Last night I encountered a bit of divine serendipity. After the opening session of the conference at Word of Life, a young man came up to me and thanked for a sermon I preached a few years ago on John 9, the story of Jesus and the man born blind. When he heard the sermon, he said to himself, "That's my story." In the years since then, he has preached that sermon himself, adding his testimony to the message. "I've preached that sermon at lest 25 times, and people have been saved," he said. God evidently took the message I preached and made it his own in a very unique way so that what started with me now goes out through his ministry to many people with great blessing and power.
But there is another side to that story. It happened that when I preached that message a few years ago, I was going through a very hard time. Every sermon I preached that weekend was a great struggle in my soul. I came to that conference in a sense of weakness, and I left the same way. I didn't say anything about that to anyone at the conference because it wasn't relevant. Sometimes you just have to "man up" and do what you have to do whether you feel like it or not.
I did tell the young man that I had never preached the John 9 sermon again. You can't find it on the website because I never put it in manuscript form. After we talked, I found the sermon notes on my computer and looked at them for the first time since that weekend a few years ago. Maybe I'll preach it again someday. Who knows?
But I took heart from the fact that someone in the audience heard that message the one time I preached it, felt deeply moved, and has made it his own, preaching it at least 25 times since then. I thank God that the power is not in the messenger but in the message preached. God's Word will not return void. It brings forth fruit we never expected and don't discover until years later.
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