https://ralphhoweministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/step-out-in-faith.jpg 290 610 support https://ralphhoweministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ralph-howe-ministries1.png support2020-09-23 21:13:452020-09-23 21:13:45 STEP OUT IN FAITH (Overcoming Feeble and Frozen Faith)
Walter invited his good friend Arthur to take a ride with him out into the county. They drove past groves of fruit trees and dilapidated shacks to an area that looked to Arthur like a barren wasteland. Walter began telling his friend about the exciting plans he had for this boring parcel of land southeast of downtown Los Angeles, California. Walter’s express purpose was to give Arthur the opportunity to become an investor in his dream.
Walter had enough money for the main project, but he wanted to ensure that the land surrounding his venture would be bought up at the same time. He was confident that within five years the whole area would be filled with hotels, restaurants, and even a convention center serving the throngs of people who came to visit his development.
But Walter’s friend, radio and television personality Art Linkletter (born a Canadian but living in the United States), could not see the potential and turned down the opportunity to buy up the area of land that now surrounds Disneyland, the dream of his friend, Walt Disney. Today that “barren wasteland” in Orange County, California, is worth billons of dollars.
How would you feel if you were Art Linkletter? While open doors of opportunity that size come along rarely, if ever, for people like you and me, there are many smaller doors of opportunity that are presented to us on a daily basis. God constantly invites us to trust Him and experience ever-expanding dimensions of His faithfulness and blessing. But far too often we are like the hesitant Linkletter. We hang back, not sure of what we should do. Or we walk away from the open door altogether. We allow fear and feeble faith to quench the fire of passion for a product, a project, or a plan God has put in our heart.
Why do we so often freeze up on the threshold of a God-given opportunity? I believe that many Christians fail to walk through God’s open doors because of a faulty view of God. We see Him as incapable of taking care of us in a new and possibly risky venture. Our we fear that, once we walk through the open door, He will slam it behind us and leave us to fend for ourselves. We often cannot step out because our faith in God is feeble. If we had a childlike, trusting attitude towards our heavenly Father, we would walk confidently through the door He holds open for us.
It’s all an issue of trust, isn’t it? In one nation in which I work they have “In God We Trust” engraved on their coins. But, is it engraved upon our hearts? When the big decisions really come down to the moment of truth, do you really believe Go will care for you?
You may remember what Jesus observed about His own hometown, Nazareth. Mark 6:5-6 tells us, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief.” I wonder how many people could have the same thing said about them: “He could do no mighty work in his/her life.”
God forbid that Jesus Christ should marvel at my unbelief or yours. Imagine how He must feel because He is the opener and closer of all doors. He is the creator of every opportunity and the master of every mission. When He opens a door, we need only walk through. But I’m like you; I hesitate for a moment. After all, it’s dark on the other side. We don’t know what lies in there!
Living with passion requires us to walk by faith — to go to the edge of the light that we have and take one more step. God gives me only the briefest, dimmest glimpse of what lies over the threshold of the door He is opening. He smiles because He knows that this next step, this hard step, will be a real character builder — a faith investment. As a result the next time I step through an open door, I’ll have an ounce more faith.
The apostle John wrote from his exile on the Isle of Patmos to the Church in Philadelphia. He encouraged that church and us with these words, ““And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:7-8)
God opens doors … and we need to trust Him and walk through the door that He is holding open for us.
John is giving Christ’s words to the Church at Philadelphia, and he says that Christ has set an open door before them. I can’t imagine anything more exciting than the promise of new opportunity as a gift from the Lord Himself. I would like to think that Jesus has this message for every Church and every believer on the face of the earth: “I have set before you an open door.”
Yet we all know that most churches are filled with people who aren’t eager to walk through any door other than the one leading to the parking lot. Why are there so many people who fail to burn with excitement about the idea of newness and growth? I’ve watched Christians face this issue for many years, and I’ve come up with four observations.
1> God’s open doors are often disguised as problems.
It was the brilliant cartoon philosopher Pogo who once observed, “Gentlemen, we are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.” What we are certain are obstacles to our exploits for God — lack of money, machinery, methodology, or manpower — are often God’s opportunities in disguise. One person’s stumbling block is another’s stepping stone.
2> God’s open doors are often time-sensitive.
An Arabic proverb says that the dawn does not come twice to awaken a person. When Walt Disney was planning Disneyland, he offered Art Linkletter an opportunity to buy land surrounding the site — land he knew would dramatically increase in value (see yesterday’s blog). Disney needed an answer quickly, but Linkletter balked, and the door to untold wealth slammed shut.
