Charles Stanley - The Unreasonable Will of God
The question I'm most confronted with has to do with the will of God. That is, what is the will of God? And people oftentimes ask, "Well, does God have a will for everybody? And secondly, does He have a will for little things, big things, major questions, those desires that we have? Or is it just up to us to decide what we ought to do? The will of God is one of the most important aspects of your life. And He is committed to showing you His will if you're willing to seek it.
Now, sometimes it isn't easy to find. Sometimes it comes easy. Sometimes it's over a prolonged period of time as you and I begin to put the pieces together and we begin to see what the will of God is. Sometimes it's very unreasonable. And when I think about that, I think about times when I've been tested and tried and realized that some things that seemed to be reasonable really weren't, and things that I should have been able to understand, but I could not. And began to realize that He doesn't require me to understand His will, only to obey it even when it doesn't make a lot of sense.
And so, what I want to talk about in this message is just that: the unreasonable will of God. Because all of us have faced it and we will face it; times when the Lord requires of us something that's totally unreasonable. We say, "Well, you know that doesn't make sense, and so why should I do something till I can fully understand it? If God will give me a full understanding, then I will do what He says". Well, you're headed for trouble. He is not obligated to give us understanding of why He wants to do whatever He wants to do. I'm obligated to be obedient to whatever He says even when it looks like and appears to be unreasonable.
So, I want you to turn to a passage of Scripture that beautifully illustrates this, and it's in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. And if you'll turn there for a moment, and I want us to read this passage. And it's an interesting passage because it's a simple incident early in the life of Jesus, but it's one that describes just what we're talking about. And that is the fact that something has been asked here that seems to be unreasonable, the unreasonable will of God. And if you're waiting for everything to sort of fit your thinking process, it's not going to happen.
So, listen to what happens early in His ministry now in this fifth chapter in the first verse, "Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to His Word," the Word of God, "He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret," that is, the Sea of Galilee. "And He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat".
Now, all that was reasonable for Him to ask that. "When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.' Simon answered and said to Him, 'Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.' When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. So when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, 'Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.' For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not fear, from now on you'll be catching men.' And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
So, let's look to see what's happening here. What's happening is Peter and Andrew are brothers, they were fishermen. And James and John were brothers and they also were fishermen. And so, they knew what fishing was all about. And that was their livelihood; that's all they had ever done and that's what they intended to do the rest of their life is to fish. And so, here are these fishermen and that's their life, and here comes Jesus now and He makes a big request. And His request of Peter is something that was, from a fisherman's perspective, it was very unreasonable. Because He said to Peter after He'd been teaching for a while, He said, "Now I want us to head out to the deep for a big catch".
And I'm sure Peter must have said, "What"? And you see, everything's not in the Scripture. So when Jesus said that, I'm sure Peter must have thought several things. One of which is, "Now look, I've been fishing all of my life, and I know and all of us know and all of my cohorts here know that you fish on the Sea of Galilee at nighttime in shallow water, not in the middle of the day in deep water". It was absolutely, totally reversible. And not only that, he must have thought, "He's an itinerate teacher, I'm the fisherman. And Him, He's telling me, in other words, He's commandeering my boat. Now He's in charge. He's telling me where to take this boat". And so, it was not reasonable at all. And so, Peter had to deal with that, but he dealt with it quickly.
Now, I would ask you a question: has God ever said something to you that looked totally unreasonable? How many of you? All right, hold them up now. Hold them up. Okay, hold them up, that's about everybody. Somebody hasn't been praying at all, but most of you have. All right, hold them up a minute, I'm not finished. Wait a minute now, look at them come up. Now, how many of you, now watch this, how many of you've said, "I'm going to do whatever He says anyway". All of us have been in that situation where we said, "Now, Lord, I know that sounds good, but, God, I mean, mmm". And sometimes it's not easy. As we said, knowing the will of God is not easy. And sometime, knowing the will of God is not easy to do whatever He says do. But think about this, first of all, if you think about the very idea of the will of God, He has a will for every single one of us, no matter who you are, what you are.
