Preaching “The Top 10” (and why it is really more like 200)

Your word, Lord, is eternal;
    it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
    you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
    for all things serve you. – Psalm 119:89-91

– Rebekah’s message this past Sunday: “Do you want to be healed?”

In the churches where we have served, it has always been a bit of a joke to talk about Rebekah’s favorite scriptures. “This one,” she has said from the pulpit pretty much every week, “is absolutely in my top ten!”

Best calculations have the number of Bible verses included in Rebekah’s Top Ten, or Top Five somewhere around a minimum of 150-200.

Consequently, when we made the decision to retire this summer, Rebekah came up with a great idea: “Let’s make my final ten sermons a working list of what really are some of the scriptures that speak most clearly into my life and – more importantly – my ministry.”

Staying Awake!

The list cannot be definitive, of course, because this is the living word we are talking about. The Bible always speaks with fresh relevance and perspective, and preaching is as much about staying awake and paying attention as it is anything.

This discussion reminds me of the series of interviews I did for The Tampa Tribune over several years, featuring leaders from 200-300 churches. One of my standard questions was, “What scripture would you like to leave with our readers when I write this article?”

Quite often – too often to my mind – the response would go like this: “God gave me my Life Verse when I was 17 years old…” and they’d trot out John 3:16 or another popular “refrigerator magnet” scripture. Their answers came across more reflective of cliché than of God speaking into their lives right now.

Eventually I started to respond with something like, “But that was twenty-five years ago! What is God speaking in to your life this week?”

Because in my mind, if the cutting edge of God’s word is something you stuck on a card in your wallet a long time ago, then you are not getting into the scriptures enough!

Get into the scriptures daily!

This illustrates something really important. The scriptures are alive, and interactive, and constantly speaking into our lives and our world. Writing God’s word on our hearts means to constantly attend church, and pray, and participate in Bible study, and search, and pray, and listen, and read, and pray, and subscribe to devotionals, and “Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol. Write them on your house’s doorframes and on your city’s gates…” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Rebekah’s “Top Ten Countdown” is all about how deeply she loves Jesus, how much she loves the scriptures, and how completely she loves the people of this church.

Crafting this series of sermons is one of the ways she is sharing her passion, and her commitment, her belief, and her vision.

The messages – and she has preached the first three – are all available at the church Facebook page. And this Sunday’s, “Do You Want to be Healed?” (starting around the 28-minute mark) is overflowing with love and laughter and challenge.

So catch up (at WFPC Facebook Videos), and plan on joining us from here on out. – DEREK

Your word, Lord, is eternal;
    it stands firm in the heavens.
 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
    you established the earth, and it endures.
 Your laws endure to this day,
    for all things serve you. – Psalm 119:89-91

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