Charles Stanley - Lessons I Have Learned
Do you live by principle or by the pressures of the moment? Do you find yourself making decisions based on immediate feelings or rather by the principles of the Word of God? Are you more influenced by your environment around you or by the Holy Spirit who's living within you? Could you say that you have a sense of direction, a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose in your life? Or are you just sorta responding and reacting to life as situations and circumstances arise? The Bible is full of great principles, godly principles, by which our Lord wants us to live. In fact, you could go from Genesis to Revelation and there's one principle after the other that God has given us because you see, this is God's instruction book for living.
The wisest thing that a father can do for his children is to teach them very early in life, listen, to believe that this is the Word of God and to share these principles of scripture in such a fashion that they will be guided by divine principles. Those principles that make it possible for us to live life at its very best. And I want you to turn if you will to Proverbs chapter three which is probably the anchor chapter in the Bible for me personally. Because there's a simple passage within this that somehow I've always gone back to over and over and over again through these years. He says beginning in verse one of chapter three, "My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man".
And listen to this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord; or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father the son in whom he delights".
What I want to do in this passage and in this message primarily is to share with you some of the most important principles that God has laid upon my own life. Those principles by which He has guided my life. There are many others besides the one I want to mention. But these are the ones that He has most impressed upon my own heart, guided me by over all these years for which I am very, very grateful. And I want to begin with the very first one, the one that my grandfather taught me when I was seventeen years of age. He didn't even realize the impact he was having upon my life. But he laid this principle before me in a very simple fashion. Obey God and leave all the consequences of your obedience to Him. Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. In order to be obedient to God and leave the consequences to Him, it requires two things.
Number one, it requires that you and I first of all learn how to listen to God. If I do not know how to listen to God, then I will not know how to be obedient to God. That's why you cannot separate learning to listen to Him and obeying Him. And often times people will say, Well, I just don't know what God is saying. Listen, it is our responsibility to learn how to listen to Him. If I'm going to be obedient, I must know what it is God wants me to do. If I'm going to want, know what He wants me to do, I must learn how to listen to Him to be sure I am hearing from Him and not making up my own mind.
A second thing that is absolutely essential, and that is that I trust Him. It says, Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. If I'm gonna leave all the consequences to Him, then I must trust Him. One of the biggest problems we have in this whole issue is the idea of the fear of what may happen if we trust Him. That is, if I do not understand what the consequences might be, if I can't see what the consequences are, if I can't see my way clear, often times one of the reasons we don't obey him is because we want Him to give us in graphic detail what the consequences will be if we obey Him and God is under no obligation to show me the consequences. But I will say this, God has made Himself responsible, He is obligated, listen, to be responsible for the consequences of our obedience. Remember that. God is responsible for the consequences of our obedience. It is my responsibility to learn how to listen to Him, my responsibility to trust Him. His responsibility to, as a result of my obedience, take care of all those consequences.
Now, often times one of the things we have to deal with is the clamor of other people, what they think we should do, how they think we should live, and decisions they think we ought to make. And the truth is, if you listen to the world, and often times, even if you listen to people who mean well, you will not find nor hear the will of God. Often times people tell us what they think we want to hear, what they think will be easy on us what they think we should do from their perspective when nobody knows the will and purpose of God for our life but Almighty God. And therefore, when we say obey God and leave all the consequences to Him, we cannot learn a greater lesson in life. It takes courage to be obedient when you don't know what the consequences are going to be. It takes faith to be obedient when you don't have any idea what the consequences are gonna be.
And often times when we try to picture and foretell in our own mind and our own thinking from a human point of view, what we think the consequences might be, so often we are absolutely totally in error because only God in His omniscience knows what the consequences will be. So if you'll remember, obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. Almighty God is totally responsible for the consequences of our obedience. Second lesson I would mention is simply this. And that is, learn to trust the Lord for every single thing in life that we need. And often times it is difficulty and failure that teaches us how to learn to trust Him. And God knows exactly what to send into your life and my life that will remind us and teach us how to trust Him. And often times, when we come to trust the Lord and we think, Well, Lord, here's what You've said. And he says for example in this passage, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our path".
All of these ten principles that I want to mention here are all interrelated. For example, when it comes to obedience, you'll recall that Peter and John said there in the fifth chapter of Acts, verse twenty-nine, "We must obey God rather than man". When it comes to trusting God, often times we will find ourselves again up against all kinds of opposition. And often times it is the thinking within our own heart, looking back in our past or seeing our past failures and asking the question, how can I trust God in the light of the things that I see going on in my life? And what, what does the scripture say about trusting Him in difficult times and situations and circumstances where we can't see our way clear? Well, remember this that He is absolutely a trustworthy God. He is absolutely faithful. You and I have never trusted Him for anything and God ever came up short. He is absolutely faithful and true to every single promise He makes.
