Stewardship of our Minds

Brent Aucoin November 5, 2017 Isaiah 6
Outline

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 - Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

Stewardship: God-given responsibility with accountability

#1. God owns everything and I own nothing

#2. God entrusts me with everything I have

#3. I can either increase or decrease what God has given me. He wants me to increase it

#4. God can call me into account at any time

3 truths about our mind that we must understand in order to steward our minds well

1. The Condition of Our Mind in Its Natural State—Obdurate

  • Blind—they have eyes and can see, but they don’t really see (understand)
  • Deaf—they have ears and can hear, but they don’t really hear (to obey)
  • Because of this, they have insensitive hearts—they are unfeeling and beyond moving to a different course of action

Romans 1:21 - but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Matthew 6:22-23 - The eye is the lamp of the body, so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.

Obdurate—Stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing, hardened in feelings, resistant to persuasion or softening influences.  

  • Hurtful thinking— “the person who offended/hurt me must hurt”
  • Self-pity— “I deserve better”
  • Fear and worry— “I cannot live satisfied with the threat of loss of (fill in the blank)”
  • Despair— “I will not live satisfied in these circumstances”
  • Shame— “my guilt”
  • Lust—“I must have (fill in the blank) to be satisfied”
  • Pride—“I should be the center of my existence”

Isaiah 1:18 - Come now, and let us reason together.

2. The Cause of Our Mind’s Condition

A. Failing to behold the glory of the holy (incomparable) God

B. Instead of beholding the one true God, we set before our mind’s eye the false earthly gods (earthly pleasures, treasurers, securities, relationships)

Romans 1:21-23 - For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Matthew 6:23-24 - But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

3. The Solution for Our Mind’s Condition

Isaiah 6:6-7 - Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Isaiah 53:10 - But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, as a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 40:5 - The Glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh will see it.

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A. Fixing our mind’s eye on Jesus—the glory of the holy God full of both grace and truth

B. Notice the imagery Isaiah uses when speaking of God’s coming grace and truth redemption — “The blind eyes will be opened and the deaf ears unstopped” (Isaiah 35:4; 43:8)

C. The “think” list in Philippians 4:8 on which Paul commands us to have our minds dwell (true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute) is preceded by “stand firm in the Lord (Jesus Christ)” in Philippians 4:1

 

Obdurate destructive mind

  • Hurtful thinking—“the person who offended/hurt must hurt.”
  • Self-Pity— “I deserve better.”
  • Fear and Worry— “I cannot live satisfied with the threat of loss of (fill in the blank)
  • Despair— “I will not live satisfied in these circumstances.”
  • Shame— “my guilt.”
  • Lust—I must have (fill in the blank) to be satisfied.
  • Pride— “I should be the center of my existence.”
  • I am free to love those who hurt me just as the Lord loved me when I hurt him.
  • The Lord was crucified for what I deserved, I will be thankful for anything that I have and will rise to serve Him
  • The Lord has secured my only security that matters—eternal security.
  • The Lord has given me eternal hope not of this world and its circumstances.
  • The Lord has removed my guilt and covered me with His own righteousness
  • Only the Lord satisfies me, no earthly pleasure/ treasures compares to my Savior
  • Christ is the center of my existence and it is and will be best for me to be humbly under Him. He will exalt me at the proper time.

 

Steadfast mind in the Lord

 

 

 

Last week we launched Stewardship month here at Faith Church.

For those who are new to Faith, and are wondering what is Stewardship Month, I like to think of Stewardship month as a 4-week celebration of what God has done for his people here at Faith. It is a 4 week Thanksgiving celebration without all the calories.

Stewardship month culminates with a grand celebration on November 19.

As we contemplate what God has done for us, we also in turn remember our role or place in God’s family.

We are stewards

1 Cor 4:1-2 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

Stewardship: God-given responsibility with accountability.

To remind ourselves of stewardship during this four-week period. We consider in our sermon series various aspects of stewardship.

Stewardship is a concept that includes all areas of life … it involves our health, it involves our proper time management, it involves the way we work and the way we do school, it involves our hobbies and our athletics, it involves our money, and it involves all our skills and abilities, everything in life that God has given to us.

 

We have attempted to capture a biblical theology of stewardship into four basic principles. If you have not memorized them, I encourage you to do so. This could be a great use of your family time this thanksgiving/holiday season to memorize these four principles.

#1. God owns everything and I own nothing.

#2. God entrusts me with everything I have.

#3. I can either increase or decrease what God has given me. He wants me to increase it.

#4. God can call me into account at any time.

