1. You will see how to get great ideas and illustrations everywhere.
  2. You will be able to know if what you are studying will help you minister to your people.
  3. You will learn to use a system that will allow you to easily keep track of the great ideas you get.
  4. You will make a sermon or lesson plan.
  5. You will be able to name the three purposes of any sermon or lesson.


The people lined the streets to shout praises to Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Waving palm branches and crying “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” they exalted Him. After a time of teaching by Jesus, God spoke from heaven.

The remarkable detail in this story isn’t the fact that God spoke. The amazing point is that most people didn’t recognize Him when He did speak. Some thought it was thunder; a few others thought it was an angel. They didn’t recognize God’s voice because it came from the sky and the only thing they had heard from the sky before was thunder. They, like us, are accustomed to hearing from God in only a few places. The problem is that we’re not hearing Him when He does speak. If you are waiting for God to speak to you in some inner voice, or only through a Scripture that seems to jump from the page of your Bible, you will not hear God as often as He speaks.

On one occasion, God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house where He said He would announce His words to him. (Read Jeremiah 18:1- 6) How? By letting Jeremiah observe a life experience that directly related to a spiritual principle. Some of the best ideas and illustrations for messages don’t come from books, but from life as you watch it and live it. When you can find truth in life as we live it today, your people will be able to apply it to their own lives. Jesus used life as He lived it to explain truth.

For example, a few years ago I was preparing a sermon on leadership in the home. I wanted to show husbands that wives find it nearly impossible to follow a man who cannot make a decision. Some months before I preached this message, I was ministering in another city. While I was there, the host pastor took me to dinner at a hotel. After our meal, we walked through the lobby on our way outside on a platform in one corner of this very large room stood a newsstand. Since it was a major hotel, the operator of the newsstand had a dozen different newspapers from around the U.S. for sale. We stood for a few moments on the edge of the platform watching the movement of the crowd through the lobby. Just before we left, a couple walked past us toward the restaurant. As they got near the newsstand, the man stopped and said to the woman, “Wait a minute, I want to get a paper.”