You and I can rest in absolute assurance that if He makes a promise, God has obligated Himself to keep that promise no matter what. And often times when we look at circumstances, because we can't see how God could work it out, God does not want us worrying and fretting and being anxious. And I think one of the things that's helped me the most is over the years in learning to trust Him, it often times when people say to me, Well, you don't seem to be upset. Not upset. You don't seem to be worried. Not worried. You don't seem to be, frustrated about it. You don't seem to be anxious. It doesn't mean that sometimes I don't feel those things, but most of the time I don't and when I do it doesn't last long because I am quick to remind myself that Almighty God is the one who has said, Trust Him. He's trustworthy. I have never known in all of these years of my life for Him ever to prove to be untrustworthy.
Now, here's what happens. And I think this is the thing that's probably taught me the most. And that is, sometimes in difficult times and situations when I've been confronted with something that I didn't know how to deal with and didn't know how to figure out and couldn't manipulate and couldn't change, and the Lord would give me a very clear sense of direction exactly what to do. Then when that happened, it seemed that all hell would break loose. The devil would absolutely just launch his most vicious attacks upon me when I had heard God say something so crystal clear. And here's what the Lord would say to me, over and over and over again. Listen carefully. Are you going to believe what you see and what you hear or are you gonna believe what I say? Brother, that would drive me straight to my knees. All right, Lord, here's what I see. It looks pretty bad. Here's what I hear. It looks real bad. But God, here's what You said. I'm going to trust You no matter what I see and what I hear, I'm going to trust You.
That's when, that's when our faith begins to skyrocket. That's when our faith begins to become strong and very intense because God is gonna send us enough difficulty and hardship in our life. He's going to send us enough trials and tribulations in order to teach us to trust Him. How would we ever know how to trust Him if we didn't face circumstances and situations in which we didn't feel helpless and hopeless and lost apart from the divine intervention of God? You can trust Him for every single need. You can trust Him to protect you in every circumstance. And one of the scriptures He keeps laying on my heart all through these years is, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper". And over and over and over again, as weapons have been tossed at me for one reason or the other, over and over He sent me back to that passage. Either you're gonna believe what I've said rather than what you see and what you feel.
If you'll just remember that. Believe what He says rather than what you feel or what you see. Because if you believe what you feel, it can be very erroneous. If you believe what you hear, it can be very erroneous. If you believe what God says you never, never go wrong doing what's right. The third lesson that I think is so very important is this, and that is, learning to wait upon God for His direction and His timing. When God has told you, listen, when He tells you to wait, friend, don't budge under any circumstance because God has us waiting for a very specific, clear reason. Remember that He's omniscient, we're not. He knows the past, He knows the present, He knows the future. He knows all the things that are involved in every single decision that you and I make. Because He knows every single thing that's involved and every detail, when He says wait in His infinite wisdom and knowledge and understanding of the future, He knows what He has in mind. Here's what I've discovered, when He says wait. It's probably for one of three reasons.
Number one, because I'm not ready for what He has. It may be that what I believe is the will of God is the will of God, but the timing is not my timing, it's His timing. And He says, No wait. And sometimes we wait a while, we think, God, I've waited long enough. He says, No, wait. Are you gonna believe what I said or are you gonna believe, are you gonna believe what you see? Or, are you gonna believe what you feel? When God says, Wait, I cannot tell you how important this is. This is one of the most difficult lessons to learn, but it is one of the most important. Don't budge until God gives you permission to move. One of the reasons is because we're not ready.
A second reason is because the circumstance that He is preparing for us, that circumstance isn't ready. You and I can't rush God. We can't hurry God. When God puts a situation, circumstances together, He puts it together in His perfect timing and in His perfect way. Often times when God says, No, don't move. Why Lord? Just trust Me, don't move. But God, look at all these things that are taking place and time's going by. Don't move, trust Me, don't move.
A third reason is because God has something better. Here we are waiting for this and God has something absolutely better over here that you and I have never dreamed of, never thought about. So if He tells us to wait, it is in His infinite wisdom and in His absolute goodness toward us, He says He has stored up His goodness for us because He has the best for us, because He wants the best for us, He says, Wait. It's because God has the very best for His children. And over and over and over again in my own life, the times when I have said, no, well, yes Lord, I'm gonna wait. Then I'd get impatient, step ahead, every single time it was a mistake. Not a single time have I stepped ahead of God that it was not a mistake.
