Manage episode 198188319 series 2049784
My name is Jamus Edwards. I am the pastor for preaching and vision at Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, which is about an hour and 40 minutes west from here. We've been in Sojourn Network since they kind of broke away from Acts 29 I think in 2011 or 12 or something like that. I've been charged the task of dealing with the subject of kindled fire. Rusty and I love this title Dave Harvey gave us. Preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit but then I've added a second or third subtitle, the dangers of being reformed.
I remember the first book I preached through at Pleasant Valley back in about 2007 was Matthew's gospel. I remember being in Matthew chapter nine the story where Jesus goes to Matthew's house with all the tax collectors and sinners. I remember preaching that sermon and probably like never before, certainly up until that point, maybe not since then just felt the unique tangible obvious presence of the Holy Spirit. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. Just God was there, there was just a power that I felt in that sermon. I was like 24 years old you know, it wasn't me, it wasn't that great of a sermon. Just God showed up.
I felt like what Martin Lee Jones described is in "Preaching & Preachers", which is one of the books I recommend. You need to read it if you haven't and if you're a preacher or care about preaching. Here's how Jones describes this unction or anointing of the Holy Spirit. Here's what he says, "You are a man possessed. You are taken hold of and taken up. I like to put it like this and I know of nothing on earth that is comparable to this feeling that when this happens you have a feeling you are not actually doing the preaching. You are looking at yourself in amazement as this is happening. It is not your effort, you are just the instrument, the channel, the vehicle. The Spirit is using you and you are looking on in great enjoyment and astonishment."
What Jones calls the anointing or the unction of the Holy Spirit and I felt that on that day. I experienced that. It was one of those where I didn't want the sermon to end. I don't think the congregation wanted the sermon to end, it felt like fire. It was unbelievable how God was there. Two weeks later I was asked by a friend to preach at his church so it was a no brainer what I was going to preach. He just told me to preach whatever I wanted and I didn't have to fill in his series. I always love those the best. I was like, I'm just going to preach Matthew 9 because the way the Spirit used that sermon I want to go into that church and just like God's going to come down and even the pastors are going to get saved, one of those. You probably know where this is going.
I didn't change a thing. I preached with a manuscript, didn't change a single word in the manuscript. Preached the exact same sermon verbatim. Same illustrations, same preacher, same everything. It was like a morgue. It was like a Rick Martino press conference in the last few weeks. It was bad. It was dreadful, there was no power, there was no sense of a weightiness from God. I mean, people were seriously ... This was like an older congregation and even they were like on their phones. Like on their flip phones I guess or they're like doing crossword puzzles. It was terrible.
The sermon was probably 40 minutes, it felt like it was about three hours, to me and them. I've never been invited back to the church to speak. I know why. How do you explain that? Some of you know what I'm talking about. Some of you preachers have preached the same sermon in two different instances with very different results. How do you explain that? Same preacher, I hadn't committed any major sin over those two weeks. Same manuscript, same illustrations, same Word of God even but a very different sense of power. Brothers and sister, or sisters, I think the single most underestimated element in our preaching, maybe the power of the Holy Spirit. The power and the person of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus came as the perfect example of preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Luke chapter 4 most of the verses I reference by the way are on your handout if you're following along. Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been brought up and as was His custom He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and He stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Jesus and Jesus unrolled the scroll and He found the place where it was written the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. Of course Jesus, just seeing this fulfilled in Himself because He, that's the Spirit of God, has anointed me to proclaim good news to the Savior. Jesus comes preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit and this is why I think later in Matthew 7 it's a different account but the Bible says when Jesus had finished these sayings or Jesus had finished teaching the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority. Do you remember that verse?
They had never seen anything like it. The reason they sensed this tangible authority and uniqueness in Jesus is because they saw something they had not seen in another scribe. The power of the Holy Spirit. The unique umption of the Spirit of God obviously rested on Jesus. Lloyd Jones writes in "Preaching & Preachers", "Even our Lord Himself, the Son of God, could not have exercised His ministry as a man on earth if He had not received this special peculiar anointing of the Holy Spirit to perform this task."
