Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
Our Sunday school topic for today focuses on the importance of trusting God and stepping our of our comfort zones in order to follow the Father’s plan for our lives.
Handout: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
1. Ask the students – Think for a moment about where you are in your walk with Christ and think about how comfortable you are and how would you feel if He asked you to do something totally different such as go to another country, or if he lead you to do something totally out of the ordinary? How would you react to that? Going by your handouts, you will see that we are taking our text from Matthew 14, the story of when Peter walked on the water with Jesus. Many times, when people discuss this event in Bible days, begin to be critical of Peter for doubting and starting to sink, and he did do that, but remember Peter was human and depending upon the LORD just as we are. There are many lessons in this event; however, I want us to focus on something here. That is, Peter wasn't the only person that was in the boat. He was uniquely the only one that was bold enough to step out of the boat by faith and to experience walking on the water! He experienced a wonderful demonstration of God’s power and the power of faith. Had he never tried, had he never stepped out of that boat where he felt safe and comfortable, he would have never known the joy of walking on the water.
As human beings, we all have our comfort zones, our “boats” so to speak or a place where we know that we are safe, and we are comfortable and we do not have to take chances and worry about drowning in life, in trouble, in the storms. Being comfortable and safe are not bad things, but if we never continue to take chances, and follow God, then we never grow and become what he has created us to be. The Father did not create us to stay the same or to be immobile. We are on a journey and we cannot stop because there is a work for each of us to do for the glory of God and to further the Kingdom, to bring lost ones to Him. Satan knows that as believers, we are going to Heaven to live with the LORD forever when this life is over, but he doesn't want you or me to take anyone with us, he wants us to be unfruitful and sit down and do nothing for the LORD. So he plants fear and doubt in our minds and heart to keep us in our comfort zones. He tries to make us doubt God’s love to keep us in our safety boats. We can sometimes fear failure, life can be overwhelming sometimes and feeling helpless is very frightening, so he uses fear to keep us from venturing out by faith. Being afraid isn't a sin, but letting fear keep you from trusting God and doing his will, is. We can do things in spite of fear. That is what courage is. By faith we know that the Father is going to be there to IMMEDIATELY to catch us if we fall.
We should never be so fearful that we cling to our boats, depending on the boat for safety instead of depending on the LORD. This would be an idol. Anything that we put before God is committing idolatry. Our Father should be our main source of comfort, and he is the one that we should depend on and put first in our lives. He wants to be first. When we live in fear and cling to our comfort zones, or “boats,” we are boxing ourselves in as well as are limiting the amount of power that God can work in our lives. If we continue we will never experience the awesome things our father wants to work in us. We never, “walk on water,” so to speak. Without faith, it is impossible to please GOD. Hebrews 11: 6 says, But without faith it is impossible to please HIM: for he that comes to GOD must believe that HE is, and that HE is a rewarder of them that diligently seek HIM.
2. Secondly, we see that Peter not only had to have faith that he could walk on water, but he also had to act on that faith, he had to take action actually getting up and stepping out of the boat onto the water. The Bible says that faith without works is dead...James 2:20 states, But will you know O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:14, What does it profit, my brother, though a man say he has faith, and has not works? Can faith save him? James 2:17, Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 1:22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. In other words, don't just listen to the word of GOD. Do what it says in order for it to be effective in your life. James 1:23, For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man seeing his natural face in a mirror, he sees himself, then goes on his way and forgets what he looks like. But he that looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues there, he being not forgetful of what he has heard, but a doer of the work. this man will be blessed in his deed.
Peter could have set in that boat and having faith to know that the LORD could make it possible for him to walk on the water, He could set there knowing and believing that God is all powerful and able, but had he not acted, had he not got up, and stepped out of the boat, he would have never experienced God’s power and walking on the water.
I think sometimes we pray for things, we want things, and we have faith and know that God will give them to us, but if we don't obey what the Father is telling us, we prolong the answer. We must obey the LORD and do our part. God has a plan for each of our lives. It's already ours, but we have to obey and follow him to get it.
Think about this. If you and I are sitting at opposite ends of a room, and you have been thirsty all day, wishing and hoping for water. I have a fresh cool bottle of water in my hands, and I tell you, this water is yours. You can believe me all day and know that it's yours, but if you don't get up and walk to me and get it, then you will continue to be thirsty and wishing for water.
