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B Ordinary Time (late)

These sermons cover the last half of Year B Ordinary Time. The Sundays are labeled Proper 17, Proper 18, Proper 19... Proper 29 (Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in November). Most sermon notes include a link to a Google Slides file (~ PowerPoint file). Occasionally, there's also a link to a Handout or Worship Quiz file.

Each week of Ordinary Time includes two sets of Old Testament readings. One is a continuation of the "typological" set (meaning it complements or contrasts to the gospel). The second is a stream of "semi-continuous" readings (meaning it lends itself to reading/preaching through a book or books in sequence).

In the listing below, clicking on a sermon title takes you to a Google Doc of the preaching notes. You can view/print these from any browser, or download the file in various formats (such as Word, RTF, or PDF). If you are using a version of Word prior to 2007, you may need to download it in RTF. Then it will open with most (if not all) the formatting intact.

You can also access all of these sermons from the Sermon Chart, which displays them in the context of the entire 3-year lectionary cycle. Browse down the second column until you see the lectionary season of interest. To access the sermon notes just click on the sermon title.

Not a lectionary preacher? You can change the Sermon Chart so that it lists the sermons in the order of the primary biblical text for each sermon. In the Sermon Chart, browse down to the chart and look at the right-hand column. Click on Sort: Ascending. Notice that many sermons list additional scriptures. If you want to find all entries for a particular biblical book from the whole list, just use your browser's Find function. The top of the Sermon Chart web page explains the biblical text abbreviation system I use.

For more about the Revised Common Lectionary, click on Lectionary Basics and Lectionary Preaching.

Feel free to extract any ideas, outlines, or entire sermons from my site. To subscribe to the email or RSS notifications of new posts from this site, click IsbellOnline News.

Blessings,

Tim


Proper 17 Sabbath Keeping and Public Worship

Mark 7.1-23. Jesus teaches about inner purity.

Thesis: Keeping Sabbath and Public Worship are two essential practices God uses to transform our hearts into hearts that beat like Jesus’ heart.

This sermon is one of the Interactive Sermons on Character and Conduct in the New Life.  

An object lesson sets up this sermon: In full view of the congregation, take a glass container of water and add some sand or dirt to it for all to see. Stir it up so the liquid is cloudy. Then set it off to the side and ignore it while you preach. Before you finish preaching the contamination settles to the bottom and the water is clear. The sermon circles back to this water glass at the end.

The sermon emphasizes the importance of building a real Sabbath (of some sort) into the rhythm of our week and participating in a time of public worship. These serve as means of grace that God uses to bring clarity and holiness to our lives.


Proper 18 The Straight Scoop on Divine Healing

Mark 7.24-30. Jesus heals the daughter of a Gentile woman.

Thesis: God heals the optimum number of people to support his primary objective of developing the quality of people he wants to rule forever in the Kingdom.

Here is a very simple sermon about sickness and healing. It does not attempt to persuade listeners to believe in divine healing, it merely states Christian truth. I presented it to a combined worship where we translated into Mandarin and Cantonese. The parishioners knew that I have a strong science background, as do many of them. I suspected that some of them might be skeptical of divine healing, so I decided to preach this sermon so that they’d know where I am on this topic. In the process, I figured it would give some of them “permission” to believe these traditional Christian teachings.


Proper 18  Carrying God's Message

Mark 7.24-37. A Gentile mom brings her sick daughter to Jesus for healing, and some friends bring a deaf man to Jesus for healing.

Thesis: Fortunately God’s assignment for us is much more pleasant than the ones he gave to many Old Testament prophets. But our assignment is just as clear.

This sermon is from 2006, and it's about the vision for our church - a concept that didn't work out as I hoped. I hesitated to include this one among these posts, but here it is. The following is a note that you'll also find at the end of the sermon notes:

At the time, we were a couple of years into a major ministry thrust with two dimensions. One was to add a $1M building to our campus; the other was to add staff to support the development of a fresh approach to relational evangelism that we termed "Ordinary Practice Evangelism."  

We built the building; this part of the vision turned out great. But we did not substantially change our ways of communicating the good news among our Friends, Relatives, Associates and Neighbors (FRANs, as I sometimes call them). Instead, our church’s spiritual temperature remained unchanged, or perhaps cooled a bit. By 2010, the building was finished but the congregations were no larger though I remained as convinced that this sort of evangelism was a good one for our particular demographic. By 2010, I had wrestled with the Lord about this for quite a while. In early 2010 he clarified my next step. His response was as apparent as the original call to pastor this church, but this time the message for me was that it was time for me to step aside and let someone else lead. So I retired in June of 2010.

I could make some guesses as to why things worked out as they did, but in the final analysis I don’t know. So far as I can tell, my role in this life is to listen and follow the Lord the best I know how and leave the rest to his discretion.  

