Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: 50-DAY SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE - MARY If we are going to see our dreams become a reality then we have to learn to STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES!

A nation that has suffered under Saddam Hussain’s oppressive hand is getting its first taste of freedom; people are beginning to dream again. Over the last few weeks we have been watching American and coalition forces strive to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. By air and land the Republican Guard and Iraqi soldiers have been put down; the regime of Saddam Hussain is beginning to fall.

In the last few days we have been hearing about Iraqi soldiers and Republican Guard members who have seemingly disappeared either going into hiding or regrouping with other units. Uniforms and arms have been abandoned. When and where these troups will reappear no one knows for sure.

At the end of WWII the Japanese government faced a similar problem with thousands of soldiers who were hiding in the jungles and mountains in the South Pacific. Although the treaty with the U.S. had been signed and the war was over, thousands of Japanese soldiers living in the mountains and jungles of the South Pacific islands would not come out of hiding, surrender their weapons, and return to their homes to live in peace. These soldiers had been so indoctrinated with stories of what the Americans would do to them if they surrendered that they believed they would face certain torture or immediate death, so they remained in hiding and ready to fight.

How could the Japanese government convince these die hard warriors that the war was indeed over and they were not just hearing American propaganda designed to capture unsuspecting soldiers? Finally, the Japanese Emperor made a speech detailing the end of the war and pleading with them to return home. The voice of the Emperor was broadcast by radio and recorded to be repeatedly played on loudspeakers directed into the jungles and mountain caves where these men were hiding. One by one the Japanese soldiers accepted the assurance of their Emperor and turned themselves in. Some waited to be certain the war had indeed ended, but within a few months all but a few had surrendered.

After some years, it was assumed all of these hidden soldiers had been accounted for; those still missing were presumed dead. However, in March of 1974 a Japanese soldier finally came out of hiding, 29 years after the war was over. When asked why he had remained in hiding so long, this warrior now in his sixties said it had taken him that long to get over his fears. The U.S. and Japan had shared a friendly relationship for years, but this lone soldier had wasted 29 years hiding from an enemy he still feared within his mind (Healing of Memories, David Seamands).

Can you imagine being held captive by your fears for 29 years? Imprisoned, not by an invading army, not by a cruel dictator, but held captive by the fear within your mind.

Many of us may have a hard time imagining what it would be like to live our lives filled with that kind of fear, yet how many of us live with a different kind of fear, the fear of change? We often live in a different type of prison, one of our own making, a padded cell called our COMFORT ZONE.

We all have our own comfort zones. We may not even be conscious of what our comfort zone is, but over the years we have developed habits and routines that we feel safe with. Change threatens our comfort zone; it disrupts our routine.

Comfort zones are prisons that prevent us from being free to dream. The fear of change and living within our comfort zone, playing it safe or following our standard operating procedure can be the greatest obstacle to fulfilling our God-given dream.

All of us live in a comfort zone. We all resist change and doing something different in one way or anther. For instance:

▸ Men if you shaved this morning, where was the first place you applied the shaving cream, or where did you start with the razor? Ladies what routine did you follow when you did your hair this morning, or on which hand did you do your nails first? Which finger? How about yesterday, and the day before? We’ve probably followed the same routine for years.

▸ When you drove to church this morning how many of us followed the same route you’ve used all year long? How often have you found yourself in the “proverbial rut” when you make a turn toward work forgetting that it’s your day off and you were going somewhere else?

▸ When you sit down at your favorite restaurant, how often do you look at the menu only to order the same thing? Why do supermarkets offer free samples of the newest products on their shelves?

▸ How many of you are sitting in virtually the same seat you sat in last Sunday and the Sunday before? Are you sitting around the same people? Let’s take a moment and get a different view of the sanctuary, and surround ourselves with some different faces. Let me help you get comfortable leaving your comfort zones and find a different seat; move from the front to the back, the left to the right, from the middle out.

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