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2021 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - A Life of Obedience

Charles Stanley - A Life of Obedience


TOPICS: Obedience

We're continually making decisions in life. In fact, life is just sort of one continuing decision after the other. Now, those decisions cover about everything you could think about. Cover your health, for example, your job, your finances, your children; every aspect of life. Some of those decisions are very important. Some of them not quite so important. But the issue is this: what is the determining factor in your thinking in your life that causes you to make certain decisions.

That is, what's the bottom line? Well, for some people, when it comes to making decisions the bottom line is: is it the reasonable thing to do? For somebody else, it would be: well, what does he think or she think? Or what do they think about it? For some other people, it's a fear of rejection that causes them to make certain decisions. Other people, it's the question of whether it will profit them or not. In other words, what will this do for me? And it's sort of centered around all around me. And so, people make decisions based on different premises and that is: how they think, how they feel. What about yourself? Where does God fit in the decisions that you make? Because we're going to keep on making them till the last moment of our life, we're going to be making decisions. But the issue is: are we making wise decisions? Are we making unwise decisions? What are the consequences of the decisions that you make?

You see, a lot of people don't want to think about consequences, they want to think аbout: this decision is going to do this for me now. I'm not going to worry about the future. This is why people overspend, overspend, overspend, rack out all their credit cards, knowing that at some point there's not going to be any more credit. And they're not going to have any more money, but the only thing that happens that--be concerned with them right now is: can I get what I want now? Forgetting the consequences. It is always unwise to ignore the consequences of your decisions because there are always consequences. The consequences can be good. They can be, shall we say, joyful consequences, or they can be costly. They can be regrettable and they can cause suffering in your life. We all make decisions day after day after day. What's the bottom line for you?

So, I want you to turn, if you will, to the fifth chapter of Acts. And we see that going on in the life of the early church. And what's happening here to give you a little background is in early days of the church, people are being saved, lives are being changed and the Scripture says, "All the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly being added to their number". And while this good thing was going on, the Sadducees and the Pharisees and the leaders of the nation of Israel, they were becoming more and more frightful because it appeared this Jesus was gaining momentum in His popularity. And therefore, this was a threat to their authority, to their rule, and to their position, and to their popularity. And so, what happens is they decide they'd put a stop to it.

And beginning in the sixteenth verse of this fifth chapter, "The people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed. But the high priest rose up, along with all of his associates, and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 'Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this life.' And upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and the associates came together, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. But the officers who came did not find them in prison; and they returned and reported back, saying, 'We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.'

Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what they should do. But someone came and reported to them, 'The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!' Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned. And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, 'We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your testimony," or your teaching, "and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.'" Now, here is the answer, "But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men.'" And what he was simply saying is this: we are going to obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.

What's the final determining factor when you begin to make decisions in your life? Do you involve God in in that decision-making process? Or do you consider that, you know, you'll make what's reasonable and it'll all somehow work out? Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. Now, we're not living in a day when people are very interested in consequences. But those of us who are followers of Jesus should be very, very interested in the consequences of our actions because they'll have impact either for good or for evil. Or they may have impact very strongly and maybe some over here not so strongly, but we will have impact. So, I want us to consider this whole idea of consequences and this principle of obeying God, leaving all the consequences to Him.

So, when you think about what a consequence is, a consequence is that which naturally follows a previous action. That if I commit this act here, there's going to be a consequence. If I make a decision here, there's going to be a consequence. For example, if you spend and spend and spend, then you know that somewhere out there, there are going to be consequences of that. Or if you are in a business and you just ignore the people who come to your particular store or buy what you have, and you just mistreat them, there're going to be consequences for that. There are consequences to all of our decisions. Some consequences are very, very important. Some maybe not considered all that important. But there are consequences.

And so, when you ask yourself the question: well, how do I make decisions? What questions do I ask? Because some consequences are short lived and immediate. Some consequences last for a lifetime. There are people who make decisions early in life that last all of their life, and if they had the privilege, they would never have made that decision if they had the privilege of going back and re-looking at it again. So what about yourself? Think about this: every single one of us, every single one of you, everyone is where he or she is as a result of decisions that we've made. Some of it may be decisions that other people have made. The consequences of their decision spill over into our life. And that's why you cannot say, "Well, it's my own life, I will do with it what I please. Nobody's going to tell me how to live".

You can't live that way because all of us have influence. I think about parents who make decisions. Husband says to his wife or wife to her husband, "You know what? I don't love you no more, I'm leaving". And here are three little girls or two little girls and a little boy, and he or she says, "Well, what about them"? "Well, I don't know about them, but I'm leaving and nobody's going to tell me how to live my life, and I'm not responsible". Yes, we are. I think about how many people make a decision every day, the consequences of which spill over into somebody else's life and kids grow up without a father, without a mother. Or situations and circumstances transpire as a result of those decisions that bring ill health, whatever it might be. When somebody ignores, totally ignores good health, totally ignores a proper diet, exercise, proper rest, a proper way of thinking, proper attitude, and then what happens? Here they come along and they get sick and then they live out their lives with ill health and want to blame it on who? It's the consequence oftentimes, not always; consequence oftentimes of the way that they've chosen to live their life and the decisions that they've made.

