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?