The “SURE THINGS” Series #3
"A SURE WALK!"
TEXTS: Prov. 2:7; 10:9; 13:20; Deut. 28:9-14; Dan. 3:24-29; Isa. 35:8-10; 40:28-31; 42:5-6; Matt. 14:25-32; Lk. 24:13-28; Jn. 5:5-15; Acts 3:6-10
INTRO: Walking is such a simple thing, taken for granted by most of us ... we usually are not conscious of the actual act of walking, that is until we trip over something! *FOR WHICH WE BLAME OUR STUPID FEET ... OR WALKING INTO A DOOR AT NIGHT AND WE BLAME OUR SPOUSE FOR NOT HAVING IT IN THE PROPER POSITION! (Don't ask why I said that one!)
For a new baby however, walking is an arduous task! Notice how hard they try! We encourage them on ... "Come on baby you can make it!" etc. Hardly anybody ever quits and gives up on a baby just because they fall at first ... most people finally master the ability to walk! By the way, it is funny how we pester our kids to walk and talk when they are babies, then tell them to sit down and shut up when they are older!
When that baby finally makes it across the room we all cheer and clap ... but we will never do this for walking adults! When was the last time you cheered your spouse for walking across the room successfully?
The point is this ... walking is a sure thing for most of us! Once learned, we continue to use this skill without thinking! It is also interesting to note that medical science has stated that a brisk walk each day increases the strength and durability of the body, just a simple walk can ensure greater health to all areas of our body!
PROP. SENT: These dynamics are also true in the spiritual plane. When we accept Christ we begin our effort at walking with God ... we stumble, but the more mature saints encourage us on until we are walking with ease! But even after we know how to walk we must exercise by walking daily if we wish to stay spiritually healthy!
TRANS. SENT: Years ago a commercial ingrained into everybody's mind this phrase: "I WOULD WALK A MILE FOR A CAMEL!" (It was about a brand of cigarettes!) ... FOR US it should read: "I'D WALK A LIFETIME FOR GOD’S KINGDOM!"
I. SECURITY! Prov. 2:7; 10:9; 13:20; Deut. 28:9-14; Dan. 3:24-29
A. Promises Prov. 2:7; 10:9; 13:20
1. God promises ultimate victory for those who walk with Him in this lifetime. Prov. 2:7
a. This ultimate victory includes making God a shield for us when we confront our enemies!
b. "Blameless walk" here it does not mean "never sins" ... it means someone who has a genuine integrity about their life and lifestyle!
2. In other words, for those who continue to walk with God throughout their life, they can count on God's promises being "YEA AND AMEN!"
a. These include not only these promises here…
b. But even those of other parts of Scripture!
ILLUS: The Christian walk is much like riding a bicycle; we are either moving forward or falling off. -- Robert Tuttle, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 3.
3. Knowing these promises of God are sure ... our walk with God gives us a kind of security ... a peace within our hearts that passes understanding! This is the point of PROV. 10:9
4. How does one insure a constant walk of integrity? By keeping company with those whose spiritual desires and goals are equal to ours! PROV. 13:20
a. You are much more likely to succeed in your walk with God if you follow others walking in the same direction as God!
b. You won't struggle as much if your friends are walking in the same direction you are ... and the direction that God wants!
B. People! Deut. 28:9-14
1. The nation of Israel as a people was promised by God to be blessed and prosperous, including peaceful conditions and respect from the other nations IF THEY WOULD SIMPLY walk in God's ways!
2. America needs to rediscover our spiritual heritage again if we wish to see God bless this country as He has done in our past – it does matter how we all walk!
ILLUS: To many Christians, Christ is little more than an idea, or at best an ideal -- He is not a fact. Millions of professed believers talk as if He were real and act as if He were not. Our actual position is always to be discovered by the way we act, not by the way we talk. -- A.W. Tozer in This World: Playground or Battleground? Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 2.
a. The connections are clear in regards to all nations in history!
b. Those nations that sought God and walked in His ways were prosperous and strong. Their national security didn't come just from manpower and weapons, but from the spiritual dynamics of a righteous purpose and goals that they were willing to die for!
c. The decline of our national strength can be tied to a decline in our spiritual strength ... as righteousness has waned nationally so has our economical and military strength ... or at least the will and unity that our military once had. Vietnam was the first real war America ever lost in its short 200+ years of history ... and it came at a time when our spiritual foundations were eroding!
d. This was true with Israel as a nation, the Roman Empire, and other powers that have come and gone! If we hope to see our land healed we will have to rediscover 2 CHRON. 7:14 “If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray... then I will hear them and heal their land and forgive their sins…”
(1. This call goes out to those who are believers!
