Charles Stanley - Direction Without Doubt
When you come to make very difficult decisions in your life, do you face them with confidence or do you find yourself being a little intimidated? Maybe a little uncertain; maybe confused; maybe frustrated. In other words, you're not quite sure and probably the result of that would be that you would procrastinate. Now, a procrastinator is a person who, because they cannot do something perfectly, they keep putting it off. And so, it may be that you feel inadequate to make that decision. Maybe you're afraid to make it. You see other people who've been in the same place you are and you see what's happened in their life. Or maybe it's because you have a wonderful opportunity, but you're afraid to take advantage of it because you feel inadequate.
In other words, what is it that motivates you to respond the way you respond when you face important decisions in your life? There are all kind of decisions we all have to make, decisions about relationships; about our finances; about our jobs; about our future; about our health. In fact, all of us are where we are as a result of decisions we've made about ourselves that relate to us, whether it's physical, financial, job, whatever it might be.
What I want to talk about in this message is "Direction Without Doubt". God will give you direction in your life. Then you don't have to say, Well, I hope so; maybe so; I think so. And oftentimes people make decisions and are never settled about the issue as to whether they really and truly believe that they made the right one or not. If, for example, you make a decision and things don't turn out the way you expect it, do you conclude automatically, wrong decision? Or could it be that God has placed you in a position that's very difficult because of something He wants to do in your life? It isn't what you expect. It isn't what you signed up for, but God has placed you there. Then how do you respond? When suddenly a decision comes, do you have a certain way to think about it? Or do you just think, Well, I've got to figure this out.
So, what I want to do is to make it simple. It's simple but not necessarily easy, but I can tell you this. It absolutely works every single time. Because I know by experience, it's what I've been doing for years and years and years. And I know that it works. And I know that God is in it because He loves us and He wants what's best for us; He's going to enable us to make a wise decision. So, I want you to turn if you will to the twenty-fifth Psalm, and I just want us to read one verse. We could read lots of them. But look at this twelfth verse; and here's what he says, "Who is the man," or the woman, naturally when the Bible speaks, that's men and women. "Who is the man," woman, "who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct Him," that is, God will give direction for our life. "He will instruct Him," he says, "in the way he should choose".
Now, if you think about, for example, let's go back to the Old Testament. How did God answer the question of direction in the Old Testament? Sometimes it was by an angel; sometimes by God speaking to them personally; sometimes, for example, God would give them some sign, and so, visions, dreams, had all different kind of ways to speak to people. Now, you and I live in a New Testament day and we have the awesome Word of God that settles a lot of these questions automatically. But when somebody says, Well, does God still speak to people personally today? And the answer is absolutely. Are you listening carefully, say amen. God will speak to you about critical issues in your life; that He knows is the right decision for you to make; decision He desires that you make; decision He'll help you make. Decisions that He will enable you to do whatever that decision requires of you. He's just as willing to speak to you, but you have to be ready for that. You have to be willing for Him to.
Now, with that in mind, what I'd like to do is I'd like to give you six words. They're phrases but I want you to remember the six words. If you will follow this pattern, I can absolutely assure you, guarantee you, God, if you will follow them carefully, God will give you clear direction without doubt no matter what you're facing in life. That's what He desires to do. He doesn't desire to keep you wondering about something. And here's the first word, if you'll think about it for a moment. If you're in the process of making a decision, the first word is clear the pathway. That's a phrase, clear the pathway.
So, the pathway's what we're talking about. Now, what do we mean by that? You notice what he says, he says the person who fears the Lord, God will enable him to make the right decision. Think about this. You and I coming to the Lord to ask Him for direction for our life. Clear the pathway means simply this. Clear your heart of any known sin, disobedience, whether it's an attitude or action. You've got to get rid of that. Think about this. You're asking Holy God to give you His mind to a sinful mind that is living in sin and intends to keep on living in sin. And you're asking God to give you direction? He's not going to do it. Or you can come up with something, and you may make a decision that you think, Well, I made the right decision. If you didn't ask God eventually, it will catch up with you.