Today, I have the privilege of speaking to you in regarding

Stewardship of Our Mind

Most of you are familiar with Michael Phelps

22 time Olympic medal winner.

Most decorated Olympian in the history of the Olympics.

Has enjoyed the fame, wealth, and pleasures of this world more than any of us.

Recently he was doing an interview and during his stint with alcohol abuse stated publically,  “I didn’t want to see another day”

How is it that our minds get to such dark places?

Aaron Birk early this fall shared with us a Madonna quote

“I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy.… I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting.… Again and again...

...My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove that I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.” Madonna, “The Misfit”, Vanity Fair

Why does Madonna do the extravagant entertain she does? She tells you. Her mind has this horrible sense of inadequacy that drives her to the next public extravagant entertainment.

What happens when she is in a wheel chair and cannot perform anymore but still has this horrible sense of inadequacy?

What is it about our minds that natural go to these dark places?

Please turn to Isaiah 6.  Isaiah 6 is on page 490 in the front section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

This passage is a classic passage on the Holiness of God. For those who have been a student of the Bible for a while, you may wonder why I would choose Isaiah 6 to speak on the mind.

Well while most individuals focus on the Holiness of God in Isaiah 6, the passage does not end with the Holiness of God.

The passage ends with God sealing the people in judgment—He makes a determination about the mind of the people and He seals them up with that kind of mind.

That is why I chose this passage.

So, for the purpose of our time today, I would like us to focus on the conditions of the mind in this passage, why the mind is in that condition, and what is the solution as we talk about the stewardship of the mind.

My Goal is not to explain all of the passage. I do have a few bible studies on Isaiah that I could give you that explain this passage in more detail, but we will primarily focus what the passage explains about the state of our minds. 

Now let me give you just a few pieces of context.

  • Israel has been God’s people for 700 years
  • For most of that time, Israel has struggled with keeping God at the center of their life (as we all do).
  • God is raising up the prophet Isaiah to give truth to His people one more time before God brings devastating discipline.

      1In the year of King Uzziah’s death (King Uzziah had been a good king that started well but finished very poorly—in arrogance and pride. God gave him a skin disease because of his pride and King Uzziah spent the last years of his life isolated and quarantined, so in the year where this King that had lifted himself up to be exalted like God, Isaiah sees the one who is truly exalted).

I saw  (say “saw”  Isaiah sees) the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face (the creature dare not look into the face of the Creator—the brilliance would simply be too much), and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Bible Commentator John Oswalt says about the Seraphim, “they were all wings and voice—ready to fly to serve their creator and praise him”

4    And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.

As Isaiah sees God…here is his response. He can not stand before the Creator because of his defilement and His creator’s brilliant Holiness….

5    Then I said,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!

Because I am a man of unclean lips,

And I live among a people of unclean lips;

For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

6    Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7He touched my mouth with it and said,

“Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

8    Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”

Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9    He said,

“Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;  --they hear but don’t really

Keep on looking, but do not understand.’—the see but don’t really

10“Render the hearts of this people insensitive,--they don’t feel

Their ears dull,--deaf

And their eyes dim,--blind

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

Hear with their ears,

Understand with their hearts,

And return and be healed.”

The next verse, 11-13, speak about the coming discipline that the Lord is bringing upon his people..

      11Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,

“Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,

Houses are without people

And the land is utterly desolate,

      12“The Lord has removed men far away,

And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.

      13“Yet there will be a tenth portion in it,

And it will again be subject to burning,

Like a terebinth or an oak

Whose stump remains when it is felled.

The holy seed is its stump.”

In the time that we have reminding let’s spend our time on 

Isaiah chapter six gives three truths about our mind that we must understand in order to steward our minds well. 

I. The Condition of Our Mind in Its Natural State—Obdurate

Isaiah, describes the people metaphorically as

  • Blind—they have eyes and can see but they don’t really see (understand)
  • Deaf—they have ears and can hear but they don’t really hear (to obey)
  • Because of this they have insensitive hearts—they are unfeeling and beyond moving them to a different course of action.

Do you remember the story about Hellen Keller as portrayed in the movie The Miracle Worker?

Hellen Keller was born as a normal baby who could see and hear. However, at 19 months old she contracted an illness that left her blind and deaf.

Hellen Keller, deprived of sight/sound outside of herself was left to live life in near isolation amidst her only with her own thoughts.

She was living in her own self-referential world.

No one could bring outside communication to her.

No one could tell her so that she could hear—God loves you

No one could make her see a warm smile of compassion.