Every single time I have waited, I've been able to back off and say, God, what an absolutely glorious God You are, I would never thought it could have been this good. Thank You, thank You, thank You, thank You. And what you end up doing is finding yourself in great, great gratitude and thanksgiving for God, whose wisdom is so far greater than ours and whose love is such He will not let us move to make a mistake. Cannot tell you whether it is in business, whether it is in church, in your personal life, in relationships, every single thing, waiting upon God. One of my favorite passages is also in Isaiah sixty-four.
If you're not familiar with that, I want to encourage you to turn to it. Because this verse has blessed me over and over again, when he says in the sixty-fourth verse and beginning in verse four. He says, "For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither has the has the eye seen a God besides Thee," speaking of Jehovah God, listen to this, "who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him". Can you think about that? Think about that. The Bible says that God, listen, He acts in behalf of those who wait for Him. When you and I are willing to wait upon the Lord and trust Him and don't move before He says move, he says, God intervenes. God acts in our behalf. He's in control, He moves things and circumstances in such a way that it'll be the greatest blessing to us. And so I would say lesson number three, very important lesson. Learn to wait for God's direction and for God's timing in your life.
The next one I would simply say is one that is so very important. And often times we think, Well, principles and lessons that God would teach us how would, how could this possibly be one of them? But it's one of them because as I think about over the years, one of the most profitable things I have ever done, I learned very early in life. And so what is this principle? This principle is this, give generously to the Lord's work. Here's what I've discovered. If I become attached to anything in life materially, what I'm doing is I'm holding onto something. If I'm holding onto something, God can't put anything in the hands that are, that are tightly fisted like this.
When I open my hands to God and say, Lord, whatever I have is Yours. You can take anything You want. You can take as much as You want. All You gotta do is to tell me what You want and here it is. If I do that, you know what? I know that I'm not, I'm not attached to anything. Any time you get, get to holding onto anything and money becomes a priority in your life, mark this down. You're going to lose it. God is going to see to it that you lose it. Money is not our goal. Our goal is to walk obediently before God. But if you and I will walk obediently before God and follow His principles of giving, here's what He will do. He will prosper you in ways you'll never be able to imagine. Here's something else. It will protect you from greed. It will protect you from selfishness. It will protect you from becoming materialistically attached. I'm telling you what's, part of what's wrong with this whole nation of ours is we've become a greedy nation.
Somehow somebody's convinced and persuaded us if we have enough things, enough of this and enough of that and enough of the other, we will be happy. There's no happiness, no joy and no peace in things. It is to be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the basic principles of something we're gonna have to deal with all of our life is money. And I'm telling you that if you'll start tithing, if you are tithing, give more than that. Tell God that you're coming back to Second Corinthians chapter nine and you're just gonna, you just want to watch Him work that principle in your life and He will do exactly what He says. A wonderful principle to learn.
Well, I think another principle that's so very important to me, and that is, I cannot live the Christian life. It is Christ living it through me. I can remember the first time that ever came to my mind. I'd never heard a sermon on it, never read a book, never saw a tract, never heard anything about it. I picked up this book by Dr. V. Raymond Edmund who was then the President of Wheaton College. And, he wrote this book entitled "They Found The Secret". It was simply simple biographical sketches of the spiritual life and the spiritual journey of some great men and women of God. I opened that book up one night, one Friday night, and walked out to my study in the back yard and I began to read. I began to read that first chapter about Hudson Taylor. I didn't read but a very few pages, probably about page seven. By the time I got there I thought, Lord, here's somebody who feels exactly the way I feel.
Here's somebody who's struggling with the very things I'm struggling with. That night for the first time in my life, the very idea that Jesus Christ came to live on the inside of me, to live through me a life I could not live. Because I was struggling, trying to do my best. Grew up in a legalistic kind of a church, don't do this, don't do that, don't do the other. Tried my best to do what I should do. Didn't do very well at it. I was a Romans seven Christian. What I didn't want to do I found myself doing, what I wanted to do I didn't have the strength to do. Failure after failure after failure after failure, trying and trying. And I would plead and pray and fast and tell God what I was gonna do and I was gonna do better and better and better and I got worse and worse and worse, until He finally got me to the absolute total end of myself, that somehow the Christian life was not working.
And I can remember the very week that I read this book. I had already come to the conclusion, God, either You've gotta tell me something I don't know or I've gotta quit telling people, "You just trust the Lord Jesus Christ and He'll give you peace and happiness and joy in your life," 'cause I've got it on Sunday, come Monday I don't have it. Something's wrong. I remember one of the fellows in our church, he'd come down the aisle about at least twice a month. That's no exaggeration. Come down and rededicate his life. I got to thinking, Now what in the world's wrong with him? He was a good friend of mine. What in the world's wrong that he has to rededicate his life every two weeks? I thought something's wrong. Something is either wrong with the preaching or something's wrong with him, something's wrong. And then it's like the Lord showed me.
