Preaching 101

Like any work, preaching is a craft that requires time and failure to get really good at. This thread will discuss what preaching is, what it ought to accomplish and how to develop it as a craft.

Of course, we turn to the Bible to discover what it is preachers are doing.

Nehemiah 8:1–8 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose…They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (ESV)

So how did it work? The preacher stood on a platform before both men and women. He read the word and the people of God listened attentively. The preacher gave the sense of the words and the people understood the words.

This is preaching in a nutshell. Read the text. Explain the text clearly and the audience receives understanding.

Now let’s move into the NT. Let’s look at the master preacher.

Luke 4:16–22 …[Jesus] stood up to read. [17] And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. (ESV)

What pattern do we see in Luke 4? Jesus is handed the Scriptures from the attendant while standing. Jesus reads the Scripture. Jesus closes the book and hands it back to the attendant. Jesus sits down and begins to preach to them. At first they marvel but Jesus continues even thought he has already dazzled them. He isn’t satisfied with tickling their ears. He preaches the kingdom of God and repentance. Then we read,

Luke 4:28–29 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (ESV)

The main thing we need to notice in these examples is how the sermon worked. The Word would be read, and then the preacher would teach the sense of the words, and preach an exhortation based on them.

But notice that Jesus’ conclusion infuriated the crowd, and they sought to kill him. That is why preaching takes a ton of prayer for boldness and wisdom. If it takes no courage to preach then you are doing it wrong, because if you go to the front lines, you can’t be surprised when the enemy starts shooting back at you. Sermons ought to ruffle feathers and mess up hair, because the preacher is a weapon in the hand of God.

Likewise, at the conclusion of Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost, we read,

Acts 2:37–38 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

Read the word. Give the sense or the meaning of the word directed toward understanding, so that the crowd responds.

R.L Dabney, in Evangelical Eloquence, says of preaching, “its design is to evoke an act.”

Reading the word of God. Explaining the word of God. Giving an understanding of the word of God. Acting on the word of God.

This is preaching 101.

Church Newsletter 2019-3-20

Saints,

Blessings on you all this week, sons and daughters of God! Enjoy the taste of summer. I pray your families are healing fast or avoiding the flu.

May the work of your hands, your thoughts and your desires glorify God. May your homes be full of the joy of salvation; showing hospitality to God and his messengers.

Filling up the edges

Mark 6:7-13

The success of the disciple’s mission is hospitality. Those who are hospitable to the disciples are giving way to the gospel mission. Those who welcome the disciples, make them comfortable, give them a ready ear; accept the call to repentance and obedience are manifesting and spreading the kingdom of God.

Jesus anticipated that some places wouldn’t welcome the disciples. There are always some who would rather stay sick than face the bracing challenge of a new way of life, a new outlook.

But the disciples are to respond with a solemn symbolic action, shaking the dust of the place off of themselves.  But what does this symbolic gesture mean? We know from the oral traditions of the Jews that it was customary for Jews to shake foreign dust off their clothes when they had been traveling outside the Holy Land.

By this action they dissociated themselves from the pollution of those lands and their ultimate judgment. An analogous action on the part of the disciples would declare that a village was pagan in character. It would provide warning that the disciples had fulfilled their responsibility and that those who had rejected the mission would have to answer to God.37 Continue reading “Church Newsletter 2019-3-20”

Fear and Stand Fast

Matthew 26:34–35 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 

Peter was a rock. He was solid and bold. He was, at times, fierce and forward. But how much of his self-confidence was mere bravado? Peter thought highly of his loyalty, his strength, his faithfulness to his friend but ultimately he was intimidated into sin and failure but the taunts of a little girl.

Matthew 26:71–72 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 

He denied Jesus because he failed to deny himself. Peter thought to highly of himself; his courage and faithfulness. He had not denied himself and so he denied Jesus.

Romans 11:20 ….but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 

The trembling reed often stands when the mighty oak falls; Isaiah 42:3…a bruised reed he will not break…because the Lord upholds it. The one who knows the crushing weight of difficult circumstances and the corruption of his own heart, should he not walk in fear?

Repent of your self-confidence. 1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. The justice of God requires that those who trust in themselves are left to themselves. The weak vine wraps itself around the cedar for support. The good christian, knowing his own folly and weakness then, twists by faith, by spiritual exercises, by discipline – around Christ.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 

Sampson’s strength was his hair, ours is our head; the Lord Jesus Christ.

Plowing In A Straight Line

Luke 9:57–62 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

These verses are the conclusion of Jesus’ lesson that takes place throughout chapter nine. In Luke 9:1-6, Jesus sends the twelve out on a mission after giving them very specific orders and encouragement. In Luke 10:1-12 Jesus sends out seventy-two on a mission. Jesus wants the disciples to lead His people. Jesus wants them to feed His sheep and be examples of good discipleship, but the Apostles are not yet fully committed. They are not “all in.”

Jesus needs them to learn about devotion and focused obedience. Jesus needs them to internalize this lesson. He needs them to plow in a straight line. The Christian life is a long obedience in the same direction, but there is a lot that can distract us from Jesus – a lot that can keep us from being faithful and fruitful farmers.

