In this series, inspired by a Craig Groeschel book, Pastor G challenges all of us to make four decisions.
- A Decision to START something.
- A Decision to STOP something.
- A Decision to STAY somewhere when GOING would be easier but not best.
- A decision to GO somewhere when STAYING would be easier but not best.
This is week four: It’s Time To GO
Tonight, we’re wrapping up a four-week message series called “TALKSTORY” If you missed previous weeks, let me briefly bring you up to speed. We’re all embracing the reality that we are creating our life stories, that one day we’re going to tell stories about our lives. We have made decisions to START a new discipline. We’ve made decisions to STOP some bad habits. We’ve made decisions to STAY in a situation even though it would be far easier to go, just because we are being faithful and obedient to God’s call to stay. And the good news is that many of you, a few years from now, you’re going to tell a story about this chapter of your life, and you’re going to have a story that you’re really proud to tell. You’ll say, “Hey, I made some new friends, I took a step of faith, I started a new discipline that helped change the direction of my life. I broke an addiction. I stopped a destructive habit. I was able to get over A hurt and heal a relationship. I started a ministry. I stayed in a difficult situation and grew my character in the process.” You will look back several chapters from now to this chapter of your life and you’ll have a story to tell.
Unfortunately — and we all know this is true — that for some of us, several years from now, we’ll look back to this chapter of our life, and we won’t be so proud of it. We may have made some decisions that we regret or missed out on opportunities we didn’t take, and there may be a chapter of our life where we really don’t want to tell that story. We hope no one ever retells that story. The choice of which kind of story will be your story is really up to you.
In fact, two principles we’ve revisited each week are these: #1) The decisions that you make today determine the stories that you tell tomorrow. #2) Direction, not intention, determines destination. In other words, we really want to be very specific about the decisions we make, the directions we take our life in because those decisions and directions will actually dictate, in many ways, what our life looks like five or ten years down the road. Last week we talked a lot about sometimes the best decision you can make is to stay when it would be easier to go. This week, we’re looking at that flip side. Sometimes it would be easier to stay put in your comfort zone but God might call you to Go instead. That might be happening to you right now, but sooner or later, for all of us, there will be a situation, where God calls us to step out of a comfortable situation and Go even though it would be far easier to stay.
The day will come when you realize, “Man, I’m supposed to take a new step of faith. I’m supposed to venture out, get out of this comfort zone, this safe nest. There’s something new, there’s something different, there’s something that I didn’t expect happening. I have an opportunity. I have a challenge. And somehow, I just know that God is telling me there’s something more that I’m supposed to do with my life. When you get to that place, the best decision you can make is to go when it would be easier to stay. That’s the story of the first disciples. They were fishing in the Sea of Galilee, doing the same thing they had been doing for years and years. They were firmly entrenched in their comfort zones, snuggled warm and safe in the nest.
Then Jesus came and shook all of that up with an invitation to follow Him, to GO when it would have been far easier to STAY. The Scripture says, AT ONCE they dropped their nets and followed Him. Sometimes, the best decision you can make is to follow the hunch, to take the step of faith, to go when it would be easier to play it safe and live in your comfort. Remember, in this series, we’re asking the big question: “How do we live a story worth telling?” How do we live the story that God wants us to tell? And we believe the answer is found in Hebrews Chapter 12, Verse 2. Let’s read it together one more time. Can I get all of you to help me out? The bible says,
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith. ~ Hebrews 12:2
If you’re going to go, you’re going to have to leave where you are. That is almost always a scary thing and that’s going to take faith. That’s why you need Jesus, the one who perfects your faith. If you want to write the Best Selling Story of your life in a way that pleases God, then guess who you want helping you author your story? You want Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of your faith who will help you live the story God wants you to tell. There is an Old Testament Story I want to use tonight that illustrates this idea of Going when it would be much easier to stay, is the story about Abram and Sarai, who later became renamed by God as Abraham and Sarah. And if you know their back story, you know that Abram was an ancient Iraqi, before it was called Iraq, and he, along with his father, was worshiping a false god, a moon god named Nannar. When people who worshipped Nannar wanted to taunt people they would chant “Nannar, Nannar Boo Boo.” I made that last part up. Just making sure you are paying attention.
So, there Abram was in Ur of Chaldees, worshiping a false god, and the one true God comes to him and gives him a very simple and very direct command in Genesis 12:1.
The Lord said to Abram “Abram, leave your country, your people and your father’s household. Leave your country and go to the land I will show you.” ~ Genesis 12:1
Leave where you are and go where I am telling you to go. Leave and go. I want you to leave… and go! How many of you know, that “To GO somewhere else, you have to LEAVE where you are?” I know some of you want to call me Captain Obvious right now. To go somewhere else, you have to leave where you are. You have to leave what is known, what is comfortable, what is predictable and what is easy. I like to say it this way, “To step TOWARD your DESTINY, you might have to step AWAY from your SECURITY.” Sometimes, to step toward what God is calling you to do, to step toward your destiny, you have to step away from your security. Anyone agree with that? If you do let me hear an AMEN! Think about Abram, God told him to go to this place he’d never been. Leave everything he knew and go start over from scratch. I know what that calling is like. God’s done that to me and Annette at least six times so far in our married life and I’m sure that call will come again one day.
