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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Reasons To Obey

Charles Stanley - Reasons To Obey

Charles Stanley - Reasons To Obey
TOPICS: Timeless Truth, Obedience

Just as we have changing scenes and seasons in nature, we have changing seasons in our own life. And if you'll think about it, we have spring and summer and fall and winter, and all of them have different characteristics. We don't have one long continuous spring or one continuous summer, but changing seasons in our life and changing seasons in nature. And oftentimes we forget the fact that we have those seasons in our own life. Naturally, when it comes to time, we have infancy and childhood and youthfulness and young adulthood and median adulthood and the latter years of our life. And so it is also when it comes to the circumstances of our life, we have seasons in our life. We have seasons, for example, of productivity when we feel like that we're getting ahead in life and accomplishing and achieving. And then there are those seasons when we feel like we're just standing still, and things are not getting anywhere. Or it could be that we feel like we're going backwards or we're losing.

There are those seasons in our life when we are feeling happy and contented and everything is sorta going our way. Then there are those seasons that are not so happy and not so contenting. In fact, they are very discontenting and oftentimes full of frustration. There are those seasons in which we feel that we're prosperous and there seems to be plenty, in fact, even more than we need. And then there are those seasons when sometimes we have to come to the place, we have to work at making ends meet. Personally, I think it's always good for everybody, at some point in life, to go through the season where they have to work at making ends meet so that we'll never forget where we came from, nor we... will we forget that who's hand it is that provides what we need.

Likewise, there are seasons when you and I have great strides forward in our spiritual life. We take giant steps forward and we're growing and we're excited about the Lord and about His Word and about what He's doing in our life. Then there are those seasons that appear to be barren. And we read the Word of God and somehow it just doesn't seem to get through. Or we pray and it just sorta ricochets off the wall. And we begin to ask ourselves, "God, where are You"? And we feel maybe a little distant, little estranged from God. We read the Scriptures and remind Him of what He says and, somehow, it doesn't seem to get through. There are those seasons in our life when we feel confident and very secure about our present as well as our future.

Then there are those seasons that we don't feel very confident, we don't feel very secure. We have doubts and anxieties about situations and circumstances in life. There are those seasons in which we feel very healthy and vibrant, like we could whip the world. Then there are those seasons of illness and discouragement and despondency and sometimes even to despair. There are those seasons when we feel very loved, very accepted, very wanted. And then there are those seasons where we feel rejected, unwanted, uncared for, isolated, shut out, and separated. There are those seasons when our future looks promising and exciting and fantastic. Then there are those seasons when they look a little bleak, a little cloudy, a little dark, a little dreary.

And the question for us is this. Is there some principle or is there some truth in the Word of God that will encourage you and me in those difficult, trying times when the seasons of our life seem to be in the negative case? Yes, there is! There is one single principle that will see you through, sustain you, and encourage you in every single changing season of life no matter what. And that's what I want to talk about in this message. The, listen, "Encouragement for Every Season of Life". Whether it is seasons of time or whether it is seasons of circumstances, we're all going through them. And the question is: Is there a principle? Yes, there is. And I want you to turn, if you will, to the book of Lamentations. That's Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel. And I want you to turn, if you will, to the third chapter. And I want to read one single verse, or two verses here, really, two verses of Scripture here. One of these verses you're very familiar with.

Listen to what he says, beginning in verse twenty-two of Lamentations chapter three, "The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness". What is the one single principle in Scripture that, listen, that God will use to absolutely sustain us through every changing, listen, changing, moving season in our life? And that principle is: the faithfulness of God. The faithfulness of God is the one single principle that'll see you through every changing season no matter how deep, no matter how dark, no matter how despairing, no matter how depressing, no matter how hopeless, no matter how helpless, or no matter how good things are. There is a single principle that will encourage you through every single one of them.

