All Generals and No King!

Title: All Generals and No King!
Category: Pastoral Issues
Subject: King Jesus
All Generals and No King!
Dr. Vincent D. Hefner, Pastor
First Baptist Church
Cherryville, North Carolina

One of the biggest challenges I face as a pastor is to prepare as many as three messages every week. I read academic books that deal with the Scripture in the original language, and homiletical books that deal with how various preachers used the Scripture in sermons. Between the two different areas of research, I pray over my notes and begin to form my own sermon. This process can be exciting as well as exhausting; because this is the time the Scripture continually stays on your mind and your heart. I ask myself two questions every time I write a message. First, “What would I want to hear, as a member of the congregation, from this message?” and secondly, “What does the Lord want me to say to my congregation?” I answer the first question by understanding what the Scripture is saying to me, and how the message should affect my life. I answer the second question by spending time in prayer and begging the Lord to direct my thoughts on what He wants my congregation to hear and feel. I can’t imagine my life without this weekly process because it draws me closer to the Lord and gives me a glimpse into just how much God loves us.

Another part of preparing a sermon is looking for illustrations to give a special spice to the sermon. I have discovered that people will remember a story I have told to help them recall the Biblical principle. It is sort of like writing a newspaper article, but in reverse. I tell stories in the article and weave the Scripture into the story, but in a sermon I stick to the Scripture and sprinkle in the illustrations. Now you know my secret!

I would like to tell you an illustration that I recently read and shared with my congregation. The mental picture of the story impressed me so much that I just wanted to share it with you today so it could be a blessing in your walk with Christ. An art gallery in Germany has a painting by the famous artist, Mengel. The interesting part of this story is that the painting is unfinished. Mengel was commissioned to paint King Fredrick of Germany talking to his generals. The artist took great pride in painting each general around the outer edges of the painting. Mengel was going to wait to paint the King last, so he left a bare patch in the center of the canvas, with the background full of generals. His plan would have worked to perfection but for one problem, he died before he completed the portrait! The painting was too beautiful to discard, so it was put on public display, a bunch of generals with no king to lead them!

The reason this illustration spoke to me is because of the number of Christians who are in the same situation as these generals. They are all ready to go to work, but the King is absent, not because of the death of any artist, but because they choose to exclude King Jesus from the central part of their lives. You see, when the King is present, He is in charge, but when He is absent we feel that we are in charge of our own lives. Have you ever felt this way? I guess at one time or another we all have. The illustration is a reminder to make sure the King of King and Lord of Lords is in His rightful place in your life. Romans 14:7-8 says, “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Amen. Remember, don’t give in to sin. Think about it!