Whoever has ears, let them hear. Matthew 11:15
Someone once wrote, “Now I lay me down to sleep, the sermon long, the subject deep, if he gets through before I wake, will someone give me a little shake?” Though funny, this shouldn’t happen. When we go to church it should be our aim to get as much as possible from the preaching of God’s Word.
In Matthew 11:15 we read, “He who has ears, let him hear.” That’s a good reminder. Sometimes we’re not always tuned in. Here are some practical guidelines to help you make the most of Sunday’s sermon. Consider the following:
- Come refreshed: Get enough sleep. How you spend Saturday night has a great deal to do with your concentration on Sunday morning. Luke 8:18 reminds us; “Consider carefully how you listen.”
- Prepare your heart: Sin is like wax in the ears – it blocks the intake of truth. Before coming to church examine your heart, look for things that would hamper your spiritual hearing, confess your sin, put away anything that is unholy, and ask God to help you overcome problems that might interfere with you listening to the message (cf. James 1:21).
- Pray: Pray before, during and after every sermon. Pray that when the pastor opens his mouth he will speak with power and fearlessly declare God’s Word (cf. Ephesians 6:19). Pray that God will grant you the will and ability to practice and apply what you learn.
- Bring your Bible: Look up verses or passages that are mentioned. Underline or highlight key texts. Consider writing notes in the margin.
- Sit at the front: This minimizes distractions and diversions such as people’s idiosyncrasies, talking and moving, babies looking at you, or parents struggling to get their children to pay attention.
- Take notes: This focuses your concentration and helps you remember a message more effectively. You can enhance your note-taking by recording your own thoughts, questions, and applications.
- Be discerning: It’s your responsibility to check the Bible and make sure that what the pastor says is consistent with the Word of God (cf. Matthew 7:15; 1 Corinthians 10:15; 2 Peter 3:17).
- Listen with humility: Remember you’ve come to hear the Word of God, not just a pastor’s sermon. God is speaking to you. So listen attentively (cf. Nehemiah 8:3; Psalm 85:8) and ask God to make you receptive, to deepen your insight, to root His Word in your spirit, and to help you apply Biblical truth to your life.
- Express gratitude: Show your appreciation for those who minister the Word of God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
- Respond obediently: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” James 1:22. Your responsibility after the sermon is to intentionally apply God’s Word – to personalize the application and take the initiative in acting on what you’ve heard. For “the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” James 1:25.