The Art of Sermon Listening – Part 2

As we continue, let’s ask and answer the question, what should we listen for in a sermon? In other words, what should our ears be dialed into as the preaching of God’s Word is taking place? A few thoughts…we should be listening for what the preaching reveals (or reminds us) about:

  • The God of the Universe – Good preaching and effective listening will cause you to look up in amazement at the great God of the Universe. You will marvel at His character (Psalm 99:9 and 1 Peter 5:10) and take comfort in His power by reminding yourself that God made everything and sustains everything  (Neh. 9:6).
  • The Word of God – You should also listen for what the preaching reveals about the very Word of God. Good preaching will reiterate the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Peter 1:3) and its authority in your life (2 Tim. 3:16). You should be listening for how the preaching of God’s Word elevates the Bible above all other human authorities.
  • The Human Condition – Good preaching and effective listening will also cause you to remember your own depravity (Psalm 51:5 and Rom. 3:10-18) and your own helplessness to save yourself (Isaiah 64:6ff). This is an important part of your worship experience. To be reminded of the depth of your depravity and the awfulness of your sin should cause you to mourn, confess, and repent…all of these are important aspects to a healthy worship life. 
  • The Gospel of Grace – However, in addition to listening for what the preaching reveals about your own sinful state, you should also be listening for the hope of the gospel. And what is the gospel? Answer: Jesus died for you, Jesus was buried for you, and Jesus rose again for you (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3-4). All we must do is accept Jesus as our own personal Savior by faith alone (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). Be listening for what the preaching reveals about the glorious gospel of grace and remember…the gospel is for believers as well as unbelievers (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1). Never tire of hearing the gospel in a sermon.
  • The Future State of All People – Good preaching and effective listening will also reveal the temporary, fleeting nature of this life (James 4:14) and the everlasting nature of the next life (cf. Rev. 21:1-8). Listen for concepts surrounding Heaven and Hell and let such concepts motivate you towards evangelism and effective discipleship.

Bottom line…it is incredibly important that you understand how to listen to God and what to listen for when God is speaking to you through the preaching of His Word. Why? Answer: Because in some way this is vitally important to your soul (cf. Heb. 13:17). So…for the sake of your soul learn how and what to listen for when God is speaking to you through the preaching of His Holy Word!



The Art of Sermon Listening – Part 1

Over the next couple of blog posts, I would like to briefly address how to listen and what to listen for in a sermon. But first…why bring this issue up? Why analyze this issue? Three thoughts:

1) In my experience, most people seem to be more enamored with the preacher than the preaching. That is to say, most people, after getting up from a sermon, will be able to tell you (in detail) what the preacher was wearing or how he sounded, but not the content of his message. You’ll get feedback like, “That was an interesting suit/tie combo.” Or “He sounded a little nasally, don’t you think?” Or “Wow! He sure was energetic today, wasn’t he?” Notice all of these comments are geared towards the preacher and not the content of his preaching.

2) In my experience, most people seem to have their ears bent towards stories that illustrate the truth,  rather than their ears bent towards just the plain old truth. In other words, most people, after getting up from listening to a sermon, will be able to tell you (in detail) the funny (or dramatic) story the preacher gave, but not the content of his message. Nothing wrong with being drawn in by a good illustration, but I fear too many people today aren’t making the connection between illustrations and the truth.

3) In my experience, most people have simply never been trained on how to listen and what to listen for in a sermon. And believe me…there are plenty of classes and lectures on how to preach a sermon, but not too many classes on how to listen to a sermon. I believe that many people simply go to church, and listen to a sermon, because that’s what they’ve always done. Or they go to church, and listen to a sermon, not to be educated by the truth, but to be entertained by the truth.

So…before we tackle what to listen for in a sermon, let’s ask and answer the question, how do you listen to a sermon? That is to say, how should we approach the preaching of God’s Word? In fact, this Sunday’s service is fast approaching! How should you posture yourself to really get the most out of this Sunday’s sermon?

Well, in Nehemiah 8:1-18, we get a glimpse into how the people in Nehemiah’s day postured themselves to get the most out of the preaching of God’s Word. Yes, we were here last Sunday, but in last Sunday’s sermon, we looked at this text through the lenses of revival, in this blog post, I want to look at this text through the lenses of preaching. So…how should we listen to a sermon? ANSWER:

