Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, December 12th. True devotion to the Lord should naturally foster a desire to do what he says. Our series of passion for God continues. Or are you one of those persons who has said, well, I want to obey God. Listen, want to and making a commitment to do it is entirely different. You're one of those persons who've said, well, yes, I'm going to be obedient to him, but you already in your mind have set limitations. And so you've drawn a line and you said, well, I'm going to obey God, except when I can't see my way clear, then I'm not sure I'm going to do it. Or if he requires too much, I'm not certain that I'm going to do it. Or if I'm afraid or if, you know, if I don't think I can do it. And what we do is we subconsciously draw a line. We subconsciously decide what our reservations are going to be, what our limitations are going to be.
And I want to ask you a very, very sobering question. If Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, where did you ever get the idea that you had a right to draw a line on Christ and to tell him that you're going to obey him up to a certain point? You're going to obey him if you're going to obey him, except you're going to obey him when we listen to the world, we are highly influenced by the world and we have a very nonchalant attitude about living obediently before God.
I'm not talking about legalism. Have you kept the ninth commandment? Have you kept every single law in the Old Testament?
No, no, no, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about just doing what you and I know to do and stop trying to rationalize our disobedience before him. Living the Christian life is serious business. And Jesus Christ is Lord is what he came to be in my life. Salvation was to get us in a position whereby he could exercise his lordship and express his life. He saved you in order to live in you and to express his life through you and to impact other people in this world through your life. So I want to ask you again, have you made a decision in your life a commitment that you're going to obey God?
Are you just still wanting to and would like to and you plan on it and count on you sometimes? Or let me ask you a question. Who's running your show? I can tell you one thing, then that two drivers in anybody's heart.
There's only one. It's either Christ or myself. And if I have made a commitment to obey him, I may stumble and fall all over myself and get mud all over my face. But my heart, my desire, the intensity of my soul is to obey him and I will correct my failure and move on in obedience to him. Well, how will we know when we have a passion to obey him? Number one.
Real simple. The bottom line of my decision making process will be obedience to God. That's what I've been talking about. The bottom line of my decision making process will be obedience to God. And my friend, as a child of God and as a follower of Jesus Christ, that's what it's all about.
That's it. So all decisions have to be sifted. Listen, every decision must be sifted through the will of God. Is this what God wants?
If it is not what God wants, that's not what I want. Second evidence of a passion to obey God is the instantaneous obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If I have a passion to obey him, when God says do something, my first response is going to be to do it.
An instantaneous response to obey the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Now, how often does the Spirit of God speak to you and you say, well, Lord, show me your will. And you don't want to know God's will because you want to do it. You want to know God's will because you want to consider it.
I want to tell you something. When Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life, I don't find God's will for my consideration, discussion, evaluation and objective examination of it. I want to know the will of God in order to be obedient to God because I know that he is wise in what he tells me to do. So first of all, the first evidence is the bottom line of my decision making process is what does God want me to do? The second evidence is, as we said here, the instantaneous response to the Holy Spirit to do whatever God says do.
Now, number three, get this one down. Even when we struggle with the decision, the goal is obedience, not justification for disobedience. Now, let me explain that. There are times when God is going to challenge you and me to do things that are going to be very difficult. Sometimes they're going to be costly. Sometimes it's going to be painful. Sometimes we're going to suffer. Sometimes the consequences are going to be more than we think we can handle. And sometimes our first response may be, oh, dear Lord. Yeah, I must I must be misunderstanding what you say. You couldn't be saying that to me.
There is no way I could do that. That is our first response sometimes when God challenges us. Now, our response is not sinful because sometimes God knows that what he's about to do is going to stretch us, challenge us, lead us into waters we've never waded through before, climb mountains that we never thought we could come over. And so our first response is not because we don't want to do it, but because as we look at ourselves, we don't think we're capable of doing what God has called us to do. So God understands that.
But what I want you to see is this. When you and I have a passion to obey him, even in our struggles, and we are thinking, Lord, there's no way. Or when we fear the suffering, we fear the pain, we fear the loss, we can't figure out what the consequences are going to be. Even when we're struggling, our goal is to obey him, to want to obey him, to get to the point we know we're going to obey him, not to justify disobedience. Do we have an intense yearning, hungering, thirsting, burning, overwhelming desire to be obedient to God no matter what the consequences are? Even in our struggle, the goal must be a desire to obey him and not an escape from the consequences of it. Now, number four, when you and I have a passion to obey him, our focus is going to be on obeying him, not on the consequences.