When God calls you to leave and go from your comfortable nest it is easy to raise all kinds of objections, all based on fear and all based on a lack of trust, a lack of faith in God. We are tempted to say, whoah God. Hold on a second. I grew up here, I’ve got all my friends here, I like it here. My house is almost paid for here. You know, I like the schools here and I want the best schools for my kids.
I’ve got my best friend here; we’ve been friends since we were 12 — you know, I get my haircut down the street. I know where to get my oil changed and I trust the guy.” I could relate to those sentiments each time God called me to leave and go. And there were all these things that were comfortable to Abram too and yet God called him to go to a place he knew nothing of to do a totally new thing. And God simply makes this promise to Abram in verse 2 and 3.
He says, “Here’s my promise to you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing, and I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you, I will curse. And all the people on the earth will be blessed through you. – Genesis 12:2-3
And Abram and his wife Sarai, probably thought, “Huh? There are going to be nations that come from us? God, don’t you realize, we have got zero kids? None. Abram would think, I’m 75 and we’ve been trying to have kids for years. But Sarai and I haven’t had any results, none. We’re childless. We can’t have kids, and you’re telling me there are going to be whole nations that will come out of us?” That was probably hard for them to believe but God was making them this promise. This was a promise from God! Now, here’s something really important about promises: I don’t know if you have ever made a promise to God. In my teens and twenties especially I did it all the time. God, if you just help me pass this test, I promise I’ll study next time. God, if you’ll just help me not be arrested, I’ll never do this again. God if you just keep me from dying from alcohol poisoning, I will never get drunk again. You know, all through the years, how many of you have ever made a promise like that? How many will admit to something like that?
Raise your hands or maybe just type ME if you are watching online. The rest of you who didn’t raise your hands, or type ME at home. I just want to remind you where liars go. Don’t be a liar. Here’s the thing though, We are not changed by the promises we make to God. We’re changed by believing the promises God makes to us. We are not changed by the promises we make to God. We’re changed by believing the promises God makes to us. Amen? And so God makes this promise to Abram. And so, what does Abram do? Look at verse
4 So, Abram left as the Lord told him. ~ Genesis 12:4
I want you to just stop for a moment and think about this. What would have happened if Abram didn’t go? What if he had rationalized it out and said, “Well, it’s much easier to stay put and I don’t really know where I’m going, and that idea doesn’t seem safe. It fact, it seems downright scary. And we tried to have kids; and we’re obviously not going to have kids; so this whole idea is risky, in fact it is stupid. Okay? So, forget it. I am staying put. Find someone else God. We need to be very glad that’s NOT what Abram did.
Today, a lot of people refer to God as the God of whom? Do you know? They refer to him as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all trace our faiths back to Father Abraham, still known as Abram at this part of his story. Over 53% of the world’s population identifies as either Christian, Muslim or Jew, all three Abrahamic faiths. What if Abram had said no?
If Abram didn’t go, there wouldn’t be an Isaac. There wouldn’t be a Jacob. And our God would not be known as the God of Abraham because Abraham would have stayed back worshiping the moon god Nannar Nannar Boo Boo instead of worshiping the creator of everything, the one, true God! Right? I’m telling you, there are untold consequences that would be different if Abram didn’t have the faith to obey God, to leave what he knew and to go where he didn’t know. Staying would have been much easier but Abram chose to GO. Tonight, God sent me here to tell somebody, “There’s going to come a chapter in your life when you sense there’s something new, something different God is calling you to go to.
To go to where you believe you’re supposed to go, you’re going to have to leave where you are and, if you don’t have the faith to do it, but instead by fear, you don’t leave, then you have no idea the blessings you’ll miss out on if you don’t obey. You have no idea the blessings of other people that you will prevent from happening as well if you don’t go. You have no ideas what you might miss out on if you don’t obey. Sometimes, the best decision you can make is to go when it would be easier to stay. So, let’s do this. Let’s take a step back and I want to ask the big question that I’ve been asking every single week of this series. If you’ve been here, you know what I’m going to ask. And the question is, “What does God want you to want?” If He’s goes to be the author of your story, what needs to change about the direction of your story? What does God want you to want?
And I promise you, every single one of you, if you just take a step back from your life, and if you look at it from a broader picture, you know there’s something thatshould be different for your story to be what God would want it to be. What does God want to you want? For some of you, he might want you to want more time with your family because you keep saying, “One day I will spend more time with them but right now I have too much work to do.” Or he may want you to invest in your family’s lives spiritually, to actually help them to grow spiritually. Or it might be you. Maybe you’re the one that needs to grow spiritually or it might be something as simple as God wants to you want some financial freedom because you’re so wrapped up in debt and bondage and it consumes you; you can’t really help anybody the way you know you should because it’s all about your stuff and your debt and sending all your money to pay off interest. You are a slave to the lender.
