The Foundation of Our Discipline

Steve Viars October 25, 2008 Psalms 34:

 

- As I mentioned earlier before Carolynn’s testimony, today is the beginning of Stewardship Month at our Church…

- God’s Word uses many different metaphors, or word pictures, to help us understand what is involving in being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ…and one of those words is “steward”…in places like 1 Corinthians 4:2 - Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

- I fully understand that if you’re just getting started in coming to church, or if you’ve just established a relationship with Christ, that term may seem like a foreign language to you…

- the word steward is from the Greek word oikonomos – related to the Greek word oikos – house

- in Bible times, when wealthy homeowners would be gone for an extended period of time, they would select one of their servants to be in charge of certain responsibilities in their absence…he was literally the “house manager”…in charge of the property, the finances, the fields, the crops, the other workers, etc…

- it was a position of honor, it was a position of trust, a position of responsibility and accountability…

- so the master left you in charge or certain things and your responsibility was to continue to increase what had been entrusted to you with the full knowledge that someday the Master would return and you would have the privilege of giving an account for what you had done with what was entrusted to you during the master’s absence…

- when you put all that together, you can see that this word steward is a marvelous way to describe what it means to be a follower of Christ…

- just think of all the different things that God has entrusted to you…

- your mind, your body, your time, your family, your friends, your talents and abilities, your opportunities, your financial resources, the Bible, the gospel…the list goes on and on…

- it is amazing, all that God has entrusted to us…

- to boil all of this down, we have found that it is helpful to memorize 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.

- at our church, we have also found it helpful once a year to place special focus on this topic…

- we call it stewardship month…where we just pause and think about all that God has entrusted to us, and whether as individuals and as a church we are being faithful to the trust…

- it is good to periodically pause and take stock of where we are, and how we’re doing, and what steps we need to commit ourselves to in the days ahead…

- when you think about stewardship month, think of these components…

- you’ll hear a number of stewardship testimonies like the one you heard this morning from various men and women from our church family…

- we’ll also dovetail all our morning messages around this theme…

- our ABF lessons are also tailored to a particular aspect of stewardship, and this year we’re focusing on stewardship of finances…we understand that many people are facing pressure there, so we want to emphasize what the Scripture says about earning, and saving, and budgeting, etc…

- you’ll also start seeing a commitment card in our bulletin…

- it will help you evaluate various areas of your life…and encourage you to think about various commitments you should make for the coming year…

- and then all of this culminates at our Annual Stewardship Banquet at the community center on the evening of November 23rd, the Sunday night before Thanksgiving…

- we really hope every person here joins us for that evening…

- you don’t have to be a member of the church---it sort of functions as our church family Thanksgiving Dinner together…

- we actually had to take a few years off from that event because it had become difficult to find a place that was large enough to hold the event at a reasonable price…

- but now that we have the community center, we can hold it again, and the folks who attended last year will tell you, last year’s stewardship banquet was a highlight of the year…so I hope everyone will choose to attend…

- I also want to encourage you to be praying that God will use all of this in your life, and in the lives of every person in our church…

- now, every year we have to decide what aspect of stewardship we’re going to emphasize…

- there are literally hundreds of directions we could go…

- when we were putting this together last December…we thought because of the growth of the church and the many folks here who are new followers of Christ…we ought to focus on the spiritual disciplines…the basic components of what it means to develop a godly life…

- we’re thinking of Paul’s words in -- 1 Timothy 4:7 - …discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;

- and for all of us, even if you’ve known the Lord for a long time, it is possible to become a bit sloppy on the spiritual disciplines…

- that is why the Bible makes no apologies for emphasizing certain key ideas over and over…

- 2 Peter 1:12-15 - Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

- so the question these next several weeks is going to be…How are you doing at the matter of the spiritual disciplines…the basic components of what is involved in developing a godly life?