Passionate, faith-filled people are prompted to act on opportunities. If you fail to walk through a door God has opened, it doesn’t mean He is finished with you. But if you don’t step up in a timely manner, He will likely turn to someone who will not hesitate.
When Jewish leaders failed to accept Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah, God’s door of opportunity closed. Jesus said to them, “The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43). God turned to the Gentiles with the Gospel. Israel will yet have an opportunity to embrace Jesus, but only after many centuries of regret for having missed their first opportunity (see Zechariah 2:10). When God presents you with a door of opportunity, don’t hesitate to step out in faith.
3> When we start through God’s open doors, we are often met by resistance.
Have you ever gotten caught in a revolving door? Few moments are more comedic — getting halfway through and deciding you don’t want to enter the building after all. Sometimes we try to back out of God’s doorways. We think, I must not have heard God correctly. I wouldn’t be experiencing opposition if God had opened this door. But if the apostle Paul anticipated opposition when approaching God’s open doors, we should too. He writes, “I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9)
The opposition trials, temptations, tribulations, or testy people is not a sign that you’re entering the wrong door. In most cases it’s a sign that you’re exactly where God wants you. No worthwhile attempt will ever go unchallenged. Opportunity and opposition are natural counterparts.
4> Open doors are often missed because of fear.
I can’t think of one opportunity God has opened to me that I did not reach for with trembling hands. Why? Because all open doors lead into the future — whether in five minutes, five days, or five years. And since the future is unknown to us, we are often fearful to step out in faith. We defeat our fear of the unknown by learning more about God, who has made Himself knowable. He has not given to us a spirit of fear, but He has promised to go with us wherever we go in His will. You can walk boldly into the future when you know that the God of the future goes with you.
Is there is an opportunity in front of you at this very moment that has left you nervous, scared, weak, and faithless? Wonderful! You may be looking at a door God has opened for you. Take His hand, trust His promises, and step over the threshold. Every step of faith you take toward God will also take you one step away from your crippling fear.
Stepping through God’s open doors leads to changed lives. As Christians, we will find doors of opportunity opening before us every day. The question is, do we have the courage and passion to walk through them?
Let’s agree on this: Any door God opens for you is a door you can and should walk through.
Here are four considerations that will help set your faith and spiritual feet in motion.
1> Your faithful response to God’s opportunities will pay dividends in time and eternity.
It will cost you to walk through God’s open doors. At the very least, you will give up the security and comfort of the familiar — and usually more. But no harvest is reaped without first sacrificing a seed. Only when we learn to view life through the lens of the long view, even the eternal view, will we see that the sacrifices of this world are nothing in light of what is gained by going through God’s open doors.
You may need to pay a price now to help a friend endure a crisis, find shelter for a homeless person, adopt an orphan, or any number of passionate ministries to Jesus and others, but think of the eternal dividends! Passionate, faith-filled people recognize that they must sow in order to reap, and they willingly release possessions, comfort, and security in order to gain the blessings of tomorrow.
2> It will cost you and others dearly if you fail to grasp God’s opportunities.
Just as you cannot estimate the positive outcome from passionately embracing God’s opportunities, neither can you guess what you and others will miss when feeble faith freezes you at the freehold. We do not have the big picture when we walk through that open door. We have no idea of what benefits we and others will receive by our step of faith into the future God has planned. But, this is certain; we will never receive the blessings and benefits that God has planned for us – still unknown and not yet within our grasp – if we don’t pay the price and step out in faith at the moment the door is opened for us.
3> Your faithful response to God’s opportunities will be aided by those who encourage and support you.
We more readily act upon our passion when we surround ourselves with people of like passion. You need a team of supporters and encouragers on your side, such as your spouse and children, a Bible study or fellowship group, prayer partners, accountability partners, spiritual mentors, and counsellors. These individuals cannot act on the opportunities God has set out before you; that’s your job. But they can supply counsel, instruction, encouragement, comfort, and even correction to help you follow through with what God has given you to do.
4> Walking through God’s open doors will serve as an example for others.
Who is watching when you contemplate the open doors God places before you? Who is learning from your example as you express either feeble or passionate faith? Your spouse, your children, and your closest friends, to be sure. But there are doubtless many others of whom you may not be aware. A new Christian who is looking to you as a role model to follow. A Christian friend who is paralyzed by fear. A coworker or neighbour who has never learned to trust God.
The apostle Paul did not hesitate to say, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). This was not a statement of self-promotion; it was the confident assertion of one who knew the will of God and was passionate about doing it.
Can you make a similar, bold claim?
