The older I get, the less I want to take risks. I find I clutch the railing as I walk down a flight of stairs. I look both ways—again—before driving through an intersection.
But worry and a cautious attitude in the spiritual realm can paralyze my faith—or at the least, cause me to procrastinate until obedience becomes a burden and walking by faith slows to a crawl. God has reminded me that He has not given me a “spirit of timidity, but [a spirit] of power …” (2 Timothy 1:7). I recently read a quote by Corrie ten Boom, who is a heroine of the faith for hiding Jews from the Nazis during World War II: “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”
Living a life of faith requires taking risks, at least from our perspective—because we can’t physically see where we’re going, or hear what He’s saying, or know what He’s thinking, or feel what He’s doing. We just have to trust Him as we choose to …
Give Up Our Children
Read Exodus 1-2:10
- Describe the dangers that threatened the Levite woman’s son when she placed him in the basket, in Exodus 2:1-3. How did God undertake for her? See Exodus 2:5-9.
- If the Levite woman had not been willing to give up her child, what do you think would have happened to him? See Exodus 1:15-16, 22.
- What dangers also threatened Hannah’s son when she left him at the temple? Compare 1 Samuel 1:24-28 with 2:12, 18, 22. How did God undertake for Hannah? See
1 Samuel 2:21; 3:19-21.
- What danger threatened Hagar’s son in Genesis 21:12-16? How did God undertake for Hagar? See Genesis 21:17-20.
- What danger threatened Abraham’s son in Genesis 22:1-2? How did God undertake for Abraham? See Genesis 22:3-14.
- What dangers threaten your child? What encouragement do you receive from the above examples?
- What encouragement do you receive as a parent from the following verses: Isaiah 40:11? 44:1-3? 54:13? Psalm 100:5?
Give Up Our Complacency
Read Genesis 6
- List as many characteristics as you can of the world in Noah’s day in Genesis 6:1-7, comparing each with our world. See also Matthew 24:37-39.
- Out of the entire world’s population of Noah’s day, how many people were right with God or even gave Him any serious thought? Give phrases from Genesis 6:1-7.
- How could the world situation have caused Noah to be complacent?
- How many people do you know who have wholehearted love for the Lord and for their neighbor, and are following God in faithful, obedient discipleship? How many do you know who are not?
- Describe our current pop culture. How has it affected your discipleship?
- What do you think was the key to Noah’s faithfulness to God, when everyone else was not? Give a phrase from Genesis 6:8-9.
- What do you think would have been the outcome if Noah had been complacent?
- Put the following verses in your own words, then give each one an application for your own life:
1 John 1:5-7; 2:6, 15-17;
2 Corinthians 5:16-18.
- How does obedience to these commands help you to avoid complacency?
Give Up Our Compromise
Read Daniel 3:1-30
- Who was invited to the dedication of the king’s image in Daniel 3:1-3?
- What was the popular thing to do, according to Daniel 3:4-7?
- Describe the choice of the three Hebrew men. How hard would it have been for them to make that choice in light of the choices their peers were making? In light of the political correctness of their day?
- What were the immediate consequences of their choice in Daniel 3:8-13?
- How was the pressure to compromise increased and how did they respond? Write out the king’s challenge in verse 15 and their response in verses 16-18 in your own words.
- Who is pressuring you to compromise? How have they increased the pressure? What has been your response?
- Did God save the three Hebrews from being thrown into the fire? Describe how they must have felt in Daniel 3:19-27.
- What does God promise when you go through disaster, disease, disappointment and difficulty? Give phrases from the following verses: Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 43:1-2; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:9; Jeremiah 1:8; Psalm 139:7-12, 17-18; Zephaniah 3:17.
- If the three Hebrews had compromised, what would they have gained? What would they have lost? Read Daniel 3:25-30.
- How does Matthew 16:24-26 address this?
Give Up Our Comfort
Read Matthew 14:22-33
- Why were the disciples in the boat, on the lake, during a storm? See Matthew 14:22.
- From the following verses, give proof that it’s possible to be in a storm, while at the same time, in God’s will: Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; 2 Timothy 3:10-12; 1 Peter 4:16, 19; Revelation 1:9.
- What storm are you in? Do you think it is evidence you are not in God’s will? Or that He is not pleased with you? Or doesn’t care about you?
- Describe Peter’s probable comfort level in the boat, storm or not. See Luke 5:1-3; Matthew 4:18; John 21:1-10.
- What opportunity did Peter have in the storm that he wouldn’t have had any other way? Read Matthew 14:28-29. Relate this to 1 Peter 1:6-9.
- In order to take the opportunity, give at least two things Peter had to do.
- Using your imagination, describe how Peter might have felt and what he might have seen initially as he stepped out of the boat.
- Do you think taking this opportunity was easy for Peter?
- What did Peter risk by stepping out of the boat?
- Why do you think the other disciples did not take the same opportunity? What did they miss that Peter obviously received?
- If Jesus was not directing His rebuke of Matthew 14:31 to Peter, who was He speaking to?
- What is your “boat” or your comfort zone?
- Apply John 10:2-4, 11, to your own life.
- If you play it safe, make a list of the things you will gain and things you will lose.
If you could ask each of the characters in our study if taking the risk of faith was worth it in the long run, how do you think they would reply? Don’t let worry rob you of your strength today. Instead, take the risk of faith, so that at the end of your life, you too can say from experience, “It was worth it! I received a hundredfold return on anything I ever gave up! Taking the risk was more than worth it!” ©2020 Anne Graham Lotz
The Scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, New American Standard Bible.
This article is adapted from a study originally published in September 2006.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers online.
Photo: Russ Busby/©1974 BGEA