What are you preaching? You're preaching do good, be good, you can't do good, you can't be good. There's something all messed up in all this. I got up off of my knees that night, when I realized John chapter fifteen and those first few verses when Jesus said, "I'm abiding in you and you're abiding in Me". He says, "As the branch abides in the vine," He says, "so I'm abiding in you and you're abiding in Me". For the first time in my life, I recognized, I heard God say to me so crystal clear, I've never intended for you to live the Christian life. You can't do it. You never have done it. You've failed and failed and failed. Now you're preaching to people and they don't know what in the world's going on because they can't live up to it either. I'm telling you, you can't, I'm the only one who can live this life through you. When I got up off that place, I was so liberated, I was so freed, I didn't even know how to explain it. It's like God had dumped a whole theology in my mind and heart. I didn't know how to explain it.
I couldn't even understand what it was all about at first except I knew that what I had been trying to do, God never intended for me to do. He intended for me to rely upon Him, trust in Him, and allow Him to live His life in and through me. Then all of a sudden Galatians chapter two verse twenty came to my mind and came to my heart when Paul said, "I've been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I," he says, "but it's Christ living on the inside of me. And the life which I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me". You're talking about liberated! I dumped off all of, listen, all of my attempts to live up to and please and somehow perform for God to accept me all went away in one night. It's the most liberating lesson I've ever learned in life and it's my prayer, and the tragedy is this, the tragedy is this.
Most believers will go to their grave in the bondage of trying to please God, trying to perform, trying to live up to, trying somehow to be good enough to get His acceptance when it is absolutely impossible. Remember what grace is all about. Grace is all about the fact that God loves us in spite of who we are. God has forgiven us when we don't deserve it. It is not living up to, performing, or trying to measure up to anything. One of the most liberating lessons is it is Christ in us. When I began to read the epistles of Paul after that, everywhere I turned, in Christ, in Christ, in Him, in whom. In fact, you could rack up the whole theology of the Apostle Paul in these two words: In Christ. Because Paul understood that. He understood his own failures. And that's why in Romans seven he says, I couldn't do it. I tried and I couldn't. In Romans eight he says thank God that He has liberated me in the person of Jesus Christ.
Romans eight is a great chapter of victory. Romans seven is a great chapter of defeat. Most of us live in defeat until somehow we learn that it is Christ in us and not we ourselves. Well, when I think about all these principles and think about what God has done in my own heart, I think about one of the most reassuring ones of all is the fact that God loves us unconditionally. Probably that's one of the most difficult lessons for me to accept because I tell you I was in my fifties before I ever could accept the fact as truth in my life that God loved me unconditionally. I know what He says. For example, in John, that seventeenth chapter and twenty-third verse, He says, "As the Father loves me, He says, so He loves us".
And when I read that verse I think, Now, wait a minute. God, You mean to tell me that You love me like You love your Son? That's what Jesus said when He was praying in that seventeenth chapter. Well, if You love me like You love Your Son, how did You love Your Son? Absolutely perfectly and unconditionally. How does He love us? The same way. What a reassuring thought that I do not have to live up, and I do not have to perform nor to get God to love me. I am sure that most of my Christian life, that's exactly what I did. Work hard, pray hard, strive, whatever's necessary to perform, to get His acceptance, to get Him to love me just a little bit more. And you know, when you feel guilty, you feel guilty, you want God to love you and so what do you do? You just pour on the steam, work hard, pray hard, study hard, read hard, whatever's necessary.
And the tragedy is none of that does any good. Why? Because you're trying to get God to do something that He's done absolutely perfectly, completely, couldn't love us any more, couldn't love us any less because it is His nature to love us unconditionally. That means that God loves us when we behave. He loves us when we misbehave. He loves us when things are good. He loves us when things are bad. He loves us when we're encouraged. He loves us when we're discouraged. He loves us when we make a mess of things. He loves us when we do well. Thank God His love is not the weather, it never changes. Absolutely, absolutely unconditional love of God. And here's what I discovered happened to me when I began to realize what was going on. Whereas before I was trying to perform and trying to behave in order to get God to love me and to get His acceptance.
Then all of a sudden when I was able to accept the fact that God loved me unconditionally, then my motivation, listen, my motivation to walk holy before God, my motivation to be obedient to Him was not to get Him to love me, but because He loved me unconditionally, and because He'd accepted me the way I am, then I could, listen, then I could choose with high motivation to walk obediently before Him, not to get anything from Him but because of what I already had from Him, His wonderful unconditional love. You know what? Most people go to their grave not believing that. Somehow they'll look at their life and say, How could God love me? They'll look at their, their experiences in the past and say, How could God love me? They'll look at their past, they'll look at their behavior, they'll look at their conduct, they'll look at their mistakes, they look at their sins and say, How could God love me unconditionally?
