Charles Stanley - The Rocky Road to the Will of God
One of the most important subjects in the Bible is the will of God. And unbelievers sort of scoff at the idea and believers oftentimes ignore it. But the truth is every single day you and I are either living in the will of God or out of the will of God. It's a choice we make. And it's a choice we make on the basis of the decisions we face in life and we face many of them. So, when you think about the will of God for your life, you think about how you go about discovering His will, what you do when you understand what His will is.
Do you obey Him or do you not? Or you just think about it. Do you wonder why you get yourself in trouble sometime? And you think, "Well, if I'd just thought about so and so". Very important subject. So, what I want to title this message is this as I thought about "The Rocky Road To The Will Of God". Because it's not easy and there's stumbling blocks along the way, if we're not careful. And what I'd like to do is to simply tell you about the obstacles and let you ask yourself the question. Is that why I'm not seeking the will of God for my life? Have I neglected one of the most important aspects of my life? So, I have a number of points and I hope you get them all down.
And so, I want to begin with number one. One of the rocky roads is simply this and that's self-will. We want our way. It's a matter of pride and selfishness on our part. We don't want to ask God about a lot of things. We just like to do it and then, then ask God to bless it. But that's not His way of operating. And people say, "Well, nobody is going to tell me how to live my life". That's a very foolish attitude because none of us, not one of us is sufficient within ourselves to live out the will of God for our life. Nowhere in the Bible does He say it's a smooth road but it is a rocky road. To think there's so many stumbling blocks to doing the will of God. You face them on your job, you face them at home and you look at your life and you think about how many times have you stepped out of the will of God? How many times have you almost missed the will of God for your life?
So, it's a rocky road. And I simply want to mention some of those rocks and self-will is the first one. A second one is the influence of other people. Other people are quick to tell you how you ought to live your life, how you can make decisions, what your decisions ought to be, how you spend your money, who you marry, how you raise your children. They can tell you all kinds of reasons of how to live your life. But the truth is, oftentimes you're listening to the wrong voices, because God is willing to show you what you need to know about any area of your life if you're willing to listen. They want to place their opinion above God's opinion and they say, "Well, listen".
When somebody says, "If I were you...", watch it. They are not you to begin with. They can't be you. They don't know what God's plan is for your life and they don't know what God's up to in your life. They may think that what's happening in your life is terrible and God thinks it's perfectly on time. A third one of those obstacles is ignorance of God's principles. Naturally, you can't walk in the will of God if you don't know the principles of God. So let me just mention a few. For example, one of those important principles to walk in the will of God is learning, listen, learning to wait on God. God's timing is a major issue in living the Christian life.
And then a second one is this: Learning to trust God, leave all the consequences to Him, which is a foreign idea to the world. What do you mean trust God and leave all the consequences to Him? That's what faith's all about. We walk a difficult road oftentimes. The will of God is never promised to be easy. We'll face obstacles in life, but we keep moving in the direction of obedience to Him. And then, of course, one of those principles is that God'll supply all of our needs. Most people don't believe that. They think they've got to supply them. No, God will supply all of our needs that when we're walking in the will of God, we're going to have everything we need. And then, think about this. Walking in the will of God you only take one step at a time.
When you get in your automobile at nighttime and you're going to take a trip, you cut on the lights. And you can only go as far as those lights will shine. Watch this, the will of God's not going to show you the whole picture of your life. He's going to have all of us walking a step at a time, trusting Him, obeying Him and believing that what I can't see around the curve, God's already seen and He'll get me there at the right time. Very important to keep the timing of God's will in our life. And then, one of the other obstacles is willful known sin in our life.
Now you may want to jot down these four things because this is what it's all about. First of all, sin deafens our ears to the voice of God. When you choose to disobey God, you no longer hear God as clearly as He desires to show you and to speak to your heart. The second fact here is that it blinds our eyes to the vision of God. We don't know the will of God. Willful sin in our life blinds our eyes to the vision of God of what He's up to in our life. And naturally you're not going to be happy about your life if you don't know where you're headed.
Then the third thing is it hardens our heart to our awareness of God. Disobedience to God always hardens your heart. And this is why people stumble along the way because they're allowing sin in their life that's a distraction. And God's best is ahead of them, and they get sidetracked because they would allow sin in their life. And then how many times have I heard people say, "Well, I just don't understand why God treats me the way He treats me". No, it's how you're treating Him. You're not listening to Him. You're not obeying Him. And things are not going to work out for you. There's no promise in God's Word that He's going to bless your sin, your disobedience, and your indifference to Him. Life's just not that way. And then of course, sin dulls our conscience to the Word of God.