Peter could have sat in the boat for 20 years and wished and prayed and longed to walk on the water, wishing he could, hoping he could, praying he could, but had he not stepped out on faith, he would have never experienced it. Had he not trusted the LORD when Jesus said come on, and received that gift, Peter would have never experienced it. JESUS had the power to have supernaturally raised Peter out of the boat and set him down on the water and moved his legs and made him walk, but he didn't. The Almighty has the power to do all things in our lives, but we must do all we can do, and leave the things we can't control up to him. Just like Peter, the Father wants us to trust him and obey, stepping out in faith and doing what he tells us to do and letting him take care of the consequences. When you obey God and give a little, He sees your effort and He will move Heaven and Earth for you. He loves us that much! We have a loving, wonderful, all powerful heavenly FATHER...WE CAN TRUST HIM! HE will never do us anything but good! Praise the LORD.
3. Thirdly, we see that when Peter had begun walking on the water, he took his eyes and focus off JESUS and he began to doubt and to sink. Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried, saying LORD, save me. 31, And IMMEDIATELY JESUS stretched forth HIS hand and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Stepping out of our comfort zones or out of our boats can be scary. Especially if we have been there for a long time. I know this from experience, it is hard to leave your level of comfort, however, in order to grow and live in the plans of GOD this is a must. In doing this, we have to remember to keep our eyes on the LORD. Just like Peter, if we start looking around, reasoning in our own minds, leaning to our own understanding and focusing on our surroundings or circumstances, listening to our emotions instead of walking in the spirit and keeping our focus on the Father, we will begin to sink and get overwhelmed and stressed and get caught up in sin. When we reason in our own minds, we fall.
We cannot overcome evil with evil. History is full of people trying to overcome evil with another evil instead of turning to God and following what he says. When we venture out on our own, trying to satisfy our own needs and to satisfy our own desires of revenge against evil wars happen. Someone does something evil, we do it back, they retaliate and people suffer and die, and we find ourselves being used by Satan without even realizing it sometimes and thinking we are helping God out. This is an insult to God. We must ask him to change our hearts. We must ask him to help us love our enemies and to pray for them and for him to change their hearts. We must ask him to direct us and to clean our hearts of hate and anger and evil. We can trust the LORD. He does not need or want us to die for him. He wants us to live for HIM and help others see and know him. Trust the Creator. He is good and he is in control. We must trust him and not take matter into our own hands. We must follow what HE tells us to do...Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Galatians 5:16 and 17 says, this I say then, walk in the spirit, and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17. for the flesh lusts against the SPIRIT and the PIRIT against the flesh: and these are contrary to each other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
This is why it is so important to have daily fellowship with the LORD through prayer and to daily get in his word so that we know what we need to do and how we need to be and we know the things we need to stay away from. God doesn’t say no or tell us to stay away from certain things in order to make us have an unhappy life or to rain on our parade. He gave us the tools and instructions we need to survive this life and the attacks of Satan. He gave us his word to be a guide to help us live our best lives now, if we will obey it and live by it. Each person must study for themselves. If the only word we are receiving is when we go to church a few times a week, we simply will not know enough. I'm not knocking the preached word at church, it is of utmost importance, I'm simply stating that it is a daily necessity and we are supposed to know his word and follow it, day by day. 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
We as believers today have it so much easier...the word is here for us to read, we have preachers and teachers 24/7 on TV and radio that we can listen to as we work or do our activities and along with studying ourselves we have no excuses. We have been blessed with the abundance of his word going out to the entire world. Thank you Father. We serve a good God, the one and only God, Jehovah,
4. We cannot be successful in our walk with Christ, having the victory and bearing fruit, if we do not spend time with the LORD in prayer and study the word and obey it. As followers of Jesus we should build our lives on and around God’s word and build it into our lives. The Bible is our manual, our instructions on how we should be and how the Master wants for us to live in order to have a good relationship with Him. Knowing the word and having open communication with our Father will help us be more successful in our walk with Christ and leading others to Him. We fail and the journey is not always easy. It is hard and it hurts to go against our fleshly desires and wants. Even though we are born again and washed in the blood of JESUS, we are not home yet, we are still on the journey home, and so we still have this flesh and its nature with its sinful desires and wants. Our flesh will always want its own way. It desires to stay in the boat...stay in the comfort zone and eat, drink and be merry. It desires to take the path of least resistance.
