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Never give up… Hearing Scripture

("Never Give Up" is a series of posts on what we do together in a Sunday service. You can find all topics here.)

At church last night, Larry read a list of dead men to us. We didn’t really hear anything about them – just their name, their eldest son, and their age when they died. None of us knew these guys, they lived thousands of years ago. And half of them were nearly unpronounceable.

Which begs the question – why? You’d be forgiven for thinking it would have been just as useful to read page 36 of the phone book. Why did we take the time?

Of course, the answer is that it wasn’t any old list of names – it was Genesis 5 in the Bible. And as a church, we are committed to reading the Bible, even the bits that seem weird, in public as we gather together. Let me give you a couple of reasons why, and then some encouragement as we listen together.

The first reason is a command: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). Paul told Timothy not only to preach and teach, but to read the Bible in public. In fact, to be devoted to reading the Bible in public. That is our mandate.

The second reason is a promise. We’ve been thinking on Tuesday evenings that the Bible is God speaking to us. That means that we hear his voice as the Bible is read – we don’t have to wait for a preacher to decode it for us. (Though we love preachers, and we’ll talk about that in a couple of weeks!) As the Bible is read, God speaks to give us hope (Romans 15:3), faith (2 Timothy 3:15), rebuke (2 Timothy 3:16), wisdom (Psalm 119:99), refreshment (Deuteronomy 32:2) and much more. Why wouldn’t we?!

Here are a couple of thoughts to help us listen well:

  • Expect to hear God’s voice. Because we’re blessed with great sermons, it can be very easy not to listen carefully to the reading because we think the sermon will do all the work for us. But when we remember that God is speaking at the front of church, it’s a lot easier to pay attention!
  • Remember the genre. We listen to stories differently than speeches, and poetry differently than the news. When the reading is a story, get caught up in the twists and turns. When it’s poetry, enjoy the language and imagine the images being painted. When it’s a logical argument, try to follow the steps to the conclusion.
  • Follow in your Bible, or don’t. Sometimes it’s easier to follow a reading if you can see the words in front of you and helps us concentrate. Sometimes it can be a distraction to concentrate with eyes and ears together. Work out what helps you to listen, and then listen hard.

At CCM we have brilliant preachers. But even more exciting is that every week from the pulpit we hear God turn up and speak to us. Let us not give up hearing Scripture together!