Listen carefully. The reason God loves you and me unconditionally has nothing to do with what we are, who we are, how we act. It has to do with His nature. It is the very character and nature of God to love with all the fullness and all the potential that the divine love has to offer. Has nothing to do with us. It has to do with Him. You see, He's the one who gets the glory and the credit and the praise. It is God loving us in spite of us, and loving us through, and loving us not because of anything within us, but simply because He's the God He is. It took me years and years and years to ever come to the conclusion, Yes! I can confess, I can declare to the world, God loves me unconditionally no matter what. When I think about people, for example, who cannot believe in eternal security, who struggle with that, and there are millions who do. They just can't believe that, that once they're saved by the grace of God, they say, Well, you know, if you believe that, then that's license for sin.
My friend, listen, once you understand that God loves you unconditionally, you don't look for license for sin. You're not looking for freedom for sin. What you want to do is you want to be obedient to God because you're so grateful for that kind of love. When you trust Him as your personal Savior, He seals you, the Bible says, unto the day of redemption. He says you're a child of God. Nothing you can ever do can, listen, can alter the fact that Jesus Christ died for your sin, can ever alter the fact that He loves you absolutely unconditionally. You could never be lost after God has saved you because He says He sealed you with the Holy Spirit, He's living on the inside of you. You'd have to take the Spirit of God to hell with you to die and be lost. When I think about people who live in the bondage of fear every day. You going to heaven? I'm not sure. Why not? Well, have you trusted Jesus as your Savior? Well, I tried. Well, did you do it? Yes, I did. Well, did He save you? Well, I think He did. Well, are you saved? I think I am. No. Are you saved? Well, I think so.
You know what they're doing? Here's what they're doing. Looking at their behavior, looking at their conduct, looking at their past, judging themselves the way they would judge someone else, when God loves us absolutely and conditionally, unconditionally and has saved us forever. Well, the next principle I want you to notice is this. And that is, that God is in absolute control of every circumstance of life. I don't know of a more comforting thought than that. And all of us know what Romans eight twenty-eight says in different versions say it in different ways. But this is a verse that often times we turn to and yet, when things get rough, we say, Well, yeah, I believe Romans eight twenty-eight, but, How often have we read this? "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose". That is, He's engineering every single circumstance for our good and His glory.
Now listen. If God is sovereign, what does that mean? And He is sovereign. By the fact that He is sovereign, it says that God is in absolute total control of every single event in life. Which means, nothing can happen to you and to me who are His children without His permissive will. If God allows difficulty and hardship into my life, He's got a purpose for it. He's gonna turn it into something good, listen, He'll turn it into something good and I can profit from it if I will respond by faith and trust Him. He says He causes all things to work together for good. You say, Wait a minute now. Buh, don't we go through times, difficulties and trials and heartaches and other people's sins and their disobedience and it has an effect upon us? Are we not the victims of other people's actions?
Listen, if you get the victimized idea, then you've got to lay down the sovereignty of God. If God is absolutely sovereign, I can never be a victim. If He is absolutely sovereign, those things that happen to us who are His children, are by His permissive will. He may permit some things in my life that are painful, difficult, hard to understand, things I don't like, things I wouldn't choose, things I'd like to walk away from. But you know what? If you and I respond in the godly fashion which is to say, Lord, I don't understand this. In fact, I don't even like this. God, I want You to change this. But I know that You're in control. You don't make any mistakes. If You have allowed this in my life, You have allowed this in my life for a good reason. Maybe I need to be sifted and sanded. Maybe I need to be sculptured a little bit. Maybe I need to be pruned. Whatever Your purpose is, Your purpose is good, Your purpose is right, Your purpose is holy, Your purpose is for my best no matter what.
I believe one of the most comforting thoughts that I've ever had is simply that. That God is absolutely in total control. He says, "No weapon formed against you will prosper". Not any, He says. Why? Because He's in control. What appears to be often times something that is against us or something that would destroy us in some fashion. God knows exactly what is happening. You and I, listen, we live under the canopy of His divine omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence. He is in absolute control of every single facet of our life. If I didn't believe that, I would quite preaching the Word of God because it would mean that we are now victims and the world can do this to us and the world can do that, and therefore, just anything can happen. Well, then where is faith? Where is this Jehovah God who is absolute in faithfulness and infinite in power. If He's all the Bible says He is, He is absolutely sovereign. Therefore, He is in total control of every single thing that happens. This is the God whom you and I serve.
