Sermon Starters

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

The Second-Last Sunday of the Church Year
Series B

Option #1: "Daniel's Christmas Connection"
Daniel 12:2-3
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

 I. Many exiles remained in Persia and were the source of the Magi’s information about the Promised Savior-King

    A. They shared the Good News of the God who keeps His promises–Daniel 3:24-30, 6:13-27

    B. He prophesied about the Son of Man–Daniel 7:9-14; see also 44-45 passim

    C. The Magi knew about this King–Matt 2:2

II. Daniel’s Christmas Connection also knew about the resurrection of the dead

    A. Some to everlasting life–Job 19:25-27; Isa 26:19; Hosea 13:14; Matt 22:29-32; John 5:28, 11:23-26; Acts 24:15

    B. Some to shame and contempt–Isa 66:24

Albert Barnes: And some to shame—Another portion in such a way that they shall have only shame or dishonor. The Hebrew word means reproach, scorn, contumely; and it may be applied to the reproach which one casts on another, Job 16:10; Ps 39:8 (9); 79:12; or to the reproach which rests on anyone, Josh 5:9; Isa 54:4. Here the word means the reproach or dishonor which would rest on them for their sins, their misconduct, their evil deeds. The word itself would apply to any persons who were subjected to disgrace for their former misconduct.

...if it be interpreted as applying to the resurrection of the dead, it means that the wicked would rise to reproach and shame before the universe for their folly and vileness. As a matter of fact, one of the bitterest ingredients in the doom of the wicked will be the shame and confusion with which they will be overwhelmed in the great day on account of the sins and follies of their course in this world.

III. Daniel’s Christmas connection taught God’s people to share the Good News–text, v3, cf Isa 60:1-3

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

    A. The "wise" know this to be their task in life–Prov 4:18-19, 11:30; Acts 8:1b-4; Eph 4:11-16, 5:8

    B. He’s talking about leading people to repentance–"lead many to righteousness"–Matt 10:27; Lk 1:16-17, 12:8-10; Phil 2:14-16; James 5:19-20

    C. The reward of the "wise"–Matt 13:43, 25:34; Luke 12:32, 22:29; John 4:36; 1 Cor 15:41; James 2:5

(1 Th 4:14) We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 

Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Let us not imagine that the soul sleeps in insensibility. "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint. They "sleep in Jesus," but their souls are before the throne of God, praising him day and night in his temple, singing hallelujahs to him who washed them from their sins in his blood. The body sleeps in its lonely bed of earth, beneath the coverlet of grass. But what is this sleep? The idea connected with sleep is "rest," and that is the thought which the Spirit of God would convey to us. Sleep makes each night a Sabbath for the day. Sleep shuts fast the door of the soul, and bids all intruders tarry for a while, that the life within may enter its summer garden of ease. The toil-worn believer quietly sleeps, as does the weary child when it slumbers on its mother’s breast. Oh! happy they who die in the Lord; they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them. Their quiet repose shall never be broken until God shall rouse them to give them their full reward. Guarded by angel watchers, curtained by eternal mysteries, they sleep on, the inheritors of glory, till the fullness of time shall bring the fullness of redemption. What an awaking shall be theirs! They were laid in their last resting place, weary and worn, but such they shall not rise. They went to their rest with the furrowed brow, and the wasted features, but they wake up in beauty and glory. The shriveled seed, so destitute of form and comeliness, rises from the dust a beauteous flower. The winter of the grave gives way to the spring of redemption and the summer of glory. Blessed is death, since it, through the divine power, disrobes us of this work-day garment, to clothe us with the wedding garment of incorruption. Blessed are those who "sleep in Jesus."

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Children's Message

Visual aid: a droopy flower from a perennial flower bed

This time of year is kind of hard on the flower bed, wouldn’t you say? If the plants haven’t already been cut off, they just droop there, looking brown and dead. It doesn’t look at all like you’ll see any more flowers in this flower bed ever again. That’s what it looks like, but that’s not the way it is, not at all.

