For about six years I had no molding on the inside of my office door. There was just a large gap between the door and sheetrock. As someone who is a little of a perfectionist, this bothered me. After a while, however, I completely ignored it because I became comfortable with it. Finally today, as I am writing this, a kind gentlemen in the church went out of his way to see this task finally completed. It looks great and I found myself staring at it for aesthetic purposes only.
Much of life can be like this. Things which we have problems with, or do, learn to live with them, even if it is not the best, and just move on with life. Complacent to accept it. One day a friend at church had a little bit of a limp. When I asked him about it, he said he’s always had it. Sometimes this infirmity flares up a little but then goes away. He doesn’t think about it just because it’s the way it it.
I think for a lot of us, listening to sermons can become like this. We have listened to so many sermons, that while we still may learn something from it, we miss out on the full blessing. We should learn how to better listen to a sermon. I want to give a few small tips on how to benefit the most from a sermon.
Remember that God always wants to speak to us through His Word
Most of us would never be so prideful to say such a thing, or think that we are prideful enough to believe such a thing. There are times we hear a sermon and think, “I already know this stuff.” We may know the passage, but that doesn’t mean that God is not going to speak through His Word to you that day.
While you may be very familiar with a topic or passage, you are at a different point of life the first time, or last time this passage was preached to you. Maybe the last time you heard it, you had children in the house and now you are an empty nester. Perhaps the last time you thought about this passage, you were in a place where it deeply ministered to you; now you are at a place where those things are healed, and you are helping others.
While God’s Word never changes, our lives do. The truths of God mean different things to us dependent on where we are in life. Even if the same passage was preached on the week before, you probably were not able to consume every part of the sermon. You can now focus on more of the details of the passage. Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Use God’s Word for cleaning
If we are still on this Earth, we still struggle with sin. Before the sermon starts, or maybe that morning before church, pray that God would not only let you hear His Word, but spiritually clean you with it. James 1:21 says, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
When God’s Word is spoken, and we hear Him, He uses it to clean us. Come with the mentality that God’s Word can cleanse our sin. Come expecting to be exposed that day, but to be exposed in order to grow. If we hear the Word, and are convicted by it, we can confess to God that sin. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
You may want to do this immediately during the sermon. If you hear something in the sermon that convicts you, confess it privately right in your seat. Or, for those who are at our church, a great time to think through the sermon is between the final prayer and before you head to Communion. Instead of quickly lining up for communion (links to 2 communion articles), ask God if you need to confess, or need cleansing of what was spoken today. If so, confess it, and joyfully come to Communion being reminded that Jesus is the source of forgiveness.
Meditate on the Sermon During the Week
Like any good, in-depth, longer conversation, a sermon must be meditated on during the week. This goes back to the first point of realizing that we are not going to get everything the first time. Psalm 1:2 says, “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.”
How can we meditate on it? First, maybe take time during the week to sit without the TV or radio on, and just read through the Scripture that was preached. You can also take some time to pray through the truths which were spoken, and then meditate on how your life does or does not match up to those things. Lastly, you can think through what may need to practically change in your life to be more like Christ.
What are some other ways that you can interact with the sermon this coming week? Do you sit there, listen, and move on, or do you let God’s Word penetrate your heart? How do you do at interacting with the sermon in relation to the three ways that are listed above? Many speakers provide notes and outlines to help listeners stay focused and understand the message. Following along in your Bible can help you concentrate as well.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.