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Two brothers were discussing their life goals after Sunday school. The first brother’s goal was to be rich and famous. The second brother’s goal was to follow Christ to the fullest. The second brother went on to reach his goal. His name was David Livingstone, the renowned medical missionary and explorer of Africa. The first went on to be rich, but his fame came from another. The epitaph on his tombstone reads: “Here lies the brother of David Livingstone.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A young preacher, looking up from his reading, asked his wife, “How many really great preachers do you think there are?” She replied, “Well, I don’t know, but there is probably one less than you think.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Some students never study but, like the spider, spin everything out from within, beautiful webs that never last. Some are like ants that steal whatever they find, store it away, and use it later. But the bee sets the example for us all. He takes from the many flowers, but he makes his own honey.— Francis Bacon



A young minister who was asked to speak at his old seminary stood up and said, “What I have to say must be pretty good because my knees are already applauding.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Someone has said, “In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found.”

Paul says, “I proclaimed to you the testimony about God (1 Cor. 2:1, NIV.) He did not tickle people’s ears with giving them what they wanted to hear. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Someone has said that there are only two kinds of speakers: those who have something to say, and those who have to say something! ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A good preacher should have these properties and virtues:

            first, to teach systematically;

            second, he should have a ready wit;

            third, he should be eloquent;

            fourth, he should have a good voice;

            fifth, a good memory;

            sixth, he should know when to make an end;

            seventh, he should be sure of his doctrine;

            eighth, he should venture and engage body and blood, wealth and honour, in the word;

            ninth, he should suffer himself to be mocked and jeered by everyone.— Martin Luther


Function of Minister

Most of us have gone to a circus sideshow at some time or at least seen one on TV. One of the common feats of daring under the big top is performed by the man who attempts to get a large number of plates simultaneously spinning on the end of some sticks. Of course, the problem he faces is that just as he gets another plate spinning on its stick, one of the earlier ones begins to waver and appears ready to fall. So the performer has to rush to it and give it a booster spin to keep it going. Back and forth he rushes, trying to add plates and at the same time not let those already spinning fall.

This seems to be an apt illustration of many churches and the role of the pastor in them. Like our sideshow performer, the pastor has figured out the plates he wants to spin, and he looks through the congregation to find who could be the sticks. With great effort, he gets it all going and then discovers that the sticks don’t keep the plates moving. So he has to run up and down from plate to plate, operating programs that the sticks are not motivated enough to keep going on their own.

A comedian once did the spinning plate trick, but with a different twist. He got his plates up and spinning, while his sidekick attempted to do the same. But then he watched his sidekick run around like crazy, trying to keep his plates spinning, while he himself did nothing. Finally the sidekick realized that something was not quite right, so he looked at the comedian’s sticks. In fact he picked one up, and the plate kept spinning. He tipped it over, and the plate kept spinning. You see, the twist was that the comedian had figured out how to make the stick responsible for the plate’s spinning.

How much better is it for the church and its leaders to concentrate on “perfecting the sticks.” That way, as they grow, parishioners become motivated to get involved in certain ministries and take responsibility for services that are on their hearts and interest them. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Apostle—the Sent One

Heb.3:1; John 3:17,34; 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 7:16,18; 9:4; 17:18; 20:21

“My teaching is not mine.” The Son—the Sent One—the Savior—the Speaker of words of God—the Spirit Giver.

To be sent into the world is different with to go into the world.

Even our silence is a speaking of our own glory. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Function of Minister

Spurgeon graphically illustrated the effect of Christian leaders upon a congregation

“…as a result of your own decline, everyone of your hearers will suffer more or less. It is with us and our hearers as it is with watches and the public clock; if our watch be wrong, very few will be misled by it, but ourselves; but if the Horse Guards or Greenwich observatory should go amiss, half London would lose its reckoning. So it is with the minister; he is the parish clock. Many take their time from him, and if he be incorrect, then they all go wrongly, and he is in a great measure accountable for all the sin which he occasions.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Preparation for Ministry

Shortly after a recent seminary graduate had assumed his first pastorate, he and his wife went to visit his family one Saturday. His mother sensed that her daughter-in-law was unhappy, but-not wishing to be meddlesome-pretended not to notice. As they departed, she heard her daughter-in-law say, “All right, we can go by the church and you can practice baptizing me just one more time. But remember this-when you have your first funeral, you are not going to practice burying me!”


Preparation for Ministry

If someone had told me I would be Pope one day, I would have studied harder. –Pope John Paul I


Qualities of Minister

If you hired a gardener to take care of your lawn and then went past his house and saw that his own yard was sloppy and unkempt, would you trust him with the care of your lawn? Or, if you went to the dentist to get your teeth checked and sat down in the chair only to look up to see that the dentist had a mouthful of rotten teeth, would you trust him to work on your teeth?

How can a minister expect any positive response to his ministry if his life is not holy? ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Qualities of Minister

Spurgeon said that this prayer would be the very last one he would pray, if able: “Lord, send to thy Church men filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Give to any denomination such men and its progress must be mighty; keep back such men, send them college gentlemen, of great refinement and profound learning, but of little fire and grace, dumb dogs which cannot bark, and straightway that denomination must decline.— cited by Iain Murray


Qualities of Minister

After years of research, the profile of the “perfect pastor” has been developed. The perfect pastor preaches exactly fifteen minutes. He condemns sin, but never embarrasses anyone. He works from 8:00 A.M. until midnight and is also the church janitor. He makes $60 a week, wears good clothes, drives a new car, and gives $50 a week to the poor. He is twenty-eight years old and has been preaching for twenty-five years, is wonderfully gentle and handsome, loves to work with teenagers, and spends countless hours with senior citizens. He makes fifteen calls daily on parish families, shut-ins, and hospital patients, and he is always in his office when needed.

If your pastor does not measure up to this profile of the perfect pastor, simply send this description to six other churches that are tired of their pastor. Then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church at the top of the list. In one week you will receive 1,643 pastors. One of them should be perfect. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Qualities of Minister

If you can’t stand the smell of sheep, you shouldn’t be a shepherd. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Qualities of Minister

A pastor-teacher who does not love people is like a shepherd who is allergic to sheep, or a woman who wants to have a family but can’t stand children. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Qualities of Minister

A survey of many churches was taken by the American Association of Theological Schools. Each church sampled was to list the qualities desired in a minister they would consider employing. The results:

            First: Humility

            Second: Honesty

            Third: Good example in daily living

            Fourth: Excellence in ministerial skills( i.e., preaching, counseling, teaching, etc.) ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Qualities of Minister

The preacher needs to be pastor, that he may preach to real men. The pastor must be preacher, that he may keep the dignity of his work alive. The preacher, who is not a pastor, grows remote. The pastor, who is not a preacher, grows petty.— Bishop Phillips Brooks


Qualities of Minister

Power for service is second. Power for holiness and character is first. The first, second, and third requisite for our work is personal godliness. Without that, though I have the tongues of men and angels, I am harsh and discordant as sounding brass, monstrous and unmusical as a tinkling cymbal.— Alexander Maclaren



G. Campbell Morgan was one of a hundred and fifty young men who sought entrance into the Wesleyan ministry in 1888. He had passed his written exam but faced the test of giving a trial sermon in front of a panel. When the results were released, Morgan’s name was among the hundred and five who were rejected.

He wired his father with one word: “Rejected.” Then he sat down and wrote in his diary: “Very dark. Everything seems still. He knoweth best.” The reply to his wire was quick to arrive. It read, “Rejected on earth, accepted in heaven. Dad.”

As G. Campbell Morgan went on to prove, rejection on earth is often of little consequence. As his father wisely recognized, rejection on earth is of no consequence in heaven. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Parishioners hard pressed for something to say to the clergy after the service have, according to one minister's friend said to him, "You always manage to find something to fill up the time." "I don't care what they say, I like your sermons." "If I'd known you were going to be good today I'd have brought a neighbor." "Did you know there are 243 panes of glass in the windows?" "We shouldn't make you preach so often." 

Arthur Myers in Berkshire Sampler.

A Lutheran newsletter has some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for church members unhappy with their pastor: "Simply send a copy of this letter to six other churches who are tired of their ministers. Then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church at the top of the list. Add your name to the bottom of the list. In one week you will receive 16,436 ministers, and one of them should be a dandy. Have faith in this letter. One man broke the chain and got his old minister back."

Source Unknown.


An elderly widow, restricted in her activities, was eager to serve Christ. After praying about this, she realized that she could bring blessing to others by playing the piano. The next day she placed this small ad in the Oakland Tribune: "Pianist will play hymns by phone daily for those who are sick and despondent--the service is free." The notice included the number to dial. When people called, she would ask, "What hymn would you like to hear?" Within a few months her playing had brought cheer to several hundred people. Many of them freely poured out their hearts to her, and she was able to help and encourage them.

Source Unknown.

A group of ministers and a salesman's organization were holding conventions in the same hotel, and the catering department had to work at top speed serving dinners to both. The salesmen were having spiked watermelon for dessert. But the chef discovered that it was being served to the ministers by mistake. "Quick!" he commanded a waiter. "Bring it back!" The waiter returned, reporting that it was too late. The ministers were already eating the liquor-spiced treat. "Do they like it?" asked the chef.

