One of the questions I get asked a lot is, "How do you figure out what you are going to say in your sermons?" In short, the answer is that I don't know. Somehow, I just do. I have had many sermons that I have agonized over until (almost literally) the last possible minute before finally finding the right words to say. What am I going to say about this text? If I say this, will it sound like I'm just repeating myself every time I preach? These are just some of the questions I ask myself when preparing a sermon.
I have already made a post on the apprehension I have when it comes to preaching. What I didn't mention in that post, however, is something that I have realized to be a truth for me now that I am preaching almost every Sunday. I am concerned that, when I struggle with a sermon, I'll be tempted to fall back on rewording a previous sermon to fit with that day's texts. Eventually, my sermons will just be me saying the same things over and over again. So far, I think I have been able to avoid this problem (I hope so, at least), but I cannot escape this new apprehension. As I stated in my other post about this, I think apprehension is a good thing. Having this concern helps me to consider whether I am taking the "easy way out" with any given sermon or using the resources that are available to me to help bring across an important message.
This brings me back to the question that started this post. When preparing a sermon, I have many resources that I go to. First and foremost, I call upon my education. I spent three years in seminary and took classes on how to write and deliver sermons. This helps me realize that I have some credentials in this area. By virtue of my education, I also have many different commentaries that I can look through to find out more information about a specific text. Additionally, I check multiple resources online (from preaching websites to other blogs). Of course, I call upon my own experience and find ways in which my life intersects with the text in this process as well. Finally, I try to leave myself open to hearing God so that God's voice can be heard through me.
I'm still not entirely sure how I've gotten to a point where people still tell me that me saying 'x' in a sermon helped them deal with something they were going through. I just trust that, as long as I'm genuinely putting the effort into it, God is finding a way to use my voice.