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible this morning to Psalm 34 – [page 405 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…]

- now, I’ve been thinking for some time about the best way to introduce this topic this year…

- a few weeks ago at our annual counseling conference in St. Louis, several of us heard a plenary session from Pastor Brad Bigney from Florence, KY about delighting ourselves in the Lord…

- and many of us would say that that was a very helpful emphasis, and I’m going to be using several quotes from that message today…

- so when you put all of that together and combine it with the annual theme we’ve been focusing on this year – here’s what pops out:

Seeking God’s Plan for Our Stewardship – The Discipline of Delight

- hopefully the point of all of that will become more apparent as we move through this study in the next several weeks…

- to get us headed down the right trail, I’d like us to read the first 10 verses of Psalm 34, and the first 11 verses of Psalm 37…[READ]

- this morning we’d like to talk about The Foundation of Our Discipline – Delighting in our Savior…and in the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 principles to help us develop a disciplined life for the right reason

I. We Choose the Object of Our Delight.

- in several different ways, these 2 Psalms are calling us to order our delights in a particular way…

- in other words, you choose the object of your affection…

- now, we probably need to take a moment and talk about…

A. The meaning of delight

- It’s the Hebrew word anag – and it means “to enjoy, be fond of, take pleasure in an object, implying desirability…”

- and David is saying that our chief affections ought to be reserved for the God of heaven…

- Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the LORD.

- now, what does that look like in real time?...

- here’s an example…our country’s recent economic troubles…the way you and I responded to that revealed the object of our affection…

- if you love money…or if you love the supposed security for the future that you believe “stored up money” will bring…

- then the object of your affection has been seriously threatened the last several weeks…

- and that probably resulted in anxiety, and worry, and fear, etc…

- however, if you’ve been doing what this text says, delighting yourself in the Lord…in who He is, and what He’s done…and His sovereign care and concern for you…

- that has not diminished one bit in the last 4 weeks…

- in fact, in some ways, your opportunity to focus on that delight has been enhanced as the figures on your 401K statement kept going down…

- see, what you’re delighting yourselves in is fairly easy to determine if you watch the way you live and listen to the way you speak…

- now, you might say – what does that have to do with the spiritual disciplines?

...and this is getting somewhat ahead of ourselves but just so that you know where this is going…think about the spiritual discipline of studying your Bible…

you can either read your Bible (grudgingly and quickly and superficially) to make a mark on some legalistic checklist….or you can read your Bible because you absolutely love hearing the words of the Person in whom you delight…

- these Psalms contain:

B. An invitation to come to the table.

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

- let me ask you to think about the average day, or the average week for you…in light of these two verses we’ve focused on thus far…

- is there evidence that you delight yourself in the Lord…that you taste and see that the Lord is good?...

- that can take hundreds of forms…

- it might be right after you wake up and before you even lift your head from the pillow you thank God for the salvation you enjoy in Christ…

- you might praise Him for the provision of a warm bed and a dry house…

- you might rehearse some of his attributes in your mind as you’re getting ready for your day…

- you might sing a song that glorifies Him…

- it’s rejoicing in the gospel declarations of Ephesians 1-3 before we try to obey the gospel imperatives of Ephesians 4-6…

- without this, our attempts to please God lack a firm foundation…

- author Ed Welch wrote…When principles or steps wander from Christ himself, they become self-serving guidelines.  They make our marriages, families, friendships, and work go better, but the goal is our own betterment more than the glory of God…  ‘Be good’ and ‘Do right’ are fine messages, but when they stand alone they have more in common with the Boy Scouts' Handbook than Scripture.  Remember that in the Bible, ‘This is who God is and what He has done’ always precedes ‘This is what you must do.’  Action follows our knowledge of God and trust in Him.  It is as if God has said to us, ‘Now that you have seen who I am, you will want to love Me in return…’”  Addictions:  a Banquet in the Grave, Edward T. Welch, P. 155

- my concern as we move into this study in the next month is – are we seeking to become more spiritually disciplined because of a heart that yearns for a deeper relationship with our Savior…Delight yourself in The Lord…O taste and see that Lord is good…

