Over the years I have heard a lot of sermons; some have been good others, not so much. If you are a preacher then you, like me, want to get better. In this post I’ll take for granted that we understand that no sermon will get off the ground unless it is preaching the Scriptures. If you are not doing this then anything I write here will not help you. What follows here are 5 simple, practical preaching helps. As I study preaching and preachers these things are present in consistently helpful, good expositions.
Preachers love to preach. We love to dive down deep, mining God’s Word for glorious, eternal treasures and then to swim back up to the service, sharing them with our church each week. But sometimes we get a little preacher’s cramp in so far as what to preach next. After preaching through Ezra and Nehemiah, I am thoroughly convinced that pastors, in particular those who are in the work of church planting revitalization, should prayerfully consider preaching through these books.
Here are some reasons…
New Beginnings: Ezra starts out with the people of God in Babylon. Within a verse or two God is stirring the heart of a pagan King (Cyrus) to send his people back to Israel to rebuild the temple and reestablish the covenant community. It is time for a new day. In particular for a church plant or revitalization, this helps to show how God works in people and communities to build something new.
Idolatry: The books are replete with examples of what idolatry is. Everywhere from the negligence of the weak in Nehemiah 8 to the ignorance of the Sabbath in order to make wine in Nehemiah 13, God shows how the elevation of good things to ultimate things is actually a replacement of what is ultimate, namely the worship and adoration of the Lord God. This primes the pump for a crucial discussion on idolatry.
“Let brotherly love continue.” (Hebrews 13:1)
Brotherly love is the love that comes from God and functions within the context of our new family, the church. And we come to experience and express this love by repenting of our sin and trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation. A love like this is so very precious. It is little wonder then that the author of Hebrews says, Let brotherly love continue. It is something that is so very costly! Christ gave his own life; he died to purchase this love. This is not cheap, fleeting, diminishing love, but costly, enduring, and replenishing love.
The parallels between the Passover feast and Christ are myriad. Jesus is God’s Passover Lamb who went to altar of Calvary to bear the sins of his people. Last night in our Good Friday service at Emmaus I preached a sermon entitled, “Christ our Passover” –He is God’s lamb, he is our liberator, and he has become our song. At the conclusion I included this poem I wrote that summarizes the point made–the rout is on! Bask in this truth today!
He stands speechless under Pilate’s cowardly gaze,
Glory concealed, but love frames his face
Our Passover lamb, pure and spotless he, slain on the altar of Calv’ry
Sin’s curse he wore so publicly, to make us his and set us free.
His dying breath was a victory shout! Heaven’s rout is on,
It is finished he declared–our redemption has been won!
Sing to the Lord, the sweet Lamb of God, for he has triumphed gloriously,
He’s conquered all our foes, He’s made us free, and cast our sin into the sea.
People speak of faith as if it is a “leap of faith.” In this way it sounds like an acceptable embracing of something that is irrational. The Bible does not present faith as irrational.
Others speak of faith as simply intellectual ascent. I believe the facts about God much like someone believes the facts about the life of George Washington. While facts are important there is more.
Still others will speak of the way they feel. God makes them happy when they should be sad. Emotion corresponds with faith but is not all that faith is.
Emmaus is hiring a music leader. Interested applicants should read the posting on our website (here) along with the full position description.
We are a church that heartily agrees with the premise of Chapell’s Christ Centered Worship and sings many Indelible Grace tracks along with some Sovereign Grace and Enfield. We have about 12 musicians (cellos, violin, guitars, flute, keyboard, and organ).
Pass it on to folks who may be interested.
The grace of God is sufficient.
I know this but sometimes it is hard to believe it. I operate under the false assumption that I have to augment God’s wisdom, power, and presence with my own (wisdom, power and ability). Every now and then God does the spiritual equivalent of a quick crossover over dribble and a two-handed dunk in the lane. He surprises me and reminds me that he is awesome. He is awesome in power, wisdom and love. I just stand up and cheer as I watch the false idol (that I created) writhing in pain from the broken ankles (it’s March Madness, you have to expect basketball illustrations).
God did this recently. I talked with a brother who has endured an astoundingly heavy trial. As I talked to him he boasted in the God of the Word and the Word of God. The best part was, I know it wasn’t fake. I had talked to him awhile ago and he was laid low by the affliction. Now he was truly encouraged.
If you read this blog then you very likely are rejoicing in the resurgence of church planting. This rejoicing leads to increased burden for gospel ministry to advance in all areas–rural and urban, affluent and poor. The gospel is for all people.
In our context, God has called us to plant a church in an urban, diverse context of Omaha. As we endeavor to be faithful we are reaching out to friends for help. This is why we at Emmaus are excited to welcome our friends from 20schemes to come for a Saturday morning training session on ministry in poor contexts. Mez McConnell will also preach on Sunday morning at Emmaus.
The details for the event are listed below. But here is the truth: it will be very helpful and very free. If you are anywhere near Omaha for the weekend of April 5th, then please come an join us. If you need a place to stay message me via the contact form.
Please register here.
here is the info—
Every ministry that endeavors to be biblical will ask the question: “How should we faithfully minister in our poor communities?” The question can be answered on multiple levels from the perspective of the individual Christian to the local church.
On Saturday morning, April 5th, Emmaus will be hosting 20schemes to consider how to faithfully minister in a lower income is a ministry based in Edinburgh, Scotland that is committed to seeing the poorest communities in Scotland transformed through the revitalization and planting of …
When someone walks away from the faith it sends seismic ripples throughout the church. Somewhere amid the shock and emotions, we realize that we saw alarming signs but didn’t think they would materialize. I personally have seen this happen far too many times. In each case however, the steps, the path is strikingly similar.
So, how does it happen? Let me walk you down the road to apostasy. This is intended to illuminate this dark and often camouflaged path.
First let me give you a bottom line proposition: The road to apostasy is paved by bricks of apathy towards Christ. If you want to persevere, then give attention to your affections. This is a summary. Let’s work it out.
Nearly a year ago some of the leaders at our newly planted church sat down to assess what we were, for lack of a better word, “creating.” We examined what our culture, systems, and structures were producing. We measured it against what we were aiming for, to make and train disciples who make and train disciples. During this healthy period of self-examination we determined that we were not hitting the mark in a satisfactory manner. As a result we started with the end in mind, reverse engineering our overall approach and execution of discipleship with the goal of producing a certain type of guy. This guy was aptly named, “The Gospel Man.”
Before telling you what The Gospel Man is like, let me tell you why I think it is absolutely important for leaders to do this.