This past Sunday, I began a new sermon series through the Gospel of Mark. I am looking forward to what the Lord has in store for our church family as we work verse-by-verse through this book of the Bible.
Yesterday, I shared some practical ways to get the most out of our new sermon series. Because the things I shared apply to any sermon series, I want to share some of what I shared with the church family.
1) Be Present
Be faithful in church attendance. Don’t forsake the ‘assembling of yourselves together’ (Heb. 10:25). The matter of church attendance should not be a matter of convenience but should be a matter of conviction that grows out of a desire to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ!
2) Come Prepared
Prepare yourself and your family with prayer. Pray that God would save sinners, the saints would be edified, and that Christ would be glorified. Pray that God would speak to your heart and have His will accomplished in your life.
Pray for the preacher that God would open his mouth to preach in God’s power and according to His will. Or as Paul requested prayer from the church at Ephesus “…that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph. 6:19)
Come to church ‘hungry’ (that is, spiritually hungry). Come to church like you come before a bountiful, feast. Come hungry and eager to partake of the spiritually nourishing ‘meat & drink’ of God’s Word.
Having a good spiritual appetite for God’s Word begins with having a teachable spirit. If I have a proud spirit, I’m not going to come to church hungry because either I think I know it all or I have the attitude that nobody’s going to tell me what to do (both attitudes come from a heart of pride).
Cultivate an attitude like young Samuel who said- “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (1 Sam. 3:9). If you come to church with a hard heart, a distracted heart, or a heart that is set on worldly things, don’t be surprised when you don’t get anything out of church.
1 Pet. 2:2- “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”
Be rested– a rested body/mind is essential for being prepared to worship God. I’ve said it before- “Sunday worship begins on Saturday evening.”
3) Stay Plugged In (during the preaching time)
Recognize that whenever the Word of God goes forth, Satan is working overtime to keep you from hearing the Word and receiving the Word into your lives.
Just as a bird plucks away newly sown seed, so Satan is working overtime to pluck away the truth of God’s Word from your heart and mind.
Recognize the value of the Word of God and just how desperately you need it!
Come before the Word like the Psalmist- “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments…Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.” (Ps. 119:127-131, 140)
During the preaching time, ask God to help you listen with your full attention. Don’t settle for listening to sermons in a halfhearted way.
Luke 19:48 speaks of those who listened to Jesus as He taught in the temple- “…for all the people were very attentive to hear him.”
They were hanging onto every word that He said! And that ought to be our response to God’s Word. Every time the Word is opened, God is speaking to us. The question is: Are we listening?
Here’s some questions to ask yourself as you listen to a sermon:
- What is God trying to teach me from His Word?
- What are areas of my life that God wants me to change?
- How can I respond in obedient faith to the Word of God?
- What can I put into practice this week in obedience to God’s Word?
- Do I have a meek and submissive spirit towards the Word of God?
- Am I resisting the influence of Satan who is doing all that he can to steal away the seed of truth that has been planted in my heart?
4) Put the Word into Practice
Hebrews 2:1- “Therefore we ought to give more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
It is important, not only that we hear the Word, but that we don’t let the things we have heard ‘slip away’.
What can we do to keep God’s truth from ‘slipping’ out of our minds?
- Pray and ask God to instill the truth in your heart.
- Meditate on the truth through the week.
- Strive to respond in obedience to every sermon you hear.
- Diligently practice (live out) the Word through the week.
- Go back and review notes you have taken during the sermon.
- Go back & re-listen to the sermon.
- Talk to your children about the sermon.
- Talk to fellow believers about the sermon.