Friday, February 15, 2013

Last Sermon

Feb 15, 2013 - Iloco Sur Trip: Day 9

4:27 pm - Just finished taking pictures with the students in front of the main school building. Can't believe the week is nearly over.

Before the pictures I preached my last sermon. I can only praise God for it because I truly was not ready. I had gone to bed a bit late last night looking at pictures with my roommate and helping her put some on her iPhone (she wanted some as memories). It was really good to spend time with her, I believe, but this whole busy week caught up with me today and I was so tired. On top of that, the morning was full with a special program they put on with the gymnastic team and marching band. Then, they moved the start time for the afternoon meeting 45 minutes earlier (for Sabbath prep's sake)!

So I was not very prepared. I had some (sort of confusing) notes and a powerpoint, and the message in my heart, but I knew I could only trust God to give it. I didn't feel worthy; I was totally in a bad state of mind. I had learned in Homiletics class at ARISE that the first important thing when preaching is to be true to God. This means that you need to be assured of your spiritual right to preach because you are standing in Christ's righteousness alone. When you kneel before God, you can stand before anyone. As the song service started, I still did not feel I was in this position. But I reached out and clung to God's mercy and promises, as we learned yesterday through my testimony and Jacob wrestling with the Angel. I prayed and I prayed, and I gave it to God. I prayed that He would make the message what He knew it needed to be. Whether it was perfect or imperfect in my opinion, I trusted He knew exactly how the message needed to be in order to reach those who needed to hear it.

Just before it was my turn to speak, He reminded me of two promises:

" 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me" (2 Cor 12:9).

"Be anxious for nothing..."

Right then, it was my turn. But God had given me peace, and throughout the sermon I found myself praying for the words more consciously than at other times. It was far from perfect, but God still spoke to the students through my faltering lips, and a number of the girls responded to the altar call to give their lives to God, small as they may seem, realizing that He needs them in order to finish the Story. Because we want to go home. And we can't until the world hears about God who is Love, as we learned this week.

I had been thinking about sharing the song "Heaven" on Help in Daily Living, and was trying to get it to work in the PowerPoint during the song service. It didn't work. I prayed about it, and concluded that God didn't want me to use it. I wasn't sure how to end the sermon with an appeal, but I trusted God would help me. Instead, I inserted the song, "I Want to Go to Heaven" by Ethan McGrath on piano as appeal music. And I praise Jesus for the girls who responded. Then we broke into groups to pray, as they normally do each afternoon, before the closing prayer. The song kept playing during our prayer, and I began to feel impressed to do something I never thought I would do. The kids have been saying that they want to hear me sing, so at first I didn't want the idea to be a people-pleasing thing. But I believed that the words as well as the music were powerful, and emphasized the message, and God inspired me to sing the song for them! I thought I was crazy, but I sang it with all my heart, faltering lyrics and all.

All in all, God is faithful. This has been quite the experience, and I have a lot (emphasis on A LOT) to learn still, but it has been a tremendous blessing. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithful love!

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