Pastor J. H. Osborne On Sermon Preparation - Part 2

This is the second part in the series given in sermon preparation by J. H. Osborne. The first part is here.

4. There Has To Be Something “More”

Paul picks up a striking illustration in 2 Corinthians 11. When he begins to bring about a defense of his ministry to his detractors he finally tells him that he is more than what they are. Why would he say something like that? He tells them that he is more because of what he has come to suffer in his own life. If you are not willing to go through some things in life your preaching will be very shallow. The “more” part of your life is going to be something that will bring life to others.

Shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, and loneliness were all things that Paul had to endure to bring about hope to the lives of the hopeless. Trouble in life always helps a minister to bring about hope for the lives of people. Find the hope in Scripture!

Some might say that there is no hope in Judas going out and hanging himself. But when you oppose Judas with Peter, you can find some hope. Judas died at the end of a rope, Peter died when he went out and wept bitterly. When Peter failed at bring supper home with empty nets, Jesus cooked breakfast for him. Fail at Supper and He Cooks Breakfast! That is hope you mine out of the low ebbs of life. No matter how bad you have been, there is a God that can pull us from the doldrums of circumstances.

The things that were written for us are all for a deposit of hope to the lives of men (Romans 15:4).

5. Learn How To Make Inclusive Notes

Learn to get into the discipline of taking notes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (emphasis mine, not Brother Osborne’s). He mentioned that he had some sermon notes that he jokingly referred to as a “marathon.” It was eleven pages of material. He mentioned that some preachers proudly confess how they write down notes on napkins, toilet paper, paper bags, and so forth. They might scribble with a crayon or a worn out pencil and they seem to be proud of it. However, in the long term these kinds of notes end up being worthless no matter how good the sermon may have been simply because there is no retrieval system to work with. It is important for a preacher to have the ability to pull from his studies in the past.

(ADDENDUM: I am for preachers taking notes when they go to conferences, events, goat-ropings, and everything in between. You need a “capture” device whether it is an iPad or a Moleskin. Some time back I wrote a series of blogs on “How To Listen.” They are in four parts and might be helpful with your own note-efforts. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, & Part 4.)

Brother Osborne mentioned the need to take what he referred to as “inclusive” notes. You may not necessarily use all of the material or preach from all of the material but it helps you to master the content of what you have been studying. You need to discipline yourself enough to put down rigorous, solid, and legible notes so that if you were to give that set of notes to another minister, he could preach those notes without any difficulty.

Brother Osborne also mentioned that over the years he has worked at arranging his sermon notes in 3-ring loose leaf binders. He has thirty-seven of these for his thirty-seven years of pastoring in Indianapolis. In the front of each binder is a ledger to help him find the sermon and he has arranged all of them alphabetically by title. The paper in the front lists the title and the Scriptural reference so he can go back at any time and retrieve that message. These inclusive notes have created a library for him to work with.

He mentioned a sermon as an example that he had with him. It was titled “The Binding, the Blinding and the Grinding.” He starts out with the end of the message and then works backward in the life Samson. He started at the grinding post where he was grinding corn. He then covered the blinding by having his eyes burned out with hot irons, and finally on the lap of Delilah that led to the binding.

He was a Nazarite from birth and he had been separated from some things in his life. He had to stay away from anything that catered to the vineyard—its vines, its seeds, and its wine. He also had to stay away from dead bodies. But it was the seven locks of his hair that made him separated unto the Lord. It is not enough to be separated from the world, you also have to be separated unto the Lord. Ultimately the source of his great strength did not come from what he was separated from but what he was separated unto.

His eyes were not the factor and although he lost them, they would not grow back. It was his hair that made him separated from the rest of men of Israel. Although it was shaved, over time it grew back. Once it became restored back to him, the power of God could once again operate in his life. That is the hope in this message. Hair is the only part of the body that can be cut off, so to speak, and it will grow back. He failed everyone—his family, his nation, and his God but there is the possibility that he could gain it back.

The session concluded with again the reiteration of the point that until God stretches you with pain, no ministry will ever be conducive to helping others.

The following observations are from some notes I gathered in Bossier City, Louisiana on October 27, 2003. All of these sessions were delivered to ministers and some of the points he brought out was directly related to personal life with others being related to sermon preparation.

6. You Must Pursue Excellence As a Servant

From the life of Elieazar who was the steward of Abraham’s house a great lesson was drawn. He was the heir of everything that Abraham owned. That went well until Isaac was born and then everything changed because he was no longer the rightful heir. He encouraged us to make sure that when we were older to pass on our experiences to our “sons” so that they would not have to walk through all the valleys that we have been through. Abraham did not do this to Isaac. He allowed him to pick up and walk on from the point that he had brought him to.

Back the Elieazar and his pursuit of excellence. This bride that he was about to go and look for was going to cost him everything. In fact, after this incident Elieazar totally disappears from Scripture. The command of the Lord for every minister is to take the yoke and wear it and in that element of burden bearing we learn ways of the Lord that will never be learned in any other way. There is a great educational (and unending) process that will take place in the minister’s life. For us to present a bride to the Lord, it will cost us everything! Sleepless nights, unceasing prayer, endless sacrifice, the weathering of criticism and misunderstanding, and the task of dealing with the messiness of people’s lives and many other details are portions of the God-called minister.

In the OT, there are two uses for an ox. First, he was either out working the harvest or he was being offered on an altar as a sacrifice. That is where the ox-like servant, which is also a picture of the Lord, will spend his entire life; out working the harvest or being consumed on an altar of sacrifice. It is either a plow or an altar that a man will have to embrace.

Elieazar very well could have gone out and found the ugliest, scraggliest, homeliest little bride that he could but he did not lower himself to that. He found the best for the one who was replacing him as an heir. A pastor will have to take the same kind of care in working to get the most beautiful Bride that he can to present to the Lord. It will require every bit of the vision, determination, anointing, and perseverance to give yourself to making the Bride a clean pure lady for the Lord. This places a premium on preaching on holiness, prayer, evangelism, and service to the her. Do it with excellence!!!

More Later. . .

Thanks for reading. . .


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