The Discipline of Delighting in our Sacrifice

Steve Viars November 15, 2008 Isaiah 58:

 

- On the night of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic was sailing swiftly on the bitterly cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean…[show book cover from Barczewski]

- It was her maiden voyage, and at the time of the ship’s launch…The Titanic was the world’s largest man-made moveable object…

- At 11:40 pm, an iceberg scraped the ship’s starboard side, showering the decks with ice and ripping open 6 watertight compartments…

- It’s often observed that tragedy brings out both the best and worst in human beings…that was certainly true in what occurred in the next few moments…

- part of the challenge was that there were not enough lifeboats for the passengers on board…

- that was because the prevailing wisdom was that the ship was unsinkable…and therefore the lifeboats were just taking up valuable room that could be used for other pleasures and comforts of the passengers…

- under the heading of “bringing out the worst in human beings” was what occurred in lifeboat number 6…

- though it was designed to hold 65-70 persons, lifeboat #6 had only 3 men and 25 women and children…

-  one of the men, Quartermaster Robert Hichens, immediately took charge of the boat and ordered 2 of the women, Margaret Brown and Margaret Martin, to begin rowing as fast as they could…

- his theory was that when the ship went down, it would create a vortex and pull everything in from miles around…

- so in his view there was no time to wait until the boat was fully loaded with passengers…

- he began berating the 2 women to row faster…saying…””If you don’t make better speed with your rowing, we’ll be pulled down to our deaths…”

- one of the other men, Major Arthur Peuchen, said to Hichens – “Wouldn’t it be more profitable if you were to come down here and row and let one of these women steer the boat”?...

- Hichens told Major Peucehn – you row…and I will remain in command of the boat…

- as they looked on, the stern of the Titanic rose higher and higher out of the water…the occupants of Lifeboat 6 could hear the shouts of the people who were still on board…

- Molly Brown later wrote – “there was a rift in the water, the sea opened up, and the surface foamed like giant arms that spread around the ship…”

- after the ship went down, there were screams of people who were flailing around in the freezing water…

- the women began demanding that they go back and try to rescue as many as possible…

- first class passenger Helen Candee said – We must go back…

- another woman said – “There are a great many people in the water…”

- Hichens refused – he said – (and I’ll leave out the curse words though they make his response that much more incredible)…”No, it’s our lives now, not theirs.  Row!  Our boat will be immediately swamped if we go back into all that confusion…”

- Molly Brown said…”We have to go back…we can’t leave them…”

- Hichens final words on the subject were---“there’s nothing in the water now but a bunch of stiffs…”

- The next morning #6 was rescued by the ship Carpathia…with a lifeboat that was half empty…Hichens saved his life…but he ignored the distress of those around him…

- now, you might say…well, at least I can’t be guilty of that right now…

- I’m safely in church…I’m worshipping…I’m seeking God and delighting in His ways…

- this morning I’d like us to look at a passage of Scripture that is written about people who are doing the exact same thing…

- they would appear to be worshipping…

- they would appear to be fasting…they were asking God for just decisions…

- and appear to have humbled themselves before Him…

‑ but when God examines their hearts…and evaluates the true nature of their delight…his response in essence is…You’re no different than Robert Hichens…

- even in your worship…your delights are selfish…

 

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Isaiah chapter 58…[page 527 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…]

- we’re in the middle of Stewardship Month at our church…

- this is when we pause each year and consider all that God has entrusted to us, and whether we’re being faithful to the trust…

 

- This year we’re looking at some of the spiritual disciplines… the basic components of what it means to develop a godly life…but you could say that we’re doing it with a twist…

- because we’re seeking to tie this to the concept of delight…

- we should never seek to cultivate a relationship with God simply out of duty…or obligation…

- our spiritual disciplines are only going to be meaningful and authentic if they flow out of a heart that truly delights in our God…that’s why we started with verses like…

- Psalm 34:8 - O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

- Psalm 37:4 - Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

- now, here’s where we stand in the series…for weeks now, we’ve been talking about how you choose the object of your delight…

- October 26 – The Discipline of Delighting in Your Savior

- November 2 – The Discipline of Delighting in Your Service

- November 9 – The Discipline of Delighting in the Scriptures

- November 16 – The Discipline of Delighting in Your Sacrifice…

- now, while it will take us some time to get to this point, I want to tell you up front that I plan to talk to you about the matter of your financial giving this morning…

- so let me just say a few things about that before we get into this text…

1. I speak on the topic of giving about once per year...so if this is your first Sunday, you’ll have to decide why it was God’s plan for you to happen to be here on this particular day...

