With this last blog on how is your listening, I want to continue with the ways that Ken Ramey states that we can help our listening.
Fifth, be consistent with church attendance. Haphazard church attendance is an Achilles heel for many Christians in our times. They do not even realize what they have missed after they start having sporadic patterns of attending church. When we assemble together for a time of fellowship and encouragement it helps all of us (Hebrews 10:23-25). When I was growing up, my parents attended church every time the doors were open, so this habit became ingrained into my life and it has continued to reward great benefits to me. When you are regularly attending church, God has the ability to pick up where you left off from the last time. Not only do I feel that weekends are important for corporate worship, I am also a strong advocate of coming to mid-week services.
David Eby summed it up like this, concerning church attendance: “You grieve over flaky folks who don’t take preaching very seriously, who will miss services with seemingly no conscience pangs, at almost any flimsy excuse. You mourn for a generation, red-eyed from Nintendo and TV, bloated with soccer, scouts, hot tubs, and designer vacations, but bored with the Word of God."
You have to make time for worship and when you go, have a sense of expectancy. Expect something in the worship to engage you. God is a speaking God and when we go to the house of worship, we should intentionally determine to experience something great from God. Plan your Saturday night to facilitate your Sunday morning and Sunday night. There are a lot of things that could be done in 15 minutes of Saturday night that would severely diminish the stress levels that some families face on Sunday mornings getting ready for worship. It’s hard to hear from God if marital tension, unruly kids, and NASCAR style driving all had to accompany you on the way to worship.
Sixth, worship with all of your heart. Worship helps us to focus our thoughts and minds in prior to the preached Word. The songs, the prayers, even the offering are all a series of active things taking place to help us to be receptive to the Word and Spirit of God. We need to sing! Some can sing in their car but can’t sing in their church. We need to pray! Some men can call in on nation-wide sports call-in shows and talk about their favorite team but cannot pray in front of their wives and children. We need to give! Again, most people spend $100 and even more eating out on a weekly basis but quibble when someone expects them to give 10% in tithes. As you can see worship is always a matter of priority and whatever your priorities are they will get your time and attention.
Seventh, fight off distractions. There are a thousand and one distractions that one can find attractive in the course of a worship service. You can watch people, you can look at the sanctuary, you can day-dream, and in fact the sky is the limit as to what distractions you can pay attention to. However, most of us have been in a class before whose intent it was to prep us for taking a final or a board examination. Nobody had to tell you to get focused and pay attention because you were fearful of failing the test. It’s funny but sad how we can put much more effort in paying attention for some earthly examination we want to pass but pay little attention to the words that can help us to gain eternal life.
You can fight off distractions by making eye contact with the preacher. You can mentally follow along with what he is saying and you can physically follow along in your Bible. Don’t give in to laziness by leaving your Bible at home, take it to church! By the way, sermons are not for entertainment, they are for instruction in righteousness and sometimes the Word will confront where you are living and it will convict (or confront) you. If you are living low, the tendency is to get angry with the preacher but if you are living high, spiritually speaking, you will embrace the biblical message and determine to do better after you repent and confess your sin to God.
So, on a closing note, my question again is, “How Is Your Listening?”
Thanks for reading. . . .