Now I want to start here, when you look at this example of Jesus preaching in the Spirit in Luke chapter 4. I think in this room, in this context knowing we all come from pretty similar churches I probably don't even have to say this, but I have to say it anyway. The power of the Spirit resting on Jesus in preaching here is clearly linked to His preaching of the Spirit inspired scriptures. Jesus opened up the Bible to Isaiah 61 and Isaiah 58 in this. Jesus didn't simply speak, wasn't speaking in the philosophy of men, He wasn't speaking the latest Greek philosophy. Jesus spoke from the Word of God that was inspired by the same Spirit that was now resting upon Him. Brothers, when we long for the power of the Holy Spirit in our preaching we have to immerse ourselves in faithfulness to the Biblical text.
I think that goes without saying, but it can even be our temptation sometime to preach a little too much psychology or a little too much philosophy of man. We have verses but we have to make sure our content and our motivation and certainly our bedrock in preaching is the Word of God. The Spirit of God is most obviously invited into the preaching event when the Word of God is exalted and is supreme. If you don't want the Spirit of God to come in your preaching then slowly begin to drift away from the centrality of the scripture and you understand, we can be expositors and still get away from the scriptures. I mean, just because we read a text and make a few comments on the text we can still bring in these outside agendas, can't we? The only way to hope for power in preaching is to stand upon the authority of the Word of God.
Now I want to get into what I'm calling six challenges of being reformed. Maybe not in this room is reformed, that's okay. But I think a lot of people in this group probably are. Six unique potential stumbling blocks to preaching int he power of the Spirit if we're reformed and the first one is going to sound paradoxical at best and heretical at worst, it is the first reformed challenge to preaching in the power of the Spirit is our de-commitment to text centeredness. Now before you stone me and before you think, well that's the exact opposite of what you just said, let's think about this out loud together. Okay?
In some instances I think we create kind of two kinds of categories of churches. What we might call Word centered churches on one hand and then maybe we would think about Spirit centered churches on the other hand. When you think about Word centered churches we probably think about most of the churches represented in this room. We exposit the text, we tend to spend a lot of time in commentaries, we have high view of sound doctrine and sound theology and rightly so. Maybe we studied the Greek or the Hebrew or at least care about those who have and quote them pretending as though we actually know what the Hebrew text means. But either way we're deeply committed to the text. We're the dudes who refuses to step out of our expositional series even on holidays. You ever met that guy? I've been that guy before.
It's Mother's Day. We're in a series in Genesis and you come to Genesis 38 on Mother's Day where Onan, pardon for the ladies, spills his seed all over the ground. We refuse to step out of that text even on Mother's Day because we're so committed to the Word of God. It's Christmas Eve service and we've been preaching through Judges. We just finished singing Silent Night and then we walk up to the text and we open up to Judges 4 where this chick drives a tent peg through the dude's forehead into the ground. We won't step out of it because we're so committed to the Word of God. Then we kind of bash those preachers who after 9/11 happened changed their sermon and actually dealt with what's going on in the culture. We kind of pride ourself in text centeredness, we're expositors and we stick to the Word.
Then you have this other category of what we might think about as Spirit centered churches. Maybe this our more charismatic brothers and sisters who sometimes, not always, but sometimes maybe we feel like experience is elevated more than the Word. Maybe there's less focus on theology and doctrine, maybe more focus on emotion and feeling. Churches in our camp tend to want to make it very clear what we are and what we're not. We want to say we're Word-centered churches. We would never elevate experience over truth. Here is my concern, I wonder if sometimes we're so afraid of being like maybe some of our charismatic brothers and sisters that we feel like they go a little too far sometimes. Maybe we're so afraid of being that, that we over correct and begin to neglect the Holy Spirit all together. Or then maybe worse, we get this misconception that we just need to be balanced. We want to balance the Word and the Spirit but we don't want to get too much in the Spirit camp because then we're afraid our people will say we're just like the guy on TBN.