Now, there are people who don't believe that. They don't believe that not because the Bible doesn't teach it, does not teach it, but because they look at their circumstances and ask the question, How could God be in control of such disasters? Because God in His infinite wisdom knows what He's doing. You see, things happen to us maybe early in life or later in life or whatever, and we think, well, that was a terrible thing. And often times people grow through those things, God works in their life. What happens? He takes the very thing that seemed to be a terrible setback of adversity in their life and He uses that as the very thing by which He can use them to impact other people's lives for good. He is the sovereign of this universe. And knowing that, I can rest in that, that no matter what happens, no matter how it happens, no matter what the situation, what the circumstance may be, I know that God is going to turn every single bit of it into something good.
Now, here's what happens. People who don't believe that, they'll tell you what you ought to do. They want you to make this decision, that decision, the other decision. The problem is they're not willing to trust God. They don't know the God that you know. They don't understand that He's sovereign in control. Listen, if God is in sovereign control of your life, who am I to tell you how to live your life? Who am I to tell you what to do next if God is in control of your life. If you're listening to Him, if you asked me I'd say, Well, here's what the Word of God says but you have to make up your own mind. Does this fit the principles of God? Is this, is this a sovereign God at work in your life doing something very good? How often I have seen in my own life and the lives of others things that were so painful, things that were so difficult, was the, listen, was the very substance that God was using to build and strengthen and edify and listen, make strong and solid and establish and undergird and overshadow that person's life.
Listen, don't turn away from difficulty, hardship. What does He say in Proverbs three? He says, he says, "Do not reject the discipline of the Lord". Why? Because often times it is that discipline which may come because of something we've done or because something someone else has done, or just because God has something in mind. He says, Don't turn away from it. God is loving us and what is He going to do? He says He's gonna turn all of that into something absolutely beautiful. It's easy for us to believe that about other people's lives, but not our own. Next lesson is this. And that is the importance of absolutely depending upon the Holy Spirit for everything. Absolutely depending upon the Holy Spirit for everything.
You remember what the Lord said to His disciples in Luke twenty-four, forty-nine? He said, You sit down in the city of Jerusalem. He said, And you wait until you be endued with power from on high. He says, You shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. You'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, the Samaria, the uttermost parts of the earth. What is He saying? Now listen carefully. I've got something I want you to be sure you don't miss. Why did God, why did God create this Christian life in such a fashion that we would have to be so dependent? I'll tell you why. Because God is so gloriously in love with us, because He loves us so much. Because He wants the best for us, He knows, He knows what our weaknesses are. He knows where we're the most vulnerable. And so He said to those disciples, He said, You sit down in the city of Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high. Even though you've walked with Me for three years, you're not ready. So what happened? When the Spirit of God came upon them, the Spirit of God anointed them, baptized them into, into His body, made the beginning of the church. And so all of us who've been saved, we've been indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
What does He want? He wants not only the Holy Spirit to indwell us, but He wants the Holy Spirit to control us. He wants us to submit, to yield to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in our life. What happens? The Holy Spirit who lives within us, He's the one who has gifted us. Every single one of us has been gifted by God to enable us to do what He's called us to do. He came in order to enable us to become the persons God wants us to be and to do the work that God has called us to do. Therefore, He is responsible for gifting us in any position that we have. It's His responsibility to gift us, to equip us, to be able to do that. But it isn't only important that we receive the gift, it is important that you and I rely upon Him. He wants us relying upon Him, trusting in Him, for strength, for energy, for wisdom, for knowledge, for perception, for discernment. That's the work of the Spirit. Who teaches us the truth of the Word of God? It is the work, it is the Holy Spirit working on the inside of us.
Now, why is it that He's done it that way? Because God hates the one thing, He hates the one thing that happens when a person begins to be successful in life. What happens? And I've seen this over and over again. People, I mean, they just fly off in the beginning of their life and they're just like a rocket, shining and brilliant and everybody sees it. After a few years you think, what ever happened to so-and-so? I'll tell you what happened. Pride destroyed them. God hates pride. Listen, that's why He's not gonna ever allow you and me to depend upon ourselves, our strength, our wisdom, our knowledge, our experience, the approval of others, the plaudits of others. God wants us on our face before Him, on our knees before Him, depending upon Him every single time. You start trusting in your experience, you start trusting in other people's approval, you start trust, trusting in other people's praise, you're headed down.