You say, "Well, I'm just a mom". There's no such thing as being just a mom. You have the responsibility of raising those children in a godly fashion. That's a biggest opportunity, the biggest job I know a mother could have today. And so, we all have responsibilities, and God has a will for your life and He has equipped you to do what He's called you to do. Now, we have to sharpen up our skills and work on our talents and abilities that He's given us. But He's equipped you to do what He's called you to do. He would never call you to do something and not equip you. So He's equipped us to do what He wants us to do. He will show us His will in small issues and in big issues. And the small ones, listen, when you practice doing the will of God over small things, when the big ones come along, it's no big deal. Why? You're already in the habit of being obedient to Him. You have followed Him and obeyed Him in little issues. You've watched Him work in your life. You've watched Him answer your prayer. You watched Him give you clear guidance. And so, when the big issues come along you think, "Well, He's done it here, He will do it in something even larger".
So, all of us have to realize that He has a plan for our life, He's with us in that plan, and it would be out of character for God to call you to do something and then not help you do it. He's never called us to do anything He did not get involved to help us do. Now, if you doubt Him and you question Him and you don't do it, then you're on your own. And so, here's Peter looking at this whole issue and thinking, "We're just going for an empty boat ride". And he probably was thinking, "Now, Lord, if you want to just take a boat ride, let me finish cleaning up these nets and then I'll take you for a ride. We'll just have a good sail around the sea". Now, another issue here was this: that when the fishermen came back, the first thing they did was to clean those nets and stretch them out so they were dry. Because if they didn't, they would dry rot and they would break, of course, when they had a big load.
So, he had lots of reasons not to go. He was dead tired, he'd fished all night long, and they didn't catch anything, so it was a little bit discouraging for that particular night. And he knew the best places, so there wasn't any other good place to go. So, everything about this situation said this is a total waste of time. And so, he could have said, "Ah, Jesus, I'm not going. You can go find somebody else's boat, but I'm not going. I'm dead tired. I've got to finish cleaning these nets, and besides that, my friends and my cohorts are going to think I've lost it going out here in the middle of the day and fishing when we all just came back and we all know it's not working. What are they going to think"? So, he had lots of reasons not to be obedient to what Jesus said do. But look what would have happened if he had not obeyed. So, what I want us to consider here is simply this, what about this issue, when God requires something of you that is absolutely unreasonable.
Well, let's go back in the Scripture, was it not unreasonable when God said to Noah, "I want you to build this big boat four hundred and fifty feet long and so high and so wide, and here's what I want you to do"? Well, where is the water? What, in other words, what's this all about? And besides that, how much is it going to cost? And besides that, where am I going to get the money? In other words, Noah would have had lots of legitimate questions to question what God said about building this big boat. Totally unreasonable. What I want you to see is this: did it not prove to be reasonable later on when it start raining? And Noah began to realize all these years I've been building this big old boat and wondering what in the world was going on. And all my friends and everybody who comes by, this is a spectacle in town. They go by and see some guy over here is building this big boat and he said God told him to do it. What a joke. Till it started raining. God is going to require of you things that are not reasonable. What you have to decide is this: am I going to follow the principle to obey God even when things don't look reasonable to me? Because, remember this, that common sense is not enough. Common sense isn't enough. It takes God sense.
And remember this: common sense leaves us inadequate. When you have common sense, you have a little sense. When you have omniscience, you have all knowledge and full understanding. And that's, of course, what Jesus had. He knew exactly what He was going to do. God's under no obligation to show us why. His obligation is to show us what His will is. Our obligation is to be obedient even when it seems to be totally unreasonable. Now, I want you to listen very carefully. Are you listening? Say amen. Whenever God says no to you about something that you're praying about or something that you want or something you want to do, listen carefully, whenever He says no, what He's doing is protecting you. I'm going to repeat that. Whenever He says no, He's protecting you. Whenever He says no, He's protecting you. Whenever He says no, He's protecting you. Don't forget it.
