You cannot play it safe and please God.
It is great to have all of you with us, as we launch into a new year series. We are starting a brand new, four-part message series, called Jesus and We. So often, in our Western world, when we talk about Christianity, people talk about “Jesus and me,” which is a good thing. People talk about a personal relationship with Jesus, again very good
But I believe, as we look at the Bible, you can make an argument that not only should we have a personal relationship with Jesus, but, maybe even more important, we should have a shared relationship with Jesus. And so, over the next few weeks, I want to look at what God is calling us to be about and to stand for, as a local church, and I believe God is going to inspire us.
In fact, I’ve been praying very specifically this week for Impact, that God would build your faith, and as God builds your faith, He would build our faith. There’s something powerful that happens when we come together as the Church.
For example, if you pray alone, you know that can be very powerful. But when you pray with others, there’s something that happens when you join your faith with others, and you feel like you’re really touching the heart of God. Jesus said, “Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:2
Same with worship – you can worship in your car. Some of you do, I’ve seen you. You worship like crazy in your car. I remember getting caught worshipping in my car, the windows were down and I was at a light and I stopped singing to hear the laughter next to me!!
Same with other Things – The reason you do that is the same reason you pick your nose in your car: you think no one is watching. Isn’t
that crazy how, for whatever reason, you feel safe to do that?
Play Seinfeld Clip…It was scratch!!!
We do even more things alone, which aren’t bad, but I don’t think we were meant to do it all alone. So, I want to look, over the next four weeks, at what we call four “value statements,” or four “vision statements,” about being the church together.
So, let’s dive into our first STORIES AND SEE WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY TO US TODAY.
I. TWO STORIES OF AMAZEMENT
What are we? We are faith-filled, big-thinking, risk takers. We will never insult God with small thinking, or safe living. We need a few more big-thinking risk takers at our church for us to move on as a church!!!
The First story is when Jesus was in His hometown teaching and some people were offended, “Who does He think He is? He’s the Son of a carpenter. He shouldn’t be saying these kinds of things.” Jesus was amazed at this, “because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.” Mark 6:5-6
The Second story we’re going to look at is in Luke’s Gospel, and there was a centurion, who the Jewish people would have surely hated because of all the cruel things the centurions were known to do. The centurion had a sick servant that was dying, and so “the officer sent some friends to say…Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed”…“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” Lk 7:6-9
Two different times, Jesus was amazed. He was amazed at lack of faith, and He was amazed at great faith. Here’s a question: As you launch into a new year, if Jesus looked at your faith level – would He be amazed at how big and how bold your faith is? Or would He be amazed at your lack of faith? Think about it. It’s a great question to wrestle with.
II. GOD’S CALLING TO US
As a church, I believe God is calling us to be faith-filled, big-thinking, risk takers, to never insult God with Small thinking, or Safe living. And so, in order to inspire us to take bold faith steps, what I want to do is look at three faith-filled facts that will help build your faith, and encourage you to follow God’s direction for your life.
- The First Thing…is something that is very important to understand, and that is, You cannot play it safe and please God.
?In fact, the author of Hebrews said this, “It is impossible to please God without faith.” In other words, if you can do everything within your own power, and you never need the power of God, then you are living without faith. And without faith, “it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6
[I went to this youth camp, where they had a leap of faith. It was a ropes course event that was supposed to be fun, and would build your faith. You walked up these stairs, and then you’re supposed to sit on the top – it’s this little-bitty square and there’s room for you and the safety guy. And the safety guy puts a harness on you, hooks it up there, and you’re just supposed to slide off the ledge, and swing across the way into the trees. And then, the safety harness catches you and swings you back…yikes!!
So, he latches me up, I ask, “anyone ever die at this…he says…not yet”!!! As I’m staring over the edge. I was really scared, Okay, no one’s ever died. This is totally safe. This is a Christian youth camp! I was sitting their praying…re-dedicating my life to God. I’m praying for forgiveness of sins. I’m covering the bases, just in case… So, I slid off the square…swung out into nature…it was beautiful… and had a very cool experience.]
And that’s kind of what faith is like. There’s, “God, You’re calling me to do this, so here I goo!” You cannot play it safe, and please God.
One of the greatest examples of this is Peter, when all the disciples were in the boat, and Jesus walks up on water. Peter, gets out of the boat and starts walking on water! And everybody criticized him, as if Peter failed! There were 11 guys that didn’t get out of the boat! He walked on water, he didn’t fail… he took steps of faith!!
And so often, our fear of failure and rejection keeps us from taking a step of faith, because people often think that failing means missing God. I’ve discovered that failing is often the first step to discovering God.
