(Because of the wretched state of Red Deer’s pulpit space, it is now, as predicted by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, the time to ‘pluck up that which is planted…a time to break down…a time to weep…a time to cast away stones’ and even ‘a time to refrain from embracing.’ And it is certainly more ‘a time to speak’ than ‘a time to keep silence.’ Be that as it may, the wrecking ball of negative criticism should be followed by the laying down of truth. To this end, we introduce the sermon sketch as an intermittent blog feature. As the term ‘sketch’ implies, this kind of post, in distinction from the usually lengthy analysis, will be pithy. The source for each sketch will be indicated at the bottom of each post.)


“Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel” (Psalm 69.6.)

God’s minister, though sometimes failing, doubting, and nearly fainting, knows that he will never be utterly and ultimately disgraced. He has believed in Jesus Christ, the chief corner stone, and no one with faith in that name shall ever be confounded (1 Peter 2.6.) The minister is especially conscious of the eye of God upon his life and sins (Psalm 69.5); and he is faithful enough to his Lord that he has been put to shame for his Master’s sake (verse 7.) Jesus Christ was put to shame and bore reproach for sinners; the minister now reciprocates, and suffers shame for his sinless Master. He who is not ashamed of the gospel will be willing to be shamed for the preaching of it. And though he desires the people of God at large, and especially his church members, to be willing in this also, yet his prayer is that not one of God’s elect will suffer shame for the minister’s sake.

(1) For the Church at Large. The first petition is for them that wait on the ‘Lord God of hosts.’ The minister is a broad-shouldered man spiritually. His concern extends beyond the enclosure of his beloved flock. Unlike the sectarian, he cares for more than his little piece of Israel. He looks concernedly beyond the borders of his church and denomination. His prayer is that no saint will be ashamed, be he nearby or faraway, on account of any unfaithfulness discovered in him. When the everlasting gospel is preached, it will be ‘published throughout the whole region’ and ripple outward; so he ‘keeps under his body’ for the sake of the Body at large. As the minister is conscious of God’s eye upon him, he is conscious of the eye of all upon the Church. He knows that the whole world will target God’s people through the faults of a single pastor. So he puts up this petition for personal holiness. For the sake of far-off brethren as well as those closest to his bosom, he nurtures gospel purity and blameless behavior. If any are put to shame, prays the magnanimous, catholic-minded minister, let it not be ‘for my sake.’

(2) For the Local Church. The second petition (the sweetest is saved for last) is for those that seek the ‘God of Israel,’ those he is intimately acquainted with and accountable for. What part of God’s Church is attacked the most when a minister misses the mark or mars his testimony? It is that minister’s local church. So ‘for his sake’ the people he cares for the most may be disgraced and discouraged most. When a minister sins either by doctrine or deed, the Church universal will be denounced as false. But this target is rather indistinct, and so the world swings wildly into the air at that. So many ministers fail worldwide that we are used to this broad denunciation of our Religion. But soon the local church that owns the stumbling pastor is discovered; and it takes the world’s blows right on its little chin. If any of mine are confounded, prays the shepherd of a few, let it not be ‘for my sake,’ neither for pulpit nor persona.

What proof do you have of your minister petitioning in this manner? Does he strive to put this prayer into practice? Is he all out for himself? Or does he concern himself about Christians both far and near? Does he know more of the gospel than the man in the pew? Or does he shame the pew by his ignorance in the pulpit? Does he preach against preoccupations that dull or pollute the spirit? Or does he keep quiet on those things because he is personally implicated? Is he so separate from the world that you would never think of calling him ‘Pastor Bob.’ Or do you find yourself snapping to attention in his presence? I have spoken generally. Make application generously.   


{A sermon sketch by M. H. Gaboury}