Best Sermon Message by Pastor Charles Stanley
Watch DR CHARLES STANLEY BEST SERMONS. ONE OF THE BEST PREACHING MESSAGE BY PASTOR STANLEY (In Touch Ministries)
You have to recognize you’re not working unto people; you’re working unto God. He’s keeping the records. The Scripture says He’s taking you from glory to glory. Sometimes you’re in between one glory and another glory. You could think, “This is not my place of blessing; nobody appreciates me. I’m overlooked, undervalued.” But you don’t know what’s coming. You’re in a time of preparation. God is getting you prepared for what you’re about to do.
Of the ten commandments, which of those ten have you paid the least attention to?
I bet I can tell you the one you paid the
least attention to. Turn to the twentieth chapter of Exodus for a moment.
And this is not our text, but I want you to notice something. Twenty the
chapter of exodus, because here are the
ten commandments and we probably know them all by heart.
But I’ll bet if we were real honest, the one you paid the least attention to is this one right here.
Do you have it? Exodus twenty. Verse
four, you shall not make for yourself an idol.
Now, you probably just saw the red light on by that one. Amen?
He said, well, let’s get up here with stealing and adultery and lying and covetousness and so forth.
You shall not make yourself an idol. How many of you have made it made yourself an idol?
Oh, some of you have.
Was it wood, stone, Jules, what was it? Please don’t tell me. Alright? Okay.
Turn to first John chapter five.
First John chapter five, I don’t know, but here’s another, uh, verse of scripture that you, you just read this and just went right on by this, and you didn’t even stop.
Look at this one. First John chapter five. We might be surprised what we’ve read over.
Look at this. Chapter five verse twenty one, Little children guard yourselves from idols.
How many of you pay a lot of attention to that one?
Probably not very much attention because we don’t think in terms of being idolaters.
We think in terms of people who worship, Buddha, and all kinds of, uh, material things as being people who worship violence.
But there’s more to idolatry than that.
So I want you to turn tonight to Genesis chapter twenty two, and I want to talk about idols in the life of the believer.
And, um, not talking about wood hay and stone and Jills and so forth, but I want us to come to a passive scripture here that most of us know, um, uh, pretty much probably by heart, but there’s a simple truth here that I want us to examine tonight that I
think will be helpful to us. You recall that the Bible says in this twenty
first chapter, of Genesis that Abraham was a hundred years old when his son, Isaac was born.
And you recall how precious he was. He was the son of prophecy, the promised son.
I want us to look at this twenty second chapter and listen to what happens, and then I want to
talk about this matter of adultery for a moment. Now, it
came about after these that god tested Abraham and said to him, Abraham, and he said, here I am.
And he said, take now your son.
Now, notice this, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Mariah, and offer him there is a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.
So Abraham rose early in the morning and sat on his donkey and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son.
And he split wood for the burnt offerings and arose in which the place which god had told him.
On the third day, Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
And Abraham said to his young men, now watch this verse.
Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder, and we will worship and what?
Return to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife, so the two of them walked on together.
And Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father then said, my father, he said, here I am my son, And he said, behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?
And Abraham said, God will provide the lamb He will provide for, uh, himself the lamb for the burnt offering of my son.
So the two of them walked on together.
Then they came to the place of which god had told him, and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood and bound his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top
of the wood. It didn’t all happen that fast, but that’s the
way it’s written. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
But the angel, the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham.
And he said, here I am. And he said, do not stretch out your hand against the land.
And do nothing to him. For now, I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
The Abraham raised his eyes and looked and behold behind him, a ram caught in the thick advice of thorns.
Now, Abraham went in took the Ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in
the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place, the lord will provide.
As it is said to this day in the mount of the lord, it will be provided.
Then the angel of the
lord called Abraham a second time from heaven and said, By myself, I have sworn declares the lord, because you’ve done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, Indeed, I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens.
And is the sand which is on the seashore, and your seed shall possess the gate of your enemies.
And in your seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Because you have obeyed my voice.
And of course, he was referring to the coming of the Messiah, the lord Jesus Christ.
Now, The three simple things here, I want us to look at. The principle is very simple.
It’s just not very easy to carry out. Three simple things. God had a plan for this man’s life.
And if you go back to the fifteenth chapter for a moment, and you recall that, uh, Abraham was called Abraham before, And when god called him, for example, in the twelfth chapter, he just called him out of nowhere.
I mean, he lived in a pagan land.
And so god revealed himself to him and told him to leave his country and to go to a place that he would show him.
In the fifteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, he says in verse one, after these things, the word of the Lord came to Abraham, and a vision saying, do not fear Abraham.