  • Expectantly (Neh. 8:1) – The people in Nehemiah’s day knew that God had spoken in the past and would speak to them that day through His Word. They were hungry to hear a word from God. We should be hungry as well, fully expecting that our great God will speak to us today through the preaching of His Word.
  • Attentively (Neh. 8:2-3) – This passage showcases just how eager the people were to hear the words of the Law of God. It was as if their ears were bent towards hearing every single syllable that God would utter to them. Are your ears attentive during the preaching of God’s Word? Are you fully expecting and eager to hear a word from God?
  • Deliberately (Neh. 8:4) – The people actually prepared for the hearing of God’s Word by making a platform of wood for Ezra to stand upon. They established an environment conducive to hearing a word from God. This environment was without distractions. What distractions keep you from hearing from God through the preaching of His Word? Sometimes all it takes is turning off your cell phone or sitting more towards the front of the sanctuary than the back so as not to be distracted by other people. Bottom line…we should be willing to do whatever it takes to hear a word from God.
  • Respectfully (Neh. 8:5) – The people in Nehemiah’s day showed great respect to the simple reading of God’s Word…they stood (out of respect) for six hours as the Word was being read! How do you showcase your respect for God’s Word? Do you treat it as you would any other book or do you really show a reverence and awe towards it? We should approach the preaching of God’s Word respectfully…reverently.
  • Worshipfully (Neh. 8:6-12) – The people, as they listened to the preaching of God’s Word, worshipped God by means of mourning over their sin (verse 9) and then rejoicing in the goodness and forgiveness of God (verses 10-12).  Here’s where the rubber meets the road…listening to a sermon is an act of worship! This is not a passive activity. You have the responsibility, as you listen to a sermon, to mourn over your sin (i.e. confess and repent) and then, in faith, move forward in joy because of the goodness and grace of God. Even if the preacher looks bad or sounds bad, if he is preaching from God’s Word, you have a responsibility to listen and to respond…not so much to him, but to God as he speaks to you through His preached Word.
  • Obediently (Neh. 8:13-18) – The people were not only eager to hear a word from God, but they desperately wanted to understand what God was saying to them to the point that they joyfully obeyed what He was saying to them. How should you listen to a sermon? Answer: To the point you hear, understand, and obey what God is saying to you! After all, the point of listening to a sermon is not merely to get more biblical information, but to experience heart transformation.

In next week’s post, we will examine the nuts and bolts of what to listen for in a sermon. As always, God bless you guys…I love you guys…and I hope to see you this Sunday as I come eager to preach the Word and as you come eager to hear the Word!




An Interview With Jon Rocha

In order for you to get to know your Pastoral Intern (Jon Rocha) a little bit better, and in anticipation of his May 3rd vote (we will be voting on whether or not he should be extended the call to be our full-time Associate Pastor), we have decided to have a little fun and ask Jon Rocha the following questions:

Question#1: How did you meet your wife? Was the first date romantic, awkward, or just plain fun?

  • The first time we hung out was unforgettable! Faith Baptist Bible College (FBBC) puts on a banquet every spring called “Spring Banquet” (real original…). I am not one for dressing up, so my friends and I asked girls NOT to go to Spring Banquet with us. Instead, we took our dates out to the beach at Saylorville Lake. We had a fire, cooked out, played games, talked, and even setup a movie on the tailgate of my Jeep. It was one of the most fun nights of my life and the rest is history… 🙂

Question #2: In your down time, what type of music do you enjoy?

  • Well, I really enjoy anything from CCM that is upbeat and has a good sound to it. I listen to the “Top 100 of CCM” playlist on Spotify a lot. When I am not on contract with FBBC, I listen to oldies every once and while…stuff like the Beatles and Monkees. I’m not just saying this, but I really enjoy listening to a song and trying to figure out what the artist is trying to convey. Even in secular songs, there is always a message!

Question #3: What’s your favorite movie and why?

  • One of my favorite movies of all time is “We Were Soldiers”. It is extremely accurate and it portrays the camaraderie and hardships of those men that served before me. It really puts my time overseas in perspective. Along with that one, I really like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Blackhawk Down”. I also grew up on “The Three Stooges”…I know it’s a TV show, but I love it!

Question #4: What book (besides the Bible) has impacted your life the most?

  • I really haven’t done much recreational reading, but I really liked “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn”. When I was young, I related with those two characters a lot. My parents made me read the books over one summer. I always thought it was ironic that I was reading a book about boys who hated reading and loved being adventurous (I knew how they felt). In my adult life, I have read “Spectacular Sins” by John Piper. That was such an amazing book. It portrays the sovereignty of God so well. It really exemplified the fact that God can even use our sins for His glory!

Question #5: If you were trapped on a deserted island, what three things must you have with you?

  • HAHA! Well…my wife (because I love her), a waterproof Bible (I truly do love it that much), and a hatchet!

Question #6: You love basketball. Why? How does the game of basketball help you understand the Christian life?

  • I love basketball because I love competing alongside of people…and it’s a great team sport. You need all five guys to play on the court and to play together in order to be successful. Every time you step on the court, God reveals to you who you really are as a person. You then have an opportunity to work on your weaknesses and grow spiritually.

Question #7: What’s your favorite food?

  • Hands down my favorite food is pizza! I could eat pizza everyday for the rest of my life and have no problem with it. My father is Mexican, so I have to give his tacos a shout out too!

Question #8: Dream vacation…where is it?

  • I would love to go to Australia for sure! From what I have heard it has every possible terrain or scenery a person could want and it’s all packed into one convenient location. Julia and I are saving for a sweet vacation before we start having kids, and Australia is definitely on our radar!

Question #9: In one sentence describe Prairie Flower Baptist Church.

  • A church in the middle of a cornfield that is thriving because the people love the Lord and are actively seeking Him.

Question #10: What excites you the most about the possibility of serving here as an Associate Pastor?

  • The opportunity to keep building relationships. It has been harder than I thought to meet people because we are only there on the weekends, but the people we have stayed with and spent time with have been unforgettable! The people at this church have truly been a blessing to us! We are looking forward to continuing the growth of the great friendships we have started and building new ones.