Robert Jeffress - Walking With Your God
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway To Victory". Some people think that all it takes to be a Christian is to spend an hour at church on Sundays or read a quick devotional every morning. But while those actions are vitally important, truly living the Christian life entails much more than that. Today I'm going to show you four simple principles that will transform your relationship with God. My message is titled, "Walking With Your God" on today's edition of "Pathway To Victory".
A number of years ago I heard Chuck Swindoll recount an article on the advantages of walking versus running. The article said in part, "Walking places less stress on your body. There is a less risk of injury, and if you walk fast enough 5 miles an hour for 45 minutes or more, you can achieve just as much as if you were running". But it was the last sentence in that article that caught my attention. It said, "Walking is not a glamorous sport. It has none of the panache of, let's say, mountain climbing. Walking sounds so humdrum, so pedestrian, but at the right pace and with regularity, it can be the best thing you can do for your body".
Then Chuck made this application to the Christian life. He said, "Christian living is not glamorous. Walking with God has none of the panache of say miraculous healings, or speaking in tongues, or being slain in the spirit. Walking with God sounds so humdrum, so pedestrian, but done at the right pace and with regularity, walking with God can be the best thing you can do for your soul". You see, walking is the most common metaphor in the Bible for our relationship with God. Over 300 times, the Old Testament uses the word walk or walking. For example, that well-known passage, Micah 6:8, "What does the Lord require of you except to do justice, to love kindness, and," what? "Walk humbly with your God".
You find that same metaphor in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:1 Paul says, "I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God that you obey the calling with which you have been called that you walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called". Not that you run, but that you walk in a manner worthy of your calling. Or Colossians 2, verse 6, "As you have received Christ Jesus, so also" what? "So also walk in him".
Years ago, Eugene Peterson wrote a great book about the Christian life. I'll never forget the title of it, "A Long Obedience In The Same Direction". That's what the Christian life is. It's going the same direction, obeying God over a period of time, and when you do that, you end up at your desired destination. What's involved with walking with God? I want you to notice from Genesis 17, this account of Abraham's life, four components of what it means for you and me to walk with God. First of all, it begins with waiting on God's timing. Waiting on God's timing. Look at verse 1 of chapter 17. "Now, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.'"
Now, I want you to underscore 99 his age of 99. There's a reason we're given that detail. The last verse of chapter 16 tells us Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born, and now it is 13 years later when God comes back and speaks to Abraham again. Think about it, Abraham went 13 years without hearing from God, 13 years of silence. Frankly, we wanna hear from God regularly, don't we? We seek after these immediate and frequent manifestations that he really is there. It's always been that way. What I'm saying to you is, the most important thing to understand is, we need to wait on God. Part of walking with God means waiting on God to answer in his way and according to his timetable.
Abraham learned that after 13 years of waiting to hear from God. Walking with God secondly, involves trusting in God's power. Trusting in God's power. You remember what God had promised to Abram when he was 60 years of age, he's now 99. But at 60 years of age he said, "I'm gonna make you the father of a great nation". His name Abram, that was his original name, meant exalted father. He didn't have any children but he was named exalted father. So he finally after 15 years of a side trip to Haran makes it to the Promised Land, and for 10 years he's in the Promised Land between 75 and age 85 without any child whatsoever, but Abraham never lost faith. He kept trusting in God for those next 13 years as he waited, and waited, and waited, for God to answer his promise.
I wanna show you something interesting about Abraham's faith, about his trust in God's power. Look at Romans chapter 4 beginning with verse 18. "And hope against hope, Abraham believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, 'So shall your descendants be.' 'Without becoming weak in faith, he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able to perform".
Notice two components of Abraham's trust in God's promise. First of all, he focused on the bleakness of his circumstances. He trusted in the bleakness of his circumstances. Verse 19 says, "Without becoming weak in faith, he contemplated his own body". Now listen to me. Having faith doesn't mean you play like you don't have any challenges or promises, it means accurately assessing your situation no matter how bleak it is. God had said, "Abraham, I'm gonna make you the father of a multitude". And Abraham gets up every morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I'm gonna be a father? I look more like a cast member from The Walking Dead than I do a father of multitude".
