At Redemption Parker we will begin a new sermon series through the book of Philippians this week. As a pastor I feel the incredible responsibility and privilege it is to open God’s Word and proclaim God’s truth to God’s people. Each week I take this responsibility seriously as I study, consider, prepare, and preach (2 Tim. 2:15)
In the same way, the church is both privileged and has a responsibility to rightly receive and apply the Word of God. Here are seven tips to help prepare yourself for a new sermon series:
1. Read through the entire book in one sitting (repeat if possible).
Reading through the entire book in one sitting will help you understand the context of the whole book - its main themes and purpose. Each week, as you hear only a small portion of the book preached, you’ll be able to connect that truth with the overall thrust of the book. Philippians is only 4 chapters long, and would only take about 15-20 minutes to read in one sitting. If possible, read the book in a few different modern translations as well (ESV, NIV, NASB, HCSB, etc.).
2. Use a study Bible to introduce the setting, context, and main themes of the book.
Many Bibles will give a brief introduction to each of the 66 books inside the Bible. Here you’ll be able to get a broad overview of the authorship, date, setting, context, and main themes of the book. I would highly recommend the ESV Study Bible.
3. Pray for yourself, the church, and the pastor.
As we read and hear God’s Word proclaimed, let’s make sure we do so in a spirit of prayer. Ask God to reveal His truth to you through His Word. Ask God to give you “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). Pray for God’s word to stir and grow the affections of the others who will hear the Word preached. Pray for the pastor as he studies and preaches the Word. When the Word is preached, it is not a spiritually neutral time. Pray against the work of the enemy and for the transforming power of the Word to have its effect in the lives of the hearers (Heb. 4:12).
4. Highlight, take notes, and write down questions you have regarding the book, passages, or verses.
Don’t be afraid to interact with your Bible. Wrestle with the text. Underline, highlight, and write in your Bible. Ask questions of the text and seek out answers. If, after the sermon is preached, you still have questions about the passage, don’t hesitate to ask your pastor questions.
5. Memorize a verse, a passage, a chapter, or the entire book.
There may be no better way to have the Word of God transform your thinking and life than memorizing it. The Spirit of God loves to use the Word of God to guide the people of God. Find a verse, passage, or chapter of a book to memorize. With a short book like Philippians, you may be able to memorize the entire book during the sermon series. Here’s an article to help you memorize God’s Word.
6. Seek to live in light of what God’s truth is revealed in the series.
God’s Word was not given for our information, but for our transformation. Let’s not be hearers of the Word only, but doers of the Word (James 1:22).
7. Invite others to join you as you journey through the series and book.
Perhaps a friend or a neighbor would be willing to join you as you go through this series? Invite them to come hear the sermons or invite them to get together with you to read and discuss the book of the Bible. If you do the previous steps listed, you’ll be prepared to help lead the discussion. Knowing you’ll be on a journey with others will also make you a better student of the Word and hearer of the Word when it is preached.