Long Sermons and Free Grace
Date Published: 10 / 11 / 2022 |
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.
This is that one time the Apostle Paul preached someone to death. Apparently, he was leaving town the next day and wanted to cram as much info into the congregation at Ephesus as possible. In his own mind, he was on fire! Killin’ it!
But Eutychus had a long day and fell into a deep sleep in the window as Paul preached and the next thing he knew his body hit the ground from the third story! Paul stopped preaching and ran downstairs to see if everyone was alright. Paul was relieved that he didn’t preach this fool to death. So he got some food and preached until morning.
My last three sermons have been around 50-55 minutes.
Sorry about that.
I usually shoot for 35-40 minutes. This teaching series is so vast that even after heavy cutting, my sermons are super long. (I actually cut 30% of the material I gathered!)
But I give thanks for you all for enduring my marathon preaching. I love having a congregation that is so attentive to the Word, not just because you don’t fall out of windows or off the balcony, but because giving yourself to sit under the preaching of His Word is one of the best things you can do for your soul.
Here are 3 reasons why:
1. When we sit under the Word, with openness, teachability and humility, God actually talks right to us. I can’t tell you the amount of times people asked me “Did you say that about me?” or “How did you know what I was going through?” or “If you want to have a conversation with me you could have called.” Most of the time we are in a book of the Bible that I picked 12 months before. I have no way of knowing how God will use it on the day that particular text and topic come up.
2. Even when the text is not specifically about our current situation, God talks to us and shapes our mind in his ways. Many of the most memorable moments I have had in ministry have come from the unexpected “word” that comes from preaching through texts. This is shaping in us a Christian heart that God can use.
3. God gave the church teachers and pastors to mine the Scriptures and pray for the people that they might be shaped in his ways. When a pastor is doing his job he is pointing you to the Word; he is pointing you to Christ. You will know you are growing when you become more dependent on grace.
Finally, don’t miss this Saturday night (5-7pm). While hearing David Zahl preach, I have had some of my most significant moments in the past 5 years encountering God. Not because he is the best preacher I have ever heard, but because the grace of God has overcome this man.
If you come and hear what he has to say, I am confident you will be shifted in all the right ways. Being gracious with yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself. But also as you learn to be gracious with yourself, you will find more grace for humanity, even church people, even your family, even your spouse. This is a great gift to give to the people in your life.
May the Lord bless you!