Monday Pastor – Jettisoning the Sermon
After Two Years, I Am Obviously Still Learning To Preach
Yesterday, I ambitiously tried to do too much. I tried to preach Acts 6:8 through 7:60. That is 71 verses. Am I crazy? Probably, but my intention was sane. I wanted to give the whole story of Stephen’s trial and speech so not to shred the context and muddy the argumentation. I wanted people to see the whole story of the Holy Spirit working in the life of Stephen to be a gospel witness for sake of Jesus.
Do to the amount of text I took on I also had to jettison several parts of the sermon to be able to finish. When I got to 7:44, I essentially hit overdrive to finish. I looked at the clock and thought about stopping, but there was no rest place at that point in our journey. I wanted to finish and I wanted to finish it all.
But in the process of lightening the sermon to expedite its conclusion, I had to gut the strongest part of the sermon. I had to remove explanation and illustration and application. So what will I do? I am going to go back and pick up at verse 44 and go through 60 and drill down on that which I treated superficially. There is too much goodness and help not to treat the text as thoroughly as it deserves. All scripture is God-breathed and useful.
So what’s the takeaway? I am learning a hard lesson about preaching: “I can’t say everything.” I have a tendency to often want to over-explain things, and what sometimes happens is a loss of clarity.
Reflecting on Acts 6:8-7:60
Here are some applications and questions from the sermon as I reflected on the text for my own edification:
- It is sometimes the most devout and pious religious people who really reject God and His word (The Law). The fathers rejected God and so now their “religious” children are doing the same. The Law (Torah) points to Jesus (Eph. 1:10).
o How am I guilty of being so religious and rigid that I reject Jesus?
- God blesses people not places. If it looks like He blesses places it is because He blesses people in a place, but not because of the place. Almost every instance sighted by Stephen of God blessing those in the Old Testament is away from the “Promised Land.” The temple became and idol. A relic. A charm. Jesus said in John 4 that true worshipers will worship in Spirit and In Truth, not in this place or that.
o Have I idolized a building or thing that God meant as a means to point me to Him through Jesus?
- God is a patient pursuer of people and He will eventually give them what they want – even themselves and their sin.
o Do I really want to worship myself? Romans 1:24-25
- Stephen is full of the Spirit. He is bold, calm, respectful, biblical, wise, opposed. He is like Jesus, with his eyes fixed on Jesus, right up until his death.
o Am I like Stephen? Or am I like the religious leaders?
- People make disciples. It is impossible not to pass ourselves on to others – whether good or bad. Acts 7:51
o Am I passing on to those I love, Spirit-empowered obedience or Spirit-resisting idolatry?