When people say, "Well I read the Word of God, it doesn't say a thing to me". It's because you're living in disobedience to God. You're not listening to Him. You have your own mind and heart made up. And when you think about this, anything that does what? Deafens my ears to Him, blinds my eyes to Him, hardens my heart to Him, and dulls my conscience to Him, I'm in trouble. And when you're out of the will of God, this is what happens. You begin to sense that something's not right. You wonder why. Don't look somewhere else, look within your own heart to see what's going on in my own life. Do I really and truly want to know and to walk in the will of God? And then of course, one of those obstacles along the way is doubt. Because living the Christian life is not easy, it's easy to doubt. And when we doubt God, what happens? We make wrong decisions.
So, if I doubt Him, what am I doubting? I'm doubting: let's think about this, analyze this for a moment. If I'm doubting God, what am I doubting? I'm doubting that God has a will for me, personally. He may have some general will, but not for me personally. Yes, He does. I'm doubting that God will make His will known. Well, why should God make His will known to me personally? Because He loves us. Then we doubt what we're hearing from God. Well, I must not be hearing from God because that sounds too good. I've had people say that. So we doubt Him. We doubt that we can do what He requires of us.
And oftentimes this is where people step out of the will of God. God requires something of you, and because you doubt that He will enable you to do it, you step out of the will of God, you get ahead of Him or behind Him, things don't work right, and you say, "See, I trusted God and it didn't work". No. You didn't trust God. You didn't obey Him. You weren't on His schedule. And if you'll think about every morning you get up, every day's different. But as a follower of Jesus, every day is different except for one thing. We have Him all day long to guide us, to lead us, to show us the way. To point us to those stumbling blocks along the way. It is a rocky road.
There are many difficulties in walking and living in the will of God for your life. We doubt that we can do what He requires. And you remember when God came to Gideon, to tell him what he wanted Him to do, He said, "Who am I"? Have you ever said that to God? Sometimes when God makes a promise, because we judge Him by how we see ourselves, we say, "God, I could never do that. I could never preach or I could never sing or I could never fulfill that particular position in my job. I could never do that". Who are you listening to? You're not listening to God. You're listening to the devil's desire to cause you to doubt what is oftentimes the most beautiful part of God's will.
He has something for you in the future you can't figure it out. You don't think you deserve it. And so, you give all kind of excuses for disobeying God. We doubt Him because we don't have the facts. The facts are God loves each one of us individually. He has a plan for our life. He'll walk us through that plan. He'll provide everything we need. There'll be difficulty, hardship and pain and suffering, and loss. And all of that God will turn for our good if I recognize the source of it. All difficulty and hardship and trial doesn't come from the devil. God allows things in our life to do what? To grow us up, to mature us in areas that we're not mature. And sometimes people trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and then great difficulty comes into their life.
Now watch this. That difficulty God allows in order to do what? Shape them, mold us, make us, change us, eliminate stuff in our life that shouldn't be there. We take it all personal and say, "Well God doesn't love me. It doesn't really work, because look what's happening". Look at the apostle Paul. Look at all of the major characters of the Scripture. Think of the difficulty they went through, all of which God used to do what? To accomplish His purpose and to mold and make men and women godly. And remember this is always God's goal. God's goal is not to please you. God's goal is not to give us everything we want. God's goal is to fashion us like unto the likeness of Christ. So, when there's doubt, doubt usually heads us in the wrong direction.
So, ask yourself the question as best you know your life, "Are you living a life of obedience to Christ"? You have the job that He gave you. You're dressed like a believer. You spend your money like a believer. In other words, your goal is to follow the leadership of the Lord in your life. Could you say, "As best I know my heart, I'm living a life believing and trusting the Lord'll guide me every step of the way". He wants to, He desires to, He's planned to, and the outcome of our life is the result of whether we follow His will or not. It's not easy because there are many obstacles. And that's what I'm doing, I'm just listing them and one of them is, we said feeling of unworthiness.