Jesus needs the disciples to comprehend this. So, throughout Luke 9 Jesus drives this point home using varied and stark examples.

Luke 9:2–3 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.

Jesus commands the apostles to go on a preaching tour and tells them not to worry about anything; not clothing or food or where they will lay their head. He tells them how to handle rejection.

They find immediate success but very quickly we see how distractible and unfocused they can be. Continue reading “Plowing In A Straight Line”

The Gospel is….

The Gospel is the word of Life and of Truth. It is the Power of GOD for the salvation of all Believers: The Key of the knowledge of GOD, which opens to the Faithful the door of the Kingdom of Heaven, unbinding them from their sins; and shuts it against the Unbelieving, binding them in their sins. Blessed are those who hear it and keep it, for thereby they show that they are the Children of GOD. Miserable are those who will not hear nor follow it, for they are the Children of the Devil. O Christians! hear this and learn; for assuredly the Ignorant will perish with his ignorance; and the Blind, following another Blind, will fall with him into the ditch. There is only One Way to life and salvation; it is the Faith and Assurance of the Promises of GOD, which can be had by the Gospel alone; by the hearing and understanding which, lively Faith is freely given, with certain Hope and perfect Peace with GOD, and ardent Love toward one’s neighbour. Where then is your Hope, if you despise and disdain to Hear, to See, to Read, and to Hold fast this Holy Gospel?

John Calvin, Christ the End of the Law

Be As Merciful as God

Luke 6:36“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Here is a command. Be merciful. How merciful? Merciful based on what standard? The standard, as always; the ‘north’ on our moral compass is God Himself.

The biblical meaning of mercy is exceedingly rich and complicated, as evidenced by the fact that several Hebrew and Greek words are needed to comprehend the many-sided concept.

Consequently, there are many synonyms employed in translation to express the dimensions of mercy, such as “kindness,” “lovingkindness,” “goodness,” “grace,” “favor,” “pity,” “compassion,” and “steadfast love.”

Prominent in the concept of mercy is the compassionate disposition to forgive an offender or adversary and to help or spare him in his sorry plight.

This is obviously typified in God’s self-sacrifice to conquer sin, Satan and death. Forgiveness and relief from a sorry plight. This is the nature of mercy.

When your child offends, breaks the rules and sins against God. When your spouse says something in public they shouldn’t, doesn’t fulfill their vows to provide, love, honor, obey, respect, cover or lead.

When a friend is faithless, the stranger rude, the co-worker dishonest, the family member strains the relationship with sin.

Do you stand in the gap with them? Do you walk there with them in their sin because you know all too well what it is to sin, offend, disobey and fall short of God’s glory? Do you show mercy or do you condemn?

Do you throw your hands in the air and say in your “perfection” how and why do people act this way? What’s wrong with them, as if you don’t act just the same?

You sin, so you are on the side of those who sin. You were dead in your sins and received forgiveness and so you are on the side of everyone who offends and needs forgiveness.

God has shown you mercy, so you are on the side of everyone who needs to receive mercy. Mercy is crucial to our relationships because our relationships are with people who sin, who fall, who hurt, and who need mercy and compassion and forgiveness.

To show mercy isn’t ignoring the need for repentance, restoration or discipline, its acknowledging the need of repentance, restoration and discipline.

To show mercy is to show people the one who forgives, the one who is willing to walk with us in death to save us from death. To show mercy is to show forgiveness to people who don’t deserve it, just like the forgiveness you received that you didn’t deserve.

To walk amongst sinners with mercy is to show forth the God who walked amongst sinners to save them.

To show mercy means that when you are sinned against, you put your arm around the one who sinned against you and say, “I understand. You don’t have the grace for me, you can’t keep God’s law, to love others as yourself, is too hard for you and I know because it’s the same for me. We can’t obey, we can’t love but God has provided a way, God has forgiven us in His Son and provided that forgiveness to us to share one with another.”

To show mercy is not to turn on offense in anger, but to stand with the offender and turn to the word of God and the one who saves; seeking the grace and reconciliation so generously provided to us in Jesus Christ.

Church Newsletter 2019-3-6

Saints,

Please be praying for Nate who is preaching this Sunday, the 10th. We canceled church due to weather the week he was going to be preaching.

Also pray for the Bakken boys Neils and Emmet, who will be baptized Sunday afternoon.

As we reach midweek, it’s important to recall how to build; a household, a marriage, a week, a business, etc.

The corner stone is Christ. Upon that is the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles. Upon that living foundation are placed the living stones of each believer.Pray. Hold Fast. Pursue Christ. Bear your cross. He is our shield bearer, the lifter of our heads and all our hope.

Filling up the edges

Mark 6:1-6

Now, the Nazarenes were right in rejecting the earthly background and relationships of Jesus as being the source of his power. It was not as Mary’s son, nor as eldest brother of Joseph’s family, that he did such things: nor was it as the village carpenter, as they would have considered him to be. But, having rightly rejected any human source, they refused to attribute either the wisdom or the miracles to a divine source.

