Monday, March 15, 2010

The Methodology of Sermon Preparation

How to Prepare a Message

By Mike Mc Farland

- C.S. Lewis: “Don’t just tell people how to feel, describe in such a way that people feel it themselves.”

As ministers it is our God-called duty to "Feed the sheep” (John 21:15-17). Notice the Scripture reads "feed" not "beat." To do this we must deliver a message that we not only prayed and fasted over, but one that has been studied and well-prepared. Here are a few suggestions to help ensure a properly prepared message:

1. Prayerfully choose a (singular) topic. First, ask God to attend His Word — to pursue and own it to the hearts and minds of His people. Pray also that He will use it to move and shape the preacher himself. Then pick one topic. Often, preachers try to cover too many topics in one sermon, leaving the listener confused. Stay with your main subject and try not to chase too many rabbits. When you stray, it’s difficult to get back on point.

2. Research your topic. Again, begin with prayer as you study. Fervently seek the Lord for knowledge and an understanding of the Word. Moses prayed, "I beseech thee, shew me thy glory" (Exodus 33:18). And Eli instructed Samuel to say, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth" (1Samuel 3:9). Then take time to research and study your subject matter. The Scriptures admonish us to: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). G. Campbell Morgan said that before he preached from a passage of Scripture he read that entire book 50 times.

3. Prayerfully form an outline and prepare your approach. Every sermon is prepared differently. Some messages are better written out and some need bullet points, while others need only the verses jotted down. However, to effectively deliver a message one should include:

A) A Catchy Title. A title is very important to a message. An effective title awakens the listener’s emotions so the listener is more apt to pay attention to the message. Also, repeating the title throughout the sermon reminds the listener of the topic and helps them to stay focused.

B) An Introduction. Inform the listener what your message is about and where you plan to take them with your delivery. Also, lay down the foundation of your message. This is where to give backgrounds, settings, and the history of your research.

C) A Body (main points, transitions, and illustrations). This is the principle part or the “meat” of your speech or message—it is where you deliver exactly what God has given you to preach. Make every point and tell every story but remember, when you are finished quit talking and let God do His work!

D) A Conclusion. Wrap up your thoughts and end your message. Try to bring everything you have said to a clear and concise ending.

4. Practice preaching the message. Preach the message aloud to yourself and become comfortable with your delivery. Listen to yourself preach and practice enunciating each word. Also, make sure you don't use too big of words. You want your listeners to understand what you are saying, so refrain from preaching over them.

5. Preach with anointing and conviction. Someone once said, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Be passionate and compassionate about what you preach. Charles Spurgeon noted: "The kind of sermon which is likely to break the hearer’s heart is that which first has broken the preacher’s heart, and the sermon which is likely to reach the heart of the hearer is the one which has come straight from the heart of the preacher."

Pray for and expect God’s anointing to deliver the message God gives you. Remember, you are not called to preach your opinions, but charged to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

“Sheep that are well fed seldom wander off.” (Wes Baker)

Knowing the Mystery and Living Purposefully

Mystery of God to Fulfill the Purpose of God

By Joseph Mattera

Understanding the Mystery of God to Fulfill the Purpose of God

Many today desire to realize the purpose of their lives. Pastor Rick Warren capitalized on this by writing a book that has sold more than 50 million copies entitled The Purpose-Driven Life. Many believers in Christ are obsessed with understanding their purpose. This has resulted in millions of Christian books being sold related to this subject.

I propose in this teaching that a person cannot understand their individual purpose in life without first understanding and connecting to God’s overarching purpose as clearly shown in the New Testament.

Following will be a brief survey of Ephesians chapters 1-4.

I. Ephesians 1:9-12 states: “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”

1. (1:9-10) God shows us that His mystery has been unveiled since the revelation of Christ to humanity.

A. In the fullness of time His overarching goal is to gather together in one all “things” in Christ--both which are in heaven and on earth.

