Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Do you have unanswered questions about why God commands certain things? Even when you don't have all the answers, it's imperative to choose to respond with quick obedience to God. When somebody starts talking to you about obedience, do you have a negative or a positive attitude coming on? Secondly, when somebody starts talking about obedience to you about your life, do you think in terms of success or failure?
And then a more important question than all of these is this. Do you obey God because you fear the consequences of disobeying Him? Or do you obey God because you really and truly want to with all of your heart? Well, the title of this message is The Thrill of Obedience.
Rather different kind of title than most people think of obedience. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Luke chapter 5. Luke chapter 5 is a familiar passage of Scripture because of the miracle that took place.
And what I want you to remember is this. These narratives in the Scripture, things that Jesus did, events that took place in His life, they're not here simply to give us some history, though that is certainly part of His life, but rather to understand His ways and to glean from these events those principles that you and I can apply to our life. And so oftentimes people will read some passage of Scripture and they'll say, well, you know, that's a good story. That's not what God intended for our response to be. Not that's a good story, but what is God saying to me in this passage?
And so I want us to read this passage and then I want us to come back and look at several very important principles. Beginning in verse 1 of chapter 5. Now it came about that while the multitudes were pressing around Him and listening to the Word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, which we know as the Sea of Galilee. And He, that is Jesus, saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake. But the fishermen had gotten out of them and they were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, that's Simon Peter, and asked him to put out a little way from the land.
And he sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch. He said, let's go fishing, Peter. And Simon answered and said, Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing.
But at your bidding I will let down the nets. And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish and their nets began to break. And they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats so that they began to sink. And when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet saying, Depart from me for I'm a sinful man, O Lord. For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken. And so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon, and Jesus said to Simon, Do not fear, from now on you're going to be catching men.
And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. He said, Well now that's a fish story. That's a fish story. What's so significant about that?
Because maybe many of you don't fish, don't like fishing, not interested in fishing, don't intend to go fishing. So what does this story have to do? My friend, listen very, very carefully. If you will listen to this message, I'm going to say one thing over and over and over again on purpose. If you'll just get it, I guarantee you something will happen in your life. Something will happen about your attitude about the Christian life. Something will happen about the way God works in your life. Something will happen about the way you begin to relate to Jesus Christ. Something will happen to your life in such a fashion.
You will not want to go back to your old lifestyle, to the way that you've been living your life. And so these are simple principles, but they can change your life if you're wise enough to listen carefully and to apply them. And the first principle I want you to jot down here, something that is certainly a lesson worthy of learning is this, that obeying God in small matters, obeying God in small matters is an essential step to God's thrilling rewards. Obeying God in small matters is an essential step to enjoying God's thrilling rewards. Now what is this small step?
Well, think about what's happening. He simply said, I want to get into your boat and I want to teach from your boat. Well, Peter could have said, well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I'm cleaning my nets. Now, when I get through cleaning my nets, I'll be happy for you to do it. Or why don't you ask them? They've got a boat over there. Get in their boat.
I'm busy cleaning my nets and I don't really have time because I spent all night long fishing and I've got to get them clean because I'm getting ready to go fishing again tonight. Well, let's think about it for a moment. It was a very simple request.
I want to get in your boat and if you'll push out a little ways so I can teach these people the truth. A very simple request. A request that seemingly was very unimportant, but listen carefully. God never tells you and me to do anything that is unimportant.
It may be insignificant in my thinking. It may be one of many things God may have said during the day. God does not speak in insignificant ways, nor does He speak with insignificant information, nor does He give us insignificant commands. Whatever God tells us to do, He has a purpose in mind. Listen carefully.
That purpose could be one of several things, but one thing I know for certain. Whatever He tells me to do is always without exception for my good. If I could be omniscient and see the end result of what He says, I would obey Him every single solitary time.
Why? Because He's a good God who loves us unconditionally, always has the best in mind, has a will and a purpose and a plan for our life and therefore what He tells me on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, all the things He tells me all week long. Listen, all that is a part of the big plan, part of the big picture, a part of His will, a part of His best. And so if I want to experience God's best, if I want to enjoy the thrill of knowing Him in a personal fashion, if I want to glean everything He has in store for me, if I want to find out what God will do with my life, if I want to discover what He has stored up for me in blessing, then what I will do and I will obey Him in what appears to be insignificant. I want to get in your boat. Would you push it out just a little ways?