What I want you to see is this. The very idea of living in sin and asking God for His guidance, it's a contradiction. For example, sin, listen, sin is to the mind what fog is to the highway in front of you. When you're driving down the highway sixty or seventy miles an hour and all of a sudden you come to this river and this fog has just covered the highway totally and completely; you can't see twenty feet in front of you. Sin does to the brain, to the mind, what fog does on the highway. And therefore, one of the primary reasons that many people can't make a decision or make the wrong decision, critical decisions, they make the wrong decision. Why? Because they are living in sin, disobeying God; have an attitude that is totally unscriptural, and but they've been saved and they think, Well, you know, I'm saved and so therefore why doesn't God answer my prayer? For the simple reason, He's under no obligation to answer the prayer of a person who's living in sin. If He did, He would be by His actions condoning your sinfulness. And He's not going to do that.
Oh, a lot of people get by with this and that, and they say, Well, you know, God did this for me when God didn't do it at all. You can manipulate a lot of things and God's not into. But eventually the consequences will come. So, when we say, clear the pathway, we're saying look at your life and ask yourself the question, What is it in my life that doesn't fit who I am and my relationship to Him that will hinder God from giving me clear direction? Direction without doubt, He will make it crystal clear, but you have to start with a clean heart. Clean Heart, listen, clean heart, clean mind. Then of course, that's the first.
The second one is this; and that is to exercise patience. Now, all of us want God to answer our prayer as soon as we get through asking, because we're usually in a hurry for something. And we don't understand why God, for example, doesn't do it when we ask Him to do it. And there are always reasons for that. But let me just say this. When you have this sudden urge to jump and make a decision, back off. Ask yourself the question, Does this look like God? Does this sound like God? Does this fit who God is, as far as the principles of Scripture are concerned? Because we can all get in situations where people will want us to make a snap decision, a quick decision. To be patient means that I'm willing to trust God. If I say, God, I've got to have it now, and God knows I don't need it now, not let me have it now. What I'm saying is God, You need to give it to me when I ask. What I'm saying is I'm wiser than You are and I don't trust You because I thought I should have it now, and You didn't answer my prayer.
We act like children. We don't even realize we do. And so, patience means, listen, I'm willing to submit to God's timing. I'm willing to submit to God's timing. And if something is not His will, we've already decided "No, I don't want what's not Your will". And oftentimes people will pray for a while and then they give up and they say, Well, I prayed a whole week and God didn't answer my prayer. Here's what I've discovered about people who pray a whole week. Usually it's five minutes a day, and they wonder why isn't God answering my prayer? Why isn't He doing this?
The Scripture says, many times concerning, for example, he says my soul waits thou only upon God. I'm willing to wait upon Him. Be strong and of a good courage. Wait I say on the Lord. And the Scripture says in the twenty-fifth Psalm, a person who waits upon the Lord will never be ashamed. Maybe you ought to write that verse down. Twenty-fifth Psalm, in verse three, "Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed". That is, God promises us that, we have to wait for some decisions. He says you'll never be ashamed for waiting upon Me.
So, sometimes when He says wait, why does He say wait? Not because it's not the right decision, but He knows what He's getting ready over here to make all that work perfectly for you. So, He says, He says, I want you to wait and I'll show you whether this is the right decision or not. He's working out things that you and I would never know about in our future. Then of course, be alert to pressure, that's the third one. All of us have come to a decision-making process in our life and we've made the mistake of asking our friend, What do you think? Hm, hm, hm. And usually they'll say, Well, if I were you, this is what I would do. They are not you. You have to be watchful for pressure; because oftentimes people want you to make a decision.
If you, for example, are dating someone, and that person says to you, Well, we want to, I want to get married and they come back in three or four months and says, Look, it's now or never. You tell them never. For the simple reason don't let anybody pressure you into doing something that you're not sure is the will of God, especially in something that's irrevocable. Now, there's another kind of pressure and that's internal pressure. That's external pressure, internal pressure. The internal pressure's this. I'm afraid if I don't do this now, I'll miss it forever. I'm afraid. I'm going to be rejected. I'm afraid of criticism. We have internal pressure that we place upon ourselves, and it has no basis. Or maybe if you have an issue with somebody accepting or rejecting you, and that's all that important to you, you'll make a wrong decision based on, listen, on your own pressure. It may be that the other person doesn't care what you do, but you think that they'll reject you if you don't make a certain decision.
If you live a godly life, mark this down. You will be rejected. You live a godly life, you will be misunderstood. But the issue is internally, listen, this is the final question. Not what does she think, he think, they think, what does God think? What's the will of God, not my friends'. What does God want me to do in this situation? And God may have you to make a decision in your life that nobody else will understand. But you know that if you're doing what God's called you to do, He's going to honor that. He's going to bless you. He's going to provide for you. He's going to equip you. He's going to work in ways that you can't ever figure it out.