B. Thus, the goal of God is not for believers to be saved and make it to heaven but for the church to be the agent that brings the influence of the government of God, purely manifest in heaven, into the earth realm.

C. The fact that it says “things” in this passage means that God’s ultimate goal is that all of life would be under the rule and reign of Christ. That is to say politics, economics, family, education, the arts, music, theatre, literature, athletics, etc. are to be under the rule and reign of Christ.

D. The Bible is not a book about heaven; in fact it says very little about heaven. It is really a handbook about how to rule with Christ on the earth as His stewards in managing the planet.

2. (1:11) This is the inheritance of the saints.

A. While many in the church are praying to escape the earth and get raptured to heaven, the word of God teaches that our inheritance is connected to heaven coming onto the earth.
i. We pray for Christ to rescue us out of the world in spite of Jesus praying to keep us in the world (John 17:15).
ii. While many are trying to escape the earth and go to heaven, the Bible teaches us in Revelation 21:1-3 that heaven is gradually coming down to earth, as the influence of the Rider on the White Horse (Jesus) and His followers disciple the nations and bring His kingdom influence on the earth.

B. Our inheritance is not speaking in tongues and healing the sick; those are only signs that the Kingdom of God has come.

C. Our inheritance has to do with the kingdom influence of heaven coming to the earth.

D. He works all things according to the counsel of His will, which means that only those who preach the Kingdom of God and use the Bible as a blueprint to serve and bless communities will have God’s purpose working for them instead of against them.

3. (1:12) We will show the praise of His glory when we release the saints to serve as His ministers in every aspect of community life as a blessing to all humanity.

II. The Prayer of Paul for the Church (Ephesians 1:17-23): “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

1. Ephesians 1:17-21: The inheritance of the church is connected to His rule over all spiritual and earthly rulers and authorities--not only angels and demons but presidents, prime ministers, governors, mayors, etc.

2. (1:22) The church is connected directly to Christ as its head, which means:

A. The church is connected to the brain of the cosmos. We should be the ones getting direct wisdom from heaven regarding God’s purpose on the earth.

B. The church should have the greatest leaders, statesmen, and problem solvers the world has ever seen since we are connected to the head and ruler of all decision makers and problem solvers of the earth. The universe is under His feet but the church is under His head. (We act more like we are under His feet when we think that God has no plan for our lives or our churches other than to have good Sunday services.)

3. (1:23; 2:9-10) We are the fullness of God.

A. This means that, when God wants something done, He works through the church to get it done. Where there is unbelief, poverty, sickness, or political and cultural problems in society, God places His people in those situations of need to be His salt and light to the world. (Jesus called us the salt and light of the earth, not the salt and light of Sunday church services!)

III. Ephesians 3:8-10: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1. The church influences the spiritual archetypes before the physical world is transformed.

A. “Principality” in the original Greek is “arche” which has to do with the spiritual archetype behind the physical realities of the world. (The Greek word “arche” means: beginning, origin; the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader; that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause.

B. “Wisdom” in this passage is the Greek word “sofia” which means the wisdom of God as evinced in forming and executing counsels, the formation and government of the world, and the interpretation and application of the scriptures.

C. Consequently, because the church is connected to Christ as its head, we become the intermediary of the brain center of the world. We reveal the will of God and the wisdom of God on the earth. (First Peter 1:12 teaches us that even angels long to look into what we have in the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit.)

D. This also refers to the reality that angels and demons respond and react to the things God calls the church to do on the earth. (Christians who think serving God only amounts to attending church on Sundays actually excite demons who want to control the earth realm and bore guardian angels who want some serious action but get nothing but prayers of grace over meals, prophecies, and people believing for nice houses and cars, then retiring to Florida.)

E. When the church intercedes for communities and cities we release angels and displace demons; when we place godly leaders in families, politics, the arts, education, and business we excite the angels who were made for battle and to protect the honor of God in the universe.

