Risk with an unfailing God (Isa 46:9-10; 55:8-13)

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Recently I read a survey that was quoted by Kay Strom in her book, The Second Half Adventure. The survey asked, “How would you live differently if you had the chance?”[1] The responses could be summarized with these three answers:

3) I would reflect more. This is an interesting response in light of our world today that is fast-paced, wired & plugged in society. I would encourage you to divert daily, withdraw weekly, and respite regularly in order to reflect, evaluate and map out decisions that need to be made based on your life priorities.

2) I would risk more. Many of us do not think or live this way. Too often we have to live a long and full life to realize the wisdom of this response. Kay Strom says, “Growing older is a given; gaining wisdom is an option” (p.75). How true. I think that people typically live the 80/20 rule: 80% comfort and 20% risk. I’m starting to realize that as Christians, we should at least push for a 50/50. And perhaps those with greater measures of faith may even push to reverse to 20% comfort and 80% risk. In our humanity it’s likely impossible to have 100% risk, in fact that may be the borderline to foolishness. A good summary definition is boldness bound by wisdom; calculated risk taking.

Calculated Risk: In WWII they had parachute packers who repacked parachutes. The packers signed a card and put it in the chute pocket to confirm their job. Once a month they were required to randomly pick three of their chutes and use themselves. This insured their duty to faithfully pack each parachute. Jumping out of an airplane with a parachute may seem risky, but it’s calculated if you know your parachute works.

This is the topic/theme of our current message series. Risk.

Hudson Taylor said, “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”

What is the faith risk that God is calling you/us toward?

  • Risk to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord… but I got this. no you don’t; you need Jesus!
  • Risk by speaking up to share the gospel with someone
  • Risk by changing ministry night from Wednesday to Sunday
  • Risk to serve with children… (hey, I’ve been there. but it’s worth it!)
  • Risk to partner with other churches that some may attend another church rather than our’s
  • At some point, it will be a risk for us to start a second service, then a third… then… plant churches… then perhaps build…?
  • Risk to spend thousands of dollars and travel to third world country for a missions trip
    • Risk that God may call and send you to move to another country as a missionary
  • Risk to forgive someone…
  • Risk to attend a marriage event on October 4
  • Risk to reprioritize your marriage and family that will result in how you spend your time & money
  • Risk to wait for God’s selection of a mate
  • Risk to give financially
  • Risk listening and obeying God.

1) I would do more things that live on after I’m dead. Legacy is the longing of every heart. However, legacy does not occur through laziness. Playing it safe and being a spectator in the Christian life will not create the legacy you desire and dream about.

 

We must RiSK with an unfailing God. Today’s message will share reasons why we can risk: logo_1

 

EXAMINE   Isaiah 46:9-10; 55:8-13       Title: RiSK with an unfailing God

Risk is right because God is unfailing (Isaiah 46:9-10).

The prophet Isaiah reminds God’s people about the greatness of God. Many do not understand God and therefore do not understand themselves. If you know God and His purposes then you should know your life purpose – live for God’s glory.

Isaiah is writing to those who know God and those who have missed God. Israel is God’s chosen people but they did not always choose God; often they worshiped idols. Isaiah’s message sought to magnify God and minimize the value of idols.

This is true of God – He is far more great and glorious. And this is how we are to view and magnify Him. There is no one like God. There is no one who compares or competes; He has no equal. There is only one true God who rules sovereign and solo. He declares the end from the beginning because all things come together at His word. His purposes will stand and never be setback or stopped. God cannot be overwhelmed or overthrown. He is God and there never has been or will be another.

So, when Isaiah communicates about God he reminds us that God is distinctly different from us.

  • He is infinite and everlasting (Isa 40:28) while we are finite (limited by time).
  • He is immutable while we are in constant change.
  • He is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere) while we have limits of strength (we need sleep, refueling with food, exercise), limits of knowledge (require learning, study, technology), and are confined to one location (Isa 40:29-30).

Since God is God – His ways are unstained by imperfection. His words are unfailing; His “counsel shall stand and accomplish all His purposes” (Isa 46:10).

It is important to understand that God himself is not a risk-taker because He foresees the future. Risk implies uncertainty but with God there is certainty. He “declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isa 46:10; also 42:9).

Therefore, God is not a risk-taker but we are free to take risks for His kingdom, trusting His purposes and power revealed to us. God’s certainty of the future gives us confidence to risk in the present.