2. My responsibility as a pastor is to teach the whole counsel of God…

- so if I avoid certain topics that are clearly taught in Scripture…then I am not being a biblical pastor…what you do with Scripture is ultimately between you and God…but it would be wrong for me (and a disservice to you) for me to fail to do my job...

3. While I’m going to especially be talking about giving this morning---the Bible has a lot to say about all aspects of our financial lives...

- that is why we are offering this class on Mondays called Financial Peace University

4. Please also keep in mind that we believe in progressive sanctification around here – in other words, growth is a process...so the question this morning regarding our giving is, are you heading in the right direction in this area of your life?...are you getting better?...

- how are you doing in this particular area of your stewardship?

- with all of that in mind, let’s read our text…read Isaiah 58:1-14

- we’re talking about The Discipline of Delighting in Your Sacrifice.

- with the time we have remaining, let’s look for three principles to help our giving lead us to greater delight in our God.

 

I. It is Possible to Have Self-Centered Delights Even in the Way We Worship – vv. 1-5.

- there are a lot of different titles we could put on the first five verses of this chapter, none of them very good…

-  Just going through the motions in your worship, or mere pretense, or mock repentance, or the power of self-delusion, a relationship with God that is half hearted…

- I hope none of us would want to live in Isaiah 58:1-5…so let’s break it down…

A. This is a significant problem in God’s eyes – v. 1.

- cry loudly, don’t hold back, raise your voice like a trumpet…

- this isn’t a conversation to be held privately, or calmly, or quietly

- the Lord tells Isaiah – my people have to be confronted about this…

- they would have immediately related to the concept of Isaiah sounding the trumpet…

- that was the Hebrew word sophar – a ram’s horn that was blown to call the people to battle or announce some important event…

- and when that sound went off…everyone was stop what they were doing and listen up…so you didn’t blowing it every day for no apparent reason…

- but verse 2 is the one that would have really caught their attention…

B. You can be deluded even in the midst of what looks like worship – v. 2.

- please look down through the behaviors that are described in verse 2…

1. They seek me day by day.

2. They delight to know my ways.

3. They have done righteousness.

4. They have not forsaken the ordinance of their God.

5. They ask me for just decisions.

6. They delight in the nearness of God.

- you look down at that list and say – those folks have it together…

- from all appearances, things seem to be going well…

- and that’s one of the lessons here…Christianity is about anything but appearances…

- people throughout history have behaved in all sorts of religious ways…but that really doesn’t prove much…

- Mark 7:6 - And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.”

 

- now you might say – how do you come to that conclusion?...a good principle of Bible study is – keep reading…because God explains in verse 3…

C. The core issue is the reason you worship – v. 3a.

- did you see…

1. Their questions.

a. Why have we fasted and you did not see?

b. Why have we humbled ourselves and you did not notice?

- in other words, they are saying to God, what are we getting out of this?...

- when are we going to be rewarded personally for what we did?...

- in other words – I supported your candidacy, now where’s my cabinet post? (and please don’t read more into that than I mean) – it’s just simply that we live in a world of quid pro quo --- you wash my back, I’ll wash yours…

- let me give you an example of what that looks like…we had someone who is no longer associated with this church make a financial commitment for a certain project…and then they came along and said – well, we want the church to use this particular business because that we be advantageous to us financially and if you don’t, then we’ll have to reconsider the gift…

- that is exactly what this text is talking about…and by the way, the answer to that is – we don’t believe ever in giving in order to get something…and we did not do what these particular folks were demanding that we do…

- that’s why people who give to our church and then send their kids to our school don’t receive reduced tuition...(you don’t give…to get)….

- that’s why people who give to our church and then use the fitness equipment over at the community center don’t receive some sort of reduction in rates…

- supposed worship for God with an eye to what’s in it for you is thinly veiled worship of self…

- there’s no appropriate delight in that at all…

- in fact, one of the reasons I chose this text is because of the repeated use of the word “delight”…

- and please notice…

3. God’s answer – vv. 3b-5.

- (if you’re in the habit of writing in your Bible, you might want to draw a line between the first half of verse 3 and the second half – because in the second half, God is now talking…

a. On the day of your fast you find your desire.

