Sermon Symmetry

By DrBillNo Comments

Symmetry is a description of how you write your Main Points.  ”Symmetry” means “balanced proportions”.  If your sermon displays symmetry, it’s main points will be balanced and proportionate.  That is, each main point will seem to have an equal and valuable relationship with all of the other main points.  No main point will dominate, either in terms of importance, impact, or the amount of time you spend on it.butterfly

The three main benefits of sermon symmetry are:

1.  Understandable

Main Points with symmetry, make your sermon easy to follow and understand.

2.  Memorable

It is easy to remember a sermon with has symmetry flow.  I’m writing this blog from memory, based on the sermon symmetry I heard last night.

3.  Beautiful

Main Points with symmetry, are a thing of beauty.  (Note how the three points of this blog also display symmetry.)

Sermon Example:  Take a look at this sermon which I just listened to last night from Dr. John Crocker at Crossroads Church in Albert Lea, MN:

He was speaking on 2 Peter 1:1-12.  His mains were:

  1. Establish Your Identity  (2 Peter 1:1-4)
  2. Exercise Your Responsibility  (2 Peter 1:5-8)
  3. Erase Your Uncertainty  (2 Peter 1:9-12)

This sermon contains symmetry.  Each main is a command verb (Establish, Exercise, Erase). Each main begins with the letter “E”.  Each main is focused on You.  Each key word at the end has a symmetry as well, with each one ending with a “-ty” ending.

This is not just word play.  This gives a sermon memorable power and greater impact in people’s lives.

Yours for better preaching,

Dr. Bill

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

Preaching, Sermon Tips, Sermons

How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 9, Write The Introduction

By DrBillNo Comments

Hey Up-and-Coming Preachers!     hand shake

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and Part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2,Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries; Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition; Part 6, Develop the Mains; Part 7, Provide Supporting Material, and Part 8, Write the Conclusion. Today: How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 9, Write The Introduction.

Yes, the introduction often comes right at the end, after you have written the Conclusion. The main goal here is to get their attention and to introduce the topic, thus “introduction”. Once you know the main thrust of the sermon and the main points, it is much easier to write the introduction.

Consider the Goal

The Introduction must fit strategically with the rest of your sermon. Too many pastors think that ‘attention-getting’ is the only goal, and thus try to do something lame like just share some cutesy humor or joke which they discovered on the internet. But once you have written the Conclusion, then the Introduction is the most natural next step. This is because, having written the Conclusion, you know where the sermon will end up, and so you begin with the end in mind. If your Introduction and Conclusion have a similar theme, then your sermon has parallelism; there is a natural matching between the two. People’s minds will come back to what you began with and begin drawing conclusions, which is what you want to happen. This is why in our SermonBase Message Planning Software, it is possible to view the Conclusion and the Introduction on the same screen so that you can view the connections and similarities between these two parts of your sermon.

Connect with the Listeners

During the Introduction, you must identify with the listeners. If you can make an emotional connection with the listeners in the Introduction, then they will be prepared to receive what you have to say in the rest of the sermon. If you are going to say something challenging in the sermon, then it is all the more important to relate to the audience so that they can connect and identify with you as a person.

Form a Natural Transition

The Introduction must lend itself naturally to the topic of the sermon. There must be an easy and logical flow from the topic of the Introduction to the topic of the sermon. It must make sense. Don’t give the listeners whiplash where you are talking about one thing over in this direction, and then suddenly we are facing the other way and talking about spiritual things with no warning. For example, a personal story about a recent sports injury may lend itself naturally to talking about physical and then spiritual health.

Introduce the Text

The purpose of the Introduction is to move people’s minds from the everyday mundane to the sacred Scriptures. So the topic must lead to the Scripture text upon which you intend to teach. Now it is important to note that in the Introduction you introduce text, you do not explain the text. That comes later during the Main Points of your sermon. Just introduce the text at hand, and explain why it relates to what you are going to discuss for the day. Then move quickly from the Text to the Proposition to the Main Points.

