Last week Saturday – in time for Sunday worship and sermon-hearing – we began to look at one of the short books I am reading this year (this will fulfill one from my 2017 reading challenge list – a book under 100 pages!).
The book(let) is penned by Christopher Ash and titled Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons (Good Book Co., 2009).
After giving some justification for reading and taking to heart such a book, I listed the seven main points Ash makes in the book – the “seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening,” as he calls them. Here they are listed in order:
- Expect God to speak
- Admit God knows better than you
- Check the preacher says what the passage says
- Hear the sermon in church
- Be there week by week
- Do what the Bible says
- Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice!
Tonight, as part of our preparation for hearing the Word of God tomorrow, let’s “listen up!” as Ash instructs us in that first ingredient – “expect God to speak.”
…When the Bible is faithfully opened up, we are to listen to the preacher’s voice as the voice of God Himself. The preacher stands in the great tradition of prophets and apostles who spoke the word of God. Unlike them, the Christian preacher cannot offer new or fresh ideas to add to the Bible. But like them, there is a borrowed authority to speak what God wants spoken. We ought to listen to this kind of sermon with the utmost seriousness.
There should be nothing casual about our listening, as if this were ‘just another sermon’ or simply ‘what always happens at this point in our meetings.’ When Ezra the preacher opened the written word to read and preach it, all the people stood up as a mark of respect and attentiveness (Nehemiah 8 v 5). In the same way, there ought to be a reverent hush as the Bible is read and preached in our meetings.
…Remember, we will not instinctively hear preaching as the voice of God. Our natural reaction is to take it simply as the voice of people. One of the wonderful things the Spirit of God does is to open our ears so that we receive it not just as the voice of people, but as the voice of God. We need to pray for Him to do this in us (pp.4-5).