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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Encouragement for Every Season of Life

Charles Stanley - Encouragement for Every Season of Life

Charles Stanley - Encouragement for Every Season of Life
TOPICS: Timeless Truth, Encouragement, Seasons of Life

When you're confronted with a decision to make to either obey or disobey God, what is your response? You say, "Well, most of the time I do, sometimes I don't". Why do you obey God? You say, "Well, what difference does it make as long as I obey Him? Does it make any difference what my motive is"? It makes a lot of difference because, you see, the reasons we obey God have an impact upon us, and they also indicate something about us. For example, when you obey God for reasons other than the best and right reasons, it affects your attitude toward God. For example, if you are required by God to do something you don't want to do, you don't like the idea, it's not in your plan, doesn't fit your schedule and you obey Him anyway. Sometimes you can be very angry at God.

And there are people who obey God, do what He says, but in anger and in resentment. And so, what happens? That's not the way to obey God, and they miss the blessing. Sometimes it's because the person in thinking about it all, they have this legalistic attitude. Well, you know, it's obligation, I must, what about... in other words, they're feeling guilt and all the rest. There's no joy in that kind of obedience and that kind of accepting God's word, accepting His will, His plan, His path for your life. And so, what happens is your attitude gets all messed up and, not only that, what happens is you're not very consistent at it. You see, if you don't obey God for the right reason, you won't be consistent. You'll usually find some excuse somehow and some way to be disobedient.

And so when you are challenged to be obedient, what's your response? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. You know what, when you start living a Godly life, you won't put up with that "sometimes I do, sometimes I don't". There may be failures at times. And there will be weaknesses and moments when all of us don't do exactly what He says do. But you won't have a lackadaisical, spasmodic attitude: well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, because you are going to begin to realize that rollercoaster living, and that's what that is; sometimes I do, sometimes I don't; that's not Godly living. That's not the way He wants us to live. And oftentimes, the reason we excuse ourselves is because we've never decided why do we choose to obey God? Is it obligation? Is it necessity? What is the reason?

And then I think sometimes we don't realize the kind of spiritual impact that it has upon our life when we do not obey Him, or when we obey Him for the wrong reasons. I want you to turn, if you will, to Acts chapter five. Let me give you a little background of what's happening. Peter and John went to the temple. Here's a man who's been lame for forty years, and they say to him, as he asks something from them, and Peter says: "Silver and gold have I none, but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he says, 'Rise and walk!' Grabs him up by the hand, pulls him up, and he stands up and he's healed". Everybody around gets excited. So they're brought before the magistrates and they're questioned about what they're doing. And so, Peter and John answered and said, "Whether it's right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge. We cannot stop speaking about what we've seen and heard".

And they had seen, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ's Crucifixion, Resurrection, and all the rest. So they are let go. And then they're preaching the gospel again, a lot of things are happening, people are being saved, hundreds and hundreds of people are being saved. They get arrested again. And this time, they get thrown in jail and an angel of the Lord lets them out, and so when they come looking for 'em, they can't find them. They're brought before the magistrates again, and listen to what happens in chapter five beginning in verse twenty-seven. "When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, 'We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name.'" That is, the name of Jesus. "'And yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.'"

Listen to what Peter said. "But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on the cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.'" Now, here's the question. What is it that motivated this passion within him to say, "We must obey God rather than men"? Have you ever had to say that? I must obey God rather than you. I must obey God rather than men. Or simply, I must obey God in this situation. Confronted with something that God has confronted you with, and you know in your heart: I must be obedient to Him, I must obey God. What is the passion within Peter that caused him to say, "We must obey God"? Not obligation. Not guilt. Not afraid of Him. But what are the reasons?

So, I'm gonna ask you a question. Why do you obey Him? When you get confronted with those things in life, why do you obey Him? Do you obey Him because you're afraid to look over your shoulder because if you disobey Him, God's gonna, He's gonna get me? And there are a lot of people who live their whole life out of fear. Even after they're saved. They live their life in fear. Suppose I do this, what's God gonna think. I don't want to disappoint God. You know, you can't disappoint God. In order to disappoint someone, they have to have expectations of you, and not knowing what's gonna happen. You know what, God knows all about what you and I are gonna do. In other words, He's never, listen, He's never disappointed. He already knows everything that's gonna happen in our lives, so He's not disappointed. He may be grieved by what we do, but it's no big surprise to Him.

God doesn't want you obeying Him simply out of obligation and because you're afraid of what's gonna happen and because you're fear He's gonna reject you and He's not gonna love you anymore. Then what is the motivation? What is it that motivated the Apostle Peter? Standing before those people, knowing they could put him in jail and keep him there for a long time or take his life or whatever? What motivated him to say, "We must obey God". He knew something. He was motivated by the right thing. So let's think about what those things are. And the first one, of course, is we obey Him because we reverence Him. That is, we acknowledge who He is. We recognize who He is.

