Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Psalm 4, Easter 3 B

Psalm 4

In verse 1, the Psalmist says; “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” Isn’t this a prayer for today. Aren’t most people looking for relief from their distress? Aren’t we? Verse 3 gives the answer: 3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him.
But then the Psalmist puts responsibility on the us as well in verse 4; In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. And then again in verse 5 Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD.
The Psalmist then continues in praise of what God has done in the last verses; Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

There are sure a lot of people who have sleep disorders, sleep problems, difficulty sleeping. This is a Psalm to turn to when one has trouble sleeping. What keeps you up at night? Is it worry? The bills? The debt? Job security? Children? Marital problems? Old resentments and hurt? Memories from the past? Grudges? Guilt over things left undone? The “what ifs,” and the “if onlies?” Lies, deceit? What’s keeping you awake at night?
The Psalmist tells us to cry out to the Lord, and that when we lie down to search our hearts and be silent? Have you done that? Do you know how to do that? Well, in AA they practice this every night as a way of putting to rest any unresolved parts of the day. They can’t afford to let it build up, or it will ruin their sobriety. Neither can we as Christians.
John Wesley would ask the members of the classes of Methodism; “How is it with your soul?” At the Band meetings he would ask, “What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?” two questions for ordination are the same now as they were in Wesley’s day: “Are you going on to perfection?” and “Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?” Here are some more of John Wesley’s questions:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Am I proud?
18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?21. Is Christ real to me?

B. Wesley’s Band Meeting Questions:
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?
Reference: John Wesley’s Class Meetings: a Model for Making Disciples, by D. Michael Henderson, Evangel Publishing House, 1997, pp. 118-9

However you choose to search your heart, I hope you sleep well.

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