He looks at himself, he gets discouraged, he looks over at his wife, he doesn't find an encouragement there. She's 90 years old as one person said, "Her womb had become a tomb". She had no capability of producing children either. He was being very honest about his situation. Some of you right now are in some bleak circumstances. Your bank account is evaporating, your children are still in rebellion against you and against God, the health reports are getting worse and not better. No, trusting in God's power doesn't mean denying the reality of your situation, but it means not only focusing on your bleak circumstances, but focusing on the greatness of your God. That's what Abraham did. It says in verse 20, "Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he didn't waiver in unbelief but he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able to perform".
You see, whenever you look at your circumstances and you compare them to your own strength and ability, you're gonna get discouraged because you're gonna realize that your problems are bigger than you are. But Abraham didn't make that mistake. Instead of focusing just on his circumstances and his own abilities, he focused on the greatness of God, and you know what? He came to the conclusion that God was bigger than his problems. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God is bigger than your circumstances no matter how dire they are? Just ask yourself this question. What circumstance in your life could not God change in an instant if he wanted to? God has the ability to perform. That's exactly what the scripture says about Abraham. He believed that God was able to perform a miracle.
I wanna show you something very interesting I just discovered. Go back to chapter 17 verse 1 of Genesis. "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said to him, 'I am God Almighty.'" That Hebrew word for God Almighty is "El-Shaddai". It's the first time it's used in the Bible. Up to this point, God had been known as "Elohim," which means the Creator God, the God who made everything, but now God identifies himself as El-Shaddai God Almighty. In other words, he's not only the God who creates everything, he's the God who controls everything. It's one thing to believe that God in an instant created the sun and the moon and the stars and everything we see, but it's another thing to believe that the same God who created the Sun and the Moon controls the Sun and the Moon, and if he wants to, he can stop them in their tracks just like he would do for Joshua.
The same is true for you. The deist used to believe that God just kind of created everything, wound up like an alarm clock and then left creation on its own. No, God says, "I'm the one who's intricately involved in every detail in this world and every detail in your life as well". That's the kind of God that Abraham believed in. What does it mean to walk with God? It means to wait on God's timing, secondly, it means to trust in God's power. Thirdly, walking with God now this is key, involves listening to God's voice, listening to God's voice. Look at verse 3 of chapter 17. "Abram fell on his face and God talked to him".
Now, when we talk about prayer we're talking about our talking to God and that's great, we ought to pray, Jesus encouraged us to pray. But where in your schedule is there time for you to allow God to speak to you? Not you incessantly saying, "God, I need this, this, this, this, that, this". "God, what do you want from me"? We need to listen to the voice of God. How does God speak to us? One way he speaks to us is through his Word but we need to be sure we're listening to the right things God is saying to us. Let me just mention four things God will talk to you about if you listen to him carefully. First of all, he sometimes talks to you about sins that need to be abandoned in your life. Sins that need to be abandoned.
Is there anything in your life displeasing to God? Remember what David prayed in Psalm 139 verses 23 and 24. He said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; and try and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way". David was asking God to take the spotlight of his Holy Spirit and shine it inside David's heart to see if there's any dark place, any place that is displeasing to God. When you ask God to do that, I guarantee you God will answer that prayer 100% of the time. If you ask God to honestly point out to you anything that is wrong in your life that is displeasing to him, he will answer it. Sometimes God speaks to us about relationships that need to be mended, that need to be healed.
That's what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5 verse 23 when he said, "If you're presenting your sacrifices at the altar, and then remember somebody has something against you, leave your offering before the altar and go; and first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering". The people misinterpret this verse all the time. They think Jesus said, if you're worshiping and remember you have something against somebody else, just leave your worship and go and see if you can shake an apology out of them, so you can get back to worship. No, that's not what he's talking about. It's not if you have something against somebody else.
Mark 11:25 Jesus said, "If you're in the temple praying and you remember you've got something against somebody else, forgive him". Right there in the pew where you are, you don't have to go and talk to him, you forgive him, you have the ability to do this. Now, this is a different situation. You remember that there's somebody who has something against you. It's time for you to quit worshiping and go talk to that person and seek their forgiveness to try to make a wrong right.
In 1 Timothy 1:19, Paul said, there are two essentials for living the Christian life; faith, and a clear conscience. You know what a clear conscience is? It's the assurance that neither God nor anyone else can accuse you of a wrong you haven't attempted to make right. It's not that they can't accuse you of a wrong, we all have done wrong, but is there anybody out there who can accuse you of wrong that you've not attempted to make right with that person? That's what God will speak to you about relationships that need to be mended. Thirdly, he might speak to you about gifts to offer. 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to give generously like the Macedonians. They gave not out of their riches but out of their poverty.
