Nearly every single week for several years I kept dealing with the same problem, finding something “fresh” to preach that I had never preached before. I would pray, meditate, read Scripture, and agonize if I didn’t feel “inspired” about a certain text. This led to many restless hours in the middle of the night on Fridays and Saturdays. Being a bi-vocational pastor already places limitations on study time so this was becoming a real problem. I even began questioning whether or not the Lord was through with me in the ministry and, like I said at the beginning, this happened nearly every single week for several years.
Then, one Saturday morning as I was again praying and searching for a new message to preach for Sunday, the Lord opened my eyes to something, and that was the fact that I do not have to preach a new message every single Sunday. At first, I thought I was surely just imagining things and using it as an excuse to not prepare a message. But, the more I thought about it, everything began to make sense.
If you study the Bible then you must realize that many things in Scripture are repeated. For example, we have four Gospel accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and they all pretty much tell the same story. Yes, I know there are varying differences but on the whole, they tell the same story of Jesus, his life, death, burial, and resurrection. You will often find Jesus repeating things such as; “Peter, Peter,” “Martha, Martha,” “Saul, Saul,” etc. In the Old Testament, many things are repeated; the Ten Commandments are found in both Exodus and in Deuteronomy and the history of Israel’s kings is found in First and Second Kings as well as in First and Second Chronicles.
In our every day life we also love repeating things. I remember as a child I couldn’t wait until Charlie Brown’s Christmas came on television each year. I must have watched that show every single year for the first 15-years of my life yet it never got old. My sister was the same when it came to “Gone with the Wind”. She would watch that 4-hour long movie every year like clockwork and cling to every word. In our worship services at Church, we sing the same hymns over and over and never get tired of them.
The truth is, whether it comes to Scripture or every day life, we learn things through repetition. If something is valuable, it gets repeated. Why else would the Apostle Paul’s conversion be told three different times in the Book of Acts? If God gives you a sermon to preach, what makes you think he only wants you to preach it just one time? If it was good enough to preach once, is it not good enough to preach again? I’m afraid all too often it is our pride that makes us think that we must have something “new” or “fresh” to preach. As a pastor, a preacher of the Gospel, I must keep in mind that I’m doing nothing more than repeating the old, old story, how a Savior came from glory to save a wretch like me, and in the words of Solomon “there is no new thing under the sun.”
So, pull that old sermon out of the drawer, dust it off, pray over it, make adjustments if necessary, and preach it like it like its brand new!