HILLTOP CHAPEL NEWSLETTER
“THE GREATEST SERMON”
I’ve been wracking my brain for over a month now, in an attempt to come up with a timely article for this newsletter. You may think that it is easy to do one of these things every month for 20 years, but sometimes one really does get the dreaded “writers block”. So, as the days ticked down to the publishing deadline, I was in a quandary as to a topic, let alone an entire article. Then, as I was sitting at the computer, a thought came to me as clear and concise as any I’d ever had before. “Why not write about sermons, the good, the bad and the ugly?
Many of you have attended church most of your lives and have heard hundreds of sermons. I am of the opinion that not all of them were “home runs”. As a matter of fact, by the number of people I see taking a short nap during some of my sermons, I’m pretty sure a few of them—sermons, that is—never got to 1st base. So, if you had a way of measuring someone’s sermon, how would you do it? What makes one sermon “ho-hum” in nature and another just what you needed to hear? I’m fairly confident that some of you may have started to “nod off” while reading this article. I can assure you it will get better. After all, it took me the better part of a month to come up with the idea!
I always take the approach, when preparing a message for Sunday worship, that someone in the congregation needs to hear what God has to say through me that particular morning. It’s not a boastful attitude, just a realization that there is a need in somebody’s life that must be met on that day. Each one of us has challenges to face in daily life and God has answers to give us through His word. I think most
pastors try to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit on any given Sunday and prepare their sermons accordingly.
If then, I were to ask you, “What was the greatest sermon you ever heard”, what would be your response? Perhaps, somewhere along the line, you were able to hear Billy Graham preach to a stadium full of people. What a thrill to watch as several hundred people walked down the aisles to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Maybe, it was a famous guest speaker at a large church in Fresno or Los Angeles or at a Christian camp like Hartland or Hume Lake. As the speaker brought the message something he or she said just touched you deep within and you felt invigorated and renewed in your spirit. I guess each one of us has heard one or more outstanding speakers at one time or another, but I believe I can honestly tell each and every person reading this right now where and when you heard the greatest sermon ever preached. You may be a little skeptical as to my ability to prove my claim, but give me another 5 minutes of your time and I think you’ll agree with me.
To my way of thinking, there is only one greatest sermon in each of our lives. It’s the sermon, the tract, the Sunday School lesson, Vacation Bible School class or the words of a mother, father, grandparent, friend or perfect stranger that convicted each one of us of our need to repent of our sins and ask Jesus into our life as our Savior and Lord. There will never be another communication of any kind as important to you as the one that turned you from a sinner into a child of God.
In II Corinthians 4:5-6, the apostle Paul puts this teaching into its proper context: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The simple truth is, as Paul writes to Timothy, his son in Christ, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into to the world to save sinners.” I Timothy 1:15
There are no sweeter words that any person can hear than those of a believer sharing his or her faith in Jesus and the good news that God loves everyone and Jesus suffered, died on the Cross and rose from the dead to give them forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
So, the next time someone asks you, what was the greatest sermon you ever heard...turn to them and say, “The greatest sermon I ever heard was the one that lead me to believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.” There will never be a better one than that!
(Reprised from September 2007)