Archive for the ‘Preaching’ Category


The Need for Utterance

Paul asked people to pray that he might have “utterance.” It is a foreign word to most of us in the 21st century, but perhaps we need to re-introduce its use in training men to preach the Word of God. Here are some uses in the New Testament:

Act_2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
1Co_1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
2Co_8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
Eph_6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Col_4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

In the strictest sense, utterance is “logos” or word. Jesus is the logos. The Word of God is the logos. But when men try to convey the Word of God in preaching, teaching or witnessing, it is “utterance.” Why? Clearly something else is needed if we are to have power when we speak the Word of God. Here is how I visualize the meaning of “utterance” as Paul used it.

Utterance is what the Holy Spirit does in taking the Word and our Love of Christ churning in our “Gut” and bringing it past our heart and through our throat and over the vocal chords until we are communicating the “utterance” of the Holy Spirit to hearts He has prepared.
Utterance is not always intelligent, not always beautiful, not always smooth and eloquent. In fact utterance is often the opposite. But what utterance is – is powerful; powerful enough to transform cold, hard hearts into molten rivers of heated love for Jesus Christ!Don’t ever think the message can be stopped or diminished by your inadequacies or perceived lack of ‘intelligence.’ Nothing can block the power of the Holy Spirit when He is united with a willing heart in love with the Word of God and having UTTERANCE!
We need men and women with UTTERANCE when it comes to preaching and proclaiming the Word of God! Without UTTERANCE the Word is weak and watered down. It is powerless to transform sinful man into righteous saints. 

Preacher, Teacher…PRAY FOR UTTERANCE!

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If you hear a tinkling cymbal when your pastor preaches, you can bet God has not heard struggle in prayer.

Pastors are much more than their sermons or programs. Sermons are the outflow of your life, just as God’s Word is the outflow of His being. Programs are the outflow of your heart, just as the practices of God are the outflow of His heart. Prayer connects the Heart of a pastor with the heart of God.

Long after the words of the sermon have been forgotten, the touch from the heart of the pastor lives on.

Fleshly pastors produce fleshly people, and the flesh is death to God (Rom 8:13)

God does not come into the pastor’s work simply because he is a pastor. God comes by prayer and an expression of need.

That God is found of us in the day we seek Him with our whole heart is as true of the pastor as of the repentant.

A prayerful ministry is the only ministry that brings the pastor into communion with both God and the needs of his people.

Prayer unites the pastor’s heart as much with his people as it does with His Abba, Father.

Timid, men-pleasing pastors are transformed into fearless prophets through prayer. Pastors of Prayer are met with fear by fleshly people. (1 Sam 16:4)

Pastors are not made in the seminary. Pastors are made in the prayer closet.

Great learning makes a proud pastor. Great praying makes a pastor a man of God.

The sweetest spirit by the slightest perversion may bear the bitterest fruit. So the sweetest pastor by lack of prayer may bear the most shallow ministry.

The pastor must be God-touched, God-enabled and God-made. (2 Cor 3:5-6)

Prayer gives the preaching of the pastor life, life as the springs give life. Prayer is the conduit for the spring of living water.

Prayer keeps the pastor thirsting for the life-giving power of God.

Without prayer, the life-giving spring of a pastor’s life becomes a trickle of apathy and insignificance.

Tears produced by Spiritless preaching are but summer’s breath on a snow man, nothing but surface slush.

A pastor’s sermon may appear to be heart-felt and earnest, but without the power of prayer, it is the emotion of an actor and the earnestness of an attorney.

The sermon may glow with the intelligence and verbal skill of a well-trained pastor, but without the Holy Spirit, the glow and glitter will be as barren as a field sown with thistles.

A Prayerless pastor exalts self in the Holy of Holies.

A Prayerless pastor has been disconnected from the divine current.

Prayerlessness violates and defames the power of the Holy of Holies in the church of God.

A life-giving pastor costs much – death to self, crucifixion to the world and travail of soul in prayer.

Without the life of the Spirit, beautiful words of a sermon are but the beautiful flowers surrounding the coffin.

Prayer transforms the pastor into the pastor God needs him to be.

Prayerless pastors are death to a Spirit-filled church.

The pastor feeble in prayer is feeble in the Life-giving Spirit!

Fleshly pastors can draw people to themselves and to his church, but the church will be a graveyard, not an embattled army.

Fleshly pastors advance sin, not holiness, and populate hell, not heaven.

Prayerless preaching is life-sucking.

Apart from prayer, pastors tend to a dead flock.

Feeble sheep follow prayerless pastors.

Unless the pastor is the greatest of prayers, he will become the greatest of backsliders.

It is impossible for a pastor to keep his spirit in harmony with the heart of God without much prayer.

