Posts Tagged ‘devotions’
How to Get the Most Out of Your Pastor’s Preaching
How to Get the Most Out of Your Pastor’s Preaching
Do you ever find yourself . . .
• waking up on Sunday morning and wishing you didn’t have to go to church?
• having a hard time staying awake in church?
• daydreaming during the message, or making a mental “to-do” list while the pastor is preaching?
• picking apart the message or the preacher in your mind or not getting anything out of the sermon?
• wishing your pastor would be more _____?
• forgetting what the message was about before you get home from church?
If we’re not benefitting from the ministry of the Word as it is publicly proclaimed in our local churches, the fault may not lie in the one proclaiming the Word. It may lie in our readiness to hear, receive, and respond to the Word.
How can you prepare your heart to get the most out of your pastor’s preaching?
Before the service
1. Pray for your pastor as he prepares for Sunday. Pray that his schedule would be free from unnecessary distractions. Pray that God will give him understanding into the meaning of the Word. Pray that God will speak to him personally through the Word and that he will respond in humility and obedience. Pray that God will help him to communicate the truth with clarity, freedom, passion, and power.
2. If your pastor is preaching a series from a particular book of the Bible, take time during the week to read ahead and meditate on the text. Ask God to speak to your heart before you even hear the message.
3. Prepare for public worship the night before. Turn off the TV, limit social activities, and instead do things that will cultivate your appetite for God’s Word.
4. Ask God to prepare your heart for the preaching of the Word. Repent of any sin God reveals to you, and get rid of the things that are standing in the way of the Word of God in your life.
5. Ask God to give you a sense of anticipation. Come to church asking God to meet with you. Expect to hear from Him and to be different when you leave.
During the service
1. Participate—you need to be there. You’re not going to get a lot out of church if you don’t go.
2. Get to church early enough to spend a few minutes before the service quietly preparing your heart for worship. Pray for God to move—in the pastor, in your heart, in others’ hearts—and surrender your heart to whatever God will say.
3. Don’t be a spectator. Participate fully in every part of the service. That means when it’s time to sing—sing. When it’s time to pray—pray. When it’s time to give—give.
4. While the sermon is being preached, open your Bible and follow along. If your pastor refers to other references, look them up.
5. Listen attentively to the reading and the preaching of the Word. Try to make eye contact with the pastor. Be a “yes face”! Not only does that help the pastor know people are listening and connecting, but it helps you stay alert and focused.
6. Listen humbly to the preaching of the Word. Ask the Lord to make it fresh. If your heart is humble, your focus won’t be on evaluating the message or how it’s delivered; you will let the message evaluate you.
7. Take notes. Jot down things the Lord speaks to you about; highlight points the Spirit applies to your heart and life. Take those notes home, and work through them later.
8. Don’t make your pastor a prisoner of unrealistic expectations. Your pastor doesn’t have to be mesmerizing, entertaining, dramatic, or tell a lot of stories to be effective. You are blessed if he is a man of God who is humble, loves the Word, and opens the Word and seeks to make its meaning plain. The power is in the truth, not the messenger.
After the service
1. Ask God to give you at least one takeaway from the message—a key concept, phrase, or verse that you can review throughout the week. Jot it down so you don’t forget.
2. While it’s still fresh on your mind (before you leave church, on the way home from church, over the meal following the service, etc.), discuss the message with others. Share how God spoke to you.
3. Be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer (James 1:22). Apply what you heard Sunday morning to real-life, everyday circumstances and situations throughout the week.
Making It Personal
- Do you highly esteem, respect, and reverence the Word of God (Neh. 8:5; Ps. 138:2)?
- Do you prepare your heart to hear the Word of God (Ps. 119:18)?
- Do you find delight in hearing the Word proclaimed?
- Do you listen attentively when the Word is being read or preached (Neh. 8:3; Ps. 85:8)?
- Do you expect God to speak to you every time you hear His Word proclaimed?
- Do you have a teachable spirit (Ps. 25:9)?
- Do you tremble at the Word of the Lord (Isa. 66:2; Ezra 9:4)?
- Do you pray for those who proclaim the Word to you, that they might be pure, anointed vessels of God (1 Thess. 5:25)?
- When the Word is preached, are you conscious that you are not listening to the words of men but to the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13)?
- Do you have a commitment to obey anything God shows you from His Word (Matt. 7:24; James 1:22–25)?
- Do you respond in faith, that is, acting on the Word you have heard (Heb. 4:2)?
- Is your heart good soil that receives the Word and produces fruit (Luke 8:15)?
- Are you willing to let the message sit in judgment of you rather than you sitting in judgment of the message?
- Do you take the message personally (James 1:22)? Or are you more focused on how it applies to the people sitting near you?
- Do you pass on to others what you’ve learned from the Word of God (2 Tim. 2:2)?