And sometimes God will require of us something that we would never figure out until we take the first step. And what you always have to ask says, What are the consequences if I make this decision? Don't ever forget that word. Consequences always follow decisions. It may be good consequences or bad consequences. Consequences always follow decisions. And the reason people get in the mess that they're in financially, relationally, you name it, they don't count the consequences. If I'm going to make wise decisions, then I have to deal with pressure. Then a fourth thing is this, and that is we have to be, listen, persist in our prayer.
Now, let's say you're asking God to give you direction about something and you've prayed about ten minutes about it today. Well, you wake up the next morning and you didn't hear a thing. You prayed all week long, didn't hear a thing. All month long, didn't hear a thing. God's not listening. Watch this. Because you don't get clear direction about something today does not mean that God is not listening. The reason we have to keep praying about something is that God, in that prayer time, is doing what? Softening us up; helping us to see things in our life, for example, that ought not to be there. Sometimes it's a fact that you're asking God to give you direction and the Lord knows exactly what He has in mind, but He also knows in your present spiritual state, you're not ready for that.
So, one of the primary reasons we have to keep praying is for God to work on us. Now, that's not always true every single time. Sometimes God will lay something on our heart and it's out there in the future. He wants us to start talking to Him about it now. Why? Because in the process of talking to Him about it, even maybe several months or whatever it might be, God is in the process of drawing us close to Him, intimately with Him; sifting things out of our life. Maybe the way we think of, and it's not necessarily something bad you think, but the way you think about that given situation. God has to work in our hearts.
And so, when we think, Well, God's not hearing me. And you say, Well, if you just keep on praying and keep on praying, finally God's got to answer. You can't make God do anything. The reason we have to keep praying, because we're seeking an answer, and sometimes the reason we have to keep praying is because God is in the process of shaping us up exactly where He wants us. Then of course, we have to rest in God's promise. Now, this is why the Word of God's so very important. There are so many promises, and you know so many of them. If I'm going to find out what God wants me to do in a situation, I have to rest in His promises. And one of them is He says, Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you. That's the promise of Almighty God. He says, This is the confidence that we have in Him; that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petition we desired of Him. And on and on and on we could go, of promises.
And so, if I'm making a decision and I am coming to that point of asking God to make it crystal clear, here's what'll happen. If you will open the Word of God and listen. Listen carefully. If you just begin to read in the Psalms and the Proverbs alone. You may say, Well, you know, I don't know a whole lot about Psalms and Proverbs. Just read and ask God to speak to your heart. Lord, is there something here that You need to say to me? Do You want to use Your Word to speak to my heart? So often He does.
And I remember on one occasion not too long ago and I was trying to make a decision about something and I was just asking God to make it very clear because it was so critical in my thinking. The Lord just laid this verse on my heart. I was reading along and I thought, Well, Lord, how are You going to do that? And probably two or three days later, no later, I was reading again in the book of Isaiah and it's like the Lord says, The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this. I knew I had my answer. I didn't know how to do it. What He was saying is, You don't have to figure that out. You just trust Me. Here's what I want you to do. Don't figure that out. Just trust Me. And that is exactly what He did.
There's something about the awesome Word of God. He says, His Word is what? A lamp to our feet and a light unto our path. God will show you in every single decision what to do. But sometimes it takes time. Waiting upon Him, listening to Him, getting into the Word saying, what is it in the Word You're trying to say to me? Now, watch this. If you say, Well, Lord, trying to make a decision. And you turn to Leviticus, chapter three. [congregation laughing] That's not what I'm talking about. This is why I say to you over and over and over again, listen carefully. Every day you should read the Word of God, every day. Because what you're doing when you're reading, you're putting the way God thinks into your mind so that things'll be crystal clear.
So, when somebody says, Does God speak today? Yes. And listen, this is better than the Old Testament. They didn't have this. We've got God's Word. Listen. You have the mind of God in print. I don't think you can ask a single solitary question for which there is not a clear answer from God in His Word. That's why in praying, it's praying and reading and listening and saying, God, speak to my heart. And here's what it'll do. You'll be asking about something and maybe a little time will go by and one day you're not even thinking about it, and all of a sudden crystal clear. God, there's the answer, because He loves you and because He wants you to know how to live out your life.