No one could say so that she could hear—its going to be alright

Hellen Keller, in her isolated, dark, deaf world became uncontrollable

Until Ann Sullivan, the Miracle Worker, found a way to communicate with her and break through the darkness of her world.

Let us compare ourselves spiritually to what Hellen Keller was physically.

Hellen Keller truly was blind and deaf. She did not have eyes /did not have ears, she entered into a dark world of isolation, and left to herself she became an angry and hostile little girl.

We all understand why she was that—she had no light from outside.

Here is what the Bible says of us—unlike Hellen Keller—we have eyes, we have ears….But we are spiritually blind and deaf

And, our mind goes to very dark places and we become uncontrollable, unfeeling, insensitive.

“Seeing but not seeing,” “hearing, but not hearing” is describing the condition of our natural minds in its dark state.

Romans 1:21 speaks to this condition as well

Romans 1:21 “but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

As does Matt 6:22-23

Matt 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body, so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

Notice how Matt 6:22-23 also uses the “seeing” imagery.

I have not found in the Hebrew language one word that describes that condition of the mind.

That is probably why the bible uses two metaphors of blind and deaf…

However, I think there is an English word that comes close to capturing this condition that the Bible describes….

Are you ready to learn a new vocabulary word today?

Obdurate—Stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing, hardened in feelings, resistant to persuasion or softening influences.  

If I am stubbornly persistent in my thinking, hardened in my way of thinking, resistant to persuasion or influence…..then my mind gets locked up. I can only think in one venue…one way…I get mind freeze or mind lock. 

Remember the years when we had automobiles that had breaks that would lock up?

Once you hit the brakes—brakes would lock up…then your trajectory was sealed…..right into the oncoming car, guardrail, or over the cliff.

There is a reason automobile manufacturers invented Anti-lock brakes.

Anti-lock breaks would not seize up but would automatically pump and allow influence from the steering control so that you could steer toward a safe outcome in the midst of a crisis.

Obdurate of the mind is perpetual brake lock of the mind that take you to dark places.

Mind lock—clamped down on our own ways and thus will lead us destruction.

For the sake of being extremely practical, let’s think about how this works in the common dark patterns of our mind.

What I am about to present is not in Isaiah 6. I am drawing from categories of dark thinking found throughout scripture.

As I mention these categories, think through with me, what is the person’s mind-locked on or resistant to persuasion in?

  • Hurtful thinking— “the person who offended/hurt must hurt.”
  • Self-Pity— “I deserve better.”
  • Fear and Worry— “I cannot live satisfied with the threat of loss of (fill in the blank)
  • Despair— “I will not live satisfied in these circumstances.”
  • Shame— “my guilt.”
  • Lust—“I must have (fill in the blank) to be satisfied.”
  • Pride—“I should be the center of my existence.”

How is it that Michael Phelps a man who has the world’s accolades—can say, “I did not want to live”

How is it that Madonna cannot get off the performance treadmill because of an overwhelming sense of inadequacy?

How is it that we also find ourselves with an obdurate mind in dark places?

In chapter 1 of Isaiah, God says to the people,

Is 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together.”

You can see and hear how God is seeking to penetrate the darkness of His people’s mind in their obdurate condition.

Friends our minds from birth are like Hellen Keller’s world—dark, isolated.

Let’s consider why….

II. The Cause of Our Mind’s Condition

Faith family, did you notice in the text that ended on describing the people’s condition as blind and deaf what was Isaiah doing?

Isaiah was seeing and hearing!

What was before Isaiah’s face that the seraphims did not even look at because their face was covered!

The three-fold Holy God in all of His glory and Splendor!

When Isaiah had in front of his face the Holy God, there was no problem seeing and hearing

He saw who God was

He saw who he was in front of God—unclean

And after cleansing, he heard God

And he just did not hear but responded—no mind lock

His heart was not obdurate.

He was seeing and hearing the one true God.

So what is the cause of our obdurate minds?

A.   Failing to Behold the Glory of the Holy (Incomparable) God

Very simply put, why are our minds in very dark places?

Why do they go there?

Why do they stay there?

Because we don’t choose to let the light of our Amazing creator penetrate our minds.

Remember the Matthew 6 passage about the eye being the lamp of the body?

Remember that if the eye is good—the Body/mind is full of light.

Remember that if the eye is bad—the body/mind is full of darkness

And “eye” being good that is letting light into the mind and the body is the eye fixed upon the Holy God

If that is where the eye is the mind and body will follow and be full of light.

God brought Isaiah into His presence and Isaiah’s eye was fixated upon the one true God…

Then his mind could make accurate judgments about Himself, His God, and what was happening in Israel.

