SF858 - THE SECRET TO STEADFASTNESS - 11 of 21 THE LYRICS OF LIFE (Psalm 11)
We live in an age of quitters.
A recent television documentary pointed out that the cheetah survives on the African plains by running down its prey. The big cat can sprint seventy miles per hour. But the cheetah cannot sustain that pace for long. Within its long, sleek body is a disproportionately small heart, which causes the cheetah to tire quickly. Unless the cheetah catches its prey in the first flurry, it must abandon the chase.
Sometimes Christians seem to have the cheetah's approach to ministry. We speed into projects with great energy. But lacking the heart for sustained effort, we fizzle before we finish. We vow to start faster and run harder, when what we need may be not more speed but more staying power--stamina that comes only from a bigger heart.
David was no quitter
This Psalm was written during the time David served in Saul’s court. Saul had grown jealous of the young champion and on more than occasion had tried to kill him.
A modern analogy
In May 1982, Leonid Brezhnev was president of a country that no longer exists--the Soviet Union. In Baltimore, a lanky shortstop named Cal Ripken played the first game of what became known as "the streak."
The 6' 4" fielder was considered too tall for the position. Yet he just kept plugging away. Last season, 2,131 games later, he set the all-time record for consecutive games played by a major-leaguer. Greatness comes not just from ability, but also from consistency.
The Secret to Steadfastness
We must conquer our fears; we must consider the facts; We must cling to our faith
1A. We Must Conquer Our Fear
Us the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) as the background for these points.
1B. Trust God unconditionally. (11:1)
Job 13:15 (NKJV) 15Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) 5Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Complete trust (3:5a)
Confident trust (3:5b)
Confessed trust (3:6a)
2B. Face our Goliaths courageously. (11:2-3)
Recognize the reality of evil (11:2)
Refuse to rely on man (11:3)
Matthew 19:26 (NKJV) 26But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The deception of fear
Threatened layoffs at work. Drugs and weapons in the schools. We have every right to be fearful, right? Maybe not. In Scared to Life (Victor), Douglas Rumford cites a study that explains why we should not allow fear to rule our lives:
-- 60% of our fears are totally unfounded;
-- 20% are already behind us;
-- 10% are so petty they do not make any difference;
-- 4-5% of the remaining 10% are real, but we cannot do anything about them.
That means only 5% are real fears that we can do something about.
-- Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 2.
2A. We Must Consider the Facts
1B. Where the Lord sits (11:4a)
This verse speaks of the Lord’s presence and power.
The Lord’s presence is essential
Ø The Lord’s presence will give us confidence.
Exodus 33:15 (NKJV) 15Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.
Ø The Lord’s presence will give us courage.
Joshua 1:9 (NKJV) 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Ø The Lord’s presence will give us a commission.
Matthew 28:20b (NKJV) …lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Ø The Lord’s presence will give us comfort
2 Timothy 4:17 (NKJV) 17But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…
The Lord’s power is enough
Exodus 18:11 (NKJV) 11Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods…
2B. What the Lord sees (11:4b-5)
Nothing is hidden from the Lord.
Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) 13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
3B. What the Lord sends (11:6)
Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19)
3A. We Must Cling to Our Faith (11:7)
This verse may be better read: “The righteous Lord loves righteousness; the upright shall behold his countenance.”
1B. True faith begins with a pure heart.
Matthew 5:8 (NKJV) 8Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
2B. True faith results in a holy life.
Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV) 14Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
The supreme example of this quality of living was seen in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ; commenting on His lifestyle during thirty hidden years, the Father could say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). And speaking of His public life, His Father once again opened heaven and proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5).
How encouraging to know that that same life can be reproduced in us by the Holy Spirit! The life that pleases God is a life of ongoing maturity, activity and felicity; and ultimately, this is the secret of steadfastness.
3B. How can we live a holy life?
Jude 1:24 (NKJV) 24Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
Morning and Evening (Spurgeon, Charles H.)
But how will Jesus make us faultless? He will wash us from our sins in his own blood until we are white and fair as God's purest angel; and we shall be clothed in his righteousness, that righteousness which makes the saint who wears it positively faultless; yea, perfect in the sight of God. His law will not only have no charge against us, but it will be magnified in us. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit within us will be altogether complete. He will make us so perfectly holy, that we shall have no lingering tendency to sin. We shall be holy even as God is holy, and in his presence we shall dwell for ever.
How do you want to be remembered?
A friend of mine described a colleague as great at running the "ninety-five-yard dash." That is a distinction I can do without. Lacking the last five yards makes the first ninety-five pointless. Max DePree, Leadership Is an Art. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.
May we pray as Thomas Aquinas
Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.
What is the Secret to Steadfastness?
Conquering our fears
Consider the facts
Clinging to our faith