Jump Start # 3170
2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”
Recently I was preaching in a meeting at a place that I had been before. But it had been a long time since I was last there. In fact, it had been 16 years since the last time I had preached there. And, the amazing thing was to hear so many saying that they remembered my sermon, “Bloom where you planted.” I had preached that there sixteen years ago. They still remembered it. I used to preach that sermon a lot. I wore that thing out and have not touched it in a long, long time. I did not remember that I had preached it there. But here, going on two decades later many remembered. Now, let’s put some things straight about this. The sermon is just ok and the preaching at the best isn’t all that good, but it’s one of those moments when the time is right and people identify with it.
I was thinking all about those kind comments last night. I’ve been preaching more than forty years. How many sermons are remembered? The Sunday comes to an end, the sermon goes into a file cabinet and on we go to other projects, another sermon and more classes. The preacher hopes that someone is helped at the moment. The preacher hopes that somehow his choice of lesson was what was needed that day. Some days it is. Some days it’s not so much.
Deep within the ego of many preachers is the hope that our sermons would be remembered like the songs of our favorite singers. So many hits. So many songs. But truth be, most of us do not even remember many of our own sermons.
The value of a sermon is not in how long a sermon is remembered years after it was preached, but whether it did us any good. Like the showers of rain, the garden needs that nourishment to grow. How many rain showers are remembered? Growth isn’t a one time event. It’s a process. It’s like a little child growing. Each meal and each day he is growing. He is stretching up. He is changing. And, that is the process of our spiritual growth. There is no one sermon that will be the vitamin for life that gives you 100% of what you need. There is no one sermon that will answer all the questions that you have. But those sprinkles of rain upon the heart allows one to grow and get stronger every day.
The interesting thing about sermons is that some that I think didn’t go over so well, others love. And, sermons that I thought were really fascinating, seem to land like a dud. But I have learned that the value of a sermon is not in the comments that people say. Some will say every week, “Good sermon.“ They are honest and they liked the sermon. Others will not say anything. The preacher wonders. But later on, something is said and a thought from one of those sermons surfaces. They heard. More than that, they remembered. And, more than that, it stuck with them and it helped them.
We preachers all have our own styles not only of developing a sermon but of even delivering a sermon. And, styles are like decorations. Some appeal to you and some may not. But our job is not to become fixated upon the mouthpiece but upon the message. Take us to the Scriptures and let us see Jesus, that’s what a sermon ought to do. Some are masterful at showing us things in the text that we never saw before. Some are great at putting life and definitions to words. For others, it’s all about getting those words out of the Bible and into our hearts. Practical application that is real, useful and relevant, that’s how some preach.
Through the years a congregation becomes adjusted to the type of preaching they receive on a regular basis. When a different style comes in, it often takes a moment to get used to that. It’s like a bowl of chili. The family gets used to mama’s chili. Then the family goes to another home for a visit and chili is served. It’s different than the way mama makes it. It’s still chili and it’s still good. It’s just different. That’s sort of like listening to different preachers. Is one better than another? Not really, not as long as they are preaching Jesus and staying true to the text. I’ve sat through some sermons and taken dozens of notes. I have sat through others and never wrote one thing down. But often, it was the later that really helped me.
It’s easy for us to try to make all preaching the same. I’m glad it’s not. We notice the different styles when we read what Paul wrote and what Peter wrote. Paul is deep. Romans is a tough book. Peter is practical. Peter gets to the point quickly. I find myself more like Peter than Paul. Ought we change Paul into Peter? Never. Is Peter better than Paul? No. Both are needed and both are very helpful. And, so it is among us. Some preachers are all business in the pulpit and they bring a seriousness to the word of God. Others use humor and stories but have a powerful way of punching God’s word into our hearts. Peter and Paul. That’s what we have today.
Our verse today reminds us to preach the word. We are not to preach ourselves, our opinions or our likes, but the word of God. Stick with that. Learn how to preach well. Make adjustments.
Remembering a sermon sixteen years ago. That really touched by heart.