God wants us recognizing our absolute total dependence upon Him for everything. Absolutely opposite from human life. As a child grows up, they become more and more independent of their family, and that's a sign of maturity. As a child of God grows up, we become more and more dependent upon Him, that is a sign of genuine spiritual maturity. God, if You don't do it, it's not gonna work. The presence of the Holy Spirit, working on the inside of you. Whether it's in your home or whether it's in your occupation, whether it's in the church, whatever it might be. God knows exactly how to empower you, instruct you. He knows exactly how to give you discernment, spiritual understanding, in every single circumstance of life. I think one of the most profitable lessons is to realize I don't have to do anything in my spirit.
I don't have to do anything in my flesh. I don't have to do anything in my strength. There is the indwelling, supernatural power of God that indwells every single believer. Whatever He calls you to do, you can do it well and you can do it in a way that'll make an impact because that's the way God designed you and me to live, that He would live on the inside of us His life through the Holy Spirit, enabling us to accomplish whatever it might be. That's why none of us can take any credit. You can't take any credit if God is the one who's doing it. And so pride is a heinous sin. In fact, God says He hates it. He hates it because it steals Him of His glory. He hates it because of its destructive element in a person's life. Because when a person ceases to depend upon God, they must depend upon themselves. And once they do, I'll tell you, Satan has a hook in that person's life and they're headed down.
Well, as I think about all of these principles and how important every single one of them is, I think about this very important principle and that's this. What I believe is the priority of life, and that is one of the most important lessons you'll ever learn is this, listen, that your personal time of meditation with God should be the priority of your life. Listen, you cannot do anything in the Christian life more valuable, more fruitful, more productive because it is, listen, it underlies every single one of these other principles. And that is the time that you and I spend on our knees before God, and, listen, the time that you and I spend on our knees with the Word. Not, listen, not just praying. You can pray all kinds of stuff. You can get, listen, you can get off on all kinds of tangents praying. But if you're praying with the Word of God, reading the scriptures, asking God to speak to your heart. God, speak to my heart about this. Show me the truth about this. What are You saying to me?
Here's what happens. God loves us and He wants us to Himself. He wants us to spend time alone with Him. Just like every man and every woman who really loves each other, they want time alone when there's nobody else there, just the two of them. They want to fellowship and have that kind of relationship. God wants you and me alone with Him. The most valuable time you and I can spend in any given day is time when we spend it alone being quiet, listening to Him, praying, crying out to Him. What's happening? We're reflecting upon our life. Our soul is being restored. We're being renewed. This is why every morning, I do believe personally, every morning a person should get up, regardless of what time it is, at least spend a little time on your knees. You say, Well, I can sit. You sure can. But I'm gonna tell you something. You get on your knees before Almighty God with the Word of God, something will happen in your life that's not gonna happen just sitting around.
There's something about honoring who God is. He's Jehovah God. He's the creator of this universe. I owe Him everything. I need to bow before Him. I need to stick my face in the mud in absolute total unworthiness. And somebody says, Well, I just don't believe you have to kneel. You don't have to kneel but I can tell you this. You'll discover a difference in your life when you humble yourself before God, get in this Word and meditate upon it. My mother never knew what she was saying to me when she gave me this verse except she knew a little bit about it back in Joshua chapter one, if you'll turn there. Before I preached the first sermon I ever preached, my mom walked in the bedroom that night and she said, I want to give you a verse of scripture the Lord laid on my heart. Well, so she gave me this verse, Joshua chapter one, verse nine which says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go".
Well, I was scared to death and I was preaching my first sermon, the place was full, and I knew they were all there for curiosity coming to see what Charles has to say. And so, at my first sermon, and I was scared. I remember my mama giving me, my mother giving me this verse and I memorized it real fast because it said, "Be strong and very courageous," and I needed all that I could. And so, I quoted that verse and preached that morning and, or that night and, and then I remember coming back and reading these other verses. And this is when it hit me all of a sudden. Listen, these, listen to these verses. Now remember that Moses died, God has called Joshua to take his place. Look in verse six. "Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous," now watch this, "be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; , then you will make your way prosperous, then you will have success".
I remember thinking, Success, prosperity. I wasn't looking for prosperity but I did want to do well, whatever God called me to do. And so I remember thinking, I may not know how to preach very well and I may not ever learn how to preach very well but I could learn how to pray and nobody'll know whether I learned that very well or not 'cause that's just gonna be between God and me. I set out early in life to learn how to pray, not to preach. I remember this passage of scripture and how often I've meditated upon it. Listen to what he says. He says, look if you will now in verse seven. "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Now that's all he had at that time was the law". Look what you and I have. Sixty-six books. We have the Word of the living God. We have it all here and so He says, "Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go," and look at this, "this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, that is the Word of God. Shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate on it," when? "Day and night". Listen. "So that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. Then you'll make your way prosperous, then you'll have success".