"Don't know," replied the waiter, "but they're putting the seeds in their pockets." 

Quote Magazine.

In the 1950s, marketing whiz Stanley Arnold was working at Young & Rubicam, where he was asked to come up with a marketing campaign for Remington Rand. The company was among the most conservative in America. Its chairman at the time was retired General Douglas MacArthur. Intimidated at first by a company that was so much a part of America, Arnold also found in that phrase the first inspiration for a campaign. After thinking about it, he went to the New York offices of Merril Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane, and placed the ultimate odd-lot order: "I want to purchase," he told the broker, "one share of every single stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange." After a vice president tried to talk him out of it, the order was finally placed. It came to more than $42,000 for one share in each of the 1098 companies listed on the Big Board at the time. 

Arnold now took his diversified portfolio into a meeting of Remington Rand's board of directors, where he argued passionately for a sweepstakes campaign with the top prize called A Share in America.  The conservative old gentlemen shifted around in their seats and discussed the idea for a while. "But Mr. Arnold," said one, "we are not in the securities business." Said another, "We are in the shaver business." "I agree that you are not in the securities business," said Arnold, "but I think you also ought to realize that you are not in the shaver business either. You are in the people business." The company bought the idea. 

Peter Hay, The Book of Business Anecdotes, in Bits and Pieces, October, 1990.

A minister must be learned, on pain of being utterly incompetent for his work. But before and above being learned, a minister must be godly. Nothing could be more fatal, however, than to set these two things over against one another. Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a right leg or a left leg: soldiers should have both legs. 

B.B. Warfield, quoted in Credenda Agenda, Vol. 4, No. 5, p. 16.

So popular and effective was Campbell Morgan's ministry that he was given all kinds of offers from many different places and people. John Wannamaker, the great merchant of Philadelphia, offered to build Morgan a million dollar church if he would become its pastor. Morgan turned him down, something the wealthy Wanamaker was not accustomed to in his dealings with people. "I am God's man," said Morgan. "If I did that I would become John Wanamaker's man." 

W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers,  p. 210.



“ There were two men who had the oversight in making the tabernacle. The first was Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of fudah; and the second was Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan (Ex.31:1-6). We want to take these seven names and their meaning as illustrating the secret of success in Christian work in the divine sense of the word, and also the sort of workers God wants.

. Bezaleel, Which means in the shadow of God. If our work is to be God honouring, we must be dwelling in the secret place of God’s presence.

. Uri, Which means light of fehovah. Living in the light of Jehovah, in the light of His word and presence. And the result will be that our whole body will be full of light (Matt.6:22); thus the  light that has shone into our hearts will shine our in our life in work for, and with the Lord (11.Cor.4:6,7).

. Hur. This name has a triple meaning—free-born, noble, while, Free-born. Only those that are born of the Spirit, by the Word and through faith in Christ, are made children of God; and as such, our Father says to us, “ Son,

. Judah, which means praise. Working Christians are joyful, praising ones. Believers who do not work for the Lord have plenty or time to listen to the doubts and fears the devil brings before them; but the working Christian is like the busy bee; as it passes from flower to flower getting the sweetness out of each, it seems to hum its song of praise as it goes buzzing along. So we shall find that as we speak to others of the love of Christ, that will burn in our own hearts.

. Aholiab, which means tent of my father. The tent is the symbol of separation from the world. As worker we are sent into the world, but we are no longer of the world, and no longer is the world in us, although we are in the world have power in service, there must be practical separation from all that is worldly, and a confession that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, and that “ our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour.”

. Ahisamach, which means brotherly support. The secret of manifest blessing from God in work done for Him is unity amongst the workers. “ How can two walk together except they agree?” and this applies with equal force to work; there must be unity, brotherly support; no bickerings or jealousies, but a real interest in each other, and each other’s work; remembering that it is the Lord’s work, and that we should rejoice in whomsoever He uses.

. Dan, which means judgment. As to our persons, we shall never be judged for our sin, becaust Jesus has borne the judgment for us. As servants, we shall be judged, that is, our work, of what sort it is. As sons, we are now to judge our ways by the Word of God; but we are also to judge what sort of work we are building on the foundation—which is Christ. If we are building on it the wood of vain-glory, loving to be seen of men; the hay of profession and the stubble of mixed motive, it will all be burnt up at the judgment seat of Christ. But if we build on the foundation, the gold of pure motive-the glory of God; the silver power of love, and the precious stones of prayerful faith, believing work and loving labour (1. Cor.3:11-15), these will stand the fire, and we shall receive the Master’s “ Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Thus may we judge our work of what sort it is now, and be “ stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1. Cor.15:58).

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings