Posted in Fridays are For Illustrations

Sermon Illustration: Recommitted?

Studying for this week’s sermon on the Second Sign of Jesus from John 4:43-54, I came across the following story from this commentary. During my first semester in seminary a professor told me a remarkable story from his early years as a pastor. A young woman had become critically ill and her prognosis was grim; she would likely die within the year. Her family had a nominal “Easter and Christmas Eve” commitment to the church, so the discussions in the hospital between this young pastor and this family always plowed new ground. The woman challenged him: If Jesus healed in...

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Sermon Illustration: A Father’s Day Gift I Had Nothing to do With

To illustrate the point that we cannot love like Jesus on our own, I began a Father’s Day message with this story. . .   I love to receive gifts. I love to give gifts. But I am awful at being creative and thoughtful in gift-giving. As a matter of fact, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. Gift-giving is something I enjoy doing. I just don’t put a lot of time and energy and thought into it. I am known as the son who is happy to get a card in the mail that gets to my dad...

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Sermon Illustration: Social Media and Relationships

This Sunday, I will be wrapping up a series on healthy relationships. As with every sermon and sermon series preached, some good content gets left on the cutting room floor. For instance. . . I have been reading Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. I haven’t finished yet. But the thing that struck me most (so far) is the impact social media has on relationships. Using Facebook as his target, Lanier offers some very interesting, frightening, and contradicting thoughts from Facebook’s leadership. Consider this quote from Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker: We need to...

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Illustration of the Role of a Pastor: The Harpooner

I honestly cannot think of a better illustration of a pastor for his people. I found this gem at the end of one of the most challenging articles I have read in a while. From Eugene Peterson’s Christianity Today article “The Unbusy Pastor“: In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, there is a violent, turbulent scene in which a whaleboat scuds across a frothing ocean in pursuit of the great white whale, Moby Dick. The sailors are laboring fiercely, every muscle taut, all attention and energy concentrated on the task. The cosmic conflict between good and evil is joined: chaotic sea and demonic sea...

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Sermon Illustration: Yanny or Laurel?

To open a sermon on the definition of biblical marriage, I played the audio of the latest internet debate. The one having to do with what you hear: “Yanny” or “Laurel.” You can argue over it with your friends and family by clicking here. You’re welcome. Why did I do that? So I could ask this question: “If asked the internet on my Facebook page to define marriage, do you think I would get differing opinions?” The illustration worked perfect. Half of the congregation heard “Yanny.” The other half heard “Laurel.” This set up the question about marriage. Some people...

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Sermon Illustration: That’s Not Good!

To set up a sermon on the bizarre reality of God’s declaration that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), I shared how we usually use the phrase. When I say, “that’s not good,” I mean something is messed up. Something has gone wrong. Something is out of place. Something needs to be fixed. When I hear squeaking from under my car when I push on the brakes, I say “that’s not good.” When I see a water leak from my ceiling, I say “that’s not good.” When I am late to a meeting and see blue...

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Sermon Illustration: The Expositional Opening to a Topical Sermon

Last week, we began a topical sermon series on healthy relationships. I try to be as expositional as possible in my preaching, so topical sermons – though necessary – can be an added challenge. The difficulty for me is explaining the point of the Bible book when I know I am not going to be in the same book the following week(s). There is no need to spend tons of time explaining the books purpose. But if the preacher isn’t careful, the context where the verses are found can ignored. This, of course, can be very dangerous. So, the challenge...

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Sermon Illustration: Using the Bible to Illustrate the Bible

Often the preacher doesn’t have to go very far to find an illustration for his sermon. In fact, he may not even have to leave his seat. Many times, the illustration he needs is right under his nose, in the same book he is studying. At the end of John’s Gospel (John 21:20-23), Peter seeks to compare himself to John. He wants to know what life will look like for the “beloved disciple” (John). In other words, he wants to compare what Jesus said about Peter (John 21: 18-19) to what is going to happen to John. Jesus, of course, doesn’t...

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Sermon Illustration: When a Quote Saves the Day

To begin a sermon from John 21:18-19, I confessed my struggle with the text the previous week…   There are some weeks when I am preparing a sermon where the thought for the sermon and direction I feel the text is going comes easily. Like a hot knife through butter. There are other weeks when I wrestle and toss and turn and think and process and read and read and read and nothing seems to come. Like a hot knife through stone. This has been one of those weeks. A hot knife through stone weeks. It’s one thing to know the essence of...

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Sermon Illustration: The Most Important Question

To begin a sermon on the conversation between Peter and Jesus in John 21, I started off describing an earlier conversation between these two from Matthew 16… Matthew records for us in the 16th chapter of his book a critical question Jesus poses to His disciples. First, He asks them, “Who are people saying that I am?” They give Jesus some answers. Some were saying Jesus was like Elijah and Isaiah. Some were even saying Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead. Then He asks them this question: “Who do YOU say that I am?” I imagine Him looking...

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