Monroe loves preaching. He loves and believes that God speaks to His people through His Word, and sits on the edge of his seat with notebook in hand to take meticulous notes. He has done this for many years, and has on his shelf tons of full notebooks to show his faithfulness in sermon note taking. He has become more convinced that the Bible is 100% reliable and trustworthy. But his wife and his friends haven’t really noticed much change for the better in Monroe’s life over the past 10 years or so. He sure knows a lot, but doesn’t change a lot from all his sermon note taking. He wonders why.
Dave on the other hand doesn’t take notes during the sermon, doesn’t feel like he knows very much Biblical knowledge, and feels out of his element during small group/Bible study discussions. He knows he doesn’t know much, and he seems to carry around a lot of questions with him. But when Dave learns something about God, his conscience simply won’t let him forget it, or settle to just have down in a notebook somewhere. He must apply it, and that very day he adjusts his life in line with what he learned. He is grateful for God’s work in His life.
Which person do you relate to more? Throughout the past 10 years of my life I have had seasons where I looked a lot like Monroe (more than I’d like to admit), and seasons where, praise God, I’ve looked more like Dave. You see, from the outside looking in Monroe looks like a better Christian because he has shelves to show for it. But though Dave doesn’t have shelves of sermon notes or theological books to show anyone else, he has a heart that is becoming more like Christ everyday. Dave would make a great leader, Monroe would not.
Why? Dave obeys the Bible….TODAY while Monroe merely puts it on a shelf.
What do you do? Do your shelves condemn you? Or do your shelves commend you? Deuteronomy 30:15 says, “See, I have set before you TODAY life and death…choose life.” Psalm 95:7-8, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Every time the Bible is preached it should lead all who hear to repent again, to trust in Christ again, and to obey afresh. We must respond that very day as the verses above teach. Now, it’s not that we become Christians all over again day by day, but rather that we are all in an urgent situation where we must hear, receive, and apply the Word of God daily (James 1:21).
When I look back at those times in my life when I more resembled Monroe I notice now that I would also take vigorous sermon notes. I’d never miss a point, sub-point, or illustration. My note taking was so meticulous that a pastor once asked me what his sermon points were the previous Sunday because he knew I would have them written down. The issue here wasn’t that I took good notes, that’s great. The issue was that after taking such notes I would never go back to them again and soak in the what God had taught me. I accumulated many notebooks full or sermon notes that I merely got onto paper like a monkey in senior high economics class. That’s not good.
Every time we hear a sermon the devil whispers in our ears, ‘Good stuff huh? You’ve got plenty of time to apply this stuff to your life, do it tomorrow, you’re busy enough the rest of the day. After all there is no rush is there?’ Wrong, there is a rush. We must apply what we learn from God the day we learn it. Psalm 95 said, ‘TODAY when you hear His voice…’ and one thing we learn from that is that when we hear His voice, we obey His voice that very day.
Practical steps to take:
1) Ask yourself about the things you need to change after the sermon.
2) Do it TODAY, praying, and asking for grace to enable you to repent/change.
3) Enjoy preaching, not as entertainment, but as God’s regular gracious invitation to walk with Him, and rejoice in a clear conscience.