Charles Stanley - The Confidence to Face the Unknown
Because you and I cannot see into the future, life is full of unknowns. The question is: How do you and I respond to those unknowns in life? Some people respond with confidence and assurance. Many people respond with fear and anxiety and frustration and worry. How do you respond when you face those unknowns in life? Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message entitled "The Confidence to Face the Unknown". And I want you to turn, if you will, to Hebrews chapter eleven. And in the midst of a number of short biographies of God's saints in the past, there's one here about Moses, and I think in this passage of scripture is the key to be able to face the unknowns in our life with confidence and assurance and absolute boldness. No matter what we face in life, we do not have to be afraid. We do not have to be anxious. We do not have to be fearful of all the outcomes.
So, in this eleventh chapter of Hebrews, beginning in verse twenty-three, here's what the scripture says, "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict". And if you'll recall that Pharaoh wanted to kill all of those young Hebrew children, the male children. "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure the ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin". You need to mark that one in your Bible, the passing pleasures of sin, because that's a good description of what sin's about.
Verse twenty-six, "considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward". Then he says, "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned".
Now all of us have uncertainties in our life. A person goes to work, and they say, "You know, we don't need you anymore". Jobs are uncertain. Health is uncertain. Relationships are uncertain. Families are uncertain. Everywhere you turn, everywhere you look, you look around you and you ask yourself the question: What is security? What is certain? What is for sure anymore? What does the future hold? And there was a time when people could have a certain bit of security about their job and their future and their finances, but no more. My friend, listen to me carefully. If you do not know God through His Son, Jesus Christ, you have absolutely no certainty about anything in your life. And you're naturally going to live with a sense of uncertainty and some bits of fear and anxiety and frustration.
And even though you may have all the money in the world you need to buy anything you need, you can't buy good health. You can't buy yourself life and avoid death. You can't buy yourself into heaven. And therefore, everything proves to be uncertain. No matter how many degrees you have, how wise you appear to be, without Christ everything in your life is indeed uncertain. And so, the question is: How do we live? How are we to live and how can we live with certainty in a world that's so full of uncertainty and insecurity? And there's so much emphasis on security and so much emphasis on benefits and so much emphasis on the future. And the truth is in spite of all the plans that man makes, the only real, genuine security he has is wrapped up in not many relationships but one specific relationship. It is a spiritual relationship. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is the only true basis of security here and security in the life that comes after.
So, when we think about that, I want you to notice what the scripture says. He says in verse twenty-seven, "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king for he endured," now watch that word, "he endured as seeing Him who is invisible". How does a person see what is invisible? Well, how does a person see God? You and I see Him, listen, we see, first of all, let's put it this way. I just have to tell you how I see Him. And this is the best way for me to speak about it. When I open God's Word and begin to read, one of the things I'm always looking for, I want to see what God is up to. I want to see how He thinks. I want to see how He operates in David's life or Daniel's life or Joseph's life or Moses's life. I want to see what He did. I ask the question: Why did He do it? I want to know if He did the same thing in someone else's life.
What would have happened if He had not operated this way? Is this a pattern, is this a principle, is this who God is? Am I able to see who God is? Yes. Listen, the clearest and the safest way to see God is to read His Word. Now, here's why I say it's the safest way. Because people can come up with all kinds of ideas about what God is like. And there are many people who believe, have concepts of God that are absolutely, totally unscriptural. God's not anything like what they say He is. And so, in order to keep, listen, in order to keep my focus right and to be sure that I am seeing God and not something else, I must be in the Word of God. Anything I see with my eye of faith that contradicts the Word of God, I'm not seeing the God who is God, not seeing the God who is God.
And so, reading the scripture, I begin to see how He operated in Moses's life. How did He operate in Joseph's life? How did He operate in Daniel's life? How did He operate in Paul's life? How did He operate in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ? How does God work in the lives of these men? To me personally, it has been the greatest advantage of my life to go back, read, ask the question over and over and over again: Why? What were You saying? Somebody says: Are you questioning the scripture? No, I'm questioning God's actions in the lives of these people, not to question whether He was right or wrong but to question: God, what's the principle? What did You do? Can I expect the same thing to happen in my life? If You put me in some challenge, can I expect You to be just as real to me as you were to Moses, David, Daniel, Joseph, Joshua, and all the rest? Yes, I can. Why? Because principles never change.