- the key word there is “your”…

- it’s not about delighting in God, it’s about delighting in you…

- you’re not seeking His desires, you’re seeking yours…

- it’s the ultimate delusion…

- so you really have to go back and add that idea to everything said in verse 2…

- they seek me day by day – to get something for themselves…

- they delight to know my ways – so they hide their selfish choices behind the appearance of religiosity…

- as a nation they have done righteousness – by their own definition…

- they have not forsaken the ordinances of their God – at least the ones that require some kind of outward conformity…

- now, I realize you might be scratching your head until you get to the end of verse 3…then all the layers are peeled off…

b. you drive hard all your workers.

- you may be fasting, or having this false show of piety, but if it hasn’t affected the way you treat the people who work for you…it’s a sham…

- God cares more about the way you treat your employees than he does the religious show a person puts on at church…

c. you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist – v. 4.

- what good is all this religious activity of it doesn’t even affect the way you treat the people around you?...

- these are people who, even in their worship…(their spiritual activity and discipline)…are not delighting in God and the things he’s concerned about….they’re delighting in themselves and the things they care about…

- (if time could talk about counselees who take biblical principles and beat the other person over the head with them…)

- you see that same line of argumentation through the rest of verse 4 and on into verse 5….and it concludes with…

d. you call this a fast?

- whatever it is, it has nothing to do with delighting in the things that God cares about and sacrificing to be in line with that…

 

- now, thankfully, the text doesn’t end there…the Lord does not point out what’s wrong without also helping us see what’s right….

- you could summarize most of the remainder of the chapter like this…

II. God Desires Worship that is Genuine and Therefore Focused on the Needs of Others.

- time doesn’t allow us to cover each phrase, but the overall idea is crystal clear…

- they have been supposedly worshiping God while at the same time taking advantage of the weak and being contentious and argumentative with other people in their life…

- that is what selfish people do…

A. To show concern for those who are oppressed or mistreated – v.6.

- when an employer says – not “what is the least amount I can give my employees in pay and benefits and still get by” – but instead, what can I do to make it easiest for my employees to pay their bills, and have a decent place to live…that kind of sacrifice takes you closer to the heart of God…

- Micah 6:8 - He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

- [could tell about the student who wanted his friends to be able to come to Christian school]

B. To sacrifice financially for those in need.

1. To divide your bread with the hungry - v. 7.

2. To bring the homeless poor into your house – v. 7.

3. To provide clothing for those in need – v. 7

4. To not hide yourself from your fellow man – v. 7.

5. Give yourself to the hungry – v. 10

6. Satisfy the desire of the afflicted – v. 10.

 

- now, the overall principle is this – you can either delight in what your worship is going to get you…which will you leave you in a relationship with God that is shallow, and distant, characterized by just going through the motions and doing just enough to get by…

- or you can learn to make His desire, your desire…and His delight, your delight…

- and although it is not all about finances, it is certainly somewhat about finances…

- because you cannot do what is outlined in these verses without a level of financial sacrifice…

- and that’s one of the questions this morning --- do your giving habits reveal a heart that truly cares about the condition of the people around you?...

 

- thankfully, Robert Hichens wasn’t the only kind of person on the Titanic the night of April 14, 1912…[show pic of book cover by Adams]

- there was also John Harper, who was widowed pastor, along with his young daughter, Nana.

- When it was obvious the ship was going to sink, Harper took Nana took a lifeboat, kissed her and promised he would see her someday…

- Then, according to documented reports, instead of getting into the lifeboat himself, he ran up the deck saying “women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats” (as time allows, read rest of the story)

- now, let’s bring that around to…

C. Why should a person give money to their church?

- there are a lot of ways we could answer that question, but the primary one from this text is that you want to be like John Harper (and not Robert Hichens)…

- see, what does the church do with the money that is given?...

- the answer is – in as efficient way as we know, we seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ and the life-changing message of God’s Word with as many hurting people as possible…

- and the question before the house this morning would be – do you care about them?...

