Contrast For Clarity

A preacher’s job is to help people understand. Understand the meaning of a biblical text and understand how it applies to them. Oftentimes, especially if you are preaching to “churched” people, biblical truths being proclaimed are nothing new to the listener’s ears. They’ve heard it a million times before. Familiarity with a truth, however, does not mean the truth is being applied and practiced. When your people know the truth but are far from applying the truth, contrast. Contrast what the Bible means to what the people are actually doing. Help them see, in other words, that though they “know”...

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Sermon Illustration: Rest

Recently, the Campus Pastors of Brentwood Baptist preached a message aimed to help spiritual leaders refresh their souls and renew their relationship with the Lord. Jay Strother, the Campus and Teaching Pastor at The Church at Station Hill, passed along a unique and convicting version of the 23rd Psalm. It is a fantastic illustration to use in order to help our people realize just how busy we are and just how needy we are to stop and enjoy God’s presence. Psalm 23 Antithesis (Marcia Hornok) The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest. It makes me lie down only...

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Searching for Illustrations: Pay Attention!

Every preacher experiences two extremes. The incredible high of delivering a perfect illustration that makes the point of the passage pop. And the depressing low of having an illustration you were excited about fall flatter than pancake. Sermon illustrations are tricky. They can help the sermon shine and they can cause the sermon to suffer. On top of that, the search for illustrations can add hours to a preacher’s already busy week. The purpose of illustrations is to help the congregation get the point and pay attention to the passage. To help the people pay attention, I remind myself to...

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Sermon Illustration: The Real Article

When officials are trained to detect counterfeit money, they do not study fake bills. Cops and detectives and store owners are not encouraged, nor taught, nor instructed with examples of fake money. The way, I am told, officials are trained and equipped to detect counterfeit money is to study the real thing. If they know what the real article looks like, feels like, and smells like – they can detect a fake from a mile away. If they have studied a real article, knowing all the marks, all the elements, all the components, all the colors – when a fake...

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Preaching the Funeral of an Unbeliever

If you pastor long enough, you will eventually be asked to preach the funeral for someone who died without Christ. No funeral is easy or fun. Knowing you have to speak to the family and friends on behalf of one who passed into eternity without Jesus can be excruciating. However, it can be a unique and effective time to do real, raw Gospel ministry. When this opportunity presents itself, keep these 3 thoughts in mind: 1. Honor the deceased and comfort the family. This is a primary goal of every funeral you preach, believer or unbeliever. The deceased was made...

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Sermon Illustration: The Wedding Prayer

Every time I have an opportunity to officiate a wedding, I do my best to include a prayer I found many years ago from Al Jackson (full disclosure: this is only one of many things I have “borrowed” from him!). And, every time I pray this prayer over the married couple, I am asked – without fail – where they can get a copy of the prayer. Preacher, the next time you have the chance to lead out in a wedding ceremony, I highly recommend praying this over the couple at some point in the service. Not only will it...

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How To Move On After You Bomb a Sermon

It’s never fun. In fact, it’s painful. You preach an awful sermon. You lay the proverbial egg. Sometimes it doesn’t hit you until after the message is preached. Most times, however, it comes right in the middle – when you realize the congregation isn’t with you and you aren’t with them. It’s then you want a redo. You want to go back to the study. You want to wrap it up and let everyone get on with their day. You feel like you are stirring wet cement that is getting harder and harder by the second. At the first church...

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Sermon Illustration: For the Love of the Game

Recently I found myself watching an episode of ESPN‘s College Football Live. Yes, it was the first week of August. Yes, it was still 3 and a half weeks away from the start of the season. Yes, the episode had nothing to do with what was going on the field (because NOTHING was happening on the field yet!). The content centered around speculation about what “so and so” said or what might happen in the upcoming season. But I am from and live in the South. And if there is something on TV that has to do with College Football,...

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7 Hacks for Preaching Narrative Texts

Everyone loves a good story, and every story in the Bible is good. I mean, like, better-than-Hollywood good. Not only do stories, by their very nature, keep the listener’s engaged,┬ábut they also allow for our God-given imaginations to run wild. Preaching narrative texts are by far my favorite passages to preach. Since over 70% of the Bible is written in narrative form, that’s a good thing. Enjoying a good story and preaching one in front of a congregation, however, are very different. It’s a great feeling when you are ready to preach a narrative text. It can be a sinking...

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Sermon Illustration: God’s Love

This is one of my all-time favorite illustrations and probably my all-time favorite personal story. Though it is personal to me, I hope it allows memories from your own life that tell a similar story – a story that points you (and others!) to the great love of God. In other words, though you are free to steal this illustration (ha), I hope it will cause a similar story from your own life to bubble up and use in future sermons.   When I was a junior in High School I dated a cheerleader from a nearby town. Her nickname...

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