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  • Writer's pictureDale Walker


Updated: Oct 27, 2021


Introduction: Last week we talked about delivering a message (looked at focusing on who we would be teaching and understanding their needs). Today we want to begin to talk on how to prepare the content of the message, or specifically, “What does the Bible say about their needs?”

Some observations:

A. We are not motivational speakers; we are Bible Expositors. We aren’t trying to just give positive ideas; we are helping people build their lives on the solid foundation of God’s Word instead of the world’s or their own opinions (Rock/Sand… Matthew 7:24-27).

Whereas motivational speakers may want to inspire people’s efforts, our job is to build people’s faith!

We are completely changing people’s paradigm from living by works and self effort to living by faith, that allows God to work in and through them, to want to do and able to do through Christ the right thing. One of the most important things I try to be conscious of is; Romans 10:17. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” If I can build their faith and give them confident hope, God will solve and bring breakthrough to their problems.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

Emphasize: This not only applies to what we say but the tone that we say it. I have done my job if people leave with the muscle of faith and hope built up inside them that senses, “God is up to something good in my life/There is hope for me and my family/God is for me…”

People don’t change through shame; they change through hope. Even the most convicting and correcting message should come across as, “You are way too awesome in Christ to let that lame way of doing things trip you up anymore. I know the real you and this is how you can let that real you out so you can be who you really want to be!”

1. We aren’t trying to make the Bible relevant; it already is. Its timeless principles are the most powerful and exciting truths out there. They show what reality is by timeless principles. The only way to live a good and happy life is when your life aligns with reality. God’s Word shows us reality and what really works in a real world.

2. Our job is to help make it understandable and applicable.

Expository preaching is really showing people verses God has put in our hearts and unpacking the way it can meet their needs and change their lives today. (Recent funeral service).

We get to show people what God says about what they’re going through. We get to show them how to run their race with joy!

The essence of biblical preaching is bringing to people’s attention the Scriptures God has given you for the message, in as simple, clear, and powerful way possible, to show them what that means for their life so they can be set free and live their best life with Jesus.

3. We show the Bible’s relevance by applying it to today’s needs (Charles Finney’s example). Our bigger purpose is to help our congregation fall in love with the Bible and make it their daily roadmap and guide.

I’m not trying to satisfy them with a message; I’m trying to make them hungry. (The meat of the Word is that which people glean and apply for themselves). My greatest compliment is if my people start to teach me.

B. Doing this takes focused effort. (2 Timothy 2:15) Study to show yourselves approved a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.

We will take the next couple of lessons to suggest a preparation plan for producing life changing messages from God’s Word. We will use the acronym for C.R.A.F.T. based on

Ecclesiastes 12:9-11.

“In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The preacher sought to find delightful words and write words correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (NASB)






T RIM AND TIE TOGETHER (asking for a specific commitment)

I. Collecting and categorizing

A. To be a preacher/teacher that people can grow with over a long period of time you have to always be growing and have a system for keeping and retrieving the helpful insights God wants you to bring to your congregation’s lives.

1. “Students want to drink from a flowing stream not a stagnant pond.”

—Howard Hendricks

What makes you a great teacher is being a great learner. Get excited about learning. Be a front seat, take notes, eat it up listener.

2. Make it part of the rhythm (rule of 5) in your life to collect and categorize.


  • Pray and study.

  • Love, listen, and learn.

  • Praise God and adjust my attitude.

  • Lead and influence people for God.

  • Collect and categorize God’s truth so I can feed the “flock”.

B. Define your system. What is going to be in your sermon vault? How are you going to label it? How are you going to collect and file? Who is going to help you? What is your process? How will you find it? Become purposeful and intentional in your process.

  • How you read books/listen to podcasts

  • How you journal and take notes

  • How you file (physically/digitally-Evernote)

  • How you plan ahead what you are going to be teaching about

  • What you do with sermon research after you preach it

C. Ways to collect and categorize for a specific sermon or sermon series.

1. Develop the habit of memorizing Bible verses that speak to how God helps meet people’s needs. There’s nothing more powerful than quoting a verse from memory.

Preaching is God speaking through a personality. A memorized verse becomes part of you, a living conviction of who you are on the inside. When you memorize Scripture, the Holy Spirit will bring it to mind when it is what God wants to say at a particular moment and you will be able to pivot in that direction.

2. Make lists of words related to your subject. Words become key to how you will pray, think, research, and arrange. For a funeral recently, I asked, “make a list of the words that you think best describe your mother’s legacy”.