When it comes to God and His power we don't want balance. The goal in preaching is not to balance the Word and the Spirit. We want all that we can get of God and you can't have too much of the Word of God and you can't have too much of the Holy Spirit of God. I think if we have of this false dichotomy that's not Biblical that says we're either Word centered or Spirit centered we gotta get rid of that. It's not the goal to be an either or, it's a both and. Whoever said you can't be fully committed to the Word of God and fully committed to the Spirit of God? Who said you can't do both? Whoever said you can't preach expository sermons and have deep theological convictions and at the same time beg and expect the Holy Spirit to come in such a way that He does things that we didn't print in the bulletin and we're cool with that. If the Spirit shows up in the sermon and does something that we forgot to tell the worship pastor we were going to do as we ended the sermon. Whoever said we can't have deep intellectual understanding of the text in the Word of God?
At the same time though, have real emotion and happiness and expression in God. Who said you have to compromise the Word to have great emotion and great expression? As Sam Storms writes, "Who said we can't have order and freedom? Who says you can't have reform and revival? Why does it have to be one or the other? Who says we can't have principle and power?" Well I think God is inviting us into all of these things. I think Jesus stood upon all of these things. If we're not careful we can fall into what I'm calling expositional idolatry. It's dangerous even saying that, maybe in some circles, but I think here we're okay because we can just become mechanical sermon factories. Can't we? We can just be preaching machines. We may read 27 commentaries and that's great and we know the text so well, maybe we even memorize a text but how much time have we spent on our knees begging for the power of the Holy Spirit to come on Sunday morning? Because brothers and sisters, Spurgeon is great but quoting Spurgeon won't change any man's heart. Only the Spirit of God can come and awaken sinners and revive the saint. Only God's Sprit can do this.
I encourage all of us to take the time to think and to ponder and to pray on this question. What would it look like for us to be just as committed to the Holy Spirit in our preaching as we are to the Word of God itself? What if we weren't just text centered preachers who got exposition right? What if we were equally committed to the utter necessity of the power of the Holy Spirit every time we stand in front of God's people? I think the first danger of being reformed ironically is a commitment to text centeredness.
I think the second danger though is sometimes reformed guys have tendencies towards strength, expertise, intellect and sophistication. Now this may or may not be true of every reformed pastor but the stereotype is there, isn't it? I mean, it just is. You think about reformed guys or those guys tend to study a lot, they tend to spend more time in the ... It's just the stereotype is there for a reason. We tend to be precise and exact and take things so seriously. That's good, but the challenge is we need to be aware of the fact that the power of the Holy Spirit when I read the New Testament it seems like the Spirit is not drawn to and inclined to assist strength, expertise, intellect and sophistication. Those are all the things that we get at the seminaries. That's great, love the seminaries but sometimes we walk away having all this head knowledge and we're sharp, we're educated and we're gifted. We know stuff. But the Spirit of God isn't necessarily drawn to that kind of have it together-ness.
Obviously the text we're going to look at, I think Rusty will probably look at this, this afternoon as well a little is in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, I want to read this. I heard one preacher say that he plasters this verse, he has it in on a plaque on the pulpit and every time he stands up to preach he sees these words that we're about to read. Paul says, "And when I came to you brothers I didn't come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom." Aren't we sometimes prone to impressive speech in our preaching? Don't we normally have pretty well articulated arguments? I mean, none of us we're not idiots are we? Frankly? Isn't it true that sometimes people walk away from your sermons very impressed with our intellect and wisdom? Sometimes people hate our sermons and they leave the church of it. Can we be honest? A lot of times people are pretty impressed. Wow pastor, I've heard that sermon preached for 30 years and I've never heard that brought up before.
While that can be upperclivity that's not even our thought necessarily but here Paul says his preaching, it wasn't characterized by lofty speech or wisdom. It says in verse two, "I decided I know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." He says, "I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling." That doesn't seem that impressive to me. He says, "In my speech and my message were not implausible words of wisdom." Paul's preaching wasn't extra ordinarily impressive to his audience. People weren't just apparently blown away by his brilliant insight. He says, "My speech and my message were not implausible words of wisdom, but ..." It is a contrast here. Here's how his preaching came, "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."
