Sermon Starters

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Christian Ministry Professionals

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

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

Option #1: "A Summons to God's Courtroom"
Micah 6:1-8

Rev. Wayne Dobratz

The Bible often uses courtroom language to focus our attention on the serious nature of the guilt we all bear. The word "justify" points to a courtroom finding of "not guilty." Whenever we pastors proclaim Law & Gospel, we are evoking images of a courtroom. So we meet in the courtroom to answer: A SUMMONS TO GOD’S COURTROOM.

I. God’s Case against His people

       A. Idolatry was a persistent problem–Micah 6:11-14

       B. The people have been unfaithful to the Lord God and He wishes to know what He has done to deserve this treatment–6:3-4

       C. Judah did the right thing on the exterior (see note below)

       D. God’s "case" against Judah was a matter of the heart–text, vv1-2

             1. It was Solomon’s sin repeated–1 Kings 11:4-10

             2. King Josiah was an example of a "heart in the right place" (2 Kings 23:13 & 19)
             3. God still is concerned about our "heart" problems—Ps 14:1, 64:6, 101:5, Prov 10:20-21, Matt 15:18-20

II. The result of this change of heart—Ps 13:5, 19:14, 24:3-4, 27:8-9, 28:7, 31:24, 37:4, 40:8, 51:10 & 17, 73:26, 86:11-12, 90:12, 101:2-4, 119:2, 10-11

III. The desired outcome of the trial, v8: just as a convict is put under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, so the Holy Spirit helps us to "amend"

God's desire for our lives:

       A. To live uprightly–1 Sam 15:22-23, Prov 21:3, Eccl 12:13, Isa 58:6-8, Mk 12:30-31, Titus 2:11-12, 2 Pet 1:5-7

       B. To love mercy (ongoing love)–Ps 37:26-28, Ps 112:4ff, Matt 5:7, Lk 6:36, Eph 4:32, Col 3:12-14, 1 Peter 3:8ff

       C. To walk humbly with God–Zeph 2:3, Isa 57:15, 66:2, Dan 4:37, Lk 18:13-17, 1 Pet 5:5-6

Lawrence Richards writes in The Teacher’s Commentary: Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. He and Isaiah both prophesied to Judah, the Southern Kingdom, at the time when Israel was carried into captivity by the Assyrian king, Sargon II. Most date Micah’s ministry around 730 to 700 B.C. With the reforms instituted by Hezekiah, Judah’s religious observances could not be faulted. Her official faith—or state religion, if you will—was beautifully orthodox. The house of God had been cleansed, the priests sanctified for ministry. Jerusalem altars erected to heathen deities were destroyed and the commanded feasts and sacrifices observed. The ways of praise instituted by David were restored; psalms were again sung. Throughout the tribal lands of Judah and Ephraim and Manasseh, the pillars and altars to Baal were crushed and burned. The orthodox faith of the Old Testament was scrupulously observed and Judah took great comfort in the notion that her faith was "right." Micah does not seem to have been impressed. Looking beneath the externals of ritual and form, Micah evaluated the heart of God’s people and found it as perverse and ungodly as the heart of the men of the North. Judah was placing its confidence in the outward orthodoxy of its ritual—just as many of us today place our confidence in the orthodoxy of our doctrine. But God demands more. Micah, in words that seem to echo Amos’ message to the people of the North, urged a return to God that would be demonstrated in a change of heart—a change of heart that would necessarily issue in a lifestyle of love and justice, of compassion and caring for their fellowmen as they walked close to God. He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:6-8). Orthodoxy is never enough. Being right with God will be expressed in godly and compassionate living. In a very real way, Micah is a book that speaks directly to us in our day. We are "right" in our doctrine. We are "right" in much of our practice. But our orthodoxy is an empty shell, a basis for even greater judgment, unless God’s truth has warmed our hearts and moved us into relationships with individuals and with our society in which we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

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Option #2: "Due(s)/Do, Lord!"
Matthew 5:11-12
Rev. Kelly Bedard

A. Club Christians

1. We're sometimes so busy with this life that we aren't even thinking about eternity and eternal rewards

2. We're expecting "paybacks" from God

B. Christians Clubbed

1. God's unconditional love through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to persevere--yea, to thrive

2. Joy at the many, great and large gifts of God


1. chairo (v12): rejoice, be glad, joy, hail, greeting, Godspeed, all hail, joyfully, farewell; to rejoice exceedingly; to be well, thrive; in salutations, "Hail!"; at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute

2. polus (v12): many, much, great; large

3. misthos (v12): reward, hire, wages; dues paid for work; reward: used of the fruit naturally resulting from toils and endeavours; in both senses, rewards and punishments; of the rewards which God bestows, or will bestow, upon good deeds and endeavours

4. ouranos (v12): the idea of elevation; the sky; heaven, air, sky, heavenly; the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it; the universe, the world; the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced; the sidereal or starry heavens; the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings

5. The life that is blessed under the Beatitudes isn't assertive or self-interested enough for today. (David Guzik)

6. Come, my soul, with ev'ry care, Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself bids you to pray, therefore will not turn away.
You are coming to your King, large petitions with you bring;
for His grace and pow'r are such none can ever ask too much. (John Newton)

7. As Christians we should face persecution: (1) by not retaliating against our persecutors (Matthew 5:44; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60); (2) by not holding resentment against them; (3) by rejoicing in the fact that this proves that we are God's children and have a great reward in heaven (Romans 8:7; Acts 5:40-41). Because we're His children, our position in His kingdom is secure. We need to remember that we're His ambassadors on earth, and we represent Christ. We need to remember where we're going (2 Timothy 4:8). The prophets were persecuted (Acts 7:52). All of the apostles were persecuted for Jesus' sake. They persecuted Jesus Christ. Persecution has strengthened the Church (Romans 5:3-5).

8. Great is your reward in heaven: so great, as far to transcend the service. It is in heaven, future, and out of sight; but well-secured, out of the reach of chance, fraud, and violence. Note, God will provide that those who lose for him, though it be life itself, shall not lose by him in the end. Heaven, at last, will be an abundant recompence for all the difficulties we meet with in our way. This is that which has borne up the suffering saints in all ages—this joy set before them. (Matthew Henry)

9. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad—"exult." In the corresponding passage of Luke (6:22, 23), where every indignity trying to flesh and blood is held forth as the probable lot of such as were faithful to Him, the word is even stronger than here: "leap," as if He would have their inward transport to overpower and absorb the sense of all these affronts and sufferings; nor will anything else do it. For great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you—that is, "You do but serve yourselves heirs to their character and sufferings, and the reward will be common."

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:31 PM