It happened to me a few weeks ago. It’s only happened a few times in the fifteen years of my ministry. During our Sunday morning Worship Service, as my preaching time approached, I got this strong impression to change my sermon. After a week of studying, praying, note-taking, and outlining, I felt I had the message for the day. But that’s not the impression I was receiving five minutes before I took the stage.
There was a palpable presence of God in the room. The congregation seemed to be in tune with that presence of God. And my prepared message didn’t fit with the impression I sensed. After a minute or two of internal debate, I settled on what I believed God wanted for that moment. I took the stage, went to the passage I felt God was leading me to, and preached with everything I had. There was a strong response from the congregation and some life-changing decisions were made.
Would those decisions have been made had I stuck with my original sermon?
The first time God changed my sermon I was a brand new, first-time pastor. As I rose to approach the pulpit, I was overwhelmed by the need to preach a totally different Bible passage and message than what I had selected for the day. I had probably preached less than 50 times and I was, frankly, scared. What do I do? I shakily announced to the congregation there was a change in plans and God wanted me to share my story of Jesus saving my awful soul. As the message concluded, several people committed to Christ for the first time. I was ecstatic.
Since I was still in seminary at that time, I couldn’t wait to tell one of my professors about my experience. At the end of class, I excitedly shared my story with him. He was enthusiastic, but he asked me a question, a tough one at that. He said, “Rob, that’s fantastic. But let me ask you something. Did God change your message at the last minute, or did you just miss Him throughout the week?”
Needless to say, that’s not what I wanted to hear, or even expected to hear. But it’s a valid question.
Has God ever changed your sermon at the last minute? How did you handle it? What do you think of my professor’s reply? I’m very curious to hear your answers.
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