Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

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

Second-Last Sunday
Series A

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

Suggested introduction from Letters to Philip--Letters to Karen: Pastor Charlie Shedd wrote letters to his children in two books published in the late 60s. The first was the small book to his son when Philip got married. It contained 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 to a couple before marriage. After all, how a man treats his girlfriend, and a woman her boyfriend, are a preview of 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 and overflowing love--Col 1:3-6; Gal 5:6b, 13-14; 2 Pet 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 Pet 1:4-9; 2 Pet 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 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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THE MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN: "What To Do With An Inheritance" (Matthew 25:31-46)
Visual: a board on which to write the word "inheritance"--or a money bag such as used for a bank deposit.
We just heard two verses that I want to talk about with you. Here’s the first one: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance...Who can tell me what that word means? (Allow for answers.)

When you receive an inheritance, you are richer (hold up money bag) than you were before. An inheritance becomes yours when someone dies, usually a relative. Being in God’s Kingdom is the inheritance Jesus left you. It’s yours because Jesus died for your sins. You can now look forward to your inheritance in eternal life.

Now that you have this inheritance, you have much to share. Jesus said that whenever we help someone with food or clothing or whenever we visit someone in trouble, we are doing it for Him. He died for all people, and when we care for others we are caring for Him.

What do you do with an inheritance? You share it! That’s what you do! And Jesus will reward when you receive your inheritance in eternal life.

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Option #2: "God's Love Works!"
1 Thessalonians 3:1-10
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
Point: God solves our wait problem, removes the scales--pun intended!--from our eyes to see how He waits for and on us.
Problem: We're under-worked/-loving/-wait/-inspired/-confident et al.
Promise: God through our Lord Jesus Christ inspires us with hope to wait, faith to work, and love to labor for Him; through the Holy Spirit empowers with confidence to believe that He has chosen us to imitate and suffer for Him and with faith and faithfully to share the Good News everywhere and to receive others as He has received us.
1. Faith looks back to a Crucified Saviour; Love looks up to a Crowned Saviour; Hope looks on to a Coming Saviour. (David Guzik)

2. It is not a gospel of mere words; people get enough mere words from TV, radio and magazines; they need something different than just words from the church. It is a gospel of power; power for miracles and wonderful signs from God; but more so, power to change minds, hearts and lives. Nothing can hit a person so hard and personally as the preaching of the gospel. It is a gospel by the Holy Spirit, a living Person, who works within the hearts of the hearers, to convict, to comfort and to instruct; if it is only the preacher speaking, then it is just words. (David Guzik)

3. As a sweet-smelling ointment keeps not its fragrance shut up in itself, but diffuses it afar, and scenting the air with its perfume, so conveys it also to the senses of the neighbors; so too illustrious and admirable men do not shut up their virtue within themselves, but by their good report benefit many, and render them better. (St. John Chrysostom)

4. The word translated "example" might be better interpreted as "type" (typos in Greek). The object of our imitation is not an example of "what we ought to do," but rather a typology of "what happens to us" our joy in Christ is manifest and through our cruciform reality. (David Jacobsen)


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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 11:06:09 AM