I’m tired this morning, my back hurts, and I feel old! It’s all because it’s Monday, and I fully understand why many pastors take Mondays off. I’ve never done that and don’t plan to begin now. In fact, I’m leaving for Pigeon Forge at noon to be with some of our senior adults at an overnight retreat. But fatigue is usually more mental than physical, and nothing rests and relaxes the mind like Bible study. So I’m going to fetch a fresh cup of coffee and devote the morning to studying Isaiah 53, one of the great chapters of the Bible.
This passage is the text for my Palm Sunday sermon on April 5. But preaching is overflow; and one studies the Bible first for personal nourishment and only afterward does it become public ministry. Whenever a person studies the Bible to find sermon material, it diminishes the quality of the preached Word. The best plan is to study the Bible for personal spiritual nutrition, and out of that experience may later come a sermon or lesson.
Only if a biblical passage is smoldering in the furnace of our own hearts does it have a decent chance of catching fire in the pulpit.
PS – There’s a moving account in the news today of the widow of the slain Illinois pastor who spoke yesterday from her late husband’s pulpit. Cindy Winters said, “I refuse to let Satan win…. He’s not going to steal my joy…. He’s not going to steal my desire to spread God’s Word. I’m not going to hate.” The article at Baptist Press is here.