Don’t go too long

Some preachers spend way too much time on the Introduction. Use it as a tool to get you to where  you need to go, which is the Proposition. Then launch into your sermon. Preachers make the mistake of going to long when they lose sight of the purpose of the Introduction, which is “introduce”, not “explain”.

If you have already followed through on the other eight parts of the sermon preparation process, then the Introduction portion should come pretty easy. For by this time, you have a clear sense of purpose; you have the Proposition, the Main Points, the supporting material, and the Conclusion. The Introduction will then almost jump out at you as to how you might begin the sermon.

The final article in this series relates to the Title, which can trip you up if you don’t know its true purpose.

God’s best to you as you prepare to share God’s Word with His people!

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

General, Sermon Preparation

Recovering the Great Commission

By Gladys Perez-NejudneNo Comments

by piotr krakowczyk

Recovering the Great Commission – reflection on Matthew 28:16-20 and Matthew 10:7-8

The Great Commission can be found at the end of Mathew’s Gospel: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (28:19-20). There is, however, a less known commission of Jesus in which He tells His disciples: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely you give” (Matthew 10:7-8). Unfortunately, this commission has practically disappeared from the missionary strategies of our Churches. A few of us dare to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, or drive out demons. We prefer to speak, to teach, and to baptize, and enjoy a quite good income out of all these activities.

The message – the kingdom of God is near

During ten years of my ministry, I have gone to many nations, preached thousands of sermons, given lectures and conferences on various topics, and baptized many people, mostly children. And I can’t complain: this work provided me with enough financial assistance to live a comfortable life. Perhaps, I could dare to say that I am fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus quite well. However, a few things puzzle me when I look closer at my missionary life: the content of my preaching and teaching; God’s hand stretching to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders; and the Gospel being preached free of charge.

“The kingdom of God is near.” The content of this message is that God comes to rule over His people. As if He has made up His mind, seeing our suffering and misery, and decided to do something about it. “I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and specious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:7-8). God comes to claim us back for Himself. He claims us back from the forces of evil, and He decides to restore us and give us back our very lives.

Jesus and His disciples succeeded in preaching this message. They helped the people to “see” that God is concerned with a sparrow; they enable the people to realize that everyone is precious in God’s eyes; and they were able to point out that the end of life is not emptiness and nothingness, but a joyful banquet in the God’s presence. Moreover, they did not only speak about it; they made into a reality.

The power of message – signs and wonders

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.” What a fascinating passage! What a commission! Yet, what have we – Christians of the twenty first century – done with these words? Many theologians and pastors came out with a hypothesis that sees all signs and wonders recorded in the Gospel as a myth or fairy tale. There are even Churches who claim that the era of signs and wonders was confined to the Apostolic Church. Thus, the miracles ended long time ago, and now is the era of knowledge and science. Could it be true? Could this explain the lack of miracles in the midst of our Christian congregations? But then, what about those who actually were able to fulfill this commission, those who healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, and drove out demons? His name was John Sung (1901-44), born in the home of a Methodist pastor in Fujian, China. He is considered one among the greatest Chinese evangelist of 20th century. There were numerous cases of healing in his ministry. For example, instant recovery from a near fatal heart attack, the lame walking, the leprous being made clean, and the deaf and dumb being made whole. It was May 1988, Suangzang, Myanmar. Kam Cin Hau conducted a prayer meeting during which many people converted to Christianity and many were healed.

A hypothesis is a suggested explanation of a phenomenon. However, in the scientific world, any hypothesis requires testing, and one fact that contradicts a hypothesis is sufficient to disclaim it. The two above mentioned examples clearly indicate that signs and wonders are still part of Christian preaching. And there are more examples that could be cited in this matter. There seems to be no escape from concluding that if signs and wonders are missing from our proclamation, then there is something wrong. Jesus always meant what he said. If He said, “go and heal,” He meant it that way, and He promised to stretch out His hand and do the signs and wonders.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

Preaching

The Three Types of Expository Preaching You Could Use

By DrBillNo Comments

Hey Preachers and Teachers!

