Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Tag Archives: sermon

Planning Your Preaching!

4

preaching%20(1)

One of the things that I often get asked is “how can I preach better?” or “how can I preach with a better response or better results?”  The fact is that preaching the gospel is the power of God – that’s how people get saved, get healed, get transformed.  Preaching is one of the single most effective uses of your time as a pastor and leader.  It’s that simple.  There is a move in some churches today to denigrate preaching and to minimise it’s power – some people are maxing their preach time to 8 minutes.  Wow!  If you want to be soaked in the Word I believe you should take at least 45 minutes.  I preach over an hour nearly every single week because I know it’s the Word of God that lifts and transforms and builds people up.

A lot of people spend a lot of energy and effort into planning the sermon, and absolutely that is correct, but planning a single sermon is great if you are a travelling evangelist, but for pastors you need to be planning more than one week in advance.

Firstly, as the lead pastor of a church, realise that you will always be and always should be in charge of the preaching in your church.  I have been to churches (and even pastored one) where the eldership or the deaconate were in charge of the preaching calendar, the rota of speakers.  One church I know pastored a council worker to come and “preach” about how awful his wife was for divorcing him.  No!   The lead pastor of the church is in charge of the preaching.  Absolutely, ridiculously in charge of the preaching.  No one gets to preach in the pulpit unless you give the say so.  It’s that simple.  The lead pastor is the shepherd of the flock and is the guardian of the sheep.

I take that approach in Tree of Life Church.  If I ask someone to preach, I am more than happy to ask them to preach on whatever I want, I am happy to ask for their notes before they preach.  Obviously with guest speakers like Arthur Meintjes who I have heard again and again and trust to bring a complete work message, I give a lot more latitude but to a new preacher within the church, I am ridiculously careful.  Why?  Because I am accountable before God regarding what is spoken at the church.

All preaching must be brought into the bigger picture of the church.  At Tree of Life Church our bigger picture is to “inspire people to dream, to challenge people to live the dream”, so I (Benjamin Conway) have to look at my preaching every week and ask myself – am I inspiring people to dream?  Am I challenging people to live the dream?  If not, chuck it in the bin as it is not helping the Tree fulfil God’s will.

So, preparation has a massive role to play: not just preparing the message, but preparing it to fit in with the bigger picture.  Then there is the theme for the season: what are we doing as a church right now?  So at the moment (May 2013) at Tree of Life Church we are hammering home the truth that there is a lot of deception in a lot of the church and that a great deal of this deception is basically obscuring the cross of Christ.  So, every sermon preached in May will be about deception and every sermon preaching in June will be about the complete work.

You need a preaching calendar.  You need to include important dates (not just Christmas and Easter, but Valentine’s Day, New Years’ Eve and September.  When the schools return after summer, lots of people come back to church and you need a powerful series to get them energised for church).  You must have a preaching calendar.  You must not just get in the pulpit and “allow the Spirit to lead you” – it will lead to the same message week after week and your church will have no direction.

I have already penned our preaching calendar for 2014.  Our theme is “Identity” and we have 12 months in which we are going to learn about our identity as reborn human beings.  Our summer conference for 2014 is sub-titled “We are Jesus on the earth!” and will be about our identity as the image of God on earth.  In August our worship leaders are going to find songs that fit in with our identity.  Our leadership conference will be grounded in identity.

Identity inspires people to dream, so the theme of the year fits perfectly with the overall dream of the church.  This planning is so important because to fail to plan is to plan to fail: so many charismatics just give us a piece of their mind when preaching – sort of a stream of consciousness from the pulpit.  It doesn’t help.

Then when planning the month around the monthly theme, I consider what the Bible says about the monthly theme and then consider what I want the people to know.  Good teaching should give information that people don’t have and press people to make a decision they haven’t made before.  So, for example, next Sunday morning, I am preaching on how it is deception to believe that you can have a harvest without a seed.  The information I am going to give people is show them all the different ways Christians try and get a harvest without a seed, and the decision I want people to make is to sow a seed into the kingdom (not necessarily money, but an action of faith and love).  Now I know that, putting the sermon together is much easier.

