The Discipline of Delighting in the Scripture

Steve Viars November 8, 2008 Psalms 1:

 

 

 

- would you agree with me this morning that what you eat (consume with your body) affects your physical health?...that’s not a hard case to make, is it…

- when I first came here 21 years ago, I had the privilege of serving under Pastor Bill Goode for 8 years as his associate before we made a leadership transition…

- Pastor Goode took good care of his health…but he also had some places that he really liked to eat…and one of them was a place down in Indianapolis called Nick’s Chili…

- I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it because I think that part of town isn’t as safe as it used to be…but they sure could make some great chili…

- and so when we would go to visit someone at the VA hospital, or one of the other hospitals in Indy…the timing would often work out in the providence of God that we would be right in Nick’s neighborhood around lunchtime…

- the problem was that you couldn’t cover that experience up with a simple breath mint or two…

- I would walk in the door after work and my wife Kris would say – so, how was Nicks?...

- she claimed she could smell it on my skin for days after I had been there…

- what you consume with your body affects your physical health…

- of course we all know there’s a side of this discussion that’s a lot more serious than the residual smell of chili…

- doctors tell us that many diseases in our country and other western nations are the results of overeating, or poor dietary habits…

- it’s somewhat of an irony that while many people in our world are in danger of a decreased life span because of under nutrition—on the same planet are many of us who simultaneously are in danger of a decreased life span because of overeating…

- nobody would deny the premise – what you consume with your body affects your physical health…

- However, did you know that the Bible often likens God’s Word to food?...that’s true…

1. For example, it’s compared to a baby’s milk in… 1 Peter 2:2 - like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

- and you can picture this baby sucking on its bottle with all its might…and Peter says…that’s the kind of appetite a person ought to have for the Scripture…

2. At other times, the metaphor is used to describe different aspects of God’s Word…milk being the more elemental concepts in Scripture…and meat being that which requires more maturity and greater understanding…

- so we might read something like 1 Corinthians 3:2 - I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,

- you see the same idea in Hebrews 5:12-14 - For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

-  a word picture like that makes sense because eating is something that you and I do every day…

- sometimes the Bible even says it more directly…Jeremiah 15:16 - Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

- so why would God liken the Scripture to food?...

- it’s because the parallel premise is also true…yes, what you consume with your body affects your physical health…and what you consume with your mind affects your spiritual health…

- we had a sad example of that even this week…the results of a new study were released Monday in the November Issue of magazine Pediatrics…the research was done by the Rand Corporation…the Associated Press story was titled “Teen Pregnancies tied to Tastes for Sexy TV Shows.”…

- would anyone here deny the premise that what you consume with your mind affects your spiritual health?...

- that’s why I’d like to talk to you this morning about The Discipline of Delighting in the Scriptures…with that in mind, would you open your Bible to Psalm chapter 1…page 393 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…where we pause each year and consider all that God has entrusted to us as individuals and as a congregation and whether we being faithful to the trust…

- I hope by now you’re very familiar with the…

Four Key Principles of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you; God wants you to increase it.

4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.

- so when we say that we are considering whether we are being faithful to trust…we mean, are we increasing on all fronts?...are we growing…are we advancing the ball…whatever metaphor you want to use that helps you summarize and apply these important truths…

- and the issue today is twofold…

- on the one hand, God has entrusted you with a mind…one of the greatest and most powerful gifts you’ve ever been given…

- and He’s also entrusted you His Word…the purest and most profound source of mental nutrition imaginable…

- and the question now as you think back over all the opportunities you had to read, study, memorize, meditate upon, obey and apply the Word over these past 12 months…could you say with Jeremiah…Jeremiah 15:16 - Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…

- see, have you been a good steward of the discipline of delighting in the Scriptures?...

