Great Christians Series – Hebrews
Intro: What do you mean take it and leave it, that doesn’t sound very Christian like? Taken out of content it might be misinterpreted; however, what my thought in today’s message demands, taking and leaving. Take the risk and leave the doubt.
Great Christians take great risk. Where there is no risk, there is no faith! In the previous weeks we have learned great Christians pray great prayers, think great thoughts, read great books, pursue great people and dream great dreams. This week we find that great Christians take great risk! Take the risk and leave the doubt.
Have you ever wondered why God use some people more than others? Every Christian’s life is marked by windows of opportunity that demand that we take a radical step of faith in order to follow Christ and fulfill His agenda for our life. In the book of Hebrews chapter 11 we see that Abel and Enoch diligently sought God, and because of their willingness to take a great risk they found favor from God. Chip Ingram said: The difference between good and great is not a matter of knowledge or pedigree but of willingness to take a radical step of faith. There are windows of opportunity to break through to a new level with regard to your marriage, your career, your finances, a relationship, or anything else in your life, but breakthroughs require risky steps of faith. Where there is no risk, there is no faith! Where there’s no faith, there’s no power or joy or intimacy with God. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Text: Hebrews 11:4-6 (NKJV)
“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
There are a couple of things risk-takers have in common; fear, faith and favor.
We have some great Old Testament examples of great risk-takers; Abram, Moses, David, these individuals were fearful, but they exemplified enormous faith and found favor in God. Yes there written on the pages of scriptures but that doesn’t mean there are no longer any great Christians. You can be one” “Take it & leave it!”
A radical risk-taker is like a poker player who finds himself in a make-or-break moment and pushes all of the chips to the center of the table. He says, “I’m all in,” and holds nothing back. LET’S LOOK AT THESE RISK-TAKERS:
1. Risk-takers overcome Fear: Isaiah 41:10
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
You don’t think David had a little fear when he faced the giant (Goliath)? The world teaches us when a bear is chasing you, you run away. God tells us “fear not!” I am with you. Face your giant, handle the heat I am with you in the furnace. Risk can take the form of stepping up and fighting, like David did against Goliath.
Another great story of fear that separated the risk-taker from the fearful was the story of Gideon. The Lord's command was bound to surprise Gideon, for he was already outnumbered four to one. Nevertheless, the Lord instructed him to discharge any soldier who was gripped by fear: “Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once" Judges 7:3 In the midst of battle, fear spreads like wildfire. If one soldier shrinks back or turns and begins to run, there is always the danger that others will begin to withdraw and flee. What God wanted was soldiers of faith, belief, and trust; soldiers of courage who would stand and fight with all their strength, knowing that they could gain the upper hand and be victorious over the enemy. Fear and faith cannot mix, not in the same heart, not without affecting the strength and courage of soldiers and armies. This God knew, and so He gave the fearful a chance to leave, and over 31,700 were discharged, leaving only 300 soldiers to face the enemy.
2. Risk-takers have Faith: 1 Corinthians 1:27
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”
God demanded that Gideon reduce his army from 32,000 men down to only 300 soldiers! Imagine 300 untrained soldiers engaging 135,000 trained soldiers in battle. There was a great risk involved with this obedient move by Gideon. The first test of Gideon's faith was the command by God to reduce his army. God wanted the army reduced: to prevent boasting, to teach that God alone can give victory and conquer the enemy of His people. All grounds for boasting had to be removed. In the right circumstances, it is possible for 32,000 soldiers to defeat an army of 135,000. All grounds for boasting had to be removed. The battle had to be won by an act of God through a miracle. When soldiers win a battle, the credit often goes to the soldiers, and they boast in their victory without any regard to God's presence and sovereignty. But when a victory is due to a clear miracle, the glory goes to God and to God alone. The Israelites needed to learn that God alone could give them victory and conquer the enemies who stood opposed to the Promised Land.
