Charles Stanley - Living a Life That Counts
Well, there're lots of voices out there calling for your attention. They want something from you. They either want your vote or want you to buy something, make you all kind of promises. Usually they have themselves in mind, not you necessarily. So, when you think about your life and you think about how you're living it out, if you had to write down in one sentence, "My life is counting in the following ways". How would you follow that sentence; in what ways? What would you write down? My life is counting in the following ways. Would you find yourself having to think up something? Or can you think right now, Well, my life is counting for this or for that or for the other, whatever it might be.
You say, well, give me some illustration. No, you think about it. Is your life counting in some way, making a difference? Does it make a difference, for example? Does it a make a difference in your home? Does it make a difference where you work? Does it make a difference among your friends? Does it make any difference at all? The world's just hawking all kind of things. Want us to buy this and buy that, vote here and vote there, go here and go there and you can't live without this, that, and the other. The world has its message. But listen. So, do we. Those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have the real message. We have a message that has to do with eternity.
So, when you think about your life, in what way does your life count? What way are you making a difference or are you just sort of living every day? In other words, you get up on Monday morning, you know what you're going to do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Come to church on Sunday, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night and start all over again Monday. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and for many people that's what life is. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and so what happens? What difference are you making? In other words, God never intended for us to live our life in just wrote anything but to make a difference.
And there's a wonderful passage of Scripture that I've read many times and I preached many sermons on them. But I want you to turn to the thirty second Psalm for a moment and listen to this awesome promise of God. Chapter thirty-two of Psalms verse eight, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go". The way which you should live. "I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked". Did you hear that? Many are the sorrows of those who reject Jesus Christ as their Savior. "But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him". Listen to this, "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart". We have a reason to be joyful. We have some reasons to be thankful and he says it. "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones".
Now, so let me ask you a question. Think about how you would answer this question if you had to write out an answer. In what way is your life making a difference? In any way. Is your life counting in such a way that it makes a very decided difference? In it, how you live your life? And the impact that you have, the influence, the testimony you have makes a difference. Or you just sort of living? "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go". That is, we have the promise of God, that He will teach every single one of us how we ought to live our life. Now, watch this. He doesn't expect us all to do the same thing. Some people have more responsibility than others; that's the way God created them. Some people have less responsibility; that's the way He created them. Doesn't make them any better than the other folks? No. We're all different creations of God but He says, and He intends for us all to read this, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go". And I'll do better than that. He says, "I will counsel you with My eye upon you".
Now, when He says I will counsel you, that's like God personally counseling you. That is, I'm going to give you direction. I'll show you what to do. When you get in trouble, I'm going to tell you what to do. When somebody has abused you and misused you and talked about you, I'm going to show you what to do. When you fall in some way, I'm going to show you how to get up. I'm going to help you. He says, I will counsel you and look at this, with my eye upon you. That is, God is not an impersonal God up in Heaven somewhere throwing out blessings and if you're lucky you'll catch one. He says, "I will counsel you with My eye upon you". And then He gives us a warning. Don't act like this. "Don't be like a horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check". In other words, otherwise they'll be wild. "Otherwise they'll not come near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him". Did you get that? Look at that. "He who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him".
Now, think about your life. Do you think about your life as being surrounded by lovingkindness or by him, or by her, or by this, or by that, or by troubles and heartaches and debts, and all kind of things? He says, "He who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him". Here's what that says to me. I have the wonderful privilege of looking around, to looking for God's blessing. He says, Lovingkindness shall surround you if you trust in the Lord. If I should ask you, Do you trust in the Lord? You probably say, Yes, I do. Do you think lovingkindness surround you? Well, I don't know about that now. Well, maybe it's because you're not looking. Maybe it's because you're not giving Him credit. Maybe it's because you're not living in such a way that He's going to show that, "He who trust, in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord, rejoice you righteous ones; Shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart". That is, the Christian life is a fantastic life.
Did you read that? We have the Lord God surrounding us, keeping us, providing for us. And He says not only that we should shout for joy, you who are upright in heart. Now, why don't people shout for joy? Because they're not upright in heart. In other words, if you're living in sin you're not going to shout for joy. If you fall under the category of people who don't feel important, and don't think your life is worth anything and you see yourself as if I'm here today and gone tomorrow, who's going to care, who's going to think about me, and it depends on how much I leave them is what they'll think about. And so, you don't see any purpose in your life. You can't enjoy life. But when I read this passage of Scripture and he starts off saying, I promise you this. I will instruct you and teach you how you ought to live. I'm going to counsel you so personally, I'm going to have my eye upon you. Not only that, you trust in Me and lovingkindness shall surround you. That is the promise of the Living God.