The work of the ministry will harden the pastor’s heart if devoid of prayer.

Pastors weak in prayer are to be pitied by their people.

Prayerless pastors build prayerless churches.

Powerful ministry is not flavored by prayer, but embodied by prayer.

Effectual prayer builds an effectual ministry.

Prayer that is made much of produces sermons that are made much of.

Minor prayers make minor pastors.

Life-giving pastors are graduates of the school of prayer.

Talking to men for God can be done by anyone. Talking to God for men is done by few.

Pastors coat their sermons with prayer, but God wants us to bathe them in prayer.

Powerful sermons flow from prayer; dead sermons are bookended by it.

The pastor’s study must become a closet, and altar, a ladder, that every thought ascend God-ward before it goes man-ward.

Sermons are scented by God through prayer.

Sermons are lifeless and still until prayer provides the energy of life

A Pastor must move God toward his people before he can move his people to God.

Access to God through prayer gives a pastor access to the hearts of his people

True praying is born of oneness with Christ and fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Pastors empowered by true praying carry the true seeds of eternal life to their people.

Popular pastors are often prayerless pastors.

Prayerless pastors see no urgent need for the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pastors who are mightiest in their closets with God are the mightiest in their pulpits with men.

Pastors weak in prayer preach as tinkling cymbals

Today’s pastor feels pressured to focus on man’s methods and plans for advancing his church. Instead, he should feel pressure to seek the heart of God through prayer. It is God who gives the increase.

God gives His increase not through methods and machines, but through men whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

Advancing the church is not a matter of methods, but a matter of the hearts of your people. Prayer changes the hearts of men.

With inspiration from E.M. Bounds and his book “The Preacher and Prayer” http://temcat.com/08A-Prayer-Prom/Preach-Prayer.PDF


What will we do when the end comes?

30 An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: 31 the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes? (Jeremiah 5:30-31 esv)

Jeremiah Laments the Destruction

Jeremiah Laments the Destruction

In the mind of Jeremiah, he could see that an appalling and horrible thing was happening to Judah. As a prophet of God, he could see what was to come upon Jerusalem. It had already happened to the 10 tribes of Israel (the Northern Kingdom).

Why did they continue to believe they were immune? Their religious leaders – prophets and priests, told the people that everything was OK. The prophets and priests were in a false alliance. The prophets told the Administration and the people that everything was great, that God was blessing their worship, that God was protecting His people. The priests ministered according to what they thought was best. They let the people slide when it came to following God’s Law. They tolerated and even condoned the worship of idols. They excused the sins of the people. They preached on the ‘tender mercies’ of a loving Jehovah. They probably preached sermons about “Becoming a Better You”; “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking through to the Blessed Life”; “Forty Days to Prosperity & Blessing”. The priests were only concerned about their influence with the people, as well as their own wealth and prosperity. Their self-seeking motives clouded their service to God and His Law. Both prophets and priests kept in good favor with the King and the people. They continued to grow wealthy. How could this be?

MY PEOPLE LOVE TO HAVE IT SO

My People Love it So

My People Love it So

Jeremiah points out an amazing truth-“My people love to have it so!” The Jews were perfectly satisfied with the way things were. They could continue with their sins and idol worship without reproof or restraint. They did not want to obey God’s Law, so they allowed the prophets and priests to deliberately deceive and ruin them.

Laughing Stock

Laughing Stock

They would refuse to listen to any voice of warning, and made a laughingstock of any who would reprove them or point out their sins.

WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN THE END COMES?

God reigns from on High. God will have His Honor. God will only allow the mocking to go on for so long. Jeremiah asks: “What will you do when the end comes?”

We can only ignore God for so long. We can only pretend that all is OK for so long. The prophets and priests (Pastors) of America will have to answer for our service to God. Or have we only served the people and ourselves? What will we do when the end comes?


FallingIs it just me, or does it seem this world is on the edge of chaos? Financial markets across the globe have gone crazy the past few days, and investors are crying out for some kind of calm. What they are really wanting is to preserve their riches and see double digit returns again. The housing market in the US is in the toilets, and people keep hoping it is just a temporary thing. Just a year ago I read that home prices can’t really go down because the cost of labor and materials keep rising. Yet in the state of Florida as I well know, homes are going for $100 a square foot when just 18 months ago they were at $140 to $160 per square foot. And that doesn’t include the ocean front prices. Foreclosures will probably double this year, and the banks that made the loans are bracing for tremendous losses. Credit woes are not just isolated to home loans but extend to commercial and industrial concerns as well. There will be blood running in the streets before long.

