listening

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.13.14

“God’s word is worthy of action”

James 1:19-27

James focuses on our speech, listening and anger

He does this out of concern for biblical community

How we listen, is a significant factor in the quality of our relationships

Think about how listening reflects God’s character

Becoming a better listener is one way to imitate God

Listening is a way of showing love for people

Listening is a way of choosing Christ’s agenda for people over our own

In contrast, anger is a significant factor in dividing biblical community

v20 anger produces effects which are opposite of righteousness

Does anger help us think better, listen clearly, show love or build relationships?

In v21 when James says “put away” worldly wickedness, he is not changing subjects

We avoid anger, by getting rid of the worldly behaviors that stimulate it

The world stimulates selfishness, lust, pride and coveting etc. (1 John 2:15-17)

We manage our anger, by managing what influences our heart

Living by God’s word, protects our heart from anger (v21)

God’s word gives us a better perspective about ourselves, life and other people

We are to receive God’s word with meekness

This means we surrender our agenda and submit to God’s will

Biblical meekness is not weakness; it takes strength through the Holy Spirit

God’s word is to be “implanted” in us

Implanting God’s word is to be shaped and guided by it

Do we implant God’s word in our family schedule and priorities?

James presents the big picture principle (vs 22-25)

We are to live out God’s word!

The word has been set before us: we read it and hear it preached

And God wants us to behave according to that word

What does it mean to be a Doer of the word”?

1.  A doer thinks about what the Bible says

James is not urging us to blind action, he is calling us to biblically informed action

2.  A doer measures their life against what the Bible says

We should compare how we live to what the Bible says

We sift our lives by God’s word and we “put away” the debris v21

3.  A doer submits to what the Bible says

We “receive” it, which means we say “yes” to it

Do we acknowledge that God’s word has authority over our life?

Do we try to debate the merits or relevance of God’s word?

4.  A doer takes action according to what the Bible says

Our life is to be conducted in response to God

5.  A doer does all that the Bible says 

Christ is our Lord!  We do not have the right to pick and choose our areas of obedience

Being a complete doer includes the attitude we have in our ‘doing’

If we think being a hearer is enough, we are “deceived”! (v22)

James compares it to looking in mirror without remembering what we see (vs 23-24)

What benefit is there to looking in a mirror, if we cannot remember what we see?

The reason our church emphasizes real commitment in church membership and participation in small groups, is to help us move beyond being mere hearers of sermons

If we settle for being a hearer we also defraud ourselves!

God’s Word is “perfect”! It protects and it blesses (v25)

God’s word is not arbitrary or abstract; it is the best wisdom available

Why will heaven be wonderful? Because the perfect law of God will rule all things

James returns to specific behaviors in vs 26-27

James doesn’t want us to walk away, saying “Amen” to his instructions without having a plan of action

So he reminds us that Christianity is real when it bears the fruit of Holiness and Love

Does God’s word call us to action that you know you have been ignoring?

Is the Holy Spirit pressing your heart about steps of obedience?

Be a doer of God’s word – your life will be blessed and fruitful

MARRIAGE RETREAT EARLY REGISTRATION IS ABOUT TO END

Don’t miss this fun and relaxing opportunity to join Tim Shorey as he shares with couples in our church about Listening and Talking.

This Marriage Retreat will take place Friday, September 26 – Saturday September 27 at the ocean front El Coronado Hotel in Wildwood Crest.

But the early registration deadline is this Monday, August 4th!

Couples can share 2 and 3 bedroom suites to significantly lower your cost. Each couple in a suite will have their own bedroom and a private bathroom.

Enjoy breathtaking ocean views from your balcony or relax by the pool, in the poolside hot tub or on the beachfront sundeck.

Registration includes One night hotel accommodations, Breakfast, Coffee Breaks, Conference room rental, and all Conference Fees. A microwave, refrigerator & coffee maker are in every unit.

You can register here at the Greentree website and find out more information about the retreat schedule, speaker and hotel.

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND LISTENING

Joe Lechner had written an article for the Sovereign Grace Blog on the topic of ‘The Holy Spirit and Preaching”. Afterward that got him thinking about how some of those truths apply for us when we listen to the preaching of God’s word:

“I think there is as much, if not more, application to be had here for the hearer of God’s Word than the preacher of God’s Word. It is the hearer that is desperate for the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit just as much as the preacher.”

The whole point God has for calling men to preach is that He also calls people to listen. Since Scripture says faithful preaching is precious and should be honored, the implication is that faithful listeners are precious and that habit should be honored.

“I think a lot of people have a category for Spirit-empowered preaching, but I wonder how many people really have a category for Spirit-empowered listening.”