So, ask yourself this question. Do I feel like lovingkindness has surrounded me or do I feel like it's debt, heartache, pain, suffering, criticism, doubt, frustration, fear? In other words, which do you feel like? Lovingkindness shall surround you. Now, listen carefully. God intends for your life and my life to make a difference. People who live around you are watching you. Everybody who sees you, works with you, knows you, lives with you has an opinion of you. Is that good or bad? Now, I'm not saying is their opinion good or bad. But do you think is good or bad that they have an opinion of you? You can't do anything about it.
And think about this. You have the privilege of impacting somebody's life. You have the privilege of changing somebody's life. You have the privilege of making a very specific difference in somebody's life for good. If you're wise enough to listen to what He says. And what I want you to see is this, you are influencing somebody's life whether you want to or not, by what you say or don't say, how you live or not how you live. And here's what Jesus said. He said, He didn't say you might be, He said you, listen, you are the light of the world. Would you say your light is dim or bright? Is the bulb on it clean or is it dirty? "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on that the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house". This is not a suggestion. This a command of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's not limited to any particular group of people except believers. "Let your light so shine before men and women in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify," not you but, "your Father who is in heaven".
Watch this, You and I are reflectors of the living God. And we reflect Him accurately or we reflect Him inaccurately by the way we talk, by the way we dress, by the way we operate every aspect of our life, we are, listen, we are reflectors of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, He's saying to them and saying to us, you have a personality, you have a disposition about you. There's something about you that's different from everybody else. Think about this, the next time you get really bored with yourself and you just think, well, you know what, I just don't like myself. And you can talk about your hair, your waist, you talk about all those things. And what I want you to see is this, God made you the way you are. He's made you to reflect Him. Not by what we physically look like, He wants us to reflect Him about who we are on the inside. And every single one of us has the privilege of reflecting the very life of the Lord Jesus Christ to some degree. Not the same to everybody.
There are people who've been Christians years and years and years. People who have been a Christian for a short period of time. But you know what, we all reflect Him in some way. So, you say, well, that's not my choice. It doesn't have to be your choice. It's His choice. Let your light so shine, listen, Let your light so shine. You are the light of the world. God says that you and I "are the light of the world". Whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you'd like to do something about it, you can't. You are reflecting something to everybody who knows you. He says, "Let your light shine before men in such a way they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven".
In other words, He says, I want you to so live that people will say you did a good job. You're a really fine person and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Which simply means this. If I live like the devil, if I live in sin, if I tolerate things in my life that shouldn't be there, sin against God, what am I doing? I'm sending a false message about who God is. You live, you choose to live in sin, you're sending a false message. That's not who God is. He says glorify your Father who is in heaven. That is, we should be reflectors of the righteousness and the holiness of Almighty God. Somebody says, well, I'm not holy. Yes, you are. Because when God saved you, you became a holy child of God. Doesn't mean that you are sinless and perfect, but you are still holy. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. You are one of His children.
What I want you to see, is you cannot escape this awesome opportunity God has given you to be somebody. You can't escape it. He says, "You're the light of the world". You may be a birthday candle, or you may be a gigantic beam of light but you're a light. Some kind of light. You're the light of the world. Jesus has left us here to do what? Be the light of the world to shine forth the light. Listen, He didn't say bring ourselves glory. "Glorify your Father who is in heaven". So, think about this. If you're not glorifying Him, what are you doing? I'm either going to be a good reflection or a poor one. There's no middle ground. Think about this. You have the awesome privilege of being indwelt by God in the Person of the Holy Spirit. You have the privilege and the awesome power of God working within You to accomplish through you more than you could ever dream. To be in you and through you and to you and for you more than you would even ask. That's who He is in you. That's who we are. We're the children of the living God. Who have purpose in our life, a sense of direction in our life. We make a difference in life. We may not make a difference with more than ten or fifteen people in our thinking. But you may be making a difference in far more people than that.
Now think about this. God didn't leave a few gifted individuals to do His work. He left the church, who believe the Word of God, who are filled with the Spirit of God, who make mistakes, who sin against God, who confess and who repent and who keep living the Christian life and struggling at times and failing at times for doing what, getting up and moving on and God absolutely using them in the most awesome way. When He says you are, He didn't say you might be. He says you are the light of the world. Not you might be. You say, well, I'm not shining very bright. He didn't talk about that. "You are the light of the world". It could be a dirty light or a bright light. What I want you to see is, you are whether you want to be or not. There is no escape, once you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you're under Divine obligation not to do this and do that and do the other. But to be a true follower of Jesus, to be a light, where people, when people, whatever, meet you, they should see something within us that absolutely cannot be explained. And that somebody is Jesus.