- Psalm 1 can help us understand why that is such an important issue…

- read Psalm 1…

- I’m not a big fan of alliteration, but let’s divide this text up in this way this morning…

I. The Call to Delight in God’s Word – v. 2

II. The Companions of those Who Delight in God’s Word – v. 1

III. The Consequences of Delighting in God’s Word – vv. 3-6

I. The Call to Delight in God’s Word.

- verse 2 is the crux of the kind of person the psalmist is telling you to be…and the idea is…

A. Choose your “mental food” wisely.

1. Your delight should be in the law of the Lord.

- do you agree with John Piper when he said…Scriptures are the Word of the Lord, and that’s why they have effects that are better for us than anything else you can read or watch or listen too. Newspapers, magazines, novels, text books, books on psychology or theology, television, radio—nothing can have the good effects on us that the Scriptures have because these things are always the word of man, but the Scriptures are the Word of God.”– John Piper

- that’s why the Psalmist also said -- Psalm 119:47 - I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love.

- please don’t see this as a message where Pastor Viars is going to put us on some sort of legalistic guilt trip here…so just tell me…

- how many minutes do I have to read it every day – I’ll set my stop watch…

- how many verses do I have to memorize…and which ones are shortest?...

- there’s no delight in all of that…and whatever discipline flows out of that kind of heart will be short-lived and misguided…

- think of it like this…do you respond to every phone call exactly the same way?...

- is there a difference between what occurs in your heart when you recognize the voice of a close friend…compared to the recognition that some telemarketer just got through…of course…

- of course…the words of your close friend are your delight…

- and you could talk to that person for hours and it wouldn’t be enough…

- some of you are into text-messaging…and may even have unlimited texting as part of your cell phone plan?...

- have you ever checked your bill to see how many text messages you send in an average month?...do you know that for some people, that would be thousands…you delight in hearing from, and talking to your friends…

- there’s nothing wrong with that…but what about your level of delight for God’s Word…you know, He has a text too…how many messages did you receive from Him in His Word last month?...and what does that say about the condition of your heart and how closely aligned you are to the person described in Psalm 1:2?

- George Muller lived in the 1800’s and is well known for establishing a number of Christian orphanages for children in need, and also depending on the Lord to supply in remarkable ways…he wrote this…

I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit…Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord… not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.

- there’s a man of whom it could be said – his delight is in the law of the Lord…

- now, a fair question to ask might be, well, why should I view God’s Word this way – here’s some of the reasons based on passages that tie the concept of delighting and God’s Word together…

2. Because Scripture can lead you to a personal relationship with God.

- Psalm 119:174 - I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight.

- what more important question is there then knowing where you’ll spend eternity?...

- Paul said in Romans 10:14-17 - How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?...How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

- there are many people here this morning who could say – one of the reasons I love the Word of God is because it taught me about Jesus Christ and the possibility of trusting Him as Savior and Lord so I could know for sure that I am on my way to heaven…what other possible book could do that?...(cf. I John 5:13 – these things have I written unto you…)

3. Because Scripture is an antidote to anxiety.

- Psalm 94:19 - When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.

- Psalm 119:143 - Trouble and anguish have come upon me, Yet Your commandments are my delight.

- we have some people in our church family experiencing significant difficulties right now, but they could report that they aren’t all torn apart with anxiety…why?...because God’s Word has been their delight…

4. Because Scripture teaches you God’s will.

- Psalm 40:8 - I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.

- Psalm 119:24 - Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.

- Psalm 119:35 - Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.

- if we stood at the door this morning and asked everybody when you came in, would you like to know the will of God for your life, do you think anyone would say…no thanks, not really?...of course not…

- some people have that attitude toward God’s Word…

- they are living in ways right now that are clearly in violation of Scripture…yet that have so seared their conscience that they have come up with all sorts of lame excuses why in their case, it doesn’t apply to them…no thanks, I’m good…they’ve just told you that their attitude toward God’s Word is something other than…delight.

5. Because Scripture teaches you how to love.

- turn on practically any radio station featuring practically any style of music and it won’t be long until you’re hearing something about love…

- who doesn’t want to love and be loved?...but where are you going to go to learn how?...Psalm 119:77 - May Your compassion come to me that I may live, For Your law is my delight.

- many here today could give this testimony…they love God’s Word…

6. Because Scripture provides strength in hard times.

- Psalm 119:92 - If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.

- now, I think there’s a pretty obvious question flowing out of all of this, isn’t there?...

