We live in a time when we have potential access to more study resources than ever before. There are countless commentaries on every book of the Bible, including exegetical, technical, semi-technical, expositional, applicational, background, socio-cultural, devotional. Then there are the Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, literary guides, and so on. And I shouldn’t forget the preaching helps – outlines, illustrations, series ideas, and so on. All of this is in print, most of it is available as software, and then there is the bottomless pit of online material, ranging from helpful to truly pathetic.
What an incredible time to live in, but what a pressure it puts on us as preachers! What if there is a resource that will unlock this passage for me and I haven’t got it or read it yet? What if I am failing to preach as I should because I have failed to access the right preparation resource?
Learn to Discern. Discern which resources are worth owning on whatever budget you have. Discern which ones duplicate other or earlier works. Discern which are helpful for preaching and which are actually quagmires. Discern how to use the web with skill rather than endless bunny trailing through cyber-space.
Remember this is God’s work and He knows. He knows what resources you actually have access to and time for. He knows what level of training you’ve had. He knows how pressured your preparation has been. He knows.
In my case, I typically consult between four and ten (well-chosen and well-trusted) resources on a typical sermon. We are blessed with more available, in more formats, than ever before. But remember that our task is not to endlessly trawl through it all. Our task is to study God’s Word with His help, using only a small percentage of the available resources, according to our means and training, in order to preach the Word accurately and effectively to our listeners.