When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah.
Verse four really jumped at out at me. I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to sin when disturbed. Sin is a form of disturbance. And as far as being silent when I am disturbed … fuhgetttabouit!
I’m not necessarily interested in sitting on my bed to ponder it (not, at least, without a serious teddy bear available). I appreciate the writer’s intention. When I am disturbed at home and do happen to sit on my bed (or couch, more likely), a particular family member is always tuned in and the first to respond. He weighs about 90 lbs. My wife and I are childless, and the canine is sacred to me, so to say he is a family member is an understatement. He has been with me since Hurricane Katrina; he knows disturbance when he sees it.
If something is wrong, Liberty approaches, stares at me for a moment, ensuring that he makes contact as he swings his hindquarters around to brush my left knee, then sits and sighs. Invariably he will glance at me and—if he knows I am not upset with him—he will throw his right paw up and into my lap. The Great Spirit does in fact answer me in this regard when I call.
As you well know, when the people are disturbed, many will tell you about it. They often pick creative and mind-altering ways in which to do this. Many, though, will sit on their beds or sofas and “be silent.” In what ways can you reach those persons from the pulpit?
Rev. Dr. Chris Ayers
There is no one formula for writing sermons (or for writing for LLR to help preachers preach). One method I often start with is to read the texts and underline phrases that jump out to me, makine quick initial notes when necessary. Here's what happened when I used that method for this week's lectionary texts.
3:12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, "You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?
3:13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.
3:14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you,
3:15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. (Describe several authors/books in your intro. Choose books whose author is an authority on some topic. Then describe Jesus as the author of life and go into detail about what that means. Tell stories about people whose life was authored by Jesus.)
3:16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
3:17 "And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers
(Describe the ignornances that had stained the historical church, the moderrn church, ancient socities,and contemporary U.S. society.
3:18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.
3:19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.
4:1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. (Here is a great verse on which to base a pastoral care sermon. What does it mean to give people room in their distress? The one thing Job's friends got right is they saw how distraught Job was and just set with him in silence. They messed up with their words. I read a sermon by a minister titled "Don't Cry Past Tuesday." It made the important point that we must not let life's events define us. We have to move on. On the other hand, don't tell me I have "until Tuesday." Give me and others room. Recognize the personal and distinct ways that each of us handles distress. Describe the role of the church in this important process. Mostly, tell stories of how the church has had an incredible history of healing.)
4:2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
4:3 But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
4:4 When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
4:5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
4:6 There are many who say, "O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD!"
4:7 You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.
4:8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.
3:1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
3:3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
3:4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
3:5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
3:6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.
3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. (You just deceived us by saying no one who abides I him sins. Luther got it right. We are simultaneously saints and sinners. They problem comes when folk think they or others are all saint or all sinner. Tell stories about the sinful saints you know or the sinful saints of church history). Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.