Trey Woods was born with only one arm. Most people assumed that his handicap would prevent him from participating in a sport like football. Instead of feeling sorry for himself,
Trey decided to prove the experts wrong. Not only did he learn to play football, but he received an athletic scholarship to Sam Houston State University. He went beyond expectations and earned a starting position as a defensive back. One of his responsibilities was to knock down passes when the football was thrown in his area.
Another one-armed young man named Dawuan Miller also had a dream to play football. In spite of his disability he, too, earned a scholarship and became the starting defensive back for Boise State University.
Both players made first team. Both excelled at their positions. Despite lacking an arm, Woods broke the career record for Sam Houston State with eleven blocked kicks. Dawuan silenced the doubters by using his one arm to intercept two passes in playoff games.
On September 16, 1995, Sam Houston State played Boise State in football. For the first time in the history of the sport, two colleges played a game with one-armed defensive backs starting for each team. Few will remember the score of the game, but no one who was there will forget how two one-armed players’ gutsy performances overshadowed the rest of the talent on the field. (Kent Crockett, Making Today Count for Eternity, Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2001, p. 59.)
The determination, the drive, the will to succeed in spite of any obstacle or challenge, that’s what I want to talk to you about this morning.
Psalm 101:1-8 1 I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. 3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. 4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil. 5 Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. 6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. 8 Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD.
I do believe we live in a time where people have lots of dreams but little determination and when people have a lot of beliefs, but little conviction. Good intentions aren’t enough. Our sense of responsibility to take a stand, to walk the talk, to do the right thing, and to impress others to live the same way seems to have drifted just like our nation’s morality. King David, the writer of Psalm 101 paints the picture of someone who doesn’t just believe something, but of someone who is determined to live out what he believes. Nine times in this short Psalm he resolutely says “I will.”
I believe people who live with a will to do something are the ones who succeed in doing so. People who live with a “want to” wind up admiring those with a “will to.”
Is there anything worth sacrificing for? Is there anything you are committed to that you won’t compromise? Is your mind made up that you will serve the Lord, and do your actions mind your mind? How can we cultivate a will to do that which pleases the Lord?
In Gen. 39 Joseph was determined in his heart not to sin against God, and he didn’t. In Daniel 6 Daniel was determined to worship God even though it meant defying the laws of the land that came with great consequences. Daniel stayed faithful to the worship of God. Nehemiah was determined to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He let nothing detour him. The Apostle Paul was determined to preach the Gospel though it meant beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonments, and more.
I see in this Psalm that King David had a will to live his life and to reign as King in certain ways. Scholars believe this Psalm was written just before he became King or early on in his reign.
First of all, I see he had a will to live a life of devotion to the Lord. Revisit verses one and two of this Psalm with me. “I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart.”
These verses speak about David’s public life in the worship of God and his private life
when it came to having integrity and godliness in his home and other private spaces. He desired it all was devoted to the Lord.
It’s true our lives are multi-faceted. We have a connection with God, and we have an affiliation with the church. We sometimes have a different identity at school, another way of relating to our families, yet a different business protocol, another identity in our social lives, and a private life which looks quite different from the rest. You see, the problem with all of those compartments or pieces of our lives is that for many, they don’t mesh and intermingle. I think we have become master compartmentalizers. We adapt to our setting without being conscious of how what we are doing and saying is supposed to still be under this umbrella of being devoted to God. For the Christian, we cannot live one way at school, one way at church, one way at home, one way in our business life, one way in our social lives and yet another way in our private life. There is a reality that all of our life is to be impacted by our devotion to God, and there should be a continuity of who we are that runs across every part of our lives.
I think these two verses sum it up:
Romans 12:1 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
Colossians 3:17 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Worship isn’t merely a song or prayer. It is much more than that. Romans 12:1 tells us it is a way of life. Integrity in our commitment to God isn’t just about church attendance or putting some money in the offering plate or showing up to help pass out bottled water and hot dogs when we organize an outreach event. Colossians 3:17 tells us wherever we are and whatever we do, we are to do in the name of the Lord for His glory.
Perhaps a condensed way to describe being devoted to God is that we are to live a God-centered existence. Being God-centered means that God is the most important person in our lives and doing what He says to do is the most important action we can take.
If God isn’t the most important person in our lives then it means either we are the most important person in our lives or someone else has become the most important person in our lives. Either way you slice that you have idol worship. If doing what God says to do isn’t the most important action we can take then we are doing things contrary to what God asks of us which means we are living in sin. If we are living in sin we can expect the negative consequences sin brings into our lives. Scripture is clear that: There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12) It could be the death of our health, the death of a business or job, the death of our finances, the death of a friendship, the death of our reputation and so much more.
