How the Bible Preps Us for Perseverance


Drew Zeiler discusses perseverance in the Christian life. While the wicked scoffs at God's word, he will blow away like chaff. But the godly will be rooted, which means he will last. Anchoring to God's word gives the believer perseverance.

Drew ZeilerAug 9, 2015

How is it going? My name is Drew Zeiler. I'm the director of student ministries at Fort Worth, and it is an extreme privilege to be here with you this morning. The high school I went to… For sure, its cultural idol was football. It was my sophomore year of high school and it was Homecoming Week. I was in fourth period geography class, and right before the bell was about to ring, my girlfriend at the time hands me a note. I'm thinking to myself, "All right. I got myself a love note." I'm like, "I love love notes."

As the bell rings, I have to book it to fifth period football, and I'm reading the note on my way. I realized something while I was reading the note. I realized it wasn't a love note; it was a breakup note. Put yourself in my shoes for a second. You have to realize this was a huge deal to me. I just spent my life savings on a flower that had cowbells on it, and I don't have a date the week of Homecoming, and the girl I liked just dumped me. This was really bad in my world.

So I get to football, and I'm trying to just stuff the emotion of life and try to crowd out all of the thoughts I'm having. I was a quarterback, and as a quarterback, one of the most fundamental aspects of quarterback is what they call the center quarterback exchange. It is where the ball is snapped from the center to the quarterback. If the quarterback fumbles the center quarterback exchange, it's purely mental. It's not like he doesn't have what it takes. His mind is just not there.

Well, I kept dropping the snap, and my coach, being a great coach, did what every good coach would do. He yelled at me. He was trying to light a fire under me, and this is what he said: "Zeiler, what's the matter with you, son? Did your girlfriend just break up with you or something?" I couldn't believe it. I was like, "Did somebody tell Coach? That's kind of weird." I actually got really mad about it.

I never yelled at Coach. I was a pretty good student. I yelled at him. I said, "You know what, Coach? She did. My girlfriend did just break up with me." It kind of caught him by surprise. He just kind of took a step back. What he did was he reached down into his deep bag of coach's clichés and pulled out the very best one he had. This is what he said: "Well, Zeiler, when the sweat is running down the crack of your rear, you've got to rise above it."

Now don't think too hard about the intricacies of that metaphor. I spent 12 years trying to figure out what it meant, but here's what I can tell you, what Coach was trying to say to me. Coach was trying to say to me, "Zeiler, you're going to have to persevere. You're the quarterback of this team, and the game has to go on, and you're going to have to rise above your circumstances."

That's actually pretty good advice. However, it's incomplete advice. He didn't tell me how to rise above my circumstances. So that's what I want to talk to us about this morning. How does the Bible prepare us to persevere in our faith? The answer is we persevere in our faith by rooting ourselves in the Word of God.

Let's look at Psalm 1:1-4. It says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of God, and on his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, whose leaf does not wither and yet yields its fruit in season. But the wicked are not so. They are like chaff that is blown by the wind."

Psalm 1 describes two different types of people who are headed in two different directions in two different trajectories of life. The first we'll talk about is the wicked man. Now when you hear wicked man, you might think witch. Don't think witch. This is not a diabolical person. A wicked man is simply an ungodly person, a person who does not consider God when making meaningful decisions. A wicked man would be somebody who allows culture and their friends and the people they surround themselves with to discern what is right and wrong.

The righteous man, on the other hand, lives his life as if he was in the presence of God at all times, and he allows the Word of God to be the ultimate authority in his or her life. In verse 2, it says that the righteous man does not do the following things. He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, which means he doesn't take advice or allow ungodly people to shape his thinking. He does not stand in the way of sinners, which means he does not adapt or adopt the behaviors of ungodly people.

Then thirdly, he does not sit in the seat of a scoffer. A scoffer is somebody who is not just practicing that which displeases God but is versed in it. A scoffer is someone who has perfected the art of doing what is wrong. There's a progression here that occurs. To sit in the seat of scoffers means that their behavior has become your new normal. The righteous man delights in God's Word. Verse 2: "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."

What does it mean to delight? Well, this year I got married. I am a newlywed, and I married one of the most delightful women you will ever meet. One of my favorite things about marriage this year is just coming home after a long day. You drive into the driveway. You make your way to the front door and walk in, and just being reunited with my wife is such a joy. It's not because she's delightful, even though she is. It's because of the relationship we have together.

It's because of the fact that I'm fully known and fully loved and she is too. It's the relationship we have to one another that makes it so full of joy, and that's true, too, of why we would delight in God's laws: because of a relationship we have with God. Now to think to delight in law… That's an odd thing to delight in. I delight in law like I delight in the dental instrument that performs a root canal. I don't really delight in law, typically. You don't delight in the speed limit. Students, you don't delight in your curfew.

But if you think about it, whose law are we delighting in? It's God's law. It's easy to delight in God's law. Take the Watermark News. You may not think of it this way, but when you're reading the Watermark News, you're hearing these stories of redemption, stories of forgiveness and people showing mercy to one another. That's the law of love. It's the law of sacrificial love, and we delight in love. We delight in God's law, and God's law is really his Word, and his Word is a connection to a relationship with him.

So to delight in his law is to delight in his Word and to delight in a relationship with him. It says that he meditates on his Word, which means to marinate your mind in God's truth. To meditate is to marinate your mind in God's truth and in his promises. It's to memorize. It literally means to murmur, which means to talk to oneself. So when we meditate, we memorize God's Scripture. You have to do the hard work of memorizing God's Word.

When you do this, it says in verse 3 that you will be like a tree. You will be like a tree planted by streams of water, who yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither; in all that he does he prospers. He's like a tree. Well, a tree is strong. A tree has been nourished by the water and the deep roots through which the ground sustains it. A tree perseveres. This is a picture of strength, a picture of persevering.

In verse 4 it says, "But the wicked are not so, but they are like chaff that is blown by the wind." Well, what is chaff? Chaff is basically shredded wheat. The thing about chaff is, unlike the tree, it doesn't have any root system and, therefore, it has no anchor if a wind were to come its way. We are going to simulate a storm here. This is wind. Let's just see what happens when the wind hits the chaff. It's completely obliterated. It's a joke. It doesn't stand a chance.

Just like this chaff was blown by the wind because it had no root, when you do not root yourself in God's Word, when the storms of life hit you are completely blown away. But what happens to the tree when the storms of life hit it? We could be here all day, and I only have 10 minutes. It perseveres through the different seasons of life. It perseveres through seasons of trial and difficulty, seasons of disappointment, even seasons of success and joy. It continues to persevere and persist.

I didn't say it would be easy. I'm not saying that life is going to be a bed of roses on a pile of money. It will be hard, but the man who roots himself in God's Word will persevere. Now I understand that life is complex, and I understand that some of the things you guys are going through may be really difficult. The truth is that the storms of life have either just hit you, are hitting you presently, or are about to hit you.

The question is…When the storms of life hit you, where are you going to find your strength? Where will you find what it takes to rise above your circumstances? The answer is that you have to root yourself in God's Word. You have to fall in love with God's Word, to delight on it, to marinate your mind in it. As you do, it will show itself faithful, as Jesus is continually faithful to us.

Joshua 1:8 says, "Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth, but meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it. Then your way will be prosperous, and then you will have good success." How do you persevere in the faith? By rooting yourself in God's Word. Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, as John 1:14 says, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Your Word is the connection to a relationship with you. Your Word is truth, and your truth is a light unto my feet and a light unto my path. Father, we pray that we at Watermark would be good stewards of your Word, that we would delight in it, that we would meditate on your Word and it would fill us with your strength and with your glory. We pray these things in Jesus' name, amen.