I am a shield to you. Your reward should be very great.
And Abraham said, oh, lord God, What will thou give me since I’m childless, and the, and the air of my house is Eliza of Damascus.
And Abraham said, Since thou has given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my air, then behold, the word of the lord came to him saying, This man will not be your heir, but one who shall come forth from your own body.
He shall be your heir. And he took him outside and said, now look toward the heavens, and count the stars.
If you’re able to count them, and he said to him, so shall your descendants be, then he believed in the lord, and he reckoned to him as righteousness.
That is what saved Abraham is the same thing it saved us, and that is his faith.
Then go to the seventeenth chapter.
Now when Abraham was ninety nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to him, I am God almighty.
Walk before me and be blameless, and I will establish my covenant between me and you.
And I will multiply you exceeding, man, Abraham fell on his face and God talked with him saying, As for me, behold my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.
No longer shall your name be called Abraham, but your name shall be called Abraham.
For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations, and I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you and kings shall come forth from you.
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout the generations for an everlasting covenant to be god to you and to your descendants after you.
And I will give to you and your descendants after you, the land of your soul journeys, all the land of Canon for an everlasting possession.
And I will be their god. Now, god had a very specific plan for this man Abraham.
But I wanna say this to you.
God not only had a plan for Abraham’s life, but he also has a plan for your life.
There’s no such thing as god bringing anybody in this world with no plan. And there are no accidents.
God planned this man’s life. He had a plan for his life. He’s got
a plan for your life.
And I think one of the tragic things that happens to a person is to come along in life early and think, well, what’s my purpose in life?
I don’t have any purpose in life.
I I don’t have any real sense of direction in life, and how frustrating it must be to a college student who comes along and they get throughout the third year, or maybe in the fourth year saying, well, This is what my major is, but you know what?
I’m not very excited about it. This is my major, but, you know,
I don’t know what I wanna do.
This is what I’ve spent four years and sixty thousand dollars working on, but you know what?
I don’t know what my purpose in life is.
I’m just sort of hearing I guess I’ll just have to go out and find myself a job and find myself a wife or find myself a husband.
And and I guess I’ll just sort of, you know, get myself a job and make money and have a house and have a car
and have children and join a church. And what a terrible, terrible outlook on life?
But that’s the exact way a lot of people are living. They have
no purpose and never ask the question. Does god have a purpose and a plan for my life? He had
a plan for his life, and you and I just read what the plan was.
He chose this man for no listen, there was not anything in this man that made god choose him except god just chose it.
He reached out in an absolute total pagan society and revealed himself to Abraham.
And he said to him, on these two occasions we just read, Not only have I chosen to reveal myself to you, I’m gonna make you great.
I’m gonna make you the father of many nations.
Now you can imagine Abraham must have been thinking, Hey, I must
be I must be having illusions of grandeur or something.
I’m, yeah, I must have, this must be a nightmare.
And god said, I want you to go outside looking the heavens because if you can count the stars, you
can count your descendants. And he didn’t even have a son.
God had a very specific plan for his life, and he laid it all out to him.
What, of course, Abraham did not understand was when he said that all the nations of the earth are gonna be blessed.
Through you, he didn’t understand that the one person through whom god’s redemptive plan would come to fruition, the person of Jesus Christ would eventually be traced back to Abraham.
Go if you will to Matthew chapter one. In Matthew and Luke are the genealogies of Jesus.
It’s interesting in the difference because you recall that Matthew wrote to Jews, primarily, and notice how he begins his genealogy in Matthew chapter one verse one.
Not as Luke does. And if you recall, um, when Luke gave his genealogy, he was writing primarily to gentiles rather than to, uh, Jews.
And so naturally, he started his off differently. But I want you to notice Matthew.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
To Abraham was born Isaac, and Isaac Jacob all the way up to the coming of the lord Jesus Christ.
So to the Jew, the fact that Abraham, the father of their nation, god had a very specific plan for his life.
Now, that plan had many prerequisites, but the one that he had that I want us to notice here is in
this twenty second chapter. Because if
I were to ask you, if you have any idols in your life, more than likely, say, well, I don’t have any idols in my life, because, you know, I don’t, uh, make things out of wood, hay, and, uh, stone, and jewels, and so forth.
And therefore, I
I don’t have any idols. But what is an idol?
An idol is anything that I place more value on, either by my attitude or my action or my possessions more value than I place on god.
Whether it is my time, my gifts, whatever it might be.
Idles are very deceptive things. They come in different forms for some people, it’s money.
For some people, it’s a person.
For other people, it’s some status in life, but idols come in many, many forms.
Not only that, they’re very deceptive because they can creep into our life, and we never even know that they’re there.
