I mentioned my inexperience showing. In these early months I see mostly a random selection of texts and themes. No big purpose seemed to hold sermons together. Some sermons challenged people about their faith as in a sermon on 1 Cor 2:14-3:2. Which of the three are you? Unspiritual man, spiritual man, mature man .1) Spirit absent - threatens to describe so many who in practical living fail to look on the Cross and let the Holy Spirit guide their living - even in church so used to doing the Christian round of activities that we think this is the sum total of godly living. 2) Spirit present - being born from above (John 3). Paul says that the spiritual person has the gift of understanding, the mind of Christ, to perceive that the Cross is the power of God. Spiritual people have access to a wisdom that the world mocks and the unspiritual dismiss.3) Spirit dominant - moves on from being spiritual babes to maturing and showing fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and so on. Yes, it's easy to label others but what about ourselves?
Other texts popped up like Psalm 99 The Lord reigns/, Isaiah 28:14-22 He who believes will not be panicked,Mark 1:32-2:12 And a leper came to him . Then I attempted a short series New Standards - 1) The new law of love, 2) New Worship, 3) New brotherliness. I was working hard!
But in a sermon from Hebrews 5:11-.6.8 You cannot remain a good egg I had this giveaway sentence:
Dear friends, I don't honestly believe that sermons make that much difference. This growth in maturity to which we are all called must rest on our serious methodical Bible study, disciplined prayer life, ad dedicated use of devotional aids like hymns.
Of course, much does depend on the quality of our discipleship but here I let slip that I couldn't see sermons making much practical difference to people's lives. In the years since I have grown more and more convicted about how much difference God can make to lives and communities when he empowers preaching. Now it's all up to God to enable sermons to make spiritual impact but he also needs preachers who are expectant, open and humble. I don't know whether I was any of these in these early months.