“And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:25-30)
In order for the Great Commission to be fulfilled, we have to be willing to get out of our comfort zones and take risks. When we do that, our intimacy with Jesus will increase, which leads to greater victory! I believe we need to get out of the boat:
➢ The boat called casual.
➢ The boat called cautious.
➢ The boat called compliant.
Casual, cautious, and compliant people don’t change the world. How can we be casual when confronted with the reality of eternal life versus eternal punishment? How can we be cautious in taking the Good News of the love of Jesus to those who haven’t heard? How can we remain compliant to a culture defined by the “American Dream” when the “dream of God” (Rev. 7:9) is so different? We need to be willing to get out of the boat, to take risks, to go to the hard places where the Name of Jesus is not known.
I want to encourage us today to step out of our comfort zone and into a place of dependence on the Lord. This could be in regard to our: prayer life (praying prayers that are big and bold); finances (living generously, especially when money is tight); and witnessing (sharing Jesus with a family member or neighbor who we think is far away from God). I challenge us to put ourselves in a place where if God doesn’t show up, we are in big trouble. That idea comes from the book by Loren Cunningham entitled, “Daring to Live on the Edge”. It describes quite accurately the life of faith that we’re called to live.
Here are some examples from Scripture of people doing exactly that:
1 Kings 18:25-27, 37-39: “So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.’ Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, ‘O Baal, answer us.’ But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.’
“‘Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.’ Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.'”
Had God not shown up, Elijah would have been in serious trouble. I’m sure that Elijah’s relationship with the Lord was more intimate after this experience than it had been before.
Another example from Scripture is David and Goliath. 1 Samuel 17:48-49 says, “Then it happened when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.”
Had the stone not struck Goliath in the forehead, David was a dead man. I’m sure that David’s relationship with the Lord was more intimate after this experience than it had been before.
Consider the life of the Apostle Paul. He was constantly living on the edge. 2 Corinthians 11: 25-26 says, “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren…”
Being in places of potential loss, of danger or risk, resulted in Paul calling out to the Lord for help. I’m sure that Paul’s relationship with the Lord was more intimate after these experiences than it had been before.
In 2005, I and a couple other guys felt like the Lord was leading us to visit Iraq. The Iraqi embassy in Washington D.C. told me that they were not giving visas out because of the war. But we felt like the Lord was clearly leading us to go, so we stepped out in faith and bought airline tickets to Istanbul, Turkey. The next day we flew to Silopy, Turkey, which is near the border with Iraq. As we entered the terminal building in Silopy, a taxi driver approached me and asked, “Do you want to go to Iraq?” I turned to Jimmie, who was behind me and said, “Did you hear what he just said?” Turning back to the driver, I said, “Yes.” He said, “No problem.”
We jumped in his taxi and headed for the border. Just a few miles from there, he stopped the car and said, “Give me your passports.” We did, and he ran across the street. A few minutes passed, and he returned with a piece of paper in each passport. From there it was on to the border. Getting stamped out of Turkey wasn’t the exciting part, but walking across the bridge to the Iraqi side was another story. We entered Iraq, and they pulled Jimmie into the immigration office. When asked why we wanted to enter Iraq, Jimmie replied, “We’re tourists.” They expressed surprise and said that there were no tourists entering Iraq because of the war. But after only a few minutes, they came out of the office laughing and exclaiming, “Jimmie, Jimmie!” We were in! We headed for a city a few hours away, where we had an amazing time. Our obedience to go, which at the time seemed rather risky, resulted in greater intimacy in our relationship with Jesus.
There was another time when my wife and I were leading a team in Israel. We were working with the Jesus House of Prayer in Jericho. The idea came that we should go to Yasser Arafat’s office and ask for permission to do an open-air evangelistic service in the central square of downtown Jericho. The request seemed like a long shot, but why not try? So we went to the office and met with Arafat’s secretary general. After some introductions, we made the request. To our surprise, he said, “Okay.”
The next evening we arrived at the square and started setting up for a time of worship, testimonies, and preaching the Gospel. Before long we noticed that armed soldiers were surrounding our stage area. They had been sent by Arafat’s office to protect us. So our group of Christians was being protected by fundamentalists so we could preach the Gospel to hundreds of Muslims! It was an amazing display of the goodness and sovereignty of God. It also caused our faith to grow and our confidence in the power of God to increase.
I believe the main reason why we don’t take risks is our fear of failure. I watched an interview with Michael Jordan in which he said that in his career, he had missed over 9,000 shots; 26 times he had been entrusted to take the last shot and had missed it; and he had lost over 300 games. But he closed the interview by saying, “And it’s because I failed so much that I have succeeded.” Once thing for sure, you will never make a shot you don’t try. Why not take the risk, go for it, and see what happens? I’d rather fail trying than succeed at doing nothing!
Getting out of our comfort zone and taking risks…
Causes our intimacy with Jesus to increase…
Which leads to greater victory!
The application is simply this:
➢ Pray bold prayers – for healing, for revelation, for the nations. Visit Joshua Project and pray for specific unreached people groups. Everyone can do this!
➢ Preach – at home, work, school, in the nations. Go to the areas of the world where people haven’t heard, and share the Gospel. It is the power of God for salvation!
(Mark Baxter has spent decades mobilizing and training workers to go to the hardest and darkest places on earth. He has traveled extensively to those places himself to share the Gospel and start new churches. He is based in Jacksonville, Florida.)