- Do you express appreciation and gratitude for those who minister the Word of God to you (Gal. 6:6; 1 Thess. 5:12-13)?
Original post by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Advice For New Believers
Advice For Brand New Christians
1. Find an older Christian who will commit to discipling you on a regular basis.
2. Attend church regularly.
3. Make sure you understand the gospel. Clarify this before ‘moving on’ to other things. But don’t stay away too long! Learn to live a ‘gospel centred life’.
4. Start bible-reading daily. Follow a plan (eg. ‘I will read 2 chapters of the New Testament each day’). If you have the time and desire to do so, be ambitious in what you read. However, don’t be discouraged if you can’t read quickly. And don’t expect to take in everything you read.
5. Start praying daily. If it helps, meet with another Christian for a period to help get you started. Learn from how others pray, but don’t feel you must copy them. As a simple guide: praise God, confess sin and ask for things that you and others need.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is a vital pathway to learning and growth. Naturally, you will have questions about countless things, so ask away!
7. If you are ‘a reader’, consider getting hold of a Christian book that will help you learn more about the bible. Ask your pastor or mature Christian friends for recommendations.
8. Tell others you are a Christian. New Christians make some of the best evangelists. Your first two years as a believer may be your most productive in reaching unbelievers.
9. Be patient with yourself. You have the rest of your life to grow as a Christian!
- from Unashamed Workman
Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
Harmonizing 1 Peter 4:8 with Matthew 18:15
An argument often raised against the regular practice of church discipline detailed in Matthew 18:15–18 is Peter’s comment in 1 Peter 4:8 that “love covers a multitude of sins.” In so opining, Peter seems to be suggesting that church members should prefer covering to confronting sin. But is this really what Peter is suggesting? Note the following three possible ways of harmonizing 1 Peter 4:8 with Matthew 18:15:
(1) Some suggest that 1 Peter 4:8 is best applied when believers ignore sinful behavior in the body and/or silently endure sins precipitated against them personally. The best way to harmonize Peter with the words of Christ in Matthew, in this case, is to “cover up” sins in the body rather than confronting them.
Response: It is true, of course, that Scripture encourages believers to patiently endure abuse from outsiders (1 Cor 4:12; 1 Pet 2:20; etc.); however, nowhere does Scripture commend a “loving disregard” of sin in the body for the sake of unity. One wonders, in fact, how a believer can possibly allow his brother to remain immersed in sin and describe it as “love.”
(2) Others suggest, more plausibly, that 1 Peter 4:8 is best applied when believers develop a “thick skin” in relationships with fellow church-members, cultivating tolerance so as not to be easily insulted. In this case a believer best harmonizes the message of Peter with the message of Christ by (1) resolving always to assume the best of fellow-believers when they speak or act out of turn, and, as a result, by (2) not rushing to judgment and confronting in haste or for petty reasons.
Response: That Scripture commends such a mindset is surely true—we should not be people who are easily provoked or who are swift to think evil of our brothers. This harmonization of Matthew 18 and 1 Peter 4, however, does not seem to capture the force of either text. Both Matthew and Peter are speaking not to trifling offenses but to sins. So while it is surely true that Christians should not be hasty in accusing one another over petty concerns, this does not seem to be the point in view in either passage.
(3) This leaves us, then, with a third option, which I suggest is the correct one. In this model of harmonization, the believer best obeys Peter when, having being sinned against, confronting his erring brother, and successfully “gaining his brother,” he afterward refuses to “keep a record of wrongs” (1 Cor 13:5) or to embarrass his repentant brother by divulging the details of the situation to others. As such, believers are called upon to “cover,” whenever possible, sins that have been amicably resolved.
Consecrate Your Remaining Days to God
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2 Timothy 2:3–4, ESV)
Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.…
And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.
- A.W. Tozer
Sometimes We Endure Darkness So Others Can See Light
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” -Mark 15:39 (ESV)
It was in the Lord’s death that the centurion found life.
It was in the time of darkness that he saw the light.
‘Lord,’ we cry, ‘if You loved me enough to die for me, if the veil was rent to open the way for me, then why am I going through this difficulty, this tragedy?’
‘Because there are centurions watching,’ He declares. ‘And they will see My light in your dark days.’
Dear saint, if you want to be used by God, there is no other way than to go through disappointment, difficulty, and pain in order that people might relate to you, observe you, and see by the reality of Jesus in your life that He truly is the Son of God.
People are not convinced of His reality when they see us sailing through easy times and prosperous days. Such times cause only envy and cynicism. When people are truly touched is when they see us navigating adversity and difficulty all the while trusting the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:4).
This centurion was won, saved, and converted not because he was one of the 5,000 eating bread and fish in the sunlight, but because he saw Jesus in the darkness.
from A Day’s Journey devotional