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Sunday, January 6, 2019

In 2019 You May Stumble And Fall But You Will Get Up





This is the manuscript of the sermon preached at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA on Sunday
January 6, 2019


This year will be just like last year—only entirely different! Some things will be the same, much will be different, and some things will be brand-new to us. Be encouraged. The future rests in the good hands of a God who loves you more than you can imagine. You may stumble,yes you may fall but you will get up because God will not allow you to be utterly destroyed. This is God’s promise to you.

To hear the audio click on the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript.

Psalms 37:23-24 NKJV The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord , And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him  with His hand.
Since this is the first Sunday of 2019, I wanted to bring a message that would encourage us as we enter into another year.  The words that we just read have encouraged people for centuries, and they can help us today.
Let's look at the word though at the the beginning of verse 24: “Though he fall.” Some translations, like the New American Standard Bible, say, “When he falls.” Here's the way verse 24 reads in that translation;
Psalms 37:24 NASB  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

Notice that it does not say, “If he falls” it says “when he falls”.There is a big difference between “when” and “if.”  If states a probability; when declares a certainty.
David, when he wrote this Psalm, understood that all of us will fall sometimes. We stumble, we lose our way, we struggle, and sometimes we trip and fall on our journey. No one is exempt. We all fall sooner or later. It’s what happens after we fall that makes all the difference.
There are two points I want to make today:

1.    God ordains every step we take—the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the positive and the negative.

2.    God promises that when we fall, we will not be utterly destroyed.

God ordains every step we take—the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the positive and the negative.

In verse 23 of our tezt;
Psalms 37:23 NKJV, The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.

The verb “ordered” is very strong in the original Hebrew.  The Hebrew word kûn means to establish something so that it has a strong foundation.

Proverbs 16:9 says
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

And Proverbs 3:6 says
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

As believers we know that, if we let Him God will direct our steps.

But this verb ordered is stronger than that. . God not only “directs” our steps, he also “determines” or “orders” or “ordains” our steps.
 This includes our going out and our coming in,
 Deuteronomy 28:6 NKJV “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Psalms 121:8 NKJV The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Ordering our steps includes our lying down and our getting up, our waking and our sleeping,
Psalms 3:5 NKJV I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
It includes our business dealings; our buying and our selling,
James 4:13-15 NKJV Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will  happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
Yes God will direct all our steps if we let Him.
 There are no accidents with God. Nothing ever happens to the child of God by luck, chance or fate. No circumstance, whether good or bad, can come to us apart from God’s determined purpose for us.
Romans 8:28-30 NKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to  be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

All of us wonder what this new year will bring. What will happen in 2019? Will it be a good year or a bad year for us personally?
My guess is that the answer is that this year will be a lot like last year. You’ll have good days and bad days. You'll have some victories and some defeats. You may be sick for a while and you’ll be healthy most of the time. Some of your prayers will be answered; some won’t be answered. Some of your dreams will come true, some won't.  Some of your plans will come to fruition; others will remain undone. You’ll discover that some of your friends will be there when you need them. Others will fail you when you need them most. In many respects, life will be the same this year because we all face the same ongoing challenges in our walk with the Lord that we had last year.  But know this: Your steps in the coming year are “ordered” by the Lord. He is in charge of the details of your life.

My first point was that God ordains every step we take—the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the positive and the negative.

The second point is that God promises that when we fall, we will not be utterly destroyed.

Let's go back to our text;

Psalms 37:23-24 NKJV The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord , And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him  with His hand.
 
Here's the way the New International Version translates verse 24 
Psalm 37:24 NIV though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Let's say you are out for a walk. I usually go for a walk with a group of guys on Tuesday. Some times during that walk I don't see or notice a rock or a hole so I trip, stumble and sometimes fall.  Life is like that some time. We all stumble in many ways and often we fall. However our text says that we won't be “utterly cast down”.
The word translated “utterly cast down” in our text, means to be cast headlong into a deep pit.
If you were at the Grand Canyon peering over the edge, looking down 3,000 feet, and someone pushes you from behind, when you finally hit bottom, you won’t dust yourself off, get up and keep on going, like I do on Tuesdays.   If you get pushed off the ledge of the Grand Canyon you will be “utterly destroyed.” Well God promises that won’t happen to you and me. Though we may face desperate, life-changing circumstances this year, God will not allow us to be utterly destroyed because nothing can happen that will break our relationship with him.
Romans 8:35-39 NKJV Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The reason nothing can separate us is clear because He upholds us with his mighty hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NKJV Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Think of a father walking along with his young child by his side. There are two ways this father and his child might hold hands. The young child may reach up with their tiny hand to hold their father’s big hand. That works until the child stumbles and lets go of their father’s hand. But if the father places his big hand around his child’s tiny hand, the child is safe no matter what happens because their father’s hand holds them up. They may stumble but their father’s hand “upholds” them.
Our “fall” may be a fall into trouble, or even a catastrophe.  The fall might be because of the loss of a job, a health problem, the breakup of a marriage, the end of a friendship, bankruptcy, or any kind of personal crisis. Or it could be the result of a series of foolish choices that led you in a wrong direction so that you hurt your walk with God and hurt those around you as well. Sometimes the “fall” of circumstances can cause a “fall” into bitterness, substance abuse, anger, rage, abusive language, foolish decisions, lust, or other sinful actions.
The Bible repeatedly shows how easily this can happen to even the best people. We see men and women who are faithful one day and fickle the next. We see worship mixed with worry, courage followed by cowardice, faith matched with doubt, generosity followed by greed, kindness overcome by arrogance. We learn that strong people sometimes do very stupid things. Saints often act like sinners.
Noah built an ark to save his family, and when the flood was over, he got drunk and exposed himself to his sons.
Genesis 9:18-23 NKJV Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. And Noah began to  be  a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