So, I want us to think about this principle, and I want us to think about it in the light of this whole idea that we're going through these changing seasons, and all of us do. And if you're a very, very young person, maybe in your early teens or earlier than that, and you think, "Well, where am I"? Well, if you're in your childhood, let me just say to you, if I can give you a word of encouragement, listen to this message very carefully, you're gonna need it the rest of your life. And if you're in the latter years of your life, you already know. You've already been through a lot of seasons in your life. Some of them were bare, some of them were barren, some of them were harsh, some of them are cruel, some of them were difficult, some of them were painful. On the other hand, some of them have been fantastically exhilarating to you. But whatever season you're in, here is a principle at work.

So let's look at it for a moment. When we say the faithfulness of God, what do we mean? Well, the faithfulness of God is one of His attributes, one of His characteristics. When you think about the faithfulness of God, it simply means this, that God always does exactly what He says He will do, that He keeps every single one of His promises, that when you think about what He's like and you think about all of His attributes, think about His faithfulness. His faithfulness means that He's constant, He doesn't change, that He is reliable. That He's unwavering, that He's unfailing, that He's trustworthy, that He's steadfast. He never fails, He never falters, and He never forfeits. Whatever God says He will do, He will always do it. He's faithful in good times, He's faithful in bad times, because you see, it is His very nature to be faithful.

And we read in our text, he says, "Great is Thy faithfulness". And that is the writer's way of saying, when he looks at the faithfulness of God and what is involved in the fact that He's an unchanging, never-ending, and always reliable God, how great is the faithfulness of God that it covers every single season of life. Now, in light of all that, let's think about some of these seasons that you and I go through. And what I want to do is to take you through some of them. And I want you to remind, won't take you through all of them, take us a long time, but I want you to see how in each of these changing seasons of our life, He gives us a word to remind us of His faithfulness. So, just get ready now and let's go through some of these and let's begin, if you will, with our text, when he says in Lamentations chapter three, that His lovingkindnesses never cease. He says they never fail. He says His compassions never fail and they're new every single morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

Now, what is certainly involved in that? That in the changing seasons of our life, God is going to provide every single thing that you and I need. Whether it is health, whether it is something material, whether it is something emotional, no matter what it is, because what? He says, listen, His lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. His compassions never fail. They're new every morning. That is, He is sensitive to who we are and what's going on. And every single morning when you and I awaken, we can awaken in the absolute faithfulness that we have a God who's watched over us all night long. Because during the night you were totally unconscious. You were not even aware that you existed. When you went to sleep, you became unconscious. No consciousness of existence.

God awakens us every morning. What does He awaken us to? I'm afraid a lot of people think, "Well, I awaken to another dreary, drudgery day". But you know what, if you were to waken every morning and, first of all, focus your attention upon the God, the faithful God who kept your heart pumping all night long; kept your lungs, listen, expanding all night long; kept the blood flowing in your body all night long; kept you alive, even though you may have come close to death, so to speak. Totally unconscious that you even existed. Who is it that kept you? It is Almighty God. He's, listen, He is faithful when you're asleep, faithful when you're awake, faithful when you love Him, faithful when you don't love Him, faithful when you're good, faithful when you're bad, faithful when you're needy, faithful when you have plenty. He is a faithful, loving God. Ready, willing, present in every season of our life.

Well, let's think about some of these other seasons. And so, whether it's what we need or whatever it might be. Let's for example, think about those seasons of our life when we go through temptation and trial. Look, if you will, in First Corinthians chapter ten for a moment. Those times of trial, difficulty, hardship, temptation, whatever it might be. Listen to what he says in this season of our life. And there are seasons of life that oftentimes are prolonged, they're trials that go on and on and on, or temptations that a person may face over a period of time. Listen to what he says in verse thirteen, "No temptation," or trial, "has overtaken you, but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able; but will, with the temptation, He'll provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it".

Now, what is he saying? Watch this. God is so faithful to you and to me that He, listen, in His omniscience, He is overseeing. In His omnipotence, He is, in His power, putting a limitation on, controlling every temptation and every trial you and I face so that He does not allow it to be so strong, so powerful that it will overwhelm us if we're willing to place our trust in Him. So that when we come to difficulties and trials and temptations in life, we are to look to the faithfulness of God to see us through it. For example, what about the times you and I are under Satanic attack? Look, if you will, in Second Thessalonians for a moment. Second Thessalonians, chapter three. He says, verse one, "Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one".

