up in the next few days, pastors, need to come from your heart. It’s true that everyone wants to learn something from the sermon. We need information about the law and the gospel. For some people, that’s their entry point into the sermon: what am I learning?
It’s also true that people love to be stirred emotionally. We want to laugh and cry and be touched by the Word in the deepest places of our lives, not just in our heads. Many people don’t connect with the sermon until it touches the heart.
But it’s especially true in these times of so much “fake news” out there that people buy in to the sermon because they buy in to the preacher. When you step into the pulpit, people will be asking, “Oh yeah? What difference did it make for you?”
The greatest compliments I ever got on my preaching were from those who said, “You really believe this stuff, don’t you?”
I’ll be praying that in your encounters with God in His Word, it will touch you very powerfully as only the Word of God, delivered by His Holy Spirit can.
Then you’ll be ready to get out there and give ’em heaven.
Thanks for reading.