Breaking The Barrier of Comfort Zones
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Deuteronomy 1:6-8; 19-21
Sunday 8th February 2015
As we round up this series 'Beyond the Boundaries of Limitations' today, Here are the messages we've discussed over the course of the last few weeks: 'Laying the foundation for an exceedingly fruitful life', 'Excel through the Holy Spirit', 'Following the Promptings of the Holy Spirit'. Over the last two weeks, we've agreed that some barriers, if not addressed can stop you from experiencing your God-ordained 'Excel'. We've discussed the barrier of perception and distractions in the messages; 'Breaking the Barrier of Limitations' and 'Breaking the Barrier of Distractions'.
Today as we concluded this series, I would like to share a message with you that I have titled 'Breaking the Barrier of Comfort Zones'. The term 'comfort zone' even though may sound pleasant and satisfying, it is actually precarious, limiting and more or less synonymous to living in a prison. People who embrace 'comfort zone' living are enslaved in it and shut out from reaching out to, or receiving from, the world around them, inevitably incapacitating them from attaining their God-given goals and aspirations. In actual fact, such people are oblivious to a better future awaiting them. Sadly, 'comfort zone' living has crept into the church, and this must be addressed promptly if we want to enjoy the blessings that God has in store for us, as God never places His blessings in comfort zones. He wants us to leave the familiar zones behind, and reach out to experience His best for us.
When you read this verse in scripture; 'But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles', what comes to mind? When eagles want to mount up to greater heights, they often spend some days hiding away, as they shed their old feathers and grow new ones that will aid in flying higher. Also, eagles are known to lay their eggs on heights – especially mountain-tops and tree tops. On hatching, the eaglets are often cared for by their parents as they are provided with food each day. Soon, the eaglets grow and become comfortable in the nest. This is also similar to what happens to a young believer. At first, God usually feeds and provides for us during our early years as Christians, much to our delight and satisfaction – studying the word and praying is sparingly done, if at all, but the gracious God never ceases to nurture and cater for our needs. After a while, the eaglets having grown accustomed to being fed and nurtured, for its own good the eagle parent begins reducing the provisions supplied every day. Eventually, the nest is dismantled in order to strengthen and encourage the eaglet to jump out of that nest and fly. Conversely, each of us have innate potentials that are lying dormant and unused, because we've stayed for too long in our comfort zone. May God scatter those comfort zones this year, in Jesus name!
Here are a few verses from our foundation scripture for today in Deuteronomy 1:6-8, 19-21: "The LORD our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying: 'You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them. Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.'
Historians have said that the Israelites camped at Mount Horeb for about a year, even though the initial instruction of God was for the nation to travel to region of the Amorites in Canaan. At first, their camping at Horeb was a good plan, as this was where God initially interfaced with Moses at the burning bush. It was also the place where he received the Ten Commandments and the other ordinances. However, they began to linger and soon settled around the mountain – this is an accurate picture of many Christians in the church today, who have opted for enjoying and settling in 'Horeb' at the expense of experiencing Canaan. Whereas, God plans are bigger and better than their present surroundings, they have lost their picture of the future and substituted it for a comfortable zone.
Horeb is a good place – it is church unlimited and God's presence immeasurable, but He wants us to step out and experience even greater dimensions of His power at work in our lives. Horeb was not the end, but a means to an end. In the same vein, our church attendance and worship is not the be all and end all of our lives, but an opportunity to be encouraged from God's word and equipped with the tools we need to go into our world and make things happen.Here is the Message version of Deuteronomy 1:19; "Look, GOD, your God, has placed this land as a gift before you. Go ahead and take it now. GOD, the God-of-Your-Fathers, promised it to you. Don't be afraid. Don't lose heart." Grace has been given to us as gift, but we need to receive it; God has already granted our 'Excel', now we must reach for it and enjoy its benefits.
