Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don’t Just Listen to the Sermon – Part Three

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Mid-week: peak or bleak?

It is Wednesday, do you remember what this past Sunday’s sermon was about? Maybe you don’t remember all that your pastor said, but hopefully there is something that is still sticking in your mind from the text of Scripture that was preached.

To assist you in this spiritual exercise I’ve been posting my list of suggestions on how to get the most out of the message. The first post offered suggestions to help you engage as a listener during the sermon. The second post listed some ideas on how to further mine and apply the message. Today I offer the final three suggestions that might help you take your journey in the Word a bit deeper.

Follow along with a commentary or study Bible.

No passage of Scripture can be fully exhausted in a morning service. For those who want to dig a little deeper into the discussion and study of a passage there are some great tools available. One such tool that can be used is a Bible commentary.

In a commentary the author studies the passage in greater depth and brings out much of what is behind some of the words, phrases, and ideas the biblical authors use. Like Bible translations, some commentaries are better than others. When you are ready to select a commentary it is wise to seek out recommendations. One resource that I have found helpful especially for moving from text to application is the NIV Application Commentary series.

A similar but less in depth resource is a good study Bible. I highly recommend the ESV Study Bible from Crossway. The NIV Study Bible and NLT Study Bible are also very good. The study notes can add to your understanding of the passage of Scripture and may even offer some guidance as to how to make personal application.

Keep a list of key words or phrases.

When you look at an entire book of the Bible in sequence you will begin to notice words, phrases and themes that appear again and again. Many times these repeated ideas are key to understanding the message of that book of the Bible as a whole. Some people like to underline or highlight these words directly in their Bible; others will simply keep a running list of things that stand out in their reading. Whatever method works for you, consider keeping some record that will add to your study and understanding of Scripture.

Keep a journal of your responses.

The most important thing for a Christian is not to learn more about the Bible; the most important thing for a Christian’s study of the Bible is to apply it to his or her life. For some this step is aided by keeping some sort of a record of how they have chosen to apply what they are reading and hearing on a week to week basis.

This may take the form of an actual journal where regular entries are recorded. But this could also be something as simple as writing a reminder on the back of a bulletin: “In light of this passage, this week I plan to…” Again each of us knows what works and does not work well for our own personalities. The key is to find something that works for you to help bring what we are hearing into practice as believers growing in Jesus Christ.


I hope that you have found these suggestions to be helpful in your study of Scripture. As a pastor my prayer for my congregation is always that they would not just hear what I would have to say, but that they would hear clearly what God is saying to them by the Holy Spirit through the reading of His Word. If you have other suggestions for moving from sermon to application I would love to hear from you.

May God bless the preaching and the hearing of His Word.

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