(2. If we see the decline in our nation it is our responsibility to cry out to God ... even if we are just a few!
(3. Our national security may just depend on it!
C. Personal Dan. 3:24-29
1. The familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being cast into the fiery furnace because of their spiritual integrity shows also the security we can have personally in our walk with God!
a. Nebuchadnezzar fires up the furnace 7 times hotter than normal ... it was not a good time to make the king of Babylon angry!
b. But they would not bow down ... EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T YET KNOW GOD IS GOING TO DELIVER THEM!
c. Their response: "the God we serve is ABLE to deliver us ... but even if HE DOESN'T, we want you to know 0 king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up!"
ILLUS: More than 90 people conducted an all-night search for an eight-year-old boy named Dominic. While on a skiing trip with his father, this little boy apparently had ridden a new lift and skied off the run without realizing it. They hoped to find Dominic somewhere on the snowy mountain slope before it was too late.
As each hour passed, the search party and the boy's family became more and more concerned. By dawn they still had found no trace of him. Two helicopters joined the search, and within fifteen minutes had spotted ski tracks. A ground team followed the tracks which changed to small footprints. The footprints lead to a tree where they found the boy at last.
"He's in super shape," the area search and rescue coordinator announced to the anxious family and press. "In fact, he's in better shape than we are right now." A hospital spokesman said the boy was in fine condition and was not even admitted.
The rescuer explained why the boy did so well despite spending a night in the freezing elements: His father had enough forethought to warn him what to do if he became lost, and his son had enough trust to do exactly what his father said.
Dominic protected himself from possible frostbite and hypothermia by snuggling up to a tree and covering himself with branches. As a young child, he never would have thought of doing this on his own. He was simply obeying his wise and loving father. -- Source Unknown
2. Talk about WALKING WITH GOD! ... TALK ABOUT INTEGRITY!
a. Their spiritual steadfastness and walk with God now guaranteed their apparent demise!
b. They would not walk away from God however ... even when facing the heat!
3. Sure enough, they are thrown bound in ropes into the fire! (As if tying them up with rope would make things worse for them -- especially a furnace 7 times hotter than normal!)
4. Old King Nebuchadnezzar notices something funny in the furnace after having these 3 guys thrown in!
a. He asks his servants first if he had counted right! "Were there not 3?"
b. He notices that they are STILL WALKING WITH GOD ... and that there was a 4th person in the fire with them!
c. The fire had not stopped their walking with God ... in fact it only ILLUMINATED it to the eyes of the ungodly king and the others!
d. When we walk with God it shows best when the heat is on us!
e. We can be personally secure in our walk with God ... in fire, or drowning under circumstances beyond our control ... but never beyond God's control!
5. We may not always be delivered the way we think we should ... they didn't know if they were going to be delivered, but we must learn to walk with God like they did ... then either way, delivered or not we will still be walking along side Jesus in either answer!
6. God's security is personal as well as national!
II. SUPPORTING! Isa. 35:8-10; 40:28-31; 42:5-6
A. Pathways! Isa. 35:8-10
1. This Highway that is named "the Way of Holiness" was similar to that in Isaiah's day ... they had built a special highway in ancient times between temples that only the priests and holy people could travel on ... since traveling was usually dangerous this made the trip safer by allowing only the righteous to travel on it!
2. These special pathways or "Highways to Heaven" were created to support the continuing ministry of the priests by giving them added safety!
3. God works in our lives this way also ... He marks out pathways for only His children to travel on ... to give them support when they are fearful and frightened over the enemy attacking them as they walk!
