Sermons

Summary: Risk taking at times needs to be bold and calculated. Other times require spontaneity. Risk taking is taking on something that causes fear and has the possibility of failure. Risk taking is an essential ingredient in ministry in the Kingdom of God. Most B

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Opening illustration: Three pastors have been called Monday to report to prison in Shiraz, a city in southwestern Iran, within the next 30 days in what is estimated to be an act of religious persecution. The pastors were essentially being sentenced for having meetings at home, making the government able to accuse them of conspiring. The increasing growth of Christianity in Iran is of course viewed as a threat to the Iranian regime which uses Islam to control its people. In order to maintain control, the regime continues to try to weed Christianity out of the country. Rather than fighting persecution, Iranian church leaders have accepted it and are using it to their advantage. In fact, an Iranian pastor recently told me that the church is thriving under persecution. And, it is the youth who are among those that God is using to spread this incredible movement that is leading thousands of people to Christ in Iran.

The story evokes a bitter memory of pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian convert who remains in prison in Iran after he was sentenced to death in 2010 for alleged apostasy. The pastor remains imprisoned and reports coming from Iran say his health has been deteriorating.

In November 2010, a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy. She is the first Pakistani woman ever to receive a death sentence for blasphemy. Her life has been threatened by many, with a Muslim cleric putting a price on her head. In early 2011, Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, and Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister of Minority Affairs, were assassinated, allegedly for speaking out against the controversial blasphemy law.

This is the type of Christmas; persecuted Christians celebrate in nations that are hostile to Christ. They are the true contemporary Christian risk-takers. What are we really doing during this Christmas season?

Introduction: Risk taking at times needs to be bold and calculated. Other times require spontaneity. Risk taking is taking on something that causes fear and has the possibility of failure. Life holds more excitement and satisfaction when we’re willing to expand our comfort zones, try new things, and dare to achieve our dreams. We say that we want to know the will of God, but when we find out what it is, we can’t handle it. It sounds too scary, too difficult. We decide to look elsewhere. Most people don’t take risks because they’re afraid they’ll fail. Problems will likely come, but the results can be different than expected, depending on one’s perspective. The results envisioned from taking a risk may turn out to be something better than we dreamed. Can you think of any area in your life today that you are not putting it on the line for Jesus, because you don’t know what is in store for the future? Let’s be like Peter and look to Jesus to get us through to the end. The results may be something more than we ever imagined!

Risk taking is an essential ingredient in ministry in the Kingdom of God. Most Bible heroes were risk takers. Jesus was a risk taker too.


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