On a variety of occasions, people have asked me how I develop the ideas for sermons.
My normal method involves plans to cover topics of Christian growth and development. These topics include doctrine, ministry and character development. The idea behind this is to keep things from getting stuck in any one place for too long.
I depart from this method from time to time, as I encounter a passage or thought that has a significant impact on me. The following thoughts are from a sermon of the latter type.
A couple of weeks ago, a verse from Psalm 37 was referenced during a sermon at a funeral I was attending. I made a note of the reference for future study.
Here is the basic outline of the sermon that came from that study: Verse one tells the reader not to fret over evildoers. Verse three says to trust the Lord and do good. Verse eight calls on us to cease from anger and wrath, because they lead to evil doing. This seemed to be very practical advice.
We think that we can do little to impede evildoers, and evil in general. Our sinfulness has touched all of creation to the point that Paul writes that all of creation groans to escape the present corruption. It seems unavoidable, and often leaves us feeling helpless to respond.
The third verse of Psalm 37 is an encouraging challenge. We are called to trust the Lord and do good. Though the action of evildoers is out of our control, our own choice to do good and trust God IS in our control. The scriptures are replete with illustrations and examples of this process.
“Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” It is not easily done, but it is doable.
This step, then, allows us to challenge the force of evil. Verse eight reminds us to cease from anger and wrath. That is a good that we can do through trusting in the Lord. Though in a small way, it prevents evil from recycling through us.
It may seem miniscule, but if each of us could do good and cease from anger, we might be able to minimize the evil around us.