Sermon Starters

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Christian Ministry Professionals

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

The Third Sunday After Epiphany

Option #1: “Three Fish Stories”
Matthew 4:21-23
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

I. The professional fish story: though Jesus most often does not call us away from our professions, he calls us to serve Him where we are—text, v21; Rom 12:1; Gal 2:20; Matt 12:50

II. The miracle fish story: (text, v18) They were preparing their nets; a  time was coming when the nets would break from an overflow of fish—Lk 5:6. This was no fish story. Jesus is the Lord of the wind and wave and of our lives. When He calls, He always provides; Matt 6:33; 2 Cor 9:8

III. The new fish story: Jesus called them to a different kind of fishing—“fishing for men”: Matt 9:9, John 1:43ff, 1 Cor 9:19ff; see also Prov 11:30, Jude 23; Dan 12:3, John 4:35 & Rom 11:14 & 12:1-2

John MacArthur writes:

When Jesus called those first disciples, He gathered together the first fish-catching crew of His church. They were the first of the original band of evangelists He called to fulfill the Great Commission. They were Jesus’ first partners in ministry. He had the power to accomplish the work of proclaiming the gospel by Himself. But that was not His plan. He could have done it alone, but He never intended to do it alone. From the beginning of His
ministry, His plan was to use disciples to win disciples. He would command His disciples to do other things, but His first call to them was, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The disciples’ obedience was instant: ”And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him.” The authority of the Lord had spoken.

Many years ago an Italian recluse was found dead in his house. He had lived frugally all his life, but when friends were going through his house to sort out the few possessions he had accumulated they discovered 246 expensive violins crammed into his attic. Some even more valuable ones were in a bureau drawer in his bedroom. Virtually all of his money had been spent buying violins. Yet his misdirected devotion to the instruments had robbed the world
of their beautiful sounds. Because he selfishly treasured those violins, the world never heard the music they were meant to play. It is even reported that the first violin the great Stradivarius ever made was not played until it was 147 years old!

Many Christians treat their faith like that man treated his violins. They hide their light; they squirrel away their great treasure. By not sharing their light and their treasure, many to whom they could have witnessed are left in spiritual darkness and poverty.

Some researchers estimate that as many as ninety-five percent of all Christians have never led another person to Jesus Christ. If that is true, ninety-five percent of the world’s spiritual violins have never been played! True love of our riches in Christ leads us to shine and share, not to hide and hoard.

When D. L. Moody once visited an art gallery in Chicago he was especially impressed by a painting called “The Rock of Ages” The picture showed a person with both hands clinging to a cross firmly embedded in a rock. While the stormy sea smashed against the rock, he hung tightly to the cross. Years later Mr. Moody saw a similar picture. This one also showed a person in a storm holding to a cross, but with one hand he was reaching out to someone
who was about to drown. The great evangelist commented that, though the first painting was beautiful, the second was even lovelier.


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Option #2: “Cross-Eyed Unity”
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Rev. Kelly Bedard 

1. Jesus Christ is our ultimate source of and ground for unity

2. Selflessness and submission to Jesus’ lordship fosters unity

3. Status people and symbols work against unity

4. Christ’s cross eliminates all forms of disunity


1. katartizo (v10): perfect, make perfect, mend, be perfect, fit, frame, prepare, restore, perfectly joined together; to render, i.e., to fit, sound, complete; to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair; to complete; to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust; to fit or frame for one’s self, prepare; ethically: to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what s/he ought to be

2. nous (v10): mind, understanding; the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining; the intellectual faculty, the understanding; reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognising goodness and of hating evil; the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially; a particular mode of thinking and judging, i.e, thoughts, feelings, purposes, desires

3. United in mind... (v1): “That is the mind Paul is talking about. When everybody decides to put the things of Christ first, and is willing to suffer loss that the honor and glory of Christ might be advanced, that is what brings harmony in a congregation. That is always the unifying factor in a
church, and that is the mind that is to be among us, the mind that does not consider itself the most important thing.” ... This is what Paul uses as the basis for unity in this church—not only the attitude of selflessness, which is the mind of Christ, but the responsibility to submit to his Lordship, the common responsibility that we have together.” (Ray Stedman)

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