Have you ever played Risk?
Risk is a board game about global domination. It’s about raising an army and taking over the world. It’s one of my all-time favorite board games. In high school, my friends and I used to play it every weekend. Recently they made an app, so I’ve been playing it there too.
Why is the game called Risk? Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about stepping out into uncertainty to try and accomplish a goal. It’s not a total uncertainty, though. When you attack in the game, it’s because, based on what you have, you think you can win. It’s because you decide there is a good outcome on the other side that’s worth pursuing. If you play Risk passively, you will lose.
Have you ever taken a big risk in life? What was it?
-Trying out for a sport
-Talking to a girl or guy
-Maybe auditioning for a role in a play or band
Why do we take these risks? Because we believe that despite the fear, what’s on the other side is worth fighting for. Remaining passive and letting opportunity pass us by is no longer an option.
This past week I finished a college course on the book of Acts. I had to write multiple essays about how the Holy Spirit functions in the book of acts and what the results were. This past week we also had awesome Holy Spirit-centered services with Pastor Greg Hubbard, which were really challenging. Throughout all this, this thought came to me and really challenged me. Here is the main idea for today:
Real faith takes risks.
What do I mean by that? Well, what is faith?
Hebrews 11:6 tells us And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Hebrews 11:1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
Faith is simply deciding that what God says is true. But it’s more than just saying we believe something. It’s more than just having a thought in our head. Real faith will change the way we live. When you really believe something, you make decisions based on it.
You sat in that chair because you believed it would hold you up. You probably didn’t even think about it. But when we believe something that strongly, even subconsciously, it affects our choices.
Real faith takes risks.
This is basically what James says.
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Seeing the Spirit Show Up
Real faith produces life change. Real faith affects our decisions. Real faith does work. Real faith takes risks.
This past week we talked a lot about the Holy Spirit. How we want to see, the Holy Spirit move in our lives. We want to see miracles. We want God’s power in our lives.
People often ask why we don’t see miracles more. Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit seem to move more?
Because if we have faith and believe what the Bible says, especially in the book of Acts, we should expect the Spirit to show up in our lives.
The Holy Spirit is the main character of the book of acts. He is the only character that remains from page one to the end of the book. He is the one who directs the apostles; He is the one that does the work.
- Seven times we see the Holy Spirit fill people in Acts.
- We see several other miracles. As well as:
- About 20 accounts of people being healed by the Holy Spirit in Acts.
What did the apostles do? Well, they had faith- and they took risks.
When the Apostles had faith and stepped out, the Holy Spirit showed up. If we aren’t seeing the Spirit show up in our lives, the question is, are we stepping out?
We talk a lot about baptism in the Spirit. How the Holy Spirit wants to fill us and give us power. And that’s so important; we cannot truly serve God without it.
But sometimes I think we get caught up seeking the feeling the Spirit brings, or seeking the power He gives, or even the baptism as a means unto itself.
God doesn’t give people baptism to feel good or see cool things. In fact, God doesn’t even give the Spirit so we can be closer to Him. That’s a side effect and a benefit, but if we go to the Bible, why does it say God gives the Spirit?
What did Jesus say?
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus said the baptism in the Spirit is so we can tell others about Jesus. So if you feel like the Spirit isn’t moving in your life, let me ask: When was the last time you told someone about Jesus?
That’s what the baptism is for. God promises us power- boldness, wisdom, miracles, and confidence- but that power isn’t so you and I can play church or feel like super Christians. That power is so we can tell others about Jesus.
That’s why this idea hit me so hard: Real faith takes risks.
I felt convinced- if I really have faith, what risks am I taking? In what ways am I stepping out to share Jesus? Because if I want to see the Spirit at work- that’s where He is. That’s what He is doing.
Real faith takes risks.
What Risks are You Taking?
What risks are you taking? When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone- or went out of your way to share Jesus? If we really have faith- that’s what we will be doing.
I had an opportunity to live this out Friday night. It was late, like 930 or so, after the service on Friday. Crossover had already eaten all the pizza; almost everyone was gone. It was just me, Aj, Aireles, and Autumn at church. It was pouring down rain. It was dark. It was cold. We were locking up and turning off the lights when suddenly, someone jumped and said: “there is someone at the door.” We looked, and there, standing at the door to the church, barely lit, was a dude.
He was a homeless guy I actually recognized and had spent hours speaking to before, but I hadn’t seen him in years. He came to the church cause of the pouring rain and wanted to sit under our awning. He didn’t expect anyone to be there (cause he told me he checked on Google and saw we were closed). Thank God for google, right?