What I want you to see is we have responsibility to be the person God called us to be. We have the Holy Spirit living within us. And remember this, God will never ask you or command you to do anything that He doesn't promise and equip and help and see to it that you get it done. So, we cannot blame God for anything. And watch this, you can't escape. Once you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you're part of the light. You say, well, I'm going to go do something else, part of the light. You, listen, you, watch this, you have become a possession of Jesus Christ. I love this. You've become a possession of Jesus Christ and He's the battery. He is the thing that makes it shine. He in you, is what makes the difference with the people around you. You're somebody very special in the eyes of God. And we exist for the purpose of the Living God to express the life of Jesus through our life.
That's why we're here. We may have all kinds of other goals, that's why we're here. And that being our responsibility, there's no escape. You say, well, I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and my name is written the Lambs Book of Life. And I think that's all our responsibility I have. No, it isn't. When I look at the Christian life and think how absolutely awesome it is. And, somebody says, yeah, but you don't know what trouble's like. I wouldn't take the time to tell you how much trouble, heartaches, suffering, pain, on and on. You can't look at somebody else and tell what they've been though. You can't. But I can tell you this, He has always been there, every time I need Him. But you see, it's not my life, it's His life. And so, we don't give up, we don't quit, we just keep moving, trusting God.
What I want you to see is this, there's no such thing as an unimportant person. You can't find one verse in the Bible to prove that you're unimportant. Not one. Now you say, well, somewhere in there, there ought to be a verse or two that says that people like me, who are not very gifted and so forth. Well, look through all the pages of the Bible, you're important. Watch this, when Jesus died, who did He die for? We all agree that He died for all of us, for the whole world. Then He has a right to live His life through us. And all He wants to do is to shine forth. Let your light so shine and then, I want to go back, "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go. I'll counsel you with my eye upon you". I will be to you, who you need to be. I'll do for you, through you, what needs to be done, in and through you. You're the salt of the earth. You're going to make a difference. I'm going to instruct you, and I'm going to teach you, and I'm going to be with you, but you're going to shine.
And when I think about it, I think about it this way. We have this awesome, wonderful opportunity, that has this uncertainty, we never know what second it'll end. What second it'll end? We have no idea when and have no control over it. But we are chosen children of God. Our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We have the promise of His presence, and whatever power is necessary to enable us to live a godly life. He promised to be with us, provide our needs. He didn't promise that we would have an easy time. He didn't promise that He would give us this or give us that. But we have a responsibility. And that's to shine. Shine, shine, shine, shine. Because, when Jesus talked about all this, He said it in a way that nobody could miss it.
Let your light shine before men, in such a way, He says, "This is the way you are to shine. They will see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. This is not for us, this is for Him. So, think about all the people you work with, the people who know you, people in your family, people who are your friends, people who are your enemies. When they think about you, what do they think about? Here's what God thinks. I'm living within her, I'm living within him and I'm expressing my life through them. All I ask of them is just, "Follow Me, Trust Me". Just depend upon, I'll be there. Just trust Me, just follow Me.
Now, watch this, you can't escape it. If you lived to be a hundred, you can't escape it. That's who we are. We're the children of the Living God, who will never die. We may pass from this life to the next one, but we'll never die. And He who is in us, will never die. Rose from the grave. Every sin that you and I have ever committed or will commit, has been paid for, in full, at the Cross. And all the proof the world needed, God gave us that in the Resurrection. We're the children of the Living God. Followers of Jesus Christ, with the message that's life changing and eternal. Blessed by God; Kept by God; Energized by God; Helped by God; and known by God, personally. And He thinks you're important. Amen?
Well, if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, whether you're seated here, or seated somewhere else, I want to invite you to make the most awesome, important, eternal decision in your life. That's to surrender yourself to Jesus Christ, confessing your sins, repenting of your sins, turning away from them and turn your life into the direction it needs to be, and that's toward Him. And watch God work. Amen.
Father, we bless You, we praise You. Praise your Holy Name for being who You are. Thank you, Lord, for loving us. Thank You for always being everything You promised to be. Thank You for the privilege of life. Thank You for the privilege of eternal life. And for Jesus. And for the Cross. And the Resurrection. And that awesome, unbreakable promise, that You're coming again to receive us. Either in death individually, or one of these days when You say the trumpets are going to blow. And all Heaven's going to break loose. And we're going to see what the world has never seen. Thank You; Thank You; Thank You Jesus, for being who You are and it's in your precious name we pray, amen.