1. I Can/Should Change Things Quickly. There was once a new pastor named Pastor Smith. He entered the sanctuary on a Sunday morning and noticed a towering new floral arrangement on the communion table. He refused to allow such gaudiness and quickly placed the flowers in another room. While he was preaching that morning a host of ladies became extremely upset about the missing flowers. They had been given as a gift in honor of one woman’s husband who recently had passed away after many years of faithful service to the church. A series of frustrated conversations followed and the new pastor soon found himself in great trouble with an entire group in the congregation. Not long after the extended and entangled turmoil, he began sensing “God’s call” to move on to another church. The pastor was replaced. And so were the flowers. A new pastor named Pastor Jones came and determined to get to know the people. He loved them dearly and preached the Bible faithfully. He served the church many years. Several years into his ministry his immediate predecessor just happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped by to visit his old place of service. Pastor Smith and Pastor Jones had a nice time of fellowship and then they walked into the sanctuary. Pastor Smith noticed there was no massive floral arrangement on the communion table. He asked Jones, “How did you ever get rid of those gaudy flowers on the communion table? I moved those things and caused enough turmoil to get me run out of town. How did you get away with it?” Pastor Jones responded, “Brother, I just moved them one inch at a time. One inch at a time.”
2. I Can Get By With Little Prayer and Preparation. It is such a subtle deception. To think that I can do the Lord’s work in my own strength. After all, I have a theological education, I have plenty of preparation. Or, I have so much to do today that I just don’t have (make) time to pray. We continue to roll along thinking that we still have the same spiritual power we once knew but others are watching and listening while wondering, “What’s happened to him? He’s not the same.” And what can be worse is that we surround ourselves with other spiritually numb people who don’t even care that the unction is gone. E.M. Bounds nailed it, “The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher.” The heart-cry of the disciples is, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). It is while praying in the upper room that the Holy Spirit descends with great power. The unction for that soul-saving preaching at Pentecost came to a praying group of preachers. We can’t do this! Only God can do the work to which He has called us. And He only works through those who depend upon Him in prayer. I once heard an old preacher describe his sermon preparation process. He said, “I study myself full. I pray myself hot. I let myself go.” We cannot get by with anything less.