Weekly message from Cypress Church: The Hero Initiative – it’s risky

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

In JRR Tolkien’s work The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is thrust on an adventure with a group of dwarfs and the wizard Gandalf. Tolkien, writing from a Christian worldview, captures well the reluctance of humanity to take on the risky adventure God has for each of us, even though the Bible is clear about God’s plans:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Yes, God has plans for each of us. It is the adventure of living life God’s way and following Him in being kind to others (Ephesians 4:32), bringing peace (Matthew 5:9), helping the needy (Hebrews 13:16), being kind to strangers (Hebrews 13:2), helping the poor (Proverbs 19:17) and more. As well, to do our best at what we do for our work or occupation, honoring God as we bless our company or business. Unfortunately, we either get too wrapped up with what we don’t have or respond much like Bilbo who says, “We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” Yet again, the Bible challenges us:

2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

We were made for God’s adventure, we have been given a hero’s initiative, and yes, it’s risky.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

There are many biblical examples of people taking risks, but I would like to highlight one woman we hear little about. Her name is Joanna. She was healed by Jesus (Luke 8:2). Her husband, Chuza, was Herod’s household manager (Luke 8:3). That made it risky to be involved or to be seen around Jesus. Yet as Luke 8:3 says, she helped fund Jesus’ ministry! Remember Herod had John the Baptist beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12) and let his soldiers mock Jesus during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion (Luke 23:11), so any interaction with Jesus would have been risky. She bravely learned from Jesus, sought to help others alongside Jesus, and lived life Jesus’ way.

One of the blessings for Joanna’s risky life was she was one of the first to see the resurrected Jesus (Luke 23:55-24:12). Now, not all our risk taking gets immediate rewards, but the promise is clear:

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

If you know the story of Bilbo, he signs the risk-filled contract and heads out, not knowing his fate, but desiring whatever great adventure lays before him. What about you? Yes, following Jesus’ way of life is risky and the hero’s adventure he calls us to, but oh, the joy of stepping out trusting in God. It’s a risk worth taking. What is that risky adventure Jesus is inviting you on?

Church can be great place grow, learn, and be challenged on this hero initiative. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. We are just starting a new Bible teaching series called The Hero Initiative. The series has a daily devotional available and you can even be part of a small group study through this series. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services on line (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/). We would love for you to join us.