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Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups

Part 2 - Plugging in to the Power

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(3/25) Continuing in our series based on Rick Warren’s "Road to Recovery" we’re going to talk about how to handle and how to overcome the hurts in your life, the habits that are messing up your life and the hang-ups that have cause pain in your life. Hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Now last week in Part One we discussed "Walking in Victory" (Romans 7:15-25). We saw how all of us need to Conquer Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups because none of us are perfect. The world is imperfect, we’ve all been hurt… we all have habits… and we all have hang-ups we’d like to change. Everybody needs victory. And the steps are the same regardless of what your problem is… whether it’s a hurt, a habit, or a hang-up.

If you remember, we saw that the root cause of all this is our desire to control things. And the more you want to control things… to control your life… to control other people’s lives… to control your environment… is to say, you want to be God. You want to be at the center of your universe. And so when we try to control everything it ends up with fatigue, failure, and frustration. Because we are not God.

So how can we break out of that cycle?

Well let’s read what God said through the prophet Isaiah 43:1-3:

"But now, this is what the Lord says —  he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…" NIV

So how do you handle and how do you overcome the hurts in your life, the habits that are messing up your life and the hang-ups that have caused such pain in your life. The first thing you have to do is: "You have to get past denial." Denial is what keeps us from "Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups". We dwell in it, we allow it to smolder in our lives, and we excuse ourselves saying, "Really, it’s no problem… I’m fine… I can handle it." So we excuse ourselves and we accuse others. We play the blame game.

And what happens is that we’re very shortsighted. You know… everything is going well, so far, under the circumstances. But the bottom line is that you’ve just jumped off a building and are halfway down… you haven’t hit bottom yet. So we have to learn how to deal with denial.

There was a lost-and-found ad in the paper that illustrated this point. It said, "Lost. Three-legged dog. Blind in right eye. Left ear missing. Broken tail. Recently castrated and answers to the name ‘Lucky.’" Now that’s what I call denial.

So what’s the remedy to denial? What makes me finally face up to my problems?

Well, God’s remedy for denial is pain. You see, we rarely change our course when we see fire, but we respond when we feel the heat don’t we? We don’t change until our fear of change is exceeded by the pain. And unfortunately, most people are not ready to face their hurts, habits, and hang-ups until they’re forced and there is no other option.

So God uses three things to get your attention, to force you to move forward from things that have messed up your life. Crisis, Confrontation, and Catastrophe.

1. Crisis such as illness, excessive stress, or losing your job.

2. Confrontation, when somebody cares enough to say, "You’re blowing it. You’re about to lose your family. You’re about to lose your health. You’re about to lose your job."

3. Catastrophe is when the bottom falls out, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, or relationally and you hit rock bottom. What happens is often that God has to step back and let us feel the full impact of our own stupid decisions. "You want to be God? O.K." And He’ll just step back and let you be God. And then you reap what you sow, and you feel the full impact that causes a catastrophe in your life.

We said last week that the first step in "Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups" is to first realize I’m not God, admit I’m powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable. That is the first step, the Reality step.

The second step we can call the Hope step. Step 1 says, I admit it. I’m helpless. I’m powerless. Step 2 says, "There is a power." That’s the good news. There is a power you can plug into to handle things that you can’t handle on your own. Isaiah 43:3 says "I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…"

Step 2 is to sincerely believe that God exists, that you matter to him, and that he has the power to help you conquer your Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups. This second step is based on Hebrews 11:6… "Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." And then there are three parts to taking Step 2 in Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups.

1) Acknowledge God’s existence. 2) Understand God’s character and 3) Accept God’s offer to help.

1. Acknowledge God’s Existence.

Now most of you have no problem in this. There are fewer atheists today than there were fifty years ago. Why? Because we know more about the universe today than we did fifty years ago. The more scientific discoveries we make, the more we find out about this universe, the fewer people are willing to say, "I believe it all just happened by random accident." In fact, today it takes more faith not to believe in a Creator than it does to believe in one.

Where there is a Creation there must be a Creator. Where there is an effect there must be a cause. Where there is design there must be a designer. The more we know about the universe, the more we’re convinced that there is a Creator. Acknowledge His existence.

Romans 1:20 says, "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." NIV

The Psalmist in Psalms 19:1-4 tells us, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." NIV

In fact, the Bible says it’s foolish not to believe in God. It is irrational and illogical not to believe in God.

Psalms 14:1 says, "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."

Proverbs 18:2 tells us, "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions."

The point is, God changes lives today. God exists.

The real issue for most is not, "Is there a God?" The real issue is, "What kind of God is He? What’s He really like?" And the problem is, we have some very strange ideas about what God is like.

Sometimes you’ll hear people say, "Well I think God is…" Well, just because you always thought… just because you have a certain idea about God… just because… doesn’t mean you’re right… in fact you’re probably wrong.

God said, through the prophet Isaiah, "The fool speaks folly… and spreads error concerning the Lord..." (32:6).

Honestly, what I want to know is, "What’s He really like? What did He reveal about himself? What did God say in the Bible?" That makes all the difference in the world!

So first Acknowledge God’s existence. And second….