The person in front of the congregation gets the most attention, but those who are listening have an opportunity to honor God by the way in which they listen. Since we are all aware of how much we battle to live in ways that please God, we should grab every opportunity we have with both hands . . or in this case, both ears!

 “I wonder how often the average person arrives on Sunday morning having sought the Lord to be freshly filled with Holy Spirit so that they might hear – truly HEAR – the Word of God preached that morning.”

I am very thankful that I preach to a church family that is filled with good listeners. Whenever we have a guest preacher, I can confidently say they will find the people easy to preach to. But before we puff out our chests in self-congratulation, we have room for improvement as hearers and doers of God’s word. We all have left some truths and applications on the floor which still need to be picked up and put into use.

An encouragement to take with us, is that if we failed last week, we can freshly seek the Holy Spirit’s involvement in how we listen this week. And with the magic of sermons online, we can even go back and get a redo on messages we need to hear again.

God is looking for His people to serve Him with faithfulness, but that is not fully possible until we first become faithful listeners!

If you would like to read Joe Lechner’s entire article you can find it here

 

LISTENING TO THE SERMON

I have often enjoyed preaching to good listeners in Belarus

Yesterday’s blog dealt with ways to pray for the Sunday sermon, as well as why that is so greatly needed. Today let’s go a step further and consider How to Better Listen to Sermons.

Again there are many reasons why we should want to become increasingly better sermon listeners.

1.  Since you are already there, shouldn’t you want to use the time as well as possible

2.  Hopefully you will end up spending a lot of time in your life listening to sermons. Again why waste hundreds or thousands of accumulated hours in your life

3.  God has given pastors to the church in order to preach (Ephesians 4:11), which means He expects you to listen. Good listening is simply part of biblical obedience

4.  We all need the challenge, insight, correction, refreshment and help that God provides through the careful listening to preaching

5.  A poor listener is a poor learner.   Do we really want our life to suffer loss because we were careless listeners?

Philip Ryken is the President of Wheaton College. Prior to that he was pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. I have heard Pastor Ryken preach and he is worthy of attention when it comes to any discussion on that subject. And having grown up in the church, he has worth while things to say about how to listen to sermons. You can read his thoughts in this article.

ARE YOU A GOOD LISTENER?

I was quickly convicted by this article on truly listening versus merely waiting for your turn to talk! It comes from the Bridging the Gap blog and you can read it here

WikiLeaks, Should We Have An Opinion?

One of the biggest current news stories is the “WikiLeaks” publication of over 250,000 confidential U.S. State Department documents.  Much of the information is not secret information as much as it is private information. Many people are appalled, while others defend their right to print this material.


All of this provides endless fodder for cable news networks.  But does it have any biblical dimension?  Is there a Christian perspective?  Although you will not find WikiLeaks in your concordance, the Bible does give clear statements on communication, which is the heart of this news story.  What are biblical concerns and principles in the area of communication and the sharing of information?


There are times to make private information public.  For example, when a church member knowingly violates Biblical truth and refuses to accept the correction of leadership, Matthew 18:15-17 says other members of the church should be informed so an appropriate corporate response can be made.


When we do make private truth a public matter, our purpose should follow God’s agenda.  II Corinthians 5:17-20 describes that agenda in terms of “reconciliation”; which is the restoration of sinful men to a holy God through Christ’s payment for sin.  When our communication is truly for the purpose of holding someone accountable (as WikiLeaks claims), we should follow God’s method, which according to Ephesians 4:15 is to “speak the truth in love”.


The Bible contains many warnings about improper speech.  Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”.  I Timothy 6:4 warns us against those whose speech “has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels”.  In II Timothy 1:13 Paul instructs us to “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”.


On their website, WikiLeaks says its purpose is to “publish material of ethical, political and historical significance”.  This sounds noble, however in reality they have spread information that they know will tear down and embarrass. When we survey the biblical principles that should guide our communication, we find that these are not God honoring forms of communication.


Of course WikiLeaks has expressed no desire to be God honoring or to submit to Biblical rule. My purpose is to present a warning against the misuse of communication by Christians who do claim to follow biblical rule.  Do we reveal private information that fulfills our purposes, at the expense of others?  Do we say things about people that tear them down in the minds of our listeners?  Does our conversation have an “unhealthy craving” for “quarrel” and “controversy”?


And we must not forget our listening!  This may be our greatest area of misusing communication. Are we active listeners or readers of Internet sites, gossip magazines and TV shows etc., which feature communication that clearly seeks to put down, tear down and embarrass?  If your first reaction to this blog is to brush away any thought of self-examination, because listening to “celebrity dirt” is so common – – when did Christ ever call us to be common people?