4. Satan can't travel this "HIGHWAY" ... so long as we stay on course in our walk with God and travel the right paths we have the needed spiritual support to make the destination!
a. However if you try shortcuts and alternative routes you take your life into your own hands and often forfeit the security and peace of mind you could have had by walking on the right path instead!
b. Those that stay on course ... the right road of righteousness can be certain their walk in life will lead them right into the arms of God Himself!
ILLUS: In a far country lived a band of minstrels who traveled from town to town presenting music to make a living. They had not been doing well. Times were hard; there was little money for common folk to come to hear the minstrels, even though their fee was small. Attendance had been falling off, so early one evening the group met to discuss their plight. "I see no reason for opening tonight," one said. "To make things even worse than they may have been, it is starting to snow. Who will venture out on a night like this?" "I agree," another disheartened singer said. "Last night we performed for just a handful. Fewer will come tonight. Why not give back their meager fees and cancel the concert? No one can expect us to go on when just a few are in the audience." "How can anyone do his best for so few?" a third inquired. Then he turned to another sitting beside him. "What do you think?" The man appealed to was older than the others. He looked straight at his troupe. "I know you are discouraged. I am too. But we have a responsibility to those who might come. We will go on. And we will do the best job of which we are capable. It is not the fault of those who come that others do not. They should not be punished with less than the best we can give." Heartened by his words, the minstrels went ahead with their show. They never performed better. When the show was over and the small audience gone, the old man called his troupe to him. In his hand was a note, handed to him by one of the audience just before the doors closed behind him. "Listen to this, my friends!" Something electrifying in his tone of voice made them turn to him in anticipation. Slowly the old man read: "Thank you for a beautiful performance." It was signed very simply --"Your King." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 168-169.
c. The enemy is forever trying to lure us off by tempting ads placed along the Way of Holiness: he promises fun and frolic by taking exit 12 ... just blocks away! etc.
d. Stay on course ... do not exit! God's Highway is the FREEWAY ... Satan's however has a heavy toll for those who travel unrighteous pathways!
B. Power Isa. 40:28-31
1. Here God promises those who continue to walk in His ways will not become weary or faint! Our strength can be renewed if we stay on God's FREEWAY and use His REST AREAS along the path!
2. The promise here is to power ... unusual power ... clearly stated is the fact that even young men get weary in the natural realm and they stumble and fall frequently ... the word “BUT” however contrasts this NATURAL strength with those whose walk and life shows HOPE in God ... they have unusual strength!
3. ...BUT, those whose hope is in the Lord “WILL renew their strength ... soar like eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint!”
ILLUS: God will look you over, not for medals or degrees, but for scars. -- Edward Sheldon -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 20.
4. What a power we have if we don't quit walking with God!
C. Peace! Isa. 42:5-6
1. "This is what God says … to those who walk, I, the Lord-have called you in RIGHTEOUSNESS; I will take hold of your hand..."
2. It doesn't get much better than this! God promises to hold our hand when we walk in paths of righteousness!
3. What greater peace could we hope for than to know that no matter what we come to as we walk through life that God is there holding our hand literally!
ILLUS: The most important thing my dad ever taught me is that there are more important things than me. -- John Ashcroft, former Attorney General of the Unites States. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 2.
4. When we were kids we could face the bully when Dad was standing next to us holding our hand ... a great peace and strength came at that moment ... but away from our Father and not having His hand to hold gives us the chills when that old bully the Devil comes around!
5. Look the "bully" in the eye and be at peace ... your heavenly Father is holding your hand when you're walking with Him!
III. STRETCHING! Matt. 14:25-32; Lk. 24:13-28; Jn. 5:5-15; Acts 3:6-10
A. Panic! Matt. 14:25-32 (Peter walking on water)
1. Let's look at reality now ... we all know that staying on the right path doesn't always describe us ... it will be good to know that others before us had the same problem ... but made it back safely!
2. Peter is a shining example of the desire to walk with God ... and also one who experienced that sinking feeling when you take your eyes off of God and notice the storms of life!
a. His initial response was great … he went OVERBOARD FOR GOD! He wanted to walk WITH JESUS!
b. Remember, If you are going to walk with Jesus then you have to be willing to go where He goes!
