Today's Word for Pastors...
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Today's Preaching Insight...
Preparing to Preach
In a paper at the meeting of the Evangelical Homiletics Society, Michael Quicke observed, "The more casual and unprepared that listeners are as they come to worship the less likely they are to experience God. All worshipers, preacher included, should make space and time for genuine prayers of preparation. "Who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully" (Ps 24:3,4). Snatched seconds of perfunctory routine before worship smothers spiritual possibilities within worship. "True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:21) and be sensitive to God who is spirit. Spiritual insensitivity to God beforehand can condemn to spiritual insensitivity during worship. The outcome is a Unitarian utilitarianism - preachers "do their own thing" which may or may not have any relevance to hearers "doing their thing."
"Preachers need to include themselves in more rigorous practice of prayerful preparation that stills the spirit (Psalm 37:7) and raises expectation that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are involved in a spiritual happening in worship for the whole community. God's word does not return empty. God's seed in good soil can make an astounding difference--"bearing fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. " Worshipers should prepare with openness to what fruit they might bear. If you think a sermon is going to be a waste of time, nine times out of ten it will be. If you believe in an active present God anything could happen.
"Preachers have a responsibility to model sensitive preparation for worship. In the crescendo of interruptions often leading up to the service prayer should not be treated as a routine to be squeezed out by more important matters, but the foundation for prepared minds and hearts of everyone. Listeners can be encouraged to pray in the days leading up to worship by specific information. Preachers can share next week's Scripture text and theme and ask listeners to prepare by reading and reflecting themselves as well as supporting the preacher in preparation. The more seriously preachers reflect personal conviction about the Trinitarian dynamic of worship and preaching, the more seriously listeners will prepare with them."
Faith, Prayer, Atheism
There was a little old lady who would come out every morning on the steps of her front porch, raise her arms to the sky and shout, "Praise the Lord!"
Well, one day an atheist moved into the house next door. Over time, he became irritated at the little old lady. So every morning he would step out onto his front porch and yell after her, "There is no Lord!"
Time passes with the two of them carrying on this way every day. Then one morning in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted, "Praise the Lord! Lord, I have no food and I am starving. Please provide for me, oh Lord!"
The next morning, she stepped onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there. "Praise the Lord!" she cried out. "He has provided groceries for me!"
The atheist jumped out of the hedges and shouted, "There is no Lord. I bought those groceries!"
The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted, "Praise the Lord! He has provided me with groceries and He made the devil pay for them!"
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