Thursday, March 30, 2006

How to listen to a sermon

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This morning, my fourth grade religion class was looking at how to learn from the parables of Jesus. The same lesson applies to how to get soemthing out of a Bible study or how to listen a sermon on Sunday morning. Learning from the message we hear from a pulpit requires us to be actively engaged in the process. As we listen, our minds should be pondering the following:

1. What is God like? Each message from the Word of God is the Lord's own self-revelation. We discover more about who God is and what he is like when the Word is proclaimed in our midst. Ask yourself what insights you can gain into the character of God. Perhaps a particular character in a parable or narrative being read in the Scripture lesson is intended to represent God in some fashion and reveal an aspect of his character. At the heart of any good message is the revelation of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

2. What is God teaching me? Each message from the Word of God is intended to teach us something--to reveal God's will. There can be many related lessons within one sermon or passage. For example, the parable of the prodigal son teaches us to not be wasteful/sinful, to seek the Lord's mercy, to be generous in having mercy, etc. At the heart of any good message is the proclamation of the gospel.

3. How can I apply that to my life? A good preacher may get you started in this quest by making a suggestion or providing an example. But do not let that confuse you into thinking the work has been done. This is the question that each individual ultimately needs to answer for himself. It should be something to ponder in the hours and days after hearing God's message. Pray for God's gift of discernment after hearing a sermon. We need to open our hearts and minds to the working of the Holy Spirit within to help us discern exactly how God's will may become a part of our everyday lives. At the heart of any good message is the call to repentance and faith.

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