Then I'd say one last thing and that is this. And that is wait for His peace. And in Colossians chapter three, Colossians chapter three and this fifteenth verse, listen to what He says. And I love this. He says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful". When he says, Let the peace of God rule, what does that mean? For example, if I'm asking for a decision. Lord, what would You have me to do? Here's what He says. This is the finality with God. When you've struggled and you've fretted and you've fumed about it all and you think you know what it is and He gives you this perfect, unquestionable peace. Peace is the rule of God. When God gives you a peace there's nothing like that. You can face anybody, anytime, anywhere about anything when you have the peace of God in your heart. That you've asked Him; you sought His direction; your heart's clean; you're saying I'll do whatever You say do. He says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart".
Now, watch this. Here's the reason you can bet on that, because the peace of Christ means the mind of Christ. Here's what He says. Here's what He believes. Here's what He's saying about this. You've got sin in your life, there'll be confusion, frustration, questions, doubts, all kind of things. But you can come to the most difficult decisions in life, and you follow this pattern, and you're making a decision. God does not intend for you to have to make a decision with hoping and praying and I think so, I hope so, none of that. You know so. And you can face anything as long as you know that God has given you clear direction in your life, direction without doubt. And the final proof is a peace, the Bible says, that passes all understanding. Now, watch this. It passes your friends' understanding. It passes your enemies' understanding. It'll pass your understanding, you just know that it's there.
Now, there are some things you don't have to ask the mind of God about. For example, if somebody says, Well, I'm thinking about being saved whenever the Lord leads me. The Bible says, Behold, today is the day of salvation. You do not have to pray to ask God if you should be saved or not. Forget it. The Scripture's clear. You do not have to pray and ask God if it's His will to be baptized. It is. The Bible makes it clear. You do not have to pray and ask God if you should forgive this person for wronging you. It is the will of God.
There are many things that people say, Well, I've been praying about it. Well, sometimes they're just crystal clear in the Scripture what the Word of God is. If something's crystal clear, I don't have to pray about it. I just have to choose to obey Him or disobey Him. But primarily, what we've been speaking about are those decisions that are difficult. What they demand of us; what it requires of us; what other people think and all those matters. You can know for sure the mind of God if you're willing to approach it in the right way.
Well, let's say, for example, that you're not a believer and you just say, Well, what is the will of God for my life? The will of God for your life is for you to confess your sins to Him, repent of them, turn away from it. Tell the Lord Jesus Christ that you believe He died on the cross for your sins and you're accepting His death as payment for your sin and surrendering your life to Him. You don't have to say, Lord, save me if You can. He can. Save me if You will. He will. You don't have to ask any of that. You ask Him to forgive you of your sins and accept by faith that what He said is true. That if we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. If you confess with your mouth, Jesus Christ as Lord, believe in your heart that God's raised Him from the dead, you'll be saved. There are some things you don't have to question.
So, if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, you don't have to find the will of God. I can tell you what it is. It's all through the Word of God, all through the Scripture. Trust Him as your personal Savior; follow Him. The Holy Spirit will come into your life and begin to give you direction for your life. That's the will of God for everyone. So, watch this, everybody in here and everybody out there, whoever you are, you're facing decisions in your life. I know you are. We all do.
So, are you going to make decisions based on the guidance and direction of Almighty God through His Spirit speaking to you through His Word, through prayer, listening to Him, or maybe through some other godly person who has your best interest at heart? Are you just going to decide, I'm going to make this... watch this. Pride can destroy you. Pride, listen, here's what pride says. I can make the decision. I don't need any help. That's why a lot of people have lost it, because they couldn't make it without God. You can't make it without Him. I plead with you in Jesus's name for your own sake, trust Him as your Savior. Surrender your life to Him. Let Him be your decision-maker.
Father, how grateful we are that when we come to You, we always have unbelievable consequences, because that's who You are. I pray for people who are in the process of making critical decisions; or even making an important decision or a small decision or a big decision. They're all big in Your eyes because they have to do with our obedience to You. Make it crystal clear, Father, as they follow through these steps. Make it crystal clear so that they can say to others, God has spoken to me and made it crystal clear what I am to do. We love You and praise You, Father, for not leaving it up to us, but helping us through these times. In Jesus's name, amen.