If you try to rationalize it and figure it out and explain it away and, listen, you can get all your friends to agree with you. Does that make it right? No. And they'll say, "I can't imagine. I just can't," in other words, you see, they only have common sense. It's the One who has omniscience, who knows the beginning and the end and the whys and the whereabouts. When He says no, He knows that no is the wisest thing we could do. And I can tell you of all these years whenever God has said no to me, He's been right, listen, I don't have to look in a diary and figure out how many times He's right. I can tell you He's been right every single time. Why? Because that's who He is. He's obligated by His character to give us direction and clarity for our life and to show us what to do next. The right answer to the will of God every time is: yes, I will do it.
Now, isn't that simple? Listen, it's simple until we get to rationalizing and think, "Oh, but what about this? And what are they going to think? And what is he going to think? What is she going to think? What's going to happen here? Suppose I don't have enough of this"? In other words, it's all about rationalizations, listen, God's already thought about all those things that you're concerned about. All the things that you're hesitating about, listen, He's already figured all that out. Listen, before He told you to do it, He had all the answers, all the solutions, and was ready to go to work the moment you say yes.
Now, here's what I want you to see: don't categorize yourself as a person that God doesn't care that much about. He loves you. He cares for you. Listen, He couldn't be the God He professes to be if He didn't love you just as much as He loves somebody else. In other words, what is it about you that God doesn't love as much as He loves someone else? You can't even name it. Well, I'm not as gifted. As gifted as who? You are a creation of God. There's nobody like you. He's got your name and He hasn't got your name with somebody else's. You are a creation of God, created for the purpose of bringing Him glory and honor. And the way you do that the best and the most effectively is to walk in His will. That's the way He's planned it.
Now, Peter could have said, "Not today". And look what he would have missed. And look what we're talking about, we're not talking about this big, huge plan. We're talking about doing what he did every day as just a habit of his life, getting out there in the evening, getting the nets together, going fishing, coming back in the morning, cleaning the nets, next day, same thing day after day after day after it was not a big deal. Except on this day, watch this, there're some days that you're not on plan. There're some days we're totally oblivious to what God's doing. There're some days that opportunities, issues arise. God wants to speak that can turn your life totally around in another direction. That's why every day's important and that's why the will of God is important every single day in your life.
For example, somebody says, "Well, now how am I going to find the will of God about things? In other words, He's up there, I'm down here. Look at all these things we have to deal with". Well, first of all, you get in the Word of God and you start reading. Now, watch this, He will bring some verse. And sometimes I look back and it's just like, here's a verse I read many times. And I'm reading it this time and, wham, it's staring me right in the face. Thank you, Lord, I know exactly what You want me to do. This is why if people only read the Bible saying, Well, I'm going to find God's will. Hmm-mmm-mmm. Well, I can tell you, if you wanna do certain things, I can find some verses to give you, say, Mm-hm, see I can do that. Or if you've got some favorite verses, no. If you want to find the will of God, you get in the Word and you just start reading. Lord, speak to my heart. I want to know the truth. I want to know what You want me to do. Secondly, you ask Him about it.
You say, "Well, how many times do I have to ask"? Till you get the answer. Because, listen, watch this, sometimes, watch this carefully, we're not in a position to listen. We're so geared over here to do our thing, it takes us a while to sort of get over that so we can get over here where we can hear what He has to say. So sometimes we can hear it easy, quickly, sometimes not. So, you get in the Word, you get on your knees before Him, and then, watch, watch this, watch how God works the circumstances of your life while you're seeking His will. Because oftentimes He will show you in the circumstance what His will is.
And then oftentimes it's by Godly counsel. You have to watch this, not just what your friends think. You see, watch this, people who love you and want the best for you and love being with you and wanting your approval and so forth, they're going to tell you what they think you want to hear. That is not godly counsel. Godly counsel is a godly person, objectively, based on the Word of God, and prayerfully saying to you, watch this, not here's what you ought to do, but here's what God says about situations like this.