And so, when you look at this fourth chapter, listen to this fourth chapter, what the disciples are saying here, when they are brought before the rulers, beginning in verse eight. "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, 'Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE,'" that is, Jesus is, "'which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.'"

You know what motivated him? What motivated him is he knew. Listen, He had a reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew who He was. And so, there's a difference between Godly fear which, in essence, is an awe. That is, we recognize Him. We stand, we honor Him. We praise Him. We adore Him. We see Him as He is. That is, He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the Giver of life to every single one of us. And when I think about that, I think about the fact that He created us to love Him and to be loved by Him. He created us to bring Him glory and honor. When I think about what He's done in our life, and this is what motivated Peter, I think, when he says we must obey God, there is a passion here. He saw the Lord Jesus Christ as the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, establishing His throne in the heavens, ruling over all, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, He conquered death, resurrected. He had this awesome passion in his heart to obey God because he understood who He was.

And you see, here's what happens. One of the primary reasons people don't obey the Lord is because they don't know who He is. And so, you and I talk about Jesus Christ being a Messiah, being virgin born, being the Son of God, being the Savior, the Lord, the Master, the Creator, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, and they don't have any idea what we're talking about. Listen, you will not obey a god whom you do not know. If you don't know Him, you're not going to obey Him. And, you see, many people who are Christians have such a very skimpy attitude about Jesus and, listen, a very light-hearted attitude, and oftentimes, oftentimes know so little about who He is and about the Holy Spirit and about God the Father, there's no real sense of genuine, heartfelt reverence and awe before Him. That's why we live in a world of total rebellion. That's why we see people doing things that we do not even possibly conceive of how anybody could do such a thing in the presence of the living God. You know why? Because they don't know Him. They have no fear of God.

We are living in an age that has no fear of God. We spout off anything and everything and all kinds of philosophies. We see all kinds of sin and wickedness and evil going on, why? Because there is absolutely no fear of God. When you fear the living God, that means you reverence Him, you understand who He is. You stand in awe before Him. And when Peter said, "We must obey God," he knew who he was talking about. His love for us is unsurpassed. It's absolutely immeasurable. And when we think about the forgiveness of our sins, and we think about all that He is and all that He does, we have a reason to stand in awe of Him. We sing that song in this very church. We sing that we stand in awe of Him. That means we reverence Him, we honor Him, we adore Him, we worship Him because He's worthy of it. Why should you and I obey Him? Because of who He is.

A second reason you and I should obey Him, and one of the reasons that we ought to be motivated to do so, and certainly I think this was true of Peter and those apostles, is we obey Him out of pure gratitude, God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit reached down, convicted you of sin, gave you the gift of faith, listen, accepted your confession and your repentance. And what did He do? He saved you and He redeemed you and He glorified you and reconciled you and justified you and sanctified you. He adopted you into His family, so that every single one of us is a child of the Living God once we've trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. And He sent the Holy Spirit to seal us forever as one of His children.

And you think about this. You and I are not saved today because of our good works. We are saved by His great grace. We are not, listen, we are not kept saved by good works, but, listen, by His eternal gift of eternal security. Who we are and what we are is the result of who He is and what He is and His love and devotion for us. And the Scripture says not only has He saved us, reconciled us, and changed us, living on the inside of us through the Holy Spirit, enabling us every single day, providing for our needs, giving us direction for our life, He's planned our life. He has the path all laid out, and He's promised to walk with us and to provide our needs every single day, no matter what's going on in our life.

And when you think about so much that He's done that you're not even aware, we talk about redemption, that He paid the sin debt at the Cross for your sins, you couldn't have done that. He's done things for you and me that nobody in the world could have done and we couldn't do for ourselves. Nobody could die for your sins. You couldn't even die for them. You could die in them and be eternally lost, forever and ever and ever separated from God, but you couldn't die for them. Only the sinless Son of God could die for them. He chose to do that, prepared you a home in heaven, wrote your name in the Lamb's Book of Life, getting you ready to go there, and He has a place nobody can take but you. When you think about all He's done for you, how can you and I do anything but obey Him? Motivated by pure gratitude and thanksgiving.

But there's a third reason. I think certainly this also was a part of Peter's thinking when he said, "We must obey God rather than man". Why? Simply because we love Him. Peter certainly loved the Lord. And, you know, when I think about all the things Peter went through and what a leader he was among the apostles, but in the most critical, crucial moments of Jesus's life, when He needed a friend as He'd never needed one before, even in the garden, they were sleeping when He wanted them to be awake and pray, but standing there in the courtyard and having denied the Lord Jesus Christ three times, that he says I don't even know the man, but you know what was worse? The Bible says when Jesus walked by, He turned and look upon Peter.

