Charles Stanley - Walking In Faith
When you became a Christian, you entered the school of faith, a life of faith. The scripture says, in Ephesians chapter two, eight and nine, "For by grace are you saved through faith; that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any person should boast". He says, therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God. He says we're sanctified by faith. That is, we walk by faith. We live by faith. The Christian life is a life of faith. That is, it is a life in which we have confidence in the fact that God, who is the sovereign of this universe, will do exactly what He says He'll do; and that He'll fulfill every single promise He's made.
Now how we walk, for example, we will stumble sometimes and we will move ahead positively. We will study and we'll fumble and fall around and think, God, why isn't this, why isn't this coming out exactly right? Why is it, I'm trusting You here and next thing I know I've disobeyed you over here. So, let me just say right up front, as a word of encouragement. It isn't a straight line upward. The development of a person's faith is up and then we stumble at times. And up, and then we falter at times. And up, and then we fail to trust Him at times. And that's the way life is in the beginning of the Christian life.
And for many people, it seems to be that way all the time; but that's not what God intended. He intended, listen, even though we have those ups and downs, that's okay as long as we're still making progress in our faith. And one of the characters of the scripture that best describes, listen, the positive walk; the times when everything is right and trusting God, and oftentimes those failures, is the person of Abraham. And he's called the father of faith.
So I want you to turn to the twelfth chapter of the book of Genesis. And I want you to notice how he begins this. And what I want you to see is he lives in a totally pagan culture. He doesn't know anything in the world about the God that you and I know about. And listen to what happens. Chapter twelve, verse one, "Now the Lord said to Abram," as was his first name they called him, "'Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.'"
Because through Isaac and then Judah, tribe of Judah, came the Messiah, "So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was there in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land.' So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him".
Now, I want you to go back to the first verse. Listen how many times God said, "I will". Now remember what we said faith is. Faith is confidence that God will do what He says He will do and fulfill His promise. Look what He says. He says, "I will show you," the land I want you to go to. "I will make you a great nation, I will bless you". "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse," those who curse you. "And in all the families of the earth will be blessed". God spoke to Abraham out of, in a total pagan society. He knew nothing about Jehovah. He knew nothing about Yahweh, the other names for God. He knew nothing about that God at all, and God spoke to him.
Listen carefully. When somebody says to you, Has God ever spoken to you? Well, you need to answer that honestly. The truth is, Yes, He has. Because, listen, it is His will and purpose and plan to speak to every single one of His children no matter where they are. That's why Jesus gave the Great Commission to His disciples. Into all the earth, and preach the gospel to every person. And so, God is still in the process of speaking. And so when you look at the life of Abraham and how God dealt with him, listen, it is a walk of faith. The moment you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you took the first step into a life of faith. Now listen. And when you did that, God enrolled you in the school of faith. Because from that time on, you and I, from the moment we were saved, I was twelve; you may have been twelve, ten, fifty, whatever it might be. From that time on you and I are enrolled in the school of faith, because that's God's purpose for us. His purpose is to speak to us, guide us, lead us, show us His way, work through us, use us in whatever way He chooses to see fit. In order for that to happen, you and I must be followers and we must be trusting Him in every aspect of our life.
What I want us to talk about in this message are those requirements; those requirements for walking in faith with Almighty God. Now, the first basic essential requirement for walking in faith, bottom line, is I must learn to listen to God. If you do not know how to listen to Him, then how do you know where to go? If you don't know how to listen to Him, you've never developed that, then you'll never know whether God's talking to you or not. And so then you just sort of have to guess that maybe God said this and maybe He said that. Listen carefully. God is still speaking to people individually. Now listen carefully. Because somebody says, God told me, doesn't mean that's necessarily true. Because oftentimes people will say, Well, God told me to do it, when it's something that's a total contradiction to the very nature and attributes of God. He speaks. He speaks clearly. And He speaks consistently with what He has spoken and what the Bible is all about. It is the written revelation of God and His work among men. This is what it's all about.
