Are You Receiving Me?

“If any one speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11).
One Sunday morning during the sermon, a little fellow misbehaved sufficiently to warrant being taken out. Justice, administered to the “seat” of learning, was imminent. As his mom dragged him toward the back of the auditorium he spotted two grown women talking to each other.
Turning to his mother, he asked, “Are you going the spank them too?”
In recent years I have observed a frighteningly casual attitude toward listening to sermons, not on the part of infants or pagans, but on the part of Christians themselves. Incessant chattering, balancing checkbooks, or making frequent trips to the foyer has become more and more commonplace.
Sure, it discourages the speaker. It makes a poor impression on our visitors, too. It sends a dismal message to our children who are forming lifelong worship habits. Now you might think that I don’t have the right to say this, and you would be correct if the messages you heard were only lecturing or mere entertainment.
But when the Word of the living God is preached, that fact demands our reverent attention.
How would we react if the literal voice of God suddenly spoke in our worship services, deep and resonant as James Earl Jones?
“Hello, this is God. Yes, that God. I would like to have your attention for a few minutes.”
Would you listen?
I always think it is funny that we grow quiet in prayer, but resume our chatter in a sermon. Do we really think that when we speak (in prayer) that we should be quiet, but that when God speaks (in a sermon) it’s no big deal? And no, I’m not arguing that we should talk during prayer!
When Israel returned to Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity, Ezra the scribe began to read from the book of the Law. The whole congregation rose as one to its feet in reverence. These days some people complain that they “couldn’t stand” the sermon. The Israelites chose to stand during the sermon.
God is speaking; are you listening?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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