“When he said this, he called out, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Luke 8:8)
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:7)
There are several places in the Gospel books where the Lord Jesus concluded his stern teachings with this warning. Who are those who have ears to hear? Needless to say, they are those who are still in the land of the living. The Lord Jesus wants every listener of His words to hear Him. There are many types of spiritual noise pollution that have been hindering believers from hearing the voice of Jesus, even when they come before the pulpit to worship Him on Sunday.
Because of this, many years ago, we tried to gather some brothers and sisters to sit down on Sunday afternoons and share our take-away from the morning’s sermon, hoping to inculcate a habit to think over the message seriously and to encourage one another to respond to the Divine Speaker. However, we were not able to keep up this practice for several reasons. Now we are very grateful that God has turned the Circuit Breaker into a blessing by allowing us to hold Sermon Sharing Sessions through Zoom, initially in the morning and now in the afternoon every Sunday. In view of the large number of families with multiple generations among us, we try to arrange a common meeting time for the fellowships so that the family time on Sundays is not segmented. Over these four months, the Sermon Sharing has been well received by brothers and sisters in general.
The church’s ministry of the word consists of preaching, hearing and doing. Sermon sharing is part of the hearing. Its purpose is twofold. In the short term, it helps believers ponder the message God has given each of them and make a timely response. In the long run, it cultivates the right sermon-hearing attitude in the church. This requires mindful effort from every participant to learn and to make correction along the way.
The right attitude of sermon hearing is to open your heart towards God’s words humbly and honestly. This is why since last year, we included a personal prayer time before the sermon for worshippers to ask the Lord for his personal teaching (This is temporarily removed due to the constraints of online worship). This prayer will help you to open your heart to hear the sermon. The Lord promised that those who seek shall find (Mat 7:7); those who hunger for righteousness, God shall teach. With this attitude, we will hear God speaking to us even if we do not understand or remember the whole sermon.
On the other hand, if we do not come before the pulpit with the right attitude, the Sermon Sharing Session can easily degenerate into a sermon critique session spreading negativity amongst the church – the sermon was not interesting, points were not clearly explained, the sermon was too long, etc. Such comments are not only not edifying to the church, it is noise pollution that disrupts God’s children from hearing the voice of the Lord. Dear brothers and sisters, whenever we gather in Jesus’ name, we ought to be very mindful how we might influence others with the things we say because,
“Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name.” (Mal 3:16)
What kind of sharing is edifying? Simply recall one point that impresses your heart during the sermon and share honestly. But do not stop there. Find one way to respond. If you cannot relate it to a situation in your life now, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to point it out to you. Ask Him to reform your thoughts, your feelings or your life in response to the message. Remember, God grants us a message that we may use in our lives. A hearer of the word must also be the doer of the word, lest the word of the Lord falls on our ears in vain. If we hear but not do, we will find Sunday worship a mundane routine. On the other hand, if your life is changed by a sermon you heard, you will look forward to Sunday worship week after week.
Our Sermon Sharing Session is not an additional church programme or fellowship meeting. It is part of our Lord’s Day Sabbath. It is our spiritual exercise on the Lord’s Day. Behold! How good and beautiful it is for God’s children to worship the Sovereign King in the morning and gather in the afternoon to share what each of them has heard from Him! Come, let us make adjustment to our Sunday timetable and share what we hear, and spur one another to persevere in the way of the Kingdom. May God’s word that proceeds from this pulpit not return to Him empty! May His Kingdom come through us!