Do you have a hard time getting anything from sermons? Struggle to remember what was said? Don’t feel like you are learning? Let me offer two reasons why you may not be benefitting from the sermons.
You might have the wrong goal.
If you are going to church just to learn — repent. Too strong? I don’t think so.
You should be sitting under the preaching of God’s word to worship —to learn, yes!— but primarily to worship. If education is your end goal, you have your reward —a dry brain filled with theological zippity-do-dah. Your goal should be joy-filled worship over God’s truth. The gospel is the worship of God.
As a preacher, I don’t want to be a pez-head, popping out little bars of truth. I’m laboring to put forth the glory of Christ and praying that he sets hearts ablaze for the fame of his name.
Sermons don’t change people. The Spirit does. And the Holy Spirit loves to uses sentences and words to flip the world upside down. That’s what I’m hoping for.
I’m all for learning. Learning that leads to worship. Learning isn’t mean to be a cul-de-sac; its own pat on the back. Phooey.
If you go to church to worship and not just learn — you’ve already learned a ton.
Remember, Satan knows a lot.
The chief end of a sermon is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Any other goal is all for naught.
You aren’t prayed up.
Maybe your pastor isn’t ___________ (insert favorite podcast preacher). They are probably ordinary — I’m ordinary. And I like Vanilla. But let’s assume you are under the preaching of a godly man; one who is prepping hard, sweating over an open Bible, and has a heart to the brim with prayers.
If you aren’t benefiting from the sermons and you have a godly pastor—uhhhm, you might be problem. Not him. If others are being blessed, growing, coming to faith in Jesus — your lack of enjoyment might be your own lack of preparedness.
- Are you praying Saturday night for God to move?
- Are you getting enough sleep before the Lord’s Day?
- Are you praying Sunday morning for God to save people?
- Are you praying for God to crack open you heart, reveal sin, and comfort you with his grace?
- Are you praying for joy in the gospel?
- Are you praying for your pastor? Praying for an unction of the Holy Spirit to be upon him as he preaches?
- Are you praying for revival to break out in your church?
If you find the sermons to be exciting as meatloaf, your prayers/heart for Sunday are the grid you are eating through. Your tastebuds aren’t ready. You could be served a Prime Steak, wrapped in bacon, and grilled to perfection and not enjoy it because your tastebuds have flown the cuckoo’s nest. They belong in the kiddie pool with a soggy pb & j.
Praise God that He is gracious. He sends the Spirit and blesses us, even when we didn’t have the sense to ask. Glory to God!
Try this on for size.
If you want more from your Sunday experience:
- Pray for yourself.
- Pray for others in attendance.
- Pray for your pastor.
Try it. Let me know what happens.
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One of the greatest challenges of our day is biblical illiteracy. At first it may seem like nearly every person who attends church has a Bible in North America. People having Bible’s isn’t the problem. People reading their Bible’s is. To help address this issue, Dr. George Guthrie has composed Read The Bible For Life Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word. The book is structured around sixteen conversation with sixteen of Dr. Guthrie’s friends who are scholars in their fields.
The book has four sections. In part one the author considers the foundational lens for how to read the Bible as a guide for life, in context, in translation and for transformation. In part two the authors help readers to understand the Old Testament stories laws, Psalms, Proverbs and Prophets. Part three focuses on the New Testament and will help people understand the teaching of Jesus, the New Testament letters and Revelation. Part four explores how to read the bible for personal devotion, in times of sorrow and suffering, with the family and with the Church.
The book as I noted earlier is arranged around conversation with leading scholars. These conversations are intended to help the lay person on up to know what the Word says and how every passage fits into the powerful Bible’s powerful overarching story. While I’ve read quite a few books on this topic, I believe Reading The Bible For Life is better than How To Read The Bible For All it’s worth. This book addresses a very real problem in biblical illiteracy head on and will help its readers not only understand the various genres in the Bible but how they should read them. I highly recommend Read The Bible For Life and encourage you to not only read it but as you read it to pick up your dusty Bible and read it. As you do you’ll discover who God is and what He is like from His Word—His love letter to His people. Whether you’re a lay person or a serious Bible student, this book has something for you. It will help you not only understand what the Bible is saying but also what the Bible aims to do in your life—that you would no longer be a hearer only but a doer by His grace.
Title: Read The Bible For Life; Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word
Author: George H. Guthrie
Publisher: B&H (2011)
I received this book for free from B&H for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.
Fighting for Purity
We live in a culture where the constant refrain in our movies, television shows, and music seems to be pursue sex outside of marriage because there are ‘no consequences’. Our public schools and government (particularly via Planned Parenthood) openly encourage young people to pursue sex outside of marriage, divorced from responsibility by handing out condemns and providing “sex education training” designed to entice young teens to engage in sex outside of marriage. The Bible, however, presents a different picture—namely sex inside of marriage only. Sex inside of marriage may be the most counter-cultural action a Christian married couple can participate in.
We as men are forced into a battle every day against our foe, the devil, who seeks to do us harm. The fight for sexual purity is spiritual battle between a vanquished foe named Satan, and a victorious, triumphant, and exalted Savior in Jesus Christ. Even the day I wrote this article, I faced this challenge head-on at the Subway restaurant near my house. An inappropriately-dressed woman came into my line of sight, and I was faced with the question, “How should I respond?” Knowing what God’s Word teaches, I not only looked the other way, but I also began praying, resisting the urge to glance again as I held fast to the gospel. Not more than a half an hour later, as I sat at a coffee shop, I was once again challenged as a young woman walked past me in an extremely short skirt. Once again I prayed, resisted, and stood fast.
