Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

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

Third Sunday In Advent
Series C

Option #1: "Do's and Don'ts From The Desert Dialogue"
Luke 3:17-18
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

1) Do not think that anything but faith will save you--vv7-8

2) Do bring the fruits of repentance as evidence of that faith--v9; see also Isa 1:16-18; Luke 13:6ff; John 15:6-8; Acts 26:20

3) Do be different from the world around you--v10-14

4) Do anticipate the changing of your life through the power of the Holy Spirit--cf Isaiah 32:14-15, 44:3-4; Ezek 36:25ff; John 7:37-39; Heb 6:7-8

5) Do not be like the wicked--v17; see also Psalm 1:4-6

6) Do receive God’s word of exhortation often--v18; John 1:15, 29, & 34; 3:36; Acts 2:40

Richard Lenski re Luke 3:16: "It was the duty of the lowest slave to remove and to clean the sandals of his master or any visitor. John says that he is not "fit" for this task as regards the Messiah. He was speaking as God’s prophet who was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the literal truth by explaining the greatness and exaltation of the Messiah. If John is not fit to handle the sandals of the Messiah, how great must this Messiah be?

John baptizes with water; only the Son of God can pour out the Holy Spirit, and even he only after completing his redemptive work and then ascending to heaven... The miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the supreme work and thus the final mark of the Messiah. None but the Son who had gone to the Father, after completing redemption, could thus send the Comforter.

...And each believing soul inspire
with thine own pure and holy fire.
Martin Luther as translated by Massie

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Children's Message

Luke 3:9: The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Visual aid: a pie plate

I’m taking orders this morning. (Allow time for selections to be made; then talk about either apple or cherry pie.) Strawberries grow on plants near the ground. Pumpkins grow on vines. Where do you find apples or cherries? Right! They grow on trees.


In Bible times there were two main fruits--olives and figs. It was very important that trees bear fruit. Jesus told a story about that. I’ll read it to you. Luke 13:6: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7) So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' 8) 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. 9) If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'"

We had cherry trees, apple trees and pear trees on our farm when I was growing up. We expected them to produce fruit. The man in Jesus’ story was about to cut down a fig tree because it wasn’t bearing any fruit. But the caretaker of the vineyard (a picture of Jesus) said "Wait, let me dig a trench around it and fertilize it. I want to help it grow and bear fruit. If it doesn’t give fruit next year, then cut it down."

You know that Jesus died to save you from sin’s punishment. But Jesus didn’t die just to save you from something; he also died to save you for something. And that something is to bear fruit for him, just the way an apple tree or cherry tree gives you fruit for your next piece of pie.

The Bible tells us what kind of fruit God is looking for in our lives. I’ll give you just a short list of the fruit God wants from us: (Galatians 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Love sweetens our lives the way an apple gives flavor to a pie. You wouldn’t want to eat just the pie crust and you wouldn’t want to live without receiving love or giving love. Kindness is the good thing you do when you don’t really have to do it. Goodness is obeying God when all the world around you does just the opposite. Faithfulness means keep the promises you make to God and the people around you. These fruits of God’s Spirit perk up our lives the way apples and cherries lend flavor to a pie.

Remember this is what Jesus saved you for: to bear fruit in your life the way you get apples or cherries from a tree.

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"Commuted & Committed!"
Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: Our Warrior God saves us and sings joyful love songs about us
The Problem: guilt, enemies, harm drown out the songs, leave us feeling defeated and in despair
The Promise: God's quiet love reaches the innermost depths of our hearts
1. Tsiyown {tsee-yone'}, v14: Zion = "parched place." (Strong's)
2. Yisra'el {yis-raw-ale'}, v14: Israel = "God prevails." (Strong's)
3. Y@ruwshalaim {yer-oo-shaw-lah'-im}, v14: Jerusalem = "teaching of peace." (Strong's)
4. qereb {keh'-reb}, v15: midst, among, inner part, middle; inward part; physical sense; as seat of thought and emotion; as faculty of thought and emotion; in the midst, among, from among (of a number of persons); entrails (of sacrificial animals). (Strong's)

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