And most people, probably at some time in their life
or other times, have idols. But usually, no one will admit that.
And if I should ask you tonight, do you think there’s
a possibility that you could have an idol in your life?
That is something you place more value on than you do. God, you say, well, there’s nothing I
place more value on than God. I mean, he’s the only one I worship, and he’s the
only one I praise, and He’s the only one I pray to. But let me ask you this.
Does your attitude toward anything or anybody turn you in such a direction that they become first and take priority, or that thing takes priority in your life, over what you know god wants for your life.
They can be very deceptive. And this is how deceptive it was to Abraham.
The scripture says that god called him to be the father of
the nations and the ultimate father of the son of god, the lord Jesus Christ.
He’s Geniel trades all the way back to Abraham. That is in the genealogical line.
If someone had asked Abraham, Abraham, do you have any idols in your life? No.
And so in order for god to complete his purpose and plan for his life, he had to deal with the most precious thing in his life.
Now remember this. That first of all,
he said all the nations are gonna be blessed through you, and didn’t even have a son that god would use for that.
Then he gave him a son.
Notice he said he says, your son, your only son, the one whom you love.
And then look what god did. He said, Abraham,
I want you to take Isaac the one that you love, your only son whom you love, and
I want you to take him to Mount Mariah, and I want you to offer him as a
sacrifice to Well, Abraham in his obedience probably did what most of us would have done.
He got his servant and the wood and the fire and the donkey, they took off together.
And then when they got to
a certain point after three days, he said, that, um, he left his servants here at a certain place.
And he said, now we’re going up that’ll sacrifice and we’ll be back.
I believe that deep down inside all the while, Abraham must have thought now god, uh, I heard what you said.
I heard what you said. But surely, you don’t want me to do that.
And sometimes because the scripture is jammed together, verse after verse after verse, and he did this.
He did this. He did this.
What we don’t get is the turmoil and the heartache and the pain and the time and probably sometimes the rebellion that goes on in
the human heart when god requires us to do something we don’t wanna do.
Just because it says he did the following things, one, two,
three, four, five, six, seven, does not mean that Abraham said, yes, Lord. And just whatever you say, fine.
Take him up
and just kill him. Now, using the term sacrifice sounds a
little bit more pious and holy than kill him.
That’s what he was asked
to do. Kill your own son. Take a knife and stab him to death.
That doesn’t sound quite as pleasant when you talk about stabbing your son to death.
Killing your own son, as it does, offering him as a sacrifice, but ultimately, that’s what he was required to do.
So why did god say to Abraham
through whom he was gonna bless all the nations of the earth, Why did he say to him?
I want you to take your only son, the one whom you love, and I want you to put him on
the altar, and I want you to sacrifice him for me.
He was a very rich man.
He had camels and donkeys and sheep and herds of all kinds and all kinds of things.
Abraham was a very, very wealthy man.
It’s interesting that god didn’t say, why don’t you take a hundred sheep, take all of his sheep, all of your goats, all
of your camels, all of your herds, and sacrifice them to me. You know why?
Because sheep camels and donkeys were no problem with Abraham.
You see, they didn’t have the place a preeminence in his life. That was just cattle.
That was these are just things.
There was only one thing in Abraham’s life that was giving god a challenge
that was competing with his absolute total devotion and worship to
the father. Just one thing.
And you know, you and I probably wouldn’t have chosen this one.
We’d have said He’s just too rich.
He just got too much money, and he needs to get rid of it.
And this this stuff’s become an island in his life. Remember this.
You and I cannot look in anyone else’s life and determine what the idol is. We can’t do that.
Idles are subtle kind of things. All shapes and forms and sizes animate inanimate.
And sometimes they slip in, we’re not even aware they’re in there. They’re just there.
And they have more effect upon us. They compete with god in our life.
And the way you can identify one is when it influences you,
or you are influenced by it, or that person. To do what you would not do
if that person were not there.
If you did not own and possess that thing, That thing is an idol in our life.
And nobody can tell you what the idol is in your life.
You just have to identify that for yourself. And so
I just simply ask you, is there anything that influences, challenges, that is anything that competes without devotion to Christ.
And it is amazing how things can creep into our lives. Anything that competes
with his with our absolute loyalty and allegiance and obedience to him, whatever it is, I believe that sooner or later god has to has has to say to us, I want you
to lay that down for me. I want you to give that to me.
Now, I don’t think God’s gonna come to somebody and say I want you to kill your son or daughter.
He’s not into that business.
But there are other ways to sacrifice, and that is to give up, to surrender, to yield.