When we have a passion to obey him, our first concern, our focus is going to be on obeying him, not the consequences. Now, here's what happens. Oftentimes, God will challenge us with something, and the only thing that really concerns us, what are the consequences? What's going to happen to me? What's going to happen to my family? What's going to happen to my finances?
What's going to happen to these relationships? Our concern becomes more on the consequences than on obeying God. Now, here's what that says. What does that say about us?
Here's what it says. It says that I am far more interested in me than I am in Christ. I'm interested in my plan and my program rather than in his. Because all I'm focusing on are the possible consequences when, first of all, I don't even know what the consequences are going to be.
I may think I do. So I'm focusing on these consequences that I think are going to be costly and painful when God wants me to focus on the thing that he called me to do. A man or a woman who has a passion for God will focus on obedience and not the consequences of that obedience. Because they are learning and have learned that God will take care of all the consequences.
Number five. A person who has a passion to obey him is committed to obedience regardless of the consequences. We are committed to obedience regardless of the consequences. The consequences are not the determining factor.
The determining factor is we've made a commitment. The determining factor is that Jesus Christ is Lord. And the consequences don't really have a lot to do with whether I obey him or not. Listen, if God is in control of all of our circumstances, I should never make a decision based on the consequences of what I think the consequences are going to be. But rather, what did God tell me to do? Whatever God says do, a man or a woman with a passion to obey him is not focusing on the consequences but focusing on obedience. Not concerned about the consequences but concerned about obedience.
Then let's move to number six. A person who has a passion to obey God is continually seeking the mind of God. You see, how in the world are you going to obey him if you're not continually seeking him, which means that person's going to be in the Word of God, reading and discovering the principles of Scripture. How did God operate in this situation?
Why does God work in this way? A person who has a passion for him is continually seeking and sensitive to the mind of God, desires to know the mind of God, desires to know how he operates in the Word of God, reading and applying and listening. But a person who has no passion for God started going about doing their own thing, hoping they'll pick up the right idea and maybe they'll make the right decision. That's the difference in a passion for God and a person who does not have it. Then, not only will we be continually seeking the Lord God, but also a person who has a passion to know him will also have a hungering, yearning desire. Listen, a hungering, yearning desire to know him better. That is, you and I will never be satisfied just doing our daily Bible readings. Well, let's just get up in the morning and read a few verses so we can pray and go on to work right quick.
No. There's going to be this hunger in your heart to know him. There's going to be this desire in your heart to discover new things about him. A passion to obey him is accompanied by a passion to know him. Because you see, if I really have a passion to know him, I'm going to have a passion to obey him. If I have a passion to obey him, I'm going to have a passion to know who is this Christ to whom I have made the commitment. Whatever you say, that's what I'm going to do.
No matter what the consequences are, that's what I'm going to do. My friend, if you have a passion to obey him, you're going to have a passion. You're going to have a deep yearning, hungering, thirsting desire to know him. That will never be satisfied.
Because you see, here's what happens. The more you know him, what? The more you want to know him. The more you enjoy him, the more you want to enjoy him. The more you obey him, the more you want to obey him. It is that insatiable hungering, thirsting yearning.
It is on the one hand we're satisfied but dissatisfied. I'm content in knowing him, but I'm discontent in the fact that I don't know enough. There's more to discover about him. There's more in this relationship. There's more in this intimate relationship that I'm yet to discover. A person who has a passion to obey him will also have a passion to know him even better than they know him now. Then number eight, watch this one.
A person who has a passion to obey him, listen carefully. The opinion of others will never be the deciding factor in their decision making. The opinion of others will never be the deciding factor in their decision making. And this is where a lot of people get in trouble. What do you think I ought to do? I think you ought to do this.
What do you think I should do? Well, I think you ought to do this. Well, what's your idea? Well, this is what I think. Well, how do you feel? Well, I don't think any of that's right.
