At Gateway Church in Austin, we started a new series called “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”
Part of following God means not being complacent, not staying where we are in life, but instead, being willing to GO. God wants us to go love others, go show mercy, and go share the love Jesus freely gives to us. But going requires a willingness to abandon our own will and take on God’s will instead. Are you ready and willing to go where God sends you?
These discussion questions are designed for your life group or family dinner to help you apply the message to your life.
Video of the Message John Burke Shared:
Here are notes from the message John Burke:
Oh the Places You”ll Go! is a Dr. Suess book and the #2 bestseller for graduates. It’s a book for kids, and recent graduates, about the adventure of life—the ups, the downs, the highs and lows. Here’s how it starts:
“Congratulations, today is your day, you’re off to great places, you’re off and away!
You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Have you ever thought about life with God as an adventure?
When God calls us to follow him, it’s not a call to comfort and convenience, it’s a call to a life of risky adventure. God calls us to leave… to go… to follow him out of what’s simply comfortable.
- When we do, life gets way more exciting than you could ever imagine. It’s not just for hang-gliding-parachute-packing-bungee-jumping- speed freaks. Jesus said, “Follow me.” The implication is you’re going to leave where you are currently and go somewhere together.
- God usually isn’t saying “Follow me into the living room and slap yourself down into that recliner where we can watch Reality TV for a lifetime.”
- God wants to lead you into a life of excitement, adventure, relationship like you can’t imagine, but you’ll never know until you go.
- So let’s talk about the places you will go – if you truly follow Jesus.
Today, we’re going look at a man and woman who learned how faith works.
And without faith it is impossible to please God….” – Hebrews 11:6
Why? Because faith is just another word for trust, and trust is what every friendship is built on.
Faith made Abraham right with God (Hebrews 11), and faith earned him the title “The friend of God” (James 2:23).
God wants to call you friend! He wants you to know Him – even as He knows you!
Abraham and Sarah discovered the equation for intimate friendship with God.
Tests+Trust+Time = Friendship
If you will let your tests be opportunities to trust God, He will take you on the adventure of your life, and in time you will discover a growing friendship.
Let’s look at 3 Tests that led Abraham (and can lead you) on adventure of faith.
Test 1: The Comfort Test (Will I step out of my comfort zone?)
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
– Hebrews 11:8-10
Abraham and his wife Sarah were living in Ur of Mesopotamia in about 2000BC. Ur was a large, modern city for its day–like a London or Los Angeles. Ur had all the modern conveniences of the time. Abraham had the big city life, and he was doing well when God asks him to leave it all – friends, family, business and all. They were comfortable. God was asking him to step out of their comfort zone and trust Him.
If you read in Genesis 12, God promised Abraham 4 things if he would step out of his comfort zone:
- A Land (Israel)
- A Nation (Jewish, but also Arab nations)
- A Name (we’re talking about him today)
- A Blessing (to every nation on earth by preserving God’s Word through his prophets and sending a Messiah who would make a way for every willing heart to be forgiven and restored to God by faith)
Abraham believed God. He had faith/trust in the promise of God revealed to him. As a result, Abraham was made right before God.
So faith in what Jesus did begins our relationship with God, and faith or trust is how we get to know God.
God said to Abraham go to a land I will show you. He was going, not knowing. His only map was God’s promise to somehow guide him.
Often, God asks us to step out of our comfort zone to test our faith – to stretch that faith muscle so it grows.
When we become comfortable we become self-reliant. We know the parameters of our little world and feel in control, so we don’t really need to rely on God. Unfortunately, when we are in control and not relying on God, we don’t grow to know him. Without exercising our faith muscle, we become spiritually flabby. Unfortunately, many Christians have lost the adventure of life with God because they just want comfort.
As a result, God gives us opportunities to step outside that comfort zone into a new area where we must trust Him.
When you step out of your comfort zone, you don’t always know how things will turn out. Abraham was going, not knowing. As a result, he felt like an alien. It feels foreign, weird, uncomfortable. That’s why your first reaction will be to turn and run back to your familiar and comfortable ways. The opportunity cost is great. You’ll never get to know God that way, and you’ll miss out on the adventure of a lifetime.
Here’s how faith works:
- You pray first that you’d be willing to do God’s will not just your own.
- Then you test yourself to see if you’re really willing.
- Then you ask Him to make His desires your desires because he says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 [This doesn’t mean, you’ll get that Lamborgini you desire. It means if I really want to do God’s will, I will be able to trust my own desires more and more because God will give you those desires that align with His desires].
- When you go and things get difficult, then use that as an opportunity to connect with God again.
If you want to know God then you have to step out of your comfort zone in faith. When you do, you’ll look back and see He’s guiding on the adventure of a lifetime.
Is there some area where you sense you need to step out of your comfort zone and trust?
- If you don’t believe yet, it may mean beginning to pray and ask God to open your spiritual eyes and really seek to learn – or committing to come every Sunday and to read about Jesus and explore – something that will require an effort.
- If you’re a Christ follower, maybe God’s prompting you to step out of what’s comfortable to change careers.
- Maybe it’s moving out of a bad relationship, but you are afraid to step out, and it’s gonna take trusting God.
- Maybe it’s taking the risk to start serving, or join a life group so you can find support to grow.
