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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 Third Sunday After Pentecost

Option #1: "Dinner at Matthew's House"
Matthew 9:9-13
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

I. In celebration of new life--v9; see also Matt 21:28-31; Mk 2:14-17; Lk 15:1-7, 19:1-10; see also Acts 5:18-20; Rom 6:4

II. In defiance of accepted norms--vv10-11; see also 1 Tim 1:13-17; Mk 2:16-22, Ps 6:2ff; 41:4; 147:3; Hos 14:4; Rev 22:2-3

III. In demonstration of God’s heart of love--vv12-13; see also Prov 21:3; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Lk 19:10; Rom 3:21-26; Isa 55:6-7; Acts 2:38-39; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 20:21; 26:15-18; 1 Tim 1:15-16; 2 Pet 3:9

The Holman Bible Dictionary shares these thoughts on Matthew 9:13: Jesus brought the good news of a merciful, forgiving God. He embodied that good news in Himself, and everywhere He was met by cries and expectations for mercy--from two blind men (Matt 9:27), a woman with a possessed daughter (Matt 15:22), the father of an epileptic boy (Matt 17:15), and by ten lepers (Luke 17:13). His healings are themselves testimony to the divine mercy (Mark 5:19). Reminiscent of chesed, Jesus’ birth and that of John are testimonies that God is both merciful and faithful to His promises (Luke 1:58, 72, 78). 

Paul had a keen awareness of God’s mercy in his own life (1 Cor 7:25; 2 Cor 4:1; 1 Tim 1:13, 16), and in restoring his co-worker Epaphroditus to health (Phil 2:27). God’s mercy was shown in His readiness to forgive the penitent sinner (Luke 8:13). Especially was it transparent in the atoning work of Christ (Heb 2:17). Through Christ, God’s mercy delivers from the death of sin into life (Eph 2:4-5) and includes the Gentiles as part of His people (Rom 11:30-32). In Christ the mercy of God brings new life (1 Pet 1:3) and undergirds the hope of life to come (Jude 21). In this life the mercy of God is always available for those who approach His throne (Heb 4:16). 

The Christian life is lived under this assurance of God’s mercy. This is why mercy is often an element in New Testament greetings and benedictions (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Gal 6:16; 2 John 3; Jude 2). Those who experience God’s mercy are themselves to be merciful. God does not desire the external trappings of religiosity but deeds of mercy to others (Matt 9:13; 12:7; 23:23). One who shows no mercy to others cannot expect God’s mercy (Matt 18:33-34; Jas 2:13). Mercy is a mark of discipleship (Matt 5:7). Disciples show deeds of mercy to a neighbor (Luke 10:36-37) and perform them cheerfully (Rom 12:8). God is mercy, and one who shares in God’s wisdom shares His mercy (Jas 3:17).


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Option #2: "Father's Day/Parenting Preamble, Part the Second"
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Rev. Kelly Bedard

(This is the second in a series of [pre-]Father's Day sermons based on Dr. Tim Elmore's book
Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child, of which the following outline is a condensation)

A. It doesn't matter what you know if you don't know what matters ("Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!" [Deuteronomy 6:4])

       1. "If we forget the ultimate, we become slaves to the immediate. According to Group Magazine, when researchers asked mothers to keep a record of how many times their children whined for something, they found the average was five times a day--every single day. Even worse, these mothers reported almost half of their purchases directly resulted from their kids pestering them. No wonder some teenagers have a hard time saying no to cigarettes, illegal drugs, alcohol, and sex. They see their parents giving in so easily."

       2. "It's a little bit like having a compass on board a ship when you are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As you grope through the dark nights out at sea, it won't matter that you know what color your boat is or how many bolts were used to put it together. What matters is what direction you are headed. The compass is the key."

       3. Four main areas that really matter as I help my kids navigate life:

             a. Priorities--What is important?

             b. Problems--How do you react to them?

             c. People--How do you treat them?

             d. Philosophy--How do you view life?

B. The relationship is more important than the rules ("You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" [Deuteronomy 6:5])

       1. "God didn't say 'Keep My rules with all your heart,' although He gave...Ten Commandments. His first priority as a heavenly Father was love between His child and Him. Regardless of how poorly or how well our kids do with the house rules--we must always put our relationship with them first."

       2. "Rules are not bad. They just don't transform a heart. They change behavior from the outside in rather than the inside out. Love changes the heart and motives of a person. Love can get a person to do what the law can never get them to do."

       3. This is my "first" rule for rules. They should be:

             F--FEW. The more you have, the tougher it is to keep and enforce them.

             I--IMPORTANT. You should only create them if they are important to family life.

             R--RELEVANT. Make sure they serve a relevant need and aren't outdated.

             S--SIMPLE. Your child should be able to remember and share them in one sentence.

             T--TRANSFORMING. The rules should work to help shape the values of your child.

       4. "I love the story of the first-grade boy who strutted up in front of his classmates and proclaimed, 'When I grow up, I'm going to be a lion tamer. I'll have lots of fierce lions and I'll walk in the cage and they'll roar!' He paused a minute, looking at his classmates' faces, then added: 'Of course I'll have my mother with me.'"

       5. "A college professor had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to gather case histories of two hundred young boys. They were asked to write their evaluation of each boy's future prospects. In every case, the students wrote: 'He hasn't got a chance.'
           Twenty-five years later, another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow up on the project to see what had happened. With the exception of twenty boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved extraordinary success as lawyers, doctors, and businessmen.
           The professor was astounded and decided to pursue the matter further. Fortunately, all the men lived in the area and he was able to ask each one: 'How do you account for your success?' In each case, those men replied with feeling: 'There was a teacher...'
           The teacher was still alive, so the professor sought her out and asked the elderly but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into success. The teacher's eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile, 'It's really very simple,' she said. 'I loved those boys.'"

       6. "You can impress your kids from a distance, but influence is born out of a relationship."

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