Preaching a sermon is a foolish exercise in the eyes of the world. Just like the Greeks and Jews of the past our world longs for clever reasoning and the miraculous or wow factor (1 Cor 1:18-25) Yet, as biblical Christians we put great hope in preaching. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17).
As much as preaching properly the Word of God is the responsibility of the pastor, your responsibility is to properly listen to the preached Word. As Luther said, we deem the preaching of the Word as holy and gladly hear it.
Ears To Listen:
As said in Isaiah 6:9, “They are ever hearing, but never understanding.” Don’t be a lumpy pew warmer. Being attentive requires self-discipline and faith. Listening to the preached Word is part of the worship you offer to God. When you let this sin-soaked world distract your ears, mind, heart and soul to be inattentive to the very Word of God you have a stubborn and hardened heart. If your heart is stubborn and hardened you will not hear and turn towards God. Having the ears to hear God’s Word is a work of the Holy Spirit. Pray the Spirit will open your ears and soften your heart.
Listen For the LAW:
You may not like what you hear. You may not feel good about yourself when hear the sermon. Take heart. You need to hear the Truth. When you feel accused that is the Word of God pointing us to our limitations so we may run to God for our salvation. Take what is preached personally because God is speaking to you personally.
Listen For the GOSPEL:
The sermon is not to tell you about the LORD. Take what is preached personally because God is speaking to you personally. The sermon is meant for you to encounter the LORD. Jesus hung on the Cross for you. The Lord gives the absolution of sin for you. Listen for the PROMISES of God.
Not There To Entertain, But To Transform:
While pastors may tell stories, use imagery and even try jokes, they are not working to entertain you. Proclamation is the sacred matter of death and life. The purpose of the preached Word is to give you new life. Listen for how you will put the Word into practice.
Pray For Preaching:
Pray for your pastor to be soaked in the Word and guided by the Holy Spirit. Pray for the pastor as he works on the sermon days, weeks, even months ahead of time.
Pray also the Holy Spirit speaks to you through the sermon. Pray your ears will hear the life-giving Word that creates and nurtures faith. Pray against the sin that would dismiss God’s Word and clutter your mind.
Take Notes & Think About It:
Many Christians listen better when they have pencil in hand. Taking notes helps you to pay attention. Provides a basis on which to reflect and discuss later. To focus on the main points. May even give rise to questions you ask the pastor about the sermon. The big question to ask yourself, “What is the LORD speaking to me today?”
If you need a surface on which to write, you could always bring your bible.
Even more, after you get home, you can discuss with your family what the Lord is saying in your lives.
Starting in August, sermon notes will be regularly available for you to actively listen to the sermon and take notes.
May the ears of your hearts be enlightened so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph 1:18-19)
Your servant in the Word, Pastor Douglas