There are three types of Expository sermons:  Book Exposition, Biographical Exposition, Topical Exposition.

I know that there are various definitions of ‘expository preaching’, so just to clarify, when I say ‘exposition’ I am referring to a verse-by-verse study of a particular passage of Scripture. You work your way through a single passage of the Bible; you don’t jump around all over the place; you teach the Word of God where it stands, letting the text before you form your major points and even form the structure of your sermon. That is expository preaching.  Having said that, even with that definition, there are three different ways you can do this style of preaching.

Let’s look at each of these:

  • Book Exposition

This is the one which most people are familiar with. You take a book of the Bible and work through it from the first verse to the final. In some cases, you may take key passages which communicate the main message of the book. This is sometimes helpful for larger books when you don’t have time in your church calendar schedule to work through every single verse. For example, years ago I worked through the Book of Joshua. The book has 24 chapters, but I took a 9-week expositional walk-through of the book by hitting the 9 Key Faith Themes from Joshua. It was called “Living on the Edge of Faith” and was very good. You can get that series, by the way, at my HighPowerResources.com site.

So that is Book Exposition; well-known and well-loved.

  • Biographical Exposition

This is a bit more tricky and requires some advance prep work before you get into the series, because you have to find all the relevant places in the Scripture where the person is referred.  It could be all over the Old and New Testament, so you will want to find your key themes first, then prep your major points, as your create the Series.  For example, think of how Daniel is referenced in various places in both the OT and the NT. Then, once that prep work is ready you can do an exposition of that person’s life by taking each of the key passages about him or her, and doing a complete exposition on each passage.

  • Topical Exposition

Does that sound like a contradiction to you? How can it be both topical and expository? Well it can, but you have to be careful on how you handle it. Sometimes this third version is called “textual topical” just to emphasize that in expository topical preaching the Text is still primary. You see, in much topical preaching, the teacher simply pulls out a concordance, and locates all key passages where that topic is used and then in the course of one sermon, takes you on a hunt throughout the Bible. While that is always a lot of fun, it is not expository topical preaching; that is just plain ‘topical’.  In ‘expository topical preaching’ you stay with one passage, which is focused on a key topic. For example, think of Paul’s argument about the power of Sin in Romans 7. That would make a good passage for an exposition of the topic of Sin.

Topical Exposition has its own dangers, so we will address those in a future blog. For now, give some thought to each of the three types of Expository Preaching, and give them a try if you’d like.

Yours for great preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

www.SermonBase.com

www.HighPowerResources.com

 

General, Preaching, Sermon Preparation

How to Know the Will of God through Expository Preaching

By Gladys Perez-NejudneNo Comments

How to Know the Will of God through Expository Preaching

by Carlton Pruitt

We gather together this evening brethren to lay before us the importance of understanding the will of the Lord and the way that we discover the will of God is in His word the Bible. You see the Bible reveals God’s MIND, therefore, we are to KNOW it. It reveals the WILL of God, therefore, we are to OBEY it and it reveals the HEART of God, therefore, we are to LOVE it.

Now this is not original with me brethren but it is a wise truth that I once learned among others and as all truths are wise as they are found in the word of God.

Let’s take up the topic of expository preaching. What is it? First of all expository preaching seeks to weld together the Biblical text under consideration and the contemporary world. John Stott said that it is his conviction that all Christian preaching is expository preaching. You see we can not see expository preaching as just one of many different styles such as topical or evangelistic, devotional or apologetic or prophetic.

