Recently our Pastor was speaking about Abraham and his obedience to God’s call to leave everything and follow where God would lead him. He left all that was familiar to him; he left his “comfort zone”; he didn’t even know where he was going. God didn’t give him the route, God simply told him to leave and he would be shown the way. Abraham obeyed (Genesis 12:1-8). If that doesn’t sound risky, I don’t know what does. Of course, when God asks, it’s not so scary because we know He has our best interests in mind but still…
One thing mentioned during our Pastor’s message was “risk”. I immediately thought of “Risk and Reward”. Sometimes risk has a great reward, especially when God is inviting us to take that risk. I started thinking about some of those recorded in the Bible who have taken a risk for God.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Noah: Risk – God said He was going to send rain and flood the earth (no rain had ever fallen on the earth at this point). He was asked to build an ark (no idea what that was). God told him to enter the ark with his family. He was also told to gather animals (male and female) and load them into the ark. I’m sure it all sounded very crazy to Noah. But, he obeyed. Even though he couldn’t imagine what was about to happen. (Genesis 6-8) † Reward – Noah, his family, and male and female animals were spared. God saved them and provided a beautiful rainbow as a sign of His covenant/promise that never again would He flood the earth and destroy mankind and animals.
David: Risk – Wow. David’s life was full of risks. While a shepherd, he had the risk of defending the sheep against predators. His complete faith and trust in God led him to go against Goliath (from a human perspective we would say it was against all odds). Even though God, through Samuel, anointed David as the king to replace Saul, it was a very long journey before that took place. His life was in danger, he had to run and hide. He was lonely. But, through it all, he trusted God. He failed in his walk, like we all do, but he believed, trusted, and followed God. † Reward – David did become king. God said he was a man after His on heart. (Acts 13:22) There is no better recommendation than that! The Messiah (Jesus Christ), came from the line of David.
Rahab: Risk – The Lord had a job for Joshua that involved Rahab. Now Joshua is also a story of risk and reward, but I want to focus on Rahab right now. You see, she wasn’t what we would consider godly. She was a prostitute. However, God’s perspective is different from ours. Joshua sent some spies into Jericho. They ended up staying in the house of Rahab. When the king of Jerica heard about this, he sent a message to Rahab to turn over the men to him. Rahab, however, protected and hid the men. She told the men that the news of them had come and they knew that the God of the Israelites was indeed God in heaven above and the earth below. She asked them to show kindness to she and her family when they came to take the land (Joshua 6). † Reward – Rahab and her family were spared, and her name and story have been told throughout the generations.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: Risk – King Nebuchadnezzar had an idol constructed and ordered everyone to bow down and worship it when the music was sounded. Now these three guys were Jews and they followed God. They refused to follow the king’s decree and instead trusted THE KING. They told Nebuchadnezzar that even if he had them thrown into the fiery furnace, their God could save them. However, even if God didn’t, they would still not bow down to the idol. (Daniel 3) That is faith but even more than that, it shows them to be true believers who trusted and followed God. † Reward – They were thrown into the furnace sure enough, but…not a hair on their heads was singed. They even were kept free from the smell of smoke. God performed a miracle and He was glorified – through their faith and trust in Him.
These are just a couple of examples, but we find them throughout the Bible. What about us today? The Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Are we hearing God’s call to us? If not, are we too busy or simply not being still before God so that we can hear Him? Are we in His Word, in prayer? God still has a plan for each of our lives and it’s not just for our lives, His plans always involve others. Are we following or missing our opportunities?
Of course, we must always weigh the risk and determine if we are willing to take it. Sometimes it’s simply just a risk and doesn’t involve God’s call at all. But, sometimes it just might be God speaking to us about something He wants to do that involves our participation. Maybe it is a physical risk, financial risk, social risk. Sometimes the risk is simply that we might be embarrassed. If we believe it is from God, we must choose. Is the risk worth the possible reward?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)
Of all potential risks we can encounter, the greatest risk is whether we choose to follow Christ. If we don’t choose Him, we will not receive the final, forever, and best reward – eternal life. If we don’t choose Christ, by default we choose Satan. Following him ends in eternal agony, despair and death. Choose Life, not death.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:35-36)
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for one but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys hi word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:2-6
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18)
A glimpse of heaven:
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
“However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also, before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night, they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and ay: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all thing, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:1-11)
A glimpse of hell:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace” For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will replay, and again “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)
“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10-15)
Much in this life is out of our control. However, we do have control of our attitudes and our choices. We can choose eternal life or eternal damnation. What do you choose today? We never know when our days will be cut short. Procrastination on this life and death decision is not a good thing. Believe me when I say that living your life following God is not boring! He gives freely. He gives freedom – freedom from any sin that entangles us. He gives life and life abundantly. He brings joy no matter our circumstances. It’s something that you experience but can’t really explain but…it is real! HE IS REAL! He is the beginning, the end, the Creator – the I AM.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” (Deuteronomy 3:19-20)