Not only that there is continuity from week to week.  If another person in the church preaches, they get to know the calendar and have to fit in with it.

Any questions about preaching or sermon preparation?  Please ask them below, I will answer all of them as best I could.

(Benjamin Conway preaches 3 times nearly every weekend, in Watford, Guildford and Dagenham.  Every month over 2000 people download or stream one f his sermons online from their church website, www.treeoflifedagenham.com.  These messages are free of charge because God’s Word is free of charge.)

Destiny!

0

Destiny and Destination – Tree of Life Church London

Just uploaded 3 1/2 sermons to the internet.

2. It’s A Good Destiny!
God is a good God. His destiny for you is GOOD! You will love doing what God has called you to do! So many Christians think doing God’s will is a chore or a difficult task. No – following God’s will is the most exciting life you could ever have.

For some reason the audio recording failed during this message, so you only have the first half of this sermon. However, there is some great teaching in the first half, so enjoy!

3. Angry and Jealous
Anger and jealousy are both emotions that God has created you with. Anger normally ends up as a destructive force but in this powerful message Benjamin shows how anger can be a creative force that empowers us into walking in our destiny, and that jealousy can often reveal God’s will to us in a clear way.

4. The Geography of Destiny
You are designed to function in a particular place with particular people doing a particular task. If you are not doing what you are called to do in the place you are called to do it, you will put in maximum effort and get minimum results. In this clear teaching, Benjamin shows how to get into the place you are supposed to be in.

6. What Do You Want
God has a plan and a destiny for you and being in that destiny will be the greatest joy of your life. However, if you choose to do God’s will and follow God’s destiny, you have to give up everything that is not in God’s will. In this challenging message, Benjamin will lead you to decide if you are willing to pay the price to enjoy God’s best for your life and answer the question “What Do You Want?”

Prayer and Fasting

0

Two new sermons on our website – on prayer and fasting:

http://treeoflifelondon.weebly.com/february-2010.html

Sermon on Fasting: THE BENEFITS OF FASTING

Jesus said that if we fast in private that God would reward us openly. In this message Benjamin talks about the many benefits of fasting along with some practical advice on how to fasting – and how not get into imbalance on this subject!

Sermon on Prayer: WHAT PRAYER IS NOT

Prayer is one of the most misunderstood parts of the Christian life because there is so much poor teaching about prayer based on experience and traditions, and not on God’s Word.

This message is the first of a four part series, and in it Benjamin clears away some of the rubble we have that are false ideas about prayer, to get us ready for the next few weeks as we find out what prayer really is.

The Naked devil

0

Angels and Demons – Tree of Life Church London

One of the greatest dangers for the charismatic church at the end of the age is an obsession with the devil – that the church magnifies the devil and minimizes God and His greatness.

In this powerful and Biblical message, Benjamin shares what the devil really is and who we really are and what spiritual warfare really is. This message will deal with some of the charismatic traditions that steal our freedom in Christ and our victory.

Angels and Demons – New Sermon

0

New Sermon – Angels


Angels and Demons – Tree of Life Church London

In this message Benjamin teaches from the Scripture about what angels are and how humans encounter angels, all the time calling for a balance on this controversial topic and ensuring that we use the Bible as our measuring guide and exalt Jesus above all angels. Benjamin then candidly shares his personal experiences with angels.to encourage and inspire the church of God.

Note: please excuse the background noise in this sermon. Firstly, Pastor Ben’s three year old daughter had just come from a birthday party and was very excitable. Secondly, at one stage some youths outside the hall got into a ruckus and we all ran outside to make sure they were okay!

__________________

New Sermon on Faith and Hope!