I want to sit down and teach. That's all they told me. If Peter had said, can't borrow my boat, too busy cleaning my nets, borrow their boat, the second request he would not have made, the incident that happened thereafter and all the rest of Peter's life, as you and I know it, probably would never have taken place and never be a part of Holy Scriptures that's lasted all these hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years and will be here till Jesus comes and throughout eternity there will be the Word of God. There is no such thing as an insignificant command. Every single thing He says to us has a purpose behind it, a plan behind it, and one thing for certain.
Remember this. Every time you and I obey God, we will be blessed. The blessing may not show up immediately, but we will be blessed. The blessing may not even appear to be all that significant at the time, but it is significant because what He does, it's like a chain reaction all of our life.
This relates to this relates to this relates to this relates to this relates to this. And when you and I choose not to be obedient to Him, what we do is we break the chain. And so therefore, oftentimes people ask themselves the question, Why doesn't God bless me? Why doesn't God prosper me? I'm a Christian. I read my Bible.
I pray. I go to church. I serve God. Why doesn't He bless me like He blesses other people? Could it be because things that are very significant to God you've overlooked? Things that are very significant to God, you've just chalked those up as just sort of ordinary mundane parts of life. And therefore do not see how important every single thing is. Because we're the children of God, because He has this awesome plan for our life, every single thing is significant.
So when I look at Peter's life and look to see what happened, I'll have to realize that he would have been a lifetime loser, a lifetime loser. And you have seen me and heard me say over and over and over again, There are forks in the road in our life. There are forks in the road in our life. And all of a sudden we're moving along in life and we come to one of them. We usually don't realize it's a fork in the road. Sometimes we do because it's a major decision. We come to that fork in the road. If it's something that is a fork in the road in God's eyes, but I don't see it that way and I just keep moving on my way, sometimes I can miss those pivotal decisions, those pivotal points. But when you and I learn to listen daily, our ears are attuned to what does God want me to do in this situation? What would He have me to say? Where would He have me to go?
What's my decision here? When it's our lifestyle, when it's our way of life, when it's what we naturally normally do day by day, you know what's going to happen? We come to the forks of the road, we'll be sensitive to them. We come to the forks of the road, we'll be aware this is a significant time.
He will make you aware of the significance of some decisions that normally you would not have been. Once you begin to form that kind of a lifestyle today, I'm going to choose to walk in God's way. Lord, I'm going to trust You to guide me, to lead me all day long. I'm going to be on Your schedule. Whatever You allow in my life, You're in control, and therefore I'm going to walk in Your way.
Here's what will happen. What you do is you, listen, you set a lifestyle for yourself that gives God the privilege, opens the door, flings the door open for God to provide you, give you the best that He's already prepared and planned for you. Every decision significant in God's eyes. So therefore, one of the most essential things we have to remember is this. Obeying God in small matters is indeed a very essential step if we're going to reap the best rewards that He has for us. The second principle I would notice here is this, and that is that our obedience will usually prove beneficial to other people.
Now think for a moment what happened. Peter said, All right, Lord, I'll do that. So he lets him get in his boat, he pushes out a little ways, and so what happens? Now Jesus can reach the people better because when people are up close to you, you're sort of talking in their face and the voice doesn't get out there. Remembering, of course, they had no loudspeaker systems and so it was just His voice. And one of the reasons I believe that Jesus oftentimes taught down by the sea is because the water would carry His voice, and oftentimes you can speak very lowly across water and it goes a long ways. And so it was very important that they hear what He had to say. He was talking to them no doubt about how they could know the Heavenly Father and who He was and how our Lord Jesus Christ, how He wanted them to live, and so these are very significant things.
And so what happens, as a result of Peter's obedience, everybody else was getting blessed. Not only that, but all his fisherman friends got blessed because as a result of his obedience, what happened? They went fishing. And when they went fishing, they had the fishing trip of their life. Never had they had such a fishing trip in all their days. Never would they have one to match that because the furthest thing from their mind would be that they would have a big catch if they'd fished all night long, worked hard, nothing happened. He said, we caught nothing. And now, just a few hours later, they've got two boatloads full.
The boats are sinking because they're filling up and overflowing with fish. Now think about this. If you had to choose one person's life today, if you could only choose one person's life in which you could make a great impact, a significant impact, that your life could absolutely alter the direction of their life, that somehow you could make such an impact on their life that they'd be blessed the rest of their lives, who would that person be? Now if you're a parent, more than likely you would choose one of your children or all your children or whatever it might be, or a friend or somebody in your business, whatever. But if you could just choose to be that kind of influence, make that kind of impact, well you can because you see, as a father or mother, think about this.