Being God-centered means we have experienced a change on the inside which impacts the outside of our lives. Jesus always emphasized the inner person. Devotion to God has to start with a change of heart. Matthew 15:17-20 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean…’”
Once your heart becomes devoted to God, the Holy Spirit begins to enable that devotion by changing the way you think (Romans 12:2). “You mean God wants to brainwash me?” Not really. He wants to reset our thoughts, reset our minds to work the way He created them to work. Sin has messed up everything. Because of sin, we have
become conditioned to think that if it seems right or feels good we should pursue it. And yet we have these hearts that are devoted to God and want to please Him. That puts our minds at war with our hearts. That’s a problem.
King David either forgot these words he had penned or set them aside in a moment of weakness because he learned the hard way what happens when your mind and your heart are at war. When your mind wins the battle over your heart of devotion to God, you can lose so much. David compromised his devotion to God. He had an affair with a beautiful woman named Bathsheba. He saw her when she happened to be taking a bath. He desired her. He thought about her. Instead of taking those thoughts to God and wrestling them to the ground through God’s power, He just nurtured them and eventually obeyed them.
If you are a Christian, every time your mind and your heart are at war, you have a problem.
A little aside here: That doesn’t mean that if you have peace about something that violates God’s Word that it’s ok. Eventually, when we have willed to go our own way for so long instead of God’s way, Scripture says God can and does give us over to our evil thoughts Romans 1:28. When that happens, you are in even bigger trouble than when you have had conflict between your mind and heart and give in to your mind.
But EVERY time a believer has a conflict between his heart and mind, there is a need to stop, back up, sit down, pray, and get counsel. When David gave in to self-centered thoughts he no longer made God-centered choices. His affair led to a pregnancy and then a murder and more pain after that than I have time to describe.
Praise God for the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God which helped David get back on track, back to the place of devotion to God in public as well as in private. Does the way you publicly worship and privately live your life show you are truly devoted to God?
Second, as King David began his reign, he willed to live a life of discernment.
Revisit verses 3-5: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. 4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil. 5 Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.”
David recognized that our hearts and our eyes work in tandem. It is the smart person who pays attention to what he or she is looking at. Satan appeals to us often through our eyesight. (Matthew 6:22-23) He likes to dangle images in front of us which cater to our fleshly, impulsive, sinful nature. Smart people will be discerning and discriminating about what they view.
Perhaps David couldn’t control the fact that he did see Bathsheba bathing. It’s not like he was in her bathroom with her. He didn’t set out to find someone who was taking a bath so he could gawk at them. Sometimes things beyond our control happen. But we can control how long we look, and we can control much of what is set before our eyes. For example, looking at pornography in any form goes completely contrary to the Word of God. It is not behavior Christians can behave in and still claim to follow Jesus.
Ladies, let me invite you to help the men in your life in this area. Men are wired differently than we are. They are much more visual than women. So, help a brother out and don’t display that which would encourage men to look long or to look lustfully.
Father Ralph W. Beiting, founder of the Christian Appalachian Project, tells of an Easter visit he and some of the ministry’s volunteers made one year to families living along a Kentucky mountain creek bed. They stopped at one shack where a man and woman lived with their children. Their only heat was from a fireplace. They proudly ushered their visitors over to a corner of the dim room, where their two month old child lay. The baby wasn’t in a crib, a bassinet, a cradle, or even a pillow lined basket. This child, the family’s most precious treasure, lay in a cage made of tightly woven chicken wire.
Beiting said, “After a moment of stunned silence, my curiosity and concern got the better of me, and I asked the parents why they had their little child in this cage, I’ll never forget the answer.” The father said, “We have to have him in this little cage, so that the rats won’t eat on him.”
It wasn’t cruelty that motivated this father when he took the chicken wire and built the cage. On the contrary, like nearly every parent, he deeply loved his newborn son. No doubt he built every bit of that chicken-wire cage with love in his hands and a desperate hope in his heart to protect his child.
Parents, are there some parameters about what gets watched on TV and at the movies where you and your kids are concerned? Are we helping to protect our kids and ourselves from vile, perverse, violent and evil images? We have to be discerning about what we put in front of our eyes.
In verses 4 and 5 David was referring to not employing or trusting people with great responsibility who weren’t devoted to God for themselves. People with “perverse hearts” verse 4, aren’t going to be good decision makers in your company. I don’t care where they got their degree or how good they are at what they do. Eventually, their inability to make good decisions will corrupt your business.
