Sunday Morning Service, 5/15/11
- God Of Wonders
- Great In Power
- Hallelujah We Will Sing
- All To You
- You Are Worthy Of My Praise
- [The Power Of Praise]
- When The Praises Go Up
Message: The Sacrifice of Fools
– Pastor Ulysse
This morning, we’re going to talk about the sacrifice of fools. Though I know we all know what sacrifice is, I went to the dictionary anyway.
- The act of making an offering unto God.
- A giving up of something cherished or desired.
- A loss that is incurred or suffered for a greater reward.
In baseball, it is a hit by which the batter is put out, but the base runner is advanced.
We are instructed by the Bible to present our bodies a living sacrifice.
- I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Sacrifice is reasonable; it is honorable. Everything in life requires sacrifice. But this morning I want to point out to you that there are sacrifices of fools. It depends on whether the person doing the sacrifice is wise or foolish. The Bible says that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. If we sacrifice without obeying, then it is a sacrifice of fools.
- For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
You have to know God to please God. For that matter, you have to know anybody to please them. If you don’t know them, you may think that you are helping and pleasing that person, when actually you are doing the opposite. It is better to know God than to offer a burnt offering.
I don’t think there are fools in this room, but we must be careful that we don’t offer a sacrifice in vain.
Hopefully, there isn’t any fool in here, but how much time do we spend on knowing God? I told you that we should balance the time we pray, and the time we read. You can be spending time fasting and praying, but if praying is talking to God, do you ever take the time for God to talk to you? If you spend all your time talking to God, but no time letting God talk to you, then it’s a one-way communication. Actually, God has more things to tell you than you have to tell God. So we must balance our communication. It is the will of God that we do things in their proper time and place.
The sacrifice of fools is marked by formalism and ritual. It is something that you do over and over, so that you think you are sacrificing when actually you are not. It is something that is done outwardly, but not inwardly. God is pleased by our inward zeal, not by our outward form or appearance.
When Saul went to war, he was not supposed to bring back anything, but he brought back animals to offer sacrifices to God. And he made excuse, saying “They aren’t for me, God; they’re for you.” We should not think that God would be pleased by offering a million unspotted lambs, when he only wanted one.
The sons of Eli offered sacrifices to God, and they got burned. The Bible teaches that man would come to God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him. Their worship is in vain.
I read about a police officer who was chasing after someone, and the person decided to stop and be nice and stop at red lights, and yield to pedestrians. But that didn’t help his case. If we don’t obey the first time, then regardless of what we sacrifice, it is the sacrifice of fools. We only have one lifetime to make it right. After death, there is judgment. We only have one shot at it.
There are some warnings we can take from Colossians chapter two:
- And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
- Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
- And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
- Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
- Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
- Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
- And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
- Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
- (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
- Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
- Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
It’s not saying that what we do is not good, that there isn’t any good in it. It’s just that, before God, it doesn’t make any difference. We should spend our energy on the things that really matter.
Our main scripture comes from the book of Ecclesiastes. As you know, this book was written by the wisest man. Not only that, but this book was written after he ran away from God, and then came back. After all the pleasures of life, he concluded, “All is vanity.” I think we can trust him, because he did it all. He experienced all of life, even backsliding, and he concluded that it is all vanity.
- Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
“Keep thy foot” means “be careful.” The problem with the sacrifice of fools is that fools don’t know that they are doing it wrong. So he is saying, “Be careful; watch your step. Be more ready to hear.”
- Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
While I’m talking, I want to be careful; I want to keep my words short. I want to watch my mouth. Last Sunday I got in a little trouble because I said some things about the ladies, so I want to watch my mouth.
- For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
- When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
This is a powerful scripture. If you didn’t think you could offer the sacrifice of fools, I want you to think twice. The sacrifice of fools has a lot to do with using our tongue in the house of God. He advises not to be quick to say anything before God. It’s like Jesus said to the disciples, “If any man will follow after me, let him deny himself.”
- And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
It’s strictly voluntary. No pressure. But if any man will follow, let him deny himself.
Paul wrote in a letter that he had the power to compel, but he did not use it. He didn’t force it. Like Jesus, he wanted people to follow voluntarily.