1. Do you care about our neighbors across the street and across the county enough to give generously and sacrificially so that our church can be a bright light in this community?...

- I know that many do…

- that’s why I don’t have to talk about giving very much here…

- and it makes a difference…[read the e-mail we received this week from a single mom…]

 

2. Do you care about people from other countries who need to hear the good news of Christ?...

- a fair amount of the funds that are given to our church go right out the other door to support our missionaries serving around the world…

- think about Seth and Darla Curtis…in the country of the Congo in Africa…

- have you been reading about what is happening in that land?...

- if those are not the people described in these verses, I don’t know who is…

 

- your giving goes to support missionaries like that, who in turn can tell people in one of neediest places in the world the good news of Jesus Christ…

 

- now, one of the questions that is frequently asked is….

D. How much should a person give to their church?

- in the NT, there isn’t a formula…no one is going to send anyone a bill (though I’ve heard that rumor floating around town over the years…)…

- we just try to examine the Scripture and see how God’s people have handled their finances throughout biblical history…

- and one of the clear emphases is the world tithe, or tenth…

- now please don’t automatically connect that to the OT law…because the first example of someone tithing to God occurred several hundred years before God gave the law to Moses…

- the first example of tithing in the Bible occurred in the life of Abraham…where after Abraham won a great military victory, he met a priest named Melchizadek, and the Bible tells us that…Genesis 14:20 - …He gave him a tenth of all.

- that showed Abraham’s thankfulness for what God had given him, and that Abraham wanted this priest to use these funds to carry out God’s work in that place, and thirdly it demonstrated that Abraham was willing to trust God with the first fruits, not his leftovers…

- like the person who said – I believe I can do better with 90% of my income and God’s blessing than 100% of it on my own…

 

- one of the sad aspects of the OT is, just like we are reading in Isaiah, that people wanted to act religious, but they did it in a half hearted way…and God confronted them about that in Malachi3:8 - Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.

- they didn’t care about the needs of others and how those funds could be used to carry out the ministry of the Word…they were robbing God…

 

- in the NT, we see that as a starting place…we believe we should be more excited about the shed blood of Christ than an OT saints excitement about any aspect of their sacrificial system…

- so we ask people to consider tithing as a starting place and then we ask them to seek to grow in that area just like they are trying to take steps of growth in every other area…but the key here is – it’s not to be a drudgery, it’s part of delighting in seeing the needs of others met…

- now, let me ask you to look at stewardship commitment card…

- please look at the portion that discusses your giving…

- many people in this church have been completing these for years…in the providence of God, that is how we have gotten to where we are today…

- I realize that for you, this may be brand new…

- here’s my challenge to you…

- think about who would have rather been the day after the Titanic disaster…a dead John Harper or a living Robert Hichens?...

- now, at our church, God has given us some bonuses…- but, in the providence of God, our church has been blessed with some extra ministries...like Faith Christian School, Faith Global Ministries and what we are doing in Moldova, Faith Community Ministries, Faith Bible Seminary, and Vision of Hope...

- as you may have noticed in Malachi 3, God speaks about tithes and offerings…

and we are asking everybody in our family to take the offerings side of this – what we do beyond tithing just because we want to...and designate that additional giving to one of those ministries to help our church fulfill our financial responsibilities to help those extra ministries stay vibrant and strong...

- we believe that if God came to us right now and said – the privilege of having FCS-yes/no-understanding that a yes is going to cost a bit more...

- the privilege of having a special impact in the country of Moldova...etc.

- now, let’s go back and look at one last point this am…

III. The Greatest Delight Comes from Disciplining Your Heart to Care about Things That Matter Most to God.

Isaiah 58:14 - Then you will take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

- this final word translated “delight” in many of our English versions is actually a slightly different word in Hebrew…it’s a more significant, substantive kind of delight…

- and the point to the people of God was…you’ve been delighting in selfishness and worship that is half-hearted…

- if you choose to worship me sacrificially, with an eye on the needs of others, you’ll be delighting in the same things I care about…

- and there will be a satisfaction that will come from that that selfishness can never match…

- develop CFE – and the impact that has on Christmas…

- ask folks to:

1. Complete their commitment card

2. Get their tickets to the banquet

3. Consider sponsoring some CFE kids.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video