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Summary: Monday morning is often a time when pastors do an autopsy of the weekend's sermon/s. Sometimes as we talk with other pastors on the phone the question is asked - how's your services? But what is it that constitutes a great Sunday service?

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# 1. The preparation for the sermon.

A. Here we see Ezra in sermon preparation mode.

a. Here is the man of God w/ a message from God stirring in his heart.

i. And its obviously a heavy message that God is dealing w/ him about preaching …..

Vs 1. 1While Ezra was praying, confessing these sins, crying, and throwing himself down in front of God’s temple, ….

*** 2½ year old JL came running out of the nursery screaming this morning & fell on his face on the carpet continuing to scream. What ails him so? The big issue was that he had to go into nursery!!!

I have to admit it was hilarious!

But we all know that it’s a different thing when a grown man behaves like that!!!

ii. This is something like what we saw Ezra doing in our text. Wait troubles him so? …… What aileth thee Ezra? Man! What is it about Sunday’s sermon?

iii. Maybe he’s wrestling w/ some tough things he has to preach in Sunday service!!!

iv. But the truth is that is going to be what’s happening in the preacher b/4 Sunday service ….. in any gospel preaching church!

v. He’s wrestling w/ some things that aren’t going to be easy to preach / challenge the people w/.

b. But there’s something often missed here in the idea of sermon preparation, look at….

Vs 1. ….. a large crowd of Israelite men, women, and children gathered around him. They also began to cry bitterly

i. What we see here is that sermon preparation doesn’t just happen in the heart of the pastor – it also happens in the hearts of the people!

ii. Our text shows us that there was not only preparation going on in the pastor’s heart but it was also going on in the people’s hearts.

iii. This is what saves us from dead, boring, lifeless Sunday sermons ….. a preparation in your own heart!

*** I once got feedback from someone about one of my less than fantastic sermons. The guy in question told his wife that it was just a boring sermon!

Hmmm …… well he might have been right, others told me differently.

But the question I ask is this – how much sermon preparation was going on in his heart?

B/c when our hearts are prepared to hear from God He can use anything to speak to us!

Numbers 22:28 ( NKJV ) 28Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”

c. Get my point? God can use just about anything to speak to us if there is a willingness to hear from Him.

i. Therefore sermon preparation is a two way partnership – a partnership between the man of God delivering the Word of God & the people of God preparing their hearts to receive from God.

ii. Think about this next time you come to church tired from staying up too late / distracted by other preoccupations or just generally disinterested …..

iii. You are going to get out of the Sunday service not just according to the pastor’s preparation but according to your own preparation!

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