0

New message on faith and hope at our church website:

http://treeoflifelondon.weebly.com/w…ober-2009.html

What is the difference between faith and hope? What should I hope for? How can I, in my life, have hope?

This message will answer your questions and inspire you to be a person of vision.

Hebrews 11.1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for. In this compelling message Benjamin teaches how to correctly be a person of hope and what every Christian should hope for. Then he explains in practical terms how to take your hopes, expectations and dreams and see them become real in the earth.

Enjoy!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Glorify God!

0

I have just posted this afternoon’s sermon at Tree of Life Church to our church website, it is called Glorify God.

Our worship before hand was the most intense we have had on a Sunday service – it was beautiful. The preaching came out of an atmosphere of the presence of God and is a clear and crisp message on how essential it is to focus on God in the midst of adversity.

Enjoy!

Benjamin

The Cross is a Symbol of Death (A. W. Tozer)

0

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended.

The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

– A.W. Tozer

How To Overcome Doubt (Andrew Wommack)

0

No one is immune to doubt. It can and does happen to us all. You’ve just got to know how to handle it when it comes. Even the greatest men and women of God recorded in the Bible had to deal with doubt. Jesus said of John the Baptist,

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11).

That means John was greater in the sight of Jesus than Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, or any Old Testament character you can name. Yet John doubted the most important thing of all by questioning whether Jesus was really the Christ.

John the Baptist had been cast into prison for criticizing Herod about marrying his brother’s wife, an incestuous relationship. He had been there sometime between six months and two years and became so discouraged that he asked two of his disciples to go to Jesus and ask Him if He really was the Christ. It’s easy to read that and not think much about it, but the truth is, it was nothing but unbelief on the part of John the Baptist.

Think about who John was. He was separated unto God and filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still in the womb. Even Jesus wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. It is believed he lived in the desert near the Dead Sea with the Essens, the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were a people who were super-legalistic who dogmatically practiced many rituals of self denial. He certainly had not lived what we would call an easy life. John was separated and focused on his purpose.

His entire life was committed to preparing the way for the Christ. He spent thirty years preparing for a ministry that would only last six short months. John is the one who saw Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”(John 1:29). The anointing on his life had to be exceptionally powerful because his ministry defied logic. Thousands of people from many nations came to the middle of nowhere to hear this man preach, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And God had revealed to him that through a visible sign from heaven he would know who the Christ was. He would see the Spirit of God descending upon the Messiah in bodily shape as a dove. That came to pass when John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.

At that time, John was absolutely certain that Jesus was the Christ. He had zero doubt. He was so adamant about it that he said

“I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” in John 1:34. In Luke 3:16 he said, “One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.” And in John 3:30 he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

However, after being imprisoned for a period of time, he began to doubt. This says a number of things, but an important one is the fact that anyone can doubt. How did Jesus respond to John’s doubt? Well, He certainly didn’t respond the way most of us do. He told John’s disciples to go back and tell him of the miracles they had witnessed and that John would be blessed if he would just believe. That’s it. Jesus didn’t try and make John feel better by letting him know He understood his pain or by making a few complimentary comments. Jesus reserved those comments till after John’s disciples left (Luke 7:24-28).

This puzzled me for many years. Why didn’t Jesus say these things about John the Baptist in the hearing of John’s disciples so they could have brought him that word? It seemed to me like that would have helped John more than just telling him to look at the miracles, and he’ll be blessed if he believes.

Years after I first had these questions, I was reading from Isaiah 35 and came across the passage that says,

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Is. 35:5-6).

It suddenly struck me that this was exactly the answer that Jesus gave to John’s messengers. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 11:4-6:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

Jesus performed all the miracles Isaiah prophesied He would do, and threw in the healing of a leper and raising someone from the dead just for good measure. What Jesus did was He perfectly fulfilled the prophecy about Himself, and then referred John the Baptist back to that word. Jesus reminded John of the scriptures, to deal with his doubts. That’s Jesus’ method of dealing with our doubts.