When the young man said, “I will follow you, but first let me bury my father,” and Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead.”
- And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
- But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
I made a vow one day to God, and I regretted it. That was the first big vow that I made. I almost signed up for twenty years in the Navy at once. Fortunately, they did not have a twenty-year contract. Then after I got saved, I said “God, you know what? I am glad that I did not sign up for twenty years. I am going to serve you and preach your word and do whatever it takes to share the gospel.” And when the time came for me to go back home, God would not let me forget the vow I made. And I said, “Come on, God.” Because I wanted to stay now. Sometimes you don’t know what to read, so my habit is to open the Bible with my eyes closed and put my finger down.” And the scripture that my finger fell on was about sacrifice. So I said, “Thank you, God.”
Peter was quicker than anyone. He said, “Lord, I will never deny you.” And he meant that. But when the time came, he said, “I don’t know him.” He let his mouth cause him to sin.
- But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Don’t put your signature under anything that has to do with God, since you don’t have to. You say, then you sign it again, and then you pay.
- When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
- But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
- That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.
You don’t have to, but once you do, you don’t have a choice. Anything that has to do with God, and it should be in anything you say. Some of you say, “What about marriage vows.” If you say, “Yes, I do” then I guess you are bound for life. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you do it right the first time. Being a pastor, you hear people say “Pastor, I think I married the wrong person.” So I say to them, “Bring me the contract.” And when they bring me the contract, I ask, “Is the name here the name of the person you married?” And when they say “Yes,” I say, “Then you didn’t marry the wrong person.”
In Acts 5, this couple say everybody giving things, so they felt they had to promise “We will do this also.”
- But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
- And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
- But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
- Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Before you sold it, it was yours. After you sold it, the money was still yours. And we just read that it would not be sin if you decide not to. Don’t offer the sacrifice of fools. Just do what you possibly can. God desires loyalty.
There many, many examples of fools, but I am just using a few so that we can look at ourselves and decide whether there any fools among us. I know that you promise things, just because you believe that things will work out a certain way, and then you feel like a liar when they don’t.
This fellow in Judges chapter 11 went to war. God is not doing something just because we made a promise. God won’t bless us because we make a promise. Actually, God is laughing at us, because we’re lying when we say we’ll do this or that. Peter said, “I will die for you,” and Jesus was saying, “Yeah, sure. You’ll die for me.”
- And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
- Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
What a fool! And I say that looking at myself, because I have made so many promises like that.
- So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
Hey, God did his part.
- And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
- And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.
When the fools make vows, or say stuff like that, they don’t think anything. They bypasses the brain and go directly to the mouth, to the tongue.
- And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
I don’t mean that if you vow such a vow, you should kill whoever comes out of your door. I don’t want you to take it this far. I think he was foolish twice, here. He said it, and he did it, too.
It’s not the same for the son of Saul. Saul made a crazy vow, but the people stood up to him and said, “He’s not going to die.” But Jephthah’s daughter just said, “Give me a month more of my life, and then I’ll die.”
No one has to vow. I would day, “Don’t vow.” Don’t. Just say, “Lord, you know what I can do. Help me to do your work.” And then keep your words.
- Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
- Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
- For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
Now, people make honest mistakes. Maybe we say things that we didn’t really evaluate; we didn’t study; we didn’t know all the pieces; we didn’t know the whole thing. But you say it. It says,”Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin.” You can not say to the angel, the messenger of God, “I made a mistake. I know that I said I would offer so many sheep and goats, but I did not know that my wife, my daughter, my son, …” No. You opened up your mouth and you said it.
When I vowed to make a career in the Navy, I didn’t understand what I was saying. But by the time my enlistment was over, I felt more mature in God. I couldn’t say, “But God, I didn’t know what I was saying; you didn’t take it seriously, did you?” I was married at sixteen years of age.
I used to be a fool, and I am trying my best not to multiply my foolishness. But you need prayer. You need to be careful when you come to the house of God. Every New Year, we make big promises to ourselves, right? Don’t do it. Just set every project before the Lord and say, “I place this before you. I am going to do my best to do this project, but I need your help. I am going to take it one day at a time until I get to heaven.”
I think that’s what we need. But don’t offer the sacrifice of fools.