- now, let’s go back and do more work at the beginning of this Psalm…

II. Delighting in God Begins in the Soul but it Can Never Remain There.

- it is important to see how David goes from singular to plural here…there is…

A. The individual emphasis.

1. It is personal.

- v. 1 – I will bless the Lord…

- v. 1 – (His praise shall be continually) …in my mouth

2. It is continual.

- v. 1 – at all times

- v. 1 – continually be in my mouth

3. It is genuine.

- v. 2 – My soul will makes its boast in the Lord…

- this isn’t something that we paste on from the outside…

- cultivating this kind of relationship is what gives our disciplined study of Scripture genuine meaning…

- Paul Tripp said,We approach the Bible with a ‘where can I find a verse on ___________’ mentality.  We forget that the only hope the principles offer rests on the Person, Jesus Christ...  We cannot treat the Bible as a collection of therapeutic insights. To do so distorts its message and will not lead to lasting change. If a system could give us what we need, Jesus would never have come… He is the only answer, so we must never offer a message that is less than the good news. We don't offer people a system; we point them to a Redeemer.”      Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, Paul David Tripp, P. 8 & 9 –

- and that starts with pointing ourselves to the Redeemer…(Delight/Taste)

- but did you notice what happens in the second part of verse 2?...it spills over…

B. The corporate emphasis.

1. The impact on others.

- v. 2b – The humble will hear it and rejoice.

- as people watch you building a lifestyle on a genuine love for God and delight in Him, that is going to catch their attention…and hopefully motivate them to consider moving in a similar direction…

- we have a great example of that in the Kicks for Kids program being organized by Bryce and Heather Hufford…

- Heather teaches down at Miller school…one of the places in our city where a number of children are in families that sometimes struggle financially…

- and Heather was impacted by how many students don’t even have a decent pair of shoes to wear…

- and when I say decent, I’m not talking about style, I’m talking about shoes that don’t have holes in the bottom in the winter time, or ones that fit reasonably well…

- she told me about one little girl who came to school in a pair of boys soccer cleats that weren’t anywhere close to her size because that’s all she had…

- most of us could have chosen from a half dozen different pairs of shoes to wear today…

- and so Heather worked with her principle and another school along with a local shoe store to provide a pair of shoes and a package of socks for certain kids at a cost of $20 a piece…

- and we’re asking people to consider helping with the endeavor…

- and we understand that not everyone can do that…but for those who can…it communicates a very important message…we don’t delight in the size of our bank account…or the amount of material things we possess…

- delighting in the Lord motivates us to show mercy to others…”the humble will hear it and rejoice…”

- that’s why David invites others to “join in…”

2. The power of “corporate delight.”

- Psalm 34:3 - O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

- Psalm 34:7 - The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.
 

- think about the impact this can have on your children…

- perhaps there are at least three kinds of possible homes…

a. The one where God and His Word are never discussed…of course that secular or humanistic approach to living would be greatly deficient…

b. But what about the home where when the Bible is mentioned, it is more like a cookbook or handy reference guide…

- here’s three of these or four of those?...

c. Isn’t a better option a home where family members are encouraged to delight themselves in the Lord and taste and see that the Lord is good so that when it is time to discuss a particular principle, it has the foundation necessary to motivate the child to want to obey?...

Where the Lord calls for change, connect those specific changes to what God is doing.  Whenever you need to change, put the Redeemer in the center of the picture…  Don't ever degenerate into giving advice unconnected to the good news of Jesus crucified, alive, present, at work, and returning.

Ephesians gives us no Reader's Digest list of ‘six principles for successful marital conversation’ or ‘four keys to getting your life organized.’ Such advice is often reasonably OK, though rather pale and powerless.”  Seeing With New Eyes, David Powlison, page 43

- you have another opportunity to be involved in the corporate power of a group of people delighting themselves in the Lord…

- it’s serving in the Living Nativity…

- develop – don’t have to be a member…

- need all hands on deck…

- one of the comments we often hear is – you folks act like you like serving together…if the economic trends continue like many are suggesting, this Christmas could be a time of enhanced ministry, because of the number of people who are looking for a reliable object of delight…and what could be better than the gift of the babe in the manger who would die for our sins?...

- Now, that leads to this question…

- if you’re not delighting in the Lord…then what are you delighting in?...what is the object of your affection?...

