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Risk

Hebrews 11:23-31

  

“By faith Moses, after he was born, was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. [24] By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter [25] and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin. [26] For he considered reproach for the sake of the Messiah to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since his attention was on the reward. [27] By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for he persevered, as one who sees Him who is invisible. [28] By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. [29] By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned. [30] By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled for seven days. [31] By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.” (HCSB)

 Whenever I’m walking down a hallway, I can’t resist stopping and reading the motivational posters hanging on the wall.  I saw a couple of parody posters this past week that I got a kick out of.  The first one says, “Idiocy:  Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”  The second one says, “Meetings:  None of us is as dumb as all of us.”

 Parodies aside, I saw a quote this last week that should be on one of those posters if it isn’t already, it says,  “Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.”
 Today we are talking about “risking more than others think is safe.”

 In the previous passage, we learned that one component of faith is the ability to follow God even when it is counter intuitive.  Abraham was willing to go to the land that God would show him without a roadmap or an explanation.  Some would call it blind faith, I’d call it seeing faith—the kind of faith that can see without sensorial stimuli.  In our study together, we discussed that Abraham wasn’t simply following his intuition and ignoring the sensorial information, he was trusting God.  His faith was the evidence of unseen things.

 The section of scripture we are studying today focuses on another great hero of the faith—Moses, but Moses isn’t the only person mentioned.  Faithful people are not Lone Rangers; God surrounds them with other faithful people who make them successful.  The writer of Hebrews begins this section by mentioning a righteous woman—his mother, and ends it by mentioning one with an unrighteous lifestyle—Rahab the prostitute.  In between, it chronicles some of Moses’ greatest accomplishments:  leading the exodus, instituting the Passover, and crossing the Red Sea on dry land.  It also mentions the work of his protégé, the conquest of Jericho.

 I’ve mentioned the importance of teamwork here, but I also want you to see that Moses’ work continued long after he was gone.  Actually, he never realized the fullness of his work, that didn’t happen until he passed the mantel of leadership over to Joshua, who would lead the conquest into the Promised Land.  God used these people to deliver His people from captivity, one thing they all had in common with one another was their willingness to set aside their own agendas to be a part of a great cause.

 Another thing they have in common, particularly Moses and Rahab, is their imperfections.  Moses had a severe anger problem.  His anger wasn’t a thunderstorm; it was a category 5 hurricane smashing everyone that got in its way.  He didn’t just pop a cork, or go into a cussing streak; he killed. Now I don’t want you to think by my description that the murder was simply an act of passion, it was a willful act of an angry man who decided to kill then tried to cover up his crime. Exodus 2:11-12  says “Years later, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his own people and observed their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. [12] Looking all around and seeing no one, he struck the Egyptian dead and hid him in the sand.”  (HCSB)

 Moses was a murder and Rahab was a prostitute.  Enough said about her.  What about these sinful people qualifies them as men and women of faith?  At crucial times in their lives, they exercised their faith in God; specifically they risked everything to follow Him.

 The passage begins with a mother who defied Pharaoh and devised a plan where her son would live in Pharaoh’s palace.  OK, nothing is as precious as small child.  This passage of scripture talks about how beautiful Moses was.  Since I don’t have a picture of Moses as a baby to show you how beautiful he was, I thought I’d go ahead and show you what a beautiful baby looks like.  Just in case you haven’t figured out who that little girl is I’m holding, that’s my granddaughter Zoe.  Last week, I helped her family move to Texas and had the great joy of holding her in my arms while worshipping the Lord at a Baptist Church in Uvalde, TX last Sunday.

 By faith, Moses’ mother protected her child and taught him to be a man of faith.  Moses, acting under God’s orders, risked everything to defy Pharaoh and lead his people out of captivity.  By faith, with Pharaoh’s army pursuing him, he led the people to the edge of the Red Sea, lifted his staff and parted the water, allowing God’s people to walk across on dry land.

 By faith, Joshua led the people to walk around Jericho seven times and with a shout and the sounding of the trumpet, the fortress walls crumbled to the ground.  Joshua risked the welfare of the people to follow God’s instructions. Rahab risked the wrath of her own people to shelter spies from Israel. 

 These were faithful people because they were willing to risk.  Don’t confuse risking with gambling.  Gambling is foolishly placing your hope in lady luck.  Risking, at least in this context, is righteously placing your faith in Father God. 

 On Sunday Morning, June 25, 1865, thirty-three year-old James Hudson Taylor came to the great crisis of his life.  At Brighton beach on the south coast of England, he took a step of faith in response to a simple spiritual principle that had long eluded him. "If we are obeying the Lord, the responsibility rests with him, not with us!" Months of struggle were over, and the way ahead was clear. To obey the Scriptures and trust God to be faithful to his pledged Word was not rash. Throwing caution and tradition to the winds, Hudson Taylor formed the China Inland Mission. (Arthur F. Glasser Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

 By faith, he risked and the gospel went forward.

 It happened in the 19th century and it is still happening today.  Every Tuesday evening a crowd gathers at a home in a well-worn suburban neighborhood south of Chicago. Among those attending the meetings are drug users and problem gamblers. These meetings have a different purpose- evangelizing the lost and building the faith of new Christians. More than 20 people from age 9 to 63 gather every week on foot or in vehicles that fill the cramped street, to praise God, and learn about His love.

 The meetings are led by Nathan & Angela Thomas, who are the youth/children’s pastors at a new church plant in this neighborhood. Nathan and Angela left a secure position at church in Nebraska to join Nathan’s parents in starting this new outreach. When asked why he chose to give up a secure position to risk reaching out to this blue-collar Chicago neighborhood, Nathan says, “We had no money. But the scariest thing to me isn’t lack of money—it’s being out of the will of God.” http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html

 They risked everything to follow God.

 In his book Morph, Ron Martoia defines risk resilience as “the ability to look at risk and, without aversion to the pain of change, be able to say, ‘If this furthers the mission of the kingdom, then whatever it takes, we will do it.’” (Morph, p. 161)

 Do you have the kind of faith that risks?  I’m not asking if you are willing to gamble—what I’m talking about doesn’t require Lady Luck to shine on you, it simply requires that you trust in God and risk everything to follow Him.

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