You see, this type of flower is the kind that blooms every year. Once you plant them they come up every Spring. That happens because when God created this flower bulb, he gave it the power to grow again every spring when the sun makes the ground warm enough so that it can grow some more flowers next spring.

The Word of God put into this seed is so powerful that even 3,000 years can’t stop it. While digging up a very old Egyptian grave, archaeologists found some peas, old and as hard as a marble. They planted them and they grew!

The Bible tells us today that God will raise all the dead. Jesus won over death when he rose from death on Easter Morning. Jesus said: "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19).

The Bible tells us today that the good we do for Jesus will follow us into the next life. We will be rewarded for bringing other people to know Jesus and have their sins forgiven. Not only will these people thank you forever, but you will shine like a beautiful star forever and ever. God told Daniel: (Daniel 12:3) Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

We use God’s Word to save people for eternal life. It’s not just the pastor’s job; it’s the job of every Christian. If you can help, that’s what you’re supposed to do. And God will give you your reward, not only here in this life but also in eternal life.

Now there’s some really good news!

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"The Agony of Victory"
Mark 13:24-31
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: the race of faith is a battle fraught with many hindrances and entanglements
The Problem: left to ourselves we cannot win the race; yea, we give up
The Promise: Jesus has won the race for us and marks our course with cheerleaders, Pioneer-vision, and perseverance
1. agon {ag-one'}, v1: an assembly, a place of assembly: especially an assembly met to see games; the place of contest, the arena or stadium; the assembly of the Greeks at their national games; hence the contest for a prize at their games; generally, any struggle or contest; a battle; an action at law, trial. (Strong's)
2. According to the old tale, on the wall of a city telephone booth was plastered a sticker that read, "If you are tired of sin, read John 3:16." Below this was scribbled a handwritten note: "If you are not tired of sin, call 555-1176. The Preacher's congregation is tired, alright, but they are not exactly tired of sin, and it is not precisely accurate to say that they are tired of sainthood either. What they are tired of is the struggle between the two, the constant warfare that trying to be faithful entails. (Thomas Long)
3. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired!
4. Not faith but fate rules the heart of the Christian who is no longer struggling. (Michael Hoy)
5. Who am I? They often tell me
    I would step from my cell's confinement
    calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
    like a squire from his country-house.

    Who am I? They often tell me
    I would talk to my warders
    freely and friendly and clearly,
    as though it were mine to command.

    Who am I? They also tell me
    I would bear the days of misfortune
    equably, smilingly, proudly,
    like one accustomed to win.

    Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
    Or am I only what I know of myself,
    restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
    struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
    yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
    thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
    trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation,
    tossing in expectations of great events,
    powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
    weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
    faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
    Who am I? This or the other?
    Am I really one person today and tomorrow another?
    Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
    and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
    Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
    fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

    Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
    Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

    (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

6. In the USA, television has captured the American audience with a certain mundane association of Australia with Foster's Beer. The ads always start out with a picture of Australia and an announcer with authentic accent saying, "How to speak Australian." Then they might show a great white shark, to which the announcer would comment, "Guppy." Or perhaps they might show a man getting hit in the head with an alarm clock, commented on as "Wake-Up Call." And my personal favorite: a man is standing under a cliff. A giant boulder is heard falling from the sky until it squashes the man into the ground, with only his shoes sticking out. The man says "Ouch!"--to which the commentator adds his own description: "Cry-Baby!"

More to the point of this exercise, the above example demonstrates the ability to laugh at what others might take as very serious problems... So might we all, knowing that our Lord Jesus, who has undergone the "discipline" before us, have the joy of being the Father's kids running the race, and have the endurance and strength to finish the race (12:12-13). Then we can have our hands a little more active and a little less droopy; then we can set our feet in the right direction toward the Prize that awaits us. (Michael Hoy)

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM