I am on my way to Jacksonville to preach the midweek worship service at Shiloh Church . God willing, I will begin a series of messages tonight on the Mt. Everest of the Psalms – Psalm 119. My plan is to preach through the 176 verses of this psalm stanza by stanza (or 8 verses at a time).
I preached through Psalm 119 a couple of years ago at MSMBC, during our midweek services. And my faith and ministry were greatly enriched by the personal study and public teaching of this wonderful celebration of God’s supernatural word. And I have chosen to preach through it again during these opening months of my ministry at Shiloh.
I acknowledge that the decision to preach through Psalm 119 now is a somewhat interesting. Maybe even weird. I am still getting my “sea legs” under me, as it relates to preaching at Shiloh. I have not really settled into the new pulpit the Lord has given me. There are so many new dynamics to get used to. I haven’t really started getting used to preaching to them. And they haven’t started getting used to listening to me.
And even though I have been doing some preaching there on Wednesday nights, I know that I am in for another culture shock when my work begin in earnest next week and I take on my Sunday morning preaching duties. As it relates to Sundays, I do not intend to begin an exposition of a book until sometime in 2009. I need some time to feel my way through a little bit, as it relates to my preaching and teaching. (What can I say? I have been preaching to the same congregation for the past 17 years). And Psalm 119 is called the Mt. Everest of the Psalms for a reason. It’s hard work – both for the preacher and the hearer. So why Psalm 119? Now? On Wednesday nights?
Here are several answers to that question.
1. I love Psalm 119. Period.
2. Without sounding mystical or anything, I prayed about what the Lord would have me to preach on Wednesday nights. And the Lord begin to place Psalm 119 on my heart and mind. So, what can I say? Beggars can’t be choosers.
3. I want to make a statement – to myself, to Shiloh, and to the lost people who may visit Shiloh during the opening months of my pastorate. I want to fire the first shot , so to speak, and make it clear that my “vision” for the church is to glorify God by nurturing a biblically-functioning community of believers. I want us to be people of the book. The Book. Simply I want to obey the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples that think and act biblically. And preaching through Psalm 119 seemed to be a great way to formally state my pastoral agenda.
4. As I begin this new assignment, with much fear and trembling, my own soul needs to be both challenged and comforted by the message of Psalm 119: The word of God is wholly sufficient to save the lost, edify the saints, lead the church, comfort the troubled, change the world. Oh yeah, and take care of the preacher! If the word of God is not true, then my life has been wasted. And if I cannot (or foolishly choose not to) trust in the sufficiency of God’s word as I move from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, I am doomed. But with so firm foundation that we have in the word,I know that I should not worry about tomorrow. I just desperately need God to help me to simply be a man and preach the word, trusting the power of God’s word to change lives (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
So please pray for me as I take my first steps up “Mt Everest” again tonight. Pray that the Lord will help me to preach with faithfulness and clarity. And that the Lord will prepare the hearts of the hearers to receive the word of God (James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1-3). Pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be exalted as the word of God is proclaimed. And pray that minds will be renewed, souls will be converted, and lives will be changed by the supernatural power of the word of God.