CandidatesThe political scene appears to be just as chaotic. Americans have to choose between an old Vietnam Vet, a Mormon, a Southern Baptist Preacher, a Black with a funny name and a Woman with an infamous name. Already the fighting has captured headlines and political viewpoints are being obscured. This may be the most confusing and disappointing election America has had in modern history. A strong person capable of leading a nation out of chaos is nowhere to be found. We don’t need a politician, we need a Statesman, with a truly world view and Biblical view of the events that are about to unfold.

Jeremiah, the original Mudpreacher, was watching chaotic events unfold in his home town of Jerusalem. The King was Zedekiah, a totally selfish and inept leader. He was more interested in saving his own skin than leading his country. The city was under siege, starvation was rampant, people were resorting to cannibalism to stay alive, and the King refused to hear any Word from God. He kept listening to the stupid princes around him who kept saying ‘everything will be alright’. It’s like the Fed saying that “we will not have a recession”. It’s like Bush saying “we are winning in Iraq”.

We forget there is The God who still Reigns! He is not idle and powerless. His Plan is still moving forward.

Zedekiah means the righteousness of Jehovah. Funny, because righteous he wasn’t. God issued a scathing rebuke to Judah and her leaders:

“Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed. Bear your disgrace, you also, for you have intervened on behalf of your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamed, you also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous. (Eze 16:51-52)

One of the sisters God referred to was Sodom. Sodom with her sinful sodomy and Samaria with her idol-worship was more righteous than Judah? What does that say about Judah and her inhabitants?

FallingI wonder what God is trying to tell our country, even this world. The last 10 years have seen more cataclysmic events than the previous 100! Our nation has been rocked by terrorist attacks, hurricanes, Katrina, natural disasters, drought, school and college shootings, family decay, mothers and fathers killing their own children and on and on. Surely God does not cover His eyes. Surely God’s Word is righteous and just! Surely God is crying out “You have committed more abominations than they!”.

The words of Amos still Ring with Truth and Clarity:

When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared– who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken– who can but prophesy? Amos 3:6-8 (NIV)

Weep before the altar

It is time for us to Proclaim the Name of God in our Prayers before the throne.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jer 23:5-6)

As Jeremiah preached before the FAKE King of Righteousness (Zedekiah), we need to find refuge in Jehovah-Tsidkenu (Jehovah our righteousness). All of the combined wisdom and military might of this great nation will do nothing to delay the coming “Jehovah-Tsidkenu.”

The preachers and pastors of America need to heed the words of Joel and cry out before the altar:

Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ” Joel 2:17 (ESV)

Wesley Preaching righteousness

Our only hope as a nation, as God’s people, is to proclaim the Name of God – Jehovah-Tsidkenu! We need to cry out for His righteousness. We need to declare our sins before Him, of not honoring Jehovah as our Righteous God!

Jehovah is a Tsadik–a righteous One, says the psalmist (129:4). As an El-Tsadik a righteous God, there is none to compare with Him, Says Isaiah (45:21 ). He is the Rock whose work is perfect, all of whose ways are justice. Tsadik–righteous and right is He (Dent. 32:4). His righteousness is an everlasting righteousness and His testimonies are righteous forever (Psalm 119:142, 144). Righteousness and justice are the very foundations of His throne (Psalm 89:14; 97:2). Therefore in all His dealings He is righteous.

In this “post-modernist” generation, we have abandoned absolutes. NarcissisticAnd as we watch a generation grow up in love with themselves and what they each consider right, our nation will move further and further away from the Righteousness of God. That which was shameful 50 years ago has and will continue to become accepted and even expected. The stench of our hearts will continue to burn before the nostrils of a Holy God. The church needs to declare as Daniel the Righteousness of God. We must never abandon Jehovah-Tsidkenu! May our shame become evident and repentance weigh heavy on our hearts:

To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. Daniel 9:7-8 (ESV)

We must never lose sight of our righteous God. We must see Him loving Righteousness and beholding the upright!

For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright. Psalms 11:7 (NKJV)

We must continue to preach Jesus Christ to this dying world. Jesus is indeed Jehovah-Tsidken! In his great sermon at Pentecost, Peter accuses his hearers of denying the Holy One and the Just or Righteous (Acts 3:14). Hebrews 1:8, 9 says of Him: But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Jesus our righteousness

Jesus, in human nature, lived up to the perfect standard of the divine law, so that His righteousness was of the same complexion and character as the righteousness of God. Still more, as one with the Father, His righteousness was the perfect manifestation of the righteousness of God.

Jehovah-tsidkenu! Such a wonderful name! This name must be on our lips and in our hearts if this nation, even this world is to escape the coming chaos and shame. The Righteousness of our coming King is indeed the only method and the measure of our acceptance before Holy God; cleansed in the blood of the Lamb; clothed with the white robe of the righteousness of Him who is Jehovah–our righteousness–even our Lord Jesus Christ.