3. For just a moment Peter realizes what he's done ... he's walking on water, but that is not possible! But then, that's just the point, when we walk with God we will see God do the impossible with us and through us ... just don't panic!
ILLUS: God didn't call me to find fulfillment in the quantity of my work for him but in the quality of my walk with him. -- Robert J. Morgan, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 1.
4. At least in his panic Peter does the right thing ... he cries out to Jesus to grab hold of him ... he confesses his sinking ... (talk about negative confession!)
a. Jesus doesn't let him drown in spite of his negative confession!
b. Jesus lovingly reaches out immediately ... and saved him!
c. And to underscore the need for Peter to learn from the experience, Jesus asks why he doubted?
d. This was a stretching experience for Peter ... who by the way needed a great deal of stretching! (Of course none of us do!)
e. Jesus' comment does not cast Peter aside ... it simply taught Peter a valuable lesson when walking with God ... DON'T PANIC when that sinking feeling hits ... reach out to Jesus and you'll stay on top!
B. Presence Lk. 24:13-28 (Road to Emmaus)
1. As 2 of Jesus' disciples were walking along together following the crucifixion of Christ they were discouraged and alone!
2. Jesus was gone ... how could this have happened? He had promised to be with them ALWAYS!
3. The irony of this story is that Jesus was walking right alongside them and they didn't even know it!
a. How many times has this happened to us?
b. We are going through a tough time ... we don't sense Jesus' presence!
c. That doesn't mean He isn't there ... He might be there right next to you in a way that you don't expect so you don't recognize Him!
4. Jesus stretches their faith by teaching them from the Word of God all about Jesus' necessary death to save them ... far from abandoning them, Jesus' death and resurrection had guaranteed them His presence ... in a far more dynamic way!
ILLUS: Story of lady who trusted God for her daily bread, while the landlord would tease and make fun of her faith in God's provision for her; one day he got an idea: he would climb the roof and drop a loaf of bread down into her chimney and when she would begin thanking God for this miraculous bread he would quickly climb down and tell her the truth of where it came from: Sure enough he heard her praising God for the bread "from heaven" ... and he jumped down and knocked quickly on her door. "Good lady," he said, "God did not give you that bread, I dropped it down your chimney ... now, what have you got to say?" She answered without pause: "I thank God for providing for me ... even if He had to use the devil to deliver it! – Source Unknown
5. God is present with us in our deepest trials ... though we don't always sense His presence, you can be sure He is there, you just don't recognize Him sometimes ... He's still there walking with you!
C. Pitiful Jn. 5:5-15 (Cripple at Pool of Bethesda)
1. This man at pool-side had been ill for 38 years! Jesus asks him IF he really wants to be healed!
a. This might seem a strange question, but after 38 years the man had become accustomed to getting everything he needed without having to return anything ... healing would change all this!
b. If healed he would have to go about helping others and also would lose his excuses for not working!
c. The question was valid! There are people today who are so tied to their old wounds that they may not really desire healing! They would rather have the attention and excuses they are accustomed to!
2. It would have been pitiful indeed had this man responded with, "not really!"
a. He would have stayed in his damaged way until death!
b. He would never know the joy and dignity that would come from helping others and the self-respect that he would enjoy from working and earning his keep.
3. I am convinced that Jesus would not have healed this man if he didn't want to be!
4. It is interesting however what Jesus said when the man did want to be healed: Jesus said, "ok, take up your mat AND WALK!"
a. "Sure!" he is probably thinking ... "easy for you to say!"
b. Proof of the desire for healing would be this man’s obedience to stand up and WALK!
ILLUS: One day I asked my two-year-old daughter, Catherine, where her slippers were. "Downstairs in the kitchen," she told me. "What are they doing there?" I asked. "Nothing," she replied. "They can't walk because they don't have feet in them right now." -- Jennifer Young Jarrett, Massachusetts. Today's Christian Woman, "Small Talk."
c. This is still true: Jesus is willing to heal old wounds, BUT we have to be willing to stand up to them AND THEN BEGIN TO WALK A NEW WALK and lifestyle!
5. The story has a happy ending! THE MAN WAS HEALED AND STARTED A WHOLE NEW WALK WITH GOD ... and with a new transformed body and mind!
