Charles Stanley - The Walk Of Faith
The title of this message is "The Walk of Faith". If I should ask you, are you walking in faith or are you walking by sight, how would you answer that? Do you walk according to the will and purpose and plan of God for your life, or are you just walking, trusting, and hoping things will turn out? God wants us to walk trusting Him for every single thing. Abraham, for example, of all the people in the Bible, second only to Jesus, is probably one of the most important people in the Bible because there are fourteen chapters of Scripture about this man Abraham alone.
And when you look in the Word of God and you begin to see all those chapters, and all the things that he did, and think about the fact he's the father of the Jewish race. And so, he's a very, very important character in the Scripture. And he came from a pagan society. And when you think about where he came from and what he did, you think, "Well, there's hope for me". There is hope. Because he came from not only a pagan society, but he probably was an idol worshipper. And somebody says, "Well, why would God choose somebody like that"? God makes choices based on His wisdom, not on how we see things. And God reaches down, speaks to him, and if you'll turn to this twelfth chapter of Genesis, listen to what He says, "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, from your relatives, from your father's house, to the land, which I will show you, and I'll make you a great nation, I will bless you, I'll make your name great, 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.'"
Imagine hearing that from God when you'd been worshipping idols. And God revealed Himself to Abraham in a very special way. So, when you look at what God says to him, what he desires for him, he says God requires him to leave his country. So, when I think about what God does in Abraham's life, He desires to do in all of our lives to some degree. And that is, He desires that you and I walk by faith. We either walk by faith or by sight. Most people, they got to see it to believe it.
So, the first requirement to walk by faith is to be willing to listen to God. You don't listen to Him, you're not going to follow Him. And this is exactly what happened to him. He listened to God, and imagine about this, that God had not spoken, seemingly, to anyone in all these hundreds of years since Noah, and then He speaks to Abraham and He says He's going to make him a great nation. He chose to speak to Abraham and Abraham listened to him. So, if you and I are going to walk the walk of faith, trusting God, the first thing we have to do to learn to listen to God, if I don't listen to Him, I'm going to make up my own mind, make my own choices, make my own decisions, and make decisions oftentimes that are wrong decisions.
So, all of us who call ourselves Christians and say we follow Jesus, the question is: have you learned to listen to Him? When you get up in the morning, what's the first thing you think about? You plan the day or the day's already planned? Do you stop to listen to Him, "Lord, speak to my heart about today. What have You got in mind for today? What's your plan? I have this plan because I work at a certain place, but God, what's Your plan"? Listening to God is one of the basic lessons we're to learn as followers of Jesus. In fact, if you don't learn to listen to Him, you won't follow Him. If you don't learn to listen to Him, you make wrong decisions, erroneous decisions, costly decisions, painful decisions. God has a will and a purpose and plan for all of our lives. And He's willing to speak to us today as He did in Abraham's day.
Somebody says, "Well, but that's thousands of years ago". But remember what Jesus said. He said He would send the Holy Spirit who would be in us, with us, and upon us. And the Holy Spirit would speak to us today as God spoke directly to Abraham centuries ago. So, we have no excuse for not listening to God because He speaks today just like He did then. Only He speaks to us from within because the Spirit of God is a gift from God to give us guidance and direction in life. God always has something to say to His children. And listening to Him is the, first of all, the activities we should consider.
I want to be quiet to say, "Lord, what do You have to say to me"? And this is exactly what he did. And as he listened to God, listened to what He said in this twelfth chapter of Genesis, beginning in verse one, "Now the Lord said to Abram," changed his name later, "'Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, I'll make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.'"
How would he possibly believe that? When he came from worshipping idols, God saw in him the opportunity to use him in a way that would change the whole world. He was listening to God. If he were not listening, he would not have moved. Now, watch this. When God says He's going to do something, He's going to do it. And He didn't say, "If this, that, and the other". He said, "I'm going to do all of these things". Well, that being true, you have to ask yourself the question, did Abraham believe what God said? The reason I know he believed it is because the Scripture says, "So Abraham 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".