- what are we going to do with these “young lions” of verse 10?...let’s say it this way…

III. Delighting in the Lord is a Firm Foundation for Spiritual Growth and Vitality.

A. This is a lesson “young lions” need to learn.

- the picture is of a person who is full of vitality, and full of hunger, and full of desire…but looking in the wrong places…

- and I am undoubtedly speaking to persons here today (young and old) who would say…I have been delighting in the wrong things…and perhaps you are finding those objects very unsatisfying…

1. Delighting in falsehood – Psalm 62:4

Psalm 62:4 - They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position; They delight in falsehood; They bless with their mouth, But inwardly they curse.

- maybe you’ve been cheating in school or lying to other people in your life…

- and perhaps you thought you were pretty clever for a while but things are coming unraveled…you can’t remember who you said what to…

- and now those lies have become like gravel in your mouth…

2. Delighting in scoffing – Proverbs 1:22

Proverbs 1:22 - How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?

- I’m sure I’ll be speaking to some folks today who like to make fun of spiritual things, or laugh at those who do…

- maybe you think the Bill Maher’s of the world are pretty cute…

- but perhaps also you’re getting to the place of concluding that being a scoffer is a very empty way to live…

- and you may also wonder why, in the quiet moments in your life, why the people who delight in the very things you scoff at seem to be so much happier than you…

3. Delight in doing evil – Proverbs 2:14

Proverbs 2:14 - Who delight in doing evil and rejoice in the perversity of evil;

- I wonder how many people would find themselves in that condition this morning…

- and the message today is – there is a far better delight…

- John Piper  - Sin is what we do when we are not satisfied in God.

- Brad Bigney made an interesting point in his presentation a couple of weeks ago – he said, When I first started my mind-set was one of a detective… Colombo… or Sherlock Holmes sniffing out sin… poking… prodding… asking questions… and later on even a police man or personal trainer – staying right there blowing the whistle when they get out of line… but God has opened my eyes to a whole ‘nother dimension that I was missing… that I was neglecting…In my mind now I’m also a waiter… a maître d’ with a white towel draped across my arm… looking to lead others to the banquet table of Christ… to get them feasting on the goodness… and mercy… and sweetness of their Savior... to get them savoring their Savior and His work on the cross – so that it spoils their appetite for sin!

4. Delight in sexual sin – Proverbs 7:18

- Proverbs 7 rehearses the words of the adulterous woman…

- and the passage says that she is “dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart…”

- then she says… Proverbs 7:18 - Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; Let us delight ourselves with caresses.

- and how many people have bought that lie and delighted themselves in sexual sin?...

- and that path has a definite end…

- Proverbs 7:21-23 - With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him.Suddenly he follows her As an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool,Until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hastens to the snare, So he does not know that it will cost him his life.

- young lions, and all lions need to learn to delight themselves in the Lord…

- that is why so much of Psalm 37 is about righteousness…the principle is…

B. Righteousness that is built on a growing love for Christ will stand the test of time.

Proverbs 37:6 – He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.

It is a dreary holiness indeed that is merely resisting sin.  The joy of holiness is found in having heard a sweeter song… This is the true meaning of grace…Grace is the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming our desires so that knowing Jesus becomes sweeter than illicit sex, sweeter than money and what it can buy, sweeter than every fruitless joy.  Grace is God satisfying our souls with his Son so that we're ruined for anything else!”   One Thing (Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God), Sam Storms, pg. 123 & 140

“Holiness does not come merely by creating a list of moral taboos and then exerting our willpower to resist them.  ‘Just Say No’ alone doesn't work.  Of course, we must say ‘No.’  Please don't misunderstand me.  But lasting, meaningful victory will come only if there is something more enticing to which we can say ‘Yes!’  …We must swallow up the flicker of sin's pleasure in the forest fire of holy satisfaction.  The only thing that will ultimately break the power of sin is passion for Jesus.  The only thing that will guard me from being entrapped by sin is being entranced by Jesus.  In other words, the key to holiness is falling in love!”   Pleasures Evermore, Sam Storms, p. 31-32

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