As Gideon... look at Moses. When God came to Moses and Moses listened at what God's told him He wanted him to do, he said, "Mm, not me. I can't speak, I can't do this, I can't do that". And I wonder how many of God's servants stepped out of God's will early in their life because they told God they couldn't speak, couldn't sing, couldn't do this, couldn't do that, wouldn't make it in that job. Listen. Don't underestimate what He thinks you can do because He's there to help you get it done. Help you to become the person He wants you to be. So, don't make decisions based on how you think, make decisions based on what has God called you to do. He's going to do whatever He knows is best for us, provide everything we need to accomplish His will and purpose for our life. Didn't say it was an easy road. And many people backslide.
Now what I mean by that is they just get back into sin. They slip back into sin, and it's not so much a slipping and is a matter of choosing to make a decision to do what you used to do that God delivered you from because you don't think you can be the person God wants you to be. But remember this, there's no place in the Bible where God says as His Word, that if one of His children sins, that's it, finished. No. Why did He say? If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
All along the Christian way, we're going to make mistakes, and we'll sin at times. And God has given us the assurance that He doesn't make us an outcast because we disobey Him, because we falter somewhere along the way. We're not all as strong, and the other person may be at times, and so, we make mistakes, choose to disobey God. We pay the consequences. What do we do? Walk away? No. Ask God to forgive us sincerely and honestly and look to Him to give us wisdom and guidance and direction and a warning in our heart to avoid that sin. God is on our side to enable us to become the persons God wants us to be.
And watch this, you say, "Well, suppose I sin badly". I don't know what you mean by badly, but I can think of a few things, but let me just say this. You can't sin so badly God won't retrieve you. But you can sin so bad you'll wish you hadn't. Because God has a chastising hand. Watch this. But you know what He's doing? He's loving us back unto His will. He's not going to cast you out because you falter somewhere along the way. And then, of course, one of those excuses we give is busyness. "You know, I've just been so busy I don't have time to go to church. Well, I'm so busy I don't have time to read the Bible. I'm so busy I whisper, right before I go to sleep, I whisper a prayer".
Busyness is a tool of the devil. We can all claim busyness as an excuse for our sin. Because, watch this, we live in a world that's in opposition to who we are and the kind of life we're living. We have a world that's in opposition to who we are. And I meet people every Sunday from some other country in the world. And it's interesting the things that they go through. Suffering that they face at times if they're willing to share, difficulty and hardship, that's true everywhere. But because it's true doesn't mean I give up.
Doesn't mean that I say, "Well, you know, I just don't know whether I'm going to make it or not". Yes, you will. You can make it if you simply rely upon the Lord. The Christian life's not easy, but one thing for certain, it has an awesome eternal end. God's going to take us home to heaven. And He's going to bless us for all eternity, for our faithfulness, for our loyalty, for our devotion because every single one of us is a living light, a witness of who He is. And so naturally, we're going to make mistakes. Naturally there'll be times in our life we do what we know is not the wisest thing to do, but there's a price to pay.
And so, one of the most important things we do is spend time with Him. It may be a short period of time or a long period of time, but all of us need that relationship. It takes time to be a godly person. It takes time to walk with the Lord. It takes time to know His will. But, it's a rocky road. And if you're looking for it to get easy, I can tell you this. It doesn't get easy. Some things may not be quite as difficult as others, but there'll never come a time in your life when living a godly life is easy and you can just relax. Next thing you know, you're being disobedient to God. God has given us a life. He's given us an awesome life. He's given us the Holy Spirit to live within us, to walk with us every single day and to face every circumstance we face.
Remember this. You may feel like you're alone, but you're not alone. You may feel lonely but you're not alone. And when you look at your life, for example, and you think, "Well, what am I missing"? Ask yourself the question: Are you missing that precious time He desires to spend with you? To give you comfort, strength, wisdom, guidance, direction, support, help, warnings in your life. That's who He is. The Christian life's not easy. It's a rocky road, but having the Holy Spirit to enable us, the presence of God in our life, and all the promises of the Word of God, and this handbook, the Word of God itself, makes living the Christian life at its best, no matter what's going on around us. Where would you place yourself in the Christian life? Would you say that you're living in the will of God? That you genuinely, honestly attempt to walk in His will for your life each day. Or you find yourself complaining and moaning and groaning and thinking, "Well, you know what? What's missing in the Christian life"?
