Thursday, May 25, 2017
Sometimes preachers will tell their audience that God laid a message on their heart which they are going to deliver at that service. The statement can be true or false.
Back when I was nineteen I was preaching for two congregations. One at Thackerville, OK and the other at Lebanon. It was called “a circuit assignment.” I would go to Lebanon one Sunday to preach and the next Sunday to Thackerville. I suppose this gave each congregation a reprieve until I returned. I must admit that my knowledge of the Bible was limited and my experience as a preacher was nil! Some would and did say that I was “still wet behind the ears.”
Being a young man who was going to college classes during the week and working afterwards at the APCO service station the rest of the time, my days were full. A friend of mine was dating his girl friend who lived in Oklahoma City, 80 miles away. The dates were always on Saturday! He invited me to date his girl friend’s cousin. We ended up going to revivals each time I would double date with him. I didn’t mind since I would take notes and use what I heard as a sermon the next morning. This worked out fairly well until a sermon was delivered which I didn’t agree with. My friend was a member of the church of Christ. The particular one which did not believe in having classes at their buildings.
On that occasion, I did not have any notes to use the next morning. What was I going to do? I remembered hearing different preachers say that God gave them their sermon. I thought if He gave a sermon to them, He would do the same for me! After all, I had just read the following passage in the New Testament,
“But . . . not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).
I would not worry, nor would I have to think about what I was going to preach the next morning. The Holy Spirit would give me my sermon! I confidently drove to Thackerville with the assurance that the Holy Spirit had a great sermon ready to supply!
When it came time for me to speak, I walked to the pulpit with Bible in hand. I turned to face the audience, place my Bible on the pulpit, opened it, and thrust my finger toward the open pages. I look to see what the Holy Spirit was going to guide my thoughts on. I was in the genealogies in the Old Testament. There was an unbearable silence. Inspiration did not come! I closed my Bible and reopened it. Again I put my finger to the page and looked. Genealogies again! This time in the New Testament. What was the Holy Spirit trying to tell me? Panic set in. I don’t remember what I said, I just remember it was the shortest sermon on record. The only thing lacking was, Cracker Barrel was still 35 years in the future for us to beat the Baptists to! The Methodist were very forgiving and didn’t tease me about my goof off. I figured out later that the lesson from God was, prepare your sermons beforehand by studying the Bible!
How does God lay a message on our heart? Often when I am reading from the scriptures different thoughts will come to mind as I read a passage or statement. Since the Holy Spirit inspired those passages, my motivation comes from His sword ((Ephesians 6:17). If I stick with what that passage or verses says, I am teaching God’s word. If knowingly or unknowingly I teach something that isn’t what is being said, then my teaching is false. Too bad I didn’t know that when I was 19!
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2-5 (NKJV).