By God’s grace, I’ve been preaching since I was about sixteen years old or so (that’s sixty-two years!). I’ve made every mistake in the book (I go over some of the most common mistakes in my booklet Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!).
I want to give away some of my favorite sermon outlines. Hopefully, you will find these useful.
One sermon I’ve worked a lot on is entitled “Insight from a Blind Man” from John 9. In fact, John 9 is the most extensively recorded miracle in the Bible and deserves much more than just one post. I won’t reproduce the biblical text for you, but my major outline points with a bit of explanation.
I. Tragedy Has Its Reasons! (vv. 1-5)
Jesus and His disciples encounter a man “blind from birth.” How did they know he was blind from birth? Perhaps his particular begging call was “Please help me. Blind from birth!” We don’t know. But the disciples ask a critical question: why? They assume this man’s disability came from either his sin or his parents’ sin. Jesus categorically rejects both of those answers (as only God can) and declares “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). If that were the only verse in the Bible that we had concerning tragedies, it ought to be enough!
If the Bible teaches a sovereign God — and it does — then whatever tragedy you or I face (in ourselves or in others) fits the category of “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” God can use our tragedies for His glory. They are not purposeless! Just because we may not know the specific reason for our tragedy does not mean no reason exists.
This is a powerful message that we can share with anyone. When you and I begin to truly listen to the stories of lost people around us, they will begin to tell us about their tragedies. And we can say as the Spirit leads us, “This has not happened to you by accident. A loving, sovereign God wants to do something special in your life, through your tragedy!” And then we can share with them one of our own tragedies.
As a teacher I sometimes give multiple-choice questions on exams. Jesus basically says to His disciples, “Fellows, I don’t mind your multiple-choice question, but make sure you have the correct answer as one of the multiple choices! Your letter ‘A’ (“this man sinned”) is not the right answer. Your letter ‘B’ (“his parents sinned”) is not the right answer. The right answer is “C’ — “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (to be continued)