Expository preaching is not just an accurate commentary on the Bible or a word study tied in with various lucid illustrations but it is declaring what God has said. It is explaining the meaning of the Bible which is first declaring what God has said. How can we explain the meaning? The meaning of what? The meaning of the Bible and what God has said. Therefore, we must declare the doctrine as found in the Scripture, the word of God, to announce or state
it in the plainess language possible, then we seek to explain or expound its meaning and then we show its relevance or practical application.

We apply it to the listeners heart or we seek to apply it to the listeners heart. Only the Holy Spirit, the only true teacher and third person of the Godhead, can truly bring about an understanding of the word and convict men of their sins. Perhaps one of the reasons some preaching today lacks effectiveness is because the Holy Spirit has not seen fit to enlighten our understanding and to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment.

Remember the parable of the sower? Some of the seed representing the word of God, fell on stony ground and among throns where there was either no root so the people had an emotional response, maybe made a profession and were baptized, even entered the visible church but there was no true saving faith, no priciple of grace. No root. Christ is not in them. Why? The ground is stony and hard. Hardness of heart will make the soil or soul unfit to receive the word of God which is Jesus Christ our root. Or the cares and riches of the world choked the word out. The word got crowded out as a field of weeds chokes out the good seed.

I remember once planting a garden with several rows of corn. I wasn’t diligent in tending to this garden. Oh, yes, I watered it enough and it got plenty of sunshine but I let the weeds spring up unchecked and uncontrolled. Guess what? These weeds choked out that good corn and made it unfruitful and unproductive. Never did I see weeds grow so fast and furious. They strangled the souls of many professors. These are the religious people who never completely cast off their profession of Christ, who, nevertheless, love this world and culture and philosophy. They seek their peace and security and joy in what the world offers instead of what the word commands.

1 John 2:15 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”

Some people are mindless simpletons who never ponder the word preached. After church they talk about anything and everything except the preacher’s sermon. Thus they neglect the word. They neither understand nor take pains to understand it and so Satan, the arch enemy of our souls, snatches the word before it is hid in the heart. Like birds that pick up the visible seed on the ground so Satan picks up the word that lies bare and naked on the surface of the heart.

David said, the Psalmist, “Thy word have I hid in my hear that I might not sin against three.”
Hearing is not equivalent to hiding it. We must hear and by meditation and prayer so hide the word in the heart that the Devil can not take the word from us.

Knowing therefore these truths, let us give a more earnest heed to the things which we have heard preached and which we have read in our Bibles.

Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching. See the original article here.

 

Preaching

Church Family Gifts

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Stephen Stillman
 
 
“Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant”, (I Corinthians 12:1). In this verse and the verses following the Apostle Paul is telling us that as Christians we receive gifts from God. Paul is not referring to every day blessings, but special gifts given to the individual members of the Church family. He is referring to “Spiritual Gifts“.
 
Definition: A “Spiritual Gift” is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to the Christian to be used for the benefit of the Church.
 
The same problem often exists in receiving “Spiritual Gifts” that exists in receiving gifts from one another. This problem is that we may try to read something into the gift or make assumptions concerning them.
 
1. We may make a direct relationship between our gifts and our spirituality. In example, a person who has the gift of “hospitality” may not be seen as being as spiritual as a person who has the gift of “preaching“.
 
2. Here are some statements that have been made that make such assumptions:
 
a. The more important the “Spiritual Gift”, the more mature and spiritual the person.
 
b. The major evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is his or her ability to speak in tongues.
 
c. We must ask God for the “Spiritual Gift” we want.
 
d. Some Christians have little to contribute to others.
 
e. Some people are more important than others in the Church as in every situation.
 
When we think of the early Church we think of a strong, growing Church that is void of many problems. When we are plagued by problems in our own congregation, or unhappy about our personal spiritual growth, we wish we could be as the New Testament Church. We feel that the Church has lost it’s power and wonder how to recapture those earlier days of constant victory. But when we study this Chapter of I Corinthians we see clearly that the early Church was not utopia! One of the problems in the early Church in Corinth focused on this very problem, relating “Spiritual Gifts” to spirituality. Paul realized the Church at Corinth was suffering because they didn’t understand one of the “Spiritual Gifts” and were making false assumptions. Paul challenged their assumptions in verse 1 stating “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethern, I would not have you ignorant”. The same applies to the Church today. If we can understand more about “Spiritual Gifts”, many of the problems within the Church would be overcome.
 
