- Pay Attention to Words
- God's Supernatural Power, Part 2
- Step Into Supernatural Power : Nellie Odhuno Shani :
But it is the most urgent. I walk through A. Without your providence, I would not have life or breath or anything Acts Without your supernatural help as I preach, no one in this room will be converted to Christ. No one will be raised from spiritual death. No one will have the heart of stone taken out and a heart of flesh put in.
Pay Attention to Words
No one will discern the true meaning of this text. No one will see spiritual beauty. No one will savor your infinite worth. No one will be transformed into your likeness. I admit this utterly and willingly. Then I pray for the help I need. So I ask for specific help. Grant me clarity of mind and expression. Bring to my mind any fresh word not in my notes that may be unusually helpful for someone here.
Grant protection from the evil one and all the ways he steals the word — like birds plucking seeds off a path.
Grant joy in the truth I speak, and give me the affections that correspond to the gravity or gladness of what the text says. Grant me to feel love for your people and compassion for the lost and the weak. Make me real, O God. Now comes the all-important trust. He promised it to T — trusting the promises of God. Turn with me to Galatians — Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? He expects us to know the right answer to those rhetorical questions. So in verse 2, he says we received the Spirit not by works of the law, but by hearing with faith.
And in verse 5, he says we keep on being supplied by the miracle-working Spirit in the same way: by hearing with faith. Faith-filled hearing. Hearing in such a way that what is heard is believed. What is it that we hear and believe through which the Spirit is being supplied? In the immediate context, the hearing was first and foremost the gospel of Christ. Now, bring this in relation to preaching.
I would paraphrase Galatians like this: Does he who supplies the Spirit to you as you preach and works miracles among you and your people through preaching do so by works of the law, or by hearing some precious blood-bought promise with faith? This is why the first T of A. There is nothing wrong with this, but I think God is offering us something more. At least this has proven true for me.
So, here are three practices that became wonderfully habitual for me over the years.
And I commend them to you: three habits or three habitual ways of practicing the first T of A. The first is to call to mind 1 Peter in the prayer room with others who are praying about half an hour before the service.
God's Supernatural Power, Part 2
I am sure that this text was the most often cited in the prayer gathering before our worship services. Whoever speaks, [let him speak] as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. What this makes plain is that it is I who must speak and serve. God the Spirit does not remove or replace the preacher. That text has been the launching pad for hundreds of messages over the years. This sets the stage half an hour before the service starts: we call it to mind and remind ourselves.
When this trust happens, the Holy Spirit is on the move. The second practice is to keep a precious store of all-purpose promises in my memory ready to be trusted at any moment when nothing more specific comes to my mind.
Step Into Supernatural Power : Nellie Odhuno Shani :
These are my default treasure. For example, here are four of my ever-ready-to-hand swords of promise:. Isaiah No eye has seen a God besides you, who acts [or works ] for those who wait for him. My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians God is able to make all grace abound to you , so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
The third habit is to ransack the Scripture for a special, God-given promise early Sunday morning during my private time of prayer and meditation. In other words, as I walk through my usual Bible reading for the day — or broaden my reading — I am on the lookout for a specific, tailor-made promise that God may apply to me in a special and personal way as suitable for this very morning. For example, suppose my wife and I have had a serious conflict in the past few days. I feel guilty and discouraged. I have taken steps to make it right. But I feel defeated in my sinful attitude.
This looms as a huge obstacle to preaching with freedom and joy. How will I be able to preach? As I cry out to him for help, early Sunday morning, he leads me, perhaps, to Psalm 25 and I read,. Psalm —9. The Lord takes this he has done this often! Right there in Scripture! Here is a concrete, specific, particular promise, tailor-made for my situation. Perhaps this is a weakness of mine. But it seems to me that the reason God has given so many concrete, specific, particular promises in the Bible about so many situations is precisely so that they will take hold of us and give us a very specific word to trust.
Indeed, there are many tailor-made promises for the preacher. For example, if I am anxious about not preaching clearly or powerfully, he may give me this:.
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Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. Matthew If I am discouraged by the thought that it seems very little comes from my preaching, he may give me this:. Isaiah — If I am attacked by thoughts that what I have to say is of little account and will probably be discounted by the people, God may give me this:. Psalm , Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.
Acts — If I am sick and my nose is running and I have a tickle in my throat that puts me on the brink of coughing, he may give me this:. If I made the mistake of reading my email just before coming to the church, and saw there a stinging criticism because of a conviction that I hold, the Lord may give me this:. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. Luke — Now comes the real test: Will I, in this hour of actual preaching, trust the promises of God?
In Galatians , God did not promise the supply of the Spirit to A — admitting need , or P — praying for help. He promised the supply and power of the Spirit to T — trusting the blood-bought promise: hearing with faith. So, right there on the front pew, seconds before I preach, I recite the promise to my own soul.
I consciously turn my mind away from myself. I turn to the promise, and I say it to myself again, often as I am walking to the pulpit. I say the promise to myself as if God himself is saying it to me. I seek to hear his voice, as it were, in my heart, saying it to me. I have a special affection for the very word of God spoken to me personally by God himself in these moments. So, I say it in the words of God from Scripture,. I actually say these words, to myself, or ones like them, as I walk to the pulpit. This is how the Holy Spirit is supplied in power.
This is the great paradox: Act. You work, because God is bringing about the working. He creates the miracle of Spirit-sustained speech. You act the miracle.
Rarely while preaching does my mind return to the promise I took hold of as I entered the pulpit. I am so utterly focused on the text and exposition at hand that I seldom have the mental freedom to look away to another text as I am preaching. But it does happen. Trust me.