So when you come to Abraham and God said to him, I want you to leave your country and go into a land that I'll show you. He spoke to him and he did exactly what God told him. He'd never heard God speak before. And I want you to see in this passage of scripture how God worked in his life. But he began with this basic simple principle, you must learn to hear His voice. You must learn to listen to Him. You say, Well, now how does He work? Well, I'll give you an example. The most recent example, yesterday I was reading a book that I've had for fifty years. And it's about Christ and how He works. And the longer I read it, I'd read about two-thirds of that chapter, the longer I read it, the more I knew I couldn't read long; because God was saying something very specific to me that I needed to hear. And so I kept reading along, it's like God said, Close the book and get on your knees. I knew He was saying something very specific.
Now watch this. He is just as willing, just as committed to speaking to you and giving you direction as to myself or Abraham, anybody else. How can God expect you to obey Him if He doesn't tell you what to do? And how can God guide you and lead you if you're not listening? Those two things are absolutely inseparable, obedience to God and listening to God, you can't, listening to God, obeying God, you can't separate those two. You don't listen, you won't obey. You don't obey, what does it say? You're not listening. If you're going to live the life of faith, you have to learn to listen to him. The second thing you must learn is this; and that is, you must learn to obey Him.
Now we learn to walk by faith by trial and error. You have to learn to listen and you learn to obey. And how do we learn to obey? By disobeying, by failing, by error. And then, in the process of disobeying Him, God shows us what the consequences are so we think twice before we disobey Him again. It doesn't mean that life is going to always be easy and straight forward. But He is going to make it clear what He wants us to do. And when we obey Him, we're going to be blessed because here's what He said. He said, I'm going to make you a great nation. All the nations of the earth are going to be blessed. I'm going to give you this land and I'll show you what this land is. And so what happens? When he obeyed, God blessed him. But there's a third lesson we must learn. We must learn to depend upon Him. If I've really trusted Him, I'm going to listen. If I really trust Him, I'm going to obey Him.
Let me talk about obedience for a moment. I want you to look at this. Watch, look this way. I ask you this question. When you think about how Jesus spoke to His disciples, how many times did He tell them to obey Him? How many? Right, He never said that to them. You would think surely Jesus said, You must obey me. He never said that. He is so wise, listen, you know what He tells them? Trust Me. Have faith in God. Trust Me, trust Me, trust Me, trust Me. You know why He didn't talk about obedience? Because He knew that if they obeyed Him, that if they trusted Him, they would obey Him. And He could say obey, obey, obey all day long, but the bottom line is trust and obedience go together. And so His emphasis to them was always, "Trust Me". Trust the Father. Have faith in God. When you pray, believe. It was always trust. And so, when we don't trust Him we don't depend upon Him. We want to make things work to suit us.
And so when you look to see how, Abraham responded to all that, and God made the promises He made. Now remember, He said, I'll show you where to go. He had no compass, no iPhone, no GPS. He didn't have anything, In other words, he didn't even have a paper map. All he had was the voice of God, the direction of God. And how many times God must have said, I want you to go thus and so. Or take this route and take that route. And God was guiding him and leading him, and you know, listen, the reason God didn't give him any further instructions because he had to depend upon Him.
And sometimes we want God to give us a lot of money for this or that or the other. You know one of the reasons God isn't going to give some folks in fact most people a lot of money? Because they don't depend on Him anymore. When somebody says, What do you mean depending upon God? Simply that. Oftentimes a person who has little, and they just get a little bit more, they think they did it. You know what? If God took His hand off your life, you wouldn't even have enough clothes to wear. It is the grace of God that you have, that you can breathe two times in a row, that you can work. That's all the grace and goodness and love, we're all dependent upon Him.
Tell me anything that is absolute in your life apart from God. Nothing. Are you going to get home this afternoon? Not necessarily. And so you say, Well, you mean to tell me that I'm to have this sense that I'm dependent upon Him at all times? Absolutely. Because, listen, that is the position of safety. Lord, I'm trusting You; I'm depending upon You. What you're acknowledging, you're acknowledging your dependence upon Him and your trust in Him, that He's going to take care of you, provide for you. When you get so well off, whether it's financially, emotionally or whatever it might be, that you don't feel like that you need to depend upon Him, you are heading in the wrong direction. And I can tell you this for sure. This whole Bible bears witness to this. You're headed for some painful consequences. You forget God, you're headed into great trouble, painful suffering, and trouble.