So, you know this verse in Galatians chapter six verse seven. What does He say? He says we will reap what we sow. Now, we know that that is best explained like this because it is the truth: we reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow. That is a divine principle that cannot change. We don't want it to change for the simple reason if it did change, we'd all starve to death because the farmer's betting on that principle to be true. We reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow. So the principle is a warning about consequences of our actions and our attitudes: things we say and things that we do. We reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow.

So, that being true, what are you sowing? What is your attitude about life and about God? What's your attitude about His church? What's your attitude about yourself, the value, the importance of your life and your own health and your children and your future? What's your attitude? In other words, what's the decision-making process? Are you asking the question: God, what is Your will? And when you know His will, you're willing to be obedient no matter what. So, obeying God and leaving the consequences to Him is a principle of the Word of God. It is an absolute awesome principle. And I think, as I look at the Scripture and think about all the things that I personally would choose if I had, in other words, if I had to choose one principle above all the rest, and if I could say to the world one thing that's the wisest of all, it would simply be this: obey God, leave all the consequences to Him.

Now, there's certain requirements of that, and when I think about what that demands of us, I want you to think about this: because, listen, we all agree that obeying God is the right thing. Amen? Right. Now, that being the case, there are certain requirements to obey God. Now, I want you to think about something: all of us have a belief system. There are certain things all of us believe, we've been taught, may be the wrong things or right things, but all of us have a belief system. And out of this belief system, we've developed convictions, that is, certain things that we will do and we will not do based on what we believe is the wise, the profitable, and the unprofitable thing.

So, we all have certain convictions. Now, the issue is: what are your convictions based on? Well, is it based on because my momma said so, or is it based on my teacher said this, or the pastor said that? What is it based on? Our convictions should be based on the truth of God's Word. Now, listen very carefully: you will not make wise decisions based on the truth of God unless you believe this one basic, theological fact and truth. And that's this: that God is absolutely sovereign, which means that, as He said, "He has established his throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all". Which means what? That God's power rules over all things, at all times, all circumstances, all people, no exception.

You say, "Well, wait just a minute, I can't believe that because if God was in control, that plane wouldn't have crashed and she wouldn't have died and he wouldn't have gotten sick". Listen, you and I do not know and understand all the reasons that God allows certain things to happen. He doesn't promise us that. Here's what He promises: I'll never leave you nor forsake you. He promises that whatever we face in life He's going to be with those of us who are His children. And so, what we have to ask is this: do you believe that God is in absolute control of all things? Now, I just got through speaking to a very, very large group of people and I asked that question and they sat there dead silent. And they were probably ninety-nine point nine percent Christians.

Here's what we do: we look around and say, "Do I believe that God is in control of all things"? Well, if He is why doesn't that change? Why doesn't this change? Why don't we do this? Why did He do that? That's not the issue. He's not promised me understanding of all of His ways or why He does what He does. But if we have to decide is He in control or is He not? Now, watch this, if you do not believe that He's in absolute control, you have to throw out of your belief system one of the most important verses you believe. Romans eight twenty-eight. What does he say? "My God causes all, watch this, "causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose". Now, he didn't say it may happen, he said He causes not some things, most things, a little things, "All things to work together for good". If I don't believe He's the sovereign of the universe, I have to toss that verse. If God's not in control, here's where we are: we're just beings floating through space and time with no sense of direction and no goal and no determined end.

And you and I know that's not true. Therefore, God is in absolute control. And because He's in absolute control, I can trust Him that no matter what the circumstance, if I'm willing to obey Him, He's going to turn it for my good no matter what. It may not be good in other people's eyes. There may be things involved in what He turns into good that I wouldn't like, I wouldn't choose, but here's His promise: "My God shall cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose".

So there are requirements: there's your belief in the sovereignty of God. And then I would put secondly under that one, that is, trust, you've got to trust Him. Either you believe that or you don't believe it. Do you believe God answers prayer? Somebody would say, "Well, sometimes". No, no, no, no, no He answers all of them. But He answers them in different ways. He may say yes. He may say no. He may say wait. But, or He may say, "I've got something better for you". But He's going to answer our prayer if we're His children. He's in absolute control, so I've got to trust Him. That's an absolute requirement if I'm going to be obedient to Him. Not only must I trust Him, but I've got to mix this trust with love because here's what He says: if you love Me, you will obey Me. If I love Him, I'm going to obey Him. I'm not going to obey Him when it's convenient. I'm not going to obey Him just when I understand the circumstances. I want to be obedient to Him because I love Him. And not only that, and if that's true, and it is true, I must listen to Him. How am I going to know what to do if I don't listen to Him? That's why just praying and getting up and walking off is not the way He wants us to operate. He wants us to tell Him what we think we need and whatever it might be. Then we're to listen to what He says.