In any event, I am quite satisfied with life since then. I've again experienced the “Paschal Mystery” that Ronald Rolheiser writes about (in The Holy Longing) and which I've preached about in the Paschal Mystery series. I thought about not posting this 2006 sermon, but the Lord seemed to prompt me to post it anyway and add this little explanation at the end. I don’t know how (or if) he will use it to benefit any of readers. But if he does I’d like to hear from you.

And I remain a strong advocate of Ordinary Practice Evangelism as described in this sermon from 2006. This is the primary reason I am posting this sermon.


Proper 19 Seeing Through the Veil

Mark 8.27-38.  Peter's declaration about Jesus and Jesus' prediction of his death.

Colossians 3.1-4.  Set your sights on the reality of heaven... your real life is hidden in Christ...)

2 Corinthians 4.3-4.  If the Good News we preach is veiled from anyone... Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. 

Thesis: God is ready and willing to rip open the veil so his people can clearly see reality.

This is a somewhat theologically deep sermon that weaves together the three scriptures listed above. It starts by reminding people of some glaring historic seasons where large groups of people lost sight of reality in massive ways. Then it moves to identify the most significant reality of all, the reality of Jesus - which is foggy even for many Christians - and the underlying reason for peoples' fogginess. After unpacking these theological issues, the sermon offers some fresh advice on how to pray for our secular Friends, Relatives, Associates and Neighbors (FRANs).


Proper 20: What We Owe Our Kids

Proverbs 31.28, Psalm 1

Thesis: We all have opportunities to “parent” the next generation for the Lord; let’s do it with God’s wisdom.

This sermon encourages adults on the importance of bringing up the next generation, and it includes some valuable advice on how to do this. It makes the points that we owe our kids: a healthy ambiance in the family, tools for a healthy adulthood, emotional connection, and a heritage of faith.


Proper 21: Lessons from Mordecai

Esther. This sermon includes telling Esther's story.

Thesis: The story of Mordecai/Esther teaches that we need to decide to parent the next generation, live in the reality that character is more caught than taught, and realize that we must introduce our “children” to a purpose worth giving their life to.

I like to tell stories and the Old Testament is full of them! Sometimes I just tell the congregation a story, repackaged a bit for our contemporary setting. Much of this sermon is simply telling the Esther story and making a few points about Mordecai along the way. The points are quite valuable, but just giving a congregation a feel for the great stories of the Bible encourages them to read the Bible for themselves. For more advice on encouraging people to read the Bible check out my Bible Reading Strategies and George Larsen's Discover the Bible.

Worship quiz. This is a handout that I used the day I preached the sermon. That day there wehre another 3 questions covering aspects of the worship service other than the sermon. The idea of my worship quizzes is to help kids (mostly) stay connected throughout the service. The "participation prize" is a candy treat, or whatever you choose. The congregational reaction to occasional worship quizzes is overwhelmingly positive, with many adults wanting a prize, too.


Proper 22: Marriage and Divorce

Mark 10.2-16 (Jesus responds to a question about divorce by explaining marriage.) And Ephesians 5.21-33 (Apostle Paul teaches about Spirit-guided relationships between wives and husbands)

Thesis: God’s idea for marriage is a man and a woman living in an Ephesians 5 relationship.

This is one of the sermons from the series on Interactive Messages on Character and Conduct in the New Life. It brings new understanding to Paul's teaching in Ephesians 5. Here's one of two stories used in the sermon that give you a flavor of what I mean.

I recall a fight my wife and I had some time ago. We were civil, but both knew there was a lack of love between us. I knew what I should do, but I was not doing it. Finally she took the initiative and began to breathe life back into our romance. As she did, my attitude changed. Love began to flow again. A short time later I thanked her for what she had done. She accepted my thanks but asked that we not make a habit of this solution. If we default to her taking the initiative and me doing the responding, she would be taking on the role of Christ and me of the church – that is backwards!

(The stories come from an article by James Danaher, Prof of Philosophy at Nyack College in NY.)


Proper 22: Christian Marriage

Mark 10.2-16 (Jesus responds to a question about divorce by explaining marriage.) 

Thesis: Marriage is God’s divine idea; sex is God’s divine invention; we are to leave our former life and be glued together by God – for all of life. 

Especially in our current culture, every church needs to hear occasional sermons describing the biblical view of marriage. I don't mean we need to preach it as part of a political agenda; we need to preach it so our teens and the unmarried hear understand God's concept of marriage. They may not hear it anywhere else. And we need to remind those who are already married about the theology of this special relationship.