Many of us have Bibles lying around gathering dust. Some of us even carry one. But when we’re struggling with unbelief, we don’t want a scripture; we want something tangible, something emotional that we can feel. We would rather have Jesus just put His arm around us and say something about how everything will be all right. That would make us feel better. But overcoming doubt isn’t just about feeling better; it’s about getting back into faith that only comes from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).

Jesus sent the Word back with John’s disciples. He knew this would stir up John’s spirit to overcome the doubt. Peter understood this about faith when he wrote about it in 2 Peter 1:12-15, which says,

“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.”

Peter was stating how important it was for his words to be received, as they were, in truth, the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). To prove to them that these were not just fables he made up, Peter refers to the time they were with Jesus on the mountain. They saw Jesus shine as the brightness of the sun. The Shekinah glory cloud of God overshadowed them all, and they heard an audible voice out of heaven say, “This is my beloved Son: hear him” (Mark 9:7). They also saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. That is pretty impressive!

But Peter went on to say in 2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” What could possibly be more sure than all these supernatural signs? Peter gives that answer in the next verse when he talks about the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:20). The Scriptures are more sure and more faith building and doubt destroying than seeing Jesus transfigured or hearing an audible voice from heaven. Hallelujah!

The only sure way to overcome doubt is to place your faith in the Word of God and depend on that more sure word of prophecy. Don’t allow your five senses to dominate your thinking. You must come to a place to where God’s Word is more real to you than anything you can see, taste, hear, smell, or feel. When you’re in doubt, refer back to the Word of God just the way Jesus told John the Baptist to do. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word.

There are only two times recorded in the Bible when Jesus marveled at anything. Once He marveled at the people’s great unbelief (Mark 6:6), and in Matthew 8:10 He marveled at a Gentile soldier’s great faith. A faith that made Jesus marvel is worth examining. What was different about it? The number one difference was what the centurion said,

“But speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” (Matt. 8:8-9)

The centurion had a faith that was in God’s Word alone. He didn’t have to have Jesus come to his house and wave His hand over the sick servant. If Jesus would just give him a word, that was all he needed.

Contrast this centurion’s faith with the little faith of Thomas, who was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. The first time the risen Christ appeared to His disciples, Thomas wasn’t present. The other ten disciples told Thomas that Jesus was resurrected, but it was eight more days before Jesus appeared to His disciples with Thomas present.

“But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

Jesus walked up to Thomas and told him to put his finger into the print of the nails and thrust his hand into Jesus’ side and to not be faithless but believing. Thomas fell on his knees and confessed Jesus as his Lord and God.

“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Jesus placed a greater blessing on those who believe without seeing than those who believe because they have seen. In other words, there is a greater anointing on believing the Word than believing signs and wonders. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in signs and wonders. Jesus used them like a bell to draw people unto Himself and so should we. But the ultimate, the more sure word of prophecy, is the written Word of God. There is a greater blessing on just believing God’s Word than there is on believing because of supernatural circumstances. Those who are looking for circumstances to confirm their faith will fail when the strong battles of unbelief come. We have to get our faith so rooted in God’s Word alone that we can withstand a hurricane.

The reason Jesus didn’t try to make John feel better with a few kind words, an emotional touch, was not because He didn’t care. He cared for John so much that He gave John His best — the written Word of God. That’s how Jesus dealt with own His temptations (Matt. 4), and that was and still is God’s best way for us to deal with our temptations to not believe.

Maybe there’s a reason the Lord hasn’t used an emotional touch to deliver you from unbelief. Maybe it’s because He loves you so much that He’s trying to help you operate in the highest form of faith — faith that takes Him at His Word. If the least of the saints today are greater than John the Baptist was then (Matt. 11:11), surely the Lord is wanting us to operate on at least the same level in which He dealt with John’s unbelief.

%d bloggers like this: