Knocked Down But Not Out

Given enough time and trial, life can discourage anyone. The good news is: God is there to pick you up when you fall.

Scripture: Psalm 37:23-24, John 10:28, Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 3:20


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and we’re back together again, thank God, for a few precious moments which we can invest in thinking about His eternal, inerrant, infallible Word, the Bible. I love the Bible, don’t you? Now, I suppose there’s such a thing as Bibliolatry, where you almost worship the Bible; I don’t think that is my position, nor indeed is it yours. But oh, “how love I Thy Law,” said the ancient. “It is my meditation all the day.” So it’s alright to love the Word of God because you love the Lord of the Word.

Well, we’re in Psalm 37, and we’ve come now to verses 23 and 24. The last time we got together, we talked about the different steps: ordered steps, counted steps, numbered steps, enlarged “non-skid” steps, established steps, “non-limping” and “non-stumbling” steps, directed steps, delighted steps. That was good, wasn’t it? I enjoyed it, anyway. Now he says, “Though he fall, the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.” I always have the picture of a little boy, maybe about three years old or something like that, full of vim and vigor and just wanting to “get going,” you know? Our little granddaughter Grete is like that. She doesn’t walk, she runs. She doesn’t approach you, she leaps. She never quits. That’s the mental picture I have of some little child that is wanting to make progress, let us say, across a street. And you say, “Take my hand,” and then you hang on. That little mortal, whether it be a boy or girl, is not able to get away from your grasp, but sure enough, halfway across the street or coming down from the curb or stepping up to it, the little steps slip and stumble. But you hang on, and you keep the body from falling, because you’re holding on.

Now, I guess that’s happened to all of us. It certainly happened to me years ago, when I was just a little boy. It seemed like every time I went out, I’d stumble and fall and if somebody didn’t have hold of me, I’d tear a hole in my pants (we had to wear knee stockings in those days and knee pants; I tell you, that was before they put long pants on little boys. And I’d tear a hole in my stockings and then I’d get scolded for it. Well, though he fall, the stumbles of life are still there; we do stumble. Boy, do we stumble. But, he says, “He shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.” “My little children,” says John, the beloved apostle, “these things write I unto you that you sin not.” It isn’t a necessity to betray your Lord and to fail Him. You don’t have to do it that way. But, because we’re human, we do do it that way. And so, John says, “But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” He is our representative in the presence of a thrice-holy God. “And if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Forgiveness takes care of the injured relationship between you and God and cleansing takes care of the fact that you don’t go around and repeat your foolish mistake again. Jesus is an all-sufficient Savior, and He has a hold of you. Do you recall what He said in His talk about being the Good Shepherd? He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” This is John, chapter 10, verse 28. “I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” Then He goes on to enlarge upon that and He says, “My Father, which gave them Me is greater than all and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” The hand of the Savior is wrapped up in the hand of the Eternal Father. You, my friend, are in good hands.

Our Lord Jesus, when He appeared to the shaken and frightened and discouraged disciples after His resurrection, it says “He showed them His hands and His side. “Then were the disciples glad.” Oh, the pierced hands of the Savior have hold upon you and me, so that Paul could say in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God is undertaking to get you safe home to Heaven, and nothing is going to deter that eternal purpose of His. “The Lord upholdeth him with His hand.”

There are so many different scriptures that apply to this same truth, aren’t there? You find over in Corinthians, “Cast down but not destroyed,” (that’s the King James Version) but you could easily paraphrase it by saying, “Knocked down but never knocked out.” “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down.” Is there room to come back when you’ve failed? The answer is yes. You have to give God time to rebuild you and to rebuild people’s confidence in you, but there’s room to come back. God said, “I’ll restore unto you the years that the locust hath eaten,” and some of us have lived long enough to see that God has graciously restored people who stumbled, for whatever reason, and then sought His face, asked His forgiveness, and then gave Him the chance to rebuild their lives.

Yes, Jonah got a second chance and so indeed do you and I. Not utterly cast down. Somebody’s discouraged today. Who are you? Of course, I don’t know to whom I’m speaking at any given time, but somebody’s so discouraged, discouraged with yourself. You broke the promises you made to yourself and to others, and because you know yourself so well, you’re aghast at the capacity you have for failing God. At least that’s how it is if you’re anything like I am. We human beings have such a frightening capacity for failure, as the heritage of the sinful nature that we got when Adam and Eve fell into sin. Well, Paul says, “that as sin has reigned unto death so might grace reign unto eternal life.” You do have a capacity for failure and so indeed do I. But God endows you and me with that new nature that has an infinite capacity for pleasing God. You can read in Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, world without end.”

There’s an infinite possibility for good in your life, beloved. Did you hear that? There’s an infinite possibility for good in your life. Why? It says, “The Lord upholdeth him with His hand.” That’s a great comfort to me; I know it is to you. God has hold of you, and God has hold of me, and he’s not going to let go today or tomorrow. Hallelujah.

Now, he says, “I’ve been young and now I am old.” Boy, I can identify with that. Oh dear. I don’t feel old. Do you? Well, sometimes I suppose we do if your joints ache and it’s a little hard to move with the quickness that you used to exhibit. When you sit down into a chair, you collapse into it, and when you have to get up out of the chair, it is a monumental feat of human engineering to move your frame up and out of the chair anymore. Right? “I have been young and now I am old.” Well, face it. You can’t stay young. Except, that is, in spirit. “Though our outward man perish…” You know, the teeth fall out and the eyes grow dim and the hair disappears, and the hearing is impaired, and the muscles sag, and the frame is bent, and you’re not the youthful beauty that you used to be. “Though our outward man perish,” says Paul, “yet our inward man is renewed day by day.”

He said we have the answer in ourselves. He was telling you about when he got so terribly discouraged. He said I had the answer, to trust not in ourselves but in the God who raises the dead. He is the God of the Resurrection. And so that is the power, the inner power that works in the believer, to stimulate, and to keep, and to refresh, and to renew all of the eternally worthwhile things in your life. I suppose your body has to get older; there isn’t any way to get around it. But your spirit can be as young as God’s springtime because of the blessed Holy Ghost which indwells the believer, constantly renewing and refreshing you as you look into and feed upon His Word.

You know, the reason some professing Christians grow crabbed and discouraged and downcast in their old age, I think, is because they stop feeding on the Word of God. Do any of you people in the Chicago area remember Uncle John Meredith? He was on the radio for many years. He and his dear wife used to get up and spend an hour with the Word of God together, seeking God’s Word and praying. Do you know, straight up to the end of his life, as I recall, there was a refreshing “something” about him, almost a birdlike quickness and enthusiasm that he had. Oh, something to admire and to emulate. But, my suspicion (well, not a suspicion so much as a theory, I guess) is that because he was always in the Word, he was always refreshed! “He shall be,” God says concerning the man that lives in the Word of God, “like a tree planted by the rivers of water. His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Hey, are you an octogenarian? In your seventies or eighties or nineties? Are you anchored to a wheelchair? Is it hard for you to get about? Do people forget the things in your life that seemed to be great accomplishments and now forgotten? Get into God’s Word and let Him speak to your heart, and emerge from that time full of a Godly enthusiasm that’s going to bless the people He’s given you now as your present ministry. Good idea?

Well, time’s gone. We’ll get at this the next time we get together.

Father God, today, oh, we pray that you’ll hold on to us and guide us steadily in that way that is God’s will for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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