Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” Acts 8:30-31
In a previous devotion called Lectern, I talked about how God’s Word is powerful and can change and transform not only lives, but even the world.
And while sometimes God will do this simply through someone reading the Bible, other times he’ll do this through someone explaining what someone has read like in the story of the deacon Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch that is recorded in Acts 8.
I’ve been reading the Bible for most of my life. There is no doubt that doing so has changed me, transformed me, in to the man I am today.
But I remember specific circumstances where I heard a sermon – someone expounding on a Scripture that I had read – that changed my life.
It was Good Friday 1980 or so (I don’t remember the year, exactly). Pastor John Zellmer preached a sermon called “It’s Friday … but Sunday’s Coming!” – the phrase based on a sermon by Tony Campolo (who himself based it on a sermon he heard at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia). Pastor John’s sermon opened my eyes to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a way that all my reading of the story had not done before.
It was June 25, 1995 and Pastor Kurt Taylor preached the sermon at the worship service where I was ordained into the pastoral ministry and installed as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in White Cloud, Michigan. His sermon was entitled “Sir, We Wish to See Jesus” and was based on John 12:21. This text is not as well-known as some other texts of the Bible, but on that day – surrounded by friends and family and in front of the people I was to serve as pastor, Pastor Taylor’s words set in motion what is now 21 years and counting of preaching and serving.
As a pastor, preaching is just one of the things that I do. I also visit the homebound and the hospitalized. I teach Bible and catechism classes. I give counsel to different boards and groups of people in congregations. And I write devotions. But preaching is what I love to do best.
Because preaching is one of the most profound ways that God transforms people in this world.
When Pastor Taylor said to me, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” I took that heart. Every time I get up in a pulpit or in front of a congregation to preach, I hear those words echo in my mind.
Preaching coupled with the reading of God’s Word changes the world.
Well, to be more precise, God uses preaching and the reading of His Word to change the world, but you get the idea.
The reason the world is changed is because God’s people read and hear God’s Word. The Holy Spirit uses the Gospel – the birth, the life, the death, the resurrection, the ascension and all the other verses in the Bible that point us to it – to make us new people. We become God’s children.
And as God’s children we are God’s messengers. We are called to take the Gospel message to the people of the world.
That’s why the pulpit is predominant in so many churches and sanctuaries. That’s why preaching has a predominant place in worship.
That’s why I love preaching!
And that’s why I hope you love to hear God’s Word preached in addition to reading it yourself.
©2017 True Men Ministries