So, I must be willing to listen to Him. Likewise, I must realize that it takes Courage. It takes courage to be obedient to God, especially when you're in the midst of conflict, and you will have conflict. You choose to be obedient to God, you're going to have conflict. You can have it in your family, you can have it among your children, your wife, your husband, you have it in your school, you can have it on your job. You're going to have conflict because we live in a world that is anti-God. So there'll be conflict. You have to ask yourself the question: am I willing to obey God when I know that there is conflict? But there's one other thing that we must be willing to do, and that is to live our life in full surrender. You see, listen to this, the area of your life that is not surrendered is the area of your life in which you choose to be disobedient no matter what.

What area of your life have you sort of isolated for yourself over here and said, "You know I'm going to do whatever God wants me to do this over here; I mean, one little thing over here never hurt anybody and nobody can be perfect? Mmm, mmm, mmm". In other words, if I trust Him, I should trust Him for everything. If I expect Him to turn all the circumstances in my life into something good, then I must be willing to trust Him, to love Him and to surrender it all to Him. Now, are there rewards? Yes, there are. For example, He said to Joshua in that first chapter, one of my favorite passages. When He said to him, listen to this, He said to him three times, "Joshua, be strong, be strong, be strong. Be strong and courageous, strong and courageous, strong and courageous". And He said, "Meditate upon the law of God, meditate upon the Word of God, meditate upon it day and night, don't turn to the right or turn to the left, do exactly what I tell you to do. Then I will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success".

One of the rewards of obeying God is Success. It may not be success in the eyes of the world, but there will be success. And so, there will be a sense of, listen, a sense of serenity and calmness and quietness. There'll be a sense within your own heart of peace and joy. But there'll also be conflict and there'll also be suffering. That's going to be part of it. In other words, you obey God, you can expect some suffering at times. But what is He going to do about the suffering? He's going to do the same thing He did with His disciples because they suffered, they got flogged and beaten and you name it. But they transformed, they transformed their world because they were willing to be obedient to God. Going to be conflict, but there's going to be growth.

Think about this: when do you and I grow? In the midst of conflict, in the midst of difficult decisions, when we choose to obey Him, thinking, "Oh God, I'm going to be obedient, I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm going to obey You anyway". What happens? God always comes through and He begins to work in your life, and little by little, you begin to grow in your Christian life. You obey God, leave all the consequences to Him. You can't ever go wrong obeying God. You know why? Because you don't know what the consequences are. His consequences for obedience are always good. Could they be good and painful at the same time? Yes, they could.

Now, remember this: God is responsible for the consequences of our obedience. Mark it down. We're responsible for the consequences of our disobedience, mark that down. Then make a decision: I am going to be obedient to God no matter what because He will do the same thing in your life, in your circumstance, in your situation. It won't be the same as in my situation, but it'll be the same... in other words, what fits you? What does God have in mind for you? Obey God. Don't rush and marry somebody because somebody's putting pressure on you. What's the consequences of being obedient to God? You can hold back your tithe and say, "You know what, I know what God says, but I can't afford to give ten percent". What you mean is I can't afford to be obedient to God. Yes, you can.

And I think about people who are living in financial need because they won't believe and trust God. You obey Him and leave Him with the circumstances and the consequences. Look, we said in the very beginning: we do believe that God tells the truth, amen? He tells the truth, and that He is absolutely sovereign, which means there is not anything He cannot do. That being the case, would you want to risk financial blessings on blessings on blessings in your life over a matter of not giving him one penny out of every dime? Just that simple, but just that serious. And I want to challenge you to be wise enough to make a decision in your life from this point on: God, I may not understand everything You do. I may not even like everything You do. I may suffer in some points. I may have difficulty doing it, but I'm going to obey You and leave all the consequences to You because I trust You and because I love You. And because I know You will only do what is best for me. And because I believe that You'll turn every circumstance of my life for my good in response to my obedience.

And Father, how grateful we are that You take personal interest in every single one of Your children. And Lord, if You could just give all of us a little glimpse of what the future holds as a result of being obedient to You, we would all fall upon our knees instantly praising and worshipping You for being so good and so gracious and kind. But we can't because You're not going to show us all that. You want us to trust You and to live it out and to experience it day by day. That is my prayer for every person who is listening to this message. In Jesus' name, Amen.

And I want to encourage you this morning if you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you're, listen, you're losing. I don't care what you may be gaining financially and as far as the world's claim is concerned, you're losing every day till you turn your life over to Him. And I plead with you to ask God to forgive you of your sins, accept His death on the cross as payment for your sin, and receive Him as your personal Savior. And you say, "Well, I don't understand it all". You don't have to understand all. He'll give you understanding. You take the first step. God is ready to bless and to do fantastic things in the lives of people who are willing to trust Him with all the consequences of their obedience. I can tell you, you cannot lose. You cannot lose being obedient to God.
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