I once was a stranger to grace and to God
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree
Jehovah-tsidkenu was nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die:
No refuge, no safety, in self could I see;
Jehovah-tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life-giving and free:
Jehovah-tsidkenu is all things to me.

[Whitelaw, Jehovah-Jesus, pp. 102, 103].


I am on vacation in Kissimmee Florida. I went to a Baptist Church yesterday. They have a beautiful facility and have been without a Senior Pastor for a few months. They are an Elder run church. The Sanctuary (Auditorium in today’s language) seated 500 or so, but the attendance looked about 150-165. This did not include the children who worship in two separate services. There was a good blend of people, but I did notice the “more mature” crowd seemed to be about 25%. They were pretty friendly during Sunday School (Adult Bible Fellowship), but during the transition and the worship I felt very much an outsider. I would give it a 6 on the 10 point “Guest Comfort” scale.

Seeker ChurchLike so many “Traditional” churches, they are trying to find themselves in this hip-hop media run world. An elder announced that they were beginning a three month trial toward what seemed to me a “Seeker” style worship experience. They had a young preacher who had come to Orlando to start a church and it seems that now they are folding his church plant into their traditional church. He is very talented (leading the praise-style songs) and then going right into the sermon. Almost a one man show. He is young and energetic and exactly the kind of person who would appeal to a younger audience. I pray the transition will work well, but there are a lot of Baptist Churches near there. Sometimes older folk like the way they used to worship. They don’t want the music very loud. They don’t want to hear a watered down, practical, relevant discourse on time management or some other ‘seeker’ topic.

My problem is that I still believe in the Power of God’s Word. I believe in the Power of the Gospel. I believe in the Power of the Cross. I hate to think that God’s Word as it is written is irrelevant to this generation. I believe that in trying to appeal to the masses we are in danger of building the “First Church of Simon”.

 

In Acts 8:9-12 we find a man named Simon who had built quite a following. He presented himself as someone great, doing amazing things that got people’s attention. People declared that ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great”. In reality he was a sham, a flim-flam man, having the appearance of godliness but not knowing the power thereof. Along comes a man named Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ. People believed and were baptized. Even Simon played along to get in on the action. He saw the power of the Gospel, the works of the Real Holy Spirit, and he said in Acts 8:19-20 “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

First Church of Simon

I fear that many preachers are spending a great deal of money on fancy multi-media stages and sound systems and extravagant Worship Centers and all they are really trying to do is buy the power of the Holy Spirit. They are building the “First Church of Simon”.

I know most of the arguments. People have to be entertained. People today reject the old-fashioned church. There is so much competition for People’s time. We have to offer a competitive product presented in a way that gets people attention in the media savvy world. I look for people in the year 2021 to not even go to church but have the service streaming over their phones. Offerings are taken by tapping in the amount on your phone and pushing ‘send’. If the church has a physical building, the offering amount is displayed instantaneously on an electronic tote board. Pastors won’t count bodies but will count downloads and RSS feeds.

Does God’s Holy Spirit still have Power to convict men today? Does the Holy Spirit still have the Power to Draw men to Jesus Christ. Is the Gospel still the Power of God for salvation? I know we need to communicate effectively, but isn’t that what the whole issue of Pentecost was about. The Holy Spirit took the message of ignorant fishermen and convicted the hard hearts of stubborn people! The Holy Spirit provided the communication. Peter spoke in the Power of the Holy Spirit! As Bill Gothard said, communication is getting your ideas past the roadblocks of another’s mind. We must be aware of the roadblocks, but we must rely on the Power and Wisdom of God! Paul realized that we don’t rely on the wisdom of men: “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. “ I Cor 2:5. Preachers need to return to the Power of God in our proclaiming. We dare not go into the pulpit without it. We don’t rely on slick PowerPoint’s, we don’t rely on cute skits and object lessons. We don’t rely on others sermon outlines.

We have hearts that have wrestled with God, and now have power with God and man. Our hearts are on fire with the power of God’s Word, the Power of the Holy Spirit. We are only lumps of mud. We are mudpreachers. The Power Must be of God. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor 4:7)

Paul preached in truthfulness and by the Power of God. “by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; “ (2 Cor 6:7) “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (I Cor 4:20) For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (I Cor 1:18)

Is it any wonder that these verses on the Power of God were written to a young church that was having a problem with the flesh. Their worship, their communion feasts were going the wrong direction, the way of the flesh and what man thought was right. Paul had to set them straight with the Power of the Word of God.

It is time that Preachers get back to what Paul was willing to die for-the Power of God in the Cross of Christ. It’s time we cry out for the Power of the Holy Spirit in our pulpits.