Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sermon Prep - In the Trenches

As I have gone through life, especially in the last 5 years, I have grown more and more confident that God IS out there, and He IS involved in my life directly. There have been so many "coincidences" that I just can't call them that anymore. The sermon series that I am working on right now has been an amazing experience. The first week I was struggling to get my direction for my first sermon. I had a lot of stuff gathered in front of me, but it just wasn't coming together. I did something I've never done before - I literally got down on my knees, bowed down and said "OK God, I NEED your message, and I'm not getting up from here until I have it. What do they need to hear You say tomorrow?" And I stayed there for a while. Eventually I heard "Remain in Me" and knew I had finally found my direction. I got up and prepared my sermon.

I struggled the day of that first sermon and was attacked with thoughts/ideas of me having bombed the sermon and being a loser - to the point that I didn't even want to preach the second service. But I worked through it, finished the day, but felt lousy. I have told myself and others many times - if I know I preached what God wanted me to, that's all I need to feel satisfied. But, this week, for the first time in a long time - not one single person said a positive or encouraging word to me after the services. No one! It was silent. People were talking, but no one approached me at all. For the first time, I had to deal with whether I really believed what I said - if I did what I know God wanted me to, am I really ok if no one responds in any way? It was TOUGH.

I struggled to get back on track for the next week's sermon, but once I began thinking through it and spending a little time with it, I was totally re-energized for the message of this series. God lifted me up and helped me know that I WAS on track, and it didn't matter what people said or not. The second sermon was delivered and a lot of people were positively affected by it and told me so. Coincidently, after my second sermon, several people told me how much they got out of my last sermon. One person even said - I meant to call you this week and tell you, but I just didn't. I think God was preventing that so I could work through it the way I needed to. Momentum is picking up now, and I KNOW I'm on target with this series and I am so thankful to be used by God in this.

I began last night preparing the final sermon in this series. As soon as I sat down, several key things came together with an awesome passage of Scripture, and even some things I was working on several years ago are going to play in huge with this week's message. I put together a rough 4 pages last night almost effortlessly. I got some key phrasing in place to tie the whole series together really well. The Holy Spirit is really carrying me now. I am SO excited to wrap this up - not because it will be over, but to see it come to completion. I got up today and looked again at the Scripture passage I'll be using this week - love it! I got to work today, turned on iTunes to listen to some sermons while I work today (normal habit). I went to Elevation Church podcast from two weeks ago - the Scripture he's preaching on is the very same one I'll be preaching on this week!

I don't enjoy preaching for me, but I can say that I am SO blessed to be allowed to do it, and I enjoy more than I can explain watching God work in my life to prepare messages in me. If I ever used to doubt his direct involvement in my life, I don't anymore. The key is to keep allowing it to be His leading and not moving to far forward on my own. Any of this resonate with you other pastors/leaders out there?

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