My Sermon Notes

Someone once asked me what I preach from during my sermons: manuscript, notes, outline? I use a form of extended outline, but I will vary from this while preaching (but not very often!). Here’s a sample of what goes into the pulpit with me (imagine a letter size sheet of paper in landscape mode folded in half; like a small booklet).

Sermon Notes January 8, 2006


Text: Ephesians 4.1-3

Introduction – Are we credible?
• if people come into CEFC, observe & listen, are we credible?
• would they have reason to believe what we say based on the way we live?

Observing Christianity & what passes for the church in U.S., not sure
• Pat Robertson is at it again: Ariel Sharon, judgment of God
• a new church plant in Missouri is giving away brand new Xbox 360s and iPods when you fill out visitor cards
• imagine what the apostles could have done if they’d have had all this neat stuff to give away
• Sister Paula is a prophetess in a church in California (why does that not surprise me)
• gender-transformation from being a man into a woman
• feels like she can reach a segment of society normal Xns can’t

There’s so much more out there
• sad, embarrassing, shame on the glory of the gospel of Christ
• and world is watching, shaking its head, thinking we’re all nuts

Remedy for all this craziness?
• many parts, but chief among them is genuineness
• if we would live in such a way that people all around us would see Christ and not us, see Christ and not the world-absorbing foolishness of so many, God would be glorified
• challenge as still in beginning of this New Year:

• God, in His Word, often uses this word picture to speak to us about our way of living
• “walk the walk” is a popular way of talking about the way you live
• God gives Paul this word to use here for good reason

1. a worthy manner
• that sounds like a noble cause
• would make a good New Years resolution
• get this kind of advice from Dear Abby or Ann Landers
• just do a better job, okay?

2. a certain kind of manner
• worthy of the calling with which you’ve been called
• we’ve been called: tells us this is something we didn’t choose on our own
• tells us this is something that’s been placed upon us and within us
• this calling is described for us in the preceding three chapters
• Ephesians 1.3-6, 11-12; 2.4-6, 8-10
• the first three chapters are all about the One who called us, what the call was and why we were called
• now, God wants us to know what to do with this calling: walk
• live your life in such a way that others see it is Christ who has changed you, not just some exertion of your will in making New Years Resolutions
• and God gives us the way to walk in this worthy manner

• Greeks & Romans despised humility
• considered it worthy of slaves
• instead, admired the great-souled man, self-sufficient, in control

1. Paul extols humility and joins it with gentleness or meekness
• this is not weakness, as many would think
• it is strength under control; having great strength & knowing how to use it

2. Jesus said he was gentle & humble in heart, Matthew 11.29
• He showed He had power NOT to retaliate, the ability to forgive
• and yet Christ was fierce in His defense of others & the truth

3. Charles Simeon, great preacher at Kings’ College & Holy Trinity in Cambridge, England was like this
• after 40+ years of ministry, health broke down, spent 8 months recovering
• young vicar, Thomason, to fill in, preaching up to 5x on Sundays
• developed excellent preaching ability, but Simeon rejoiced
• He must increase, but I must decrease. Now I see why I have been laid aside. I bless God for it

4. take up humility & gentleness this year
• it means laying aside all your perceived rights
• it means setting aside pride & self-sufficiency
• it means asking others to help you in a particular ministry
• it means not retaliating with your tongue when someone hurts your feelings
• it means holding back that snappy answer & thinking of a gentle answer instead
• it means thinking on Christ so much that His humility & gentleness start to become your own
• that would put all of us walking in a worthy manner of the One who called us to Himself

• walking worthy of Christ’s calling involves loving one another in such a manner that it garners attention
• patience, shown by bearing with one another in love, does this
• J. Dwight Pentecost tells of church split so serious, each side sued
• sought to dispossess other side from church building
• civil court threw it out, but church court picked it up
• ruled in favor of one side
• losers in suit formed own church across town
• court findings of start of dispute: elder received smaller piece of ham than a child sitting next to him
• absolutely no patience or forbearance

1. patient: not short-tempered
• literally, long-tempered
• joined w/ injunction to bear w/ one another makes this a powerful trait
• to be tolerant or to forebear with another is to simply put up with other’s fault and peculiar idiosyncrasies
• what makes this possible?
• continue to call to mind Christ’s calling: Him who called you
• then, remember your own faults
• if your pride blinds you to your own faults, we’ll lay aside our forbearance just long enough to help you out!
• when you see your own faults, you’ll be more patient in helping others to grow in Christ-likeness

2. Apostle Peter knew the truth of being patience, bearing with one another in love
• proud, rough, impatient
• yet, Christ called him & it changed him
• 1 Peter 1.22
• 1 Peter 2.17
• 1 Peter 3.8
• 1 Peter 4.8

• God is always keen on reminding us that none of these qualities begins with our sheer determination to live them out
• these aren’t external structures; they’re internal characteristics
• and God reminds us clearly of their divine origin: unity of the Spirit
• not one of us would have these qualities apart from God’s Spirit
• oh, we might work them out for a short time
• we might grunt it out from burden of duty
• but it is by God’s Holy Spirit working in us that we can see these characteristics grow

• be diligent to preserve
• it’s our natural tendency to neglect these qualities
• our sinful nature doesn’t want to
• Satan will tempt us to let them slide, knowing if we let them grow lax, the church suffers, the glory of Christ is shamed
• it would seem that every day we come across people that would bug us, put us off, anger us, create impatience with them
• it’s hard work; the word God gives Paul here suggests a strong resolution to overcome the tendency to forget
• so we need to be diligent, keeping the unity of peace that God has worked in us through Christ & His Spirit

Conclusion – Sally Fields & winning an Oscar: You like me
• sometimes think this is the goal of the church to world: You like me!
• what I read each day about the church & her efforts to be liked saddens me
• but I know it doesn’t have to be that way
• doesn’t have to be that way here at Cornerstone
• God longs for us to walk in a manner that is worthy of the high price paid by His Son
• He calls us to live a life that reflects the great grace & love He’s poured out upon us
• and this is what you & I pray to committing ourselves to: walking in a way that shines the joy that is in Jesus Christ to all around us
• this will bring glory to God our Father


2 Responses

  1. This is extremely helpful! I have had the opportunity to speak three times now and have changed my notes each time, not knowing how best to do it. This will be my format for the fourth, God willing.

  2. Thanks Doug. For quite a few years, I used a full manuscript in the pulpit. I worked diligently to make sure it never appeared that I was reading my message. However, I noticed the difficulty of veering off-track and finding my place once again. I’ve used this notated outline form for about 9-10 years now. There are some who push hard for using no notes… I’m definitely not there yet! God bless your efforts to proclaim His Word.

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