And yet, God wants to you want something different. He wants you to leave that situation and go do something different, something better. It could be that God wants you to start a business or start a ministry or be involved in changing someone else’s life for the better or whatever. You know that. And now, I want to bring it to the application question. The first question, “What does God want to you want?” Now, based on what God wants you to want, what step of faith do you need to take right now? Where do you need to go? It would for sure be easier to stay, to just stay put, to just maintain the status quo, but based on the story that God wants you to tell, what step of faith do you need to take so that your story will be what God wants it to be?
So, what about it? What about you? Based on what God wants you to want, what step of faith do you need to take? Where do you need to go? And just to be really really clear, what I’m not telling you is to leave your marriage. Don’t you dare go home and say, “Well, it would be easier to stay with you but, you know, Pastor Greg said to go and so Adios.” No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Am I being clear? Remember last week. ”Week 3″, unless there is abuse, stay in your marriage. I’m also not telling you to instantly decide to leave your job like, “Well, I know there’s something else out there somewhere even though I don’t know what it is so tomorrow morning I am walking into my boss’s office and saying “God wants me to go, not stay, so I quit! See ya suckah!” No, that’s not wise. That’s foolish. Don’t be foolish. God still wants you to have a plan. Wait for God to give you the plan.
Based on what God wants you to want, what step of faith do you need to take?
Some of you, you’re going to take the faith step and start an Aloha Group or join an aloha group. You don’t know who else is going to come, you don’t know what’s going to happen. But one day, your story is going to be different. And you’re going to say, “I wasn’t sure but I decided to, and now I’ve got this great community of believers as my best friends. They are like family. I had no idea how different and how much better our lives would be.” What if all of that happens all because you decided to go when it would have been easier to stay. Some of you, it will be a ministry you’re going to start or start getting involved in and a few months later, you’re like, “I had no idea that serving these kids or serving these youth would change my life so much or that I would be able to have such a positive impact on them.”
Some of you, there’s a job you’ve always wondered “Could I get it? Could I do it? But you’re afraid you might not. And you’re going to take the faith step and go interview for the job, and you might not get it, but you’ll never know if you don’t try, if you don’t go. You have to step out to find out. Some of you, there’s a business you may start and years from now your story may be we started with nothing and we didn’t know. And look what’s happened after we followed God and took the faith step. I could go on and on and on with examples but you get it.
Now, why is it that so many of us DON’T go when we think we’re supposed to? Why is it that as a Christian, I may have a spiritual, internal something that’s leading me and I don’t do it. Well, I can’t speak for you. But for me, it’s fear. It’s just fear, pure and simple. I’m afraid, I’m insecure, I’m not sure how it’s going to work out. I tell myself I can always do it later. The bottom line is I don’t have faith. I don’t have enough confidence in myself. I don’t have enough confidence in God. God calls me to go but I stay rooted to the ground. I don’t even try. I don’t have enough faith. That’s what keeps me stuck in the nest, unwilling to learn how to fly. And here’s what I hope you’ll understand.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6
How did Abram leave where he was and go where God called him to go? How did he do it? Hebrews 11:8 tells us how.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. ~ Hebrews 11:8
Abram, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going. How did he do it? He did it by faith. How will you do it? When God calls you to go but you don’t know where you’re going, how will you go? You’ll go by faith. How will you start what God calls you to start? You will do it by faith because without faith, it is impossible to please God. But you may say, “But I don’t have the faith to finish the journey”; that’s the great news. You don’t have to have enough faith right now to finish, you just have to have enough faith to start. You just have to have enough faith to take the first step. Then, each day, all you have to have is enough faith to take one more step. That’s it. Not enough faith for the whole journey all at one time! Just enough faith to take one more step.
I promise you, 27 years ago, when I started in full-time ministry, I didn’t have the faith for all this. You just take the first step of faith and you let God do the rest. You don’t have to have faith to finish; you just have to have faith to take the first step, and each day after, take another step, and another step. So, I don’t know what you’re going to have the faith to do. But one day, you’re going to tell a story and your story one day will either be, “there’s a chapter in my life where I sensed God was calling me to do something, and by faith I went when it would have been easier to stay.” Or your story will be “By fear, I did nothing.” You will have one of those two stories: a story of fear or a story of faith. By faith, I pray that you’ll have the courage to decide to start a discipline that will change the direction of your story. By faith, I pray that you will have the faith to stop something that would hinder your story from being what God wants it to be.
By faith, I pray that you have the courage to stay the course and be faithful to where you’ve been planted when it’s easier to throw in the towel and walk away.
And when the time is right and God calls you, I pray you will have the faith to go and take the step of faith when it would be easier to stay. Because the decisions you make today, determine the stories you tell tomorrow. And we want to live a life worth telling the story for the glory of God so we’ll fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and the perfecter of our faith. Let me leave you with these final two big questions.
Where is God calling you to GO right now?
Will you GO?
~~~~~ LET’S PRAY ~~~~~