For whatever reason, recently I began thinking about the first sermon I preached. It has been a long time ago, but I remember it well.
God called me to preach in what I call a “violent” call to ministry. Most people wonder what I mean by “violent.”
It’s simple. Violent seems to be the only way God could get my attention. In a matter of an hour worship service on Easter Sunday night of my 17th year, I went from “I wouldn’t do this for any amount of money” to wanting to do nothing but preach the gospel for the rest my life.
The intense passion God gave me for preaching the gospel has never waned.
Therefore, when I got the invitation to preach at the Chapel Hill Baptist Church in Crenshaw County, Alabama, I didn’t have to think about it long.
My first sermon was on Wednesday night. I studied for 18 hours a day (or so it seemed) for three days and preached about the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) for eight minutes!
I gave them everything I had.
If I were preaching that sermon over I would certainly do it differently.
But the difference would be in this way.
I would first thank them profusely for letting me stand before them and attempt to explain the Word of God. I would thank them in advance for their patience and their kindness.
Let’s be brutally honest. I didn’t know much about the Bible, and I didn’t know much about life.
In spite of all that, the Church of Jesus Christ showed up in all it’s glory. They welcomed me with open arms. They thanked me for coming to be with them. They talked about what God had said to them through my sermon.
We have seen that kind of kindness and goodness in every church we served. I thank God for his church.
How beautiful is the bride of Christ. We simply don’t understand what we’re doing when we love people, give encouragement, and show compassion.
What they did reminds me of many Bible verses. One of my favorites is Ephesians 4:32: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
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