As stated earlier, a “Spiritual Gift” is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to the Christian to be used for the benefit of the Church. It is a special ability that differs from a natural talent. While God uses our natural talents in ministry to others, “Spiritual Gifts” are supernatural abilities given by God. “Spiritual Gifts” exceed the limits of our own abilities to equip us for fruitful and effective ministry. Since they are gifts, they must be given. They are gifts of grace and therefore given without regard for the merit of the person receiving them. They cannot be learned, only developed and sharpened after receiving them. They are given to the Christian at the discretion of God. Non-believers do not have “Spiritual Gifts”. They may have great talents, but they are not genuine “Spiritual Gifts”. Every Christian has a “Spiritual Gift” and some Christians receive a combination of them. There are no ungifted believers, only Christians who have not discovered and developed their “Spiritual Gifts”.
 

 
 
Here is a list of some specific “Spiritual Gifts”. Depending upon interpretation of Scripture there are from 12 to 28 “Spiritual Gifts”.
 
EvangelismEphesians 4:11, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers“. This gift is a special ability to share the Gospel with unbelievers in such a way they come to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Preaching in an evangelistic method is only one type of evangelism. Evangelism is also life-style.
 
ShepherdingEphesians 4:11. This gift is a special ability to minister the Word of God to individuals to bring positive spiritual growth to their lives. A good shepherd feeds his sheep or leads them to the place to feed. A good shepherd watches over his sheep. He protects them from their natural enemies. He keeps them from going astray and will go after them when they do go astray.
 
Teaching/PreachingEphesians 4:11. This gift is a special ability to communicate important facts and messages from God’s Word so that people are uplifted and challenged. This idea, like evangelizing and shepherding, is looked upon as a gift of the pastor only or someone who is more spiritual than most Christians. Again, this is a false assumption because a Sunday School teacher with this very special gift can communicate messages from God’s Word just as well as the pastor. This gift has specialization within it’s own specialty. Some may have the gift of teaching and challenging young people; others teen-agers; others married couples; others to the more mature (elderly); others to women; and others to men.
 
AdministrationI Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” This is a special ability to understand the overall mission of the Church and to create plans and programs for accomplishing that mission. The first step in the administration of any mission is to understand the goals. There are many offices of administration: Sunday School Superintendent, Music Director, Youth Director, etc. It takes a special ability to create programs to supplement these separate ministries. As the Church grows, more ministries will be needed and each ministry needs an administrator that is creative and can develop exciting plans and programs.
 
LeadershipRomans 12:8, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” This is a special gift to motivate others to move in harmony toward the goals of the Church. Some may combine this gift with the gift of administration.
 
MusicRomans 15:9, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for [his] mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name“. This is a special gift to offer praise to the Lord in music and to lead others in the Body to similar praise. We see and are blessed in the Church with these gifts. This gift is not just the ability to sing or play some musical instrument, but to do so in a manner that offers praise to the Lord.
 
MercyRomans 12:8, “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” This is a special gift to feel genuine concern and compassion for troubled or neglected individuals and to translate that feeling into deeds that help alleviate their suffering. It is not hard to be compassionate and feel concerned for neglected and troubled people, but the specialty is to administer deeds that help alleviate their suffering. There is a great ministry here, for those who are grieving over loved ones, for the elderly in nursing homes, etc.
 
HospitalityHebrews 13:1,2, “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” This is a special gift to provide an open house and/or attitude of warm welcome to strangers or those who are in need. Not all Christians are hospitable; even to people they know. It is a definite gift to open your home to a stranger, but look at the warning the writer here gives. Don’t forget to entertain a stranger, for there have been some who have entertained angels unaware.
 