6. God is still willing to heal today too ... BUT YOU MUST BE WILLING TO GET UP AND WALK!
7. The results are pitiful if you don't choose correctly!
D. Poverty Acts 3:6-10 (Peter and John at the Temple)
1. This familiar story has some interesting "stretching" dynamics to it also!
2. Here Peter confronts a sick beggar outside the Temple ... he is doing what all beggars do, he was begging for money from anyone and everyone ... probably figured a good spot would be just near the gate to the Temple!
a. Only the hardest of hearts could walk past a beggar when entering the Temple of God for a worship service!
b. Probably was in the best location for getting money out of religious people!
3. What he didn't know was that some Christians don't have a lot of money to give!
a. However, this wouldn't stop Peter from giving something!
b. When you can't give cash ... you might be able to give yourself or service that may bring about an even greater result!
c. We need to break out of the "I NEED" mentality and think more, "WHAT CAN I GIVE?"
4. The man's greatest need wasn't money! The few bucks he might beg can keep him alive day by day ... but healing him would allow him to work for a living and give him a chance to GIVE SOMETHING BACK!
5. Peter looks him in the face ... in fact demands that the man look him in the eye!
a. The guy does ... probably thinking "Oh boy, this ought to be worth some real bucks!" (Or drachmas)
b. However Peter says, "SILVER AND GOLD I'M OUT OF..."
(1. Imagine this guy’s face at this point! "Not another lecture!"
(2. This guy is not giving me anything ... except probably another lecture!
6. PETER CONTINUES, "BUT WHAT I HAVE I GIVE UNTO YOU"
a. "In the name of Jesus Christ get up and WALK!"
b. There it is ... a demand of the beggar to do something! He just knew this Peter was going to give him the old "DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR NEED" routine ... but this time something hit him strange about these two guys.
c. There was real authority in that voice ... and MAYBE, just MAYBE it could really happen to him!
d. "NO ... what am I thinking about ... I can't WALK!"
7. Then Peter offers something else he does possess ... a helping hand! Acts 3:7
a. What can a man do when he is being pulled up by someone else?
b. He goes for it ... and he is healed!
ILLUS: If there are a thousand steps between us and God, he will take all but one. He will leave the final one for us. The choice is ours. -- Max Lucado, Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 2.
c. HE DOES THE RIGHT THING TOO ... HE HEADS FOR THE TEMPLE WORSHIP SERVICE AND JUMPS AROUND LIKE A PENTECOSTAL! Acts 3:8-9
8. Out of Peter's poverty in the natural realm he had learned he had other great things to offer ... an encouraging word ... a helping hand ... a word of faith ... the greatest riches in the universe ... spiritual help!
9. We are rich in God's mercies ... WE ALL HAVE MUCH TO GIVE!
10. Walking with God makes you rich ... not necessarily with the goods of this world ... but with the good things of God!
a. There is a crippled world lying at the door to God's Temple, His church...
b. We cannot afford to continue to pass these people by and not give to them what we have so richly tasted of ... the eternal life of God's grace!
c. We can't feed the whole world ... we may not be able to stop wars, we might not ever be rich in this world's economy ... but we must not act like we are barely surviving in POVERTY either!
d. WE HAVE MUCH ... our testimony of God's grace in our life is a great gift to give someone!
e. The values we hold are a precious gift to give the world ... it might just keep some of the rot of sin from taking its toll on the planet!
f. We have been made RICH IN EVERYWAY IN CHRIST!
11. We need a revival of THE SUPERNATURAL TOUCH of God ... this world is crying out for what is real, what is healthy, for God!
12. Don't just walk past all those hurting sick beggars ... give what you can ... give THEM JESUS CHRIST!
CONCLUSION: Walking with God is a SURE thing! If we are not actively walking with Him, we may lose sight of Him as He continues to walk! Walking with God gives us His peace, (security!) His power, (support) -- and His process, (stretching) that will help us become mature and strong! Walking with God will not always be easy or without pain! It will be worth it all however, especially when we hear those words: "Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord!" You can't get lost when you walk with God ... It's a sure thing!