In preparing for, “Elephants in the room,” my list of words helped get me started on my Scripture search and helped me “feel” things that were on God’s heart.

“Let’s go there”, secrets, idols, hidden, brave, truth, tolerance, denial, shame, fear, dysfunction, strongholds. Lies, settle, compromise, mediocre, rationalize, excuse, minimize, awfulize, partner, rats, cockroaches, bats, under the carpet, skeletons in closet, ostrich, King has no clothes, awkward, people pleaser, in the closet, naked, fig leaves, Did God really say, lukewarm, monkey on your back, porn, buried, lights, sleep, awake, numb, bullies, identity theft

3. Find the verses in the Bible that speak about the subject you are going to speak on.

The words you identify can help you research and be able to write down the verses that tell us what God says about this subject. You can use a concordance or any number of online resources-Bible Hub, Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible… It is especially powerful when it comes from verses that you’ve memorized or unpacked during your personal devotions. (The example of “Elephant in the Room Bible verses).

Things to do with these verses:

a. Look for similarities

b. Recurring themes

c. Verses the Holy Spirit seems to be highlighting.

The best way to sense that is to PRAY THE VERSES FOR YOUR CONGREGATION! One of my favorite and scriptural things to do as I pray verses is to turn them into declarations.

I have believed in my heart and I confess with my mouth… When you pray, believe that you have received what you have asked. Pray with thanksgiving.

I believe effective Scripture prayer is looking in the mirror and seeing them as God sees them in Christ, declaring this in a way that releases faith in your heart for them, that becomes contagious then as you speak to them.

One of the biggest keys here is that “faith building” preaching is speaking to people’s identity not just their ability.

Telling people how to do something different will help them for a little bit, helping people see themselves completely different will change them for the rest of their lives!

d. Look for verses that seem to especially apply to your life. The feeder must be the first partaker of the meal they are going to serve.

e. For a sermon series, categorize key verses into groups for the different sermons in the series.

III. Research and reflect.

This second phase is about digging deep into the passages that you are going to use as the key texts for the message.

Remember biblical preaching is bringing verses God shows you to bring to the people so you can help them understand and apply in a way that will change their lives.

A. Research (also called Exegesis-excavate or draw out/as oppose to Isogesis which means to read into a text what you want it to say, the practice of false teachers. Besides helping you communicate better; good research is a matter of integrity. By the way it is good to encourage people to study this out for themselves and not just take your word for it. We are all capable of unintentionally interpreting something wrong.

Acts 17:11 says, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

Research is so important because our job is not to say what we think but to present what God says.

Research answers two questions:

1. What does it say?

2. What does it mean?

We are looking for the context and an understanding of what the original writer intended to say and what it meant to those who first heard it. More than anything, we are looking to identify the timeless principle that will meet people’s needs and change their lives.

A verse can mean something specific to us more than it meant to them but it can’t mean something that we presume, that would contradict something God says in a different part of the Bible.

B. In researching a text, we want to observe and look for some key things

1. What is the context, what does this verse mean in the context of that book, chapter, paragraph, and God’s bigger story.

2. Take some time to get a couple of other Bible scholars’ points of view (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Pulpit Commentary).

3. Ask the key questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? So then?

S- sin to avoid or repent from/ an idol to tear down

P- principle to observe/doctrine to understand

  1. attitude to imitate

  2. command to obey

E- example to pay attention to

P- promise to claim

E- encouragement to receive

T- truth to be thankful for

S- saying to memorize and remember

C. Perhaps the most important part of research is to observe and find Jesus and the gospel in the text. It is Jesus and the gospel that changes everything. (Finding Waldo/Squirrel). Make sure your preaching doesn’t go periphery but it stays on the central theme of the Bible. Keep the main thing the main thing.

Jesus’ example- Luke 24:27, And beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he explained to them all the Scriptures concerning himself!

1. Example-Jesus took the Elephants to the cross; He crucified the power of lies. He is still the one who cleans the temple of our heart and mind through the power of His Word.

2. As a preaching tip-Try in every way to put Jesus in the middle of a point.

Example: I Cor. 10:13 on Overcoming Temptation

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’


You can overcome temptation. You can overcome temptation.

Because it is common Jesus has seen it and overcome it before

Because it is limited Jesus will limit its intensity

Because it is escapable Jesus will make a way out

One leads more to trusting yourself; the other leads more to trusting Jesus!

