Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

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

The Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
Series B

Option #1: "Israelite Slave Girl Sparks International Incident 
En Route to Miracle!"
2 Kings 5:1-14
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

I. Educating children in God’s Word--Deut 4:9; 6:1-7; 11:19-20; Exo 12:26-28; Ps 78:4-6; Eph 6:4

II. A child-like faith active in love--text, 1-3; Num 11:29; Prov 10:21; Isa 43:21; Matt 5:15-16, 12:35ff; Phil 2:14-16; 1 Pet 2:9, 3:15

Charles Haddon Spurgeon has this comment on Psalm 78:6 in his "Treasury of David":

"That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born." As far on as our brief life allows us to arrange, we must industriously provide for the godly nurture of youth... The narratives, commands, and doctrines of the word of God are not worn out; they are calculated to exert an influence as long as our race shall exist. "Who should arise and declare them to their children." The one object aimed at is transmission; the testimony is given that it may be passed on to succeeding generations.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament re: 1 Peter 2:9:

"That ye should show forth the praises of him." The Greek word (arete˘) means properly "good quality, excellence" of any kind. It means here the excellences of God--His goodness, His wondrous deeds, or those things which make it proper to praise Him. This shows one great object for which they were redeemed. It was that they might proclaim the glory of God and keep up the remembrance of His wondrous deeds in the earth. This is to be done:

(a) By proper ascriptions of praise to Him in public, family, and social worship;

(b) By being always the avowed friends of God, ready ever to praise His kindness;

(c) By endeavoring to make known His grace to all who are ignorant of Him; and,

(d) By such a life as shall constantly proclaim His praise--as the sun, the moon, the stars, the hills, the streams, the flowers do, showing what God does. The consistent life of a devoted Christian is a constant setting forth of the praise of God, showing to all that the God who has made him such is worthy to be loved.

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Lamb’s Message: 2 Kings 5:1-14

Visual aids: a baseball and a pie pan

Tell me some things that moms & dads teach kids your age. Possible answers: how to fish, how to hunt, how to throw a baseball, how to bake a cake, how to bake cookies, how to bake a pie. Moms and dads and other big folks are pretty good at showing kids how to do things. Why, they may even help you with your math or with language or science.

But you know something? There’s one thing you probably do a whole lot better than most big people, and that’s talking about Jesus. When people grow up, they don’t talk as well about Jesus as you do. But let’s find out. Who can answer these questions?

See? You know that really well and you can talk about it. So here is what I want you to do: when dad finishes teaching you how to catch a walleye or a bluegill, you remind him how to talk about Jesus. Deal? When mom finishes teaching you how to bake chocolate chip cookies, you help her talk about Jesus.

Sometimes big people forget that it’s every Christian’s job to tell the good news about Jesus. Jesus says that your faith in Him is something that adults need too if they want to go to heaven. (Luke 18:17 NIV) "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

So make sure you never lose it and make sure you give it away whenever you can, just like the little girl of Israel in today’s text. This little girl was away from home, away from her mom and dad, but she still loved God. She shared her faith that God could cure leprosy for a very important general.

You have a Savior who died for your sins and rose from the dead. You have a Savior who cures sin and gives eternal life. Let’s share him with as many people as we can.

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Option #2: "Good Fighting"
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A. Racing for Reward: the Agony of Defeat

    1. Winner takes all; self-exertion and -exaltation

    2. Counterfeit condition: heavenly reward for "Christian" character

B. Award for Racing: the Defeat of Agony!

    1. All takers are winners; God-exertion and -exaltation; Jesus is the only winner--for us!

    2. Mint condition: heavenly award of Christian character


1. trecho {trekh'-o}, v24: to run--of persons in haste, of those who run in a race course; metaphorically, of doctrine rapidly propagated; by a metaphor taken from runners in a race, to exert one's self, strive hard ; to spend one's strength in performing or attaining something; word occurs in Greek writings denoting to incur extreme peril, which it requires the exertion of all one's effort to overcome. (Strong's)

2. stadion {stad'-ee-on}, v24: a space or distance of about 600 feet (185 m); a race course; place in which contests in running were held, the one who outstripped the rest and reached the goal first receiving the prize. Courses of this description were found in most of the larger Greek cities and were like that at Olympia, 600 Greek feet in length. (Strong's)

3. brabeion {brab-i'-on}, v24: the award to the victor in the games, a prize; metaphorically, of the heavenly reward for Christian character. (Strong's)

4. agonizomai {ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee}, v25: to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaphorically, to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers; to endeavour with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something. (Strong's)

5. egkrateuomai {eng-krat-yoo'-om-ahee}, v25: to be self-controlled, continent; to exhibit self-government, conduct, one's self temperately; in a figure drawn from athletes, who in preparing themselves for the games abstained from unwholesome food, wine, and sexual indulgence. (Strong's)

6. stephanos {stef'-an-os}, v25: a crown; a mark of royal or (in general) exalted rank; the wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games; metaphorically, the eternal blessedness which will be given as a prize to the genuine servants of God and Christ: the crown (wreath) which is the reward of the righteousness; that which is an ornament and honour to one. (Strong's)

7. aphthartos {af'-thar-tos} v25: uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable; of things; immortal--of the risen dead. (Strong's)

8. hupopiazo {hoop-o-pee-ad'-zo}, v27: to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid spots; like a boxer, one buffets one's body, handles it roughly, disciplines by hardship; metaphorically, to give one intolerable annoyance; beat one out, wear one out; by entreaties; that part of the face that is under the eyes. (Strong's)

9. adokimos {ad-ok'-ee-mos}, v27: not standing the test, not approved; properly used of metals and coins; that which does not prove itself such as it ought; unfit for, unproved, spurious, reprobate. (Strong's)

10. Athletics were big in Paul's day as well as ours; and Corinth was the center for the Isthmian Games, second in prestige to the ancient Olympics... Is temperate refers to the manner in which Roman athletes had to train for ten months before being allowed in the games... An athlete must refuse things that may be fine in themselves, but would hinder the pursuit of his goal. Even so, the Corinthians might have to refuse things that are fine in themselves (like certain types of meat), because taking them might hinder the pursuit of the important goal: loving each other... Discipline is a weak translation; the word means "to strike under the eye; to give a black eye"... Paul didn't want his body to lord it over his being... But Paul did not think the body evil (it belongs to Jesus [1 Corinthians 6:20]); nor would he agree with later ascetics who punished their bodies in a quest for super-holiness... Paul sees himself as both a herald of the games (who announced the rules), and as a participant... Disqualified probably doesn't refer to the loss of salvation (no Greek's citizenship was revoked upon losing), but the loss of reward... God calls us to give what we can't keep to gain what we can't lose. (David Guzik)

11. Whoever wins the rat race is still a rat! (Lily Tomlin)

12. There are two things necessary in the Christian life: Discipline and dependence. Some people try to run on only one. Some people are so concerned about discipline they regulate everything in their lives. They go overboard in this whole matter Paul is talking about here. They set themselves rigid schedules -- a time to get up, early in the morning, so many hours spent in prayer, so many verses memorized every week -- all discipline, with the hope that they will be useful and effective as Christians. Those people usually end up disillusioned, discouraged, and often defeated in their lives because it takes more than discipline. It takes dependence as well; the fact that when you do something you are counting on God to do it with you. Other people say that dependence is the great objective. They go into a kind of "automatic pilot" where God is going to do everything. and they float along expecting him to do just that -- all spark and no gas. Those people end up disillusioned, fruitless, ineffective. Nothing ever happens in their lives, because it takes both. That is what Paul is saying. (Ray Stedman)


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