I am definitely a pre-planner.  I send my agendas out ahead of time, I plan my calendar in advance, I block off my vacations at the first of the year, I do my taxes early, I send my sermons to the media department by Thursday of each week and I work from a sermon planner for all my sermon series.  Procrastination is certainly not my vice. However, with all of that being said, I have learned that even if you are pre-planner, you still have to let God lead.  It is easy to plan God out of the day on Sundays if we are not careful.  We can be doing His business without doing His will.  I love to preach series and honestly, I think people learn and remember more from a series than from single sermons.  In fact, I believe God can speak to you months in advance about a series.  He knows we have to advertise the series, make graphics, create props and design CD covers.  However, even when you are working from the best plan, there are times that He will surprise you.  This past Sunday was Valentine’s Day.  I can’t remember that last time that day fell on a Sunday. What a golden opportunity to share the love of God on the day when everyone celebrates love and relationship.  It was carefully planned.  The graphics were great, the videos were cued and the sermon was called, “The Love Letter.” First John was going to come alive in the hearts of the people. I could see it, I could feel it and I couldn’t wait.  This was also Children’s Dedication Sunday so there was a guaranteed group of visitors and un-churched people present ready to be ministered to. Everything was set.  I had just returned from an inspiring Prayer Conference, my heart was full and I just couldn’t wait to get into First John. When I went into my routine prayer time on Sunday morning, something was wrong. I looked at my sermon and it was like staring at a blank page.  I was suddenly sick to my stomach. The only peace I had was from my pre-planning and the fact that I was surrounded by many talented people and a well-prepared sermon.   I went to church still uncertain but pressing on. The worship was amazing and truly set the stage for a great day.  The closer it got to my time to preach, the larger the pit in my stomach grew. It felt like a burning volcano! I kept telling myself, “Trust God and yourself, you are well prepared.”  It’s now time; the last song had been sung, the last prayer had been prayed, the offering was already finished and there was only one thing left to do–preach.  I walked to into the lights and smiled. I clicked my PowerPoint presentation to the first slide.  For some reason, it still looked lame and empty to me-even after all of my preparation! I rolled through the slides for about 3 seconds and then I turned it off.  I’m sure this incredible crowd was wondering what was going to happen next. I was thinking the same thing.  All I could do at this point was praise.  So I sang, “It is well with my soul.” That is not the typical song for a Sunday morning at Twin Rivers, but it’s all I had.  During the song, people began to stand and worship.  It was in that moment that the Lord reminded me of a chapter in the Bible I had read a few days earlier in my prayer time, John 9.  It was not a sermon, just a scripture I had read.  I turned to it and started to read when a powerful anointing came over me.  For the next 40 minutes I preached from this text.  Surprise! God had something to say and knew that it could only be said through an empty vessel. The atmosphere was charged with His power and presence. The altar response was overwhelming as hundreds came for prayer. Many were just visiting that day and this service was just for them. What is the lesson here?  The lesson is that when you are in your private time with God each day, listen more than you speak. Don’t just shout demands at Him and call it prayer.  You can say what is on your mind and then be still to let Him say what is on His mind. He may lead you to a scripture that He plans to speak through you.  The words of Jesus in John 16:13 have never rang so true as they did this past weekend,  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak.”  Hearing from God is more important than speaking to Him.

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