New Hope Notes
The Holiness Of Risk
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
A gutsy Gospel causes us to take risks. Nothing of significance happens without risk. But there is a difference between foolish risk and God-risk. Extreme sports risks seem crazy to me. Heaven encourages us to take risks for God. If there is no risk in the endeavor then there is no faith. If you risk nothing, you risk everything. Stop and think about that for a moment. Nothing significant happens in your life without you taking a risk. Whether it is marrying that wonderful spouse of yours, adopting that baby boy or girl, or just deciding to go skydiving for the weekend, we all have to take a risk. If you are a person who skydived before, didn’t you have to take the chance of losing your life? If you are a married man or woman, didn’t you have to take risk for the possibility of marital bliss when you first said your vows? Okay, so maybe some of you married folks are thinking “yea right!” at that last statement, but all kidding aside my point is this: If we can take risks in our normal daily lives, then what about taking risks for the REASON for our lives - Jesus?
The secret to all the miracles in the Book of Acts was at least in part due to taking risks. As the Bible says, "Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 15:25-26). God-risk builds faith and progress will always require risk. What we risk will be evident in what we value. Value and risk are not mutually exclusive. So shouldn’t God be worth it for us risking our lives? I hope you can truly say yes to that which is why you should not play it safe when it comes to:
1. Growing in your Faith.
Jesus once considered making a rich man an apostle but the Bible says, "Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, 'One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property" (Mark 10:21-22). What the rich man was willing to risk showed what he truly valued.
I Timothy 4:7-8 says, “…Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
In essence, Timothy is saying whatever Godly disciplines you learn to implement in your life now, you accrue that and much more when you get to Heaven. So, if you haven’t already started reading your Bible and journaling on a daily basis what God is trying to tell you, do it now. If you need to strengthen your prayer life, do it now. You might as well start the process of growing your faith now. Take a discipleship class or get involved with a ministry. Just work on building your faith like a bodybuilder works on his physique. Remember, if you do not take the time to grow in your faith and have the thoughts of God, you are ultimately limiting God’s future plans for you without realizing it which is why daily Bible reading is so essential.
The second aspect of your life you should not play it safe in is:
2. Those in your sphere of Influence.
3 John 4 says, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” The first group in your sphere of influence that you should impact for eternity is your immediate family. If you have unsaved relatives then reach out to them and tell them about Christ. Live your life in a pleasing way to the Lord so they can see what is different about you and hunger for God. It is all about taking risks for your family. Some people don’t like the family they were born into. Perhaps, there is a lot of dysfunction, and it’s becoming very discouraging to reach out to them let alone talk to them. However, God placed you in that family for His reason whether you get along or not. It is not about you. It is about them and their need for Jesus so don’t let whatever is stopping you from reaching out to them in Christ’s love. The second group in your sphere of influence is the church. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians is admonishing us to take advantage of the time now to fellowship with God’s people and use our God-given talents and passions to serve him in the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ. How can the church be effective for God in the world if we cannot come together as one bride? So, if you aren’t already attending a church, get involved with a Bible-based church and be around people who love God. If you are already attending a church, perhaps New Hope then jump in and serve somewhere. There are many opportunities and volunteers are always needed.
Remember, "Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men" (Luke 6:35). The third group that must be reached is our mission field. Everyone has different mission fields. Wherever God has placed you in this season of your life is your mission field. If you are student, your college campus is your mission field. If you are teacher, your mission field is your students. We must remember that how we forgive our co-workers, for example, expresses how God forgives. So even if that one co-worker just gets on your nerves, learn to extend patience and love to him. God will open the doors to people for you to love - even the unlovable. It may be very difficult at times, but with God all things are possible (Phil 4:13).
The final aspect of your life you should not play it safe in is:
3. Self Improvement
It is written, “Pay close attention to yourself” (Timothy 4:16). Timothy is saying to take the time to improve yourself. It doesn’t seem like a very spiritual principle, but in fact it is. Think about that principle for a second. If you aren’t constantly improving yourself then you won’t be as effective for God. There also won’t be as much change in your character as there could be. If you changed 1% a day, by the end of the year you will have changed 365%. Improving yourself does not always have to be grandiose. It could just be changing the way you think. Romans 12:2 puts it this way, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). The Japanese have the word “kaizen” which means change for the better. They are a good example of this principle. If you look at the cars driven on our roads you will see a lot of Japanese makes. That is because they are experts at taking our products, improving them, and selling them back to us which is why it is no surprise that they are second in foreign countries that own the largest amount of our stocks—about 745 billion. Remember …
* If something can be improved, should you? YES
* If you will CHANGE, everything will change for you.
So, I challenge you to take risks for God. When he asks you to do that learn to ask “why not?” rather than “why?” He wants you to risk stepping out and growing more in your faith; reaching those in your sphere of influence which is your family, church, and mission field; and improving yourself. However, you are going to have to open the doors and allow criticism and skepticism to come your way. Watch what God can do to you and through you and when you finally take that risk, you will hear Heaven call that faith and say “Yes!” May the gospel be gutsy in your life just as it was in John Bunyan’s “Counselors to Sufferers.” Bunyan was thrown into prison for three years. He had a blind child and when he was given the opportunity to be released, he chose to stay because he refused to sign a statement promising to never preach the gospel again. His testimony illustrates the verse Acts 15:25-26, “Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I encourage you to be that woman and man of faith who can take risks for Christ! To God be the glory.
1. What risk(s) do you need to take for Christ?
2. What is keeping you from taking those risks?
3. Who in your sphere of influence is God asking you to reach out to?
4. What ways can you improve on yourself?
5. What do you think about the statement, “Heaven defines the risks we take for the Lord as faith?