If I have a Sunday morning preaching Goliath, I’d have to say it is typically the last Sunday of the year. There. I said it!
For me, the primary reason it is so difficult for me is because the Christmas week, according to the Guiness Book of World Records (🙊) is officially the “fastest week ever, in America”….especially with 1) Having children who aren’t in school 2) Having children who think Daddy not having Bible Study at the church the rest of the year means more time for them. 3) The day before Christmas entails traveling to your hometown; and the day after entails recovering from the aftermath. 4) Me loving every minute of it, especially #2!!! (Note: 12 year old going on 13, not so much!)
Here’s my outline…
Title: Releasing the Unforgiving Prisoner of Your Pastor
Text: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
C.I.T.: Paul’s instruction of restoring an offender illustrates godly lessons in how and why we should let it go.
I. Letting it Go Communicates God’s Mercy (Vss. 5 – 6)
II. Letting it Go Restores the Offender (Vss. 7-8)
III. Letting it Go Displays Obedience (Vs. 9. “…if you would…stand the test and be obedient…”
IV. Letting it Go Mirrors the Character of Christ (Vs. 10. “…forgive…forgiven…”)
V. Letting it Go Disarms the Devil’s Antics (Vs. 11. “…in order that Satan might not outwit us…”)
It was a long week. Well, rather, a short week! During the week of Christmas, I have found extreme difficulty putting together my message on the last Sunday of each year, for years. I thought I had nailed down Genesis 13, which is the detailed account of Lot and Abraham parting ways. Then…this led to my going back to Genesis 12 with the calling of Abram. Before I knew it, I simply had a preliminary skeleton of an outline of Genesis 13 (a passage I had never preached before) and a re-working of Genesis 12 (a passage I had preached a few times)…looking at all of these notes on Christmas Eve, with a 2-part tentative sermon series on “The Blessing of Saying Goodbye.”. Simply put (fast forward)…I spent the little time I had left sifting through the above 2 Corinthians 2 passage to share with our people.
Because of prayer, my heavy study of 2 Corinthians 2 in the past, google, experience, Bible software and other ministry helps…the Lord faithfully saw me through the preaching delivery, I trust. I thank God for the 1 who came forward for prayer and the other the join in fellowship with our congregation through membership.
While I cannot explain or accurately describe both my peace and joy this last week of 2015; I can honestly say I am grateful for so much. My family, the people I serve, along with my friends and the opportunity I am given to minister to so many in chaplaincy – have compelled me to stand in amazement and awe. God has been good to me! While it hasn’t been the way I would have planned it out…I wouldn’t change anything about my story, up to this point.
Who, but God, knows what the New Year will bring. My short-version prayer is that I would be in the center of His will for my life. His will trumps my plans, desires, comfort or willingness to get the big picture. I’m going to trust Him more in 2016; and believe He plan and purpose is bigger than my own, and lead my family into that plan. This is also my prayer for every person with whom I pastor, my family, friends and those who are reading this now. The Best is Yet to Come!