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Preparation of Self

There’s something somewhere in me that has a desire to want to speak God’s truth to his people. To equip disciples, to speak identity into lost souls and wholeness into broken hearts. And I know this is not something I can take lightly.

I’ve never had much of an opportunity to practice preaching, but the thought has been there in the back of my mind; from words people have spoken over me, a desire to disciple, and other such pulls.

Here’s an example: I led worship a few times before leaving home and coming to study Popular Music and Worship at Nexus ICA. Looking back I wonder what it was I was leading people into. I am thankful for God’s grace over that time because I definitely don’t feel like I was prepared to be doing that. It’s only now in retrospect that I see what an important and incredible privilege it was to lead God’s people in worship and how I wish I’d carried that responsibility more seriously back then.

If I am to preach at any point in my life, I in no way want to allow myself to be ill equipped. Before that calling comes to fruition (if it does) I need to arm myself ready for the battle. To fall in love with God’s word in a fresh way that will enable me to speak it in a way that enables others to fall in love too. To know how to carry the sword before taking it swinging.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

– Hebrews 4: 12 NIV

“How to carry the sword” is my analogy for self preparation. J.John is quoted in an interview saying “Sometimes you spend so much time preparing a talk you forget to prepare yourself, and that is of utmost importance … “

‘unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.’

– Psalm 127:1

What good would it be if I were to piece together a sermon, with the purpose of filling up the wells of others, when my own well is running empty? Ali Martin says in her Loud and Clear video series, “be so soaked in his word that the flavour of the years comes through … we come through the bible with what to speak on … from a life spent in the word”.

What we communicate has to come from a ‘Word soaked heart’, we can’t turn to the Bible only when we need to speak on it, rather our words come from what God is already showing us from our consistent devotion to His Word. This applies to our speech in everyday conduct too. Words have incredible power and what floods the heart, overflows into our speech.

If we are to carry the sword ourselves, it won’t do any good to leave it sheathed (or on the bedside table). We must form a habit; one of love, not of duty, and be finding life and nourishment through our own devotion to God’s speaking.

So how can I form this habit?

How can I find joy in reading the bible just for me, when it’s easier to see the purpose when it’s for the sake of others?

This is when we must assure ourselves that who we are matters more to God than what we do, and to abandon delving into the word for my own sake is self-deprecating. Who I am stems from who He is, and that is revealed through his word.

I need to understand that not only do I need a love of the people and a desire for them to hear His word, but I need a love of God and to look out for myself as well and not deprive myself of the life giving, chain breaking, freedom forming love of God. I need to understand that I myself am also worthy of hearing His word. Once I become an overflowing well, is when I can best serve others.

If we are to be teaching others our lives need to match up with our speaking. As Spurgeon said “Have your heart right with Christ, and He will visit you often, and so turn weekdays into Sundays, meals into sacraments, homes into temples and earth into heaven…”.

There are significant consequences that stem from setting our hearts right or not, which can seem terrifying (James 3:1). It’s good to remember that we are all still on a journey of being made into the likeness of Christ and the way I carry the sword has to constantly be checked and changed; there isn’t a one-time fixed method. We need to establish ourselves firmly in our identity in Christ and live out of that place and we can begin to minister in a way that turns our ‘weekdays to Sundays’ and our ‘earth to heaven’.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

– 1 Timothy 4:12

Gemma Ceaser

Gemma is a 2018 Vocals Graduate. She has a passion for care, especially around supporting people and discovering how we can all be built up to fullness in Christ.

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