Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Take Care How You Listen: Expect God to Speak

"The word of God is quick, and powerful" (Hebrews 4:12) and the method God has chosen to communicate it to the world is through preaching. This was Jesus's final commandment to His disciples—"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15)—and His charge to the Apostle Paul—"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Corinthians 1:17). God speaks through the preaching of His Word. 

The Thessalonians were commended for their understanding of this in that they "received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). This is not to say that every time your preacher speaks you are hearing the voice of God. The preacher's authority is not in his title, or experience, or degrees, or age. It is in the Word of God, the Bible. That is why the Bereans were commended even above the Thessalonians; they did't just listen to the preaching but followed along and compared what they were hearing with the Scriptures (cf. Acts 17:11).

So when the preacher opens the Bible and faithfully proclaims it, you are hearing from God and should expect Him to speak to you. Your listening and demeanor should not be casual or distracted. Don't forget that there is a way of listening that is unprofitable, and results in our losing "even that which [we] seemeth to have" (Luke 8:18). 
God can do something incredible in your life during the preaching of His Word, and you should expect Him to. Before this Sunday:
  • Read the sermon text a couple of times. (We post this on Facebook, Twitter, and include it in our Saturday email.) 
  • Starting today, begin praying for Sunday—for your pastor, the sermon, and yourself. 
  • Make a point to get to bed early on Saturday so that you are able to come to the service fresh and ready to pay attention. 
  • As it gets close to the start of the service, intentionally quiet your mind and remind yourself that you are there so that God may speak to you from His Word. 
*This material is based loosely on Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons by Christopher Ash.

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