In 2 Corinthians 8 verses 2 and 3 Paul said, "That in a great deal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability; and beyond their ability; they gave of their own accord". And they first gave of themselves to the Lord. And then finally, are their commands to be followed? That's one thing God will speak to you about. A command that needs to be obeyed. David prayed in Psalm 119:34, "Give me understanding of Your word, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart". David prayed, "Give me understanding of your word".
That's what Psalm 119 is about, it's about the Word of God. Give me understanding, why? So that I might be a great teacher of the Bible. No, it's so that I personally may observe everything you've commanded me to do. The words of one of my mentors rings in my ears every time I read that passage. He said, "Remember, God didn't give us the Bible to make us smarter sinners, he gave us the Bible to make us more obedient disciples, followers of Christ". Are there commands to be followed? Well, that's what God spoke to Abraham about. When Abraham fell down on his face before the Lord, the Lord gave him a command. Look at verse 19 of chapter, pardon me, verse 10 of chapter 17. God said to Abraham, "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you".
Now, without going into graphic detail, you understand circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the male organ, and actually that was an ancient practice long before Abraham hit the scene. Pagans did it and it symbolized various things but God took a formerly pagan exercise and attached a new meaning to it, a spiritual reality. Same thing with baptism by the way for Christians today. Baptism used to be used by pagans to identify with certain cultic religions. God took baptism and attached a new meaning to it. It would be of meaning, a picture of our death, burial and resurrection in Jesus Christ. We died to our own way of living, we've been raised to a newness of living.
Well, in Abraham's day, circumcision, God changed the meaning to be an identifier, to be a way of identifying with God's covenant promise. It represented the removal of the foreskin from the male organ was a picture of the removal of sin from a person's heart. Of course, it was an outward ritual that meant nothing apart from an inward reality. Circumcision was an arrow that pointed to what Christ would do for us on the cross. He came not to perform a circumcision of the flesh but of our heart to remove our sin nature from us. Paul made that application in Colossians 2:11. He said, "And in Christ you are also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, and the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ".
That was the command God gave Abraham. This is the first time circumcision was mentioned in the Bible, and that leads us to the fourth element of walking with God. It's not only listening to God's voice to what he commands us to do, but fourthly, it's obeying God's commands. I wanna show you something very interesting. Look at verse 23. How did Abraham respond to God's command? "Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's household, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him". He obeyed God completely and immediately, he did it in the very same day.
Now, I'm gonna walk on sensitive ground here without being too graphic, let me just say, remember in Abraham's day there were no surgeons scalpels, there was no anesthetic, there wasn't even Tylenol. If you were gonna do a circumcision, guess what you had? You either had a knife or the sharp end of a rock, and no way to dull the pain. You can understand if Abraham might've been a little reluctant to do this to himself as well as to other people, but he had an immediate response to what God commanded. He obeyed God that very same day, and we'll see the same pattern in Abraham in chapter 22. When God gives him the hardest test of his entire life. When he tells Abraham, "I want you to sacrifice your beloved son Isaac on the altar". And the Bible says, "The very next morning, Abraham arose and took his son to the mountain of sacrifice".
This willingness to obey God completely and immediately I think explains why Abraham was known as the friend of God. Do you remember what Jesus said in John 15:14? You are My friends if you get all warm fuzzies, when you worship me. You are my friend if you win people to faith in Jesus Christ. You are my friend if you get baptized, he says, "You are my friends if you do what I command you". How do you know if you're a friend of God? Are you doing what God commands you to do? That's what it means to walk with God. Are there some things in your life that God has told you to start doing that you haven't obeyed yet? Are there some things God has told you to stop doing that you haven't stopped yet?
You know somebody said, "It's not the parts of the Bible I don't understand that bother me, it's the parts of the Bible I do understand that bother me". For most of us, the problem is not a lack of information, it's a lack of application, and that's what walking with God is all about. It's about waiting on God's timing, trusting in God's power, listening to God's voice, and obeying God's commands. Yes, it's pedestrian and may seem humdrum, but it's the best thing you and I can do for our spiritual health.