Men, fighting for your purity of mind and heart is serious spiritual warfare. All around each of us, the world is seeking to destroy you and me. Not only is the world and the satanic host armed to take you down, but your flesh cries out to be appeased. You are in a war and this war is very real. This is why fighting for your purity is spiritually imperative.
So, how can we expect to win this fight for purity? First, understand that God sees your heart. You cannot go beyond the sovereign gaze of an all-knowing God. He knows whether you stand fast or if you give in. My encouragement to you today is to hold fast and stand courageously. As Ephesians 6:14 states, Gird yourself for battle you are in with the Belt of Truth. One day the battle will end and your struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil will finally be over. Go to battle for the sake of your marriage! Will you go to battle for the sake of your soul? A solider dresses for battle and stands armed to the hilt against the enemy. As Christians we have been signed, and sealed in the Lord Jesus. Your eternity has been secured by the Risen Christ, so fight the fight knowing that your victory in Him is sure!
From what I’ve personally witnessed, many men give into temptation, allowing the lust of their eyes to damage their own souls. They are enticed and seduced by the seductresses flaunting around in overly tight clothes and short skirts. Men, resist and turn your eyes from these women by the grace of God. These are not the types of women you want to be your wife. These women are only after one thing—they want your attention (and flattery). They are nothing more than seductresses aiming to destroy you (whether or not they realize it) and take you out of the battle…maybe for good.
I realize that these are strong words, but we cannot sugar-coat the situation. We must recognize that our very lives are at stake and the damage done with one lustful glance can scar our souls forever. Soldiers arm themselves for battle; they prepare for war or many months. You have easy access to pornography and inappropriate images through smart phones, laptops, and other media devices. Temptation is everywhere—even in the line at the grocery store. So, how do you stand firm? Let me give you eight tips to help you navigate this spiritual minefield.
Eight Ways to Fight for Purity
First, Christian soldiers prepare for battle by taking up the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). We are to put all of it on, not just pick up a sword and shield.
Second, Christian soldiers prepare for battle by taking up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. You can claim victory over evil only by knowing the TRUTH found in the Word of God. If you don’t understand your identity in Christ, as one who is victorious, you will be unable to stand against the claims of Satan (the father of all lies).
Third, Christian soldiers prepare for battle by submitting to godly leadership in the local church. We know that God has ordained those in leadership to be our shepherds. Their teaching and leadership should be respected and followed, so long as they maintain a biblical perspective and godly teaching.
Fourth, Christian soldiers seek out accountability. What war has ever been won alone? Jesus has given us comrades, fellow Christian men to help us through the struggle. No one should try to shoulder the weight of this fight alone.
Fifth, Christian soldiers pray with their wives. As our helpmates, our wives can be the strongest pillar in our fight against the flesh. They will (hopefully) be knowledgeable of the struggles that men face in the flesh, and be willing to help in the fight for purity. A godly woman understands that the sexual temptation of her husband can be the downfall of their marriage. Her righteous prayers can move mountains, so do not be afraid to conscript her in this war. She’s there to help, as God intended.
Sixth, Christian soldiers love their wives. While at times it can be difficult to be both transparent and loving to your wife, there is a place of balance. Your wife may be hurt if you confess the struggles you have with purity, but a strong relationship is one of love and trust. If your wife cannot trust you, she may struggle also to love you. So I say again, love your wife, be honest with your wife, and engender trust and faith with your wife. Always remember that Jesus commands us to love our wives as He has loved the Church (and so died for Her). If you show this type of love to your wife, she will see Christ in you.
And seventh, Christian soldiers lead their wives and wash them in the water of the Word. Be the leader in the home that you are called to be. Do not forsake your duties as a husband and shepherd of Christ in the home. Use your knowledge of Scripture to lead by example in a godly way. If you provide an example of what it means to be a man of God to your family, God will use it to bless those in your care—not only your wife, but also your children (if you have any).
Finally, Christian soldiers use accountability software to help them fight against temptation, but seek first and foremost to submit to the teaching of the Word of God. The software available for purity accountability is truly helpful in so many ways. Without submitting to the teaching of the Word of God, however, software can only go so far. It is up to you to allow the Holy Spirit to renew your mind through the Word on a daily basis. If you refuse to allow His Word to instruct you in the way you should go, you have lost the battle already.
Today, you may be struggling with looking at illicit images or watching similarly themed videos. This is a battle I’ve known well. As one who’s overcome a pornography addiction, I know well the battle that wages through the world, the flesh, and the devil. Yet, there is hope and healing in the Cross of Christ. You can stand and resist, but you can’t do it in your own strength. You can fight for your purity and overcome temptation only by the grace of God. He alone is your victory; He alone is your hope. Lean on Him and trust Him when he says He is “for you”. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Jesus is the reason you can fight for purity and stand firm in the grace of God. This is why I call you today to put your sin to death. Don’t coddle it and don’t play games with it. A little sin will harm you a great deal. Don’t just look away when that seductress tempts you in person or on the computer, instead you must pray, resist, and put it to death by the grace of God. Jesus died in your place and for your sin! He is the reason you can put your sin to death; He is the reason you can slay it. So, men of God, slay the dragon of impurity and fight for your purity by the grace of God. As a final thought, remember the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:1-4 and 2 Timothy 2:21-26):
2 Timothy 2:1-4, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 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 2:21-26, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
Jesus Christ is stronger than Satan could ever be—and He has given you VICTORY through Himself. Trust that His Word is true and you will remain victorious.
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