A Nugget from New Life Network
(excerpts from Pastor Jim McCool)
Scripture for the Day (March 9, 2018)
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20, HCSB).
Not long ago I had a personal ministry crisis which caused me considerable grief. It was a “preaching” crisis. After honestly evaluating my preaching and teaching over several weeks, I came to the painful conclusion that I was a “mediocre” preacher! No one told me that my preaching was “mediocre” but it was my own self-assessment and I didn’t like it! I cried out, “LORD! I CAN’T HANDLE IT! HELP ME!”
Preaching and teaching the Word is what I do as a Pastor. I have always wanted to be an effective preacher. Peter said of those called to preach to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11, NKJV). The NIV version says, “do so as one who speaks the very words of God.” Since God is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think,” I knew there was a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to fulfill that promise in me because that’s exactly what I wanted.
The following is what our Heavenly Father told me.
First, the Lord reminded me that preaching and teaching is God’s business – a ministry of the Holy Spirit in our spirits and not primarily an intellectual exercise. It’s an activity “above and beyond” our human ability. It’s not entertainment, storytelling, or giving a motivational speech, though we all like entertaining and inspiring speakers and we do use stories. But preaching is different. It is proclaiming or teaching the Word of God by the Spirit of God. Paul said, “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). I was relying too much on my own wisdom. I believe in preparing notes and doing good study and research but we don’t preach notes – we preach the Word of God. I found myself overly focused on my notes and less on the Word which hindered me from getting into the “flow” of the Spirit as I preached.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit impressed me to pray more. The religious leaders recognized that the apostles had “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). If we want to be effective in preaching then we have to “be with Jesus” too. How? By spending a lot more time in prayer! For those in full-time ministry I personally believe our prayer time should be hours each day. (“Hours” is plural so that means at least two!) Since I have increased my prayer time, the anointing has increased. I am not trying to place a burden on you to pray a certain length of time because that’s between you and God. It’s not about keeping a record or score but quantity is vital. You may get tired, have other things to do, or want to quit, but hang in there for a while! I challenge you to try praying an hour, two, or even three a day. In fact, just this morning I was praying and felt tired, sleepy, and had other things to do (like write this article!). But after about 45 minutes I stepped over into a different realm and began to pray with a greater boldness and confidence.
Thirdly, I was to “Consume the Word!” Paul said, “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4.2), but we can’t preach it if it doesn’t live inside us. The more of the Word that is hidden and treasured in our hearts, the more Word will come out of our mouths. The Word has to be a priority if we are to preach and teach it. I recognized that my time in the Word was not adequate and I had to make a change.
Finally, the Lord impressed me that He would help me but I was to give Him all the glory and all the honor. We all appreciate compliments but I want to be careful to give credit where credit is due. I know we have our part to play in preaching but again, we speak “the very words of God.” They are His Words, not ours. I am now seeing changes in my preaching and teaching and I’m thankful for that. I am less anxious in the pulpit because I am learning to depend more on God and less on self. I also have a greater assurance that I am feeding the people good food. Jesus said to Peter (and to us), “feed My sheep” (John 21:17). The sheep are hungry! It’s a mean world out there and the sheep need good nourishment to stand strong.
I admit that I am still not where I want to be, or where I am going to be, but praise God I’m not where I was! So, fellow preachers and teachers, let’s study, pray, lean on the Spirit, preach the Word, and give Him all the glory. If we do those things our preaching and teaching will truly be “above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us!”