IV. Ephesians 4:10-12: “(He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

1. Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven that He might fill all things. When we say “things” Paul is connecting the “things” in the first chapter to this passage. “All things” means every spiritual and material thing that makes up the universe and society.

2. The whole reason for the ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers is to equip the saints to minister.

A. The context demands that the word “ministry” include the filling of “all things” in 4:10. Thus, the fivefold ministry is given as a gift to the church to create the greatest mind molders, leaders, problem solvers, and decision makers that the world has ever seen. This is so Christ can fill up all things with His kingdom influence!

B. Fivefold ministers basically do two things: they fill up the world with kingdom-thinking leaders and people geared toward reformation, and they edify the church for a continual revival and renewal so this first point is continually fulfilled for generations.

C. This is another reason why the local church is the hope of the world.

D. This also shows that apostles are not only called to plant churches but to start kingdom revolutions that will redeem whole cities, disciple nations, and bless humanity until the new heaven and new earth fully descend out of heaven from God upon the earth!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Testimonial Ministry Report

Pressing on to the best yet!

Rolland and Heidi Baker
Iris Mozambique
Pemba, Mozambique
1 March 2010

(Our newsletters will be more and more oriented toward photography, as a picture is worth a thousand words! This time we have 47 large photos in our gallery, with captions. Together these present in more detail our lives, environment and ministry of the last few months. Past news and galleries are at our original website, . Admin, base and school details are at , a temporary website that will be redone in coming months to increase emphasis on photos and stories from our Iris world to encourage you.)

Heidi and I are back in Pemba after traveling since January on an intense ministry schedule that has taken us all over Asia, to Europe and across Africa. It has been a thrill to see the power of God fall on hungry believers all over the world. The Body of Christ is getting more and more desperate for God, willing to pay any price to experience His presence and companionship. There is no pleasure like walking and talking with Him, leaning on Him alone for every possible care and desire of our hearts.

How much more of Him do we want? He is able and willing to pour out His Spirit without measure. May we never lose our appetite for more righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! All these are found only in our magnificent Savior, with all the intensity and fire of the author of life Himself!

This is not the time to be hindered by doubts, divisions and politics in the church. We don't have room for worrying about titles, positions, credits and recognition. We can't be bothered with concerns over support and publicity. We don't know how to engineer and program revival. We are dependent on our God like humble little children. What we have already seen and heard has raised our expectations to new heights. He is able to keep us, and finish what He began in us. We can trust Him with our hearts, our spirits, our health, anything that has to do with our well-being.

His power among us knows no limits. He baptizes us with His Spirit, and all things are possible when that happens. Deep conviction and repentance, sobs of love and gratitude, tongues and prophecy, waves of heat, purest peace and refreshment, super hunger for the Word of God, visions and visitation, revelation, healing, floods of heavenly joy, insatiable longing, wrenching intercession, singing in the Spirit, angels all around, weakness under the tangible, heavy weight of His Glory, a sense of wonder and awe at His presence...

We love His gifts, and all the touches and demonstrations of His love. They all propel us toward that ineffable goal written of by Christian mystics for centuries: union with God! "But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Cor. 6:17). When fruits of character are joined by gifts of power, truly our lives reflect His glory and presence. We need His love in our hearts. We also need His anointing to accomplish anything. We need both Word and Spirit.

We are still learning to go lower still, which is the only way forward. And we are still learning to stop for the one, in the middle of a sea of need. We are still learning what it means to be a friend of God, and value fellowship with Him and each other above all else. We are not professional, high-power, efficient missionary machines. We measure the quality of our lives by the depth of our relationships. We are learning to love...


We can't talk about all the things we saw and did, and places we went, but we can say that we sense a rising tide of desire for God that is opening the way to revival that will increasingly transform the nations of Asia. Ministry opportunity is huge. The multitudes are ready. The time is ripe for harvest. Time after time we saw crowds of the hungry and desperate surge forward to be touched and healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Churches were incredibly generous to us in helping with the needs of the poor.

