Often in my sermon prep, I come to the end of each week and I think, “I have no idea how the Lord is going to use this awful manuscript.” There are very few times when I finish writing that I am completely at rest about what I wrote and what I think the Lord wants me to say to our church. And normally in those times, I really goof up the delivery. I think this happens because a subtle form of pride enters my heart and I’m not nearly as dependent on His Spirit in my delivery. It’s a weird thing but I’m grateful that I’m learning.
So, knowing that has happened to me, this past week was one where I had a lot of clarity about what I thought I should say and I felt really good about my manuscript. So, I made sure to humble myself before the Lord so that I might not mess up in the delivery and prayed earnestly against pride. I also prayed for clarity and conviction. After I was done, I thanked God for helping me serve Him and our church.
From the cutting room floor:
As I’ve said often in ‘musings’, these are things that I either didn’t have time to say during the sermon or things that the Lord cautioned me about. Here are a few of them:
- Vs. 13 says this, “And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” What is fascinating about this verse, is that it’s the only time in the book that Haman’s friends are called “wise men”. The other time they counseled him, they weren’t called this. But this time, when they speak the truth to him, the author purposefully called them “wise”. I think that is really interesting. Wise men/women will speak the truth to their friends, no matter how difficult the news. Wise men/women will not placate to their friend’s pride. Wise men/women will serve their friends by being a voice of reason and truth. It’s a small thing in the book but it’s really noticeable.
- I briefly mentioned this on Sunday, but there is something to be said about how we handle the test of success. There has been a lot written about overcoming adversity and dealing with stress. But how much has been written about dealing with the test of success. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” And I think this is true in a variety of things…money, accomplishments, education…you name it. When you want to test our character, give us success. Most of us, like Haman, want more, think that our success is because of us, and in the end, it runs us. Pride takes what God has provided and utilizes them for our own glory and our own benefit. That’s the genius of true humility. Humility acknowledges that all we have has been given to us by the hand of God. Humility in the face of success allows us to utilize and some would say leverage (not sure how much I like that word in this sense) for the glory of God and the good of others.
Things I wasn’t clear about:
There were some things I said in the sermon that was “off-script”. Oftentimes these are the moments that get me in trouble. To be honest, this is one of the reasons I went to developing a manuscript. I can be pretty undisciplined with my examples and sometimes too cavalier with my stories. This past Sunday there was one of those moments.
I made a comment that wasn’t complete enough for my tastes. I was talking about about a good way to examine our pride. And one of things I said that about that was that we see our pride when we have an ungrateful child at Christmas. When they get a gift that we spent good time and money on, our tendency is to get angry at them and that shows our pride.
While that is true, I don’t think it’s complete enough. Here’s what I would’ve liked to have said: our child’s ingratitude is no doubt, sinful. However, our pride is shown when we respond in anger and make it personal. Our child’s sin of ingratitude is not simply aimed at us. It’s aimed at God. Therefore, our response should be showing them this truth, without letting our pride get in the way.
This week, I would ask you for your prayers. Because I missed a Sunday as I was in Texas, it put us a week behind in our preaching schedule. The original plan had us covering chapter 7 in one sermon. But I’m sensing a need to try to stay on schedule. So, I’m hoping to cover chapter 7 through chapter 9:19 this coming Sunday. I’ve already had some insight on how I might do this, but thanks for praying for me as I give this a try. This doesn’t mean it’s going to happen this way, but I’d sure like to give it a go.
Often, many folks tell me that Sunday was a ‘home-run’ and that is remarkably encouraging. But, when I think of what success looks like on a Sunday, my hope is that I will hit a single each week or simply lay down a good sacrifice bunt. I really do want to be faithful to this text and as a friend of mine said recently, “home-runs are really mishit line-drives”. That’s a true statement and sometimes I think that way about preaching. Home-runs are really mishit singles. I pray that each Sunday that you attend CLF, we not only open our Bibles, but that our Bibles open us. I pray that each week, we will leave the preaching portion of the worship service…worshipping. And this past Sunday, the Lord met us in a wonderful way. For that, I am grateful and humbled.
To listen to last Sunday’s sermon, click the link below. https://clfroseburg.com/sermons/turning-of-the-tide/