Most pastors talk a lot – some would even say too much! Can I get an “amen?” The truth is, every pastor makes a living by talking. Talking is what we do. But it is imperative that we are talking about the right things, especially when it comes to the message we preach each and every week.
I believe the five most important words pastors say during their weekend sermons are, “turn in your Bibles to…” I even tell the congregation where I preach that if I don’t say, “turn in your Bibles to,” within the first five to ten minutes of my message, something is wrong.
Over nearly thirty years pastoring a local church, I’ve preached a few sermons and heard a few preached. Every now and then I hear a sermon where it seems the preacher had to find a few scriptures to go along with his points. Occasionally I hear a preacher who doesn’t cite a text until over half the message has been preached. Sometimes you hear a sermon that started with a verse, but the rest of the message had little or nothing to do with that verse.
When a preacher preaches a message, people need to hear what God has to say, not what the preacher wants to say. Every sermon should be a “thus saith the Lord” message. The congregation needs to hear what God has to say about our lives and not someone’s personal opinion. The authority for every message should be the truth of God. It is God’s Word expounded on and explained that people need to hear. Psalm 119:25 says, “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your Word!” In verse 33, the psalmist says, “Teach me , O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.” God’s Word, not man’s opinion, is what the world desperately needs today.
My goal in preaching is to always start with the text, not my idea. The text then tells me what to say; I don’t use the text to support what I want to say. When God does the speaking, my job is simply to illuminate, explain, and illustrate His message in a way that makes it applicable to life today. The Word of God is timeless. My job is simply to communicate it in a relatable way.
When someone compliments me or encourages me on a message, I know it really has less to do with me and more to do with God. When a preacher opens God’s Word and allows Him to speak, it is amazing how lives are changed. Psalm 119:105 reminds us, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” When a pastor says, “turn in your Bibles to…” they have simply turned on the light we all need.
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