And obviously, we didn’t expect to see a figure at the door either. We talked to him for a bit, and Aj even went and got him a coffee. It’s like after ten now, and I’m tired. But I can’t help but think that God wants me to use this opportunity to share my faith with this guy.So we head over to Sheetz, and I sit there for like two hours talking, even though I am exhausted and just want to go home.
And I can’t stand here and say anything amazing happened physically; there wasn’t a miracle, and he didn’t give his life to Christ. But the whole time, I was aware of the Spirit operating. That’s what the Spirit wants; that’s what the Spirit is doing. If we want to experience the Spirit, we must do the same.
Real faith takes risks.
When was the last time you stepped out in faith and took a risk?
- Asked a friend to come to church?
- Maybe just asked if you could pray with someone?
- Went out of your way to help someone?
- Went out of your way to care for someone?
- Shared what God is doing in your life with someone who doesn’t believe?
It can be scary; it can be intimidating. But that’s why God said He will give us the Holy Spirit. Look back to Acts 1:18- Jesus said we will receive power. That’s a power and a boldness that isn’t coming from us.
In the natural, we may be shy- but when the Spirit fills us, we are bold.
In the natural, we may not know what to say- but Luke 12 tells us that if we step out, the Spirit will give us the right words.
- Side note- sometimes I think we think sharing our faith means we have a great speech and a great one-liner that totally defeats their arguments. That may be how it works in movies like God’s not dead, but I find more often that sharing my faith means being willing to listen and cry and hurt with people. It means even while Im nervous and not knowing what to say that; I simply share who Jesus is and what he has done for me.
- I’ve had times when I felt like I had the perfect answer and the best speech ever, and it had 0 effects. And I’ve had times where I stumbled through my answer and felt like it was terrible- and God uses it to change someone’s life.
Stepping out in faith isn’t having faith in my ability. It’s having faith that God will take whatever I do, and His Spirit will do the rest.
He isn’t expecting you to do it alone, have the perfect speech, or always get it right. But He calls each of us to have faith and take a risk.
What Risk does God want you to take?
He promised power for it. But as we close tonight and the worship team comes, I want each of us to spend time praying and asking God what Risk do you want me to take.
- Who am I supposed to share with
- Who am I supposed to spend time with
We are just called to be faithful. It’s the Spirit’s job to do the rest.
And although it can be scary, I have found there is nothing better in life than doing the will of God. There is nothing more exciting, fulfilling, and exhilarating than knowing that you are being used by the Spirit to do the one thing He wants more than anything- to tell others the good news that Jesus died so they can be right with God.
When I stand before God- I want to hear God say- well done, my good and faithful servant. I want to leave it all on the field. I don’t want to hold anything back. I’m sick of doing that. Playing church is boring. Living my way and giving God an hour on Wednesday is boring. I want to experience all that God has for me, and I can’t do that by living passively while people die and go to hell.
Jolene has been stepping out and taking Risks. God gave her a vision to start a high school Bible club to tell others about Jesus. It hasn’t been easy, and we haven’t seen it come to fruition yet. But I know when she stands before God, He won’t say, “Jolene, why didn’t you take a risk? Why didn’t you trust my Spirit?” No, regardless of the outcome, Jolene was obedient and stepped out. She will hear, “well done my faithful servant.”
That’s what God is asking tonight. Will you step out?
Will you step out?
God thinks too much of you for you to feel discouraged and afraid. If He didn’t think you were capable, Jesus would have said, “now the super Christians and pastors will get the Spirit. Everyone else will kinda just be spectators”. No. The claim of Acts 2 is that this power, this adventure, is for all of us. All of us who have faith and take risks.
If you want to live the most exciting life possible and see miracles and the Spirit moving in your life- if you’re going to experience real faith- then you need to take risks.
So as we spend time in worship, I want that to be our prayer. Up here on the altar is a bucket and some index cards. Here is what I would like us to do. As we worship and pray, ask God what Risk He wants you to take.
If it’s something you aren’t afraid to do or can do with your own power, then it isn’t a risk. By the Holy Spirit’s power, what is God calling you to do?
Write it down on two index cards. Keep one for yourself as a sign of commitment and to remember this moment when God called you. So, you can look back and see how faithful God has been.
Write it on a second one and drop it in the bucket so we can all pray together for the Spirit to empower you. You can choose to leave it anonymous or put your name on it. Let’s pray.