- Maybe it’s making a hard decision for the good of your family.
- Maybe it’s Leading a Serving Network or Life group, or sharing your faith with a friend.
Whenever you don’t feel close to God or don’t see Him in your life, try the following:
- Spend time praying: “God, how do you want me to step out in faith, trusting you?”
- Pray that long enough and you’ll know.
- Then if you have the courage to act, you’ll see Him at work.
- Sometimes, the test of faith is waiting.
Test 2: The Patience Test (Will I wait on God’s timing?)
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
– Hebrews 11:11-12
God had promised Abraham a land, a name, a nation, and a blessing. But there was one problem with the promise of a nation: Sarah, his wife, couldn’t even bear children. Abraham was 75 when he left Ur, yet Abraham and Sarah followed God to the promised land and trusted they would have a child to fulfill God’s promise. Once he arrived he waited, and waited, and after 10 years, still no child. Abraham and Sarah got impatient and decide to give God a hand. So Abraham slept with Hagar, his wife’s maid, and had a son with her. The result was that Ishmael was born and then jealousy and infighting ensued. Abraham and Sarah’s sin hurt themselves and others for generations. Whenever we short-circuit God’s timing with impatience, it doesn’t just affect us, but those around us and after us as well.
13 years after Ishmael was born, Abraham heard from God again. God had been silent 13 more years while Abraham waited. He was 99 years old when Isaac was finally born. Here’s the deal: God gave a promise, then asked Abraham and Sarah to wait for his timing and trust him. In some ways they failed miserably, but in time as they did trust, they learned that God always keeps his promises, but not always on our timeline.
Sometimes God tests our faith by making us wait on Him.
Why would God do this? He told Moses when the Israelites had to wait and trust in the desert that it was to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
When God gives us a promise in scripture or tells us the way that’s best for us, but we get impatient waiting for the results the temptation will always be to take the path of instant gratification, or to give up on God too soon.
When we take matters into our own hands and go against God’s will, we miss out.
What are the areas in your life right now where you are having to wait?
Have you already taken a short-cut and now you’re realizing that it didn’t get you what you wanted?
Some of you are tired of waiting for the right person, God is asking you to trust Him – to not put a sexual bandaid on your loneliness, to not jump from bad relationship to bad relationship out of insecurity. But instead to seek friendship with God – to let the test of waiting be an opportunity to trust, to gain spiritual strength to wait. When you trust just watch how God honors your faith and shows you how good and loving He is. That’s how faith works, sometimes it’s waiting and trusting until God comes through.
Don’t miss this: Now is your chance to know God by exercising that faith muscle and patiently trusting God’s timing for your situation and to know God as a result.
It’s easy to see God’s plan looking back, but it’s hard and scary moving forward. You have to trust His Word and His Timing and you get to experience His goodness.
Are you becoming impatient over a certain situation in your life? Are you tired of waiting on God?
Remember that this is an opportunity to interact with God as you trust His timing. Don’t miss the opportunity by short-cutting what God’s trying to accomplish.
Test 3: The Allegiance Test (Will I let go?)
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. – Hebrews 11:17-19
God promised to bless all the nations through him, and Isaac was the line of faith through whom Jesus would come to bless all nations. So Abraham finally had Isaac, and Isaac was the love of his life. One day God gave Abraham mother of all tests. He told Abraham to go and sacrifice Isaac. The weird thing here is that Abraham didn’t really flinch (but it must have been confusing because human sacrifice was something God forbid and said he detested). Yet for some reason, rather than focusing on losing his son, Abraham actually believed that God would raise him from the dead. Why? Because Abraham’s faith had grown strong one step at a time. He knew God had promised to give him a nation through Isaac, and he knew that no matter how impossible it seemed, if God promised, He’ll come through.
This is the peace and assurance a life of taking baby steps out of your comfort zone, following, waiting, and building your faith muscle so you go places, see things, know God personally like you never imagined. Notice, this third test came after a lifetime of growing in faith. God has us take one step at a time. He builds our muscle of faith over time.
Now Understand: The test of Abraham was a type. God gave a foreshadowing of His plan through this man of faith and his son. In Gen. 22 it says:
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
…On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac…
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
And the two of them went on together.
– Genesis 22:2-8.
“God will provide” he says. So God sends Abraham 3 days to the region of Moriah to a specific mountain the Lord would show him. Mt. Moriah is where Jerusalem would be built. Abraham went to Golgotha. He took two servants with him, but instead of having them carry the wood, his son carries the wood on which he would be sacrificed, sound familiar?
2000 years later, Jesus would trace those same steps carrying his wooden cross up the same mountain.
Notice that Abraham told these men “We will worship and WE will come back.” He had complete trust in God that God would not take Isaac but that “God will provide the lamb.” As terrible as the whole test seemed, 2000 years later what Abraham was spared from doing, God did to his own son on behalf of each one of us, on that very spot. Think about that for a minute. Why can we trust God with everything? Because He gave everything for us. Sometimes God asks us to Let Go of something we’re tempted to love more than God—not to take it from us, but to give it back with a blessing.
Is there something God’s asking you to “Let Go” of and trust Him with?
He can’t give you more with closed fists. Let it go, open your hands, and trust.
Tests+Trust+Time=Friendship with God