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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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LISTENING TO A SERMON

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 ESV)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

Do you enjoy a good sermon or do you just want it to be short enough to make it to your favorite restaurant before the Sunday crowd? Do you want sermons to always move you emotionally or do you consider the accuracy of the Word preached to be the most important thing? Do you believe that music and singing should take up most of the service? Do you listen to preaching to be entertained or to learn more about Jesus?

People have many reasons for attending a particular church and often the sermon is not the highest priority. This is why you hear complaints: “The sermons are too long”; “The pastor doesn’t include enough funny illustrations”; “He talks about holy living and sanctification too much”. Such criticisms reflect the attitude that growing in Christ is not the highest priority. So many people in our churches today seem to want just a little bit of Jesus and no more.

I will be the first to admit that some pastors preach God’s Word better than others. However, our preachers are faced each Sunday by people with some of the poorest listening skills ever. They do not read their Bibles regularly and do not prepare themselves to hear God speak to them through the sermon. They fail to pray for the preacher and they fail to ask God to help them understand the sermon and apply it to their lives. Then they fail to review and study what has been preached to them. (Acts 17:11 ESV)

So, how should we listen to a sermon? We must prepare our souls through Bible reading and prayer. We should pray for ourselves and pray for our pastor’s sermon. Take a Bible to church. Underline the text that the pastor is preaching from. Listen as if the preacher is talking directly to us as individuals. Listen to the Word in humility, not in judgment. Listen with an awareness of what is being said. Listen not only with the ears but also with the eyes, mind, and heart. Listening to God’s Word requires mental attentiveness, focused interest, and a receptive heart.

If listening is a sign of respect in communication, consider how God views you when you do not listen to His Word preached. God always has a message for you when the Bible is preached faithfully. God will speak to you through your pastor’s sermon this week. Will you be prepared to listen?

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.
(“Speak, O Lord” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)

 

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