Nothing's missing in the Christian life. Usually you can trace it all back ultimately, to when is the last time you sat down and read the Word of God? Asked God to speak to your heart, show you His will for your life. You say, "Well, I don't even know where to turn". It's amazing. When you don't know where to turn and you turn some place, you look down and looks like it's got your name on it. God knows what you need to read. He knows when you need to read it and He knows exactly what it takes to encourage your heart.
So, ask yourself the question: Are you satisfied with your Christian life? I don't mean that you think everything's just perfect. But do you feel like you're growing? Then I think of three things that I think people fear that they'll miss it in the Christian life. Number one, they fear of what God may require of them. And so, they think, "Well, you know, God may call me to be a missionary". Don't be concerned about that. "God may require me to do this, that, and the other". No. Watch this. A loving Father will only require what He knows you're capable of doing with His help, His strength, with His wisdom. Never require more than He's willing to enable you to do.
Secondly, a fear of failure. Say, "Well, I can't live the Christian life". Well, none of us can live the Christian life ourselves. And we all fail at times. We ask God to forgive us and move on, but we don't take it for granted and we don't do it foolishly or haphazardly. If He says, "If we confess our sin". That means if we agree with Him about it. We confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Pick us up on the road of the Christian life and move us on. You don't live in the muck and mire of disobedience and sin in your life. You ask God to forgive you and you keep moving. No such thing as a sinless saint. We're all contaminated, because, listen, the road to living the will of God is a difficult road and we will stumble unless we lean heavily upon our Lord. Listen to Him, depend upon the Holy Spirit.
And so, we say, "Well, I'm afraid of what God may require of me and". Well, listen, many things He'll require of you, you can't do without Him, but the Holy Spirit came into your life and sealed you as a child of God when you were saved. Therefore, watch this, this is God's indwelling Spirit within you to enable you to do any and everything God will require of you. That's God's godly assurance. So, if we fail it isn't His part. And He knows when we do fail, He's there to forgive us. And so, we fear for example, of what God may require of us.
We fear failure. Then one of the things we fear is criticism. How many times have you disobeyed God because you were afraid of what somebody may say to you about your life? It's amazing how Christians can become afraid of other people's criticism. Watch this. You live a godly life, you're going to be criticized. You live a godly life and obey God and attempt to walk in His way and His will, you're going to be blessed no matter what. God is on your side, living within you. And listen, God is all about helping you, enabling you, equipping you, entrusting to you the strength and wisdom, and guidance you need to live a godly life because all of us shine brighter when we're living godly.
So, let me ask you a simple question. As you look at your life it is nobody's business but yours. Nobody else can read your mind this morning. Would you say that you are walking in the will of God for your life? Now I didn't say that you never sin. I didn't say that you never falter. I didn't say that you never going to make mistakes. I didn't say you had to, in other words, do you believe as best you know your life, you're walking in the will of God? Not the past. Not what you're going to do. But do you believe the best as you know your life you're walking in His will?
There'll be times in your life when it'll be easier to be obedient than other times. There'll be times when it'll be very difficult for you to be obedient to God because of the circumstances in which you're in that maybe you didn't create, somebody else did. The safest place to be is in the center of the will of God. Nobody else can put you there but you. You say, "How do I get there"?
You ask God to forgive you for your sin. And you tell Him that as best you know your heart, "Lord, I want you to govern my life, guide my life, show me the way. And Lord with your help and strength and the power of the Holy Spirit I'll do my best to follow You". You can't ever promise Him you won't ever sin again. You can't promise Him perfection. You can't promise Him you'll always do right. But you can say, "Lord, here's my life. That's my heart's desire and I'm going to trust the Holy Spirit that you placed within me and promised me the power and the strength to be obedient to you". Is that your prayer?
Father, thank you, thank you, thank you for grace. Thank you that You understand who we are, where we are, why we are where we are. Thank you for Your willingness to step into our lives at any point. Forgive us of our sin. Cleanse us, stand us up again and move us on in the center of Your will. I pray that You have spoken to every single one of us this morning and I pray for that person who came today who doesn't even know anything about Your will, who never thought about that You have any real personal interest in their life, that they would surrender their life to You today. Thank you for loving us Father. Thank you that You never, never, never give up on us. And thank you that the very moment we pass on from this life to the next You'll be there because You said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you". So, we say hallelujah this morning in Jesus's name, amen.