IntercessionI Timothy 2:1 & 8, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;” I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” This is a special gift to spend extended periods of time praying for the specific needs of others. It is not always hard to remember our friends and loved ones in prayer, but the specialty here is to be able to spend extended time; the time required to name each person and to talk with God about their specific need.
 
HelpsI Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” This is a special gift to invest time and talents in the work of the Lord in ways that often seem small or behind the scenes. This is one of the “Spiritual Gifts” where the problem of comparing gifts to the spirituality of the person arises. Some Christians have the special ability to just be at all Church functions and invest time in helping with anything.
 
WritingI Timothy 3:14, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly.” This is a special gift to formulate thoughts into organized written forms so that the reader will be instructed and inspired. This ministry could be written messages to go along with the bulletin ministry. It may be the ability to organize and put thoughts into a church newsletter or publication.
 
Craftsmanship (artistic)Exodus 31:3, “And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship“. This is a special gift to create artistic items for the overall ministry of the Church. This gift is used especially among children. It is the ability to tell God’s message in some artistic way.
 
Craftsmanship (manual)Exodus 31:4, “To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass”. This is a special gift to keep the Church moving through building, maintaining, and repairing the tools, building, and equipment of the Church.
 
A “Spiritual Gift” is given to the Christian to be used. Unfortunately, a large percentage of otherwise serious disciples are not using their particular gifts. Others are caught up in tasks for which they are not gifted. “Spiritual Gifts” must be used if others are to be ministered to through them. They are never to be admired or ignored, or saved for special days. They are to be used for the Glory of God.
 
Developing a personal ministry hinges on discovering and developing one’s “Spiritual Gifts”. A personal ministry must center on doing things God has specifically equipped a person to do.
 
If the Church is to succeed and grow, members must seek out their “Spiritual Gifts” and work to develop them. Some Christians may have just one gift, while others may have many. If the Church wants to correct some mistakes it must realize that “Spiritual Gifts” are not directly proportionate to a person’s spirituality.

Preaching

Recovering the Great Commission

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Piotr Krakowczyk
 
 
Recovering the Great Commission – reflection on Matthew 28:16-20 and Matthew 10:7-8
 
The Great Commission can be found at the end of Mathew’s Gospel: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (28:19-20). There is, however, a less known commission of Jesus in which He tells His disciples: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely you give” (Matthew 10:7-8). Unfortunately, this commission has practically disappeared from the missionary strategies of our Churches. A few of us dare to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, or drive out demons. We prefer to speak, to teach, and to baptize, and enjoy a quite good income out of all these activities.
 
The message – the kingdom of God is near
 
During ten years of my ministry, I have gone to many nations, preached thousands of sermons, given lectures and conferences on various topics, and baptized many people, mostly children. And I can’t complain: this work provided me with enough financial assistance to live a comfortable life. Perhaps, I could dare to say that I am fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus quite well. However, a few things puzzle me when I look closer at my missionary life: the content of my preaching and teaching; God’s hand stretching to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders; and the Gospel being preached free of charge.
 
“The kingdom of God is near.” The content of this message is that God comes to rule over His people. As if He has made up His mind, seeing our suffering and misery, and decided to do something about it. “I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and specious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:7-8). God comes to claim us back for Himself. He claims us back from the forces of evil, and He decides to restore us and give us back our very lives.
 
Jesus and His disciples succeeded in preaching this message. They helped the people to “see” that God is concerned with a sparrow; they enable the people to realize that everyone is precious in God’s eyes; and they were able to point out that the end of life is not emptiness and nothingness, but a joyful banquet in the God’s presence. Moreover, they did not only speak about it; they made into a reality.
 