à If you do not believe this then my prayer for you is light; light to shine in darkness and darkness to vanquish.

à If you do believe this then my prayer for you is heat; heat to fuel information into transformation.

Believing that God is greater than ALL and that His purposes cannot fail means that you and I are to live with more confidence, courage and risk-taking.

Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me. Go make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19).

If we believe this then we would not be pew sitters but players in the game of faith, where faith is lived out in action (cf. Ephesians 2:10; James 2:22).

 

Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Anglican church in Baghdad, and his organization, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, are currently working to help displaced Iraqis survive in the midst of the ISIS’ vicious assault on the region.[2] The Rev. Canon White is the Vicar of St. George’s Church, just outside the Green Zone, in Baghdad, Iraq. This congregation is the only remaining Anglican church in the country. Rev. White has “worked on over 390 different hostage cases,” soberly noting that “I’ve only got back 46 alive.” However, he added, “The situation now is completely different. There would be no chance of even beginning to negotiate with this group. They are not prepared to talk to anybody.” As a result, he said he believes the international community’s options are “very, very, very limited.”[3] In the past ten years, some 1,200 of his church members have been killed. When he travels on pastoral visits, he is accompanied by a couple truckloads of armed guards. Just in case. White tells how many times people caution him while he’s in Iraq. They say “Take care.” It annoys him; taking care is the last thing he wants to do. So he thunders to all 2,600 of our students, “Don’t take care . . .” and they chime in: “Take risks.”[4]

 

Risk is right because God is unsparing (Isaiah 55:8-13).

Isaiah declares God’s greatness by comparing God’s thoughts and ways as vastly different; “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways/thoughts higher than your ways/thoughts” (55:9).

{If you look up to see an airplane you kind think it’s not that far up in the sky. However, when looking down from an airplane your realize it’s much farther down than you ever realized.}

In the very next thought, the Lord says the rain and snow comes down from heaven. Do you understand the point?

As far and different God is from us, He still condescends. The rain and snow fall upon the earth as a gift and grace of God.

We also know that more than rain and snow fall, so has the Son of God come to earth – “the Word became flesh and dwelt [lived, took up residence] among us” (John 1:14).

 

Isaiah notes this grace elsewhere,

40:26-31 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

Jesus notes similarly

Matthew 6:26-33 26  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

Notice the purpose of the rain and snow (Isa 55:10)

  • waters the earth
  • makes it bring forth and sprout (grows living things)
  • gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater (nourishes life)

 

God’s word is life-breathing, life-offering, life-giving, life-changing. God’s word “shall not return empty, but shall accomplish all God’s purposes and shall succeed in the things for which He intends” (Isa 55:11).

  • it changes thorns into cypress
  • it changes briers into myrtles
  • it shall not die but be an everlasting sign to the Lord’s name (Isa 55:13)

 

God is in control of flowers in the field, sparrows in the sky, stars in the universe and even more, He cares for you. Jesus covers your sin with His shed blood. God has saved you and filled you with His Spirit. God has spoken through the apostles to give us His written word. And His commands are simple yet straightforward.

 

God is unsparing –

 

APPLY/THINK

Since God is unfailing and unsparing…

 

What holds you back from a daring, faith risk for God?

 

In other questions:

  • What is something you would do if you believed you wouldn’t fail or you wouldn’t lack for resources?
    • Try it!
  • What is something that you could not accomplish and finish on your own without a large group of people and ultimately the hand of God?
  • What or how much would you give financially if you knew your family would still have provision?

 

Too often we go for the easy. God seldom/never asks for easy.

  • Abraham & Isaac
  • Moses before Pharaoh
  • Gideon giving up large army to still fight in battle
  • David “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2Sam 24:24)

 

 

[1] Strom quotes: Dale Carnegie & Associates, The Leader in You (1993), quoted by Tony Campolo in sermon “If I Had to Live It Over Again”

 

[2] http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/52409/20140903/isis-persecution-of-christians-worst-since-the-holocaust-warns-vicar-of-baghdad-canon-andrew-white.htm#sthash.xY3Pm5rR.dpuf

[3] http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/lauretta-brown/anglican-vicar-baghdad-iraq-just-too-dangerous-western-journalists

[4] http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/may-web-only/do-evangelicals-have-room-for-prophets.html

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