Jump Start # 2639
1 Thessalonians 4:18 “Comfort one another with these words.”
I was listening to the Beatles classic song, Eleanor Rigby, the other day. There is a line that always grabs my attention. It says, Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear. No one comes near.” A sermon that no one will hear.
Recently, I have been collecting old sermons. I received a couple of sermons that were never preached. The preacher was working these up to preach before, age, illness and death caught up with him. He was working until the very end. And, here in my hands were the words of a sermon that no one heard. What’s interesting about these old sermons, and this is true of many published sermons, on paper they don’t look like much. I know the man who had written those sermons that were never preached. He would have made those words come alive and people would have been talking about those sermons for a long time. Which tells us so much about preaching. Words on a paper can seem rather simple, plain and even unimpressive. But put the heart of the preacher behind those words, and things come alive. The preacher is the bridge between the word of God and the heart of the audience. It is his job to make things real, practical, understandable and helpful.
That bridge is important. God didn’t have the apostles write the Gospel message and just mail it to the world. They were to go and preach the Gospel. It is important that people do not get so fixated upon the bridge that they fail to see God’s word. The presentation needs to point to the Christ and not the preacher. Yet, the mood, energy, passion and attitude of the preacher can make those things easy or they can become obstacles that hurt the message.
Our verse today are the concluding words to what Paul had written about the death of Christians. Sad, upset, unsure, feeling a loss, Paul reminds these believers of the promises of God. The dead in Christ are not lost. They are not forsaken, forgotten or gone. They are with the Lord. And, it is these words that would bring hope, comfort and joy to hearts that were troubled.
The wonderful times we live in allows us to hear sermons over and over again. We can live in one state and hear a sermon that was preached in another state. We are blessed to have wonderful technology that enables us to reach to the ends of the globe with this grand message of salvation. The words of a sermon are intended to be preached and heard.
The word of God serves many functions. All of them are important.
First, God’s word informs or teaches. We learn concepts, principles, fundamentals. It is through this that we see Jesus. It is upon this that our faith is built and grows. From this, we form decisions and choices that draws us closer to God or they can rip apart our relationship with Him. Teach us to number our days is what Moses said in the Psalms. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Paul said that he learned the secret of contentment. God’s word is a classroom that opens our eyes if we will open our hearts.
Second, God’s word warns us. There are things that are wrong. There are things that are dangerous. God tells us about these things. Timothy was told to avoid certain people. God tells us not to be deceived. Commandments and doctrine are often warning based. Some don’t like that. They want to go and go and have no restrictions. But there are dangers out there. Dangers to our spiritual wellbeing. Dangers to our heart. How could God truly love us if He did not warn us about these things.
Third, true to our verse today, God’s word comforts us. It has a way of healing a broken heart. Promises, hope and joy all bring comfort. The weary need to be encouraged to keep on. The heavy laden need to hear the promises of rest that is found in Jesus. The discouraged need to know that God is with them. The fearful and the worried need to realize that God remains upon the throne. The sad need to know what God says about resurrection and eternity. There is great comfort in God’s word.
Fourth, God’s word challenges, motivates and moves us. The Lord’s words at the end of the Good Samaritan story are, “go and do thou likewise.” Get about it. The Corinthians were told to remain unmovable and abound in the work of the Lord. Titus was to tell his congregation to be engaged in good deeds. Get busy. Get involved. Get going. God’s word dusts the cobwebs off of us and calls us to get on our feet and do something good. Powerful. Motivating. Challenging.
Preaching takes those concepts and creates sermons around them. Now, we may have a favorite part, such as comfort. We may like lessons on Heaven. We may want to learn things. But we also need to be warned. We also need to be challenged. It’s not just from one area that we find God’s fruit. We must move around the orchard and find blessings on all the trees. Commandments are as important as promises. Lessons that dry tears are as important as lessons that kick us in our pants. And, we get these from sermons as well as classes. Some classes may be verse by verse which informs and teaches us. But we also need topical studies which covers questions and areas that are important to us at the moment.
In all of this, we find balance. Some of this and some of that. Too much of one, or all of one, is not getting the complete picture. We need it all.
God bless the preachers that understand this and work hard at presenting the complete message of God. While we may not like a particular subject for a sermon or class, realize that in the big picture of things, we likely need it.
Sermons that are never heard, are not good. Sound the word. Spread the message. Ring out the Gospel.