It began with Mark’s record of Jesus saying, "Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." Mark 1:38 (NIV).
The author then went on to state that, “The purpose of preaching is to help people understand and apply the salvation history of God. It's not about being entertained or charmed by the charisma of the preacher; it's about being confronted with God's Word and becoming connected to God's Spirit. This makes preaching a controversial form of communication, instead of it being a comfortable expression of faith. I know many preachers who, like myself, often struggle with the Bible passages that they preach on Sundays. They don't want to offend anyone or disappoint someone, but in the end, preachers need to preach what God places on their hearts. A good sermon comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”
Would it not have been amazing to hear Jesus’ preach? What we read in the Bible is likely only a portion of the lessons that he shared with the people. His preaching was clear, direct and always provided a potentially life-changing message for those who took it to heart.
Sharing the Gospel is something that each of us should be doing. Preaching the Word from the pulpit is an awesome responsibility. Every time I am in that position, I pray that God might use me as the channel through which someone is touched by the Holy Spirit.
A few weeks ago we shared some thoughts being prepared using the text of Matthew 24: 36-39. During our time together, I shared the following: "… we’ve all seen so many examples of how things can change quickly – a diagnosis, an accident, an unexpected departure of a key leader." And then I said, "Regardless of what may come, we need to be prepared both physically and spiritually."
I came home that day, physically spent, but spiritually invigorated. I knew that my preaching had reached at least one person, and that person was me. I can’t explain it, but for some reason, I knew that I had been led to share this message for a purpose.
Had my sermon comforted the afflicted, or afflicted the comfortable? I am not really sure, but I know that the devotional caused me to pause and reflect on the words I had spoken. There really are so many things that happen to us every day, and despite what I said, can we really be prepared for them all? We may not be prepared for the actual event, but we can be prepared for how we will respond. We can allow things to overwhelm us; or we can lean on Jesus and allow him to guide us through.
In the past two months, Teresa and I have lost two good friends to cancer and a third has just been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her lung. We were not prepared for any of these people to get sick, but with both of us having been through our own cancer fights, we were, and are, prepared to support our friends and their families through the journey regardless of the path it follows.
Sometimes we find ourselves facing situations that we would rather have avoided. Most times we don’t understand why these things are happening to us. Quite often though we discover that our experiences, our trials, our pain, and our joys have equipped us to provide the love and support that someone else needs.
When God presents someone, or some situation to us, we should look back on the path we’ve have already walked. When we do, we will likely see places where our experience might have prepared us for exactly this moment. Watch, listen and when the situation arises, be prepared to step forward and say, "Here I am!"