Today's Word for Pastors...
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
In his new book Christ-Centered Worship (Baker), Bryan Chapell includes a chapter on sermons that begins with a reminder of the need for expository preaching. Then he continues: "But we need to be clear that the preacher's concern should not only be instructive. God is active in His Word, convicting the heart, renewing the mind, and strengthening the will. This means that preaching is not simply an instructive lecture; it is a redemptive event. If we only think of the sermon as a means of transferring information, then we will prioritize making the message dense with historical facts, moral instruction, and memory retention devices that prepare people for later tests of formal doctrine or factual knowledge. Such tests are rare. And most persons' ability to remember a sermon's content in following days can devastate the ego of a preacher whose primary goal is the congregation's doctrinal or biblical literacy.
"The needed reordering of priorities will not come by emptying the sermon of biblical content, but by preparing it for spiritual warfare and welfare. Our primary goal is not preparing people for later tests of mind or behavior, but rather humbling and strengthening the wills of God's people within the context of the sermon. Because God is active in His Word, we should preach with the conviction that the Spirit of God will use the truths of His Word as we preach to change hearts now! As hearts change, lives change -- even when sermon specifics are forgotten (Prov. 4:23). ...
"The preacher's obligation to transform as well as inform should compel us to ensure that our sermons are an instrument of God's grace as well as a conduit for His truth." (Click here to learn more about Christ-Centered Worship.)]
In 1991, Michigan's Timid Motorist Program assisted 830 drivers across the Mackinac Bridge that is five miles long and 200 feet high. The drivers were so scared of heights that they couldn't drive their own cars. The same year, more than a thousand motorists received assistance at Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Bridge -- also 200 feet high and four miles long.
David Jeremiah writes: "In spite of their destination being in plain sight and a history of the bridges being safe, the drivers were paralyzed by fear. The same thing happened to the nation of Israel when they were ready to enter the Promised Land. The land was in plain sight, and they had a history of God meeting their needs; but only three people in the entire nation were willing to exercise their faith and enter the land: Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. The rest said, 'We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we' (Numbers 13:31). That generation of Israelites never reached their destination. Instead, their fear paralyzed them in the wilderness where they died.
"If you can see your destination and have experienced God's faithfulness in the past, don't let fear destroy your freedom." (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 9-2-09)
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