At the end of 1998 I traveled with a small group of people into a country closed to the Gospel. We each brought a few paperback Bibles and we also brought the Bible on audio cassette. We knew that in one area we would traveling to that bringing a printed Bible wouldn’t be enough because many couldn’t read. Not only that but they didn’t have access to current technology (at the time CD’s were current technology!) which is why we brought audio cassettes.
15 years later and it’s now estimated that more people have access to a smartphone than decent sanitation. What does this mean for missionaries and the advancement of the Gospel? It means that we live in a time where the Gospel can be transmitted like never before!
As the picture above demonstrates, we can now store over 1,600 Bibles on a Micro SD card that is smaller than a penny. If you’ve ever picked up a box of books, you know how significant the idea of being able to store an entire library’s worth of books on a memory card is. That one cassette box I hid in the bottom of my bag years ago could hold enough Micro SD cards to resource thousands of pastors.
We live in a unique time and it will be exciting to see how technology continues to be utilized in the spread of the Gospel!
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The Young Tozer
Aiden Wilson Tozer was born April 21, 1897 on a small farm in Western Pennsylvania, the third of six children. And although he would inspire millions with his preaching and writing, he was given very little education during his childhood. Instead, he was needed at home for physical labor. In 1907, when his brother left home to work for the Goodrich Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, Tozer was called upon to do the difficult work of a farm-hand. At 15, his entire family moved to Akron and Tozer went to work at Goodyear. One afternoon walking home from his job, he heard a street preacher say, “If you don’t know how to be saved . . . just call on God.” When he got home, he climbed the narrow stairs to his attic and gave his life to God. Within a few years, Tozer would gain a reputation as a “20th-century prophet.”
His First Pastorate
Tozer joined the Missionary Alliance Church shortly after his conversion, where he met Ada Pfautz, whom he married at the age of twenty-one. In 1919, ordained, married, and without formal education, Tozer was called to pastor a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. Able to express his thoughts in a simple and forceful manner, Tozer’s preaching began bringing the power of God to hungry souls, and people couldn’t get enough of him. That humble pastorate in West Virginia sparked Tozer’s 44 year ministry with The Christian and Missionary Alliance. He spent most of those years at Chicago’s Southside Alliance Church where the congregation, captivated by his preaching, grew from 80 to 800. In 1950 Tozer became the editor of the Alliance Weekly, and its circulation doubled almost immediately. His ministry was fueled by constant prayer, and he would often be seen walking the aisles of a sanctuary or laying face down on the floor, praying. He noted once that, “As a man prays, so is he.” An early biographer noted his consistent prayer life: “Tozer spent more time on his knees than at his desk.”
His Continuing Legacy
A. W. Tozer was 66 when he died of a heart attack on May 12, 1963. His tombstone simply and appropriately reads, “A Man of God.”
He left behind many books that continue to give Christians encouragement and guidance. His writings are as fresh today as when he was alive because, as a friend commented, “His books reach deep into the heart.” His honest and colloquial humor has been known to sweep up congregations in gales of laughter. And his wisdom has left them silent and stunned. For almost 50 years Tozer walked with God, and even though he is gone, he continues to minister to those who are eager to experience God.
The community outreach events are completed. The music hit home. The preaching connected. Lives were changed forever. Everything you’ve worked towards and focused on the last several weeks has come to fruition. Now what?
You knew this moment would happen, but the hustle and bustle of preparing for the most important service and sermon of the year consumed your every waking thought. Now it’s Easter Monday and the next Sunday sermon is only 6 days away. Maybe you had the forethought to plan the next series, but haven’t had the time to actual prepare.
Not to worry. There are plenty of themes to discuss. Here are a few questions to help you brainstorm and get the ideas flowing:
Consider your Easter Sermon. What was the main point (beyond the obvious)? What are some secondary points that could be used as a sermon series? Could you take the bullet points from your Easter sermon and create a series of sermons to drive the point home? Were there things you left unsaid because of time constraints? Perhaps you can take that sermon and use it as a launching pad into the next few weeks or months. You spent a lot of time preparing for that Easter sermon. Use those resources to your benefit.
Consider your Calendar. What is coming up next on the calendar? Some of the obvious answers would be Pentecost Sunday and Mother’s Day. But what else could you bring a biblical perspective to? What about Tax Day, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, or Memorial Day? Okay, maybe Tax Day is a stretch. Take a look at your local calendar as well. Is your church celebrating a significant event? What is going on in your community in the upcoming weeks and months? What can you point out and use as a bridge to your community?
Consider your Context. What are the issues going on in your community right now? Are there social justice issues that need to be addressed from a biblical perspective? Are there positive outcomes in the local government or law enforcement that you can affirm? What are the heart concerns of the community? How can you speak to these issues? Take a few minutes to feel the pulse of your context.