There's not a school system in the whole world. There's not a school system in the entire universe that can teach your children and have the impact upon them for good, for righteousness, for holiness, for their best interests, for God's plan and purpose and will in their life like you demonstrating to your children by your life of obedience, the impact that God has upon your life, watching God bless you and work in your life. Nothing will so impact them for good as watching how God works in your life. Therefore, it's important that you and I obey God, not only in the big things but the things that seem to be insignificant and then share it with them. Let me tell you what God has done and share with them the difficulties, the hardships, the trials, the burdens.
Pray with them about those things that you pray about, things that you want to know what God's will is about. And when they watch you living in integrity, when they watch you living with honesty, when they watch you want to obey God, when they watch you doing the difficult thing, when they watch obedience being difficult for you but you do it in a way, you're making an impression, you're impacting their life morally, spiritually, you're impacting them for eternity. If you obey God and God does something in your life, He blesses you, it sends an absolutely undeniable message that God is real, God works, God loves us, He works in our life, He wants the best for us and we obey Him, we're going to have significant blessings. Somebody says, well now wait a minute, what about those hard times I go through? What about those difficult times I go through? What about the pain and the suffering and the hurt we go through?
How can the world look at us then and say, well, if God, how can you call that a blessing? Because when you and I come through it and we come through it victoriously and we come through it rejoicing in our heart and we begin to tell them what we've learned and how God has blessed us and strengthened us and enabled us and they see how God has enabled you and strengthened you and helped you to overcome. I'm here to tell you, you send them a message that impacts their heart for good. It sends a message that impacts their heart, changes their attitude. They begin to understand this God whom you and I serve is a living, true God who will enable us in those difficult times in our life.
Very, very significant. Very important that you and I obey Him because we're going to make an impression in somebody else's life and we want to send them in the right direction. We want them to know that our God is real, that He will do exactly what He says.
And so when I think about what happened here, certainly Peter's obedience was beneficial to everybody around him. The third principle I want you to think about and that is obeying God may require us to do those things that seem to be unreasonable. Sometimes God will require of us things that seem, from our point of view, unreasonable. From our experience, unreasonable.
From our position at this time in life, unreasonable. And yet in spite of that, it is the exact, absolute, perfect, right thing to do. So we come up to these situations and circumstances in our life, we have to ask ourselves the question. Am I going to do what's reasonable or am I going to be obedient to God when I understand, when I don't understand?
Now, remember who we're dealing with. We're dealing with God who, listen, loves us unconditionally, has a plan for us, a will, a perfect plan, perfect will, has the best thought up for us and listen, who has all power, who is able to do all things and listen, who is omniscient. Which means He knows the moment He asks me to do something what the end result's going to be. So therefore, knowing the end result and having our best interests at heart, what does He do? He requires of us, gives us commands of things to do that He knows will fit into His plan, His purpose, His will for our life and He knows it will position us for the best blessings He has in store for us. Therefore, it is always wise to be obedient to God for the simple reason He knows the end result.
And because something doesn't seem to be reasonable, that is not a legitimate reason for me as a believer not to do it. When somebody says, God told me to quit my job and move to so-and-so, I can't afford to do it. You know, somehow I just know that's what He's told me to do. I don't know what to do. That's what He said to me. You better do what He said to me.
Or if you wait till it's reasonable, you will miss some, listen, you will miss some of those forks in the road. You will miss God's best blessings because He is under no obligation to tell me the end result. Every time God tells you and me to obey Him, He knows a world of stuff you and I don't know. He knows the end result every single time.
He knows exactly what's going to happen. Listen, that is omniscience speaking to us, telling us to do what seems to be unreasonable. This is omnipotence telling us to do this because He's going to enable us to do it. This is unconditional love telling us to do this because He's expressing love to us by telling us to do it.
His guidance is perfect guidance. His blessings are perfectly suited for us and He knows that one of the best ways to grow you and me up and the best way to strengthen our faith is to give us those little tests over and over and over again and watch us respond. And when you make it your lifestyle to obey those little things that God tells you to do, when the big decisions come up, that won't even be an issue. Because you have been in the habit of obeying God in little things, you will jump to the big thing because you have already learned the thrill of obedience to God. Thank you for listening to The Thrill of Obedience. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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