God’s Word is not a collection of sermon notes.
It’s not a text book, a rule book, or a collection of inspirational quotes.
That’s why I never go to the Bible to find a passage to preach on for Sunday’s sermon.
Let God’s Word Speak Before You Speak
Yes, I preach from the Bible. It is always the starting point for every sermon.
But when I open God’s Word, I don’t ask what it’s saying to someone else, I ask what it’s saying to my heart and life first.
The Bible is not a sermon-assist tool. It’s an essential element in my ongoing relationship with Jesus.
When I go to the Bible to find sermon material, it’s too easy to
- Miss what it’s saying to me as I look for what it’s saying to others
- Find only what I’m looking for – and nothing else
- Become judgmental of others
- Make it say things it’s not really saying
- Starve myself while feeding others
But when I go to the Bible to hear God speak to me, it
- Shows me things I never saw before
- Feeds me
- Strengthens me
- Challenges me
- Humbles me
- Equips me to equip others
Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others
As pastors, our first task is not to teach others. It’s to hear from God and grow in our own faith. We can’t say “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1) if we’re not growing in Christ, ourselves.
Preaching well requires more than Bible knowledge – especially as pastors. We need enough moral, spiritual and emotional strength to teach others by example as well as by our words.
Get More Inflow than Outflow
When we treat the Bible like a collection of sermon texts, we can lose the wonder and the beauty of it.
When we read it to find material to preach from, we stop hearing God speak to us. And when that happens, we start dying spiritually. It’s all outflow and no inflow.
That’s a dangerous position for a pastor to be in. And it has killed many great ministries. Don’t let it kill yours.
When we open God’s Word, let’s always remember to ask God to speak to us first.
After it does, we need to stay in it as we study, discern and wrestle with it – always being sure to let it win, not us.
If we let the Bible feed our heart, soul and mind first, there will always be enough left over to feed others.
Copyright © 2016 by the author or Christianity Today.
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