God is faithful to protect us. The Lord is faithful. He'll strengthen you, protect you from the evil one. What about those seasons of life that we go through of fear and uncertainty? Look, if you will, in Psalm ninety-one for a moment. Psalm ninety-one, listen to what he says. When we go through those times of uncertainty, and certainly the life that we live, where we live in this society in life, this time in history, so many things are uncertain. People's jobs are uncertain. They can work for somebody twenty-five or thirty-five years, somebody walks in the next day and says, "We don't need you anymore". All kinds of difficulty, uncertainty. And the stock market goes up and down. Let me ask you a question. What do you have absolutely that's unchanging and never-failing but God? Nothing! He's the only person and the only thing in existence that never changes and that you and I can place our trust in wholeheartedly that we know for certain will never change.

Well, listen to this ninety-first Psalm, a wonderful Psalm. Let's just begin with verse one, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!' For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark". And a bulwark is like a solid, wall-like structure to protect us. Listen to that. When we come to those times that we wonder what in the world's going on and we have fear, he says we're to run to the refuge. He says He's a refuge and He's a fortress, He's a bulwark. Well, you say, "What about those seasons of life when I just can't trust Him"?

Seasons of life, and let me just give you a little personal experience because sometimes people say, "Well, you know, I just couldn't pray and I don't believe God loves me". And this is not a sad story because a little bit of pain never hurt anybody, and I can honestly say thank You, Lord, but I can tell you that in a simple operation that I had, that I could not pray. I couldn't read the Bible and I couldn't pray for about five or six days. I'd start praying and I thought, "God, You know what, I'm not getting anywhere". Now, I knew I was, but my mind was so distracted because the intensity of the pain, I just had to say, "God, I'm just gonna trust You and leave it with You 'cause I can't even talk to You". And it was difficult for me to pray. I'd read the Bible and my vision was a little bit blurred, and so I just said, "God, I can't read the Bible, can't pray, I'm just gonna have to trust You".

There are times in our life when we have to say, "God, I'm just gonna rest in Your all-sufficient, everlasting arms, and I'm gonna bet You're gonna take me through this". And you know what, He never fails you, no matter what. I think about people who go through intense pain for days and weeks and months. In fact, I had a call from a young man several months ago, and some of our staff ministered to him far beyond my speaking with him, and he began to tell me about the pain that he was enduring and how long he'd endured it and how hopeless and helpless he felt because no doctor gave him any relief or gave him any hope that they knew what to do. He says, "It's hard for me to pray. It's hard for me to read the Bible". He says, "I can't concentrate".

And you know what, I talked to him and I listened to him and I heard him and I prayed for him, and yet I didn't understand what he meant really, until I got a good dose of it myself. And I could say, "Thank You, Lord. Thank You for sending into my life, in this season of my life, something You knew I needed". So when somebody tells me, "I couldn't pray". When somebody says, "I couldn't read, I couldn't even concentrate reading the Bible". I understand. I understand that your mind can be so diverted by the intensity of pain, you can't concentrate. And so you think, "God, what's going on? Why can't I feel this"? There are seasons of our life. And sometimes it's easy to be critical of others, to lack compassion for others, to be insensitive to where people are going and we think, "Well, nobody should ever get to the place they can't pray".

Don't ask God to put you there unless you want a good dose of it, because I'm telling you, you can be where you cannot concentrate, you cannot, you just can't. It's just not physically within you, because your body has been brought so low and so close to death with anesthesia that somehow it affects your body and keeps on affecting. But then I think about people who suffer for years and years and years. And somehow God brings them through those seasons by His faithfulness, He keeps their faith. Look, if you will, in Second Timothy for a moment. And I want you to notice because here is a passage that says there are times in our life when, you know, we just, it's just difficult to concentrate. And sometimes we'll may hit some season of life where you think, "God, I know it's what You said, but I'm having a horrible struggle believing You, God".

