When we come to church on Sunday mornings and hear the Bible being preached, there is a God-designed purpose for that preached word. It is to bear fruit and grow in our lives. In Mark 4, Jesus tells a parable about how 4 different heart conditions hear and respond to the word of God. Mark 4:20 describes the heart that is the ‘good soil’.
“But those (seed) that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty-fold, and sixty-fold and a hundredfold.”
Often times we come unprepared for that to happen. Too often we come haphazard to church and have not prepared ourselves for the word of God to bear fruit and grow. Here are two very practical suggestions for how to prepare your heart to hear the word of God.
1. Prepare Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Devote some time Saturday night and Sunday morning to prepare your heart for hearing the Word of God. The more you take time to humble yourself and purify your heart in prayer and tune your mind to Christ, the more powerfully you will hear the Word and the more deeply you will worship.
Get on the College Church website on Saturday and print off the worship folder and study it, go over it by yourself or with your family – prepare yourself for the worship service.
Don’t play into the hands of Satan by staying up so late Saturday night that you can’t stay awake in worship. Satan constantly lies to you telling you that what you’re doing on Saturday night is more important than being rested to give your best ear to God’s Word on Sunday morning.
Don’t play into the hands of Satan by letting the newspaper set the agenda of your Sunday morning meditation. Read a Psalm and pray that God meet you in worship as he never has before.
2. Don’t coast through the worship service
We have all done that, right? We come to a worship service, sit back, relax and just coast – almost like we’re at a performance of some kind – watching the actors on stage perform. Worship services are not a spectator sport – we are all in the game! There are no field players and fans. So go hard after God in your thought life during a worship service. Focusing attention on the Word of God is hard work for us sinners. Add to that Satan’s opposition to your attention! If we come with no resolve to work at listening, we will be fair game for the birds along the path. They will pluck up the seed and we will leave week after week with no power to bear fruit.
Focus on the content of the worship folder during the prelude. Focus on the words of the call to worship, the prayers and the hymns. Pray to God whenever there is a non-directed moment. Go hard after God in your thought life during the worship service.
Don’t coast in worship.
Anyone who pays attention to professional sports these days is aware of the charges brought against many athletes for using PED’s(Performance Enhancing Drugs), HGH or steroids. In many cases the accused athlete has faced very strict charges for their use of these drugs – some have been banned for life from their sport. Why do athletes take PED’s? Strength. Endurance. Energy. They want to gain an edge over their opponent. Those are all reasons why an athlete would take a steroid. However, I think there is also another unstated reason. Inadequacy. Let’s face it, our sports culture in America expects professional athletes to perform in gloriously un-human ways. We want to see the football player with cheetah like speed, rabbit like leaping ability and spider like hands. We want to see the baseball player with super-hero like bat speed. When an athlete fails to measure up, then they have a few choices to make, one of which is PED’s. When an athlete or a fan expects him to perform at an un-human level and feels inadequate to do so, he will do just about anything to overcome his humanness because his career is on the line as he tries desperately to win the approval of the fan base.
You might be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with being a Christian? A lot. I believe in each of our human hearts is a deep sense of inadequacy. Simply put: we don’t measure up and we can feel it. The bible confirms this fact in Romans 3:23. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We fall short of the glory of God – we don’t measure up to His standard of holiness and perfection. We are inadequate and incompetent. So what do we do with that? We have a choice to make.
Some of us run to, what I call, a ‘spiritual PED’. Spiritual PEDs are self imposed rules and practices that we utilize by which we hope to overcome our human sinfulness. We seek to overcome our deep sense of inadequacy through creating artificial and supra-biblical practices with the goal of impressing our fellow human beings AND impressing God. It’s a bogus self-righteousness. At some level we all are addicted to some form of a spiritual PED.
The other choice we have, is to run to Jesus. The picture of the disciples in the book of Mark is a picture of imperfect people, huddling around Jesus for their transformation and forgiveness. In fact, Jesus says in Mark 2:17 that he came not to call the righteous (self-righteous), but sinners. The only way we overcome our sin is by clinging to Jesus, the one righteous person, who allowed Himself on the cross to be treated as a sinner, so that sinners can be treated as righteous as they place their faith in him. Our righteousness is not our own. So we are free to admit our self-unrighteousness and our self-righteousness and cling to the righteousness of Christ!
College Church’s Anchor Verse Scripture Memory Plan is a tool that we use to allow God to shape and fashion us according to His Word. This year we have been memorizing the book of Colossians, which coincides with our evening service preaching series. Here are 3 tips for memorizing Bible verses.
- Take advantage of already established routines: Look at your schedule and determine when it is convenient for you to take time to memorize Scripture. You may do it when you are working out, riding in the elevator, brushing your teeth, at the dinner table (with your family), having devotions, or any other time of the day.
- Put the Bible verses in context: Read the verses surrounding the passage because the context will help you to more fully understand the text. Meditate on the passage, asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand it and apply it to your life. It may even be helpful to do a Bible study on that passage.
- Application is an important step in this process: You may want to write a short meditation on the passage early in the week to help you think through its implication on your life. You may want to keep a journal of the times that the verse makes a difference in your life– in your thinking, in temptation, in actions, etc.You may want to discuss application with others because varying people will have varying ideas and perspectives.
Our verses for this week are Colossians 3:12-14:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. And above allthese put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
I’ve been preparing this week for our Adult Summer Forum titled “The Gospel-Centered Life” and I came across two of the most amazing gospel truths.
First, passive righteousness. Passive righteousness is the biblical truth that God has not only forgiven our sin, but has credited to us Jesus positive righteousness. In Christ, God has fully forgiven us our sin. The debt we owed has been forever erased! But it doesn’t stop there. We are credited with the righteousness of Christ. It’s as if the spiritual ledger of our lives has been filled up with the righteousness of Christ. The gospel has a negative aspect in that our debt is erased and it has a positive aspect in that we are credited with Jesus perfect righteousness. The good news of the gospel is not that God makes much of us, but that God frees us to make much of Jesus! (“The gospel-centered life” curriculum)
Second, adoption. Adoption is the biblical truth that God has welcomed us into his family as his own sons and daughters by virtue of our union with Jesus. We don’t need to do anything to secure God’s love and acceptance; Jesus has secured it for us and therefore God approves of us and adopts us into his family. Our identity is in him! The good news of the gospel is not that God favors us because of who we are, but that he favors us in spite of who we are! (“The gospel-centered life” curriculum)
Let us all embrace these two wonderful truths of the gospel and seek to live lives that are deeply rooted in these truths! Come on Sunday, June 24 at the 9:30 hour to hear more about how we can believe and live these wonderful truths.
“If it’s not deep, it’s not relevant.” That’s the main message of this short video. Students are tired of being challenged at school and then “talked down to” at church, as though they can’t really handle more difficult issues. They want more.