Steadfast – Stand firm

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Transcript

For this month we are looking at some great verses in the book of Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 15 verses 57 and 58 we read these verses:

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:57-58

I love these verses, they are so positive, they are so full of life. I’ve enjoyed digging into them and meditating on them over the past couple of weeks. I hope that you were able to connect in last week and perhaps think these through a little bit more too. If you weren’t here, don’t worry, pick it up today and run with us.
Last week we looked at that first bit “Thanks be to God” I thought that was a great way to start the year. We discovered that it’s one of the apostle Paul’s favourite statements – he’s the guy who wrote to the Corinthian church – he wrote this statement “Thanks be to God!”. We looked at how God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, brilliant verses, so encouraging.

This week we are going to concentrate on two words that appear in this line here

Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm1 Corinthians 15:58

I think that in this season, in 2021, there is so much uncertainty around that if ever there were a time to stand firm, it is now. Just like “Thanks be to God!” is one of Paul’s favourite statements, stand firm is another one of his favourite ones too. In fact he says this in one way or another at least once to everyone of the churches that he writes to in the New Testament, with the exception of Romans and Hebrews – but we could have a whole conversation about who they are being written to anyway. In terms of the classic epistles to churches – Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Philipians, Ephesians – this statement “Stand Firm” is found in each of those.

It is interesting to note that Paul is actually just echoing some of Jesus’ words, everyone of the first three gospels recalls Jesus at some point saying “Stand firm”. This one I especially love is in Luke’s gospel. The background to this is that Jesus is saying to his disciples that there could come a point in your future where you are going to be persecuted because of me. So He says:

Stand firm, and you will win lifeLuke 21:19

It seems to connect with what we said last week, which is why I’ve used the same picture about victory. Standing firm is key to that winning mentality because of the resurrection if you remember it affects everything that you do, so Jesus says “Stand firm and you will win life”. And just maybe Paul felt it really important in his letters to the churches, to keep saying “stand firm” because just like here there’s this threat of persecution, this sense that the world is an uncertain place, things might not go as we always expect. But in the midst of that, stand firm.

I don’t know if it’s a phrase that you use a lot, or are familiar with. In some of the older translations, the word that is often used instead of the two words Stand Firm is this word, the word “Steadfast”. In fact, I don’t know if I mentioned this last week, I remember memorising that verse in 1 Corinthians as “Be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”. There it is, “Be ye steadfast”. I love this definition I found in a dictionary:

Steadfast:
Not changing or losing purpose

It’s about our identity, who we are, what God has called us to do. When Jesus says “Stand firm”, when the apostle Paul says “Stand firm”, he’s saying don’t lose sight or change that sense of purpose that God has given you. I wonder what your purpose in God is today? Don’t lose sight of that, that’s what we mean when we say “Stand firm”, it’s all about belief in God, it’s about our faith in him. In fact, Paul, one of the things he does when he unpacks this idea of living a steadfast life, or standing firm, is he often follows it by “in”. He’ll say “stand firm in the Lord”, “stand firm in God”, “stand firm in the will of God”, “stand firm in the one spirit”, “stand firm in the faith”. It’s that sense of purpose and strength of purpose, keeping hold of it in our relationship with God.

Steadfast: It’s about our identity, who we are, what God has called us to do. When Jesus says “Stand firm” he’s saying don’t lose sight of the purpose that God has given you. Click To Tweet

The picture that conjures up in my mind is one of those classic lighthouse pictures that you often see in restaurants, well maybe not, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a picture like this in a restaurant, but you’ve probably seen these pictures, it’s kind of like this foreboding waves about to crash over this lighthouse and what does the lighthouse need to do in this moment? It needs to stand firm. In fact it comes into its own in the face of the storm. It comes into its own by being a lighthouse and standing firm. In our world today, I think our world is going through a huge storm, it needs you and me to stand firm in our faith, to stand firm in our walk with God, the way that we shine for Him in the midst of the storm. Let’s do our best to live steadfast lives.

That’s a bit of background really to what this is about, what Paul is trying to say to us but how can we live steadfast lives, how can we stand firm. I’ve already hinted at the way that Paul talks about “Stand firm in the faith” “stand firm in God”, there’s the classic verses in Ephesians that then go on to talk about the full armour of God. I want to take it somewhere different perhaps, to capture our attention in a new way. I’d like us to head over to the Psalms, the Old Testament. There’s these wonderful verses here in Psalm 20 which again talk about standing firm. This is David who’s written this Psalm and I’m assuming it’s David talking:

Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He answers him from His holy heaven
with the saving power of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots and others in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.Psalm 20:6-8

You might be familiar with these verses, I think there are another set of verses that I remember being in a song, the chariots and horses bit. What really captured my imagination here was this last phrase, you can see the stand firm bit here: “But we rise up and stand firm”. The first thing that struck me there was I’ve always thought of steadfast and stand firm as stopping and just standing still. I guess that there is some truth in that, it’s part of the definition, but I like the moment here, while others are losing their trust in God, when things around us are falling down, we actually rise up, there’s movement. We rise up and stand firm. We can rise up in this season and be affirmed in the purpose that God has for our lives. Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, you can rise up in the circumstances that you are facing. You can rise up above it and stand firm in all that God has got for you.

