When it comes to preaching, my weekly challenge is not having enough to share, it is having TOO MUCH to share. Take this past Sunday. I preached on The Warning That Sobers Us from Romans 12:11-14. One would think that breaking down five verses would be the proverbial cakewalk. Actually, it was more like preparing a seven-course meal. Here are the sources I consulted:
- Wuest's Words Studiesin the Greek New Testament by Kenneth S. Wuest
- Word Pictures in the Greek New Testament by A.T. Robertson
- Word Studies in the New Testament by Marvin R. Vincent
- A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament by Fritz Reinecker
Commentaries and Study Bibles:
- The Epistle to the Romans (NIC) by Douglas Moo
- Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary by Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt
- New American Commentary on Romans by Bob Mounce
- The Letter to the Romans, William Barclay, editor
- Commentary on Romans by Charles Hodge
- Commentary On The Epistle To The Romans by John Eadie
- The ESV Study Bible
- The Reformation Study Bible
Additionally, I spent time dialoging on this passage with Daniel, Brandon, and Andy from our church staff. These guys regularly speak into my preparation process. The result of all this effort is trying to determine what goes into thirty to forty minutes of message. The rest ends up on the cutting room floor.
This past Sunday there was a lot left on the floor. Let me share with you what Paul writes and then a little of what I left out of my sermon:
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
In verse 14 Paul tells us to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (that's a message in itself) and "make no provision for the flesh." In the same way an army general would never provide supplies to sustain his enemy, so we must not even think about how to feed the flesh, our sin nature that wars against the Spirit. Three examples may help illustrate this.
- My walk: Yesterday morning I went out for my usual walk. Three young ladies -- all fit and trim -- came running past me. God says, "Don't let your eyes or mind wander Tommy. Don't go there. Don't drop your proverbial line in that pond." That's not the Jesus way. Jesus would pray for their protection, for their husbands if they are married, and for their children.
- The commercial: A few days earlier I saw a commercial where the pervading message was "you DESERVE this." That's bunk, but oh how my flesh will whine like a three-year-old in an effort to worship at the idol of me. God says, "Don't go there. You are walking with Jesus and his thought is always how he can serve rather than be served."
- A Country song: I'm a fan of Country music. There are some beautiful and powerful lyrics out there, and then there are a few lies all prettied up in catchy tunes, amazing instrumentation, and "heavenly harmonies." I make "no provision for the flesh" when I filter what I hear by the Word of God. Let's take the song Compass by Lady Antebellum. This unique trio excels with tunes, instrumentation, and especially vocals. But they also pitch this advice in their song: “So let your heart sweetheart be your compass when you’re lost / And you should follow it wherever it may go / When it’s all said and done, you can walk instead of run / ‘Cause no matter what, you’ll never be alone.”
God has made it very clear that my heart is "desperately wicked" and will fool me all the time. But Jesus' heart is perfect. Jesus is perfect in his love, perfect in his truth, and perfect in his direction. That is why I "put on the Lord Jesus Christ." Because when I do, Jesus reminds me to pray for the runners, to push-back on the commercial, and to make sure I'm not buying a lie as I sing along with a catchy tune.
There's more on the floor . . . but that little "scrap of paper" will give me enough today to keep me looking to Jesus and refusing to make provisions for the enemy today.