What a faith Gideon had! In just a very brief time, Gideon's faith had grown well beyond expectation! Grown from a weak, wavering faith to an astounding faith. Just imagine: 300 men standing against an army of 135,000 trained soldiers. This is the faith God wants us to have in Him: Strong faith! Absolute trust! Believing the impossible! And refusing to be moved by doubt or question! "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" Romans 10:17
God often brings these windows of opportunity when we are most desperate and don’t have anywhere else to go. Go take a new job, deal with this marriage issue. Move to a new city. Get out of your comfort zone and reach the people I want to reach. Give your money away. Face the addiction, even though your reputation is on the line. The situations we think are bad, God can use for good. He brings us to whatever point of humble desperation is necessary to get us to take a step of Faith. Those who take radical, risky steps of faith into the places God leading them are used greatly by God. And those who don’t aren’t!
Faith is simply doing what God tells you to do whether you feel like it or not – especially, in fact, when you don’t feel like it.
3. Risk-takers receive Favor: Psalm 111:10
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”
Many people believe in God but never act as if he really exist, risk-takers receive favor. He encourages us to jump off the diving board into the water so we can experience how great it feels. If God is, in fact, bringing into each of our lives windows of opportunity to act in faith, and if our life is really determined by our response to these windows of opportunity and the level of risk we’re willing to take, how can ordinary people like us become great risk-takers? Some of us, after all, are still eating the same kind of breakfast we ate in 1972. It was good then, always has been, so why change now? Some of us simply don’t like risk. I hate to break the bad news, but avoiding risk is not an option in the Christian life. There is only one Jesus to follow, and you can’t follow Him without being willing to take radical steps of faith. So how can we break out of our comfort zone and go for it? A great risk-taker will refocus their fear, rejuvenate their faith and recall His faithfulness. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”
We are always going to be afraid of something, but I would rather fear God than fear people or circumstances. The worst that can happen by fearing people is offending God- and missing out on many of the blessings He wants you to experience.
In our text today, Both Abel who offered God a better sacrifice and Enoch who pleased God rejuvenated their faith. The scripture tells us “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
If you want to rejuvenate your faith, start with the little things. Abel’s offering was a normal act of faithfulness in the area of his income. One of the quickest, easiest ways to rejuvenate your faith is in the area Jesus emphasized most frequently: your finances. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Whoever was faithful in a small thing-money- would also be faithful in much: “'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:23
If people can’t trust Him with their finances, they’re not even up to the plate in the spiritual things. We can say that we love God, go to church, and worship Him with tears in our eyes and our hands raised high, but if He doesn’t have our treasures, He doesn’t have our heart. What does this say about us when the average evangelical in America gives 2.7 percent of his or her income. Do you know what that says to God? I know you created the universe, I love Jesus, I believe you can forgive my sin and take me to heaven, and I ask you to provide for all my family, but I don’t think you’re big enough to handle my money- I mean the money you’ve entrusted me with. I don’t believe you’ll provide for me if I give some of it back to you. One of the quickest and easiest ways to see God work in supernatural ways is to give, then wonder how your needs are going to be met, and then watch Him supply. Many Christians have never experienced that, but if you start there, your faith will be rejuvenated.
The second way to rejuvenate your faith is by pondering the big issues. What we know primarily about Enoch is that he walked with God. Amid all the pressures of life, Enoch made his relationship with God his priority. That is what made this story so remarkable. He took the risk and removed his doubt and God showed him favor! Enoch built a life around the big issues, a relationship with God and others, and God was pleased enough to take him from this life. In order to rejuvenate our faith, we must practice faithfulness in the small things and ponder the big things while we remember the main thing: pleasing God. Without faith, it’s impossible to pleas Him. Great Christians don’t play it safe. Where there’s no risk, there’s no faith. DO YOU NEED TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK AND DO WHAT YOU KNOW GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO?
Conclusion: Risk-taking plays out in our lives when we realize sometimes “stepping out” means we leave. Risk-taking plays out in our lives when we realize sometimes “stepping out” means we return. Risk-taking plays out in our lives when we realize sometimes “stepping out” means we fight. Risk-taking plays out in our lives when we realize sometimes “stepping out” means we confront.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:4-7
Maybe it’s time you “Take IT & Leave It!”
In : Sermon
Tags: "great christians series" "book of hebrews"
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