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Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


The Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost/
Third Last Sunday

Option #1: "A Great Apostle’s Letter to Beloved People"
1 Thess. 3:11-13
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

Suggested Introduction: Letters to Philip--Letters to Karen. Pastor Charlie Shedd wrote  letters to his children in two books published in the late 60's.   The first was the small book to his son Philip when Philip got married, with advice on how to build a healthy marriage. He wrote a similar volume to his daughter after her marriage, entitled Letters to Karen. "The advice is encouraging and convicting at the same time. Many of Shedd’s observations apply in a courting context. After all, how a man treats his girlfriend, and a woman her boyfriend, reflects how they will treat each other when they become husband and wife," a reviewer wrote in recommending the Book.

Paul has some good advice for the marriage we call "The Holy Christian Church." He wrote for us A Great Apostle’s Letter to Beloved People.  The advice is all the more compelling in light of the "Parousia", the coming of Christ.  We all try to be at our best when we know that company is coming.  Paul writes: 

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

I. Increasing & overflowing love–Col. 1:3-6; Gal. 5:6b, 13-14; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 4:7-16.

II. Blameless hearts–Eph. 5:25b-27; Col. 1:22-23; Jude 1:24.

III. Holy hearts–1 John 3:1-3; Acts 15:8-9; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; 2 Peter 1:4-9; 2 Peter 3:14.

IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament 

3:11 "Wish-prayers" ("Now may God…." addressed to those for whom the prayer is offered) were considered genuine prayers in Judaism and were offered with the expectation that God would hear them.

3:13 The Old Testament, Judaism and Jesus’ teaching also looked forward to a future hope that gave meaning to endurance in the present. The "saints" or "holy ones" here could refer to God’s people (4:14) or to the holy angels (Zech 14:5); both were called "holy ones" regularly in Jewish literature. Paul usually uses the term for the former.

The Believers Study Bible

3:11 It is encouraging to note that God "directs our way" to remove the hindrances (2:18) that Satan places in our path.

3:13 The apostle’s desire is to see them standing fast in holiness when the Lord returns to examine them. The form of the word "holiness" (hagiosune, Gk.) emphasizes not an act of holiness but the state or condition of holiness. God’s will is that our lives be characterized in every area by Christ-likeness. This includes both attitudes and actions. "The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" provides incentive to holiness. 

The Nelson Study Bible

Christ had told His disciples that His followers would be identified by their love for one another (John 13:35). Here Paul prays that the Thessalonians would love each other more and more. Finally, Paul expresses his desire that their hearts would be blameless in holiness, not simply before people but before God. The word saints can refer both to saved people and to holy angels. Angels will participate in the Second Coming (4:16; Jude 14; Rev. 19:14).

Coming:

(Gk. parousia) (3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; 2 Pet. 1:16) G3952: The Greek word parousia literally means "presence." The word was commonly used in New Testament times to describe the visitation of royalty or of some other important person. Thus the word signals no ordinary "coming." The New Testament writers uses the word to describe Christ’s second coming, when He will return to earth in His ultimate, glorious visitation as the King over all.

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Option #2: "God Everywhere!"
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Rev. Kelly C. Bedard, M.Div.

A. In the details--even in relatively ordinary things, like (Paul's) travel

B. In empowering us to fulfill the law of love, the ultimate in Christianity

C. In assuring our ultimate safety, being declared blameless and holy in His sight

Notes

1. Another part of the epistle, in which he speaks of the duties of a Christian life. And he shows that the perfection of a Christian life consists in two things, that is, in charity toward all people and inward purity of the heart. And the accomplishment of these things is nonetheless deferred to the next coming of Christ, who will then perfect his work by the same grace with which he began it in us. (Geneva Notes)

2. Obstacles are those fearful things we see when we take our eyes off the goal. (From Paul by Chuck Swindoll)

3. An atheist is a person without any invisible means of support. (John Buchan)

4. What is holiness? To be set apart, from the world and unto God--the holy person marches to God's drumbeat, not their own, or popular opinion's. It is our hearts that must be made holy first; the devil desires that we would develop a holy exterior while neglecting the interior--like whitewashed tombs, full of death. Paul brings in a reminder of Christ's return, because nothing can encourage us to holiness like remembering that Jesus might come today. (David Guzik) 

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