Now, so, but we must not only learn to um, trust Him and listen to Him and follow Him, whatever He says. We must also learn something else. We must learn to wait upon God. If I'm going to walk the walk of faith, I must learn to wait on Him. And He says one of the most wonderful promises in Isaiah sixty-four, for what He says, watch this. God acts in behalf of those who wait for Him. So what happens? You're trusting God, you're walking the walk of faith and God leads you to do something. Watch this. You don't ever have to think about the fact that God is asking you or telling you to do something, and He's turning it over to you to do it. That's not the way He operates. He says, God acts, goes to work, in behalf of those who wait for Him.
If God tells you to do something that says, This is the direction. Mm-mm-mm, don't move yet, trust Me. Don't take things in your own hands, trust Me. Wait upon Me. God acts in my behalf. Watch this. If you want somebody acting in your behalf, whether it's your health or your finances or whatever it might be, you want somebody who knows all the facts. You know, you want somebody who has all the power, all the wisdom to make it work. There's one person who has all of that. That's Almighty God. And He says, I'm willing to act in your behalf. I'm willing to go to work to get you a job. I'm willing to go to work to show you how to do this. I'm willing to go to work to help you get a house to live in. He says, I will act in behalf of those who wait for me. And the only way you're going to wait is trust Him. Because oftentimes we are ready to move ahead and see this opportunity and think, This is it!
The only times in my life I've ever moved ahead to get it done my way on my time's been absolutely wrong every single time. Because, listen, He wants us to learn to depend upon Him, to trust Him, and to wait for Him. You see, because here, watch this. Here's what's happening. When you wait upon His direction, you are acknowledging His Lordship in your life. If I should say to you, Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life? You'd say, Yes. Well, let's see if that's true. When He challenges you to wait upon something that you really want to do, is He really Lord if you step ahead? You're playing God. If you wait for Him, then you're acknowledging that He's the Lord of your life and what you're doing, it's an act of worship. I acknowledge You as the Lord of my life. I'm going to wait, whatever You say.
And this is why people get married too early in life or they marry the wrong person. They think that's the last one available and all the kind of things that people think. And what happens? They up and do something when God says, Wait. I can think of some times, and we don't have time for me to give you much illustrations about that. I can think of how many times in my life has God said, Mm-mm-mm, don't do that, wait. And I can tell you this, and I won't give you any personal illustrations because they're so good, you'll be hard for you to believe them, I can tell you that. I can think of times when He said, Wait. And the result was I got so blessed. I'm still being blessed today for waiting more than over ten years ago. Every day I'm blessed. Because He said, Mm, mm, mm, trust Me. Don't do that. And the, God'll do the same thing in your life. Because what you're doing, you are acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ when you don't budge till He tells you to budge.
And I can think of some times, if I'd have gone ahead and had my way, I'd have messed up bad. I'd have missed out on some blessings. And see, you can probably tell I'm itching to tell you a few of them, but sometimes, I do have a weakness. And one of my weaknesses as it is, that I don't say a lot of things I probably would like to say, because I don't want you to think I'm bragging about something. I'm not bragging about anything. I'm just saying here's what God will do in your life if you will trust Him. And I can tell you, I've got a whole lifetime of watching that happen. And He's just as willing to do it in your life. It's just a matter of following the principles. You learn to listen to Him. You learn to obey Him. And you learn to depend upon Him. And you learn to wait on Him. Those four simple principles, God will bless anybody, anywhere, who's willing to follow those simple principles.
And so when it comes to waiting, how well did Abraham do? Not too well; because he made one of his biggest mistakes. And so, let's look at it for a moment because, and this is one reason I love these passages, because they're so real. You remember what God said in this sixteenth chapter, "Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children.'" And remember, in those days it was a horrible disgrace for a woman not to be able to bear her husband a child, "So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai".
Big time mistake. What did God tell him? He says, I'm going to do this through you. And He had a way of doing it. He was going to give him a son because He said to him, he said, Now Lord, he said, what about me having a son and the only person who's going to inherit all this is my assistant, this man who's worked for me all these years. God said, No. So what did he do? He listened to the voice of Sarai and what happened? You know what happened. Hagar, Ishmael. Abraham should have said, Sorry, we're going to wait on God and see what He does. But he didn't do that.
