Whenever I get up to preach on a Sunday, I have to remind myself of the gospel and why I am doing what I am doing. As I walk you through my process of preparation I pray that it serves as a grid through which you can prepare yourself for any opportunity to serve someone else. It doesn’t have to take long, but if we are not intentional in reminding ourselves why and how we love others, we will fall prey to self-sufficient service (cf. 1 Peter 4:10-11) and have simply man-pleasing as our aim (cf. Colossians 3:22). This will rob us of joy and God of glory.
As I prepare,
1. I rehearse the gospel. I keep a bank of Scriptures, quotes, or phrases that help me remember the gospel and its power over my life.
Here is one such quote I used on Sunday.
When we transfer trust from ourselves to Christ, we experience the abundant freedoms that come from not having to measure up. Tullian Tchividjian
With this quote I am reminding myself that Christ is my aim. Another great resource ,other than the Bible, is “The Gospel Primer” by Milton Vincent.
2. I pray a promise and take it with me
Because Christ laid down his life for me, all the promises of Scripture are mine (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20).
So I take a promise with me into the pulpit and pray to God my trust in his promises, asking him to work mightily for my good and his glory.
Last week I took Matthew 1:23. Jesus is Immanuel, that is He is God with us. So I prayed, “God I love you for coming to be with me. I believe you will never leave me and that your presence is enough. I ask that you would move mightily by your Spirit to work faith in your people. (Other examples are Romans 8:32, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 23:4, 6; Romans 1:16)]
3. I ask myself centering questions
These questions function to remind me why I am doing what I am doing.
Questions such as:
- Am I trusting the gospel’s power over my abilities?
- Is the gospel present and central?
- Is God’s glory the goal?
- Am I seeking to serve rather than impress?
- Am I trusting Christ to build his church?
- Am I trusting the Spirit of God to change the people?
- Are you seeking to display the fruit of the Spirit?
- Are you preaching/serving with the end in view? (With this question I mean “Where is my ultimate hope?” (cf. 1 Peter 1:13) and am I remembering that no matter what happens only God will see the entire effect of his Word. We don’t get to see the entire mosaic that God is creating. We are one small part of his final creation.
I pray this helps us stay humble, stay centered on Jesus, and trusting in His ability over our own. Let’s prepare well together as we lives of love for our joy and His glory.