We have entered a new year and some of us, the believers, are excited about the opportunities it will bring and the goals God will set before us… to challenge us; to strengthen us; to teach us; to get closer to who He wants us to be; nearer to perfection in His eyes… as He has made us.
There are others, however, that believe this to be just another year of hardship and worry. Struggles at home, struggles at work and, primarily… in case you don’t realize it, struggles with who we feel we are and how we feel about ourselves.
Did you notice what I said as I began? I talked about the “believers” and what God has in store for us and being excited about His gifts. As I continued, if you listened carefully, I was talking about “this world” and the challenges “it” puts before us.
For those of you that may be focused on the “bad” things this year may have in store for you, yet “might” believe in God; you’re still “on the fence” about Christ; you want to do better this year than last, being a better person, but you’re just unsure.
Do you know what our Bible calls these things you’re worried about?
- Chains that bind you.
- Chains that weigh you down.
- Chains that keep you from moving.
- Chains that hold you back from who you want to be, who GOD wants you to be!
- Chains that keep you from God’s purpose!
What are Chains?
So, I know you’re asking yourself right now, “What are my chains?” Let’s take a survey, what do you all think your chains are? (Phil, you can’t say, my wife! 😉)
Allow me to share with you the short list of what I have put together this morning. I’m sure you will agree, most of these are definitely “chains!”
I don’t know about you, but I worry every day. Afterall,
there are SO many things in this life to worry about, right?
* Waking up in the morning – Did I make it through the night?
* What will the traffic be like – Will I survive the ride?
* Facing another day at work – Can I face the challenges?
I believe these are “daily burdens.” These things we face every day but, King David tells us…
Psalm 68:19 – “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
Perhaps there are things you’ve tried in the past, and you failed. We fear greatly, when faced with a similar challenge, we’re only going to do it again!
Not Good Enough
Maybe someone has told you, you’re not good enough; you’re ugly; you’re fat; you’re stupid.
1 Peter 3:3-4 – “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Perhaps we feel we’ve been wronged. Someone has done something to us that we want revenge for; atonement and apologies.
Romans 12:19 – “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Not so unlike injustice, perhaps you have been the “wrong-doer.” You know you’ve hurt someone (emotionally/physically); offended them in some way… yet you yourself have not made your apologies. This is a burden that will last a lifetime!
Perhaps you’ve done something you know is wrong. Not necessarily hurting anyone else but a disobedience to what is right; moral; ethical; or worse yet, against God’s will. Confess these wrongs and seek forgiveness!
1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
I’d like to talk about those “chains” and, more importantly, I’d like to talk about how you can break those chains that bind you. This is a new year and the time has come!
Well, this is your time! This is the Year! Let God break those chains that are holding you back! I can assure you, if He doesn’t remove whatever obstacle you are facing, He will bring you over-top of it!
The first thing we need to remember when our burdens become too much for us to bear, is what Jesus Himself has told us…
Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
So, I ask you this morning… do you feel like you’re living in hope and victory (believers) – or like you’re being held hostage by fear, worry, and other self-destructive thoughts and habits?
If you respond better to the latter of those two questions, I’ve got great news… I’ve got someone that can break those bonds! In His name, you can break free from any chains that bind you – whether they’re chains of anxiety and fear; alcohol or drugs; distress at home or work; give yourself to Him this year and break those chains!
Remember Who You Are
If you recall last week, and even before that, I told you who you are and what you mean to God. Well, this year, it’s time to start believing in those things and stop looking at the person you used to be!
If you’re a Christian, you’re a new person in Christ. You’re not a slave – you’ve been set free! You just need to learn to live in the victory that Christ has given you.
Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Rely on God’s Strength
Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
We’re all helpless in our own strength, but we’re not hopeless! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, as Philippians 4:13 promises. In His name, you can defeat any enemy and shake off any shackles.
Fight the Lies – Focus on the Truth
John 8:31-32 – “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
Stop believing the lies you tell yourself or the enemy tells you. There’s no adversary or addiction that can’t go down in the name of Jesus. You just have to know God’s truth so you can fight the lies.
Remember what Jesus said to the lame man at the Pool of Bethseda in John 5? He had been coming and lying there for 38 years – nearly 4 decades! One day, Jesus came by, looked him in the eye, and said, “Do you want to be healed?” …and Jesus did exactly that!
That’s the question Jesus is asking you today: “Are you willing? Do you want to let go of this and be set free?” Some people get comfortable in their behavior – but sin is like a disease; an infection that doesn’t go away. If you’re willing to admit there’s a problem and let it go, Jesus will help you break every chain.
So, reject the lies of Satan and start believing what Jesus says to you. Jesus says, “I love you and I have a plan for your life.” So trust Him. Yield your life completely to Him. Say, “I’m not going to live my life this way anymore. Lord Jesus, change me, cleanse me, and take control.” As you do that, Jesus will break the chains so you can live free in unbridled hope and victory in Him.
What Could You Do Without Chains?
The chains of your past… What is holding you back?
How about the story of the dog, chained by his owner since he was a puppy. There was this little annoying cat that knew he couldn’t get to him and also knew just where to stop in the yard when this dog would chase him. He would run so far, and simply stop at the edge of the yard where he knew this dog’s chain ran out.
One day, a new and kinder owner, purchased the property and the little dog with it. Being a much nicer owner, he removed the dog’s chain.
Well, that nasty little cat came back an, true to his nature, the dog immediately ran after it, just hoping to catch it this time.
Strangely, the dog once again, stopped at the very edge of the yard. Do you think the little dog was still wear his chains?
Have you ever been to the circus and seen the huge elephants bound with a little tiny chain around their leg attached to a peg in the ground.
You knew this elephant could, at any time, surely break this chain and stomp-off to wherever he wanted to go… but they didn’t. Do you know why?
From the time they are born, baby elephants are bound with this small little chain and, being much smaller than their parents, didn’t really have the strength to break free.
As they got older, they always remembered being young and much smaller and unable to break-free. As big as they were now, why couldn’t they do it?
It was in their minds that they just couldn’t do it… couldn’t break through. Do you think you have something (a chain) in your mind that is holding you back from doing whatever it is you would like to do? I think so, but it is up to you to break that one!
God expects us to do our part; to let go of our burdens; forget the past; and when we can’t, come to Him!
The first place to begin to remove your chains, is in your mind! Think differently; believe in yourself… break that yoke!
Stop believing the lies of the devil! He wants nothing for you but failure… and will fill your mind with lies until you can no longer see the good in yourself.
\Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)!