Serving Good Sermons

Mouse
(Image from Pixabay)

Dr. Bruce Waltke tells the story of his wife’s days in home economics in college. They did a test on two white mice, feeding them two completely different diets.

They fed the first mouse . . .

  • Whole milk
  • Wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Carrots
  • Fruit juices

They fed the second mouse . . .

  • Coffee and doughnuts for breakfast
  • White bread and jelly for lunch
  • Candy, potato chips, and Coke for supper

Can you guess the results?

The Value of Obedience to God

Man
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For a moment, let’s pretend you work for me. We’re not in the pastorate. In fact, you are an executive in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas.

To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization.

I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions. I leave and you stay.

Being a Servant Is Unannounced

Being a Servant
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As Jesus prepared to wash His disciples’ feet, He did not say, “Men, I am now going to demonstrate servanthood—watch my humility.” No way. That kind of pride-on-parade was the trademark of the Pharisees.

If you wondered whether they were humble, all you had to do was hang around them awhile. Sooner or later they would announce it . . . which explains why Jesus came down so hard on them (take a quick look at Matthew 23!).

Unlike those pious frauds, the Messiah slipped away from the table without saying a word. He quietly pulled off His outer tunic, and with towel, pitcher, and pan in hand, He moved silently from one man to the next.

Of course, they weren’t sitting as they are portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci’s work The Last Supper. All due respect for that genius, but he missed it when he portrayed the biblical scene through Renaissance eyes.

Good Will Come

Good Will Come
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As a pastor, counselor, and seminary chancellor, I have often found myself in an unpopular spot. An individual who has come to me pours out his or her soul.

And God very clearly leads me to confront or point out a few specifics that the person finds rather painful to hear, not to mention accept.

Suddenly, I become the verbal punching bag.

Now understand, I didn’t write the Book, and I in no way view myself as the individual’s judge, even though the person may think I do.

Dealing with Disrespect and Resentment

Respect
(Image from Pixabay)

All of us pastors remember a man named Naaman, the high-ranking Syrian soldier. He was influential, wealthy, proud—a man of dignity, courage, patriotism, and military clout.

There was only one problem: the man had leprosy. Through a chain of interesting events, Naaman was led to Elisha for cleansing from his dread disease (2 Kings 5:1–14).

It fell to Elisha’s servant to be the bearer of news the Syrian officer did not want to hear. As we read in the account, the high-ranking soldier was offended. In fact, he became enraged.

And look who was caught in the crossfire—the servant! The dear guy didn’t generate the news, he just communicated it . . . and boom! The result? Feeling and hearing the verbal blows of disrespect and resentment. You probably know where I’m going with this.

Feeling Used and Unappreciated

servant
(Image from Pixabay)

When I think of someone who may have felt used and unappreciated, Gehazi comes to mind. He was the servant who worked alongside the high-profile, greatly respected prophet, Elisha.

After the Shunammite’s son suddenly died, Elisha dispatched Gehazi to the bedside of the mother’s son. We can be sure Gehazi’s heart was beating fast.

He must have anticipated an exciting response, as God would surely raise the lad from death. He would be involved in a miracle! But nothing happened. Not a thing changed.

Suddenly, Elisha burst on the scene, and phenomenal results occurred. A miracle transpired. The child was raised!

Some Common Misconceptions

Pastor
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Does it surprise you that being a pastor is perilous? I doubt it. You live with the reality of it each day. But to some who are not in the ministry, serving others sounds as safe and harmless as a poached egg on a plate.

What could possibly be perilous about it? Plenty.

As we examine Paul’s words in the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians, I’d like to suggest several familiar misconceptions regarding serving God. Read the familiar words in verses four through seven carefully:

The Perils of a Servant

Man
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Nobody who was alive in the 1970s will ever forget Jonestown. At least, I hope not. That tragedy stands as a mute reminder of the awful results of a leader gone wild.

I shall never be able to erase from my mind the same horrible scene that appeared on one television newscast after another.

It was not just death but a mass suicide—over nine hundred bloated corpses in the steamy jungle of Guyana.

People lying there in rows, “looking like full-grown rag dolls,” was how one reporter described them. Except for a few defectors who managed to escape at the last minute, every soul in that cult compound gave up his or her life as the leader demanded.

To Serve and to Give

Pastor
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We pastors are God’s true servants when we are like the Lord Jesus, who came not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

To serve and to give . . . that’s the ticket.

Pride wants strokes—lots of them.

  • It loves to get the credit
  • To be mentioned
  • To receive glory
  • To have people ooh and ahh

Prayer and Preaching

Pastor
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You have to love Paul’s humility. Here was a man in his sixties who has been preaching for years asking for prayers for a clearer delivery. Read his words carefully:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2–4)

There was no pretense with Paul.