Now, between where each of us are today and our 'Excel' are gaps, we could also call barriers. The better we are at bridging these gaps, the better we will be at accessing the place of 'Excel'. We've discussed two gaps/barriers in detail – perception and distractions. As mentioned earlier, Horeb represented a place where God met with Moses to give him the Ten Commandments – accompanied with spectacular lightning and earthquake, but it soon became a past experience that they (the Israelites) needed to put behind them and press ahead from. You can't expect to experience 'excel' if you are satisfied with average, neither can you dine with kings if you are happy with mediocrity, you need to rise up and become all that God has pre-planned for you.
Horeb could also be described as a place of security – albeit a false sense of security. For instance, if a person has worked in a particular working environment for 30 odd years, without any significant promotion or change, then how progressive is this? Deuteronomy 2:3 gives us more on this: 'You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward.' Horeb was a place to go through, but not a place to camp. Church is a good place to be, but we must also be thinking of how we can affect our world positively after this.
Negative experiences in life could also lock a person up in a comfort zone. 1 Samuel 13:5-6 (NLT) is a narration of what the Israelites experienced from the Philistines: 'The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore! They camped at Micmash east of Beth-aven. The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns'. These hiding places – caves, rocks, holes and cisterns gave these soldiers a false sense of security. Caves are places of isolation where you cannot reach for help and no one can reach out to you. It is a dark, hard, dingy and hopeless place. How many people in our world have exchanged the heights of challenging the status quo for the predictable boring life of cave dwelling? Have you embraced this 'comfort zone' lifestyle due to the negative words spoken in the past on you, or could it be as a result of a difficult marital life, disappointments or personal insecurities, or the lies from the devil? Don't stay in such a place; you are meant to overcome every form of trauma. You have been made in the image and likeness of God, so celebrate yourself. All the words spoken by the devil are lies; So, if you are finding it difficult to understand what God is saying about a difficult situation and you hear another lie from the devil, turn those words around and embrace God's truth about your situation. Even so, what do you believe about yourself? It's bad enough to believe the devil's lies, but it's even worse to believe those self-fabricated lies. Let God's word guide and direct your heart. Caves and mountains (Mount Horeb in this case) have one thing in common – they are meant to prevent you from reaching further. This is not your destination, and as such you must jettison every attempt to keep you in your comfort zone.
Let me share with you what you need to do to come out of 'comfort zones':
(1) Recognise who you are in Christ: Your past experience or trauma is not meant to define you. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) reads: "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"
(2) Focus on the finished work of Christ: The work of grace has already been finished. Grace is the best thing that has ever happened to every believer in Christ, but we need to need to fully catch this revelation. Ignorance is very destructive, as highlighted in Hosea 4:6, 'My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge' (NIV). I implore you to take time out every now and again to meditate on what grace really means to you, and on the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Everything you will ever need and become is in this grace, so why are you struggling? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, 'But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect'. Grace is an expression of your deliverance, victory and breakthrough. A person who lives in grace can never be bound. By grace, you are redeemed and empowered. You have peace with God and now living in a place of underserved privilege (See Romans 5:1-2).
(3) Fill your heart with God's word: In 1 kings 19:1-11 we read the story of Elijah's escape from the threat of Jezebel into a cave to hide. Here are the first three verses: 'And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life. What threats has the devil made against you that may have driven you into a cave? Verse 9 tells us a bit more: 'And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" God's word reached him right where he was and directed him to a mountain, as recorded in verse 11: 'Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD."
(4) Have a vision of the future: Don't lose your vision, and do not let the negative experiences of life steal your vision. God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15:4-6 about the vision for his future; 'And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Before this encounter, Abraham was confused and limited in his understanding of what God had planned for his future, but this word from God changed everything. Conversely, you must also learn to listen to God's voice concerning your future.
(5) Recognise there is a mark you were created to make: There is a destiny meant to be attained by you from God. Get rid of every attempt to live within comfort zones. There are lives you were created to touch and territories to take.
Today, decide to ignore and put away every barrier between you and God's promises for you. I declare that every comfort zone barriers are broken and I pray that you will experience every blessing from God for you this year in Jesus name! (Amen)
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