Someone wrote in an email to me the other day a word of thanks for all the wonders of the gospel that I take such pleasure in teaching and conveying to them. I love the expression ‘the wonders of the gospel’; I make ample use of it because it captures something of the awesomeness of God’s work in Christ. The gospel is objectively beautiful, who Jesus is, what God did and does in Christ, redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, righteousness, ah, it is all an absolute marvel and defies description. And we need to think on it until it changes our perception of reality and my job is to bring people to that point, not just happy in being saved, but aware of and deeply moved and changed by the nature of God and His purpose.
Yet in preaching all this, I cannot but wonder who benefits the most, my hearers or I? I do not generally ‘preach to myself’, as I have often heard preachers say, and might even say on occasion myself.
As a rule I preach what is strong in my spirit already to bless the people. When God lays something on my heart to preach, I study, but also allow Him to deal with my heart about it and usually by the time I begin to preach it, it’s already burning me up.
After all if it does not move me, why should it move them? My heart is usually crying out, oh God, if only your people will get this, help me to preach it Lord.
And not only that they get it, but that it changes them because God is not only into information but transformation. Consequently when a subject is being taught or preached on, that is your opportunity to be transformed in that area and not just to gain more knowledge. So I teach people to pray the message they are hearing and the scriptures into their own lives. Well lately we have been chewing on being fervent in spirit, and, as usual, when I began to preach I was already red hot. We have been praying, praying for people and I have been so happy to see God touch deeply and profoundly both new and older believers.
Yet, I should have known better, yet another set up, God sneaked up on me again. It hit me the other day as I prayed, God messed me up. The realization of the awesomeness of God and the greatness of the gospel (which I preached on Sunday) enveloped me and all I could do was offer Him all. Up came this surge, this overwhelming love and passion for God just welled up from within, and then came the singing, the praise, magnifying the Lord and dedicating my life to His service. Glorious, yet sober, it was a time of renewed fervency and passion, total commitment to the purposes of God, total persuasion of the rightness of His way.
God ambushed the preacher and gave her a fat dose of her own medicine; and she is not complaining. He does it all the time and He does it well.
Love and passion for God are the fuel of my life and ministry. I will not preach a God I am not crazy about or a gospel I am not convinced is absolute truth.
I only pray that He continues to give me the grace to convey to others the utter loveliness of Christ and persuade them to live beyond the ordinary and devote their lives to the only cause worth serving, the cause of Christ.
(this post was previously published as ‘Ambushed by God’