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C Lent

Here are resources for Lent (Revised Common Lectionary, Year C). This is a season for reflection and growing deeper in our understanding of personal holiness, all as a way of preparing us for the Easter season.

In the listing below, clicking on a sermon title takes you to a Google Doc of the sermon 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 any 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. That's what it is for. To subscribe to email or RSS notifications of new posts from this site, click IsbellOnline News.


1 Lent: Temptation - Learning from Jesus

Luke 4.1-13. The temptation of Jesus.

Thesis: The temptation of Jesus teaches that sometimes the Holy Spirit leads us into places of temptation, and he does it as a way to grow us up into Christ-like-ness.

This sermon includes a Children's Lesson (using a clip from Pinocchio) for use early in the service. Then at the end of the service, there is an opportunity to bring the children back into the sermon for a finish that will be memorable for them and the adults. It's about God's forgiveness and his grace.

There are several aspects to this sermon. First, it unpacks the 3 temptations: Turn stones into bread (do something good and practical), turn stones into bread (give yourself to accomplishing something really big in this world), do something spectacular (manipulate God). 

The sermon then deals with the interesting question of how this story made it into scripture, after all, Jesus was alone in the desert.  

Then it looks into why, of all things, it was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into this place of temptation!

Finally, it does a quick contrast and compare of Jesus' temptation with the Israelites temptation in the wilderness in the Old Testament.

2 Lent: When Resident Aliens Drift

Genesis 15.1-7 (God's covenant with Abram), Luke 13.31-35 ( Jesus grieves over Jerusalem)

Thesis: When Christians drift into living like their surrounding cultures God is faithful anyway and welcomes humble confession and repentance.

This sermon likens Christians to Resident Aliens: citizens of another Kingdom living in foreign territory. It begins by unpacking the Abraham story to communicate the concept of God's call to something resembling resident alien life. As that story unfolds we see that Abraham and his descendants drifted, time and again, into a life that more resembled the cultures around them. Eventually, the sermon fast-forwards to the Luke passage to observe there was one Resident Alien life that did not drift: Jesus. Not only did he not drift, he made provision for the forgiveness and empowerment of the rest of us resident aliens who follow him.

As you read through this sermon you may recognize this concept from other sermons and postings on this site. These are gathered as The Alternate Life Collection. So if you're not already familiar with my teachings along these lines, I recommend you check out that link, too. 

2 Lent: Living without the Mask

I posted this sermon a few weeks ago because the scripture also fits Year C Transfiguration Sunday. But if you didn't use it then, you can check it out for this second Sunday of Lent.

Luke 9.28-36 (Transfiguration)

Thesis: We are invited up the mountain with Jesus to experience the glory of the Lord, and also follow him down the mountain to our own Jerusalem, challenges, and sufferings - and throughout all this radiate the presence of the Spirit of Jesus.

This sermon starts with Luke's Transfiguration story on the Mount of Olives and then gives the preacher the opportunity to tell connecting stories of Moses (with a unique view of the veil) and Elijah (on Mt. Sinai). Then it returns to the New Testament to stand beside Peter in his interchange with Jesus. The challenge of the sermon is to experience Jesus and then come down from the mountain with him to live something like Moses, but without the veil, as we embody the Spirit of the New Life in the context of our world.

3 Lent: Grace - the Differentiator

Isaiah 55.1-9

Thesis: Grace is the primary difference between the Christian faith and all other religions: how will we respond to this?

We've all run into skeptics who say, "Ahh, all religions are alike." But, of course, every religion disagrees. This sermon addresses the key distinctive about Christian faith: grace. It includes a powerful C.S. Lewis anecdote and a personal story from Charles Swindoll. After dealing with this sort of topic a few minutes leading up to communion, I interrupt the message long enough to serve communion.

After communion the sermon poses the question, "So, then how do we live?" followed by unpacking four aspects of this:

  1. God's people live in a community.
  2. God's people live transparently with one or two very close brothers/sisters.
  3. God's people reproduce the grace they receive from others.
  4. God's people love him with all their hearts, which enables him to set them free to "do as they please."

The third and fourth of these items are accompanied by very strong anecdotes.

3 Lent: Temptation - Learning from Saint Paul

1 Cor 10.1-13 (No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.) 

Thesis: God provides the resources to resist temptation.

Even if we are terrible at memorizing, this classic text on temptation is worth memorizing! After unpacking the scripture the sermon develops four tips for overcoming temptation:

  1. Remember who you are in Christ.
  2. Have a daily quiet time with God.
  3. When you sense temptation growing, HALT. (Ask yourself if you are Hurt, Angry, Lonely, or Tired and deal with the underlying cause.)
  4. Develop a spiritual friend or mentor.

4 Lent: The Romance

Luke 15.1-24. The Prodigal Son story.

Thesis: In some people’s hearts, Jesus is present. In other people’s hearts, Jesus is prominent. In still other people’s hearts, Jesus is preeminent.

This sermon focuses on the younger son and the father in the Luke 15 story as a way to introduce listeners to a deeper, richer, more intimate relationship with God than most of them think is possible. This romance theme is something I return to often, in many forms. This particular sermon was the first one I ever preached on romance, and in the notes, I provide links to several others. If I can only get one concept across to a person or a group, this is it. Hope you'll have a look.

4 Lent: Why Christians Evangelize

2 Corinthians 5.13-21 (... anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The Old life is gone; a new life has begun!...)

Thesis: Evangelism is an important characteristic of Christians because it is a response to the heart of Jesus, who suffered and for our sin, and for the sin of everyone we know.

Here is a sermon that communicates the reasons why we Christians share the message of evangelism:

  • Because Christ already died for everyone around us; now the gift of forgiveness and new life awaits all who will receive it and give their futures to Christ.
  • Because we love Christ, the one who assigned each of us to share the good news.
  • Because as we follow Christ our heart comes to beat more and more like his and we begin to love the people he loves… which is everyone. Even the difficult people.

We do not evangelize through sales techniques, manipulation, or coercion. We do it by: 

  • Living in a Fellowship of Believers, there is simply no way to do it in isolation.
  • We live transparently "in Christ" while simultaneously engaged in the kingdoms of this world (school, work, neighborhoods, social clubs, etc).
  • We sustain Prayers of Faith for the people around is, always being ready to give a reason for the hope that they see in us. (1 Peter 3.15)

5 Lent: 3 Ways Christians Give

For a synopsis of this sermon go to Money Sermons

5 Lent: Occupying the Land

Psalm 126.1-3 (When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream...), Deuteronomy 7 (The privilege of holiness)

Thesis: God’s assignment for us is similar to his assignment for Israel as it approached the Promise Land: occupy the land I am putting before you.

The lectionary scripture is from Psalm 126, which this sermon links to a pretty deep look into Deuteronomy 7. I think you'll find it quite an interesting sermon and a good one to preach sometime before Easter.

5 (or 4) Lent: Message of Contrasts

Luke 15.11-32 (Prodigal son story), John 12.1-8 (Jesus' anointing at Bethany)

Thesis: Even if we’re wired up like the Older Son or Martha, periodically we need to stop and look at the gift of Jesus on the cross and let our hearts respond like the Younger Son and Mary.

This sermon does a bit of compare and contrast between the 2 sons in the Luke 15 story and Mary/Martha. Unlike many sermons, it does not chastise the elder son or Martha - quite the contrary. It does it in such a way that affirms the people in your church who do so much of the work, while also gently opening listeners hearts to the kind of passion we see in the younger son after his return and in Mary when she anointed Jesus.

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