God never changes. He has a will and a purpose and a plan for your life. And having a will and a purpose and a plan, He will work that out if you and I will submit to His will. And so therefore, when I look at the lives of these men and how they operated, so what happens? I'm beginning to see who God is. I'm beginning to see God. Therefore, a second thing is this: we see God when we begin to be able to identify the works of God in the lives of other people as well as in our own life. We see His handprint, His fingerprint, His footprint. We see where God is. We see how He operates. We see how He moves in people's lives. We see how He saves the lost. We see how He guides the saints. We see how He undergirds us in our life, in difficulty and trial.
What are we doing? We are seeing the manifestation of God. I do not have to see a visible image of a God who is so absolutely real, awesomely real, I cannot describe Him but try wonderfully how to describe this awesome God who has made Himself so real. What did He say? "I'll never leave you nor forsake you". What did He say? He says He came to indwell us. Every single believer is indwelt by the presence of the Holy Spirit who is one person of the Godhead. Therefore, if you and I are one, if you and I are indwelt by one person of the Godhead, we have God living on the inside of us, and therefore, we ought to be able to clearly see the presence of God, be aware of the presence of God. Not only aware of His presence but see God at work. And if you and I are gonna live with confidence and assurance, we must, listen, we must train our heart to be able to discern His presence.
We must train our minds to be able to see Him, listen, train our spirits to discern truth from error and the presence of God and the absence of what appears to be the lack of God in a situation or circumstance. That's the key. And he says he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Now, in difficult circumstances of our life, you see, why does God allow them? He says to teach us endurance. And what happens when you and I go through difficulty? We are driven to God. When we are driven to God, something happens.
Now, let's think about this for a moment, the whole idea. When we say the Bible says, "Blessed are the," he says, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God". What do we mean by pure in heart? When a person's pure in heart, what does that require? If a person is pure in heart, it means that our thoughts are pure, our thoughts are holy. Does that mean every single solitary thought's holy? No. But it's a way of life for us. And when something crops in that's not holy, we deal with it immediately and move on. Our thoughts are holy, our, listen, our motives are unmixed. Our motives become pure. We want to do what is right because it's the right thing to do from God's perspective. Our conscience becomes clear.
When... listen, when we walk before God with a pure heart, we're gonna have a clear conscience, our will is gonna be submitted to Him, our motives are gonna be unmixed, and our thoughts are gonna be holy. Now, you think about this. When our mind is spiritually clear, that's when you and I will be able to see the presence of God. And this is why so many believers don't see the presence of God. They say, "Well, you know what, I just, God's up yonder somewhere". And if you ask the average person, "Where is God"? "Well, He's up yonder, that's where I pray, up in heaven".
Well, while God is sitting on His throne in the heavens, He is also sitting on the throne of our heart. And so, that you and I have the capacity to see God, but listen, God has made it possible for us to see Him. And the way He's made it possible is He's given us His Word, He's given us a discerning spirit, and then He speaks to us so very, very clearly. Now, I'll tell you one thing that's helped me over the years. And somewhere along the way, I think in my own desire to know who God was and who He is, this just became a part of my thinking, the way I think at nighttime.
When I lie down at night and talk to the Lord before I go to sleep, I always try to think about what I'm gonna do the next day as best I can. But secondly, I always try to recall and refresh my mind what happened during the day. And the reason I want to do that is because I want to look for the evidence of God in my life. I want to see what did God do? I want to see how He helped me in that relationship. I want to see what He did in answering this question. I want to see how He guided me in making this decision. I want to see how He protected me in this circumstance. And how many times have you been driving down the expressway and somebody cut right in front of you and all of a sudden... or maybe you come to a traffic light and it's green. It didn't mean a thing to the other person, though it was red, they came right out in front of you, almost hit you.
What was your first response? Your first response should have been, "Thank You, God. Thank You, Lord". When we set God at our right hand, we're gonna be continually, listen, continually looking for the evidence of His presence. And God's presence is so real. When you think about how many people who live in our city who drive eighty miles an hour, and that seems to be the speed limit, and we are six inches apart, three inches apart, two feet apart. And if you'll notice the big trucks, they only have about six inches left on both sides, it's dangerous to be on the expressway. Who do you think's guiding and guarding every single day? Almighty God. Don't take that for granted.
Now, one thing about going to bed at night and recalling those things, here's what happens. When you lie down at night and you begin to evaluate what God's been doing in your life all day long, and you look for the evidence of His handiwork, His fingerprint. You see His protection, His watch care. Here's what's happening. What's happening is this. You are recalling, you are, listen, you are visualizing in your mind God at work in your life during that day. And what you're doing is you're a... listen, while you are recalling and being able to, listen, evaluate, and being able to enjoy once again and even better on the second go round, enjoy His presence, enjoy His handiwork, enjoy the reality of God in your life. What does it do? It just etches it in your mind that much deeper.