They don’t understand what kind of builder Jesus is. They were deeply scandalized by Jesus’ remarks. The people of Nazareth ‘knew all the answers’ about Jesus: they were not prepared for any fresh revelation.[1]“And they took offense at him,” says Mark. The word for “offense” comes from Gk. skandalon, meaning a “stumbling block.” The verb form of the word means to “cause to stumble,” and in the present context to be “put off” or even “repelled” by Jesus.

Skandalizeinoccurs eight times in the Gospel of Mark; in each instance it designates obstructions that prevent one from coming to faith and following Jesus.

A stumbling block to faith, a signature motif in Mark, is a grave problem. The “offense” of v. 3 verifies that the amazement of the people in Nazareth is not one of faith but of incredulity and opposition.[2]

Jesus is fulfilling scripture. He is revealing more about His ultimate ends. Where is this story heading? He is causing Israel to stumble. He is a rock of offense. He is the cornerstone rejected by Israel, upon which a new Israel; a new temple – will be built.

Jesus is just a builder. But a builder of the kingdom of God. Before the new kingdom goes up, however, the old one needs to come down. Jesus is the one man wrecking crew.

Psalm 118:22–24The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Matthew 21:42–43Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Peter preaches inActs 4:11–13This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

What is the blueprint for ripping down the old and building the new? Jesus’ response to the people of his hometown marks the first time in the gospel that the term “prophet” is applied to him. He has come like a prophet and is rejected like a prophet. This rejection is therefore portentous because Israel’s history is to mistreat prophets.[3]

1 Kings 19:10He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

2 Chronicles 36:16But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.

They rejected the prophets by killing them.

Matthew 23:37–39“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”  

By referring to Himself as a prophet Jesus is fulfilling a great promise of Yahweh to Israel in Deuteronomy 18:15–19.

He is identifying Himself as a prophet and what does Israel do to the prophets?

Where is this story going? I thought Jesus’ revealed the enemy to be defeated is death itself, Satan’s greatest treasure? He has come to His own people and His own people did not receive Him.

It is revealed with the healing of the Garasene Demoniac, the woman with a hemorrhage and Jairus’ daughter – that Satan’s greatest treasure – death itself – is going to be defeated.

This is a set up; a transition. He needs to send out the 12. He needs to finish their training so that they are ready to carry on the ministry after the end of His ministry.

The rock that is rejected will be the foundation of a new house. A new temple. A new people. This section and the one that follows – His sending out the 12 – are the gospel story in miniature. Jesus comes preaching the kingdom and will meet the same end of all the prophets.

But He won’t stay dead. He will defeat death with His own death. And then He will equip the 12 with the Holy Spirit and send them out. He is just a builder after all.

Ephesians 2:18–22 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, [20] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

This is great plan to build the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 4:11–16And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Like a mustard seed He starts small. Accepting Him is the foundation. Turning to the prophets and apostles, gathering to worship under the instruction of evangelists, preachers, teachers and pastors, we learn to minister grace, mercy and reconciliation to one another – building up the body of Christ.

Jesus’ plan is multi-stage, multi-generational and methodical. It’s not flashy. Its humble, its repetitive and it’s HIS – not yours.

But accepting Him, you are accepted into the work of scattering seeds and seeing the fruit 30, 60, 100 times greater than what was laid in the ground.

Around the Web

Read this article. Think of the how Survival bias applies to our culture within the church. To learning from one another’s sins, marital problems, childrearing failures and the whole culture in the Evangelicalism that focuses so much on celebrity pastors, etc.

https://www.boredpanda.com/world-war-2-aircraft-survivorship-bias-abraham-wald/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

Devotional

For humility and simplicity  – 2 Cor. 3:18

Grant, Almighty God,

since you have not only created me out of nothing, but intend to create me again in your only begotten Son; and since you have taken me from the lowest depths, so that you may raise me to the hope of your heavenly kingdom: Grant, I pray, that I may not be proud or puffed up with conceit; but may embrace your favor with humility, and submit myself to you in simplicity, until at last I become a partaker of that glory your only begotten Son has acquired for me.

Amen.

Church Calendar

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

Sunday, March 10. Spring forward one hour.

BAPTISM

Baptism on the 10th, this Sunday, at 3pm at the Cejkas to baptize Neils and Emmett Bakken. The Bakkens will provide light dessert and coffee and drinks for kids. Street parking is available, especially near the park.

MEN’S MEETING

Wednesday, March 20, 8PM at the church

LADIES’ GATHERING

Wednesday, March 27, 7-9PM at Tami Gamble’s home.

MONTHLY PRAYER MEETING

First Sunday of every month; 9:30-9:50AM; church office. Join us for communal prayer, men & women

 

[1]Cole, R. A. (1989). Mark: An Introduction and Commentary(Vol. 2, pp. 170–171). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2]Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark(p. 173). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.

[3]Garland , David E.. A Theology of Mark’s Gospel (Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series) (pp. 126-127). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.