Listening to God with the ear of obedience is absolutely essential to living a godly life. And if you don't listen to Him, you'll miss it. And so, when it comes to living a godly life, step number one is you listen to Him. And he did listen to Him. The second step is that he trusted God, because God told him things that were absolutely ridiculous, as far as man was concerned. You mean I'm to get up, leave my family. I'm seventy-five years of age, leave my family, leave everybody, and just head out in some direction that You'll show me as I go. I mean, it was a ridiculous request. He heard Him, and he trusted God. Remember, he didn't come from a godly family. But God spoke to him so clearly, and he was willing to listen, and he was able to discern the voice of God. If he had not been, he would not have gone. But he decided, he chose to listen to God.
Now, to listen to God, your heart's got to be clean, it's got to be right. First thing you'll do is doubt Him if it's not clean. Second thing you'll do is give Him all the reasons for not doing what He required of you. Listening to God will be followed by trusting God. And if he had not trusted God, he would have stayed where he was. He would have said, "You know what? I must be dreaming. Making me a great nation, giving me a great name, and You, God, You're going to curse those who cursed me. Look, there's no way". He listened to God and he trusted Him.
So, let me ask you a question. Has God ever said anything to you strongly, very clearly, that you doubted in your mind that God would possibly say that to you? What would He have to say to you today to get you, to convince you to do something, that you just never thought about doing? Because when you and I yield our lives to the Lord, we have to open ourselves up to whatever God has to say. And I can think of a few times in my own life when I was praying and the Lord would say something to me. I'd say, "Well, there's no way that could be true, so God, what else"? And here's what God does. He shuts you down until you're willing to listen to the last thing He said. God doesn't say, "Well, I'm going to do the second, third, fourth, and fifth things," when I haven't decided to be obedient with the first thing.
And so, I think one of the reasons we don't fulfill God's purpose and will for our life is we can't get past the idea that God may require of us something that we wouldn't expect to happen. Yet, I can look back and see when I argued with God about different things. And I thought, "Well, Lord, I must be dreaming. You wouldn't say that to me". I remember when I left my last church, I'd only been there eleven months, and I thought, "God, mm-mm-mm. I'm just dreaming. This can't be true". Well, I'll tell you what happened. He shut me down. Nothing I did worked. Nothing I said worked until I was willing to say, "Okay, I don't like the idea. I think it's ridiculous. I've only been here eleven months and You wouldn't be calling me somewhere else that close". But He shut me down till I was willing to say, "Okay, Lord".
And I think oftentimes when things don't work in our life, God shuts us down because we haven't agreed to the last thing He tried to say. And, "So Abraham went forth as the Lord had spoken to him". And watch this, we'll come back to this, "And Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years of age". Took his wife and Lot and so forth. So, ask yourself the question: do you trust Him enough that when He requires something of you, instead of arguing, will you do it? I'll tell you how you can gauge your spiritual growth. How long does it take you from the time God tells you to do something till the time you do it? That's a pretty good gauge of how committed you are.
And I think one of the reasons that people live out of the will of God is they're not willing to take the first step. God will say something, and people say, and I hear people tell me this all the time, "Well, God doesn't speak to me". Yes, He does. You may not be listening, but He does. God doesn't play favorites. He loves us all. But sometimes He'll require of us something that doesn't make any sense whatsoever. If I'm going to follow the Lord, I've got to be willing to listen to Him and I've got to be willing to trust Him when I don't understand it.
So, ask yourself the question: has God ever spoken to you about something that you didn't understand, that you didn't want to do, but deep in your heart, you knew you should do it? Or, do you look back and think, "I know God Spoke to me back yonder, but I just, I couldn't do that". And here's what I've noticed. Even if you trust God and make a mistake, if you genuinely make a mistake, God has the most awesome ways of correcting that mistake. He knows your heart. He knows you're willing to do what He requires of you, and God knows better than we do that some things He requires of us is very difficult. But the question is: are you listening? And secondly, are you trusting that whatever He says for you to do, that you're to do?