When I think about it, it almost breaks my heart. He turned and looked upon Peter, and Peter remembered. You know what he remembered? He remembered Jesus said to him, "Peter, you're gonna deny me three times". How do you think that impacted his life? He never forgot it. Did Jesus hold it against him? No, He forgave him the moment it was said. He already knew it was gonna happen. He was already forgiven in the mind of Christ. He knew that was gonna be a weak moment in his life. He said to them, "Watch out. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". He denied he even knew Him. But can you imagine the penetration of the eyes of Jesus when His eyes met Peter's eyes and He simply, the Scripture says He look upon Peter and Peter remembered. It went straight to his heart. His confession and repentance must've been weeping and weeping and weeping. But you know what? He had a love for Jesus that gave him a courage and confidence and assurance that nothing else in the world would.

When we think about when he said, "We must obey God rather than man". His love for Him, his love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and you think about how He's loved us. And I think about all the different ways He's loved us. But I think one of the most significant is this: that He chose a plan for your life. And as you think about that, let's look, for example, in Ephesians chapter one for a moment, because this is a wonderful passage, and oftentimes you think, well, does God care about me? Does God love me? We question all the things that we wonder about sometimes. Listen to what he says. Chapter one, verse three. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ".

You know what that means? Here's what it means. He has already planned it, stored it up, it's provided for. Every single thing you and I will ever need, our loving Heavenly Father's already prepared. Listen to this, "Just as He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world". An awesome expression of His love for us, that He chose us. You know why you're saved? Because God chose you. Listen, he says not only that, "He predestined us," to do what? To become a member of His family. "Adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ". Now, watch this, "To Himself, according to the kind intention of His will". You know why He did it? 'Cause He wanted to.

When you think about the fact of how He has loved us and the things He's done for us in our life, you think about the fact that He says He lavished His grace upon us, that God loved you enough to plan the best for your life and is willing to walk with you through that plan, He has the path every single day laid out. And if you and I will follow that, we'll discover something about Him that we could never discover any other way. He's so willing to express that love.

When I think about how much He loves us and all He's done for us that no one else could do, listen, why do I need any other reason than the fact I just love Him. We obey Him because we love Him. You won't love Him till you understand who He is. When you understand who He is, what's happened? Your gratitude's gonna begin to skyrocket. Listen, why do you obey God? Could you say that it's because you understand who He is: the Sovereign Ruler of this universe, your Heavenly Father? Can you say that your heart is overflowing with gratitude for all that He's done in your life and all that He's doing and what you know He's going to do and things you don't know He's going to do? Could you say it's because you just love Him, and loving Him is enough for you?

There's another reason we obey Him, and that's this. And that's because we trust Him. Look at this verse. Turn to the third chapter for a moment and look, if you will, and this is where it all happens and where all the furor started among the disciples. Peter and John go to the church, or go to the temple, and they heal this man. And here's the faith that Peter has. Listen to what happens. The man's looking for something, and so Peter said in verse six, "'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene walk!'" Now, did he have any faith? Listen, he just reached down and grabbed the guy by the hand, pulled him up, "Raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God".

Why do you think the apostle Peter and his fellow disciples said, "We must obey God"? Here's the reason. Because they trusted Him. You know what, you will not obey a God you don't trust. And the reason you and I disobey Him is this. We disobey Him because at that moment, or in that situation, we don't trust Him. What we're saying is He's not all He says He is. What we're saying is we know better than He does. He can't fix this, I'll have to fix it myself. I can't wait on Him because my timing is better. God doesn't understand all the circumstances. If He knew what I knew, He'd do it my way. You know what, you don't obey a god you do not trust. Could you give me one single, solitary reason for not trusting God?

You say, "Well, I asked Him for something and He didn't give it to me". Did you ever stop to think and realize a little later on that He gave you something better than you asked for? All of us who are honest would have to say, "Thank you, dear God, for not giving me everything I ask for". All of us would have to admit that. And so, the truth is you and I can trust Him. He has never failed to keep a promise, not one. He couldn't be God and fail to keep a single promise, not a single one. He is a God who loves us unconditionally. He is a God who cares for every single need that we have. And because He does, we have a right, listen, we should indeed obey Him because we trust Him. And the truth is there's no shoulds, oughts, and musts about any of this. We obey Him because we trust Him. Because if He says He's gonna do something, He's gonna do it. He'll work it out no matter what.

Every circumstance, you see, you and I come to situations and circumstances we don't have the answer. He does. He's never been confused or confronted or late. He's never been disturbed or upset or frustrated by some circumstance in our life. He loves us. He desires the very best for us. And, listen, He has chosen to give you His best if you will trust Him and wait for Him and let Him do it His way. And so, if you think in your own life, for example, when have you ever trusted Him for something that ultimately He did not provide in His own way and His own perfect timing. He cannot fail you. If you and I love Him, we will obey Him. If we genuinely trust Him, we're going to obey Him. But, likewise, I think about what he said when he said we must obey God. Did those men trust God? Yes, they did. They had seen the most awesome things take place.

