What I Hope For When I Preach…
Here is what I pray the Holy Spirit does through my teaching each Sunday—this was said about Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a preacher in Wales & England from the 1920s—60s in a fantastic documentary (please click HERE):
“There was an immediacy [to his preaching]. It wasn’t as if you were listening to a man talk about someone who was in another room. It was as if you were listening to a man, who in the midst of the sermon, got that Person and brought Him out in front of you. And you were confronted with God, you had to make a decision about life in light of the God you just met in the Scriptures through the sermon.”
I WEPT as I listened to this quote a couple of weeks ago. Absolutely poured tears, shaking right over in the lobby (if someone had walked in at that time they would’ve thought I was nuts!); this quote pulled out that one Jenga piece that sends the whole tower toppling. I just lost it, but in a good way! I hadn’t consciously realized how deeply I desire—for myself AND for all of us!—to truly meet with the LORD each Sunday morning…For me to get out of the way during the sermon so that we all meet Personally with the Trinity…By God’s grace, my greatest desire is to know Jesus deeply and intimately (that wasn’t always my greatest personal desire, let me tell you!)…
…And by God’s grace, my greatest desire in preaching here on Sunday mornings is for you to know Jesus deeply and intimately…not the Jesus of the American culture but the Christ of Scripture…For you to meet Jesus here on Sunday morning through God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit…and for you to keep on meeting Him throughout the week through that same Word of God and that same power of the Holy Spirit.
But please let me clarify: Not meeting with God in the sense of chasing an emotion or feeling, not striving for some “goose-bump-filled encounter” with God, not using the worldly techniques of motivational speakers/psychology to tug on your heart-strings and manipulate you to feeling something, as if God were a drug and all we want from Him is a rush or a feeling. That is idolatry…that is what some have pejoratively called the “Red-Bull Gospel” and it is not at all what Jesus is offering us.
No, my hope—and I believe God’s hope!—is for us to meet with Him, to quiet our souls (Psalm 131:2), to “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10), to simply realize in a clearer way WHO He really is, WHAT He has done for us on the Cross, and WHAT He promises us when we surrender our lives to King Jesus…using not pyrotechnics and other human strategies but simply trusting the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
- Like a ray of sunlight pouring through your living room window helps you see the flecks in the air; those flecks are ALWAYS there, but at a particular time of day that ray of light highlights those ever-present particles. May the Holy Spirit and God’s Word–on Sunday morning AND throughout the week!–highlight and illuminate and reveal the LORD Who is always among us, Who died to be our Savior and Who lives to be our King (Aaron Shust)…
THAT is my desire in preaching…and isn’t that WAY BETTER than merely entertaining you??? 🙂
MJ, that is what you do every time you preach! I have been reading and rereading Psalm 103, clinging to the hope found in those verses. I reread the verses you teach throughout the week. It is obvious when you preach that you talk to God and help us see what God has been teaching each and every one of us.
The kids even get it!
Thank you so much for that encouragement!!! Unlike the boy with the five loaves and two fish, oftentimes all I have to offer Jesus are five crusty heels and two smelly fish heads…yet He still does miracles with that!!!! 🙂
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