Paul contrasts our wisdom, our sophistication, our intellect, our impressiveness, our ability to articulate precisely. He contrasts those things with the Spirit and His power and he essentially says, those two things aren't compatible. Our impressiveness, our smooth articulation, our exegetical expertise when driven primarily by our abilities and our effort can quench the person and the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit of God is primarily drawn to weakness and humility, not strength and expertise so that God gets the glory and that people walk away not saying, wow what a wonderful preacher but wow what a wonderful God. That is the goal, brothers.
Most of us probably if we've been called by a church to be a pastor or to preach or to teach or whatever it is, we can probably speak pretty well. We're usually pretty sharp guys. We've either been to seminary or we're very well read and we know stuff. We can quote Jonathan Edwards in our sermons. We can say really impressive things usually, we're usually pretty enjoyable to listen to from an intellectual perspective folks in those reformed can't but that doesn't mean that we have power. This is why I think Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4 says, "Some are arrogant as though I were not coming to you but I will come to you soon if the Lord wills and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power." Paul contrasts mere talk with power. He says, "Because the kingdom of God doesn't consist and talk then in power." Precise articulation and heavy content and impressive speech does not always yield power. What we need and want is power. That's the power of God because only the power of God raises the dead to life and convicts Christians of their sins.
This is why I think Lloyd Jones writes of this 1 Corinthians 4 text he says, "There is no text perhaps of which we need to be reminded so much at the present time as just that. There is certainly no lack of words," he's talking about in our preaching, "but is there much evidence of power in our preaching?" Hey, we can preach long. Speaking of myself here, I preach too long. My worship pastor reminds me every Sunday. We can preach long accurate Word centered sermons but true long lasting fruit in the lives of our believers only comes when the Holy Spirit is present and great power and great conviction. This is why Paul says again, this is Paul's theology of preaching. Paul can't imagine speaking about preaching without the centrality of the Holy Spirit. He just can't do it.
He says in 1 Thessalonians 1, "We know brothers loved by God that He has chosen you because our Gospel came to you not only in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." Sometimes I'm afraid to even say this, but it's basically what Paul says, sometimes it's not just enough just to get up and just to preach a verse. Paul says that's good because the Word won't return void but he says no, not just the Word, power. The power comes through the Spirit who illuminates the Word and opens up hearts. Gotta have the Spirit working out of the Word and into the hearts of people. If you got just the Word going forth and the Spirit's not there moving and we've all seen it. Preach great sermons and people are on their phones. What's the missing element? What's the missing power? Could be the person and the work of the Holy Spirit.
I think that our greatest need in preaching probably isn't more commentaries. Most of us have offices full of those. It's probably not a better knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew, although that's very important. It's probably not even working on our eye contact and smooth transitions, though that's all well and we can learn that in preaching class. I think our greatest need in preaching is a deep sense of helplessness and an utter dependence upon the presence and the person of the work of the Holy Spirit. This power only comes through weakness. It comes through our dependence, it comes through humility. This is why James says humble yourselves before the Lord and then He will exalt you. Weakness, it seems like is the pathway to power and preaching. Prostrate like dependence, that is the initiation for the demonstration of the Holy Spirit.
This is why I love this quote from John Piper, you guys maybe have seen this. "How utterly dependent we are on the Holy Spirit in the work of preaching. All of genuine preaching is rooted in a feeling of desperation. You wake up on Sunday morning and you can smell the smoke of hell on one side and feel the crisp of breezes of heaven on the other." Isn't this just like Piper? None of us could have thought to say this. It says, "You go to your study and you look down at your pitiful manuscript." I feel this way every Sunday morning. "You kneel down and cry, 'God this is so weak. Who do I think I am?'" I don't think Piper writes that to sound humble, he wrote this when he was like 65. Who has more power in their preaching? Right? Weakness, dependence, humility, this is when God comes.
