Sermon Starters

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Advent III --- Series C

Option A: From Rev. Kelly Bedard

"Tis The Season To Be Joyly!
"Joy to the Goy(im)!"
Philippians 4:4-9

A. Earthly Peace
    1. A human-made plan for a good and happy life
    2. Anxiety-ridden, though appears as stress-free

B. Heavenly Peace
    1. A gift from God: His Person and The Parousia
    2. Calm and bright, tender and mild

 1. "Jesus Christ enables us to be anxious in nothing, prayerful in
everything, thankful in anything." (Homiletics Online, 1994)

 2. "Joy suggests the falseness of the alleged dilemma of self-fulfillment
vs. self-sacrifice. Joy is ethically ambiguous. It may be generous, selfish,
both, or ecstatic, though it tends to direct the self outward toward others
in some way. Thus, the context in which joy occurs largely determines its
ethical implications." (Paula M. Cooey, Cross Currents, 1998)

3. "Gentleness" (verse 5)
        a. Patience, moderation, equity/fairness, mildness
        b. Yielding, not insisting on one's legal rights, meekness is its inner quality (R. C. H. Lenske)
        c. "Only our perverted reason would think that 'yieldingness' might include a yielding of truth to error, of right to wrong, of virtue to vice and crime." (ibid)

4. "Anxious" (verse 6)=to be troubled with cares, to seek to promote one's
interests, of a divided mind

5. "Prayer" (verse 7)=prayer addressed to God; a place set apart or suited
for the offering of prayer

6. "Peace" (ibid)=a state of national tranquility; exemption from the rage and havoc of war; peace between individuals, i.e., harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous); of the Messiah's peace; the way that leads to peace (salvation); of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is; the blessed state of devout and upright people after death

7. "Understanding" (ibid)
        a. The mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining; reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil; the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially
        b. "The Christian does not depend on his...his fend off worry from his heart and his...thoughts" (Lenske)

8. "Guard" (ibid)=to protect by a military guard, either to prevent hostile invasion or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight; under the control of the Mosaic law, that we might not escape from its power  

9. "True" (verse 8)=loving the truth and speaking the truth 

10. "Noble" (ibid)=august, venerable, reverend; to be venerated for character, honorable

11. "Just" (ibid)=righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God; of those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves in their virtues, whether real or imagined; innocent, faultless, guiltless; used of them whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the
will of God, and who therefore need no rectification in the heart or life; only Christ truly; approved of or acceptable of God; in a narrower sense, rendering to each his due and that in a judicial sense, passing just judgment on others, whether expressed in words or shown by the manner of dealing with them

12. "Pure" (ibid)=exciting reverence, venerable, sacred; pure from carnality, chaste, modest; pure from every fault, immaculate; clean 

13. "Lovely" (ibid)=acceptable, pleasing

14. "Admirable" (ibid)=of good report; sounding well; uttering words of good
omen, speaking auspiciously

15. "Excellent" (ibid)
        a. A virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; virtue, moral goodness; any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity
        b. Faith as well as life
        c. "We should not narrow to what we call 'morality'... The whole activity of faith is included...all our receiving and embracing and not only our producing and our good works." (Lenske)

16. "Praiseworthy" (ibid)=approbation, commendation, praise

17. "Think" (ibid)=impute, reckon, count, account, suppose, reason, number;
to compute, calculate, count over; to take into account, to make an account
of; a thing is reckoned as or to be something, i.e., as availing for or equivalent to something, as having the like force and weight

Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

Option B: From Rev. Wayne Dobratz

"The Cure For Care"
Philippians 4:4-9

Introduction: While "Christmas cheer" is just about everywhere, not everyone
is cheerful. In fact, the calls to help lines and suicide hot lines increase
during the Holiday Season. Counselors tell us that grief over departed
relatives, lost health, lost employment, etc. is aggravated by the Holiday
season. Paul gives us in today's text:

"The Cure For Care"

I. Place yourself under the Doctor's Care
A. Paul writes that this joy is "in the Lord".
B. The date is a.d. 61--Paul is imprisoned in Rome.
C. He wasn't "happy" about this turn of events, but his joy is intact.
D. "Joy" comes from the same root word as "grace". Charis-- Chara

II. Be confident in the Doctor's Competence
A. The Lord hears your requests--v.6
B. Just being in the presence of a healer is often therapeutic
C. This Healer's message is powerful--Rom. 1:16
D. This Healer's message gives peace--v.7; cf. Lk. 2:14, 29; 8:48; 24:36;
John 14:27, 16:33; Acts 10:36; Rom. 1:7;

III. Follow His directions
A. Change your thinking from sin to uprightness, v.8; Rom. 8:6
B. Follow the example of Jesus and the saints, v. 9; 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil.
3:17-21; 1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Peter 2:21ff.;
IV. The God of peace will be with you, v. 9 Cf. Rom. 16:19-20; 1 Thess.
5:23; Heb. 13:20-21.

Albert Barnes writes: 

And the peace of God-The peace which God gives. The peace here particularly referred to is that which is felt when we have no anxious care about the supply of our needs, and when we go confidently and commit everything into the hands of God. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee;" Isa. 26:3; see the notes at John 14:27.

Which passeth all understanding-That is, which surpasses all that people had
conceived or imagined. The expression is one that denotes that the peace imparted is of the highest possible kind. The apostle Paul frequently used terms which had somewhat of a hyperbolical cast (see the notes on Eph. 3:19; compare John 21:25, and the language here is that which one would use who designed to speak of that which was of the highest order. The Christian, committing his way to God, and feeling that he will order all things aright, has a peace which is nowhere else known. Nothing else will furnish it but religion. No confidence that a man can have in his own powers; no reliance which he can repose on his own plans or on the promises or fidelity of his fellow-men, and no calculations which he can make on the course of events, can impart such peace to the soul as simple confidence in God. 

Shall keep your hearts and minds-That is, shall keep them from anxiety and
agitation. The idea is, that by thus making our requests known to God, and
going to him in view of all our trials and wants, the mind would be preserved from distressing anxiety. The way to find peace, and to have the heart kept from trouble, is thus to go and spread out all before the Lord; compare Isa. 26:3-4, 20; 37:1-7. The word rendered here "shall keep," is a military term, and means that the mind would be guarded as a camp or castle is. It would be preserved from the intrusion of anxious fears and alarms. 

Through Christ Jesus-By his agency, or intervention. It is only in him that the mind can be preserved in peace. It is not by mere confidence in God, or by mere prayer, but it is by confidence in God as he is revealed through the Redeemer, and by faith in him. Paul never lost sight of the truth that all the security and happiness of a believer were to be traced to the Saviour.

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

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