For the last few months, I have had the great privilege of preaching through Paul's letter to the Philippians. As we have studied this letter, I have been convicted to look at how I both encourage unity in the body and how I show my joy in Christ.
The more I preach, the more I value scripture. As I was preparing this past Saturday, I took a close look at my sermon manuscript (which I type each week) and my sermon outline (which is based on the manuscript and is what I take into the pulpit with me along with my bible). I then took a close look at the scripture passage. Quite honestly, the manuscript was pathetic compared to scripture. It's not that it was a bad sermon; rather, it's that no manuscript can come close to the beauty and power of the Word of God.
I'm becoming more and more convinced that what people of all churches need, including myself, is more bible. It is through scripture that we see Jesus Christ most clearly. It is His primary means of revealing Himself to us. As His followers, we are in desperate need of Him. We need to follow Paul's admonition to Timothy when he wrote, "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." (I Timothy 4:13, ESV)
In light of this, we just instituted a scripture reading in each worship service at Chevis Oaks (this is somewhat novel for an older SBC church). Furthermore, I see that what will help the people in the pews more than anything else during my sermons is a healthy dose of scripture.
I've begun trying to think of the bible as a powerful magnet. I try to stay as close as possible to the biblical text to be exposited. If I begin to wander, I sprint back to the text at hand. The reality is that Christians do not need more funny stories from the pulpit; they need more scripture. They need to hear it explained in a way they can understand. They benefit greatly from hearing it in context so they can comprehend it fully.
As we preach and teach in the church (and at home), we need to think of the scriptures as a large magnet pulling us back toward it again and again. Although we may move away a bit, we never want to go far. We never want to depart for long.
There is an old saying which describes some preachers that goes something like this, "There was a preacher who began with a text. From there he departed. He never returned."
May that not be us. Let's always return to scripture. It is what we all need.