Consider your Church. How’s your church doing? Are there aspects of disunity, bitterness, or un-forgiveness to be confronted? On the other side of this, who do you need to say “thank you” to? Who needs to be encouraged, affirmed, strengthened, and appreciated for all the hard work they did on Easter Sunday? How can you champion the volunteers in the nursery, Sunday school, small groups, greeters, ushers, worship team, and all of the various aspects that it takes to make a service happen?
Consider Christ. Perhaps the most overlooked sermon prep tool is prayer. How is Jesus speaking to you? What is Jesus saying that needs to be preached? How can you point people to Jesus and use their felt needs as a starting point? We have to remember that Christ is more concerned about people than we are. It’s easy to fall into the trap that we alone are responsible for bringing the Word of God to people. However, it’s Jesus who said that He will build His church (Matthew 16:15). Let’s remember to ask God for His help in bring His Word to His people.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey he fulfilled prophecies that had been made hundreds of years before. His entrance was greeted with the laying down of palms and shouts of ‘Hosanna’.
Hosanna was a cry of hope from an oppressed people living under Roman rule and it means ‘Oh save’ or ‘Save us now’. They had been waiting generations for the Messiah and he was finally here! Just a week later Jesus would save them, but not in the way they ever would have imagined.
He wasn’t a King like David whose rule and reign was only for a limited time. He is a King forever, and his life, death, and resurrection are just as powerful today as they were 2000 years ago.
In an age where we have continual access to the news from around the world, it only takes a moment to see that the shout of hosanna is still needed. At this moment there are people living in poverty, oppression, and hopelessness. While they may not say the word hosanna, they are certainly in need of saving and many do cry out on a daily basis for some glimmer of hope.
What do you need to be saved from?
You may or may not live in a country where you are oppressed by a ruling party like the Jews were. You probably aren’t waiting for a king or savior to come and make things right for you and your family. You may actually have all the food, shelter, and security you need. But this cry of hosanna may still be one that you can relate with. When were separate from God – our creator – we can have all the things of the world and still be as lost and hopeless as ever.
Jesus was the only one who could fulfill the cry of hosanna. His saving supersedes circumstances and physical needs and reunites us with our creator. It’s this kind of saving grace he displayed on the cross. We didn’t deserve it or earn it but he so desperately loves us that he died to save us. His was and is the only answer to the cry of hosanna.
As you remember Jesus resurrection this weekend be reminded that the saving grace of Jesus has the power to change everything!
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
- Jesus in Luke 19:10
By Olive Tree Staff: David Mikucki
Jesus’ followers were convinced that He was the coming King—the Messiah of Israel who would rule the nations with a rod of iron. All His disciples were severely disappointed when the unthinkable happened: Jesus was crucified. The coming, conquering King had come and didn’t seem to have conquered. Maybe Jesus wasn’t the Messiah? If He wasn’t, then… now what?
That’s the backdrop for Luke 24. With Jesus dead, His followers were distraught. They were on a seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking about everything that had just happened, trying to sort through it all—still unaware that Jesus had been raised. Jesus met them on this road, but He kept them from recognizing Him (Luke 24:17). To them He was a stranger passing on the road. They told this ‘stranger’ that they thought Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel. They said that some of their friends were telling what they thought were fairytales about Him rising from the dead.
At this point, Jesus says something that shocks everyone. He tells his followers that the prophets said all of this was going to happen: the Messiah would suffer and then enter into His glory. No one expected the Messiah to suffer! Who expects a King to suffer? Jesus says the prophets expected it. Then in Luke 24:27, He explains the things concerning Himself from Moses and all the prophets. Jesus went to each book of the Bible and explained all the things about Himself (see also Luke 24:44).
People these days have a lot of different ideas concerning what the Bible is about. Jesus has His own idea. The Bible isn’t a book of rules we have to follow in order to go to heaven (John 5:39). It’s not just a bunch of do’s and don’t’s. It’s not just a bunch of neat stories. Jesus said the Bible is about Himself. Humanity’s biggest problem is that we sin our whole lives and then we die and enter into judgment. The Bible teaches us all we need to know about our Savior—the King who suffered and died in our place and rose from the dead three days later to make us right before God and give us a new life like His.
One of the last things Jesus did before He ascended into heaven was to tell us that the Bible is about Him! Jesus is our Savior—the only Savior—and He says that all of Scripture points us to Him: the One we really need. When we study the Bible, let’s remember that it’s all about Jesus.
Olive Tree has got some great resources that explain Jesus in parts of the Bible we might not have expected to find Him. Here are some of my favorites…
- Gospel Transformation Bible Notes by Crossway
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Free!)
- Christ in the Old Testament by Charles Spurgeon
- Christ in the Passover by Rose Publishing
- Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by D.A. Carson and G.K. Beale