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a participant reflects on the recent Kiwimade Preaching event (Dunedin) – jeremy selfe


One of the most humbling experiences I have had as a preacher is when someone will come up to me at the end of the service and say something along the lines of: “thank you for that sermon, it was like you knew exactly what was going on in my life and what words I needed to hear this morning.” Of course, the reality is I didn’t have a sneak preview into this person’s life. When preparing for the sermon I sat alone in my study, agonising over the text, praying like anything that my current 5 minute sermon would turn into 20 minutes by Sunday! Yet, when we are guided by the Spirit of God and remain true to the word of God, then God is able to speak to others through us in ways which always leaves me amazed and humbled.

I went to the Kiwi-Made preaching forum prepared to listen to four sermons on the temptations of Jesus in Luke 4 and being a ‘preaching forum’ was planning on evaluating the sermons in minute detail. I had my note pad, I had my pen, I was ready to evaluate!

What I wasn’t prepared for was the journey God had planned for me that in a metaphorical way followed a similar structure to the temptations of Christ and using the line from my opening sentences; it felt like the preachers knew every detail of my life.

It began with a clearly structured sermon which started with the biblical text and then used many personal illustrations to help make a point. I was writing furious notes. I became captivated and it was almost like the Spirit of God was catching my attention. The second sermon was rich in biblical exegesis, to the point that I felt like the word of God was leading me somewhere (perhaps metaphorically like Luke 4:1). The third sermon was an illustrative sermon that left me paralyzed to my seat. I could no longer take notes, God had my attention. I felt I was being opened up to the point where there was nothing left, it was just me and God, and it was like I had been led to the wilderness (Luke 4:1). The fourth sermon was a cross between inductive and deductive and it was the final blow, my own temptations, my own weaknesses were examined and I had a choice, I could choose to fight my way out ‘by my own hand’ (Luke 4:1-4), or, I could trust the word of God and wait on his leading.

How could each of the four preachers have known what was going on in my life? How could they have known exactly what words I needed to hear?

I went into the day expecting to evaluate for the sake of evaluating and instead I encountered God in the process who revealed many things to me – things that I needed to hear! So as I reflect about the Kiwi-Made Preaching Forum I am deeply encouraged. I am encouraged because I know there are preachers throughout New Zealand who are being led by the Spirit and are preaching the word of God, thus, are speaking into people’s lives as a result. But there is also a big challenge, the challenge is to never be too busy to be lead by the Spirit and to never lose faith and trust in the Word of God!

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