Sermon exegesis begins in the secret place where prayer and meditation upon the Lord leads the preacher to the inspiration of the Lord.
We wrestle with hearing in our hearts, dreaming in our sleep and seeing in our everyday lives, a world and a people who stand in need of the mercies of God.
Our Merciful Father provides the balm to heal our sicknesses and privileges the preacher to be the instrument He uses to bring salvation.
In short, our task of exegeting preaching passages begins with the Inspiration of the Lord…preaching does not begin with our problem, the thing we can see but with the “substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.”
Preaching does not begin with how much money you can make, it does not begin with how much power or credibility or position or personality you can acquire...it begins with the direction of the Spirit of God.
And so I submit that initially our task of preaching ought to begin with hearing from the Lord God Almighty.
Generally, if the Lord has not already spoken to you about your passage to be preached, prayer and meditation may require a minimum of 24 to 48 hours.
It could take a lot longer depending on your sensitivity to distinguishing the Spirit’s leading.
Once you feel confident that the Lord has delineated the message He wants preached, you are already for the next step.
Note* if you are familiar with the Greek language, it is easy to determine the context written in the Greek language because it's always delineated in paragraph form.
Just remember that the text you have selected is only one small part of the whole and you will certainly need to understand the purpose and meaning of the book and where this book fits into the Bible.
So your first study will be of the whole biblical context, several times you need to read it through.
Think about the author’s argument and how your passage fits into the larger context.
Now you want to understand the basic content. Read the passage and try to get a feeling for what God's word is conveying to you and the congregation.
Try getting your head around the essentials of what's being said as you meditate upon the text.
This is the time you might want to read your passage in different translations… KJV, ESV, American Standard version and a Greek Interlinear version.
Make your own translation especially if your Greek is dormant or weak.
This process will help you to notice things about the passage that you would not notice in reading, even in the original language.
You may become sensitive and alert to any textual questions that will affect the meaning of the text.
Is there special vocabulary in the passage, what are its grammatical features, are there any historical-cultural issues.
All of these issues stand out when making your own translation.
Another thing if you know your congregation, you know its members, their vocabulary and the educational level and the extent of their biblical and theological awareness then you can adjusts the level of your vocabulary and be willing to illustrate or explain your terms used..
You are uniquely capable of producing a meaningful translation that you can draw upon during your sermon, to ensure that the congregation is really understanding the truth of the word as the passage presents it.
As you make your list of alternatives remember these translations maybe different in textual, grammatical or linguistic/stylistic in nature.
How many of these alternatives should be introduced in your sermon is a matter of personal judgment but just remember not to clutter your sermon with too many different sermon translations.