Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

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

Second Sunday After Christmas
Series C

Option #1: "An Inventory of Spiritual Blessings"
Ephesians 1:3-6; 15-18
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

 I. Past Blessings

    A. Predestined by grace--v4, 1 Pet 1:3-4; Rom 8:29-30

    B. Adopted by grace--vv5-6, Rom 8:14-17, 23

II. Future Blessings

    A. Help to know Jesus better in the New Year--vv15-18; 2 Thess 1:11; Eph 3:17-20; Col 1:10-14; Ps 119:18; Acts 26:17-18

    B. Comfort as you look forward to your inheritance--Eph 1:11-14; Matt 25:34; Gal 3:18; Col 1:10-14; Heb 9:15; 1 Peter 1:3-4

Albert Barnes re: 1:4:

That we should be holy--Paul proceeds to state the "object" for which God had chosen his people. It is not merely that they should enter into heaven. It is not that they may live in sin. It is not that they may flatter themselves that they are safe and then live as they please. The tendency among people has always been to abuse the doctrine of predestination and election; to lead people to say that if all things are fixed there is no need of effort; that if God has an eternal plan, no matter how people live, they will be saved if he has elected them, and that at all events they cannot change that plan, and they may as well enjoy life by indulgence in sin. The apostle Paul held no such view of the doctrine of predestination. In his apprehension it is a doctrine suited to excite the gratitude of Christians, and the whole tendency and design of the doctrine, according to him, is to make people holy, and without blame before God in love.

And without blame before him in love--The expression "in love," is probably to be taken in connection with the following verse, and should be rendered "In love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children." It is all to be traced to the love of God.

(1) It was love for us which prompted to it.

(2) It is the highest expression of love to be ordained to eternal life--for what higher love could God show us?

(3) It is love on his part, because we had no claim to it, and had not deserved it. If this be the correct view, then the doctrine of predestination is not inconsistent with the highest moral excellence in the divine character, and should never be represented as the offspring of partiality and injustice. Then too we should give thanks that God "has, in love," predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will.

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Children's Message

Text: (1 Pet 1:3) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4) and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you...

Visual aid: check book or savings account book

You may have seen a book like this lying around your house. Do you know what it is? It’s where your mom or dad keep a record of the money they keep in the bank. That’s important, but money isn’t the most important thing in this life.

In today’s Bible reading, Paul reminds us of what we have since God has adopted us as His children. Parents write a will and they think about their children when they do. A will determines what you will receive when your parents pass away.

The Bible tells us what we have because Jesus died for us. Peter tells us that we have a hope in Jesus that will never die and that no one can take away from you. You were written into Jesus’ will when he rose from the dead. Now you have, as Peter wrote, an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you...

Your parents put money in the bank because that is a safe place for it. There is no safer place for what really matters to you than in God. Your inheritance from Jesus is as safe as it could be; it will be waiting for you when you leave this life and enter eternal life.

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"Super Santa Claus!"
John 1:14-18
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The attached photo file of Santa Claus on the cross is from a Japanese 
department store window display
and serves as a jumping off point for the following.
The Point: stripped of tinsel and lights or whatever external trappings which pre-empt Christmas, now we can really celebrate!
The Problem: we are perhaps more offended about Santa, instead of Christ, on the cross. After all, if the former, there go our gifts! 1 Corinthians 2:8: "None of the rulers of this age understood this [God's secret, hidden wisdom, destined for glory]; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
The Promise: The Son of God, Super Santa Claus, nailed to the cross, risen, and ascended, brings us "one blessing after another" (text, v16): "Therefore it is said, 'When He ascended on high He led a host of captives and he gave gifts to all.'" (Ephesians 4:8)
1. sarx {sarx}, v14: flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts; the body; the body of a human being; used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship; born of natural generation; the sensuous nature of human beings, "the animal nature"; without any suggestion of depravity; the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin; the physical nature of human beings as subject to suffering; a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether human being or beast; the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God. (Strong's)
2. skenoo {skay-no'-o}, v14: to fix one's tabernacle, have one's tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle; to dwell. (Strong's)
3. doxa {dox'-ah}, v14: opinion, judgment, view; opinion, estimate, whether good or bad concerning someone; in the NT, always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory; splendour, brightness; of the moon, sun, stars; magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace; majesty; a thing belonging to God; the kingly majesty which belongs to him as supreme ruler, majesty in the sense of the absolute perfection of the deity; a thing belonging to Christ; the kingly majesty of the Messiah; the absolutely perfect inward or personal excellency of Christ; the majesty of the angels as apparent in their exterior brightness; a most glorious condition, most exalted state; of that condition with God the Father in heaven to which Christ was raised after he had achieved his work on earth; the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour's return from heaven. (Strong's)
4. charis {khar'-ece}, v14: grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues; what is due to grace; the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace; the token or proof of grace, benefit; a gift of grace; benefit, bounty; thanks (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward. (Strong's)
5. aletheia {al-ay'-thi-a}, v14: objectively, what is true in any matter under consideration; truly, in truth, according to truth; of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly; what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth; in the greatest latitude;  the true notions of God which are open to human reason without his supernatural intervention; the truth as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposing alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians; subjectively, truth as a personal excellence; that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit. (Strong's)

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