We talked last time how faith is “of God,” not something we “grunt up” and strain to acquire. God desires to believe through us. I want to talk today about how faith is about taking risks. Many, if not all, events of faith in the Bible include someone taking risks. Imagine the risk Jesus took risking crucifixion. Faith is having enough confidence in God for you to take the risks. Taking the risk is an essence of faith. Faith is not for the timid. If you ever hear Christianity is for the weak, it’s not. Faith is for the bold and brave. Faith requires actions.
James 2:22 You see that his FAITH AND HIS ACTIONS WERE WORKING TOGETHER, and his FAITH WAS MADE COMPLETE BY WHAT HE DID.
Faith impels you to action and actions require risks. You will never be all God wants you to be, or all you want to be, if you only live life with a “play-it-safe” mentality. Peter was the only one who walked on water because he was the only one who took the risk. He didn’t “play-it-safe.” You will never experience, or even know, the amazing things you can do unless you have the courage and boldness to take a step of faith to take risks.
People will remain in a job they don’t like, or hate, for twenty-five years. They never use their gifts and talents and never experience fulfillment. Still, they stay doing something they do not enjoy year after year. Why? It’s safe. They are comfortable/complacent with no pressure. God has opened doors to give them advancement along the way, but they allowed the “what ifs” to talk them out of it. “WHAT IF I take a different job and don’t like it?” “WHAT IF I make a mistake?” “WHAT IF I can’t do the job well?” “What if you thought about it this way?” WHAT IF you take the job and it moves you to your God-given destiny? WHAT IF you love the job and it is totally fulfilling to you? WHAT IF you find you have talents and abilities you never knew you had? You will never know unless you “WHAT IF” toward FAITH TO TAKE RISKS.
There’s an interesting truth in all of scripture we need to see. God does not want us to become overly “comfortable” meaning complacent. Pressure shows us who we are. Some of us today are only coasting. We are playing it super safe. I want you to see that being in God’s perfect will means you are constantly stretched. When we are too comfortable, coasting, and not stretching, we never use our faith. If you are not being stretched, then everything you are doing, you do in your own natural strength and ability. You don’t need God. You don’t need God’s help and if we will not stretch ourselves, God will put us into situations where we must stretch and need him. God does not want us still at one place in life too long.
Exodus 40:36-37 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out - until the day it lifted.
The Children of Israel followed the glory cloud of God. They began following it when they exited Egypt and bondage and continued following until they entered the Promised Land. They set up camp. Then, every day looked at the cloud. If the cloud moved, they moved. Sometimes the cloud would rest for months. Other times, it moved frequently. It didn’t matter if they were comfortable or not. It didn’t matter if they liked where they were or not. It didn’t matter if they had everything set exactly like they liked it or not. When God moved, they moved.
When God moves and you want God’s presence, protection, and provisions, you move. If you are in bondage, follow the glory cloud. I know this: God does not like us to stay comfortable at one certain place too long. We don’t need him there. In fact, if you are doing the same thing today you were doing ten years ago without advancement, you need to look and see if you have not missed opportunities from God.
I thought about that and took a serious look at myself. In some areas, I don’t see much, if any, advancement, but I do see advancement in other areas. I know I stretch myself every week making this the very best Sunday experience from the time you drive into the parking lot until you leave I possibly can. I frequently hear, “I think that’s the best you’ve ever done.” I try to keep things fresh around here and work hard to have something worth coming and hearing every Sunday. Judy and I looked back to see if we missed any doors of opportunity the Lord opened and we didn’t enter. We don’t see any, or remember any, we missed. How about you? Have there been opportunities for you to stretch and move into your destiny, but missed?
Luke 5:4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "PUT OUT INTO DEEP WATER, and let down the nets for a catch."
Once Peter, James, and John fished all night, but caught nothing. Jesus said, “Let’s move out into the deep and catch a bunch of fish.” They did what Jesus said and caught so many fish their nets began to rip. (I have experienced that.) This is a spiritual principle. God tells us if we will move out into the deep, we will experience amazing things even though we feel over our heads – deep. We will think, “What have I gotten myself into? Can I do this?” Stick with it. It’s in those deep water times when seeds of greatness already in you come out. That’s when you accomplish and experience things you never thought possible.
Luke 5:6-7 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
If you make your living fishing and you caught enough fish to sink two boats, you had a good day! In fact, you probably would not need to work for a while. You might be able to follow Jesus around for a few years. That’s what happens when you push out into the deep water with opportunities the Lord brings.