D. Another key in studying and researching is to look at the Scripture in the context of “we” and not just the context of “me.”

One of the most important things about our preaching is that it is not just to help individuals live better lives, but it is to help us as a body come together for great things. In fact, most of the Bible was God speaking to the Eklesia-the corporate congregation.

If we really want to help people grow, we must help them see the Scripture and their life in Jesus in the context of the community, that He has called us to walk in as an absolutely essential, necessary means to obey all that He has commanded.

Almost every sermon should enforce-that’s why we are a community, why this only works if you are plugged into the church. It is only those planted in the house of the Lord that will flourish in the courts of their God. Jesus emphasized this in

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches! Revelation 2:11

IV. Reflect-Listening with Your Heart

Effective communication is always head and heart. The devotional part of teaching

preparation is pondering the word and listening with your heart to what the Holy Spirit is saying. Reflection is another word for the Bible word, “meditation.”

“I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.” Psalms 119:15 NLT

“I have more insights than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statues.” Psalms 119:99


It is important to recognize that the university and often even seminary teaches you how to research, but it doesn’t teach you how to reflect and meditate on Scripture. Other words for meditate include marinade, become fascinated with, soak, and rumination (cow chewing its cud). Worry is an example of “negative rumination-taking a negative idea and replaying it over and over. Why this is so important?

A. The principle is: How we internalize will determine the power by which we verbalize!

B. It is important to realize that you cannot rush reflection.

You can’t start reflecting a few hours before you teach and expect to be your best. Research, commentaries can give you interpretation, but reflection is where you get the specific application for your congregation. (Faith comes by hearing the “rhema” not just the “logos” of God).

*Side note this is where I want to caution us about preaching other people’s sermons or simply from content we read or hear from other speakers. There is a personal bond between the Good Shepherd, The Church Shepherd, and the Flock. Sheep don’t just receive content; they are meant to hear God’s voice in a special way through their shepherd who is listening to the Good Shepherd and sharing His heart for this particular flock.

There is a difference between a great sermon and hearing what the Spirit is saying to this church. We see this in the letters of Revelation, the main message was, “Repent” but it was spoken in a very specific way to each congregation.

1. Best sermons are prepared in a crockpot-marinaded. (Why good to have sermon planning, preach series, and have Scriptures you arepondering at the beginning of the week before you start putting together an outline).

2. Often your most effective creative God thoughts come after a time of rest.

It is good not only to ponder but to sleep on it. Try talking to God about the lesson you are going to speak on as you are going to sleep.

Say, “God, I need your help to organize this outline. I need your direction on which way to take the people this week.” Holy Spirit loves to work with your subconscious mind while you sleep. Often in the morning it is like, “bam,” that’s it. Because you were mulling Holy Spirit was moving.

C. Have a specific time after you have reflected on the verses to just listen to what God is saying to you and to record any insights you receive. Often the sermon gets somewhat rewritten in the process.

“Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.” Psalms 119:27

I believe it is good to always be prepared to write down or record a thought. Success is management of good ideas. Good ideas can come any time.

Again, realize that discovering how the Bible relates to people’s needs is HARD WORK. It is so worth the investment. The person who gets the most out of the process is always you!

“Ezra had worked hard to know and obey the Teachings of the Lord and to teach his rules and commands to the Israelites.” Ezra 7:10 NCV

D. In this reflection and prayer time I am expecting the Lord to give me keys to the ministry time. I’m asking for prophetic words of knowledge. Specific things to call out to people actually in the moment that will help them respond to the encounter with the Lord, God wants to give them. I ask God things like:

You sent your word and healed them, who are you healing today?

Today is a day of salvation, what do you want to say to the one who needs to be saved?

You have anointed me to preach good news to someone whose spirit is crushed, what do you want me to say to activate hope?

You are imparting gifts and vision, what should I call out to activate that?


1. Look at our theme verse on teaching people how to craft a message.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-11

“In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The preacher sought to find delightful words and write words correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (NASB)

2. As you look at this verse, what might be an observation you would make about the book and its author and what he might be trying to communicate? (Solomon the King of Israel, Author of Proverbs as well.)

3. What are some key words in this passage that stand out to you, that would be especially important for you to consider in your teaching ministry?

4. If you were advising a team member called to minister to the same people you are called to minister to, what would be one lesson from this teaching you would want to tell them?

5. How has this lesson challenged or equipped you to teach better?

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