- are you living in Psalm 1:2?...not because you have to, but because you want to…

- because you’ve made a conscious choice that your delight will be in the law of the Lord…

- if so, then the other half of the verse will be in place as well…

B. Let your delight in God’s Word motivate you to interact (read, study, memorize, etc.) with Scripture in a disciplined way.

- Psalm 1:2b – and in His law he meditates day and night.

- and we’re not talking about legalistic regimentation…this is just the natural outgrowth of something in which you delight…so verse 2 connects delighting and meditation…this next verse connects…[delighting and memorizing…]

- Psalm 119:16 - I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.
- now, let’s go to your friend for a minute 

- evaluate your stewardship in this area over this past year…

- and is it possible that one of the decisions that God would have you to make this year would be to develop greater delight in His Word and the disciplined habits toward Scripture that would naturally result?...

1) now, if you would say – but I’m not comfortable filling out this other stuff…

- fill out the parts you are comfortable with…[this is a process…I realize this all may be new to you…]

- I believe that if you develop a disciplined delight for Scripture, all of the rest of this will eventually fall into place anyway…and conversely, if you don’t, any obedience in the rest of the areas won’t have the kind of substantive motivation to last very long…

2) might ask – where in the world would I start?...

- if you’ve never read Scripture before…might want to start in a book like I John…or the Gospel of John…or the book of Ephesians…

- you also might want to invest in a good study Bible [explain how they work…]

- there are also a lot of good resources in the MRC to guide you as you study…

3) this would also be a good way for you to develop your relationship with your deacon

- [mention deacons’ election – thank all those who went through the election process this year…]

- [explain deacons’ care lists] - our deacons attempt to contact the folks on their list regularly – you could ask your deacon to hold you accountable in this area…

4) Point Man/Women’s Bible studies

5) [Financial Peace Class – [commend Diane Imel and Mike Sandry]

6) [could take input on needs for next year as a church family as we plan next year’s theme and preaching schedule]

- now, let’s back up for a minute…how does verse 1 fit into all of this?...

II. The Companions of the Person Who Delights in God’s Word.

- the principle is…

A. You should carefully guard those who influence you and your loved ones.

- [develop – we try to be loving to everyone, but we don’t let everyone be our closest companions…]

- I wanted to start this message on the positive side of the equation this morning, but there’s no question that you can’t get to verse 2 unless you’re out of verse 1…

- if you delight in the counsel of the wicked…or of sinners or scoffers…that will often have a profound effect on your overall attitude toward the Word…

- and I realize you might say – but I’m trying to be a witness to them…

- you should be…we all should be…

- but please be sure you’re doing everything you can to stay strong yourself by surrounding yourself with close companions who direct you toward verse 2 and not away from it…

- [cf. it’s always easier to be pulled down than to pull someone else up…]…

- that’s part of what’s wrong with the newspaper article we read at the beginning…where mom and dad?...why aren’t they exercising some level of control over what their kids are watching?...

- and there are all kinds of potential bad answers to that question…

- one is, dad’s too busy looking at his own wickedness on the computer or the TV to possibly say a word to one of the kids…

- or dad is so afraid of losing the approval of the kids that they are allowed to do whatever they want…

- develop as time allows

1. This is why it is important to have your kids in Sunday school [and yourself in ABF]…

Psalm 111:2 - Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them.

2. Thank those who are volunteering to help in 8 is Great SS

3. Develop youth group, folks who are working hard in that ministry to help our kids delight in the Word.

4. FCS

5. Helping those in public school/current members serving in those roles/new school about to be built

B. Beware of the progression.

- soft little choices…

- walks by, stands with, sits among…

III. The Consequences for the Person who Delights in God’s Word.

A. Blessedness – v. 1

- v. 1 – Blessed

B. Stability – v. 3-4

- v. 3 – He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.

- v. 4 – The wicked…are like chaff which the wind drives away.

(positive and negative – either like a strong tree or like chaff)

C. Confidence – v. 5-6

Psalm 1:5 - Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

-  will be able to stand in the day of judgment.

- Conclusion – the number of text messages on our phone bill last month, and how certain members of our family delight in talking to friends

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