From the Pastor’s Desk
One of the biggest challenges I face when preparing to preach is not assuming I know what a particular Scripture means or says. There are always plenty of “experts” trying to tell us what a text means, how it has been interpreted over the years, and what the scholars who have studied it have come up with in the course of their studies. It is easy to want to agree with their findings, assume they have all the wisdom we lack, and accept their work as final and definitive, but that is not what I believe we are called to do. I believe God’s Word as contained in Scripture is a living Word. A Word that was not only inspired by God through the Holy Spirit, but also one that is constantly being interpreted and applied through that same Holy Spirit.
So when approaching a Scripture, I challenge you to look at it afresh. The word “afresh” means to make fresh again. In other words, look at Scripture as if you have not read it before, with fresh eyes and no preconceived notions. This is hard to do, especially with Scriptures we have heard many times before, yet it can be done with some intention and introspection. Start with prayer acknowledging that the Holy Spirit needs to be a part of your process if you are to receive what God wants you to see, understand or observe in the passage. Then read the Scripture out loud. Hear every word, listening not just for content but for rhythm, and notice what words, phrases or thoughts jump out at you as you read. Then live with the text. Don’t be in a rush. Read it over several days, each time looking to see what is new and intriguing. Let yourself marinate in the Word until it becomes a part of you. Finally, go read some commentaries, read different translations, study words you don’t know or are significant in the passage, and look at any cross-references (other Scriptures related to the one you are reading). If you take these steps, I believe you will discover a richness in Scripture that you might not have seen before and you will find that God can use a passage to speak to you differently each time you study it.
Over the years, I have discovered that I really haven’t preached the same sermon twice. Even as I preach the same text at two different services, I find that the Holy Spirit gives me nuggets of wisdom or insight for each group I’m speaking to that I did not share with the other. I attribute this to the fact that the Holy Spirit knows who is there that day and what they need to hear. If I am receptive to the Holy Spirit, He uses me to deliver God’s Word afresh each time. I pray God continues to give us fresh eyes and ears to see and hear what He has to show us and say through His Word.
-By Pastor Miguel