Here's what He's saying. The beginning of the day's like the rudder of the day. You and I get up in the morning. We get in the Word of God for a little while and talk to the Lord. Give Him the day, go over the schedule for the day, lay it all before Him. And how often I've had to lie in the bed and think, say, Lord, I don't feel like getting up, but I'm going today in the strength of the Lord my God. That's what You said I could do. I just want to thank You and praise You, roll out and get on my knees, talk to the Lord, open the Word of God and read two or three favorite passages of scripture or some passage that I hadn't read before with any real meaning for me at a particular time in my life. I've got some of those that when I'm real weak, I turn right to them. I've got some of those that when I think, God, I don't know how to handle this day, I know exactly where to turn. Just to remind myself that my God who wrote this book is absolutely faithful to keep every single promise in it, no matter what.
I cannot tell you how important your own personal private meditation is. And often times pastors will say to me, Well, if you just had one thing to say to me as a young pastor, what would you say? I'd tell 'em all the same thing. The most important thing in your life is the time you spend alone with God on your knees in the Word, for yourself, not looking for a sermon but you're looking for God to speak to your life. I cannot tell you how important that is. And if you dads want to teach your children how to do that, before they go to bed at night, you go in there with them and open the Word of God with your children, read 'em a passage of scripture. Now you can read 'em other books too but listen, don't neglect the Word of God. So early in life they can't even remember when they saw this book. You read a little passage, pray with them, talk to them, and listen, they'll grow up with a faith that is strong early in life. Because what you did is you fed them on the Word of God. You instructed them in the things, What you are saying by using this book is, listen, this book is important. This message is important. This is the Word of the living God.
The gospel of Jesus Christ can penetrate the most hardened heart, transform that life and change their eternal destiny. If there's one thing that I have learned over these years it is this, this is the most precious thing on the face of this earth. This is the revelation of Almighty God and the Apostle Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ". For he said, I've learned that it's the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. And as I think about so often, a simple message you can speak to several hundred people or several thousand or several million people, you know what? They, it's amazing, they all hear, they all hear what God is saying to them those who are listening. And God can take, listen, my voice or someone else's voice, put it in some other language let someone else say it, it doesn't make any difference. It is the awesome power of the living Word of God. It can transform a life. It can absolutely transform a person's eternal destiny.
You and I have the most precious message the world has ever known, will ever know. And here's what Isaiah said, "The grass withers, the flower fades but the Word of our God stands forever". This is God's instruction book. And my friend, if you want life at its best, I just laid out some principles to you that I know that work. I've seen them work in other people's life. I know they work in my life. Every single one of them comes from this book. You ask God to show you the principles for your life. He'll add some to those. He may not give you the same ones. They're all the truth. If you want life at its best, you go to the best book. You go to the instruction book. You go to the revelation of God. This is God's mind put in human print. In order for you and me to understand who He is and to be able to come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
If you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, this is the way you do it. You accept the testimony of the Word of God which says that Jesus Christ is God's only begotten Son. He sent Him into this world to die on the cross. Placed upon Him all of your sin so that your entire sin-debt, past, present and future, He took with Him to the cross. When He died on the cross, He paid your sin-debt in full. The way that you're saved is this, you ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins. You accept His death as full payment for your sin. You tell Him that you're receiving Him as your personal Savior. And the moment you do that by faith, you become a child of the living God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, sealed unto the day of redemption.
And then, listen, you have the wonderful privilege of joining all of us in the greatest adventure of life and that's living the Christian life by allowing Jesus to live that wonderful life through you, moment by moment, day by day. I can tell you my friend, this is the only life that really counts. This is the only life that really works. This is the only life that listen, not promises, but provides the joy, the peace, the happiness and contentment, in good times, bad times, in pleasure and in pain. Our God never changes. So, wherever you are I want to encourage you to whisper a simple prayer, asking Him to forgive you and telling Him that you're trusting Him as your personal Savior today. And my friend, one thing for certain, you ask Him, He is ready to save you, ready to change your life.
And Father we are grateful that You're not prejudice. You said, He that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. And so I want to thank You for every person who will say yes to You. I do receive You as my personal Savior. I pray for those who are present here. Father, those who need to be a part of this fellowship, those who need to join this church, who want to know the ways of God, the Word of God, the will of God and to learn how to walk in that in the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray that You'll move their hearts today to be simply obedient to You. We love You, we praise You, we thank You for every principle. Thank You for all that You're teaching all of us. Now just etch these truths in our mind. Give us the wisdom to put 'em into practice. Let them echo in our heart. Let them be a part of our thinking moment by moment, day by day and day after day. For we ask it in Jesus's name and for His sake. Amen.