By faith Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, following God’s call to the Promised Land, and when he got there, he lied about his wife Sarah—not once, but twice!
Genesis 12:10-13 NKJV Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was  severe in the land. And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are  a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”
Then the second time;
Genesis 20:1-2 NKJV And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
Before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, he killed an Egyptian and tried to cover up the evidence, by burying the Egyptian in the sand. After David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd,” he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah the Hittite murdered in a vain attempt to cover his sin.
Then there is Peter, on one hand, he has the courage to declare to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, then in the Upper Room, he boastfully declares that even if everyone else falls away, he will never fall away.
Matthew 26:33 NKJV Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
But this tough guy soon turned to butter. When confronted by a teenage girl around a campfire, he lost his nerve, began to swear, and three times denied the Lord.
These stories are in the Bible both to instruct us and to encourage us. They teach us that even the best people when under pressure can do very foolish things. No one is beyond the reach of temptation. Very godly people can make some very wrong choices—and suffer greatly as a result. And even cause others to suffer with them. It’s good that the Bible shows this to us—or we would be tempted to think, “I’m beyond that temptation.” Don’t ever say that. You don’t know what you’re “beyond.” Today’s “victory” may actually set you up for tomorrow’s “defeat.”
I Peter 5:8-9 NKJV Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

We may fall again and again, trouble may come again and again, we may struggle again and again—and again! But it is the Lord’s purpose that we should rise—again and again and again.
Here's what Scripture says about that;
Proverbs 24:16 NKJV For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
Psalms 145:14 NKJV The Lord upholds all who fall, And raises up all who  are bowed down.

When you fall, in 2019, and we all will, remember this: God never intends you to stay down forever. He intends for you to “rise up” and keep on walking with him.
Here are four practical applications of this truth.

1. Every detail of life is under God’s control.

Romans 8:28 NKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Psalms 37:23 NKJV The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord , And He delights in his way.

2. God loves you and nothing can separate you from Him.

God loves us with an everlasting love. We talked about that last week.  Nothing we say or do can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:38-39 NKJV For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God “permits” us to fall when he could stop it. If he permits it, then what he permits must ultimately be for our spiritual benefit. Not the fall itself, but what we will eventually learn from it. God “allows” us to suffer when he could stop it. Not that suffering itself is good, but it is often the pathway to enormous blessing for us.
Romans 8:28-29 NKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to  be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
3. God will not let  our trials destroy us.
Verse 24 of our text
Psalms 37:24 NKJV Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him  with His hand.

That assures us that though we may “stumble” or “fall” temporarily, we will not be utterly destroyed. God will not allow anything to permanently destroy our relationship with him. We just read that not even death itself can sever our strong connection with God.
During the worst moments, we hang on to God, by faith, believing that better days will eventually come.
When we read the book of Job we know that he lost everything but even in the midst of that he said;
Job 23:10 NKJV But He knows the way that I take; When  He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

Here's what it says at the end of Job’s book;
Job 42:12-13 NKJV Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.

He was blessed with twice what he lost.
Joseph was cast into prison on a phony rape charge but after several years:
Genesis 41:39-41, 43 NKJV Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there  is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt.

Sometimes our trials lead to a promotion. God had bigger things in mind in for Job and Joseph He wasn't finished with them. He's not finished with us either when we stumble or fall. 

Look at Peter. After all his bluster and boasting he denied Jesus.  He fell and I'm sure he may have thought that he would never overcome his fall but look at what happened. Peter would eventually return, and when he did, he would be a better, stronger man, humbled by his failure, ready to serve the Lord with a humility born out of painful failure.
John 21:15-17 NKJV So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

1, Every detail of life is under God’s control, 2 God loves you and nothing can separate you from Him,  3 God will not let  our trials destroy us, and

4. We will not utterly fall because God will not let go.

Though we stumble and fall a thousand times, God’s love is firm because his purposes are eternal. Our salvation rests not on our performance but on God’s unchanging character.
“No saint shall fall finally or fatally. Sorrow may bring us to the earth, and death may bring us to the grave, but lower we cannot sink, and out of the lowest of all we shall arise to the highest of all” (Charles Spurgeon).
Here are three good mottoes for 2019: Fight on! Hang on! Walk on!
God will not put you in an unbearable situation in 2019. But he may allow you to be in a situation that seems unbearable so that you will turn to Him. Remember that God does not give his strength in advance but only when needed. Each day this year you will have what you need. We can go forth into the new year with confidence, hope, and joy.
I said earlier that this year will be just like last year. Let me change that statement just a little: This year will be just like last year—only entirely different! Some things will be the same, much will be different, and some things will be brand-new to us. Be encouraged. The future rests in the good hands of a God who loves you more than you can imagine. You may stumble,yes you may fall but you will get up because God will not allow you to be utterly destroyed. This is God’s promise to you.

Sermon Audio