Each week I put in about 15 hours studying for the Sunday morning sermon, and it never fails, God convicts me usually more than he does anyone else.
I usually follow some sort of pattern to my studies that looks like this:
- Start in prayer ( continue in prayer, and frankly I am praying through the whole time of study)
- Then I usually take the English and do a flow diagram, which is basically trying to show the various dimensions of independent and dependent clauses and how the relate to each other.
- After this I will translate the passage, looking for other finer points.
- Sometimes this translation will show me an area that I need some further study, and I will do further study. Usually this involves, word studies, typology, chasing out parallel passages of the Analogy of Scripture type and Analogy of Faith variety as well.
- From here I write out a couple of different outlines that help me to process the passage and its main ideas.
- It is at this point that I will read commentaries, to see if there is anything I have missed, or even other information that is extremely helpful.
- Once that is done, I write the sermon. Usually I am writing the sermon by Thursday.
Here is where this turns personal. Usually before I start to write the sermon, things happen in my life almost every single week that makes it necessary for me to go over and over the passage.
It is as though God is forcing me to apply that passage that week, as I am working to get it ready to preach to God’s people. I think this happens for 2 reasons:
- Because God wants to humble me and remind me that I don’t have it all together. I need a constant remind that I have not arrived. I am a work in progress, and having to deal with my own sin related to the passage I am about to preach on Sunday, is a great deterrent to arrogance.
- It helps me to try to work through what does the application of this passage look like in life, really. Not just hypothetically. That doesn’t mean I get perfect application before I preach it, but I do get down the road a little ways.
But the great treasure in all of this: is to bring that portions back to my mind again and again that run to the gospel. Because in the passage I see my sin, writing out the gospel for my comfort in those moments, heals, soothes, grows, and thrills my soul.
This is how I preach the gospel to myself.