Romans 7: 14 - 25 explains it like this...I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it, Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, but my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these sinful things. I know that I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right, I want to, but I can't. When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love GOD'S law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank GOD! The answer is in JESUS CHRIST our LORD. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey GOD'S law, but because of my sinful nature, I am a slave to sin.
Hallelujah Jesus came that we could have victory over sin and our flesh...through HIM we have access to God our father and he should be our main source of strength, guidance and comfort. He gives us our spouses, family, friends, Pastors, and Teachers as blessings in our lives to help us, and we all should help each other and left each other up. However, we should put God first and follow his lead. Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden. We can help each other, but ultimately we must endure our own struggles and carry our own crosses and do our part, looking to the LORD as our strength and high tower.
In life we experience happy times and joy...but also we have hardships and trouble...pain in life is relative, there is not getting around it. Job said in chapter 14, verse 1, that Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble, He comes forth like a flower and is cut down; he flees also as a shadow and continueth not. Trouble will come; we will have it till the day we lay these bodies down and go to be with the LORD, we cannot stop trouble from coming, but thank the LORD with him we can control how we react to it. We can let it beat us down and keep us down, or hallelujah we can choose to get up and try again and go on anyway. We can choose to learn from our mistakes and our failures and move on...pressing on to the calling that our creator has for us.
Leaving the boat and stepping out of our comfort zones does not mean that we will never fail or make mistakes or become afraid. Storms will come and the wind will blow, the sound of thunder and the flashes of lightening can make us tremble, we can choose to run back to the boat, or we can choose to focus on Jesus and trust him to take us safely through. He gives us strength to press on even when we don't feel like it, even when we are afraid, even when we are tired, even when we are in pain, even when we want to give up, even when we want to die, GLORY TO GOD he reminds us that we can do all things through Christ that is our strength and we can press on. (Philippians 4:13).
5. What does the Bible say GOD changes not. What HE did for those in the Bible, He will do for us HIS little children.
Matthew 7:11 If you then, being sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Luke11:13)
Malachi 3:6 for I am the LORD, I change not:
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today, and forever. Praise the LORD!
Romans 8:11 But if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead will also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwells in you. God gave us his Holy Spirit. We are equipped to do all the things he leads us to do.
Hallelujah! Step out of your boat. The LORD, our father is with you. Remember anything worth having is worth fighting the devil for. The war is already won through Christ, praise HIM. Any hard times that we go through here, Cannot even compare to the things God has prepared for us for all eternity!!! Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us!! Thank you Father!!! By God’s grace follow him and live your best life and in the plans he has for you. Step out of your boat by faith and walk on water. GOD Bless you all...AMEN
6. Describe the joy and personal reward of trusting the Father.
7. Challenge students to serve others in humility this week
Talk about how we can be like Peter and also learn from his triumph and failure. How can we step out of our comfort zones and keep our focus on Him.
NEVER GIVE UP. Not ever! There's nothing to go back to but pain and heartache, disappointment and the devils control. Fight little soldier! Fight the good fight of faith, and press on, through the storm, through trouble, through pain, through failures and mistakes, through tears, through fears, through the fire, and through your insecurities. Glory to God press on through the darkness because Hallelujah HE is our light, HE is our shelter, move forward for we are more than conquerors through Christ that loves us. Praise the LORD! HE will take you to greener pastures, beside still waters, in the comfort of HIS love. We may experience setbacks, we may fall, Proverbs 24:16 says For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. If you fall, Hallelujah, get back up. You will never walk on water if you give up. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not...Be encouraged, The Creator of all is on our side, how can we fail if we follow him? We won't fail...Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Romans 8:31-32 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us. He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things. Romans 8:37 "Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through HIM that loved us. Read Romans 26 39. Joshua 1:9 have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you today in thanksgiving and praise of who you are
And for the many blessings in our lives because of Jesus. We ask you to help us not get so attached to this world and our comfort zones that we hold on to tight instead of letting go and following you. Remind us everyday that you are our only true safety and comfort. Help us always follow your will no matter what is happening around us. We worship and praise your name forever because you are worthy Almighty Father. Thank you for your love and favor. Please give us wisdom and strength to get through another week and help us move closer in relationship with you.
In the name of Jesus we pray, AMEN
June 14, 2008