How to get more from a sermon; Posted on July 16, 2014 by Joe Mckeever

“And there was a certain young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor, and was picked up dead” (Acts 20:9).

Principle number one: Stay awake.

Okay, that’s all I have to say about Eutychus. But we can use him as a poster child for people who get very little or nothing from a sermon, agreed?

If you live a long time and go to church regularly, you will hear thousands of sermons. It seems therefore that at least one message should be devoted to the subject of how to get the most out of them.

Let’s let this be the one.

Tagamet and Pepcid A/C, Prilosec and Omeprazole, are popular acid blockers. Take one before eating a pizza or other spicy foods in order to avoid heartburn. The pills shut down the flow of stomach acid. This is all right once in a while, yet it’s not recommended regularly for the simple reason that the digestive system counts on bile (stomach acid) to help in the digestion. A few years back, doctors put me on a seven-day regimen of pills designed to destroy the H. Pylori bacteria in my stomach. Two of the pills were antibiotics and the other shut off the flow of acid into my digestive system. For one solid week, in order to heal my system, I was not getting full value from my food.

Let’s talk about people who do not get full value from the sermons they hear.

These people may be taking SERMON-BLOCKERS. When the pastor gets up to preach, they….

–nitpick him. They listen for grammatical errors or doctrinal lapses. They check out his clothing, his haircut, and mannerisms. They look to make sure his wife is in her place and their children are behaving.

–plan the week ahead. They take out their iPad or a piece of scrap paper and make notes on people they need to see, projects needing their attention.

–shift into neutral and become passive. Granted, that’s better than throwing it into reverse and becoming hostile. (I had that happen once in a prison. The inmates clapped and stomped their feet in order to drown out my sermon.)

–send their mind off on a mini-vacation. I once watched a movie in the dentist’s office as he performed a root canal in my mouth. I was almost unaware of what he was doing. There are people who wish they could do that in church.

–listen with their ears but not their hearts. As Dennis the Menace once told his mother, “I hear you but I’m not listening!” When church is over, they can’t even tell you what the sermon was about.

–do not bring faith to what they are hearing. Hebrews 4:2 speaks of this phenomenon. “The word they heard did not profit them because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”

These people may hear thousands of sermons, but they do not benefit from them because they are resisting them, not listening to them, and not believing them. Such people are literally wasting their time by coming to church.

Three “pre-suggestions” on how to make the most of the sermons you will be hearing….

1) Get saved. After all, “the natural man does not receive spiritual things; neither can he discern them as they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14). You want to have a heart receptive to the things of the Lord.

2) Plan in advance. Get enough sleep the night before, then rise early. Have a quiet Sunday morning. Bring your Bible to church. Take notes. Sit where there are fewest distractions.

3) Pray for the pastor throughout the week while he’s doing the work of a shepherd and preparing the sermon. Ask the Lord to anoint his ministry, to encourage his spirit, and to show him wonderful riches from His word.

If you have prayed for him faithfully during the week, I can guarantee that you will approach the Sunday service with more eagerness and higher expectations. (Caution: Always put those expectations on the Lord, not on the man. The Lord is your Shepherd, and He will give you what He wants you to have. I have had members tell me they prayed for my preaching, but then reject everything I said from the pulpit.)

Three instructions from God’s Word for those who listen to sermons….

First: Listen actively and expectantly for the voice of the Lord.

“When you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (I Thessalonians 2:13)

When you hear a sermon, listen for the Lord. If you are in a Christ-honoring church, sitting before a Godly minister preaching from the Book, you will be hearing from the Holy Spirit. Accept this as from Him.

Second: Look up the scriptures cited and study them.

“Now these (Bereans) were more noble-minded than those who were in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

If you don’t have time in the worship service to look up references the pastor is giving, write them down and find them later. Then, if you are puzzled about the pastor’s interpretation of a verse, call him. Maybe you misunderstood him or are missing something in the Word. He will appreciate that you are taking this seriously, and the next time he’s in his study preparing a sermon, he will be reminded that some in the congregation are on their toes.

Third: Listen to the sermon for instructions from the Lord for you personally.

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).

Question: How do hearers of good sermons and lovers of great teaching deceive themselves? Answer: By convincing themselves that in hearing a teaching they have obeyed it.

Hearing and obeying are two separate things.

“Knowledge puffs up” (I Corinthians 8:1). That is to say, some people grow spiritually obese from gorging themselves on the rich food of spiritual banquets. They need to push away from the table and go to work.

Obeying the Word–that is, applying its message to my daily life–is the object. John 13:17 should be a major pillar in every believer’s life: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

The blessing of heaven was never promised to those who love the word or read it, who memorize it or teach it, who publish it or even proclaim it. Heaven’s blessings are upon those who obey the Word!

I can tell you for a fact that if you have no intention of obeying the message you are hearing, you will find great faults with it and get little good from it. The enemy of all that is good and the attacker of everything righteous will see to that. He loves to assist those looking for reasons not to obey the Lord.

