In looking for lists of some of the best books on preaching, I came across a post by Greg Loughridge that included the following poignant story which is a summary of a Warren Wiersbe story:
Grandma Thatcher hobbles into church one morning. As usual, her unsaved husband had sent her off to church with curses ringing in her ears. She was in constant pain, and had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. She dreaded the arrival of winter and was praying that fuel prices wouldn’t go up again. If it weren’t for her Lord, her large-print Bible, and her Christian friends, Grandma Thatcher would have given up a long time ago.
When Pastor Bowers stepped into the pulpit to preach, Grandma Thatcher silently prayed, "Father, give him something special for me. I need it!" The text was Genesis 9, and the message was the twenty-second in a series on Genesis that Pastor Bowers called "Beginning at the Beginnings."
The sermon was titled, "God Talks to Noah." Pastor Bowers read the chapter and then gave the congregation his main points:
I. Creation Presented – 9:1-3
II. Capital Punishment – 9:4-7
III. Covenant Promised – 9:8-17
IV. Carnality Practiced – 9:18-23
V. Consequences Prophesied – 9:24-29
As some of the saints dutifully wrote the outline in the space provided on the back page of their worship folders, Grandma Thatcher breathed a disappointed sigh. "Last week it was all S’s. Today it’s all CP’s." She settled back in the pew, turned the preacher off and began meditating on the psalm she’d read early that morning before George had gotten up to menace her day.
In the effort to let scripture speak for itself, we must always remember that our efforts can really hinder what God is trying to say to our people.