Well, listen to what happened, "So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him, Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from..." So, he could have said, "Well, God, if You'd have told me that when I was forty, I could have done it. But here I am, ready to retire, and You're telling me to take up my family and move. But, "Abram took Sarai his wife, Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, thus they came to the land of Canaan". And they had to travel in, part of the time, in the desert area.
So, God didn't give him an easy trip. He listened to Him. God said, "Here's what I want you to do". And he did what God told him to do and took his whole family, "He passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was in the land". So, God told him to go to sort of enemy territory. But he did what God said do. The issue is: am I available to listen to God? Am I available to trust Him when I don't understand what or why, when or how? Because when you're not trusting Him, and that's what you ask. "Why would You ask me to do this, Lord? When is that going to work"?
In other words, we have lots of questions. We're to live the kind of life that when God speaks, our answer is not maybe, I'll think about it, probably, not me; yes, Lord! Because if I trust Him, I will trust Him always to give me direction that is accurately truthful what He wants to do. And so, I have to trust God. And I think when I look at what God said to Abraham and what He told him to do, that was a very difficult task. And, pick up all of his belongings, all those people who work with him, he'd become prosperous by now, and headed out down, to some degree, in the Arabian Desert with all of his stuff.
Now, you know, we talk about stuff, he really had the stuff. But he listened to God. He trusted God, and so what did He do? He packed up. If he'd have waited to pack, the devil would have played havoc with him. But God spoke to him. He knew that God had spoken to him. He was confident of that, and God said, "Here's what I want you to do". And so, he left, he obeyed God.
So, let me ask you this. When in your life has God told you to do something that you didn't like? It wasn't in your plans. It looked costly or it looked like a disaster in your life, or something you just didn't want to do. When has He asked you to do something that was very difficult for you to say "yes"? If you listen to Him, if you trusted Him, you would have obeyed Him. And you're where you are, I'm where I am as a result of obedience or disobedience. It is a decision we make. And listen to this. We make that decision every day. Every day we face situations and circumstances in life that require us to make the right decision. That is, it requires us to be obedient to God, requires us to listen to God. At no point, at no day in our life, are we to live our lives shut up to ourselves, not listening to God, just doing our natural thing.
God has a will and a purpose and a plan for your life where you are. And the question is: are you walking in obedience to Him? You say, "Well, I, back yonder some, mm-mm, that's not the issue". Today can you say, "I am being obedient to God as best I know my heart today. I've listened to Him. I've tried to be obedient to Him. And so where I am is where I am as a result of being obedient to God". That's what He, that's the kind of life He wants us to live. And so most people don't think about God having a will for their life, having a purpose for their life. They don't think about any of that. They just think about where they're going to get a job, how much money they can make, what are their plans, where they want to spend vacations, what can they possess and how much of this, that, and the other? That's not the will of God. The will of God is, "Lord, what do You want for my life today"? He is willing to speak to you every single day of your life if you're willing to ask Him. Because listen, God knows that you and I don't know what to do apart from Him.
Look at the society we're living in. The society we're living in is very, very uncertain. And so, people make all kind of plans, planning for tomorrow. Plan number one is I'm going to be obedient. I'm going to listen to God and I'm going to obey Him no matter what. That is absolutely a choice that never fails. It is a wise choice, but I have to make that choice. So, he obeyed God, listened to Him, and so it's interesting what happens. The Scripture says he did exactly what God told him to do. And, "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. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain east of Bethel, pitched his tent, and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord".
Now, what's the fourth step? Not only listening to God, trusting Him and obeying Him, but what else? That is, worshipping God. Very important that I'm staying in contact with God, that I'm listening to Him, worshipping Him. And worshipping Him means I'm living a life that's submissive to His will, committed to Him. Don't understand it all, but I'm committed to Him. And so, Abraham did what was wise. God had led him so far. He protected him on this journey, had all of his stuff with him. And what did he do? When he got to a certain point, he knew that it was time to worship God. And when he built an altar to worship God, here's what he was doing. He not only was talking to the Father and listening to Him, he was putting a stake in that land. God, You brought me this far. I've listened to You. You've kept Your Word. I'm putting a stake down here. And that land, of course, became Israel's land.
