Every so often and for reasons we can’t necessarily explain, God changes the direction of a preaching event – on the fly. Last night was one such example. I had a pretty fantastic sermon prepared (humbly speaking, of course). We were going to walk through 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 and consider aspects of a healthy church. It was actually part 2 of a sermon I began last week. Great introduction with a mind-engaging illustration. An outline that flowed from the text. Personal and corporate examination points that were in line with the text. Questions for us as a church to consider in response to the text.
Then, it happened. In my preaching experience, it hasn’t happened often. It has happened before, though. “It” is when God changes the direction of the preaching – when He calls an audible. Audible is a football term. Just in case you aren’t familiar…here it is: the quarterback steps up to the line of scrimmage to begin the play and sees something different in the defense. He calls an “audible” and changes the play for the offense. In the game of football, sometimes audibles work. Sometimes they don’t. God’s audibles always work.
So there we were, singing together as the church, declaring in song “We Believe” (you can listen to the song here – though, humbly speaking, our version was a little better). During that song, it happened. The audible. The Lord clearly led me to preach on the essence of salvation: believe. If there’s one thing I want to be prepared for it’s preaching. I don’t work well with minimal preparation time. I don’t like jotting thoughts down about verses and hoping they make sense through preaching. Preparation must be the pattern. I much prefer to spend time with the text, see what it is saying, and then simply say what the text says.
Personally, I don’t think the audible occurs all that often in preaching. God can lead us in planning our preaching just as He can lead us in the moment of preaching. He reserves the right, however, to call an audible at His discretion. He is the Sovereign King of the Universe, isn’t He? An audible is perfectly within His right.
So, I sat down while the Body continued worshiping through song and looked at some texts that address this issue of believing – John 20:31, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 10:9-17. Believe. Simply believe. Don’t complicate the issue. Don’t turn it into a formula. Believe. Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (Acts 16:31). I jotted some notes down on a piece of paper and preached. Not exactly the 4 to 5 page detailed outline I typically preach from. A scratch piece of paper and a Bible. Thankfully, the Word is authoritative. So, we preach the Word.
For reasons I may never know or understand, God led the preaching in a different direction last night. He called an audible. Maybe someone needed to believe for the first time. Maybe someone needed to be reminded of the simplicity of believing. Maybe someone’s belief was shaky and they needed to firm up their belief. Maybe someone needed to cry out like the father in Mark 9, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Thankfully, what we see as an audible is actually part of God’s plan. We see an audible. God sees His plan working out perfectly. May we be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when an audible becomes the plan.
Oh, and by the way, I have a well-developed and nicely-constructed sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 if someone needs something to preach this Sunday. It hasn’t been preached yet, so it can be original to you. Kinda.