A few questions to ponder very briefly. The first two of these Rusty is going to talk about this afternoon. By the way, I want to encourage you to come back this afternoon for session two of this talk that Rusty Mackey here is going to lead. A few questions I want you guys to ponder. One, in our sermon prep, what if we spent less time crafting well articulate sermons and more time waiting and pleading before the Lord on our knees? This is why Greg Hisler, this is another book I recommend in the end, it's really good. "Fundamentally preaching is more about listening and reporting than about creating and crafting." Secondly, what if we became more willing to deviate from our well prepared exact manuscripts? Not everybody is a manuscript preacher, for those of that are. What if we were willing more frequently and almost expectant that the Spirit would come in such a way that it would move us maybe away from the manuscript at least for a moment to say something that we hadn't even thought of that's so obvious God came? What if we were willing to do that and expect. Then thirdly, this is just something practical, what if we invited other people in to pray for the Spirit's power during our preaching?
Charles Spurgeon attributed his power in preaching to this, I think they called it like a boiler room in those days. Every time Spurgeon preached down in the basement somewhere there was a group of people on their knees praying during the duration of his sermons. The power would come. We just started this a little while ago at our church. During all three services, during every sermon in a little room there's just one or two, maybe three people. Men and women pleading before God for God's power to come. Nothing makes me I guess if confident is the right word, confident in preaching now than I know that those people are praying because I know how weak I am and I know how terrible my manuscript usually is. I urge you to consider forming a prayer team of people that pray every time you preach. Your people I think will be excited to do that.
We're going to move quickly on these last few here and then we're going to dialogue and talk. I think the third danger of being reformed could be our strong emphasis on contextualization may lead us to be more audience centered than we are God centered. We would never say this, we would never seek out to do this but if we're not careful we can land here because I think we've been pretty well trained in most cases to contextualize our preaching, which is very important. To know your context. I mean, one of the worst mistakes I ever made in preaching. I was like 19 years old. I had been asked to come preach at this rural church and I didn't think to ask the pulpit committee about the context. I had this blistering sermon on sexual immorality. I was calling on porn and everything hell fire, you're all going to hell because you're sexually impure. My context was like 14 90 year old women. True story. I didn't change the sermon. I mean, I was like screaming at these little old ladies about their sexual purity. It was terrible.
I think at one point I said, well if it doesn't apply to you, you all have grandsons looking at porn. We need to know our context. I'm not belittling the necessity of knowing your context. Here's what I think I want to say, if we start with our people, meaning if we start primarily with context in mind, if we start with our people we might miss Christ but if we start with Christ we always get to the needs of our people and Pastor Rusty helped me see this a little while interacting awhile back because when you preach Christ He meets all the felt needs of our people. You'll get to the context, you'll get to the deepest recesses of peoples hearts if you'll begin with Jesus. If we want power in our preaching we have to give the Holy Spirit something He can say yes to. If you want power in your preaching set it up on a tee if you will and give the Holy Spirit something He wants to come along and knock it out of the park. What the Holy Spirit longs to say yes to is Christ.
This is what excites, it seems like, the Holy Spirit. This is why the Father sent Him. What does He say in John 15:26? Jesus said, "When the Helper comes whom I will send to you from the Father the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father He will bear witness about Me." This is what the Holy Spirit longs to do. He loves getting behind the name and exaltation of Christ. He's like let me push Christ a little higher, set Christ up. Let me come exalt Him. This is why Jesus speaks of the Spirit and says the Spirit will glorify Me. Then when Paul in that great 1 Corinthians 2 text talks about the power of the Spirit in his preaching, do you know what precedes that? As soon as he talks about power before that he said, I decided to know nothing among you except what? Christ and Him crucified. Where did his power come? It came from just preaching the cross of Christ.
I think the way to invite the Spirit into our pulpits is to supremely preach Jesus Christ and that the Gospel and Christ never gets old. You don't ever graduate on from preaching Christ. Okay, like we got the Gospel down, now we're going to get into the tulip or now we're going to get into some other philosophy or deep theology. No, like you never graduate from Christ. Your people never outgrow the need for Jesus so you preach Jesus every single week. Then you invite the Spirit in every single week. Then connected to this but a little more broadly, I've just experienced this on a personal level. I think we can't allow our concern for our context to ever take precedent over simply a radical commitment to I think what Piper would call preaching the supremacy of God.