Human nature says stay in shallow waters where I can “play-it-safe” and touch the bottom. Someone may say, “I love to talk about God and share about what he’s done in my life, but don’t ask me to lead a Life Group. That’s too deep.” “I love children, but don’t ask me to take a Life Kidz class. That’s too deep.” At work, “They offered me a position in supervision, but I can’t tell people what to do. What if they don’t do what I say?” “They wanted me to give a presentation, but I can’t talk in front of people.” So often, we just want to stay shallow where we are comfortable and have everything figured out. We don’t want to stretch and do something we haven’t done before. We stay shallow playing it safe. That way we can run back to the shore and be safe if something happens.
God is saying to us today if you want to experience a great catch and be everything you and God want you to be, you must take some risks and get out into deep water.
There comes a time when you say, “Lord, sink or swim, I’m going out with you. I’m taking this step of faith and I’m counting on you to guide me and give me wisdom and ability.” That’s the attitude God wants us to have and we will never get that attitude unless we take a risk and push out deep. That’s faith. We believe God has given us an opportunity, whispered something, given us a BAM thought and opportunity, then we take action on it. It’s FAITH TO TAKE RISKS.
The Bible talks about Abraham as the man of faith (Gal 3:9). Abraham was the man of faith because he took a huge risk.
Genesis 12:1-4 The LORD had said to Abram, "LEAVE your country, your people and your father's household and GO TO THE LAND I WILL SHOW YOU. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." SO ABRAM LEFT, as the LORD had told him;
God told Abraham to leave everything – nation (America to us), friends (Americans), family – to go to a LAND GOD WOULD SHOW HIM. No map, no GPS, and no protection. The guy was 75 and his wife 65. Amazing. If Abraham would take the step of faith to take the risk, THEN God would bless Abraham.
We think the opposite. “God, you show me what is going to happen to me first and THEN I will go.” No. God says you go and I will show you and bless you. God waits for us to take the first step.
This is what Judy and I did. I worked in textiles and management for 20 years. I knew how to do it inside out. I could probably drive to work with my eyes closed and do my job the same way. I was good at it and I made a good living, but, I hated it. I think I always hated it, but it was safe and I could do it in my own strength and abilities. Then the Lord saved me by his grace and favor. What I didn’t know is that when salvation comes and your spirit comes alive to God, the gifts God created inside you come alive too. For example, I was never a “reader” before, but after salvation, I could not stop reading the Bible. I was not a communicator or speaker before. I never spoke anywhere, but I couldn’t talk enough to people and crowds about the Lord and his Word and I was pretty good at it. I didn’t know I could do that. Strengths and abilities inside me began coming alive and out. God filled me with his Holy Spirit and that really brought gifts out of me. Churches asked me to come speak. Initially, I said, “I can’t do that,” but I stretched. I didn’t know those abilities were there.
You have no clue of the incredible abilities in you until you begin to take action, stretch, and take risks. You have gifts, talents, and abilities inside you that can take you places you never dreamed. You can’t allow the fear of failure and fear of the unknown stop you.
Then, one day, the BAM thought came to me. I had to decide to stay in my play-it-safe, comfortable, shallow place, or push out deep. I had to decide if I would stay safe, or go walking with God to a place he would show me. Something inside said, “You can do it. I created you to do this.” My mind attempted to talk me out of it. It gave me every excuse for failure you can imagine. I reminded myself that God said, “I am well able. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Greater is he in me than he that is in the world. If God be for me, who can be against me?” Today, I love my occupation. I look forward to work every day. In fact, I get excited about my work. Do I feel “I’m there?” No way. You can believe when God gives me an opportunity to stretch, I will do it and you know I will.
I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfortable “play-it-safe” zone. You have so much potential inside. You can rise higher than you can imagine. You can accomplish things you never thought possible, but you must do your part and take advantage of what God brings across your path. God made you. He knows what you are capable of doing. He knows what he put on the inside of you. So, throughout life, God will present you with opportunities your mind says you can’t handle. You will be tempted to cower back in fear, but if you look deep down in your heart, you find excitement. Something inside tells you, “You can do this. You have what it takes.” It’s when you listen to your heart and not your head you accomplish things you never thought possible.
I believe some of you will be offered new positions at work in the near future. In the natural, it will appear to be over your head. Remember, it’s not over God’s head. Realize, it’s when you come to the end of your ability you tap into God’s supernatural ability and supernatural ability is when you become special.
Some of you may even have the opportunity to change careers and do what you are passionate about doing. Your mind will say to you, “It’s too deep out there. You can’t touch bottom. You better stay shallow. You don’t know where you are going. You better stay safe.” Stay in the boat, Peter. It’s too wavy out there, but what is Jesus saying? “Come on out here Peter. Push out into the deep water. Start walking Abraham. You can do it.” God is saying you can fulfill your God given destiny. Dare to take that step of FAITH TO TAKE RISKS. You will see God do amazing things and you will live your dreams.