People with “perverse hearts” aren’t going to make good husbands or wives, so don’t go down that road by making them your boyfriend or girlfriend. The marriage relationship is too crucial to the absolute rest of your life. They won’t become good role models for your children. Smart people, people with discernment don’t put those kinds of people on purpose into game-changing, life-changing positions in their lives.
People who talk about others behind their back (verse 5) aren’t going to be people you can trust to run your business, care for your kids, or tell your inmost secrets to. David wasn’t hiring anyone to work for him who had that kind of reputation. People with haughty eyes and proud hearts won’t be team players. They will always be self-serving. You can spot a proud person quite easily. They like to tell you about their accomplishments. They like to brag about their investments or how much money they are earning or have squirreled away. They love to brag about how they have dodged the system, how they have outsmarted the rules of the game or somehow gotten away with something they shouldn’t have. They like to work themselves into the conversation. The spotlight is always on them. That kind of person would be a liability for King David to have on the payroll.
It comes back to being God-centered. If you give power and authority to people in your life who are not God-centered, they will be in strategic positions to move you away from God as your center and will be in a position to cause you great harm.
That reminds me of a story of an elderly woman stood on a very busy street corner in rush hour traffic. She was fearful, confused, and therefore hesitant to cross by herself. Finally, a gentleman came up to her and asked if he could cross the street with her. Grateful and very relieved, she took his arm and stepped into the busy intersection. As they proceeded, she grew progressively alarmed as he zigzagged randomly across the street, to the blare of horns and screech of locked brakes. Finally, after reaching their destination, she turned to the gentleman and complained, “You almost got us killed! You walk like you’re blind.” “I am,” he replied. “That’s why I asked if I could cross with you.” Be smart about who you let into key positions in your life and who you let guide your future. (http://www.gospelweb.net/ronsermons4/DevelopingSpiritualDiscernment.htm)
Ask God for a discerning heart (James 1:5 and Psalm 119:66).
The last way I see David expressing his will is found in verses 6-8. Let’s re-read those verses. 6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. 8 Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD.
When David speaks about people who are dwelling with him and those who are standing in his presence he is talking about people he has chosen to hire to work with and for him. Here we see David willed to make good decisions as King.
He knew what kind of people should serve in his command. He wasn’t wishy washy about what was expected, and he only chose those kinds of people. Why would he cut off evildoers from the city of the Lord? He would do so because there was a reputation to uphold. Jerusalem had a great heritage and reputation to protect. David lived with the responsibility that decisions he made not only impacted himself, but they also impacted what other people would think about the God who had established Jerusalem.
Young people, listen. Learning to make good decisions can absolutely make or break you in life. Former president Ronald Reagan once had an aunt who took him to a cobbler for a pair of new shoes. The cobbler asked young Reagan, “Do you want square toes or round toes?” Unable to decide, Reagan didn’t answer, so the cobbler gave him a few days. Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again what kind of toes he wanted on his shoes. Reagan still couldn’t decide, so the shoemaker replied, “Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready.” When the future president did so, he found one square-toed and one round-toed shoe! “This will teach you to never let people make decisions for you,” the cobbler said to his indecisive customer. “I learned right then and there,” Reagan said later, “if you don’t make your own decisions, someone else will.” (Today in the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 16.)
Indecision and poor-decision making can take your life seriously off track and very practically can cause your feet to hurt!
You see, you are the only one who can make up your mind about your level of commitment to God. Your family can’t do it for you. You friends can’t do it for you. David was very emphatic about the resolution to be devoted to God.
You are the one who is responsible to exercise discernment in your life. For those of you who are still living at home, hopefully your parents are teaching you about the dangers of sin, what to avoid, how to tell the difference between the truth and a lie, and how to guard your life against being tricked or led astray. Adults, each one of us is responsible to live wisely, to exercise discernment. If something could lead to compromise we must steer clear of it.
Each one of us will give account to the Lord for every choice we have made. Ultimately our choices reveal who we are living for. They show if we are living for the Lord or to please ourselves.
The human will is strong. What could God do with the lives of everyone in this room who would let Him remake their hearts and renew their minds? What could God do with the people in this room who would make the same “I will” statements as David did?
Obviously, David failed to keep all of his “I wills” when he had an affair with Bathsheba and murdered her husband to try to cover up his sin. But I believe it was the commitment in his heart to his “I wills” coupled with the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of our loving God that helped him to quickly get back on track with an even greater conviction and tenacity. Devotion to God. Discernment for life. Decisions based on godly principles. What is in YOUR will this morning?