As awe-inspiring and transformational as the Word of God is, we do a great disservice to God’s Word by delivering it in a dull and boring manner. If the Word is alive, then the one delivering it should speak as though they are made alive by its truths! After preaching for 20 years, I’ve found studying the Word to be something I’ve always looked forwards to… it is the illustrations and application of biblical truth that can often become a drudge or sticking point in my sermon prep (especially when talking to teenagers!)
Delivery matters. Witherington suggests the importance of pathos in the delivery of Paul’s message to the Corinthian church, telling us that the style and tone should appeal to the lived experience and emotions of his audience. Paul is addressing real-life situations that needed the more abstract principles to connect with the cultural struggles this congregation faced. A good teacher helps people see how they can apply the truth and applied truth leads to joyful transformation (Prov 15:2, TLB).
If finding application points and sermon illustrations help the preacher put flesh and bones on the spiritual truth, how can we leverage Logos to save time finding helpful illustrations and application points to help us communicate to our audience?
5 Quick Ways To Find Application Points and Sermon Illustrations In Your Logos Library
1. Illustrations Section in your Passage Guide
I love guides. They are the Research Assistant that Logos delivers to you! The Illustrations Section of the Passage Guide will deliver tagged content from your library based on topics and the particular passage you are studying. This is my first or second go-to spot when I am in a pinch for illustration ideas. It is helpful to say that I prefer the “List” arrangement over “Tags” or “Cloud”. Way easier to navigate for me.
2. Search Your Logos Media Content for Sermon Illustrations
I’m a visual kind of guy. When I prepare my Church History lectures, I often would run a historical figure’s name through a media search. The pictures would often result in a moment of history or connect to a story in time that would help me communicate my point. It also should return graphic slides of quotations or some of the scripture art Faithlife has created. Oh! And the maps and charts have often helped me in different settings to frame larger ideas.
- Christian History Magazine Bundle – Many pictures, stories, and illustrations for history
- Irving Jensen’s Works have numerous helpful biblical charts and graphics
3. Access Devotional and Application Types of Commentaries
The Passage Guide received an update that organized commentaries into types. Accessing the Devotional or Application types of commentaries will lead to more devotional or pastoral commentary that is often practical over technical. I often search these types of commentaries last on my study sessions, as I have already deciphered the text’s meaning through study and prayer, and now am looking for pastoral insight for applications, memorable quotes, and other inspirational nuggets to share.
- Boice’s Expositional Commentary Series
- NIVAC-New Testament Commentary Series
- Life Application Commentary – NT (Single Volume)
4. Create & Compile Your Own Sermon Illustrations in a Notebook
The best illustrations come from personal transformation and from the daily moments that move us, as opposed to other people’s stories. I leverage my Logos Notes and Notebooks this way. When I come across an idea, a memory, or a news article I find outside of Logos, I take a moment to create a note in an illustration notebook I personally create. I will write down a title, include a description and explanation, a source link if there is one for reference, and attach a picture or screenshot that may be helpful to the note.
I’ve done this with personal experiences, new stories, and even from social media accounts. After I create the note, I may add some keywords or tags that are appropriate and anchor any scripture references that come to mind. When I run a guide search, these notes that apply may show up in the Your Content section of your Guides or Basic Searches.
5. Use Collections to Access More of Your Library
Guide results can be limited to the behind-the-scenes tagging in your library. Creating or purchasing a collection (like the Complete Spurgeon Sermon Collection) helps you both expand, and specify what information you are looking for. Creating a collection geared towards your needs may help find some sermon application gold that has otherwise fallen through the cracks.
A recent Passage Guide search in 2 Corinthians provided me a quote on wisdom and reason from Søren Kierkegaard, buried in a non-versified Study Guide (a resource type that the stock Commentary section won’t pick up) that reads: “Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, once said, “Christ doesn’t destroy reason; he dethrones it.”
What a concise and thoughtful way of honoring reason, while still placing a strong preeminence on knowing Christ first! It would have otherwise been lost in my library without this customized collection.
Some items I think of for these purposes are maps, atlas, counseling resources, marriage and relationship books, study guides, small group materials… and whatever you would imagine would turn up results! I took the time to create an Application Collection based on resource Subjects, Title, Community Tagging. Some of the dedicated Logos Pros tag each resource with their own personal tags!
I then take that collection and will add a Collection Section to the guide I use for my studies (Passage, Sermon Starter, Topic, etc.). I can also use that collection in a Basic Search panel.
Here are some custom rules for my personal Application Collections that I use that may be of help to you!
- Richard’s Application Collection: (subject:(discipleship, “christian life”, “pastoral care”, counsel, “spiritual growth”, sanctification, care, formation, holiness) OR (title:grow, ANDNOT title:church) OR (title:counsel, “pastoral care”, counselor) OR (series:”spirit-filled life bible discovery”, “lifeguide”)) ANDNOT type:commentary
- Richard’s Illustrations, Quotes, and Anecdotes: ((Subject:(Anecdote, Illustrat*, Quot*, Stor*) OR Title:(1001, funny, Illustrat*, Laugh, Quot*, devotion, Stories, story) OR ((edition:e) AND (title:Illustrat*, Jokes, Laughter, Devotion, Quot*, Stories))) AND (type:monograph, journal, media, devotional, sermon, atlas)) ANDNOT ((type:commentary, encyclopedia), (perseus))
More info on creating your own at the Logos Wiki site: https://wiki.logos.com/collections
Bonus Tip: Use the Counseling Guide
If I am looking for specific application resources or tips, consider using the Counseling Guide. There’s gold to be found in there for Sermon Prep!
How about you?
How do you best find your illustrations and application points in Logos? Do you have any favorite resources to find your sermon helps?
See also the Logos Community Forum on Sermon Illustrations.