After getting started with a couple light-hearted stories, the sermon moves unpack the text. The main points:

  • Marriage is not of human construction; it is God’s divine idea.
  • In Christian marriage, we leave our individual lives and enter into a brand new together-life.
  • Sexuality is one of God’s delightful inventions.
  • In Christian marriage, we remain joined for all of life.

Proper 22: Trinity - the Divine Team

Genesis 2.18-23

Thesis: The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is a key differentiator of our faith, affirming that God is beyond us, beside us, and within us.

This is one of the 10 Big Ideas of Christian Faith series.

Proper 22-25: Lessons from Job sermon series

This series converges all 42 chapters of Job to 3 sermons. It deals with the theological issues around tragic suffering, living through "dark nights of the soul," the use of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, and it even includes some tips on how to do a better job of counseling than Job's friends. I first developed this series for the fall of 2000, then revisited it in a single sermon in the fall of 2009. But to polish it up for this post I did a major revision in September 2012.

This series fits most anywhere in the calendar, but if you are a lectionary preacher the best fit is Year B Ordinary Time (Proper 22, 23, 24) - usually October. Since the last sermon also uses the very last section of Job, which is In B Proper 25, you could shift the 3 sermon series a week later so that it ends on Proper 25.


Proper 23: Value of a Soul

Mark 10.17-31.  Jesus and the rich man.

Thesis: Understanding the theological value of a soul informs our relational evangelism activities, and it also builds up the insecure.

Many preachers have preached this title over the years. Indeed, I picked up from a teacher at a conference many years ago. It's basically a sermon that encourages personal evangelism, but it is also very affirming for the person who needs some perspective on their own value.

In case you're curious, here are the elements that I use in this sermon to make the point that the soul has substantial value:

1. Its nature & origin.  God himself is valuable; each of us was created in his image. This makes us intrinsically valuable. And it makes us realize the value of everyone we meet.

2. The potential within every human to thrill the heart of God. Some of the most exceptional accomplishments in life are made by the most unexpected people. Every life, no matter how quiet and unassuming, has immense potential to thrill the heart of God.

3. The duration of our existence: eternity. Even in this life we realize that things that are durable, things that last a very long time, are more valuable than things that fade. Our existence began as a thought in the mind of God and has the potential to last throughout all eternity. Everyone we meet has the potential to live forever with us in heaven. 

4. The price God paid for our restoration. What price? The death of Jesus on the cross. The only reason God paid such a price is to get an incredible value in return. Since we are this important to God, we need to see each other as this valuable, too.

5. The size of the struggle going on for possession of our soul. God and Satan are locked in a battle and it is for our souls. We are not collateral in a bigger war; we are the treasure they are fighting for. We are worth such a fight!


B Proper 25 thru C 2Advent: Consider something from the Alternate Life Collection

These are a collection of sermons around the concepts of the Kingdom of God and the Missional Church. Material is available in options ranging from a single sermon to a 4 sermon series.  It can fit anywhere in the Christian calendar, but if you are a lectionary preacher it fits best in these upcoming few weeks because it is the time Daniel shows up. Just click on the link above to see the range of options and to download whatever you want.


Proper 25-26: 4000 Years and Still...

There are 2 sermons in this series:  

  1. 4000 Years and Still Building
  2. 4000 Years and Still Worshiping

These are part of the Alternate Life Collection mentioned directly above.


Proper 25.5: House of Prayer

Mark 11.15-19.  Jesus turns over the tables in the temple, declaring that "My Father's house is a house of prayer."  

Thesis: We will not have much impact on our world through human methodologies – it requires prayer.

This sermon leans heavily on a well-known sermon by Jim Cymbala. My sermon notes are from my attempt to deliver pretty much the same sermon. Sooner or later every church needs to hear this message in one form or another. To watch a YouTube version of Cymbala preaching this sermon, click on House of Prayer (Cymbala). Whatever you do, be sure to listen to Jim Cymbala preach this message before you prepare to preach your next sermon on prayer. And whether or not you ever preach along these lines, this classic sermon is worth a listen!

This Mark version never appears in the lectionary, but if it did it would appear between Proper 25 and 26. A parallel story appears in John 2 (Year B 4Lent), but this sermon doesn't preach nearly as well from the John version.


Proper 26: Perhaps the Fires of Heaven Burn Hotter than the Fires of Hell

Rev 21.1-6 (All Saints Day), Matt 25.14-30, 1 Cor 3.10-15

Thesis: Heaven will be such a holy place that we who have dark corners in our life, or have buried our gifts, or have built with wood/straw/hay might find it pretty uncomfortable even if we get in. 

