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Preach with Love and Power!

Do the members of your congregation know, when you preach, that you love them?
Communicating to a congregation is complex.
Every listener brings to each sermon his own idea of what a sermon should be.

Our pulpit behavior tells our listeners many things about us.
They reveal whether we like the congregation.
They reveal to what degree we respect them.
They reveal also how happy we are to be their pastor.
The most effective preachers always seemed to enjoy both preaching and the audience to whom they preach.

Tactlessness or lack of feeling for someone else's point of view can reveal how much or how little
we care for people.
Our body language always reveals how we really feel.

When we preach the Bible, we must not only love it, but live by it.
We must be certain that what we say is controlled by the Holy Scripture.
The Word must live in us before God's Spirit can make it live in others.

To preach with love and power we need to consider these questions.

Who Owns the Sermon?

A sermon belongs to God, or it is not a Biblical sermon at all.
Someone said that preparing a sermon is organizing an inspiration.
In a multitude of ways God speaks to ministers.

Good preachers did not preach sermons as much as they preach to people.
The miracle of preaching is how the Holy Spirit uses the sermon to create dozens of other sermons
in the minds of listeners.

Until a preacher lives by the fact that the sermon belongs to God, he is not ready to be a loving, powerful preacher.

How Do They Know We Love Them?

To be a preacher is to stand exposed with all of our human weaknesses visible to the congregation.
All of us know we are not God, but sometimes, we act as if we thought we were.
Why is it so difficult for us to be who and what we are: imperfect human beings, forgiven and loved
by a gracious God?

Often, our sense of humor about ourselves, not about the gospel, is our most effective way of confessing
our humanity.

Here are some ways our people will know that we love them.

We will speak in terms of possibilities, not impossibilities.
Does every sermon you preach end with hope?
Does your sermon convince people they can be better?

We will see ourselves as their friend and not their critic.
None of us can ever afford to be critics.
It is amazing that we forget that.
Everyone needs a friend, but very few people need a critic.

We will major on promises and not threats.
If we love them, we will be more concerned that they know they are forgiven, than that they feel guilty
because they have sinned.
If we love them, we will search for something good in them rather than for something bad.

Our people will know that we love them because of our body language.
If we love our people, they will see it in our patience, our kindness, and in the tone of our voice.
If we love our church members, we will be sensitive to their burdens, their struggles, their pains, their dreams,
and their aspirations.

We must be honest with ourselves about how love operates.
We are commanded by Jesus to love them.
It is up to us to convince them that we do.

We can do this in so many small ways.
We must reject judging them.
We must recognize the vast difference between loving and controlling people.
We must remember that love begins by listening.
We must remember that love is something we do, not just something we feel.
Love is showing interest in the small details in other people's lives.

What is the power of love?

It's strange how we, as Christians and even preachers, forget Jesus' definition of power.
The world sees power in terms of control, force and wealth.
Powerful people are deferred to, served, obeyed, and rewarded.

God's power is gentle, loving, healing, and redemptive.
God's power is most obvious on a cross.

All who preach lovingly will have a biblical theology of power.
As we prepare for preaching, we must examine the biblical use of power.
We must focus on God's power let loose at Calvary.

In Hebrews 1: 3 we read of a Savior who upholds "all things by the Word of his power."

There is only one source of power.
Paul says in Romans 13: 1: "For there is no power but of God."
Zechariah 4: 6 declares: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."

"The preaching of the cross was foolishness to the orthodox Jew and the cultured Greek,
but is the power of God unto salvation
." (1 Corinthians 1: 18, 24)
We hear the treasure of the gospel in clay pots of earth that "the power may be of God,
and not of us
." (2 Corinthians 4: 7)

Paul gloried in his infirmities "that the power of Christ" might rest upon him, and he made it clear
that it is God's power working within us that makes possible our knowing the love of God. (Ephesians 2: 14ff)

Henry Drummond once said, "To love abundantly is to live abundantly."

Let that abundant love show in every sermon you preach.