The Nature of Godly Devotion
The Nature of Godly Devotion
Responsive Reading – Psalm 50
Hymn: # 321 – Nothing Between
Text: Zechariah 7.1-7
· Two years have passed since the First prophecy of Zechariah.
· The Temple was built in 4 years. They are now half way through it.
· So, the reality of the Word of the Lord is coming to fruition – 1.15-17
· Now a very important issue providentially comes up.
· Important spiritual issues come to the forefront that cannot be ignored if you are to continue in this Christian walk.
· The Question of Fasting – Verse 2-3, Bethel delegation led by Sherezer and Regem-Melech.
· There were Four Fast: 90 years
1. The 4th Month Fast – Tammuz (July) – Fast observing the day the walls of Jerusalem were breached. Jeremiah 52
2. The 5th Month Fast – Ab (August) – Fast mourning the burning of the Temple, considered the saddest day of the Jewish year. Jeremiah 52
3. The 7th Month Fast – Tisri (October) – Fast commemorating the assassination of Gedaliah, the Governor of Judea.
4. The 10th Month Fast – Tebeth (January) – Fast remembering the day when Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, laid siege to Jerusalem.
· However, the question is not really about fasting. The Question of Devotion – King James better translates it “separating” nâzar and means to abstain (from food and drink, from impurity); specifically to set apart (to sacred purposes), to consecrate or devote myself.
I want to speak to you under the topic – The Nature of Godly Devotion. As we look at these verses we will consider these 4 question concerning devotion:
1st – What is devotion? I want to define Devotion
2nd – Is there a false devotion? I want to demonstrate what Devotion is not
3rd – What is true devotion? I want to demonstrate what Godly Devotion is.
4th – How do you know true devotion? I want to give proof of Godly Devotion.
I. Devotion is Not Prayer.
In his opening line to his book A Devout and Holy Life, William Law makes this statement – “Devotion is not prayer, but prayer is part of devotion.”
A. What is devotion? I want to change William Law’s statement by saying – Devotion is not prayer, fasting, tithing, going to church, singing praises to God or any other religious activity you want to add, but these are all part of devotion.
Devotion is the act of giving or applying one time, attention or self entirely to a particular activity, pursuit, cause or person. More particularly, it is the act of setting apart. Land may be bought and a particular portion set apart for a specific purpose. A devout person is generally understood to be one who is set apart to religious activities. And that is what we have in our text that provoke our thoughts today. In verse 3, the delegation asks their question, but notice the words: “Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?” The King James is better, “Should I weep in the fifth month, and separate myself as I have done so many years?” This was the fundamental idea of their question. Should we continue devoting ourselves in this religious activity of the fifth fast? But was their devotion true Godly Devotion or just a religious activity of devotion? Is their a difference between the two? How can we be sure that our devout activity is Godly Devotion?
- I said in the beginning that this issue came up providentially. Have you ever asked a question that you realize you shouldn’t have asked? You will find in your life things coming up that reveal the real issue and the Lord takes those times to show you that here is a problem with sin that needs to be addressed or something that is greatly lacking and needs to be changed. It may be an area of your life that needs to be changed, but you will find that there is always a fundamental element that the Lord addresses. You may think that you can pull the wool over everyone else and we all do this very well. But the Lord can take even a question which appears to be righteous devotion and reveal it for what it truly is.
- Notice the Lord does not answer the question, but addresses the true issue. You remember the Lord Jesus doing this on a number of occasions – the Rich Young Ruler. You will not continue on this Christian walk without having these fundamental issue addressed by the Lord.
II. Religious Devotion – What Godly Devotion is Not.
There is much religious activity that men call devout. Riding the bus in New Orleans, as we passed the Catholic Church on Tulane Avenue, probably two-thirds of the passengers would do the sign of the cross. It is a sign of devotion, but to what or to whom? I want to demonstrate what Devotion is Not – by addressing just a few religious activities: Fasting, Tithing, Praying, Going to Church, Giving, Singing
A. Isaiah 1.10-15
B. Psalm 50.5-15
C. Substitute whatever religious activity that men would consider a devout act and see what God thinks of them. Jews, Moslems, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Buddhist, Baptist, How many fasts do people around the world participate in? How many prayers every day? How much money is given? How much singing? And God is not hearing it. Why? It is devout acts. But, it is not Godly Devotion.
D. There is a difference between these devout acts and Godly devotion.
III. Godly Devotion
What is True devotion unto God? What is Godly Devotion?
Godly Devotion demonstrates a life given, separated unto and devoted unto God.
A. The Lord, like with the Rich Young Ruler, gets to the issue. This is why He does not answer the question initially. Sometimes, the question cannot be answered until the real issue is addressed.
B. The Lord answers their question with a question: When you fasted or “separated yourself” and mourned those seventy years, did you really fast for Me – for Me? Is this not just crystal clear? The Lord gets right to the issue. Notice the emphasis – Did you do it for Me? – for Me? This is the fundamental difference between religious devotion and Godly Devotion. Religious devotion is done unto man and Godly Devotion is done unto God.
C. Godly Devotion is a life that is lived in every aspect unto God. It is a life that subjugated to the will of the Lord. That means he considers God in everything, he serves God in everything, every aspect of his common life is unto the Lord and to His glory. Every desire, wish, will and passion is brought under the will of the Father. Matthew 26.39, 2 Corinthians 10.4-5 and 10.17 / Philippians 2.1-8 It involves death to our own will and living unto God’s will. It involves becoming the Lord’s love slave and surrendering all to His Lordship.
IV. Proof of Godly Devotion
How can we determine if a religious activity is godly devotion or not?
“When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?”
A. Simple test – What were you doing before and what were you doing after this devout religious act? When you are living for self before the act and then go back to living for self after the act, you are not doing a Godly Devotion, but just a religious act and it is an abomination to the Lord. When their prayers are over, they do not live unto God, but by their foolish whims, follies and careless worldliness. Then they turn around complaining and murmuring against God, mad at God that their life is miserable and unfruitful.
B. In contrast, the one who is living for the Lord performs an act of devotion and then continues living for God is practicing Godly Devotion. This is one who is humbled, crushed to the point of realizing that all his strength is impotent, his wisdom is ignorant, his religious acts unprofitable. In other words, Godly Devotion is not an act but a life of subjection to the will of God.
Conclusion: Psalm 51.16-17 – a Broken Spirit, a Broken and a Contrite Heart. The Nature of Godly Devotion is not a single act, but a life unto the Lord. He does not ignore the counsel of God or the Lord’s reproof. He and casts himself totally under the will of the Father. Everything he does has one rule and one measure – God. It doesn’t stop at one single act of devotion like a fast or a prayer, but lives daily under the will of God, and like Jesus prays, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
Hymn: # 388 – Have Thine Own Way, Lord