Sermon Starters

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

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Option #1: "Directions For God-Seekers"
Isaiah 55:6-10
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

I. Seek Him while you can: "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near"; qarab: a primitive root; to approach (causatively, bring near) for whatever purpose; see the parallel in Est 4:11; see also Rom 5:1-2 and Eph 2:13-18; "Call upon him while he is near"; the idea here is approachability.

A. Your time has limits--Heb 9:27; Gen 3:19; Ps 89:48; text, v6

B. No chance for grace in eternity--Lk 16:26

II. Seek Him with a repentant heart--text, v7--and you will receive mercy; cf Ezek 14:6, 18:32; Matt 11:20ff., 21:32; Lk 13:1-5; Acts 2:38; Rev 3:3 et al

III. Forsake your thoughts and embrace His thoughts

A. Notice that forgiveness is the only way we can enter eternal life--v7

B. Notice that there isn’t a whisper of human accomplishment--Eph 2:8-9

C. The only way to eternal life is by God’s grace and mercy--John 3:16-21

Note: While this text is often used in the event of tragic death and other incomprehensible turns of life, that thought is not present here. The issue is returning to good standing with God through repentance and faith, not man-made ways.

IV. God provides the way that we may think His thoughts after Him--text, vv9-11

A. Our natural way of thinking leads to death--Prov 14:12

B. Only God’s Word has the power to change our thinking--cf John 6:63; Rom 10:17; 1 Cor 1:18-19; 1 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:23-25.

Holman Bible Dictionary: "Pardon": an authoritative act reversing a sentence given under a guilty verdict. Prayer for God’s pardon for sin is based on the greatness of God’s covenant love and on the long history of God’s acts of forgiveness (Num 14:19; Mic 7:18). The Old Testament believers were already aware that the condition for seeking pardon was a repentant heart rather than ritual exactness (1 Chron 29:18). God’s willingness to abundantly pardon serves as an incentive to repentance (Isa 55:7)

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(Isa 55:6) Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7) Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

This is something you may have heard while you were shopping at a big store. You hear a voice over the store sound system. "Code Adam," the voice says. Do you know what that means? Right; it means that a child is lost. They lock the doors and the clothes changing rooms are searched. They even look at children to see if their hair color has been changed!

Now this will sound strange, but today the Bible gives us a CODE GOD! It sounds as if God is lost, but He isn’t; we are. The only way we can find God is to follow directions. Listen to how Isaiah laid them out for us:

1) Don’t think that you can wait until you’re ready to find God. He will always be there, but our time is running out. "Seek the Lord while he may be found."

2) Be sorry for your sins and leave them behind--"Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts."

3) The Lord will forgive your sins.

They find most children in the store when they announce a CODE ADAM. People who follow God’s directions always find Him, because He loves us. He wants to be found. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. We won’t find out everything about God that we might want to know, but we will always find God if we are looking for Him in His Word. Don’t ever forget that.




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Option #2: "Ora Et Labora"
Matthew 20:1-16
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
Point: Our "wages" for Christian service are not in proportion to our work.
Problem: "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23)
Promise: God works for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit's empowering us for service in His name.
1. There is no hierarchy in heaven... In Jesus' day, opportunity and privilege were far from equal; he goes against contemporary thinking and action: we are all dependent on God's mercy. (Chris Haslam)
2. What is so powerful about this text is its challenge to the incredibly thick soup of meritocratic assumptions we all live in. (Anthony Robinson)
3.They seek what, to them, seems "fair." The "evil eye" of envy is not centered in the Giver, but only in the gifts...Yet when the Owner gives fairness for his gifts, would we really be ready to receive it? (Michael Hoy)
4. If we close eye and heart against grace, no matter how high we stand in the church or how much we work, we shall lose life eternal. (Richard Lenski)
5. "Ora et labora": pray as if everything depends upon God; work as if everything depends on you. (Martin Luther)


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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 10:44:38 AM