The power of message – signs and wonders
 
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.” What a fascinating passage! What a commission! Yet, what have we – Christians of the twenty first century – done with these words? Many theologians and pastors came out with a hypothesis that sees all signs and wonders recorded in the Gospel as a myth or fairy tale. There are even Churches who claim that the era of signs and wonders was confined to the Apostolic Church. Thus, the miracles ended long time ago, and now is the era of knowledge and science. Could it be true? Could this explain the lack of miracles in the midst of our Christian congregations? But then, what about those who actually were able to fulfill this commission, those who healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, and drove out demons? His name was John Sung (1901-44), born in the home of a Methodist pastor in Fujian, China. He is considered one among the greatest Chinese evangelist of 20th century. There were numerous cases of healing in his ministry. For example, instant recovery from a near fatal heart attack, the lame walking, the leprous being made clean, and the deaf and dumb being made whole. It was May 1988, Suangzang, Myanmar. Kam Cin Hau conducted a prayer meeting during which many people converted to Christianity and many were healed.
 
A hypothesis is a suggested explanation of a phenomenon. However, in the scientific world, any hypothesis requires testing, and one fact that contradicts a hypothesis is sufficient to disclaim it. The two above mentioned examples clearly indicate that signs and wonders are still part of Christian preaching. And there are more examples that could be cited in this matter. There seems to be no escape from concluding that if signs and wonders are missing from our proclamation, then there is something wrong. Jesus always meant what he said. If He said, “go and heal,” He meant it that way, and He promised to stretch out His hand and do the signs and wonders.
 
The message as a gift – giving it freely
 
If the content of the message can make us pause for a while and think about our preaching, and if the power of the message can challenge the way we do mission, the last part of Jesus’ commission – “freely you have received, freely you give” – should make us feel uncomfortable. Money is so woven into our missionary activities. In the eyes of many preaching the Gospel has become a commodity; more so, it has even become a way of living, quite affluent I would dare to say. And yet Paul set up an example for any missionary, namely having the joy of preaching the Gospel free of charge (1 Corinthians 9:18), and he warned against peddling the word of God for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17).
 
A mission station in one among the poorest country in the world, located in the rural area of the country is equipped with a vehicle, a truck, two motorbikes, and a house with kitchen, dining room, four bedrooms, two toilets, and the porch. The population of this mission reaches ten thousand. There are only two private trucks owned by local businessmen, few privately owned motorcycles, most of the houses are made of mud bricks and grass, and very few have toilets. Some church leaders and missionaries blame money as the major cause that accounts for the failure of Christianity in Africa and Asia. Aside of rich Christians living far beyond their needs, there are also rich missionaries living far beyond the wildest dream of the people whom they serve. In this regard, M. Gandhi said to the Christian missionaries working in India: “Noble as you are, you have isolated yourselves from the people you want to serve.
 
Conclusion
 
Yes. It is much easier to fulfill the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 than the one found in Matthew 10:7-8. It is easier to speak, teach, and baptize than to proclaim God’s kingdom with all its power and free of charge. Yet, people are tired of beautiful words, but they are hungry for God; they do not want to be spoken upon, but they dream to be lifted up from their yoke of slavery. We have such a powerful message to share with the world. Can we share it the way Jesus and His disciples have done in the past? It will depend on how far we dare to go in trusting God’s promise and His providence.

Preaching

Preaching Everywhere

By Gladys Perez-NejudneNo Comments

by Rev. Brian Mathis

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things; immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Tim 4:13-16 (ESV)

Paul is giving Timothy instruction on how he is best to conduct himself as he serves God. These same instructions can be applied to each of us in our daily walk you may not stand behind a pulpit or a lectern teaching the word to groups of people; yet your interactions with others as you meet them on your job or in the grocery store or market shows your relationship and understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for you. I know you may think that no one is watching you and that what you do has very little effect on those you meet but you will be surprised. Something I have learned is that Christianity and a walk with Jesus is not really something you can teach. It has to be something that is caught; it is best described as a fire. You can strike a match and you hold one flame as you move that flame near other stuff it catches and the flame spreads that is a simple visual of how your Christian walk should effect those you meet the bigger your flame for Jesus the more people will come to know Jesus through your actions more than through your words.