Another reason you and I should obey Him is this, and that is because when you and I obey Him, we feel very secure. Now, think about this for a moment. They stood before their accusers, Peter and John answered, "'Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; we can't stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.'" They had courage, boldness. He said, "We must obey God, rather than men". Now, here's what happens. When you and I sin against God, our conscience gets to working. That's not the only thing that begins to working. Sin fragments your thinking. Sin causes doubt. Sin causes fear. Sin causes anxiety. Sin causes frustration. And sin causes a person to make decisions that are unwise.

Now, there is an awesome sense of security that comes when you and I obey Him. And when we obey Him, God gives a sense of security that comes no other way. You see, when you and I obey Him, and we ought to, listen, we should obey Him for the very security that it gives us. Oftentimes ask why is it some people can go through difficulty, hardship, and pain and come through it all somehow with a smile and a sense of calmness? And as hurtful as it may have been, how can they come through that? Is it by nit and grit? No. Here's the reason. Because when a person is walking in obedience to the Father, the circumstances really don't make a lot of difference because the Father is going to give a sense of security, strength, courage, boldness, contentment that nothing else in the world can give.

And you see, there is no other answer for that kind of assurance and boldness. What oftentimes would knock other people off, just totally off the path, you come along because you're walking in obedience to Him, and you know what? The devil may try you, tempt you, test you, to give up and quit, run away, whatever it might be, and inside of you, the Holy Spirit is reminding you you're walking in the presence of the Father, the Sovereign Ruler of this universe. I am here. I am with you. I will enable you. I'll protect you. I'll walk you through this. You will come through it. I will bless you. I will honor you. I will do things in your life far beyond your imagination. That is the testimony of the Spirit of God when you and I walk obediently before Him. But if you're not walking obediently, you have all these anxieties and frustrations and fears, and what happens is when you're not walking in obedience to Him, you make foolish decisions. You make foolish decisions.

Listen, we should obey Him because there's an awesome sense of security. Listen, there is a security that comes that no one else can give you, no one else can promise you, that will sustain you. No matter what the persecution. No matter what the difficulty, what the need, what the pain, what the hurt, what the shame, whatever it might be, whatever you're feeling, you know what? There is an awesome sense of protection because you're aware of the presence of the living God inside of you. If you're one of those persons who lives in fear, ask yourself the question why you do. Ask yourself this question: What is it in my past that keeps bubbling up? What is it about my past that I can't deal with? What is it in my life that somehow keeps me in bondage?

And you'll finally discover why you are not obeying God and why you have no security. But listen to this. A loving Heavenly Father is not going to allow you, one of His children, to have a sense of security and boldness and confidence when He knows you're disobeying Him, living in disobedience. You are out of His path, out of His plan. And you know what He does? He stirs up enough to bring us back to Himself. We obey Him because there is an awesome sense of security that comes in knowing that they are in the will of the Father with this awesome sense of confidence.

And I want to encourage you to ask yourself the question: Isn't it about time you started obeying your Heavenly Father? And if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, if you're willing to confess your sins, then you can pray this kind of a prayer. Father, he's right. Your Word's right. I've had it my way. I've been stubborn. I wanted it my way. I'm not really happy. I'm not content. I don't really have joy and peace. I don't have any real, genuine security. I'm worried about this and fretting about that.

And, you see, people who are very wealthy, you think they don't have anything to worry about. Oftentimes, they've got more to worry about. You know why? They look back and see how hard they worked to accumulate all of these material things, and now they are worried to death about what's going to happen to them. They turn to drink. They turn to all kind of things. You know what? Worried about God's blessings. Don't know what's gonna happen when they die. The major question ought to be what's gonna happen to them when they die, not their material possessions. I'm simply saying if you will ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to save you, He'll do it right now. And then what happens? You can stop being afraid of God and remember that He is your loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ is your Savior, Lord, Master, and brother. And the Holy Spirit is your continuing enabler to help you to become the person God wants you to be. It is foolish to live a life of disobedience when so much is offered to those who obey Him.

And Father, how grateful we are. You are so patient with us, so forgiving, so kind, so understanding. You want the best for us. Provided the best. And I just ask you today to just rivet this message, these statements over and over and over, repeat it over and over and over again into the minds and hearts of people who are listening that they may wake up and realize Your way is the best way. Your way is the only way. And we don't have to be afraid of You. Unless we choose to live in sin, disobedience, stubborn rebellion against Your will and Your way and the Cross and Your Son, Jesus. Then there's a major reason for being afraid. But for those of us who want You as our Savior and desire You and know that You are our Savior, no fear. And we thank you for that in Jesus's name. Amen.

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