He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
In my mind, I group sermons into different categories. Let me share some of these with you.
These sermons are those which centre on the person of Christ Himself. For example:
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord.
You can’t help but be captivated by the beauty of Christ. Watch as he heals the sick: He has ‘compassion’ on them. There is something very beautiful about compassion. Watch as He walks towards the funeral bier of a dead man, precious to his widowed mother. Again, tired and weary, yet He does not want to turn the children away. Whose heart would not be moved as they see Christ through such a sermon?
So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
These are sermons where the mighty, victorious, power of God is spoken about. They include references to the parting of the Red Sea, Elijah’s showdown with prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and Jesus casting out a ‘Legion’ of demons . We are told that this same power can change us, transform us, set us free (a big ‘amen’ to that one).
The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. (Psalm78:9-11)
Understandably, most pastors would rather preach sermons of approbation than admonishment however, sometimes sermons need to be preached that some people would rather not hear. It convicts them of their sin. It brings them face to face with choices that they have been avoiding or evading. They hear words that reveal the true state of their life. People will even evade church meetings because they don’t want God to challenge them. They anticipate uncomfortable sermons!
Some people may become angry at uncomfortable sermons, and others, sadly, may even turn away. But sometimes, reproach is necessary to bring about repentance.
Some reading this will soon be attending a week of summer camp meetings. We may hear beautiful sermons, we may hear victory sermons, we may also hear some uncomfortable sermons. Whether you need to have passion for Christ rekindled, your head raised from feelings of defeat, or a challenge to deal with issues you are ignoring, God knows what you need to hear.
Whatever shoe fits, put it on… and enjoy camp!
Pauline Ann Anderson
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:12)
God has created some truly magnificent wonders in this world for His children to enjoy. We can often take these things for granted. For example, the multicoloured rainbow, sparkling constellations, the ferocity of thunder and lightning, towering mountains, rapidly flowing rivers… and silence.
That last one seems a bit out of place amount the rest, but who amongst us has not appreciated the beauty of silence at some time in our lives?
In my teenage years I was surrounded by noise. Whenever I awoke, my first action was to stretch out my hand and switch on the radio, listening to the latest chart hits as I got ready for school. On becoming a Christian, that was one of the first challenges I faced; not switching on the radio the moment my eyes opened. God was wanting me to find His beauty in silence.
Since that time, decades ago now, I can look back and appreciate many times God drew near in the silence. The night before my father died, I was praying in the next room to where he lay peacefully slumbering through his final hours on earth. As I prayed, my voice fell silent, and into that silence, the presence of God descended. He filled, and I mean FILLED, the whole room. There was not a fraction of a square centimetre where His presence did not fill.
In that silence, I suddenly knew I would see my father again one day. He was going to Heaven. God’s voice resounded in the silence.
One evening in Galilee, Israel, accompanied by a friend, I got into a car. About to turn on the engine, suddenly I heard it… in the silence was the presence of God. The sound of His presence increased and increased. For about a quarter of an hour, we sat in that silence listening to His presence.
We live in a world of a million sounds, well, at least it seems that way. Some are melodious and peaceful and carry a beauty with them. Others are loud, brash, and clamour for our attention.
There is a danger that in the cacophony of sound, we miss the beauty of the ‘gentle whisper.’ Elijah had to go alone onto a mountainside to hear it. He left Mount Carmel. He left those who were threatening his life. He left his servant. What is it you have to do leave today to hear the beauty that there is in silence?
“Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
We have some beautiful verses in the Bible. This verse is one of them. But to really appreciate what is being said here, it helps to know a little bit about oak trees.
One of the important features of an oak is its extensive root system which spreads wide and deep to help to secure it, even during violent storms. In the grounds of where I work, we have a large oak tree that has survived five hundred years of wind, hail, snow and rain (and a good bit of sunshine too). It could not have achieved such longevity without putting down deep roots. So, if we are to be God’s oaks, how do we ‘grow’ our roots deep in Him. Well, we are told that we are ‘oaks of righteousness’. This gives us a hint.
This simply means that we live our lives in such a way that we are right with God and and right with man. That’s easy to write but mighty challenging to live, so how do we do it?
It’s as we give our lives wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ, deliberately shunning sin in our lives that we become deeply grounded deeply in Him, able to withstand a multitude of storms. Whether it be financial hardships, marriage difficulties, ill health, persecution, ridicule and abuse, disappointment, redundancy or depression, nothing will overwhelm us.
As well as being known for its strength and durability, oak wood shows a greater resistance to attack by destructive growths.
As we walk in ‘righteousness’, as well as putting down deep roots, the strength of Christ develops in us. We can ‘resist the devil’ (James 4:7) and all his destructive ways. We recognise that he is ‘a thief and a robber” (John 10:1) and “he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:34). He is our enemy but we can resist him and overcome.
Some oaks are evergreen. This means that they retain their foliage all year round. This thought is reflected in Jeremiah 17:7-8:
Blessed is the man whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
In other words:
“Our faith will remain green forever.”
Isn’t that a beautiful picture?
So, in conclusion, what do oaks of righteousness look like?
1. They have a root system that is deeply grounded in Christ.
2. They have strength to stand against the wiles of the devil.
3. They are fruitful in good times and bad.
A ‘display of his splendour’ indeed! Don’t you want to be an oak of righteousness? I certainly do!
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.