Would God be amazed at your great faith? Or would He be amazed at your lack of faith? Principle number one is simply this:
You cannot play it safe, and please God.
- The Second Thing… “As long as you have a guarantee, you don’t have faith.” The writer to the Hebrews said this,
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1
The Problem , for many of us, is, we want a guarantee: I want a guarantee – is this going to work? I need a guarantee.
[I was like this in the second grade, back when we would “go with” girls. Anybody remember, years ago, when we’d “go with” people? Anybody ever “go with” people? “Will you go with me?” Anybody do that, at all? Was that just our school? “Will you go with me?” Here’s the weird thing: We would go with girls, but we’d never go anywhere with them. What was that all about? What was that all about? “Will you go with me?” We didn’t even go to recess together, because it was a girl, but we’d “go together.”
And so, before I would ever ask a girl to go with me, I would pre-ask the guarantee question. I wanted a guarantee… The pre-ask was a note: “Dear Sue Evans, if I were to ask you to go with me, would you go with me? Check yes, or check no.” And then, Bryce Cook, would be my messenger…I wanted a guarantee. When Sue received the note from me through Bryce, my note came back with a new box that said “maybe,” and that box was checked. That’s not fair! That’s not one of the options!]
But the reality is, when we’re dealing with God, sometimes the box is a “maybe.”
? Listen, you can have faith, or you can have control, but you can’t have both.
Sometimes you just have to say, “I think God’s calling me to do this.” “I hope God’s calling me to do this.” “I believe God’s calling me to do this.” “But Sue said ‘maybe.’ The box is checked ‘maybe.’”
Some of us, you’re going to have to, let go of control to take a step of faith. As a church this year, we’re going to have to do some things that cause us to take big steps…if we don’t take the steps, we won’t move forward.
? You have to take some faith risks. You cannot play it safe and please God. You can have control or you can have faith, but you can’t have both .
- THE THIRD THING… “To step towards your future, you have to step away from your security.”
This is exactly what Abraham did, in one of the crazy, faith-filled stories in the Old Testament. It’s actually reflected in the New Testament, in Hebrews 11:8…
“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave
home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.”
? Going, Not knowing. Willing to walk in faith, without a clear picture of the future…He just trusted God!!!!
When you take that step, you keep your eyes focused on the Author and the Perfecter of your faith, and suddenly, by His power, now you’re not walking by sight anymore, but you’re actually walking by faith. And without faith, it’s impossible to please God. But great faith pleases God, in a great ways.
? We need to take steps of…sharing our faith, tithing at Church, starting a new ministry, serving in mission…then suddenly, we grow in our faith. All of a sudden we start to see, we are the Church, and when we gather together, our faith is “Jesus and We”
For you, as a follower of Jesus, what is the step you need to take? New ministry, mission, sharing faith, giving? You may take a faith step to do all of these.
Some of you, you’re going to tithe for the first time in your life. You’ve heard it, and you’ve thought about it, and you’ve made excuses, and suddenly you’re going to do something that takes a step of faith.
Some of you, there’s a ministry in sight. There’s something that’s been burning inside of you for a long time and you know you need to take a step of faith.
And then suddenly, we grow in our faith, All of a sudden we start to see, we are the Church, we gather together, our faith honors God.
I believe in faith that God wants us to think big , because that’s what faith is. When God looks at you, I want Him to be amazed at your faith. And when God looks at our church, I want Him to be amazed at our faith.
I believe in faith, with all my heart, in this New Year, our God wants to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask, think, or imagine, according to His power at work in the church. But it has to start with Faith-Filled, Big-Thinking, Risk-Takers.
So, what are we? We are faith-filled, big-thinking, risk takers. We will never insult God with small thinking, or safe living.
[A young girl, unaccustomed to traveling, was taking a train ride through the country, and it happened that in the course of the day her train was obliged to cross two branches of a river and several wide streams. The water seen in advance always awakened doubts and fears in the child. She did not understand how it could safely be crossed. As they drew near the river, however, a bridge appeared, and furnished a way over. Two or three times the experience was repeated, and finally the child leaned back with a long breath of relief and confidence.
“Somebody has put bridges for us all the way!” she said in trusting content…That is life. We fear so many evils, so many troubles look dark ahead, so many difficulties seen insurmountable as they loom before us; but as we advance we find that there is a way through them. God has built bridges for us all the way.]
Father, I pray that in Your presence, You would do a work in our church. Teach us how to be people of faith who take risks and follow you with courage.