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Sermon Starters

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


Baptism Of Our Lord
Epiphany I
Series C

 
Option #1: "Baptism: What Does This Mean?"
Romans 6:1-11
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

I. It means that we were baptized into Christ’s death--vv1-3, 6-7

Key thoughts: a dead person cannot sin, vv.1-3; a crucified person cannot kill, steal, etc.

Parallel verses: Gal 2:19-20; 1 Pet 2:24

II. It means that our old self was buried with him--vv4-5; 8-10

Key thoughts: one who is "dead and buried" has no life apart from God’s intervention; just as there will be no life after death without God’s power, so there is no newness of life apart from Christ--vv4-5; since death has no dominion over Christ, Christians have new life in Christ, just as "the life he lives he lives to God"--v10b

III. It means that a new life of willing obedience to God is available

Key thoughts: a Christian can say "no" to sin and win in Christ’s new life power--"dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus"

Richard Lenski: "Take it as an ever settled account that you died to sin in baptism, died with Christ, baptism connecting you with His death, not only as removing your guilt, but at the same time removing you from sin’s dominion and slavery... It would be useless to tell sinners not to let sin reign over them; sinners could not prevent sin reigning over them. But Christians who have died to sin (vv2, 8 & 11), who are alive to God, they can prevent sin reigning so that they are no longer slaves to sin."  (Commentary on Romans, Interpretation of Romans, pp408-411)

 

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THE MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN

What are the big sports during this winter season? Let’s make a list: basketball, hockey, anything else? Wrestling, right?

I lived in Iowa two different times, and I found out that there are three main crops grown in Iowa: CORN, SOYBEANS, and WRESTLERS. For a long time, the national championship in wrestling has been won by one Iowa university or the other.

If you’ve ever been to a high school wrestling match, you know that there are cheerleaders who do their thing just at the wrestling matches and nothing else. They are right next to the mat, and they sometimes pound on the mat to encourage their guy who might be in a tough spot and about to be pinned. Just then the coach shouts some direction for the wrestler, and he not only gets out of trouble but completely reverses the situation and pins the guy who was about to pin him. That can be pretty exciting!

Here’s why I am telling you this: In today’s Bible reading, Paul tells us that we don’t have to be PINNED by sin! When Jesus was on the cross, it looked like the Devil had PINNED him! It looked even worse when they laid his dead body in the grave and rolled a stone in front of the door. But the greatest REVERSAL of all time was about to take place. Jesus came out of the grave after he PINNED the devil and took away his power.

So, when you and I are wrestling against sin, our COACH--that’s Jesus--shouts to us about how to win. He tells us to claim what he did for us: PIN sin by his powerful Word and WIN! We don’t have to live defeated by sin anymore.

We all are involved with this, not only wrestling against our own sin but also when WE CHEER ON our brothers and sisters and help them win their fight against sin. The power is there in your baptism; use it and win!

 

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Option 2: "The Great Christmas Exchange!"
Luke 3:15-22
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: Jesus is our do-ask do-tell Christmas exchange gift!

The Problem: We put our trust in lesser gifts and givers.

The Promise: God exchanges our sin for Christ's sinlessness and, with the added gift of the Spirit, anoints us for service in His name and for the sake of others.

Notes:

1. The Baptism of Jesus is a window into his sacrificial death as Messiah-Servant of God. He was not anointed to be a nice guy or great philosopher, a mere example or coach... (Daniel Harmelink)

2. In this life, the only direction that those marked with the name Christ can go is back to one’s Baptism. (Ibid)

3. In the recent film on the life of Martin Luther, Luther the monk is tormented by his inability to rid himself of his sin. His superior, Johann von Staupitz, asks Luther, “What do you seek?” Luther cries out, “A merciful God--a God I can love--a God who loves me!” And where does his closest confidant direct the despairing eyes of Martin? To the uncovered majesty and voice of a holy and righteous God? To within the monk’s own fallen heart and good intentions? “Then look to Christ. Bind yourself to Christ and you will know God’s love. Say to him, ‘I am yours. Save me.’ ” Years later, Luther wrote in his commentary on Genesis: “Indeed, if I had the matter under my control, I would not want God to speak to me from heaven or to appear to me; but this I would want--and my daily prayers are directed to this end--that I might have the proper respect and true appreciation for the gift of Baptism, that I have been baptized” (LW 3:165). There, in Baptism, God has bound himself to us. He says, “You are mine” and saves us. (Ibid)

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 09:55:20 PM