Let me ask you a question. How in the world can you obey God asking everybody else what you ought to do? And you see, listen, you and I ought to be mature enough as believers or at least maturing to the realization that God will show you exactly what to do. You say, well, God doesn't speak to me.
Yes, he does. You may not be listening, but I'm here to tell you, he's speaking. He's got a whole book, 66 of them wrapped up in what you and I call the Holy Bible in which God has already spoken to every single one of us. And he will also speak by his Spirit to your Spirit giving instruction, clear instruction as to what you and I ought to do next. You see, the opinion of others.
There are a lot of people who make decisions on the basis of whether they will be rejected or accepted by others. And I want to say this to my pastor friends. If you pastor your church and you operate on the basis and you make decisions on the basis of whether your people like you agree with you or not, you are destined for failure. God called you to be the leader, not the follower. He called you to listen to him, follow him, obey him, lead others and not simply to ask everybody's opinion.
That does not mean that we're not to seek godly counsel. But I'm here to tell you that ultimately the final decision is what does God want you to do. If you make decisions based on other people's acceptance and rejection, I'm here to tell you, you're going to be turning this way and that way and this wind blows and that wind blows. You will never know whether you're doing the right thing or not.
You'll never know. That's why God doesn't want you making decisions based on other people's opinions. But what has he said to you? He may have said something to you through someone else which is very clear that's from God.
Or he may have said something to you through his word. But ultimately we go back to point number one. What's the bottom line? The bottom line is I choose to obey God no matter what the circumstances are. You can't ever lose abiding by that principle. Never. There is no way to lose. You say, well, I've obeyed God and I lost. Let me ask you this. But what did God do in eternity?
Oh, that's a different question. My friend, if you obeyed God and lost, then God's in debt to you. You know what God does sometimes? In our obedience sometimes he takes some things in order to give us other things that are far better for us than what we lost. You cannot lose and that's winning. You cannot lose being obedient to God. And if there's one thing you now need to instill within our children, it is simply obey God. You never lose obeying God.
You always ultimately win. I didn't say you didn't hurt and you didn't suffer and you didn't feel pain. I didn't say you wouldn't be persecuted, criticized, and all the rest. But so what?
If you've obeyed God, look at the reward that you have coming. You see, if we really have a passion for him, we're not going to make decisions based on the opinion of other people. Now, number nine. Now this is a very, very important point I want you to jot down. Let me see how we can say this.
So just jot this down, then we'll explain it. When you and I have a passion for God, that is to obey him, the decisions that are very insignificant to others, decisions that are very insignificant to others, are often extremely significant to you and me. Because it's oftentimes in what appears to be an insignificant decision that is the whole turning point of our life. And here's what folks, they say, well, that's a simple decision.
All you've got to do is thus and so. My friend, I can think in my own life of some crucial, critical decisions that God has led me to make that would have appeared very insignificant to anyone else. Has it ever dawned on you that God not only has an opinion, but a plan for your life? And those little insignificant things that you consider insignificant are not insignificant at all? You see, a man or woman who has a passion for him, what other people think are insignificant become extremely significant. We need to get serious about what it means to be obedient to God. And a person who has a passion for him thinks differently about these things. The things that seem to be insignificant are very significant.
Then number ten, the last one. A person who has a passion to obey God is willing to accept adverse consequences joyfully. A person who has a passion for God to obey Him is willing to accept adverse consequences joyfully. You see, if you have a passion to obey Him, there's going to be a joy even in the midst of pain, heartache, and suffering. Now, first of all, we said a passion to obey Him is an evolutionary process. Secondly, we said, here are the evidences of whether it's happening in your life or not. So you won't have to wonder, am I developing a passion to obey God or not?
Just read them out. And I want to ask you one question and we're going to close. Are you willing to say to Him today, Lord Jesus, I choose to commit myself to obey You, to make obedience the bottom line of all my decision-making from this moment forward? If you're not willing to say that, don't call Him Lord.
He is not. Because what you've done is you have reserved the right, predetermined, reserved the right to step out of His will when you choose to make your own decisions when it's convenient to do what you choose to do, to either avoid or to gain. Do not call Him Lord if you're not willing to say to Him today, the bottom line of my life is to obey You no matter what the consequences. Thank you for listening to part two of A Passion to Obey Him. 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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