We were especially encouraged by churches in Singapore and Korea, with whom we have developed close relationships over the years. They were so fervent, responsive and eager to help. We also had a terrific time in Taiwan, where I spent so many years growing up in school. This is Taiwan's hour. There is a stirring and rising up that is fresh and exciting. We took part in a major conference in the Taipei Arena that was an historic milestone for the church. May such hunger and seeking after God be met with more and more outpourings of the Spirit.

This is only a portion of this report. To read the full report, 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Anointed To Be Humble

The Greatest

[Part 1 - Anointing & Humility]

From Pilgrims Journal

Throughout history certain individuals have been called “Great.” Military and political leaders such as Alexander, Peter, Catherine, Lois, etc have all had this adjective appended to their names. Egyptian kings were known as Pharaoh which means “Great House.” The tyrant Herod, who built the last temple in Jerusalem and tried to kill the child Jesus, is still called “The Great.” Others who have been thought of as remarkable in achievement or character have also been given this title. Job was known as the greatest man in the East (Job 1:3). The Indian independence leader Gandhi is known as Mahatma which means “Great Soul.” Sport stars and entertainers are also given this label. The most famous American prizefighter, a man who betrayed his name, religion, country, and wives, is known worldwide today as “The Greatest.” Tragically the last words often shouted by terrorists and suicide bombers before they join their false prophet Mohammad in Hell is “Allah Akkbar.” This Arabic slogan can be translated as the fake god “Allah is the Greatest.”

Who Is The Greatest?

With so many famous and infamous names to choose from, people wonder as to which one is the greatest of all. Scholars and laymen alike have spent lifetimes studying the lives of noble and notable men. Some actually idolize or adore those great personages. Others argue about who is the greatest.

Yet there is no need for wonder or debate. The Son of God settled the issue forever when He declared that no one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist. Jesus went on to qualify this declaration by stating that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John (Mat 11:11; Lk 7:28). This truth gives great comfort and encouragement to those who have been saved. Though they may not be considered great in this present evil world, the children of God know that in the world to come they will possess true and lasting greatness and glory. Even if hidden now, the work of grace done in the saints’ lives will shine throughout eternity. Like John, the child of God’s greatness is “in the sight of the Lord” (Lk 1:15). 

On the other hand, because of the fact that the least saint of the Grace Dispensation is greater than the greatest ones of the Conscience or Law Periods, the study of the qualities of John the Baptist has often been overlooked or neglected. However, it is still worthwhile and profitable today to study and emulate the life, character and ministry of this greatest of prophets and men. In the Old Testament, God uses the lives of different individuals as parables to warn and teach us how to live our lives fit for heaven. From the New Testament we learn that there is no one greater than John. In this series we will study the qualities of this greatest man in history, as attested to by the One Who is above and beyond history, and whose greatness is past finding out: Jesus Christ!

Two outstanding qualities in the life of John the Baptist which we will examine first are his anointing and his humility.

These two characteristics are not often found together in the same person at the same time. The self confidence that comes from great talent does not seem to be compatible with the meekness of the truly humble. The anointing is manifest in a person through the gifts and graces that enable and equip them to accomplish great things. God sets them apart for special service. Gifted individuals often begin to see themselves as special and forget that everything they have was given by God. They often have an exaggerated sense of their own dignity, importance and worth.

Disappointed With The Anointed

The first and foremost example of this is the Anointed Cherub. Of all the angelic beings, he may have been created with the most beauty, ability and glory (Eze 28:13-17). As long as his eyes were on God, this individual was exalted above all others. When he looked to his own beauty he fell lower than all. Another sad and similar example is seen in Israel’s first anointed king, the tall Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. He was head and shoulders above all others in Israel, but in the beginning he was little in his own eyes. Though he was from the smallest tribe, God made him head over all the tribes of Israel (1Sam 15:17). As he got used to men obeying him, he stopped obeying God. He ended up desiring honor from men more than seeking the honor that comes from God alone.

