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Sunday -- Father's Day 2011 -- I spoke at the Pulaski (MI) Free Methodist Church. The title of my message was "The Faithful Father and the Lamb of Sacrifice", taken from Genesis 22:1-18.
First, I have to say I truly enjoyed the experience of preaching. While I have taught bible study groups and a house-church group, as well as various teaching capacities within my employment, this was by far the most fun and challenging experience at the same time.
I was invited to speak a little over a month ago by my friend, Mike, who is the senior pastor at PFMC. He asked me to speak on a Father's Day-related theme. I had thoughts about what text I wanted to use, but God inspired my wife to suggest the Abraham and Isaac account. I thought about it and fell in love with the idea!
The theme fit well in the occasion, considering we would be celebrating Memorial Day -- where we reflect on those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice -- and Father's Day. The Genesis 22 passage pointed to the One who made the ultimate sacrifice to save us, and as Bill Cosby once said, "I told you that story to tell you this one." That's what God did in Gen 22: He gave us an account that pointed to and told the bigger story of God redeeming mankind through Jesus Christ.
I prayed and I prepared and I practiced and I prayed and prepared and practiced more. I tweaked it and prayed and practiced and prepared until I had no more days left to prepare. See, I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but I don't think He intends Christians to fly willy-nilly when teaching His word. So I prepared as much as I humanly could; and I left the results up to Him.
The church greeted me warmly and they took any load off my shoulders that was there. I honestly was not nervous, and my heart wasn't leaping through my chest. The Spirit of God ministered to me as I was about to minister to His people. I reminded myself on my notes "God is with you." After all, I was preaching HIS word on His behalf.
-- Which reminds me: about two weeks prior to Sunday, I began reading, "He is Not Silent", by Albert Mohler. Two of his thoughts struck me. First, "What a wonderful and humbling thought to realize that God has chosen enlivened dust like us to bear testimony to His glory" (p.41); and "It is a singuular privilege that He deigns to consecrate to Himself the mouths and tongues of men in order that His voice may resound in them" (p.43, quoted by Mohler of Kent Hughes, "Disciplines of a Godly Man). As if speaking before a group of people isn't challenging enough for some speakers, add to it the burden of speaking God's word effectively, correctly, and efficiently to those who would hear it. Thank the Holy Spirit that while my words are not all that eloquent, His word is always perfect to accomplish what He desires (Is 55). --
Raising my hands in praise and worship, singing along with the congregation, I was hit by the "coincidence" of the songs fitting the message perfectly. "Come Thou Fount" and "Amazing Grace" (Tomlin's version) plowed the soil of my heart before preaching God's word...and it confirmed God's desire to have this particular message spoken to this particular group and this particular time. No, I never heard an audible voice, but I firmly believe nothing occurred accidentally. I was perplexed at the divine orchestration...and I never had contact with the musicians before Sunday.
God, you have proven in your word that you are faithful. And if we will only look around, we will observe daily occurrences that continue to prove your faithfulness to us. Thank you for reaching to such a great depth to save a sinner such as me.