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Sermon Starters

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


Lent 5
Series C

Option One: Rev. Kelly Bedard

Relational Righteousness = Divine Dividends
Philippians 3:8-14

A. "Knowledge is Power"

    1. (Paul's) heritage, status, and learning--law-based righteousness

    2. Changing intellectual assertions--self-knowledge leading to death

B. "Power is Being Known"

    1. By God through election--faith- and grace-based righteousness

    2. Constant experiential phenomena--knowledge (faith) leading to Life!

Notes:

1. kerdaino (gain): of gain arising from shunning or escaping from evil (where we say "to spare one's self", "be spared"); to gain any one, i.e., to win him over to the kingdom of God, to gain one to faith in Christ; to gain Christ's favor and fellowship

2. An inscription on a tombstone in an English graveyard reads, "She died for want of things." The husband's marker next to it says, "He died trying to give them to her." While the gender could just as easily be reversed, the principle remains the same: people are dying of materialism, of the belief that meaning comes from knowing "things." (Homiletics Online, 4/2/95)

3. A few years ago, one of America's biggest department stores tried marketing a doll in the form of the baby Jesus. The advertisements described it as being "washable, cuddly and unbreakable," and it was neatly packaged in straw, satin and plastic. To complete the package, the manufacturer added biblical texts appropriate to the baby Jesus. To the department store executives, it looked like a sure-fire winner, a real moneymaker.

But they were wrong. It didn't sell. In a last-ditch effort to get rid of the dolls, one of the store managers placed a huge sign in a prominent display window. It read: Jesus Christ, marked down 50%. Get him while you can. (Sunday Sermons, 4 September 1994, 1)

4. We're witnessing a stunning value shift at the end of the second millennium, just as the apostle Paul did at the beginning of the first. What the pre-Christian Saul thought of as valuable, the Christian Paul regards as rubbish. His human merits are now divine demerits, his stunning gains are now staggering losses. (Homiletics, 10/3/99)

5. Although it is true that our faith alone gains us the gift of a right relationship with God, an attitude of trust is not the end of our religious responsibility. With Paul, we...join the race and push hard toward the goal of sharing God's glory--sharing it ourselves, and also sharing it with others. (Ibid)

6. To lose one's own will in the will of God should be the true occupation of every [person's] time on earth. Only a few of us--the saints--are capable of that simplicity. (George Mackay Brown)

7. April 1: The day we are reminded of what we are the other 364. (Mark Twain)

8. Abraham Lincoln was awakened in the middle of the night by a bureaucrat who informed the President that one of his appointees to a high government post had died hours before. "Can I take his place?" the bureaucrat blurted out. Lincoln replied, "If it's all right with the  undertaker, it's all right with me." (Homiletics Online, 3/29/98)

9. We must learn to live under God's smile, knowing that human smiles are mere frosting on that divine cake. Our sense of purpose and success must come from our identity as Christ's servants. (David Fisher)

10. At the feast of ego, everyone leaves hungry. (Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea, Tucson, Arizona)

Option Two: Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Murder In The Vineyard
Luke 20:9-19

 Agatha Christie was the Master of the Murder Mystery for more than 50 years. Her mysteries such as "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Murder on the Nile" have been translated into 103 languages and have sold more than 2 Billion copies worldwide.

Today Jesus tells us about MURDER IN THE VINEYARD and it is no mystery as to WHODUNIT? or as to the motive for the crime. Jesus' Parable is based on two Old Testament Texts that were very familiar to his hearers-Isaiah chapters 5& 8. Jesus' story is designed to implicate his enemies in the plot to take His life. The first question we need to ask is...

I. Whose vineyard is it?

A. It belongs to God:

1. Isa. 5:1 "I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My
loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
2. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest
vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well".

B. All He wanted was the sweet fruit of obedience
"Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit."

C. What kind of bad fruit? Isa. 5:7 "The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is
the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And
he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries
of distress."

D. It is no different today.

1. God still wants fruit-Phil. 1:9-11
2. This fruit comes from being attached to Jesus-He is the Vine and we are
the branches-John 15.
3. He looks for sweet wine but finds bloodshed instead-a sign of impending
judgment-Gen. 6:11-13
4. It is just so today-Lk. 17:26

II. Bloodshed results from forgetting who owns the vineyard

A. Bloodshed results from forgetting that we must all answer to God.

B. They were repeating the atrocities their ancestors committed against the
prophets-Lk. 20:10-12, Cf. Lk. 13:33

C. Forgetting the justice of God, they plotted to murder His Son-vv.14-15

D. Bloodshed results from rejecting the Vineyard Owner and His Son-v. 16

III. The chief corner stone becomes the HEADSTONE for all who reject Him.

A. In their desire to retain power, they crucified God's only Son.

B. This gross miscarriage of justice is actually God carrying out His own
justice-in sacrificing His Son for the world's sin-Cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom.
3:25-26.

C. God has made the way to escape the justice sin demands, but there is no
escape for neglecting such great salvation-cf. Heb. 2:3

D. There is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood-Heb. 9:22

E. It is an either/or-either find salvation in the blood of Christ or have
the cornerstone crush you-v. 18

F. This parable is an either/or-either it brings you to repentance or it
condemns you, v. 19

Albert Barnes writes in explaining the parallel text in Matt. 21:33-45:

 * The stone-The figure is taken from building a house. The principal stone for size and beauty is that commonly laid as the cornerstone.

* Which the builders rejected-On account of its want of beauty or size it was laid aside, or deemed unfit to be a cornerstone. This represents the Lord Jesus, proposed to the Jews as the foundation or cornerstone on which to build the church, but rejected by them-the builders-on account of his lack of comeliness or beauty; that is, of what they esteemed to be comely or desirable, Isa. 53:2-3.

* The same is become .-Though rejected by them, yet God chose him, and made him the foundation of the church. Christ is often compared to a stone, a cornerstone, a tried, that is, a sure, firm foundation-all in allusion to the custom of building, Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:7.

* Lord's doing-The appointment of Jesus of Nazareth to be the foundation of the church is proved by miracle and prophecy to be the work of God.

* Marvelous in our eyes-Wonderful in the sight of his people. That he should select his only Son-that he should stoop so low, be despised, rejected, and put to death-that God should raise him up, and build a church on this foundation, embracing the Gentile as well as the Jew, and  spreading through all the world, is a subject of wonder and praise to all the redeemed.

* The same is become .-Though rejected by them, yet God chose him, and made him the foundation of the church. Christ is often compared to a stone, a cornerstone, a tried, that is, a sure, firm foundation-all in allusion to the custom of building, Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:7.

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