The opposite of this is seen in the life of another Saul, also from the tribe of Benjamin. This Saul had great heritage and achievements to be proud of. Yet he counted all his gain as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. After salvation he even changed his name to Paul, which when translated means “little” (Phil 3:7). John was named by God Himself. His name means gift or favored of God. Though John was so gifted and special he was also so humble. Called “The Baptist” he confessed to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you!” When he recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, (the perfect prophet, priest and king) his testimony was, “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). We New Testament saints must also have John’s type of ambition.

John’s Anointing

At first view, John’s anointing appears something of a mystery. The angel Gabriel declared that he would be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb (Lk 1:15). As an unborn babe, with no other way to communicate, John leapt for joy within the womb when Mary brought the unborn Lord Jesus near him. Nevertheless when we take the whole counsel of Scripture and not just one passage, things become clearer. We learn that even though John was filled with the Holy Sprit his whole life, he did not have the fullness of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus in the New Testament. “For the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn 7:39).

In Old Testament times holy men spoke the word of God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). God breathed His word into them (2Tim 3:16). It was not until after the resurrection and ascension that the Holy Spirit was given unto mankind in fullness (Jn 15:26). This was the confession of John himself. He testified that Jesus was the one that would baptize with the Holy Spirit, something that John and all before him did not receive (Jn 1:33). John’s anointing caused him to recognize the Messiah, or “Anointed One.” It also prepared him to prepare the way for the Lord. In this Age of Grace we still need to hear the message of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

John & Elijah

Another mysterious aspect of John’s anointing is in how it relates to the prophet Elijah. John’s thundering voice appeared in Israel like a sudden storm out of the desert, just as Elijah’s had. John also preached boldly to men of both high and low estate. The Jews of John’s time knew that Elijah had been caught up to heaven and were awaiting his return, heralding the advent of the Messiah. To this present day the Jews still leave a full cup of wine and a place at their Passover tables for Elijah. They do this because they did not recognize their Messiah, the Lord Jesus, when He first came. 

The last promise of the Old Testament is, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet…he shall turn the heart of the fathers…and the heart of the children” (Mal 4:5). Israel saw this word being fulfilled in John’s message and his baptism of repentance so their leaders asked John if he was Elijah (Jn 1:21). Since they were looking for the prophet in bodily form, John denied that he was Elijah. Yet Jesus spoke of John to those who had ears to hear, telling them that “this is Elijah, which was for to come” (Mat 11:14). We know that Elijah was still alive in heaven when Jesus said this. We also know that John had been physically born to Mary’s cousin Elisabeth. How could Jesus say that John was Elijah and that Elijah was still to come? The answer had already been given by the angel of the Lord when he proclaimed that John would go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn men’s hearts and prepare the Lord’s way, thus fulfilling that final promise in Malachi. 

As we continue to study the life of John the Baptist we will find many more comparisons between Elijah and John. For now we will do well to be like John in recognizing the Lamb of God and preparing a way for the Lord in our lives and in the lives of others.

John’s Humility

Regarding his humility, as stated above, John’s desire was to “decrease.” This greatest man’s testimony was, “Jesus is greater than I am.” What elder rejoices when the younger is preferred before him? (Jn 1:15). This was the character of John. In contrast to many of today’s ministers and ministries, John did not promote himself. He sent his followers to follow Jesus (Jn 1:37). His happiness was in seeing the Bridegroom happy. Like the Lord Jesus and apostles that came after Him, John’s first message was, “Repent” (Mat 3:2; 4:17; Acts 2:38). This type of preaching does not make one popular or prosperous. 

Though chosen to be the final prophet that prepared a road for the Lord, he did not feel worthy to untie Jesus’ shoe (Jn 1:27). We too should desire the Lord’s and others’ elevation more than our own. In humility let us esteem others better than ourselves. Though our lives may be like a wilderness, we can prepare a way for the Lord. The work of John can still go on. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Lk 3:5-6). ❏

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