When you let the day go by and you don't stop to recall and to re-evaluate, the Bible says we should thank Him every morning and rejoice in the evening about God, about what He's been doing in our life. And you see, taking the time to recall is glorifying to God. Taking the time to recall, you're gonna end up praising God and thanking Him because once you begin to look for Him, you're going to see God as you have never seen Him before. And you're gonna begin to realize He's been there all day long, doing His work in your life. I mean, when you're on your job, the things you have to figure out, sometimes difficulties and situations and circumstances, you need Him. Call upon Him, expect Him.
David says, "I keep Him at my right hand all the time. I set Him before me. I set Him before Me daily". And also, what happens is this. We begin to interpret life through the mind of God. We begin to think the way He thinks. When you and I begin to see Him, we begin to see how He operates, then we begin to think about this is the way God operates. That's why you and I can end up being wise and making wise decisions in our life for the simple reason, we begin to understand the principles. We begin to see God as He is. And when you begin to see God as He is, it will affect every single aspect of your life. So, let's go back. The Bible says, "Blessed are," what? "The pure in heart, for they shall see God". Which simply means: if I expect to be able to see the presence of God and His manifestations in my life, it begins not with God, but with me. A pure heart. Because when my heart is pure, my thoughts will be holy.
My motives are gonna be unmixed. My conscience is gonna be clean, and my will is gonna be submissive to Him. Let me ask you a question. Is it worth, is it worth walking in the awareness of the presence of God to keep your heart pure? Yes. Is it worth walking in the power of God for your life and His enablement in your life every day to keep your conscience clean and your motives unmixed and your thoughts pure? Yes! Yes, yes, yes, by all means. It is worth every moment of it. It is worth every confession and every act of repentance. Because God wants to be more real to us than we even want Him to be.
So well, what kind of difference will that make in your life? Here's the difference it'll make. It'll make a lot of difference. First of all, you will begin to view life from a whole different perspective. You'll begin to view life not, listen, not from who I am and what I have or how little I have. You'll begin to view life not from a "my handicaps, my lack of, and my no talents, no gifts". You'll begin to look at life this way. "Thank God the omnipotent One is living on the inside of me. Thank God that today, no matter what happens, the One who absolutely supremely rules over everything is in control of my life today. I don't have to be afraid. I don't have to be anxious. I don't have to be worried. I know that whatever I need, my God is going to supply my need". It will affect every single aspect of your life.
So, let's think about maybe some specific things. For example, you'll begin to think in positive terms. You'll begin to think with a sense of confidence. Not "I can't" but "I can". Because, listen, I can't even explain to you the awesome reality of being able to see God so clearly in your life. And what happens is there is a joy, there is a confidence, there is, listen, there is a bubbling experience of exuberance over an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, ruling God who loves you enough, get on the inside of your life, and guide you in those mundane decisions in life that seem to be so very unimportant. He is there all the time. You begin to look at your own life from a whole different perspective, and certainly more positive, and here's what'll happen.
When trials come, instead of you saying, "Oh, dear God, what am I gonna do"? Here's what'll happen. When you begin to be aware of His presence in your life and you begin to see Him in things, you, listen, you will see the difficulties, the hardships and the trials as steppingstones from God, you'll see them as steppingstones that do what? Building spiritual maturity. Building the principles into your life. You're, listen, you're beginning to learn to know God. Now, when you fell in love with a person that you are thinking about marrying or the person you're already married to, the more you discovered about them, I certainly hope this would be true. The more you discovered about them, the more you loved them. And the more excited you became.
Listen, we can't even compare loving someone like an intimate, personal relationship with God. Because on that side, it's absolutely perfect. In this earth, there are no two perfect people. And on the other side with spiritual things, God is absolutely perfect. He loves us perfectly in every aspect. Everything that comes from Him is absolutely perfect, absolutely the best. And so what happens? We begin to develop this relationship, change our whole attitude about ourselves and our circumstances and the way we look at things. A second thing that happens is this, and that is obedience suddenly becomes much more desirous to us than the pleasures of the world. When God becomes a reality in your life, a living reality that you can see the manifestations day after day, you know what happens? Sin loses its appeal.
Listen, one of our prayers ought to be, "God, draw me to Yourself so closely, sin has absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever. But make holiness and righteousness and sanctification, let that be the attitude of my heart". And what happens is sin will, it will lose its appeal. Because you'll get so excited about God and His relationship with you and His love for you and His devotion and the manifestations and, listen, His willingness to, His willingness to show Himself real in your life. Sin will lose its appeal in your life once you begin to see God from that perspective. Another thing that happens is this. You and I will begin to see things as they really are. So much of what we see is not real. You can watch the news and you can watch the movies, and so much of life's not real.