So, ask yourself the question: as best you know your heart, are you living out the will of God for your life? You might think, "Well, I should have made some different choices back yonder". Well, think about this. Abraham, and I'm glad this is in the Bible, he made some wrong choices. But God didn't stop blessing him. He didn't cast him aside. Listen, before God ever created anything in this life, He knew that His finest children would make mistakes. They would sin against Him. They would disobey Him. Because living in the world in which you and I live in, we make mistakes. There are times of weakness. There are times of failure. And God forgives and He keeps moving us. Abraham did the same thing. But he began where God started with him: listening to God.
So that's one thing all of us can do every day: listen to God, trust what He says, be obedient to what He says, and then thank Him that we have walked in His will for that day. One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that's what we sing. One day at a time, sweet Jesus. One day at a time, we live out our lives. Not just a day at a time, but an hour at a time oftentimes. Sometimes you plan a day and God turns it to another situation but that you could not foresee. That's God giving us guidance and leadership. And therefore, our worship of Him, our obedience to Him, listening to Him, walking His will and His way. That's His plan for us. Watch this. His plan for Abraham, who came from an idolatrous family, His plan for him was absolutely awesome. But he would have died in Haran if he had not done what God told him to do.
So, wherever we are, somebody says, "Well, I don't know the will of God for my life". I can tell you what it is. Here's the will of God for your life. Do the next thing He tells you to do. That's the will of God for your life. Well, here's what happens. People say, "Well, what about this, and what about that, and what about him, what about her, what about this, what, what, what, what, what, what? What about all these things"? You know what? That's not the issue. The God who speaks to you is the God who's already prepared the way. He's already prepared the way for whatever He has for you.
So, the question is: are you listening? Are you trusting Him? Are you obeying Him? And are you worshipping Him with thanksgiving and continue to listen, to trust Him, and to obey Him. That's the message Abraham has. That's the message God has for all of us every single day. Not a single one of us can say, "Well, I can't do that". Yes, you can. Life at its best is a life that listens to God, trusts God, obeys God and thanks God. That's life at its best. And every single one of us can do it, amen?
Father, we thank You for giving us this simple example of Abraham. Thank You that You spoke to him in such an awesome way that he followed Your will in his way. And we see that the whole world has been affected by him. We're not asking to affect the whole world. We're asking to be obedient to You. We trust that the Holy Spirit will speak to us clearly. And we submit ourselves to Your will and Your way. Whatever You want is what we want. Whatever You will is what we will. Give us guidance and direction so that every day is a day well spent, well invested because we walked in the footsteps of our Lord. We walked according to Your will and Your way. You know that somebody seated here this morning has never trusted You as their Savior. So, all of this sounds like double talk to them. How can you trust a God you've never seen? And help them to see that if they're willing to simply pray to You, You will listen and You will make Yourself known to them in such a way that there's no question that You have heard their prayer. And their prayer begins with asking You to forgive them of their sin, the sin of unbelief, of ignoring You, surrendering themselves to You in trust, simple trust, and then watching You work in their life. And I pray that anybody sitting here who has never trusted You're their Savior would realize what they're missing, what they're going to miss. And only You know what they're going to miss. But God, help them to see living life without You is a big mistake. It's missing life at its best. It's only doing what humanity can do, when You're a supernatural God who's planned the best for us. I pray that Your Spirit will speak loudly and clearly, that listening is very important. Trusting is very important. Obeying is very important. And worshipping and adoring You is very important. We love You and we praise You, Father, for loving us. Thank You for giving us this simple example of Abraham. May it be etched in their mind and heart. May it be a part of our lifestyle. In Jesus's name, amen.