Because his mind’s eye was upon God—He could see, feel, understand, think appropriately.

Friend remember the Hymn? “Be Thou my vision”

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Notice that the vision is on God and when that is the case, the thoughts are on God and there is light….

….

Another verse of that great hymn is this…notice what is not in his mind’s eye…

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,

High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

B.    Instead of beholding the one true God, we set before our mind’s eye the false earthly gods (earthly pleasures, treasurers, securities, relationships)

Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Matt 6:23-24 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Why is my mind obdurate and I cannot let the hurt go?—ever before my eye is not God but my false god that I worship of respect…I must have the world’s respect and when I don’t…they will pay.

Why is my mind obdurate and I cannot get out of self-pity?—ever before my eye is not God but my false god that I worship of entitlement.

Why is my mind obdurate and I cannot get out of pride?—ever before my eye is not God but my false god that I worship of me….

III. The Solution for Our Mind’s Condition

Friends, when Isaiah was brought into the throne room of God and his eyes were fixed upon God, beholding God did not immediately fix his mind.

His mind did go into utter despair—WOE TO ME I AM UNDONE—I CAN NOT STAND BEFORE THIS GOD. Talk about MIND LOCK.

There was only ONE PROPER RESPONSE standing before a HOLY GOD—I AM A DEAD MAN. KILL ME NOW

The solution to our mind problem is that we need to see God in all of His glory and Have his light.

But the problem with that solution is that we can not stand in His light because of our darkness in our sinful mindlock.

Let me say that again….

The solution to our mind lock is God but the problem with that solution is our mindlock that prevents us from standing before him (i.e. our sin)!

How can we get out of this?

The answer is in what happens to Isaiah in his mind-lock, dark condition of despair.

Apparently in the presence of God some article of furniture is before God and Isaiah.

What is it?

Where did the seraphim fly to?

An altar…

What is on that altar…burning coals

Isaiah 6:6–7 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

An Altar with burning coals—sounds like preparation for sacrifice before God.

While the sacrifice is not apparent, yet the burning coals are.

Isaiah is not on the altar being consumed but the fire of God’s wrath has at least touched Him and he is cleansed from His sin.

Later in Isaiah, God makes explicit a sacrifice from a future servant…

Is 53: 10But the Lord was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

. . .

      11  As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

After touching Isaiah, Isaiah is cleansed but the wrath/fire did not consume him because it consumed another on behalf of him.

Isaiah goes from mindlock of “woe is me” cowering in the presence of God to “here I am send me” standing in the presence of God.

He can stand before God now and He does not have an obdurate mind anymore.

How did that happen?

I need to both see God in IN Truth and Grace

That is what happened to Isaiah.

And In Christ this is what can happen to us…

Isaiah 40:5—The Glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh will see it.”

John 1: 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  •  Fixing our mind’s eye on Jesus—The Glory of the Holy God full of both grace and truth
  •  Notice the imagery Isaiah uses speaking of God’s coming grace and truth redemption “The blind eyes will be opened and the deaf ears unstopped (Isaiah 35:4; 43:8)
  • The “think” list in Phil 4:8 on which Paul commands us to have our minds dwell (true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute) is preceded by stand firm in the Lord (Jesus Christ) in Phil 4:1

Let’s now look at how standing firm in the Lord Jesus and His Gospel helps us be a good steward of our minds….

This is a fleshed out what are true/honorable/right true thinking….

Obdurate destructive mind

  • Hurtful thinking—“the person who offended/hurt must hurt.”
  • Self-Pity— “I deserve better.”

 

  • Fear and Worry— “I cannot live satisfied with the threat of loss of (fill in the blank)
  • Despair— “I will not live satisfied in these circumstances.”

 

  • Shame— “my guilt.”
  • Lust—I must have (fill in the blank) to be satisfied.
  • Pride— “I should be the center of my existence.”

 

Steadfast mind in the Lord

  • I am free to love those who hurt me just as the Lord loved me when I hurt him.
  • The Lord was crucified for what I deserved, I will be thankful for anything that I have and will rise to serve Him
  • The Lord has secured my only security that matters—eternal security.
  • The Lord has given me eternal hope not of this world and its circumstances.
  • The Lord has removed my guilt and covered me with His own righteousness
  • Only the Lord satisfies me, no earthly pleasure/ treasures compares to my Savior
  • Christ is the center of my existence and it is and will be best for me to be humbly under Him. He will exalt me at the proper time.

 



Brent Aucoin

M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Baptist Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998.  Pastor Aucoin serves as overseer of Faith Seminary and Soul Care Ministries at Faith Church.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video