Only the obedient receive.

“Trust and obey. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus.”

“For this purpose I wrote to you, that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things” (2 Corinthians 2:9).

“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15,21,23).

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock” (Matthew 7:24).

The Red Sea Redemption; The Exodus, God’s Model of Redemption.

Galatians 5:1; “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” NKJV

The following is a reflection of all the sermons we have preached over the last year.

If we question whether change was possible for everyone whom has given his or her life to Jesus Christ; the Father’s reply would be: “I have only one plan, that my children are conform to the image of my Son Jesus.

And so the question is asked; is change possible? Folks…that’s what it’s all about! That’s what Christianity is – it’s the process of becoming somebody God has made us to be…in His image. We’re children of God, now we are becoming like Christ.

You see it’s not just about getting “reformed,” going through “recovery,” 12 steps…etc. which I personally have seen in the lives of the people I serve as pastor, a reality of a difference in their lives. No we don’t deny the good these types of therapy’s can do.
I personally have seen those who try to change the inward man from the outside fail time and time again because the actuality they are trying to achieve can never be found outside of the One who designed them.

It’s all about an inner change, a character change that only comes about by a transformation of our minds, hearts which first takes place by…and here it is…the center post of all change…the conversion of your soul.

No longer given to the things of the flesh but of the Spirit. You can modify our fleshly behavior all you want, but you’ll not change the core of who and what you are until God converts the soul.

Dress it up like you want…change locations…find new friends…go to rehab…try all of man’s solutions and you’ll find yourself in perhaps with a new set of objectives, a new set of behaviors…but no power to find the kind of change that’s eternal…one that changes the soul…that only comes through Christ.

That is a description of the sanctification process, where throughout the rest of our lives, we who have been made holy by the sacrifice of Christ, progress in the outworking of that holiness as we grow and mature (1 Corinthians 6:11). As we fall more deeply in love with our Savior in the course of an ongoing pursuit of Him (Philippians 3:8-16), we are transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18) and we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29).

Biblically, change is no less an expectation for the homosexual than it is for the porn addict, the liar, the murderer, jealously, (Galatians 5: 19-21) or anyone else who has been under the power of sin.

Galatians 5:1; “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”

The Temple of God, The Holy Spirit Residing in Us

Romans 8:9 (NASB)

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Ephesians 2:21-22 (NASB)

21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy [a]temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

John 14:26 (NASB)

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

John 16:12-15 (NASB)

12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). His primary role in us, as the temple of God in whom he dwells (Eph. 2:21-22), is other-directed or other-oriented as he ministers to direct our attention to the person of Christ and to awaken in us heartfelt affection for and devotion to the Savior (John 14:26; 16:12-15). The Holy Spirit delights above all else in serving as a spotlight, standing behind us (although certainly dwelling within us) to focus our thoughts and meditation on the beauty of Christ and all that God is for us in and through him.

Daring Greatly

Former Lead Pastor, Bethel Family Christian Center

 

Teaching how to avoid both complacent and obsessive Christianity.

Daring Greatly…this site is about being no longer limited and bound by man-made limits, but releasing us into God’s limitlessness.
Everyone is looking to be someone special failing to recognize we are only pursuing man-made limitations trading our God-given purposes for the approval and limitations of men. This, unfortunately, becomes our search for significance. Our significance is found in our normalcy of the ordinariness of a supernatural life found only in the personhood of Jesus Christ.

A Study in Declining Churches

In 1972 Dean M. Kelley released the results of a sociological study of religion titled, “Why Conservative Churches Are Growing,” the conclusion was because they were conservative.

But what does being “conservative” mean? It doesn’t mean conservative culturally, socially, ethically, or politically.

A new study from Wilfrid Laurier University and Redeemer University College in Ontario Canada concluded that the reason some churches decline while others grow is largely based on their theological beliefs. If the members of a church and its clergy embrace conservative theological beliefs, they tend to be growing. If they don’t, they tend to be in decline.

What we shouldn’t do is what declining churches do…blame society for the dropping interest in church/religion.

The reality is that growing churches hold more firmly to traditional Christian beliefs/doctrine and are more diligent in, or value prayer and Bible reading. They tend to take the Bible at face value as truth, and believe that God is alive and active in the world. These values are actuated within our churches being demonstrated by reality of demonstration. In other words, we do what we say we do!

This is reveled when asked; 93 percent of pastors in growing churches said they agree with the statement: “Jesus rose from the dead with a real, flesh-and-blood body, leaving behind an empty tomb.”

Declining churches? Only 56 percent.
Many would say: “My goodness! If you don’t believe that, what kind of Christianity are you advocating?”

My main point is…if we water down our faith so that it matches the world’s values and ideals, then we end up having nothing to offer the world that it does not already have.

We won’t get the attention of a post Christian world by voicing the convictions they already hold as true…the voice that gains the attention of the world will be convict them, being clear in its message, substantive, being really-real in its content, and bold in its challenge.