Sermon Illustration: Doing For (Duty) vs. Being With (Delight)

Flowers

In effort to explain the difference between doing things for God (in order to get Him to like us) and doing things with Him (because He is with us and for us and loves us already), I talked about planning for a wedding anniversary. [Full disclosure: I got the idea from a different version of this shared by John Piper years ago. I have no idea which sermon or I would link to it here.] It went something like this…

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Don’t Forget Bubba

Sure. You want to exegete and explain the text. Sure. You want the people in the pew to know and trust that you have done your homework. Sure. You want to put to good use the tools you learned at seminary. Sure. There are big theological words that you want to make sure your congregation understands. Sure. You want to communicate what a phrase means “in the original.” Sure. You want an eloquent four-pointer that alliterates. I get it. I do too. But don’t forget Bubba.

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Sermon Illustration: Identity-Security-Purpose

Recently, I preached through a series of messages entitled “Living Sent.” One of the messages had to do with the reality that we do or don’t live to make disciples of Jesus based on our identity, security and purpose. Another way to say it is that believing in who we are and resting in whose we are compels us to risk everything so that others know the incredible love of God for us in Jesus. You can listen to the message here. I closed the sermon by using an illustration from the Bible. My main text was Ephesians 3:14-21, but...

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The Preacher’s Sunday Morning Routine

Every preacher is different. But every preacher should have a routine leading up to the preaching event. A habitual Sunday morning routine helps remove anxiety, prevent additional distractions, and adds confidence. Having a routine on Sunday morning is like a ritual you perform to be mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically prepared when its time to open your Bible before your congregation. In addition, getting up early and accomplishing things helps you both feel and be successful. Tim Ferris, who has interviewed hundreds about their morning routines, writes: “if you win the morning, you win the day.” (Tools of Titans –...

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Sermon Illustration: Sheep

Sheep and shepherds are word pictures used throughout both Old and New Testaments. If you preach the Bible long enough, you are guaranteed to talk about how clueless sheep are and how all of us are in such desperate need of the Good Shepherd.

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Tillers of the Soil: Preacher, Help Them Understand!

Recently I was struck by a word Jesus used several times throughout the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. The word used in English translations is understanding. Those who hear the word and understand it are those who produce a multiplying crop. Those who understand have good soil so the seed can take root. On the other hand, those who hear the word and do not understand are like seed that falls on the hard path. What struck me was the difference between the people who respond to God’s Word (or, in the parable, the different soils). According to Jesus,...

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My Story (The Preaching Version)

God has called me to preach to church people—those church people who think they know the God of the Bible but, honestly, haven’t really encountered Him yet. They love a good sermon and teach a good Sunday School lesson, but rarely get blown away with the biblical God. I am called by God to change that. Several events in my life brought me to this.

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New Book Guaranteed to Help Your Preaching

I try to get my hands on anything Eugene Peterson writes. I love his style. I love how real he is. He is old and therefore wise. And he is one of the most loving pastors I have ever read. The second I saw he had a new book coming out, I told Amazon to pre-order it so I could have it in my hands the moment it was released.  I had no idea it was a book of 49 sermons he had preached for his congregation! The book is called As Kingfishers Catch Fire.

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How Long Should a Sermon Be?

As you probably already know, there are as many opinions about this as there are belly buttons. Everybody has one. Every preacher and every person sitting in the pews. My opinion? A good sermon should last 24 minutes and 38 seconds. Just kidding. I am not going to try to give a definitive time frame here. The fact is, I have been captivated by preachers who have preached close to an hour, and I have been transformed by a sermon that was 15 minutes. The opposite is also true. My soul has left a worship service hungry due to the...

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Should I Use Sunday’s Text For My Personal Devotions?

The preacher is constantly in the Word thinking about the upcoming sermon. Sundays come fast and the preacher has to be ready with “a word.” Mike Glenn says, “Sunday comes every 3 days.” It definitely seems that way. Because we preachers are always thinking about Sunday and due to the time crunch, it is tempting to use the text we are preaching for our own personal devotions. I don’t believe this is smart. Here’s why:  Personal Devotions are Personal. Sermons are for Congregations.

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