While others are losing their trust in God, when things around us are falling down, there’s movement - we rise up and stand firm. Click To Tweet

It’s a great Psalm, I would encourage you to read the whole of Psalm at some point. It’s quite an unusual one because the first half of the Psalm is full of blessings but it’s interesting that it uses the word “we”. It says “may we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banner in the name of our God”. It’s not at this point just one person, it’s a corporate, we’re all together here, let us all shout for joy, let’s all rejoice in each other’s victories. Lift up our banners in the name of our God, it’s like we’re all here praising God together. In Psalm 20 it is almost like they are praising God for their king, they are proclaiming blessings over the king which is why we get to this point where it switches from “we” and “our”, the king responds with “I” and “me”, he’s responding to those proclamations of blessing from the people. So even though I landed on this bit here, the “we rise up and stand firm”, the question is how can we live steadfast lives? How can we stand firm? It struck me that there are a couple of other questions I found myself asking within these verses which helped me answer that bigger question. So now I know that the Lord saves, Some trust in chariots and others in horses,but we rise up and stand firm.
Here’s a few questions I want to challenge you with and want you to ask yourself these questions and as we unpack them, the way that we answer them helps us ascertain and understand what it means to live a steadfast life.

Who do I know?

In those verses we read this Psalmist saying “now I know”, it has this resounding sense of assurance, “now I know that the Lord”. The psalmist is saying that he is really sure and certain that in knowing God. My question to you is, do you know God? It’s the question that I’ve been asking myself recently, how much do I know God? Who do I know? My prayer for you, for myself, my family and for my friends is that we would grow in our knowledge of God, that was our theme towards the end of last year. We based this again on some of Paul’s writing to the Ephesian church. Ephesians chapter 1 verse 17 says:

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.Ephesians 1:17

I want to know God with all of my heart. In fact I would go as far as to say that the whole purpose of life is to grow in relationship with God.

If you weren’t here last week, you might be wondering why on earth I have this picture of kerplunk. It’s because I thought it was a great example of how Jesus holds everything together. If you know the game, you have to pull out these plastic straws to try not to let the marbles fall down. It struck me how often in the game, you pull out one, everything seems to be resting on one of these plastic straws, everything about the game comes down to that one straw, everything is held together by that one straw. In Colosians Chapter 1 it says:

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.Colossians 1:17

Who do I know? I want to know Jesus. Who should we know? That’s Jesus. And Jesus shows us something of who God is. If you have never taken steps towards him, I would encourage you to do that today. If you are well on your way to taking steps in his direction, go for it! Keep finding out as much as you can about Him, keep developing your friendship with God. It is key to standing firm.

Who do I know? I want to know Jesus. Who should we know? That’s Jesus. And Jesus shows us something of who God is. Click To Tweet

Who will save me?

The thing that he seems to know in the Psalms is that “now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He answers him from His holy heaven with the saving power of His right hand.” I think standing firm, to live a steadfast life, we must have settled who our saviour is. I think we all need a saviour, we all need to be able to answer that question “Who is going to save you?” “who is going to save me?”. That’s not just a nice way to talk about doing well in life, who is going to save me from my problems? Who is going to save me from myself? They’re good things to work through but there is an ultimate question though in terms of eternity, who is going to save your soul? Who is going to rescue you and make sure that you get to live forever with God? Who will save you? Who will save me?

This dog in the middle here is Daisy. This is a story I saw in the news last summer. The funny thing about it is that Daisy is a St Bernard dog, a mountain dog, and basically Daisy got really tired in the Lake District and had to be rescued. All these mountain rescue people carried Daisy off on a stretcher. Daisy had found her saviours that day. It’s a great story.

Who will save me? Jesus is our saviour. Make him your saviour today.

Who do I trust?

The verses go on with this horse and chariot analogy, it says:

Some trust in chariots and others in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.Psalm 20:6-8

Most of us don’t trust in horses and chariots these days but we often find ourselves trusting in things that perhaps we should be trusting God for. I think you can rely on God, He’s the source of life, He’s trustworthy, you can bring all your worries to Him, all your hopes to Him like we saw over Christmas “Our hopes and fears of all the years are met in Him tonight”. Do you trust Him? I would encourage you to find new ways to trust Him, evaluate your sense of trust in God.

I think you can rely on God, He’s the source of life, He’s trustworthy, you can bring all your worries to Him, all your hopes to Him. Click To Tweet

In my picture here we’ve got the one and only Luke Gratto, adventurer, mountaineer extraordinaire. This is taken in 2017 where Luke and I were doing some climbing in Snowdonia, this is on Tryfan on a section of route called the Yellow Slab, it is quite hard work. The thing about climbing is that you always have to climb with someone unless you’re a nutter, and there are some nutter climbers around, because it’s about safety and trusting one another. As you can see, there are two ropes on the go here because another friend of ours, Paul, was with us. It could be that I’m at the top of this purple rope and Paul is at the bottom of this orange rope. We have to trust each other, we have to know, we have to really trust the person you are climbing with. I’m trying to work out the expression on Luke’s face, I think it’s one of trust but it could be one of apprehension. Trust for me just captures this idea of being connected to God and when you feel like you’re going to fall you can hold on. When you feel that things around you are insecure or moving in this constant change around, you can trust in the faithfulness of God and you can trust in God. You can hold on to Him, He’s got you tied to Him, He’s got you covered, He’s there all the time.

Who do I trust? I trust in God.

Let’s look at these verses again, the psalmist says:

Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He answers him from His holy heaven
with the saving power of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots and others in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.Psalm 20:6-8

Here’s our verses from Corinthians:

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:57-58

You’ve seen lots of pictures on the screens today, this is definitely my favourite one, it’s the one of the lighthouse. It’s secure in its purpose. To be steadfast to mean not to change the purpose that God has for us, let’s stand firm together today as a church, as families, as individuals, I want to encourage you to work through those questions again: Do you know God? Is Jesus your saviour? How much do you trust in Him? Let’s stand firm, let’s rise up and stand firm.

That’s me done from God’s word today, it’s been great to share with you and I look forward to seeing you again soon. God bless.

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