Prep for Power

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

The line of demarcation drawn when preaching a sermon should be clearly defined. The truth should be declared plainly. The error should be clearly stated. The topic of sermons should line up with God’s priorities, not ours.

Some of the most potent sermons have not been eloquent, flowery, or dynamic. They may not have flowed effortlessly from the orator’s mouth. It may be that they stuttered, stammered, or were monotone in their delivery.

The sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards, was delivered in such a monotone voice, there was nothing that marked it as having excellent oratory skills. Yet, men and women cried out to God for mercy from the deep conviction that came over them in hearing his message.

It is not how we deliver, or who delivers it. It is what we are preaching, and to Whom we are pointing.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

To the intellectual or the learned, preaching may appear crude, simple, or even foolish. But, it is God who chose the vehicle for the delivery of His message to man. 

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

He chose it for a particular reason – that no one would be able to step into the light of praise and glory to receive what is rightfully God’s. 

1 Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

The airwaves, television, and social media are full of eloquent speakers with polished sermons. Many are so practiced and rehearsed, and we are in awe of their confidence, air, and wisdom. They fit perfectly int the program format to end on time, every time.

God rarely operates on our timetable. His timing is always perfect. The person of His choosing is not someone that may stand out.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

It is the heart’s preparation that brings about the power of God. A hardened heart will not receive the pure, perfect Word of God. It will be as that seed that fell on stony ground, never to take root.

The Jonathan Edwards mentioned above, was long in prayer for the sermon he delivered that day. His burden for the people and his country were ever in his prayers. 

All great movements of God throughout the ages have first begun with prayer. 

The pouring out of hearts before God’s throne, and the rivers of tears shed for lost, sinful men and women, are the precursor to revival. 

We must not confuse what power is needed. We have within us a will and character.

Our will is our desire, motivation, and passion. 

Our character is our obedience, loyalty, work ethic, and faithfulness. 

Both have a threshold or limit to what we can accomplish. In the end, we will all fail to do what God has created us to do.

We often choose to do things FOR God, when He desires to do those things WITH us and THROUGH us. 

Religion teaches doing FOR God.

Biblical Christianity is God doing His work in and through us so that the power one might see, belongs to God alone. When God uses a weak, uncomely vessel, He creates such a vast difference that there is no mistaking Who it is that accomplished the work. 

Our preparation is simple.

Ephesians 5:18-21 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

We, the church, must be front and center and on display for all to see. It cannot be that we do it in our strength, but God’s. We must ask for the filling of the Holy Ghost of God.

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