Thursday, December 8, 2016

Take Care How You Listen: Act on What You Hear

As you sit under the preaching of the Word of God each week, there is a temptation to think of all the other people that it applies to. As your pastor talks about lust and sexual purity, you may think, "My neighbor Tom really needs to hear this." As he preaches on generosity and the importance of honoring God with your finances, you may say to yourself, "I hope Sally is paying attention. She isn't obeying God in this area." While Tom and Sally may indeed need to hear what is being preached that day, the reality is so do you

God wants to change you through the preaching of His Word and to think otherwise is not only arrogant but spiritually dangerous. James warns us, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (1:22). God is concerned with your acting on what you hear because He wants to change you—your outlook, attitude, words, and behavior—so that you reflect Christ in your life. 

When you only consider how those around you need to change, rather than acting on the Word of God yourself, you give place to the devil (cf. Ephesians 4:27). Consider the parable of the sower this series opened with. In that story Jesus described how as the Word is sown some of it is cast by the wayside. "Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12). The Word sat exposed and Satan came and took it away, removing it from their thoughts.

Thus, to refuse to give place to the devil, you must immediately act on what you hear. The Bible consistently attaches an urgency to the Word of God. This is seen in Moses' final sermon, "I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil" (Deuteronomy 30:15); the psalmist's plea, "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart" (Psalm 95:7, 8); and Paul's exhortation, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Listen to each sermon with the intent of immediately acting on what you hear. This Sunday:
  • Ask God to show you from the day's text if there is an outlook, attitude, words, or behavior in your life that needs changed.
  • Note any specific ways your pastor applies the text.
  • After the sermon, write down all the ways the message could be applied to you personally. How would it look if you lived it out at home? At work? At school?
  • Ask God to change you through His Word and to empower you by His Spirit to live out the sermon.
*This material is based loosely on Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons by Christopher Ash.

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