Then you haven't told them what to do. You've said to them, here's what God says, now you must make a decision. And oftentimes, that decision may come quickly but, listen, the reason knowing His will doesn't come quickly, it's because there are things over here God's working on getting ready for you when you get here and the decision has to be made. So, if you make snap decisions, you're going to get in trouble. Now, remember this, obedience to God is the most awesome thing. And I've lived long enough to tell you, you can have peace and contentment and joy, no matter what's going on, no matter what's happening, no matter how bad things look at times because God never changes. He's this awesome, loving Father. Does this mean the will of God's always easy? No. There've been times when doing the will of God for me was a very, very testy time. A very, very strong time. A very, very threatening time.
I mean, all kind of things were going through my mind, and yet when I think about what God promises and knowing in my heart, "Lord, here's what You said. I'm going to do what You say no matter what happens". You cannot lose. You cannot fail. What I want you to see is this: He has the best plan for you. There are awesome, unexpected rewards to this best plan. Not only oftentimes is it profitable to you in lots of different ways, whether it's a job or money, or whatever it might be. But what happens to you? You get a glimpse of Jesus, His trustworthiness; He's willing to forgive you of your sins, His faithfulness, His loyalty, His devotion to you. You're one of His followers; His love for you. Plus, all the other things that come about.
And then think about this: on one turn of the wheel, that is to speak, one decision, Peter's life changed totally. And he became a follower of Jesus and God used him in the most awesome way at Pentecost at one of the most pinnacle times in the New Testament. Who is the man that Jesus chose to bring forth that awesome sermon on Pentecost? Ole Simon Peter. Here is this fisherman who obeyed God in what appeared to be an unreasonable situation, and look what God did for him. What will He do for you? Here's what He'll do for you. He will give you an understanding of Himself you don't have at this point. He may be just waiting for you to surrender your life to Him and give yourself to Him so that what He has in store for you, you can begin your journey toward what He has in mind. You have no earthly idea what He has in mind. You don't want to miss that.
And I ask you this question: can you profit in any way by disobeying God? No, you cannot. For whatever you choose to squeeze that's not the will of God will turn to ashes. Now, more than likely, before this coming week is over, you're going to be looking right at one of those decisions and thinking, "Lord, what shall I do"? This is why every sermon is important. And this is why this message is so important for the simple reason: when you hit that decision, you have to make up your mind: am I going to obey God or am I not? If you've taken some decent notes and you heard me say over and over and over again, it's always the best way to obey Him. Don't make a jump-quick decision. Seek His mind, His heart; He'll show you.
And one thing for certain, you'll always say, "Thank God I did what He said. His way is the best way". I don't know what you're facing in life. But let me ask you this: have you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? "Well, no I haven't. I haven't had time, I just, I don't think need all that". Yes, you do. You see, what you're looking for in life, there's no substitute. You can't have enough money, prestige, prominence. You can't have enough of anything that life has to offer that will equal a personal relationship with Jesus Christ whereby you're forgiven of your sin.
You have the Holy Spirit to come live on the inside of you. You'll have the wisdom and the knowledge and the understanding that you need to live out your life with peace and joy and a sense of contentment and delight in your life even through the difficult, trying hardships and sorrows and heartaches. There will be a sense of confidence. This stabilizing foundation in your life, unshakeable, unchangeable, unalterable foundation of truth that will see you through whatever there is in life you have to face. Obeying God is always the best idea. And remember this, partial obedience is disobedience. And He never expects us to understand, but to obey and leave all the things that seem to be unreasonable to Him. You cannot lose.
Father, how grateful we are. What awesome love we sense in Your Spirit toward us, Lord, when You're willing to do so much in our behalf to show us the right way in order that we might become true, genuine followers of Jesus Christ. We say we love You and we praise You. And we know that if we really mean that, we will obey You. For You said, "If you love Me, you will obey Me". In Jesus' name, amen.