We are continuing with the topic of “Available, But Not Automatic,” and how that relates to the blessings of God in our lives.
You’re all familiar with the word, “soteria” in the Greek. It’s synonymous with “sozo,” which refers to our deliverance, our healing, and to the abundant life that Christ came to provide for us. “How shall we escape if we neglect this great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3). And then the writer continues on in verse 4, “And God also bearing witness . . .” How did God bear witness to the things that had been spoken? The answer is in verse 4. “God bearing witness both with signs and wonders and with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
That’s how God confirmed His Word. I want to say this, and I don’t mean this as an offense, but is it neglecting so great a salvation, is it an example of neglect, to not allow God to confirm His Word the same way today? Here’s my point. God still wants to confirm His Word with signs, wonders, and miracles, and He does this through believers. The problem is that oftentimes we’re neglecting our salvation. I don’t mean that in a condemning way, and I’m not saying that you’re headed towards hell. What I am saying is that we don’t place the value upon what God has given us and give Him the credit that He’s worthy of.
Many times we don’t believe His Word to the point of doing it. Why is that so difficult? I think I know why. Because in our human way of thinking, there is tremendous risk involved. What keeps us from praying for the sick? What keeps us from delivering those who are held captive? Oftentimes I hear excuses such as, “Well, that’s just not my gift.” Well, then you’re in direct contradiction with the Word of God because Jesus told all of His disciples to go and do these things. There were no exemptions. There was no, “I want everyone to go out and do these things except you. I’m giving YOU a different gift,” huh? There were no exceptions when it came to this mandate. If you are a disciple, Jesus told you to do these things!
When the disciples went and did "these things" in places as stated in Mark 16:20, God once again confirmed His Word with signs and wonders following. See, I’m getting to one of our Core Values, which is “O” for “Outreach” (derived from the acronym W.O.R.D.). Oftentimes we define “outreach” as food distribution, going to the homeless shelter and cooking a meal, or going to spend some time with those in the nursing home or prison. Now those are all great things to do; they are forms of outreach. A lot of times we will do those things, but neglect doing that which requires greater faith. Why? “Well, God has called me to feed the hungry, but not heal the sick.” Really? How about let’s be honest. “I believe God wants me to heal the sick, but I’m afraid.” How about, “I believe God wants me to cast out demons, but ‘what if?’” That’s the risk factor.
Obedience to God will always involve a level of human risk. What we’re really saying is, “obedience to God is risky business.” And we think about all of the “what ifs” and all of the failures. We say, “Oh yeah, I prayed for this guy and he died.” Well, so did I. It was a different guy. Back in the 1980’s, first guy I ever prayed for. . . died. Boom. Dead. I’ve been praying for sick folks ever since. I don’t know how many have died; I do know that a bunch of them have lived. And it’s not going to keep me from doing what the Word of God has told me to do. What are we risking? Here’s the deal. Am I risking my good name? What is it that I’m afraid of risking? My reputation? My job? Am I really willing to put all of that on the table over here and finally walk in obedience to God?
These are some questions that I’d like us to dwell on for the next few days. Ask God to search your heart and show you areas wherein you’re holding back, and not only that, but WHY you may not be moving forward. Regardless of the past, it is a new day and a new, fruitful season that is abounding with God’s favor. All we have to do is take steps in the right direction and be obedient to His command.