Matt 5:16 "Let your light shine"
How much do you remember from last Sunday's sermon at church? What about last
month's? Last year's? What about ten years ago?
Too taxing! I can't remember anything!
"What did your pastor preach about?"
"Uh . . . Sin?"
"What did he say about it?"
"He was against it!"
This is a safe way to summarize any sermon, but was this really the main message?
To be honest, do we really remember much about all these sermons that are preached week in and week out?
If I asked you instead, to tell me if an illustration or a story was used in the sermon, would your response be different? Wouldn't you not only remember it, but wouldn't you also be inclined to share that story with me?
In the half century of my existence, I have discovered that the words in my sermons often become empty and meaningless because people tend to forget! I can only hope that with God's help, those words are profound, but how can they be useful if they are so quickly forgotten? However, if my sermons are engrained with stories and illustrations, my sermons are remembered for years to come!
Because of the power of imagination!
We were created with a vivid imagination, and whether we know it or not, we are constantly using it!
Don't believe it? Then tell me: How often do memories of the past replay themselves in your mind?
If you are like most people, the answer would be, "pretty often!"
And when those vivid portraits of the past rampage through your thoughts, you are using the power of your imagination.
And what about the future? How often do you think about that?
Again, if you are like most people, the honest answer would be, "Pretty often!"
When you dream about an exotic trip, when you envision writing out that all-important cheque, when you think through the steps required to perform an important task at work, whenever you envision possible future scenarios, you are, again, using your imagination!
God has given us a powerful tool. Why not use it!
Did you ever stop to think about how often Jesus, during His time on earth, told inspirational stories and parables? Remember the mustard seed-sized faith that enables us to move mountains? What about the pearl of great price or the prodigal son? There are so many of them, it would take pages to list them all!
And why did Jesus do this? "With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand." (Mark 4:33 NIV) Jesus conveyed truth through the use of imagination because people can envision the messages in their minds! Especially when under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit!
Why are we told that personal testimonies are the most powerful tools for witnessing? Because our words may be meaningless to others, but through our stories, they will be remembered!
Even Paul used this method:
"Paul took the stand and told his story…" (Acts 26:1 The Message); and
"They had a story to tell, too: 'And just look at what's been happening here - thousands upon thousands of God-fearing Jews have become believers in Jesus!'" (Acts 21:20 The Message).
Notice that even the Sermon on the Mount is filled with powerful illustrations: The salt of the earth, the light of the world, the gift on the altar, looking at the opposite sex with evil desires…
And even more remarkable is this piece of Truth: The entire Bible is filled with powerful stories and illustrations! David and Goliath, Noah and the flood, Job's sufferings, the Lamb of God, The Lion of Judah…
Preaching is good, but inspirational stories are to be remembered for a lifetime! This is why the apostle Paul also urges us to use stories: "So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight." (1 Cor 14:26 The Message)
Not only this, but he also promotes the use of imagination when we find ourselves "flagging in our faith": "When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He (Jesus) plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" (Heb 12:3 The Message)
This is why the Sermon Illustrator (http://www.sermonillustrator.org ) came into existence. God, our source of encouragement, impressed upon our hearts to begin sharing inspirational stories and illustrations with others via the Internet, free of charge.
1. To enliven other people's life with illustrated snippets from God's Word;
2. To bring lasting memories of the power of our loving God;
3. To bring salvation (the life filled gospel) to those who are searching;
4. To bring victory to the defeated;
5. To bring hope to the ones living in despair;
6. To share God's love to the unloved ones; and
7. To enliven sermons so that we will remember their message!
Notice the Apostle John's first way of illustrating the truth about Jesus: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…" (John 1:1-2, 14 NIV) John refers to Jesus as the Word (He is part of and is the Reason of our story!), an active Word that turns this world upside down! All four gospels portray Truth through the memorable snippets of Jesus' life!
In addressing the imagination, we not only address the needs of those hungering for something else besides the ordinary experiences of life, but we also vividly show the way to a hope-filled future and a life filled with adrenaline from above!
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10 NIV)
Would you like to hear my story?
The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available.
The Nugget: Published three times a week, this newsletter features inspirational devotionals and mini-sermons dedicated to drawing mankind closer to each other and to Christ.