Jump Start # 3053
2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”
The other day I was looking for something on my shelves and ran across a book that someone had given me some time ago. It was a compilation of sermons by six physical brothers. The book is called, “Sermons we like to preach,” by the Andrew brothers. They were all siblings and all six of them preached. There is about ten sermon outlines by each of these Andrew boys. What caught my eye to this book was the title, “Sermons we like to preach.”
More than once, when I have been asked to preach at another place, I have been told, “Just bring your favorite sermon.” Sermons we like to preach—let’s put some thought to that.
First, often the sermons I like, few others do. I find something in the Scriptures and become passionate about preaching it and it just seems to hang in the air. Other times, often because of a packed schedule, I put something rather simple together and people will leave saying, “It’s the best you’ve ever done.” In my mind, it’s not even close to the best. Preachers have sermons they like. I wonder if Paul had some that he liked? I wonder if the sermon on the mount was the Lord’s favorite sermon?
Second, the value of a sermon should not be measured by how many people rave about it, but rather how much good it accomplishes. Did that sermon make people think? Did it lead them to change? Did it bring them closer to the Lord? When Peter preached that Pentecost sermon in Acts 2, the people were pierced in the heart. That doesn’t sound like a good feeling. When Stephen preached Acts 7, the people were cut to the quick. The success of sermons is not in smiles, laughter or entertaining a crowd. That’s not the function of a sermon. Sermons are to put us before the Cross. The sinfulness of our ways is not something that we are proud about. Being lost and alienated from God is not a good place to be. The warnings of Scriptures may make us upset, even mad. But the mercy and grace of our God ought to melt away any pride that we have and open our eyes to how much we need Jesus.
The nature of “out of season,” means simply that, “it’s not in.” Where I live, a person cannot get a fresh, locally grown garden tomato in January. Won’t happen. They are out of season. And, out of season sermons may not be our favorites. They may be controversial, hard to listen to, and calls upon us to change. But, it is those sermons that can do the most good for us. We can’t preach always about Heaven. If we did, some would never know that there is a Hell. We can’t always preach about the love of God. If we did, some would never know about the wrath of God. Preaching just what we want or like can make our theology lopsided and unbalanced. The opposite of these things is just as true. If we always preach about the wrath of God, some may get the impression that God doesn’t like us.
In season and out of season. There will be sermons I like and sermons I don’t like. There will be sermons that knock the shine off my shoes and sermons that will warm my heart. Gotta have both of them. We need both kinds. We need to preach about the Authority of Scriptures, as well as raising kids, and cultural differences, and character studies, and worship, and Jesus, and church and on and on.
Third, as one preaches to an audience, some will be helped and some won’t. It’s not uncommon for two people hearing the same sermon to have totally opposite reactions. One may think it’s the best he has ever heard. The other, hearing the same sermon, may think, “I’ve heard better.” Why does that happen? It’s because of where the audience is on their journey with the Lord. Some enter Sunday morning, feeling good, confident and strong. Others enter, with a world of worry and stress. They both hear the same sermon. One benefits greatly. The other not so much.
Fourth, our mind and heart has so much to do with how we hear a sermon. If we are not paying attention, if we are filled with troubles, then the words pass right over us. But if we come, Bible in hand, with the intention of seeing, learning and growing, that most times is exactly what takes place. The work of the preacher can be lost because the audience isn’t ready or prepared to hear a sermon. The chit-chat of the world fills our time before worship begins and as soon as the last amen is uttered, we immediately return to the chit-chatting of the world again. What about those words we just heard in the sermon? What about the challenge to change and become? How quickly we may drive those thoughts out of us and forget things before we reach our cars in the parking lot. Taking notes, writing things in your Bible—wonderful ways to keep the sermon alive. Talking about the sermon over lunch is yet another powerful way to pull as much out as you can.
“Sermons we like to preach.” I have a few of mine that I like. Most were only preached one time. What I’d rather preach is what you need to hear.