For my 30th wedding anniversary my wife gave me a smart watch. It’s called a Pebble Time. I like it a lot. One of the things I like about it is, that it gives me reminder notifications. About 30 minutes before an appointment, my watch buzzes and a notice comes up that says, “Hey, stupid! Don’t forget you have an appointment in 30 minutes!’ Well, it doesn’t exactly say it like that, but it wouldn’t bother me if it did. I forget stuff all the time. So like most Americans, my life is filled with smart watch notifications, to do lists, and other reminders. That’s one reason I leave stuff laying around my house. Each item reminds me of things I need to do. Vitamins on the counter. “Hey I need to take these this morning.” Wallet on my dresser. “Hey, I need to take this with me today.” Pants on my chair. “Whew! Good thing I saw those!”
We need reminders just to do the practical everyday things of life. Similarly, we need spiritual reminders. So much so that, one of the main jobs of the Holy Spirit, is to remind us of the things that Jesus taught us (John 14:26). God knows we are so forgetful, that He comes to live inside us to remind us of the truths He teaches us.
Reminding and remembering are common themes throughout the Bible. Paul says, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you (Phil 3:1). The psalmist remembers the great deeds of the Lord (Psalm 77:11). Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper, so that we would remember Him along with His sacrifice for us (Luke 22:19).
So reminding is a spiritual practice. Yet each week, as pastors prepare to preach, there is pressure to come up with something new to say. We look for the new angle, the new insight, the new Word from the Lord. Sometimes we think we need to say something new to keep our people coming back. Other times we want to say something new because we have gotten tired of the magnificent truths which captivated us at first.
It is true, that at times, God reveals new things. He does give new insights. He does give us new ways to apply his Word in new situations. But it is also okay to preach a sermon that reminds. Second Peter 1:12-13 says, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.”
I go to a church that reminds me every week that I am a sinner who has been loved and who has received grace through Jesus. I always enjoy being reminded of that. In fact, most of the trouble I get in, is not because I haven’t learn the latest new thing, it’s because I’ve forgotten to believe or to live by some old thing God has taught me many times before.
So as a preacher, we don’t have to live under the pressure of finding the next new thing. It is certainly okay to pray for God to show you new things. But it is also okay to stand up and boldly proclaim a reminder. Paul did. Peter did. Someone in your congregation may be in desperate need of a reminder. You may be the vessel God has chosen to notify them of a deep truth they already know, but have somehow lost track of.
Jay Fowler, Executive Director of the Midwest Region of PastorServe
Since joining the PastorServe staff in September of 2014, Jay has connected with hundreds of pastors in Kansas City and beyond. He grew up in Prairie Village, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science and Secondary Education in Mathematics. He received his Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, and has been in full time ministry for 34 years. He is an ordained Anglican priest in the Anglican Church of North America. He has been married to his wife Janine for 30 years and has a son and two daughters.