And that’s what’s sacrificed. You see, When he says, present your body a living sacrifice, here’s what that means, that I surrender myself to him.
Listen to this, And with the surrender of myself to him goes also my anticipation and my expectation.
Of the future. And that’s what makes it tough to give a sacrifice.
You see, if I’m finagling and manipulating and working out how I can get it back, I haven’t given it up.
And I can give you an example of something that is really not all that significant, but
the but the idea is the same as I’ve mentioned it before. We were selling our property and
I gave my cameras, uh, what what the thing that I learned about that was, that I was more attached to them than I thought I was.
I sold them one day, gave all the money that day, but it took me about three weeks
to give them up down here. I’d given them
up right. They they’ve already sold them. If somebody said, did you give up your camera? Absolutely. No
problem. Down inside of me, you know what? My heart still had a grip on them.
I hadn’t given them up. I just sold them and got the money. I hadn’t given them up.
I haven’t given it up until my heart lets go.
When my heart lets go, I know I’ve given it up to him.
With Abraham, It was his only son.
And the scripture says he took him up there, and I’m sure a three days journey that had to have some rest and more than likely, He probably spent the night.
And while Isaac slept well, Abraham must have been saying, god, are you sure? God,
is this a mistake? Have I heard you right?
You said, don’t I recall you telling me that you you you were gonna make my descendants like the stars.
I remember looking up in the stars, and there were so many of them.
I couldn’t even begin to count them.
And now you’re telling me to kill this boy, to sacrifice him, to offer him on offering on a wooden sacrifice, uh, sacrificial altar here and and and kill my own son.
You sure you’re telling me this.
Well, I’m telling Abraham, why why would you say this to me, father?
There’s only one answer, because I want to reign supreme in your life, and I will accept no challenges and no competitors for my lordship.
You know what? The only way to keep idols out
of your life is to keep up the date of what the influence in your life is.
Is it really Christ
Is it really just pure all obedience to him?
Or are the things that influence us, the challenges, that that we have to say, well, god, yes, but
When god says, no competition, no challenges, no competitors to your devotion and love to me.
We have to lay it down.
And here’s the wonderful thing about offering anything to God. It may not always happen this way.
But it is amazing to me how often it does happen this way.
That Abraham wrestled with this through the night, bound his son, and his son had lots of questions too.
I’m thinking, and he must have been thinking, wait a minute. Wait. Wait a minute.
Is my father gonna kill me?
And remember, he must have shown his love to that boy just so overwhelming.
I mean, he’s wrapped up in that boy.
If he hadn’t have been, he wouldn’t have been sitting in such a position in his life that god had to remove him.
And so here he is lying there. On that altar, and here’s his father
who’s told him how much he loved him, told him that
on these days, when he passed on everything he has, gonna belong to him, all these promises he’d made him, all those hugs.
The times they’d walk together twice, it says they walked along together.
All those conversations, all those nights they’d spent out there looking at the stars and talking and fellowshipping and growing together.
And here’s his father, the dagger,
and a plunge it through his heart to make it quick.
And then god stopped him. And god said Abraham, listen to this.
God didn’t challenge Abraham to sacrifice isaac to find out what Abraham would do, or god’s not omniscient.
If god’s omniscient, he knows everything past present future.
What Abraham didn’t know was how much he loved God.
And the only way you now know how deal with idols in our life.
It’s to ask ourselves the question, am I willing to lay it down?
With no anticipation and no promise of the future return, but I’m willing to give it no matter what.
That’s hard. That’s difficult. That’s tough.
And depends upon our value of that thing or relationship or whatever it might be.
Is to whether we’re able to say, yes, lord, yes, whatever you want in my life, you’re welcome to it.
It’s easy to say that. It’s difficult to give it up. And so what happens?
Here’s the wonderful promise god says, I got a plan for your life. Here’s the prerequisite for this plan to
come to pass. No challenges. No competitors.
I must sit as supreme. I must reign absolutely without competition in your life.
And if that be true, here’s what you’ll be provided. It’s twenty second chapter.
Turn over if you will to these last couple of verses there. Sixteenth and seventeenth.
By myself, I’ve sworn declares the because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son.
Indeed, I’ll bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, And as a sandwich is on the seashore, and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
And in your seat, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed my voice.
Let me ask you a question.
What did Abraham lose by giving everything?
What did he lose? Nothing. What did he have? He had his wife?
He had his son, all of his possessions, all of his cattle, everything, but what is the most important thing he had?
The most important thing he had was this intimate, awesome relationship with god, because if you’ll turn to to James chapter two, turn that for just a moment.
James chapter two, and look at this simple,
but profound verse. Don’t you wish? This could be said of you and me. Listen to this.
Verse twenty three says in James two,
and the scripture was fulfilled, which says, and Abraham believed God.
And it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called, what, the friend of god.
What did he lose by laying down everything?
Nothing. What did he gain? He gained every single thing god had promised him. Now listen,
I don’t know what god’s plan is for anybody else’s life.
And god’s plan for our life sometimes changes.
That is his ultimate plan, doesn’t.
But the steps in that plan always fit the steps that we think will be next.
The question is, as best you know tonight, Are you walking in the plan of god for your life?
Second question. Is there anything in your life that moves you in such a fashion that you choose it above god.
would you agree that whatever you give up, you always get more in return.
There is no way to lay down anything without getting god’s best in return.
Sometimes it’s what you lay down.
In fact, it’s amazing to me how often it is that what you lay down, you get back.
Good to go back to my simple illustration.
I gave up my cameras. About two months later.
Lady walked to my door, a little suitcase, big sack,
asked me if I was Doctor Stanley. I said, yes. First Babish Church, yes. Set them down, walked off.
You know what? Somebody had done? Somebody in this church. Found out
what I’d done, went to my friend, bought every single. I mean, exact lens, exact camera, exact filters, exact everything.
And three months later, gave him back.
Now I suppose I’d have said, no, god, you never did. I can’t handle that.
You’d have money, but, you know, you know, what do you need
with cameras? Now, listen. Be careful. You don’t rationalize what God puts his finger on.
It’s real easy to say, oh, god. You you you wouldn’t be
in cement. I mean, that’s not important. Only god knows what the idol is.
So if he puts his finger on it, I have to deal with it.
But one thing I’m certain about, I’ll never lay down anything for him.
That I don’t either get back better or more or later richer by far than what you and I give because you see, you can’t out give him.
Remember this. God had a plan, Abraham’s life. The prerequisite was no competitors.
Full rain, absolute obedience. Here’s the blessing. Suppose Abraham and Abraham have
said, God, you don’t have everything I got. But not Isaac. No way. God, he’s the only one.
He could have rationalized this thing and said, look, God, you said you’re gonna bless me through all the nations of the earth.
You’ve given me a son? This couldn’t be right. Yeah. I can’t handle that.
That couldn’t be right. It must be something else because it could be that. How’s it gonna work out, God?
Now watch this. How’s it gonna work out?
If you want me to kill my only son, and this is the how am I how how are you gonna bless me and all the nations of Earth and all these other things you promise if you take away from me, the very thing that’s gonna make that happen.
Remember this. God knows more than you and I know.
So when he says lay that down, you know what?
He knows exactly how to bless us with what we give him, and he knows how to get it back to us in
a way that we’ll never be able to, never be able to figure it out.
No way to be able to figure it out.
The wisest thing to do is lay it down and let god decide whether it’s best for me to have it back or whether it’s best for him to give something else in return.
So wherever you are in your life, I
don’t know what his plan is
and what he’s doing in your life.
can tell you this. It’s always wisest to obey him and watch the exciting work that God does in your heart no matter what.
So I ask you three questions. Are you in his plan as best you know?
Has he identified something in your
life that’s more influential your life, than god in certain situations and circumstances. And thirdly,
Are you willing
to lay it down and trust him for his very, very best?
Now something suddenly came to my mind that
I had was not in my mind at all.
And I think I have to say this to clarify this, because I never even thought about this in preparing this message.
I’m not talking about anything in my life personally about laying anything down.
I’m just talking about the general principle. Here’s the principle.
If god shows me something, I’m certainly willing to do that, but I’m not referring to anything going on in my life.
I’m simply saying, here’s a principle. God has a plan for your life. God has a prerequisite.
If he’s gonna fulfill his plan and give you his best, all odds have to go.
And thirdly, You can’t beat what God does when you let him do it, his way.
Amen? Father, we love you and praise you.
And I’ll just ask you tonight for somebody here who’s struggling.
Some young student maybe who is really having a real difficulty, you’re calling them, and that it’s just hard for them to see how.
They can give up all of their plans
and let you take out of their life, the big goals, and the big plans that they’ve already set.
Maybe their parents have agreed with them. You’ve got something else in mind.
Would you grant them the courage to lay it down and see what you do?
You know the idols that creep into our life and nature
of them and how they are so subtle, there before we know it.
Speak to our hearts. And show us father, you always have
the best for those who are willing to lay it all down.
Because when we lay it all down, when we get back, is so far far superior.
We love you and we praise you, and we ask, father,
that the faith and the courage might be granted to those who
are struggling tonight to place their trust in you that it’s always best to let you have your way.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.