Determine the Broad Meaning of the Text

Once you have decided what text to preach, the next step is to determine the purpose of the passage. Years ago I heard someone say, “A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” In other words, the preacher’s job is to figure out what the author of Scripture intended when he wrote it. “A text can never mean today what it never meant then” MUST drive your thoughts and study as you work through the text. So, how does the preacher go about figuring that out? Let me suggest you ask and answer each of the following...

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Sermon Illustration: The Secret of the Universe

Below is an illustration about the Bible from chapter 4 of Jared Wilson’s The Imperfect Disciple. I read it and thought there are several times this (or a similar illustration) could be used. My primary walking-around Bible is an ESV journaling Bible. The binding is coming apart. I have written in nearly every margin. Some pages are crinkled and stained. There is a bloody fingerprint in there somewhere. (It might be chocolate, actually.) If you were passing by my green ’97 Chevy Suburban in a parking lot and happened to see this worn bout book lying on the passenger seat, where...

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Exegesis? Eisegesis? The Real Jesus?

I’ll never forget one of the first days at seminary. I heard a couple of words that had never entered my ears before. “Exegesis” (pronounced “X-a-Jesus”) and “Eisegesis” (pronounced “Ice-a-Jesus”). I immediately thought I had enrolled in the wrong seminary because they were talking about a false Jesus. I just knew of One and was told all my life there was only One! “Oh no!” I thought. “I was warned that something like this might happen! I moved my wife to a place that believes there are multiple Jesus’!!!” Thankfully, before I packed up everything and stormed out of that...

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Sermon Illustration: Relationship

In a recent sermon on Praying the Scriptures, I wanted to highlight how a benefit of this discipline is deepening our relationship with the Father. He knows how we talk. He knows our language. He knows our heart. However, we aren’t always “well versed” (pun intended) in how He talks and what is on His heart. To go deep with someone in relationship means to relate to them in these areas. Think about it: Those people you know the best, those people you go deep with, those people whom you have a real and intimate relationship with – those are...

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Just Get on Base

Without doubt, one of the most freeing pieces of advice on preaching I have ever received was to simply “get on base.” Jim Shaddix, one of my preaching professors at NOBTS, wisely told us preacher boys that when you try to hit a home run every Sunday, you will usually strike out. But when you just try to get on base, you will eventually score some runs. That, preacher friend, will free you up. Jim Shaddix is right. The harder you swing for the seats, the more you will swing and miss. But focusing on getting your people to first...

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Sermon Illustration: How’s Your Soul?

To kick off a 3-week series called “Being Present with God,” I wanted to begin by bringing up the obvious: we spend a lot of time watching a screen. The point of the first sermon, using Psalm 46, was to turn it all off and remember who our God is. To set the stage, I started by listing 5 or 6 current events from the past week. This established the reality that we are bombarded with messages constantly. Messages that push us to our devices to know more. Following that, I proceeded to spout off facts. Facts about how often...

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Great Sermon Series Idea

At the end chapter 12 of Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered, Martin Copenhaver summarizes his book with 3 foundational questions. As a matter of fact, I believe how he words it, the questions could serve as a tremendous 3-part sermon series. See if you don’t agree. Consider: There are three questions that Jesus repeats in the Gospels. Those three questions, read together, capture so much about what it means to encounter Jesus:  Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?” He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” And...

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Sermon Illustration: Old Spice

In an attempt to grab the congregation’s attention, I flashed on the screens a picture of an Old Spice bottle of cologne. The old school version. The purpose was to compare Old Spice cologne to the Sabbath. I began the message similar to this: When you see a bottle of Old Spice cologne, I assume one of several thoughts come into your mind. For some of you, you see that and think, “Wow. That is old school. That is what my granddad used to wear.” Or, “That was the very first cologne I put on myself when I was a...

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Helping Those Who Think They Know God

I’ve written elsewhere my conviction and calling to preach to “churched” people. I want to help those who think they know God see and experience and taste the God of the Bible. In other words, there are so many who really believe they know the God of the Bible but don’t yet. They’ve read and studied their Bible’s. But they have yet to truly encounter the loving God behind it all. I am called to help change that – even if only for a few. Jesus did this. He wasn’t satisfied with the “church” people’s understanding of God. He wanted...

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Sermon Illustration: Twins

Without a doubt, the best book I have ever read on the Sabbath is Mark Buchanan’s The Rest of God. In my opinion, it is a MUST READ. He begins chapter 6 in a unique way. It includes a great lesson for preachers. To introduce a sermon, the illustration doesn’t have to capture the essence of the message. Sometimes all you need is unique thought to help you dive into the subject matter. The goal of an introduction is to intrigue your people enough to compel them to keep listening. Watch (read?) and learn how Buchanan leads us into the...

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