2. Understand God’s Character.

The second step in "Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups" is not just to acknowledge His existence, but to understand His character. You see, until I know what God is really like, I can’t trust Him. I can’t trust something or someone that I don’t know about. But fortunately, God wants us to know about what He’s like. So He came to earth over 2000 years ago… He came as a human being… He came as Jesus Christ... And he said this is what God is like. He said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…" (John 14:9).

We can know what God is like. The Bible says, "He is the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). If you want to know what God is like just look at Jesus, because He’s the visible expression of the invisible God. So if we’re reading about Jesus and studying His life we’ll learn a whole lot about God. And specifically, three things that we learn about God from Jesus that helps me get over my hurts, habits, and hang-ups:

(1) God knows all about my situation.

Some of you have had a tough week, or month, or life. But look at what the Bible says, in Psalms 56:8, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book" (NLT). Isn’t that incredible? The Bible says that God knows you up-close and personal. He’s kept a record of your tears. He knows all about your situation. He knows your hurts, habits, and hang-ups. He knows the good and bad. He knows why you did it, what motivated you, and He’s not surprised or disappointed. He knows you.

(2) God cares about my situation.

Psalms 103:13-14 tells us, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."

God knows what you’re made of… he knows you’re frail… you’re not super human… and He has compassion for you. God wants to be the Father many of you never had and He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).

You see it’s God’s character to love and His love is unconditional. The Bible says, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ knows all about your situation, he cares, and the best news of all, He’s got the power to change it. That’s good news.

(3) God can change me and my situation.

You know, sometimes He changes me, sometimes He changes the situation, sometimes He changes both. But He’s waiting on you to want it and do it. And He’s got the ability to empower you.

Paul prays for the church in Ephesus, "That the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… that you may know the hope to which he has called you… and his incomparably great power for us who believe… (power) which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead" (Ephesians 1:18-20).

Do you ever find yourself paralyzed by fear? You just can’t get started… you can’t get on top of things? God says, "I’ve got the power." And if he can raise Jesus Christ from the dead, He can raise a dead relationship... He can raise a person back to health... He can set you free from an addiction... He can help you close the door on those memories that haunt you… He can and will if you trust Him.

Here’s the point. The longer you postpone "Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups, the fewer days you have on this earth being all God meant for you to be. Some people, get stuck in the past… focus all their life on the past... but spiritual growth is the process of expanding your perspective so that you can get on with the present. So how do you do that?

First you Acknowledge that God exists. Second you Understand God’s character and you realize what He’s like; that He cares, He understands, He loves you and wants to help you. And then third… you…

3. Accept God’s Assistance.

You see it’s not enough just to believe in God. Most of you believe in God. But that hasn’t wiped away the hurt. You’ve got to plug in to the power and that’s more than just believing. Here’s what God has to offer.

Philippians 2:13 says, "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." God says, "Willpower on your own is not enough. Good intentions are not enough. What you need is My will and My power to help you change. I will give you the willpower."

Maybe today you don’t even know if you want to change. Maybe you’re scared to death of change. And you probably won’t until the pain exceeds your fear of change. But here is what you can pray, "God make me willing… to be willing to change." Open up your heart and life to God’s power. Ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit. And He will give you the will and the power to plug into Him.

The Bible tells us, that God gives us "a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7). That’s what I want in my life. I want more power in my life. I want power to break habits I can’t break. I want power to do the things that I know are right but I can’t seem to do them. I want power to break free from the past and let those memories go. I want power to get on with the kind of life that God wants me to live.

I want love. I want to be able to love people and have them love me. I want to let go of hurts… to have true friendships… where I’m not afraid of really loving and I’m not afraid of really being loved. That’s the kind of power and love that God gives.

And then it says self-discipline, meaning self-control, obviously I want that and you want that. But you’re not really in control until Christ is in control of your life and then you understand what it means to have it all together for the first time in your life. God meant for you and me to be plugged in to Him. And God gives us "a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

So how do we plug into God’s power?

Its real simple. Believe and receive. First, I Acknowledge God’s existence; I believe that God exists. Second I Understand God’s character and I believe that He does know, care, and have the power to help me. And then third I Accept God’s offer to help… I receive Him into my life. 1, 2, 3, Its real simple, so I ask "Jesus Christ, put Your Spirit in me". And you do that by using a four-letter word. I want to challenge you to use this four-letter word today. It takes courage to say this word: HELP. I need help. God I need your help in my life.

You see, Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups is not easy. It means facing up to some real problems you haven’t wanted to deal with. It means taking some risks. It means being honest and trusting God. But when you take this second step all of a sudden it’s no longer a matter of will power, God says "I will be with you".

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" (Isaiah 43:2). God says, "I will be with you this week, this month, this year, and for the rest of your life as you face those issues you’ve been afraid to face."

Where are you hurting today? Are you going through some deep waters? Do you feel like you’re going under for the last time? Are you going through the fire right now and the heat is on in your life? You’re either going to get burned up or burned out? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and feel powerless to change? There is a higher power you can plug in to. His name is Jesus Christ. The name above all names. The King of kings and Lord of lords. I invite you to open your heart and life to Him today. Take this second step. Respond to God.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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