I Stopped Preaching

I had something happen this past Sunday that has not happened in years.  I stopped preaching. In the middle of a sermon – I just stopped preaching.

Let me explain.

I have been preaching/teaching through the life of David on and off for two and a half years.  Normally on Tuesday, I prepare about eight pages of a scripted set of notes.  Eight pages normally fits just right as far as what I want to say and less importantly into the time frame I want to say it.

This past week I had eight pages that I prayed about and I prayed over.  I went over and over the message as I usually do throughout the week.  I hone the message over the course of the week by preaching it out loud and making changes to it along the way.  I do nothing with the message all day Saturday but I do go over it one last time before I go to bed and then on  Sunday I go over it once during the hour before the service.

This week on Saturday night I started getting a gnawing feeling when I was going over it.  I started getting the sense that I should just stop about 4 pages in.  I was covering chapter 17 of 2nd Samuel and specifically verses 15 –29.  I changed things up and was to cover verse 23  first, which has to do with Ahithophel’s suicide, then go back to verse 15 and go to the end of the chapter. The reason I was doing this was because I sensed that the message would flow better starting here and then moving back then going forward in the verses.

My main point on verse 23 had to do with how Ahithophel committed suicide by hanging himself but many of us commit spiritual suicide because we strangle ourselves spiritually by not doing the things we know need to do.  By ignoring the spiritual things in life and not doing what we need to do, we slowly commit spiritual suicide.  As I said, Saturday night I started getting this gnawing feeling and sensing the spirit wanted me to stop at this point but I was unsure.  I wrestled with those thoughts for sometime then went to bed unsure of what I was to do.

Sunday morning before I went to the study at the church to go over the message I was getting the same sense from the Spirit but was still unsure.  When I got to the study,  I went over the whole thing and was still really unsure of what to do.  It was a battle going on inside of me of what the Spirit was leading to do.  The service started and  as we were singing some songs I said things to God like “Lord – if we get to this time and I have not stood to speak then I know that it is a sign that I am to only do verse 23 but if not then I am to do the whole thing”.  I was still struggling with what really the leading of the Spirit was.

I stood up to preach.  In all honesty, I did not do a great job with the message because I was distracted and I stammered though some parts of it.   I preached through verse 23 and then went back and  started reading verses 15 and 16 to preach them and that was the moment it was all clear.  I just needed to stop right then and there.  So  I stopped preaching.  I was in the middle of reading verses and I just stopped and paused.

I looked up and said “The Spirit of God is prompting me to stop right here and right now”.  I wrapped things up and finished up the service with a closing hymn and opened up the altar to those who wished to pray or speak with me about anything which is what happens each Sunday.

Here is the thing – Revival did not break out.  A couple people came up and prayed and comments about the message were at a minimum.  The reality is – that is all just fine.  The thing is – in this case I was obedient to the Spirit and that was the most important thing.  My point is this:  when the Spirit leads – be obedient – we simply need to be obedient.  I see obedience as a real key to life and a key to ministry.  I pray I get better at it.

Sad thing is this – there have been many times where I was not obedient to the Spirit.  Times when I have been prompted to give money and it stayed in my wallet.  Times when I was prompted to say something and I kept quiet.  Times I was prompted to stop preaching in the past and I continued anyway in my own strength and not His.

Lord  – help me be obedient to you and your promptings today.

What is the craziest thing that the has Spirit prompted you to do?  Did you do it?  What were the consequences – good or bad?

16 thoughts on “I Stopped Preaching

  1. Oh man,

    I’ve went up to the pulpit many times with a message that I had prayed about and prepped for and got ready to start and my tongue was tied. I couldn’t speak. So I just went with what He was giving me. The first time it happened I was really scared.

    Recently I went through the message and just stopped abruptly. I got to the end and didn’t believe God wanted me to tie it all in with a pretty bow. So I just started to pray.