God desires to magnify Himself and there are few greater invitations of the Holy Spirit to come in power than when we are just laser focused on showing off the power of God. Sometimes you just preach the awesome-ness of God and you just walk off the stage. The Spirit loves to come get behind that. You can't preach too much of the awesome-ness of God to your people. I guess what I'm trying to say is, every sermon maybe we don't have to have like five awesome application points at the end. That's good, we do that, but sometimes you just preach the holiness of God or the sovereignty of God and you just let the Spirit work out the application, they'll figure it out. You know what I'm saying? Just walk off.
Speaker 2: [inaudible 00:31:07].
Speaker 1: Yes. Yes. I mean, do you want to feel power in your preaching? Go to Isaiah 46, right? Some of these Old Testament tapes talking about the sovereignty of God like that nations are a drop in the bucket and grasshoppers. The more God is exalted like you ... Preachers are like you just feel the Spirit. The Spirit loves to show off the greatness of God. Much more inclined to magnify that than He is some human primarily focused agenda I think. Again, when you get to God in Christ you meet the needs of the people. Okay? Let's do these last few real quickly. The fourth danger in being reformed might be a view of grace and freedom that diminish personal holiness and quenches the Holy Spirit.
Like every reformed person I talk to, we all have the same testimony usually. We were basically all raised in very performance based environments, maybe somewhat legalistic and we were all told our whole lives the harder you work for Jesus the more you'll be accepted by God. Then we learned the doctrines of grace, we read back when [inaudible 00:32:14] was a big thing. We read Jesus was nothing, everything. Our eyes are awakened to grace and like all the pressure is off and it's awesome. We're free in Christ and it's beautiful and it's life changing to our people. We preach God's grace so freely and we should and that's all true and the Gospel but it could be sometimes we're so afraid of being legalistic and we're so afraid of like being performance based and we're so afraid of not being the person my mom forced me to be that we over correct. We begin to belittle or dismiss the urgency of fighting against sin and passionately pursuing personal holiness.
I think Kevin [inaudible 00:32:59] book, [inaudible 00:33:01] is fantastic. I had our elders read it because everybody been reading [inaudible 00:33:05]. I was just seeing in some of our guys just a dismissal of the importance of holiness. I thought okay we've over corrected. If our theology of grace means it's okay to sin, if it's okay to not read my Bible anymore then that's not the grace I see in the Bible. Because the writer of Hebrews says without holiness you don't see God. How can we expect to see the power of God's spirit in our preaching apart from holiness?
Now I say all of that to one this little caveat. Some of the weeks where I have sinned the worst I've seen God's power the most on that Sunday. You know what I mean? The prayer I've prayed probably the most before I preach is Lord, don't let my sin negatively affect your people tomorrow. You know like I've been a jerk to my wife or yelled at my kids or struggled with lust that week and I'm like God is going to strike me dead in the pulpit tomorrow. I deserve that and I'm like, sometimes think about asking somebody else to preach because I'd been so corrupt that week. Sometimes God in His grace and forgiveness just comes and uses me anyways, but I don't think we should presume upon that. I don't think we should presume that God's grace is in anyway obligated to use us when we've been living a sinful life. Not repenting, watching crap on television or whatever it is.
Brothers, we're free in Christ, there's no condemnation of those in Christ but at the same time Paul writes more than once don't quench the Holy Spirit, don't grieve the Holy Spirit. I think he says that because you can. The lives we live can effect what happens in the pulpit. I think this is real clear in the Bible, that's why Greg Housler writes, "Powerful preaching comes at a price and too few preachers today are willing to pay the price of holiness." Listen, preparation for preaching, the power of the Spirit in preaching happens long before we get into the pulpit. Man, it's like Wednesday night when we're tucking the kids in. It's Thursday afternoon when we're tired and our eyes are starting to wander. This is when we're inviting the Spirit in.
