How to Listen to a Sermon

How to Listen to a Sermon

How To Listen To A Sermon

Nehemiah 8:1-18

In our last message, I shared with you some council on how to come to church. I promised you that if you would show up with good attitude, and come in with a godly aim, you would go out with a great advantage. Whether you did any of that over the course of the last couple of weeks is solely dependent on whether or not you listened to that sermon on how to come to church. If you were here, I know you heard the sermon, but did you listen. It is possible to come to church and not listen.

A doctor, a lawyer, and a Baptist all went deer hunting, and as fate would have it, they all chose the same area to hunt in. After a rather slow start to their morning, an enormous 12-point buck caught all of them by surprise. In their excitement, each of them quickly grabbed their rifle and sighted in on the deer. Amazingly, they all pulled the trigger at the same time, and the animal went down. Immediately, they began debating as to who actually killed the deer. The attorney jumped into a long discourse on how the evidence pointed to his success at felling the buck. When he finished, the doctor offered to use his medical expertise to determine which shot was the fatal blow. He climbed down from the stand, walked over to the animal, and conducted a thorough exam. When he returned, the doctor emphatically declared that the trophy buck belonged to the preacher. He said, “There’s no question it’s the Baptist, because the bullet went in one ear and out the other.”

Take heed THAT we hear

Take heed WHAT we hear

Take heed HOW we hear

God puts a premium on hearing (Romans 10:17).

I know that my duty every time I stand in this pulpit is to preach to you, and that your duty is to listen, and I can only hope and pray you don’t finish before I do.

A good sermon helps people in different ways. Some rise from it strengthened, while others wake refreshed.

The truth is listening to God’s Word is not only one of the most common experiences of normal church life, but it is also one of the most critical.

Hebrews 4:2“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”

Nehemiah 8

Going to look at this passage and give you some adverbs that describe how we are to listen.


When the people called for “the book of the law of Moses,” they were expecting to hear what God had to say from His word. They were hungry for the Word of God!They had a thirst for the Word.They manifested a thirst and hunger for the Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:13

The Bible must be appreciated if we are going to listen with anticipation! We need a fresh appreciation for the Word of God.

We should give the Bible:

A.Unlimited hearing

When it comes to our hearing of the Word, we are to avail ourselves of every opportunity to hear God’s Word. There should be an eagerness on our part to take advantage of every opportunity to hear God’s Word. Our hearing should not be occasional or irregular!

B. Unhindered hearing

We are to have a great appreciation for the Word of God. We should love the Word and seek to hear it every chance we get. Since it was the Book God used to save us, we should hear it with great anticipation and allow nothing to hinder us from hearing the Word.

If you were an heir and were called to hear a will read, I imagine you come with great anticipation. We need to do that we read or come to hear the Bible preached!


“. . . and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.”

Listening requires concentration – this means deliberate effort.Having ears that work does not guarantee that we really hear.

Although God made us with two ears that we cannot close and onemouth that we can (which ought to teach us something!), we sometimes close off our minds so that we do not really hear what is being said, even though we did hear the sounds of the words. Anyone who is married has had that experience. Your wife is talking toyou, but you are reading the mail or the paper and you didn’t hear athing she said. In the same way, it is possible to hear the Bible read or preached and not hear a thing. Your mind was elsewhere.

Luke 19:47-48

Attentiveness stems from reverence. If we maintain our reverence for God and that fact that He is speaking to us through HisWord, we will pay attention to what He says. If we forget that this is the Word of the living God to us, our minds will wander to other things.

The people here were engrossed in listening to the Word as it was read and taught.

A. Prepare to hear

See James 1:21.James saw the human heart as a garden; if left to itself, the soil would produce only weeds. He urged us to “pull out the weeds” and prepare the soil for the Word of God. The phrase “superfluity of naughtiness” gives the picture of a garden overgrown with weeds that cannot be controlled. It is foolish to try to receive God’s Word into an unprepared heart.

B. Pray to hear

We need Spirit filled preachers and hearers!


We need not to be passive in our hearing!

It’s okay to get involved in the preaching. When Ezra preached, the people said, “Amen.”

Taking notes is another way to be an active listener. You remember more of what you see than what you just hear.

Be involved in the listening experience….do not just be passive.

You can nod, smile, say “Amen” when the Word is being preached… is part of listening actively.

This is participating in the listening process. It is ok to get involved in the preaching of the Word of God.

How many of you wives would love for your husband just to sit and listen to you talk? How many would love to know that he was listening actively?


See verse 8.

The leaders helped the people understand the law, but in order to do that, the people had to have a love for being taught the Word of God.

See verse3. They were not wearied with five or six hours of listening, whereas today there is much complaining if the whole service last longer than an hour.

Solomon said, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Proverbs 1:5).

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day,”Psalms 119:97.

Two little old ladies were walking out of church one Sunday. One said, “My, that preacher certainly preaches for a long time!”

Her friend replied, “No, he really doesn’t preach a long time, it just seems like a long time!”

If we sit at a ball game for hours it does not seem like a long time; if the game goes into overtime, we don’t mind it! Could it be that we have an affection for the ball game?

See verse 12. They are rejoicing because they have heard the Word of God. The world rejoices "because" their favorite sports team won a game or a tournament or "because" their favorite politician was elected to office or "because" they were promoted to a better job or came into money or some other worldly benefit. But the cause of the joy of the people in our text was "because" they understood the Word of God. They loved the Word of God.


Don’t just hear to be hearing…….. if so you are deceiving yourself. The ONLY appropriate response to our hearing the Word of God is seen in our heeding it (James 1:25).

On the second day of their hearing the Word of God, they discovered something they had not been doing that they should have. Their duty was discovered in the Word. It was "the law which the Lord had commanded Moses" that revealed the people's duty. If we want to know our God-given duties in life, we will have to get into the Word of God. Neglecting the Word of God will make us both ignorant and forgetful of our duties. The children of Israel had neglected the Word and as a result they were ignorant of their duty.

See verse 14. They found they were neglecting a commemorative act that observed the time when the Israelites lived in the wilderness and had to dwell in tents when Moses was leading them from Egypt to Israel. The observance would remind them of God's great care for His people and how His great power was demonstrated on their behalf in bringing them from Egypt to Canaan in spite of the very difficult circumstances.

The most obvious sign of sincere listening is obedience. Jesus said, “. . . Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”He said at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.”

Notice verse16. We should hear to heed!

A wealthy, very cultured lady was spending some time in her city’s art museum when she came across a painting she had never seen before. After examining the painting for a good while, she said to the curator, “My dear fellow. I have never seen this painting before. I find the image shallow and rather crude in appearance. What do you call this?”

Without even a second’s hesitation, the curator responded, “That, madam, is a mirror.”

The Bible is God’s mirror, the preaching of which exposes our sin and reveals the real us. If we’re going to listen to the sermon in the right way, that means we are going to listen with the will and determination to obey.


Listening to God’s Word is not only one of the most common experiences of normal church life, but it is also one of the most critical.

Luke 8:18“Take heed therefore how ye hear.”

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