Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.
I have really been enjoying the passages we have been reading. It has been a great discourse of Paul’s theology on faith, grace, salvation, and justification. Today’s reading (Galatians 3) is another strong reminder of some of those things.
Over the past two weeks, Marty, Larry Holmes, and I have been working on a sermon series we are going to be doing at the first of next year. I am really excited about the series we will be doing and the life transformation we hope comes along with that. While we have planned out the first part of the year, we have continued the planning and have the majority of 2011 planned out. There are two different camps out there that believe differently on sermon planning.
Some believe that you should just get up on Sunday morning and wing it, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you where he wants you to go. Others believe that the you should plan it out, pour yourself into study and allow the Holy Spirit to work through that. There is even a third camp. Marty shared a story with me he had heard long ago. A traveling preacher shared with one of the men before preaching that he writes half of his sermon and lets the Holy Spirit work on the other half while he is preaching. The man who that tactic had been shared with approached the preacher following his sermon and said, “I liked the part you prepared better.”
Here’s my deal friends … I am the type that loves to plan things out. I love the fact that I know what we will be preaching on in the upcoming year. I love the fact that as I read stories, as I watch things on TV, as I serf the web, I can be filling away illustrations that might fit with the upcoming messages. And I also know that none of this is set in stone. The messages aren’t written, just planned, they can be changed if something changes. But you know, I believe that when planning these things out the Holy Spirit is right there in the planning. This past Sunday Marty preached on “Why do bad things happen to good people.” As he was writing one of his points, he received a phone call from his daughter with the diagnoses of his 3 year old grandson’s problems. It was then the Holy Spirit revealed to him his participation in the planning of that sermon some ten months before.
Here’s the deal, in today’s reading Paul opens up by asking how we received the Holy Spirit; was it through faith, or through observance of the law. The answer is it was through faith. When we practice things in faith, God will allow the Holy Spirit to work things out according to his purposes. My illustration of sermon planning shows that. When we plan in faith, God knows what going to happen, and he uses that planning to meet the current needs of the congregation. When we act in faith utilizing the Holy Spirit, God will work in ways that meets our current needs. We may not see it, we may not understand it, but God is allowing our faith and the work of the Holy Spirit to do great things.
The above image was taken from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Preaching through Psalms Course page