For years I’ve been listening to sermon tapes of a well-known pastor that his church mails to me for free. At first, I enjoyed them immensely. But after several years, I’ve started to get a little bored with them because I find that he covers the same topics over and over again. He also uses certain words repeatedly. Some of his favorites are “blessings”, “success”, “vision”, and “challenge”. I began to wonder whether I bore our church members because I also have favorite words that I use often, such as “happiness”, “mission”, “obedience”, and “service”.
For this reason I prefer to preach book-by-book expository sermons over topical sermons. The topics of topical sermons are chosen by the preacher. But the topics of expository sermons are determined by the Biblical text. So they can cover a variety of topics independent of a preacher’s disposition. Of course, preachers’ preferences don’t simply disappear when a they preach from the Bible cover to cover. Even with the same text, different preachers find different lessons.
Even though it’s impossible to have preaching untainted by a preacher’s idiosyncrasies, all preachers must do their utmost to rid their preaching of personal ideas or opinions as much as they can and make their sermons the pure words of God. Preachers must desire the gift of prophecy and become prophets when they preach because prophets are the mouthpiece of God.
In order to become a mouthpiece of God, I use three 20-minute prayers in the process of creating a sermon. After reading the Scripture text and consulting some commentaries, I pray my first 20-minute prayer. I ask God to give me the word He wants to speak through me. Then I start writing my sermon. This is the most time consuming step, and usually requires 2 to 3 revisions. Then I pray again. This time I pray that my sermon will be relevant to our church members’ needs. If I feel that God wants me to add or subtract something from the sermon text, I obey the prompting. Then I rehearse 3 or 4 times. Early Sunday morning I come to church and pray for another 20 minutes. This time I pray for power and anointing on my sermon.
Despite these efforts, I know that I am not a perfect mouthpiece of God. Just like poor quality stereo speakers deliver distorted sound, when I deliver the words of God it may not be as pure as it should be. They are undoubtedly influenced by my personal idiosyncrasies, and I’m sure I repeat certain topics, which may bore some people. But people who seek the words of God may hear God’s voice through my sermons, however imperfect they may be, just as some people can enjoy the beauty of music even through a bad stereo.
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