Thursday 9 August 2012

Diary of a sermon prep: Day One (Thursday evening)

Starting early
Each week I spend about 16 hours on sermon preparation - two hours each on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings (Wednesdays are usually reserved for my mid-week bible study group meetings) and eight hours on Saturday mornings. The first two days are usually spent reading, understanding and most importantly, memorising the passage. I open up a Google Doc document and type out each verse, line by line and then try to memorise it word for word in the NIV (which is the version my church uses). In the mornings, on my way to work, I will read the ESV version on my Kindle. This really helps me to look out for differences in the textual translations and formulate questions I might have on the text.

Digging deep
In past months when speaking from the New Testament, I would also have done some language work, and time permitting, have memorised at least the key verses in Greek. This hasn’t been possible with my current series through Isaiah. Not only is the genre new to me (rhythmic prose, oracular speech) but also because my Hebrew is pretty rubbish. I am having to rely on an Interlinear Bible for now, but will resolve to put aside time to do some memory work and build up my vocabulary. I have long since learned that knowing the actual material well means I am able to meditate on it and understand for myself first, to let it sink in, before attempting to teach others. This translates into confidence in God's word and application of his truth in my personal walk with Jesus. Added bonus: It allows me to look out for illustrations from everyday occurences!

Getting ready
Things really start to pick up only from Thursday onwards. That’s today, which I call, Day One. By today, I want to have either a draft overall outline of the passage or/and have composed an introduction to the message (which I often scrap by Saturday morning). This doesn’t always happen but I still try (you can see below, what I scribbled down as my initial thoughts). My bible study was postponed last night, so I got a chance to read the commentary (J Oswalt, NICOT - Very helpful, though I wish I had my copy of Barry Webb’s BST) on this passage. To be honest, not much of it sunk in (not surprising, as I was still trying to learn the passage), so I taped myself reading it aloud and listened to it again on my iPod on the way back from work (lots of buzzing in the background). Will listen to it again tomorrow.

I think I’ve spent enough time on this blog post, so will leave you with my diary for this evening. Over the next couple of days, I will post up my progress as God willing, he guides me in preparing to speak from his word. Do pray for me.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

     0800 - Woke up
     0900 - Work
     1800 - Dinner with friend
     1945 - Home
     2000 - Read Isaiah 2 aloud. Recorded MP3 for playback tomorrow for bus journey.
     2100 - Watched Olympics on TV (Usain Bolt won the 200m sprint!)
     2140 - Ready for bed
     2205 - Basic outline of passage
     The Mountain of the LORD
                                     ■Many nations streaming to God’s temple
                                     ■Illustration: Crowds at Olympic stadium
     The house of Jacob
                                     ■Filled with idols of the nations
                                     ■Filled will wealth (symbolic of pride)
                                     ■Illustration: trophy stand, sports cars, bling, degrees - symbols of achievement
     The Day of the LORD
                                     ■God shows up; shakes things up (the earth)
                                     ■Man flees
                                     ■Idols are thrown away (they can’t help when the real thing is here)
                                     ■Don’t trust in man (idolatry is a reflection of man’s faith in his own strength/ability)
     The fulfilment
                                     ■Hebrews 12:22ff - You have come to Mount Zion... you have come to thousands of angels in joyful gathering.... You have come to God... to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant
                                     ■Began with Jesus
                                     ■Seen today in the church - we are the nations
     But the Day will come
                                     ■God will show up
     2220 - Prayed for wisdom, understanding and God’s help to prepare.
     2230 - Wrote this blog entry
     2330 - Devotional and prayer

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