And you see, some people, for example, you notice that when you first see them, they have this great appeal, and after you get to know them, they're not for real. It's all fake, it's all on the surface, it's not for real. Listen, God gives us the ability to see reality. And here's what happens. When you and I begin to see reality, we begin to see that Satan has fabricated all these lies about what satisfies and what completes and what'll make you happy and full of joy. We begin to see things as they are. Sin loses its appeal, we begin to be able to better discern in our relationships to other people what's going on.
Another thing that happens is this, and that is we begin to place the eternal over the temporal. Once you begin to see the Lord in a whole different perspective, here's what happens. Things that are temporal lose, listen, they will lose the priority in your life and things that are eternal become the priority. And what'll happen is it will affect your time, the way you spend your time. It'll affect with whom you spend your time. It'll affect the way you spend your money. It'll affect the way you invest your money. It'll affect how much you give to the Lord's work. It will affect, listen, how you give yourself away to others. It affects every single thing about us because our perspective changes.
Now this God, I'm beginning to see who He is and what He's like. And when I begin to see what He's like and what He offers, I want my heart to be pure. I, listen, I want my motives to be unmixed. I want my will to be submissive. I want my life to be an expression of a living, walking likeness of the Son of God. Everything begins to change. So, he says in His Word, he says that he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. And what happened? One of the results of that is that criticism and misunderstanding no longer affect us the way they used to. When you and I, listen, when you and I are walking in the presence of God and He's ever before our right hand and we keep Him before us and we're beginning to see things from His perspective, criticism, misunderstanding do not bring us gloom and doom, do not bring us into depression and despair. It can just roll right over our head.
We can absolutely walk away and absolutely ignore it for the simple reason, when we are walking in the will of God, we're able to deal with those kind of things with a sense of love and forgiveness no matter what. Doesn't mean that you'll always be happy about the way people treat you, but there's a sense of confidence and assurance that your God whom you serve, whose principles guide and direct your life, will enable you to walk through every fire, every difficulty no matter what it might be. You see, when he said that he endured as seeing Him who is invisible, Him who is unseen, this isn't something that was limited to Moses. This is the gift God has offered to every single one of His children.
And I want to challenge you to ask yourself this question: Do I see God in my life? Where's the evidence of God in my life? In other words, if He is, man, there ought to be some evidence. Do I see God, listen, do I see God in my relationship to other people? Do I see God in my conversation? Do I see God in my work? Do I see Him in my family? Do I see Him in relationships? Do I see Him working in my finances? Do I see God or do I not? Do I see God in the expression of my talents and my gifts? Do I see God in my service? Is my life making an impact in anybody else's life? Do I see God working in me and through me to affect someone else's life?
So, I simply ask you a question. Are you living your life looking at the things that are around you, your circumstances and your future, in the presence of Almighty God? Or do you find yourself feeling very, very alone? Do you find yourself feeling very, very inadequate and alone and helpless and depressed and anxious and worried and fretting and caring and insecure and sometimes even unapproachable by others because of where you're in life?
Then my friend, what you need to do is to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior by faith. What do I mean by that? I simply mean that you're willing to confess that what the scripture says about Him is true, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who went to Calvary and died for your sin. He paid your sin-debt in full. And if you're willing to ask Him to forgive you of your sins and tell Him that you're receiving Him as your personal Savior, in that moment your sin is forgiven. You become a child of God, and you are eternally secure throughout the rest of your life. If you want a peace that passes all understanding, if you want to be able to face life and face it confidently and assuredly, you can only do that by having God in your life through His Son, Jesus.
And I want to encourage you, examine your life even if you're a believer. Examine your life and ask yourself this question. When is the last time I ever said to God, "God, show Me Yourself"? When's the last time I ever expressed real, genuine hunger in my heart to see Him at work in my life? And maybe it'd be good if you asked the Lord, "Lord, when I lie down tonight and every night thereafter, would You just remind me that this is a wonderful time, right before I go into unconsciousness, to be reminded of how You've been with me all the day, and what you've been doing in my life. Lord, teach me how to live, seeing You in every circumstance of my life". It'll change your life.
And Father, how grateful we are that You love us enough to make yourself real to us, love us enough never to leave us nor forsake us, love us enough to pick us up when we falter and fall, love us enough to hang in there with us when we are growing up and maturing in our spiritual life. Thank You for saying, "I will never, no never, forsake you". We give ourselves afresh and anew to You today. To say, "Father, teach us how to see You in ways we have never seen You before, for we ask it in Jesus's name, amen".