Don’t miss understand me; you must feed your flame through prayer and bible study. It is important that you personally know God’s word and apply it to your life and that is so when others come to you; you will be able to share it and give them direction on how to have a saving relationship with Jesus. Francis Assisi’s motto in life was, “There is no need to go and preach; if you do not preach everywhere you go.” I have to say I love that philosophy and it is one we should all desire to have. He was a man who believed in service to God and his fellowman. Through that service he was able to change the hearts and minds of those he met bringing Jesus to them and allowing the Holy Spirit to do its work amongst them. I want to help you understand the Holy Spirit is the one who brings salvation. You just have the privilege to be a vessel for Him and to God’s glory. I pray you are blessed and highly favored as you walk in the light of God’s Word today and every day.

Read original article here.

Preaching

How to Prepare a Sermon: Part 2, Textual vs. Topical

By DrBillNo Comments

A sermon should be text-based. By that, I mean that you would be teaching the Bible. That is the philosophy of ministry, and church tradition from which I come.  People don’t come to hear me, they come to learn from God’s Word.  Other churches may have other feelings, but this is mine.bible

I am of the firm belief that almost every sermon should be clearly centered around a certain text of the Scripture. Now I do not object when other supplemental texts are brought in to enhance the message, but I believe that the primary reason why people come to church is to hear a message from God. And there is no other clearer way to demonstrate that a message is from God than by using a good-sized chunk of Scripture in your message.

I am very aware that there are some very famous preachers out there who use a lot of little verses to support what they have said on a certain topic.  And I do that occasionally also.  But for the sake of congregational health, I believe you want to do what you can to deliver portions of God’s Word to the people when you preach.  Here’s why:

1.  People read less Bible during the week than you think they do.

Most people in ministry enjoy reading the Bible and spend time every day in the Word.  For many of the people out there in the seats, that is not the case. Their weekdays are often filled with rushing off to work, first thing in the morning, and then coming home to busy activities with the kids and family, before falling into bed exhausted to do it again.  This is not to excuse people who do not regularly read the Word. It is just reality, and I believe that it is good for preachers to be aware of reality.  So when they come to church, I like to give them the Word.

2.  People need to understand the Word in context.

When you teach from a portion of Scripture, you are better able to explain the context.  Context includes historical, cultural, linguistic, and Biblical context. If you speak to a lot of different texts in your message, it is very difficult to provide that much explanation for each of the many verses you pursue.

3.  If the sermon is more text-based, then there is likely to be less of my thoughts, and more of God’s thoughts.

Frankly I don’t have a lot of faith in the high-quality impact of my thoughts. But I have a lot of faith in God’s capacity to speak to the depths of the human heart.  ”For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12) So I like to give them a nice portion of God’s Word in my messages.

4.  It is easier to prepare a text-based sermon, than a topically-based sermon.

If you believe in expository preaching, then you know that your sermon outline should simply reflect the outline of the passage. This makes preparation much easier than trying to develop your own set of mains and subs.  Let the Bible speak for itself, with its particular emphasis. The end result is that your message will be more powerful.

5.  A text-based sermon delivers sustaining power long past the sermon.

If I preach on a topic, they may forget the message.  But if I preach on a passage, then the next time they read that passage, portions of my message will come back to them. It could be the application of that message, for example. But as they read God’s Word, their understanding of His Word will increase, because they have already had someone teach them the contextual, historical, linguistic aspects of that passage of God’s Word.

This is on on-going topic, and while I lean towards the textually-based sermon, I have done both textual and topical.  But if I had to choose in terms of sustaining impact and power, I would choose the textually-based message every time.

For powerful preaching,

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

General, Preaching, Sermon Preparation
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