As we continue to look at stepping out in faith as a way of life for the believer, we need to look at “Freezing Fear” and “Feeble Faith”.
Two closely related enemies meet us at the threshold of passionate faith living: freezing fear and feeble faith. People of passion respond to these two enemies by being alert to opportunities opening up in their daily lives and trusting God as they walk through them with boldness. These doors can appear in any area of our daily life. They may take the form of opportunities for continuing education, advancement at work, developing new skills, or meeting new people. They may come as opportunities for greater levels of Christian ministry: a deeper personal commitment to Christ, a new mentoring relationship, greater leadership responsibility, or increased obedience in financial stewardship. Od they may appear as opportunities for family growth: taking a class together, going on a mission trip together, or setting new priorities for family finances.
Watch for newly opening doors. God’s work is accomplished in this world through them. Don’t allow feeble faith to leave you standing at the doorstep. Be a person of passion who not only sees God’s opportunities but charges through them with faith in His provision.
God calls us in many different ways — we never know how or when He will call us to go through the next door he opens for us. That’s half the fun. Being surprised and responding in instant obedience when surprised by what He is calling us (asking us) to become involved in. An elder businessman once confided in his son, “The secret is to jump at every opportunity.” The son asked how he could know when an opportunity was coming. The father replied, “You can’t — you just have to keep jumping!” The same is true in our walk of faith.
Let’s end this series of blogs the same way we began … with a true story. A story of a young man stepping out in faith – defeating freezing fear and feeble fear to walk through a door God opened for him.
Ed nervously paced the crowded sidewalk outside Holton’s Shoe Store in downtown Boston. His brief lunch hour was nearly over, but he had not yet done what he had come to do. Inside the shoe store was an eighteen-year-old clerk who was a member of the Sunday school class Ed taught at church. The young man had seemed bored in class and generally disinterested in spiritual things since he began attending church one year earlier. Ed felt burdened to talk to him about his relationship with Christ, and today was the day he had planned to do so. But he was nervous about it. What if he won’t listen to me? What if he thinks I’m being too pushy and quits the class all together? What if he gets angry and throws me out?
Breathing a prayer for courage, Ed finally walked into the store and found the clerk busy at work. The young man was surprised to see his Sunday school teacher, but Ed quickly got to the point. “I came to tell you how much Christ loves you,” he said. They talked for several minutes, then the young man knelt down on the spot and opened his life to Jesus Christ. Later the clerk related the impact of his conversion: “I was in a new world. The birds sang sweeter, the sun shone brighter. I’d never known such peace.”
Ed left the store that day rejoicing that he had overcome his self-doubt and fear and let God use him to share the good news with the young shoe clerk. This fearful Sunday school teacher could not have imagined that during the next 150 years, millions of people would be just as thankful that he had overcome his anxiety and hesitation that April day in 1855 to share the gospel in a shoe store. Though unaware until now, you may be one of the people whose spiritual journey was influenced by this Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball.
You see, the eighteen-year-old Boston show clerk Kimball talked to that day was Dwight L. Moody, who became one of America’s great evangelists in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Moody had an impact all over the world. In addition, Moody later counselled a young man named J. Wilbur Chapman on the assurance of his salvation. Chapman became a Presbyterian minister, evangelist, and Moody’s friend and colleague in ministry. Moody and Chapman strongly influenced a young professional baseball player named Billy Sunday, whom God also called to evangelistic ministry. It is estimated that three hundred thousand men and women came to faith in Christ during Billy Sunday’s two hundred campaigns.
But Kimball’s legacy didn’t stop there. A 1924 Billy Sunday evangelistic campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina, resulted in the formation of the Charlotte Businessman’s Club, which continued to evangelize the region. In 1934, the CBMC invited evangelist Mordecai Ham to conduct a campaign in Charlotte. A young man of eighteen reluctantly attended one of those meetings and then gave his life to Christ. His name was Billy Graham. No one has preached the gospel to more people than Billy Graham.
Was Billy Graham instrumental in your coming to Christ? If not directly, perhaps the person who brought you to Christ was influenced by his preaching. At the very least, you likely know someone who became a Christians because of this great evangelist’s ministry.
The gripping reality is this: Countless millions of people have been brought to faith in Christ through the preaching of D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham during the past century and a half. What would have happened if a Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball had allowed self-debut and fear to detour him from living out his passion for sharing Christ with others?
He took a small step of faith, walked through the door that God had opened before him, and the angels are still singing over lost sinners being saved even today as a result of that one humble but determined man’s sharing of the love of Jesus.