Now he knew what he should do; but he listened to Sarai. Watch this carefully. Be careful who you listen to. And when they say, whatever they're saying to you, ask yourself this question, Does this suggestion match what God is saying to me in my life? And if it doesn't match, don't do it. Listen to this. God acts in behalf of those who wait for Him, not those who get ahead of Him. What I want you to see is there are consequences to disobeying God. And disobedience is a result of not trusting Him. He was unwilling to wait for God's timing, though God had told him what He was going to do. So, if you don't wait upon the Lord, it's because you're not listening and you're willing to be disobedient to Him, and there are consequences. Every single time there are consequences.
One last thing. Because we're all going to mess up at times, and we're all going to fail, the next principle is simply this. We, listen, it's on the board. We must learn to acknowledge our faith failures, repent of it, listen, repent of it and profit from it. We should acknowledge it, repent of it and profit from it. You say, Well, is that what he did? Let me tell you why I know that's what he did. Because all through these years now he's had his ups and downs and faith, but he's been growing. He, and he's an awesome man of faith.
Twenty-second chapter of Genesis, turn there for a moment. Scripture says, "it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.' So Abraham rose up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, took two of his young men with him, Isaac his son; split wood for the burnt offering, rose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and we will return.'"
You say, Well, that doesn't say we will return in the Hebrew, we will worship and the tense is we not only will worship but we will return. Now here is the ultimate test of his faith. Where had he come from back there struggling with what God was telling him to do and he was making his mistakes, but he was growing. And now God said, Here's what I want you to do. I want you to take this son, your only son, he was probably just a lad, the one that you love. So He put that in there. And I want you to offer him as a sacrifice. In other words, I want you to kill this boy as an act of obedience to Me.
And the Bible doesn't say that Abraham, though there may have been some of this. Bible doesn't say he wrestled all night trying to decide whether he was going to do it or not. Why was he so willing to do it? Because his faith had reached the peak in his life, he was willing to obey God even at the cost of the most priceless thing he could imagine. Watch this. It not only would be the death of his son. What about all those promises that God had made, about all the nations of the earth are going to be blessed. He knew it was not through Ishmael. How could that happen, if God wanted him to kill his son? But he trusted Him. And he knew that if the dagger that got close to his son's heart and God stopped him; if he had killed him, God would have raised him from the dead. That's why he was so obedient.
Now God didn't tell him to do that so God would find out whether he would or not. He did it because He wanted Abraham to find out how obedient are you. God knew. Are you willing to trust Me when everything you love the most in life, you're willing to give it up? Life at its best is a life of faith, there's no substitute. And learning to listen to God and to obey Him; learning to depend upon Him day by day for whatever the needs in life may be; learning to wait for His timing. And then when we falter and fail, we ask Him to forgive us and we keep moving on and we keep trusting Him. That's life at its very, very best. And it's a life you can have once you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. It's the best life. There's no way to lose trusting God no matter what you're facing in life. And it is my prayer for you, you'll be wise enough to listen and to obey. Trust Him; watch Him work in your life. Amen?
Father, how grateful we are that You're patient; that You're quickly willing to forgive, because You love us and because You want the best for us. And because You know in our heart we really want to do what's right. We do want to trust You. We want to grow in our faith to the point that we depend upon You for everything. We want to be the persons that you want us to be and we know the principles, they're all there beautifully demonstrated in the lives of the characters of the Old Testament and the New Testament. And I pray today in the name of the Son of God, Jesus, that every person who hears this message will recognize it is the simple truth of the Bible. It is the simple truth of the Word of God. It's the ways God works among humanity. And no matter where we come from, the principles are the same. The consequences are there, both good and bad. And I pray for those, Father who've never trusted Jesus as their Savior. Help them to understand there is only one God. His name is Jehovah. There is only one Savior. His name is Jesus the Christ. There is only one way and that is the way of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ who went to the cross and laid down His life; shed His blood in order that we might be saved; forgiven of our sin; justified, declared righteous; sanctified, set apart; and glorified that is forever and ever the gift of eternal life indwells us. That is my prayer, Father. I believe that You're answering it; and that You will answer it over and over and over again. And, Father, those who have not been trusting You, would put a stake down; put it in the Bible; build that altar. That from this point on I want to listen to God and I want to obey Him. I want to depend upon Him. I want to wait upon Him. I want to be the person God wants me to be. That's my prayer, Father. In Jesus' name, amen.