  2. Must have been the weekend for it Jim. I have had my sermon done for close to 4 weeks (I work ahead) but Friday-my day off-my mind would not shut down. I got this nagging feeling about the sermon. Saturday I felt it even more and told Jo that I might be changing it some. By Saturday night i was sure. I changed the order and added a whole section onto the end. Good? I am a lousy judge of that. Faithful? I believe so. And that, my friend, is all that matters. You were faithful. Well done, good and faithful servant.

    • Way to be faithful my friend! Glad I was not the only one this weekend :)

      Thanks for commenting and adding to the conversation!

  3. Thank you for sharing. I love to hear how the Spirit leads people in a different direction. I was leading a class on discipleship and I was led to do it around tables instead of from the pulpit. It was different, weird and a bit uncomfortable for some, but after the 10th week of it, we were so much closer. I think a lot of that was due to doing it that way. I’m pretty certain that it would have a complete different response if we would have done it the traditional way.

    • That is a good example of how the Spirit can prompt a change that will really make some uncomfortable but has great results. Thanks for sharing that Moe.

  4. “By ignoring the spiritual things in life and not doing what we need to do, we slowly commit spiritual suicide.” Powerful line and interesting point. In what I wrote about in my blog post today, I wonder if I’m committing spiritual suicide?

    • I think that very thought is what the Spirit was trying to drive home in the congregation here this Sunday. Maybe I will post a blog about what was preached on Sunday and maybe it will help you out some my friend.

  5. How do you know that it was the Spirit of God that prompted you to stop preaching…and not another spirit?

    St. Paul reminds us that “the devil can come all dressed up as an angel of light.”

    As long as you are preaching law and gospel, I think you have no need to worry about stopping. The Holy Spirit will always support the preaching of His law and His gospel.

    Thanks.

    • This is a good question Steve: “How do you know that it was the Spirit of God that prompted you to stop preaching…and not another spirit?” Because the prompting were coming from the inside of me where the Spirit of God lives. If it were from the outside I think it was possible to be “an angel of light” because in context the verse is talking about deceitful workers . I also know the voice of the Spirit as He speaks to me and it was Him – the problem was I was not wanting to change my plan to His which is what part of this was I believe in hindsight. Also the Spirit was not telling me anything contrary to Scripture.

      For me – I script out the messages I preach and so to stop is an obedience and trusting of God. If I would have continued – the word of God and His gospel would have continued to go forth but even still it went forth before I stopped.

      Thanks for the comment and adding into the conversation!

  6. I get where you are coming from. I’d like to say I am good at heeding the promptings of the Spirit, but I often fail.

    Just a few weeks back my in-laws were visiting. Saturday evening as they were going to their hotel, I thought to myself “I should remind them what time church starts tomorrow”, but then I rationalized, “This isn’t their first time to come with us, they don’t need me reminding them what time it starts.”
    Sunday morning came- they were half an hour late. They couldn’t remember what time the service began.
    not exactly Earth shattering in consequences, but only God knows if they needed to hear the opening prayers and songs. I should have listened, I should have spoken up and not worried if they thought I was being a control freak (which I can be).

    • You example makes perfect sense to me TC. In those times you never know what the person will miss that they might need to hear. Thanks for adding in!

  7. I have had those time while preaching when I planned to say one thing but God told me to say something else. Each time I did obey God I could sense a person needed to hear what God was speaking through me. While those times when I failed at listening to God really left me convicted after.

    Being able and willing to have a God driven sermon is so essential.

    • “Being able and willing to have a God driven sermon is so essential.” – that is it right there Dan! Thanks for adding in.

  8. Had the whole service planned and the order e-mailed on Tuesday then God showed me what He wanted from this week’s passage. “Now for something completely different.” I’m excited to see how the Spirit leads tomorrow, but as with your experience… obedience is more important than visible “results.”

    • Ahhh Jason – you found me :)

      Love when the Spirit moves like that – I am excited to hear what happens. I had 2nd Samuel 17:15 – 29 set to go last week and this week the message go all changed up. I am excited to see what God will do through it!

      Thank for reading and commenting my friend!

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