Now fifthly, you really need to come back and hear Rusty talk on this one because Rusty is going to spend a lot of his time talking about the Spirit in sermon prep. The fifth danger of being reformed, very briefly, is I think sometimes we underestimate the Spirit's work in our sermon preparation. The power of the Spirit again is not just in the preaching event itself, but negligence and slothfulness in our study I think can also quench the Holy Spirit. Again, there's these two extremes and one extreme is what we've called exposition idolatry where we're just mechanical sermon producing machines. You can do all that without God, you know. You can exegete the text and get the Greek and Hebrew and not invite the Holy Spirit at all. You can get it right without having power.
An over correction, preaching is all about over correcting all the time. Isn't it? The other extreme is an over correction, we neglect ample time in study. We say well oh we're just going to wait on the Holy Spirit. I'm not going to study this week, I'm real busy, I've got counseling, I've got meetings and I don't have time to get in the text but God's going to ... You can't just turn the Holy Spirit on like a switch on Sunday morning. That's not how it works. I mean, sometimes He'll do that. You might get asked last second to preach and you don't have a thing prepared and God comes. Sure, God can do that. But we shouldn't presume upon that. The Holy Spirit is a person. We are called to commune with Him and meet with Him in the Biblical text throughout the week. Immersing ourself in the text that the Spirit inspired. If you want the Holy Spirit think about what He's already inspired. Then He illuminates the Word to us and to our people.
If you've been spending time in the Word all week and then John Wesley used to say, "Then what will happen is you'll come to church on Sunday and he says I'll set myself on fire that people will come and watch me burn." Well if you want fire on Sundays you've got to begin to cultivate and kindle that during the week by being in the Word with the Spirit and inviting Him in. Here's the thing, here's the temptation. Some of us have been preaching for longer than others but especially if you're just starting off maybe in the first few years of your church plant or your church you'll become better at preparing sermons, maybe you'll spend 20 to 30 hours your first few years or something like that. Then trust me, you'll get it to where you can crank out a really good sermon that people will applaud you for and you'll be able to do it in five or six hours. You will, or less. You can crank out some sermons once you get good. Trust me.
Then we got all this pressure. Well you know lead pastor's ought to be focused on leadership development more. We got to do better at vision construction and those are all things I am terrible at. The temptation could be we start focusing on all this other stuff and all these other bigger churches are doing and oh I got to develop more leaders, I got to do all this. We spend less time in the text, less time in prayer because the pressure to be this awesome pastor. I think Lloyd Jones is right brothers, particularly I guess if you're a lead pastor, your primary calling is to stand up on Sundays and open the Word of God to the people of God. Just remember that priority and don't get so busy caught up in the busyness. There's a million things we can do better as pastors but you've got to be ready to preach on Sundays.
Lastly, while we tend to want a formula that works, the Spirit's power by definition is mysterious. I love this text in John 3 when Jesus says, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear it's sound but you don't know where it comes from and where it goes and so it is with everyone is born of the Spirit." Brothers and sisters, we can't put the Holy Spirit in a box. We can't pin Him down, we can't figure Him out. We can't create a formula that is guaranteed to produce the Holy Spirit on Sunday morning. [inaudible 00:39:26] like you can't grab Him, you can't force Him to be in the pulpit. You can't do that. We can read every book on the Holy Spirit's anointing, we can study, we can set all the conditions for His power to come but at the end of the day God will do what God will do.
Some Sunday's He'll be there in greater power than others and you just got to deal with it. I'll conclude with this quote. I think I wrote it down. It's a great great word here from Lloyd Jones, "What then are we to do about this? There is only one obvious conclusion, seek Him. Seek Him. What can we do without Him? Seek Him. Seek Him always, but go beyond seeking Him." He's speaking of the Spirit here. "Expect Him. Do you expect anything to happen when you get up to preach in a pulpit? Are you expecting it to be a turning point in someone's life? Are you expecting anyone to have a climatic experience? That is what preaching is meant to do. Seek this power, expect this power, yearn this owner and when the power comes yield to Him. Do not resist. Forget all about your sermon if necessary. Let Him lose you and let Him manifest His power in and through you. This unction, this anointing is the supreme thing. Seek it until you have it. Be content with nothing less. Go on until you can say in my speech and my preaching was not enticing words of man's wisdom but a demonstration of the Spirit and of power."
That's what we all want, that's what we all need.
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