This sermon considers the question: When heaven and earth marry, will we enjoy it? To answer this we need to think about what heaven will be like, which this sermon does by considering three biblical images:

  • Light (Rev 21.5)
  • Dirt (Matthew 23.24-25, from the story of the boss distributing the talents to 3 employees)
  • Fire (1 Corinthians 3.10-15) 
It ends up asking 3 questions, giving an opportunity for listeners to respond:
  1. Are you trying to hide some areas from God’s light?
  2. Have you buried some gifts?
  3. Are you working on some things that will withstand the Refiner’s fire?


All Saints Day: It's God's Initiative - History is Going Somewhere

Rev 21.1-4 (The New Jerusalem)

Thesis: God’s primary mission in human history is to redeem people into a Kingdom community suitable to live with him forever. (Note: this was the earliest sermon cataloged in The Alternate Life Collection.)

All Saints Day is November 1 each year, or the first Sunday in November.

This is the 7th in the 10 Big Ideas of Christian Faith; it is also the earliest sermon I've included in The Alternate Life Collection. If you are looking for a 1 sermon version of the kind of material that is in the Alternate Life Collection, try this one.


Proper 27: Christian Math

For a synopsis of this sermon go to Money Sermons


Proper 27: 3 Ways Christians Give

For a synopsis of this sermon go to Money Sermons


Proper 28: The Bulls-eye is too Small

Hebrews 10.11-25, Col 3.1-10, Romans 12.1

Thesis: God is creative enough to provide an atonement for our sins so that we can live in the Most Holy Place for all eternity – without contaminating it.

This is a good, solid sermon on God's offer to deal with our sin. It uses the symbolism of a bulls-eye and struggles with the options we face when we realize that we can't hit the center. After depleting several human approaches, it unpacks God's offering of salvation through Jesus. This is a strong sermon on calling people to redemption and individual faith.


Proper 28: Simply Christian: The Christian Option

Hebrews 10.19-23 Dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.

Thesis: The Christian worldview is that God’s space and our space interconnect, even overlap, and that Easter is the primary instance where God steps through the veil separating his space and our space to intersect our world.

This is the first of a little 2-sermon series: Simply Christian. For information on the series, click on Simply Christian.


Proper 28: Jesus, the Highest Priest

Hebrews 9-10

Thesis: Because Jesus is our High Priest and sits in the Most Holy Place at the right hand of the Father, we are invited to live there, too. As we do God transforms our lives to take on the family resemblance.

This sermon first reviews the Tabernacle worship system before explaining Jesus' position as our High Priest. Hebrews 10.14 holds a key concept: “For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy.” After unpacking this passage, the sermon moves to the practical aspects of receiving the Spirit's transformation.

Be sure to look a the poem on the last page of the sermon notes. It is Pragmatics (What Works) by Sharon Rauenzahn. She is quite a good poet, and a member of New Life Church, Cupertino.


Proper 28, 29, Advent 1, 2: The Alternate Life (a 4 sermon series)

This 4 sermon series is the most robust packaging in the Alternate Life Collection.

  1. The Gospel in Daniel's Life
  2. The Gospel in Daniel's Dreams
  3. Jesus and the Fellowship of Believers
  4. The Fellowship of Believers in the Kingdoms of this World
The link above takes you to an overview of this series as well as links to download the sermon notes and other resource materials. If you haven't already checked it out, take a look at the Alternate Life Collection link to see several other sermons and series in this genre.


Christ the King: Politics of Worship

Revelation 1.1-11
Thesis: We must worship the correct god in the correct way, which turns out to be a very political statement in the midst of the civil religions and cultural paganism surrounding us.
This single sermon is another in the Alternate Life Collection, mentioned often on this site (and this page!).

Politics of Worship gets at the concepts of how the Alternate Life intersects with (especially) corporate worship, practiced visibly in an unfriendly context. The first part of this sermon is essentially the same as last part of 4000 Years and Still Worshiping. This Politics of Worship sermon dives into Roman Imperial Worship and its impact on the church in Revelation. Finally, it suggests several implications for corporate worship, some of which will be controversial in some churches:

  • Keep worship free from the contamination of civil religion. (For example: avoid national flags, anthems, nationalistic holiday attention, and suggesting how people should vote.)
  • Keep worship free from the contamination of the unhealthy values of the culture.
  • Take positions on moral issues as part of the Alternate Kingdom, while avoiding joining a secular “side.”
  • Come to worship primarily to give praise and thanks to God and to make a statement to the powers of this world that our primary citizenship is in God’s Kingdom; even though we live at a postal address in this world.
  • We have not really worshiped by listening to others worship. The Lord and all heaven, and maybe those around us, are waiting to see us worship the Lord.


That's enough sermons for Year B Ordinary Time, at least for now! I'll revisit it again three years when Year B comes around again. Then I'll add a few more sermons and revise whatever needs revising. You can help me with this by letting me know your comments and corrections!

Blessings,
Tim
(Edited by Grammarly)

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