Today's Word for Pastors...
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:27
Today's Preaching Insight...
Putting Application in Sermons
In the June 27 edition of his Ministry Toolbox newsletter, Rick Warren suggests six guidelines for putting application into sermons:
1. Always aim for specific action
2. Model it from your own life
3. Ask penetrating questions
4. Give specific action steps
5. Give practical examples
6. Offer people hope
Speaking of that last guideline, Rick writes: People need encouragement to change. If they think something's hopeless, then they won't even try. For example, I once did a two-part series on getting out of debt. We had a woman share about how she'd gotten herself $100,000 into credit card debt. She explained how it took several years to pay off, but by applying biblical principles she and her husband were able to do it!
When she finished speaking - and I usually try to fit the testimony right in the middle of a message - I stood up and said, "You may have been discouraged thinking, ‘I'm never getting out of debt. But you can do this! Is there anybody here who's got more than $100,000 on their credit card? No. You just heard a story of a woman who with the power of God's Spirit and discipline, and using the biblical principle of putting God first, she got out of debt. You can do this!"
This builds hope in people. They say, "We can do that. We're not nearly as bad as that." (Click here to read the full article.)
God's Will, Providence
In a recent edition of his Friday Evenings newsletter, Tom Barnard wrote: When Victor Frankl was arrested by the Nazis during World War II, he was stripped of everything of value he owned. His only possession when he arrived at Auschwitz was a manuscript of a book he had been working on for a very long time. To preserve it from confiscation, Frankl had sewn it into the lining of his coat. When he was searched, his manuscript was found and was taken from him. Later he wrote, "I found myself confronted with the question of whether under such circumstances my life was ultimately void of any meaning."
Apparently in an effort to keep prisoners from accumulating anything worthwhile, the Germans routinely forced prisoners to give up their clothing and in return they were issued clothing taken from other prisoners on their way to the gas chambers. In the garment of the old clothing re-issued to Frankl was a torn piece of paper—a portion of a page from a Hebrew prayer book. On it was part of the Jewish prayer—Shema Yisrael—"Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one God."
Later Frankl wrote, "How should I have interpreted such a ‘coincidence' other than as a challenge to live my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper?" From that experience Frankl concluded, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
Why did God allow Frankl to be robbed of his precious manuscript? Why did God send to Frankl a prayer that been concealed by a prisoner on his way to the gas chamber? I believe God knew that what Frankl needed at that moment was prayer—not a manuscript.
Are you frustrated because an opportunity you believe God was opening to you suddenly was jerked out of your hands and replaced by something less significant and meaningful? Maybe God wants you to turn away from your personal goals and let him set the agenda for you.