Listen to what He says. He says, in verse thirteen, "If we are faithless," just can't trust Him somehow, "He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself". Thank God He's not a reactor to you and me. Thank God that His character doesn't change on the basis of how we change. His character doesn't change on the basis of who we are and what we are and what's going on in our life. He never changes. He is an absolute loving God who is faithful in every single circumstance of life, willing and ready to bring us through those uncertain times. Those times when our faith may falter at times. Turn, if you will, to First Peter chapter four because there are times, there are seasons our life when we go through difficulty and hardship and pain that's brought upon us by other people.

Criticism, accusations, and just this past week, you just listen to somebody who lost their job because of some false accusation that somebody made but they persuaded their boss that it was true. People go through all types of suffering. Is God faithful? Yes, He is. Listen to what He says in First Peter chapter four verse nineteen, "Therefore, those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator," a faithful Creator, listen, trust their souls to a faithful Creator, "in doing what is right". It may not be the popular thing but it's the right thing. If you live godly in Christ Jesus, you won't do the popular thing. You live godly in Christ Jesus, you'll do things people don't understand, but you know what? God understands.

The important thing is that you and I trust in the faithfulness of God to see us through those seasons of life that are testy and trying and appear to be negative to us. But what may appear to be negative to us, God may be working out the most powerful, listen, the most powerful positive results in our life. Well, what about those seasons of life when we know that God's disciplined hand is in our life? What about those seasons? Turn, if you will, back to Psalm one nineteen for a moment. Because all of us go through those times and you, if you say, "Well, I've never had any discipline from God," then more than likely you're not saved, because the Bible says that He disciplines those whom He loves, and certainly, He disciplines His children. He puts His vindication upon those who are the wicked. But His children, He's going to discipline us, for little things that we consider little sins or for big ones, whatever you want to call it.

But listen to what he says, the hundred and nineteenth Psalm, and since there's so many verses, I'm gonna give you a chance to find seventy-five. Verse seventy-five, this hundred and nineteenth Psalm. Listen to what David says. He says, "I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me". Say, now wait a minute, you mean to tell me that there are seasons of life of God's discipline? Yes. And you mean to tell me that God is being faithful when He disciplines us? Yes, He is! Because you know what He says? He says those whom He loves, He disciplines. No love? Because He loves us, He disciplines us. He is a gracious, loving, grateful God. Great God, a God who is so great that every single facet of our life is before His eyes, listen, in His presence, in His keeping, under His power, under His authority, and always working those things out for our good. There are many other attributes of God, but faithful means that in whatever circumstance you and I face, He's there, with all of His power, in all of His wisdom, to see us through it no matter what it may be.

Now, somebody may say, "But let me tell you something now. I've been in this season a long time". Now, this is when you and I can know that we're fully committed to Him, when we can say to Him, "Father, keep me in this season until You have accomplished Your Purpose and Your plan because I know that Your purpose and Your plan is the best! In my mind, God, I want to get onto the next season. But Lord, I know that in Your wisdom, Your plan's the best". Now, you say, "Well, it's easy for you to say that". No, it's not. It's not easy for me to say that. It's not easy for me to say it and it's not easy for you to believe it. But this much I do know, that it is in the wisdom of God that you and I are able to say, "God, keep me in this season until You've accomplished Your purpose. Keep me in this season as long as it's necessary for You to conform me to the likeness of Your image at this time and period and for this purpose and plan in our life".

God knows exactly what He's doing. And here's what happens. When you're able to say to him, "Father, keep me in this season until You've perfected Your purpose and Your plan," here's what happens. You begin to relax and you begin to experience a peace in your heart that that very same season brought you trouble and anxiety and fretting and fuming and all the rest. And all of a sudden, your season hasn't changed but your attitude's changed, your feelings have changed, your trust in Almighty God has taken a skyrocket view. All of a sudden, you're seeing that God's up to something good in your life no matter what.

Now, you may not be a Christian, and you wonder what all this is about. I want to tell you. You will never go through the seasons of life the way God intended until you first of all recognize that you need God. Asking Him to forgive you of your sins and placing your faith in Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ, who went to the cross, paid your sin-debt in full, and made it possible for you to be a forgiven child of God and eternally secure from the moment you trust Him as your Savior till the moment and through the moment you die. And then let Him have your life. Just stand back and watch what God will do in your life if you'll place your trust in a faithful God for every changing season of life.
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