As a (Lord willing) future pastor, I am constantly amazed at the work in which God had called pastors to do. One of those aspects is that of preparing the sermon. The command given to Peter in John 21:17 and later to pastors through the Peter in I Peter 5:2 is to tend to the flock of God by feeding the sheep.
The meal is the Word of God and it provides nourishment to the hungry soul. It is the bread of life in written form and it satisfies. The pastor (shepherd) then must take care on how the meal is prepared. If the meal is really only the thoughts and ideas of the pastor himself, the flock will go hungry because it is not the food that the people need. The pastor is only able to provide food out of the storehouse of God’s word.
Last Sunday, I was notified that I would be preaching in the morning service. I was already prepared with a sermon that I had finished the night before, but I had been studying out of Philippians and wanted to preach out of the book. On that Sunday evening, I looked at the passage and meditated on it for the evening. The text I had chosen was Philippians 3:1-11. As the text flowed past my eyes, an outline and a thought process emerged. “This is great,” I thought. However, as I thought more and more on the words of God, I realized more and more the depth of that passage.
When it finally came to write out my meditations and research on paper, the task was daunting! The trite outline that I created was pale in comparison to the depth of the passage and I spent a major part of the morning rethinking about how to present this text to people who are starving for the word of God!
Constantly, as I read through the text in my mind again and again, I wanted to experience what Paul had experienced.
And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
Paul had just rejected everything that he was according to the flesh and everything that he had done according to the flesh as refuse, unworthy to please God. He realized that the only way to please God is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The more I read those words, the more I desire Christ’s righteousness! I recognize day by day that my righteousness is insufficient and will never be accepted by God apart from faith in Christ.
I am not talking about being un-regenerate, but as a person who has been gloriously saved from sin and adopted by God into his family, I realize the need to live rightly in this family so that God will be pleased. It is the same righteousness that saved me as a sinner that I need as a saved person to please God.
All of this has been on my heart for the week and I know there is not enough time on Sunday to preach everything that God has laid on my heart! However, my desire is to stir within those to whom I am speaking a desire to know Christ.
God has shown me several lessons this week about the ministry which I believe he has called me to participate in. First, my heart preparation for the message must begin at the beginning of the week. How else is the pastor to feed the sheep if the food he is serving is stale and not fresh in his own life? Malnourished shepherds probably mean malnourished sheep.
Second, Even though I had a sermon already prepared, and even if I do not preach this sermon that God has laid on my heart, just by being involved in the intense responsibility of its preparation has lifted my heart and prepared my for the Sunday service.
Finally, as I sit in my office, reviewing the sermon that I spent the last several hours typing out, I realize that as a pastor this is not just a once a month occurrence, not even a once a week occurrence, but it is going to be a several-times-a-week occurrence and that I must be prepared at all times.
While the ministry will be tough and difficult, I know God will supply his strength to bring me through every step of the way.