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Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups

Part 3 - Letting Go

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(3/25) We are continuing in our series today called "Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups" based on Rick Warren’s "Road to Recovery". Today in Matthew 11:28-30, we'll look at three spiritual truths and embracing these truths will help in the process of breaking free from the Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups in our lives. Now this may not be an instantaneous process. It may take time. It may be a victory that comes only by persistence, patience, and faith in the mercy of God. But then again… God may move miraculously… because "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

My goal is that we walk together on this journey… and I say we, because there’s not a person in this room that has it all together. We’re all weak in different areas, we all need each other, and we have all different kinds of issues, problems, and hurts that we’re dealing with. In fact, this Wednesday night, we’re beginning a new Bible study/teaching series called Celebrate Recovery and I believe through this Bible study we can work these out together… biblically… We can conquer our hurts, habits, and hang-ups!

Now let me ask you this, "Have you ever noticed how the problems and burdens we face in life have a tendency to build on one another?" There was a lady who was having trouble with a skunk going into her basement, so she called the police and asked for help. They recommended that she make a trail of bread crumbs from the steps of the basement to the back of her yard, and wait for the skunk to follow it out. The next day she called the police station again and said, "Well, I did what you told me to do... but now I have two skunks in my basement."

Isn’t that what happens so often in life? It’s like a snowball and the more we push it and roll it out of our way the bigger and bigger it gets. In the same way, our burdens get bigger and bigger… heavier and heavier... and these burdens are simply problems that have spun out of control to the point of becoming unmanageable. And many times we deal with them by avoiding them or running away from them.

As Charlie Brown once said, "There's no problem so big that I can't run away from it."

However, we don't have to avoid the burdens of life, we don't have to run from them, because through Jesus Christ we can be released from our burdens. And today we'll learn how in Matthew 11:28-30. In this passage, there are three important truths. First of all... If you have burdens, Jesus offers you rest. Secondly, if you have burdens, Jesus has something to teach you. And third, if you have burdens, let Jesus take them.

Let’s read what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30… "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." NIV

One thing I have discovered is we all have a tendency to get stuck in life. We get stuck under the load of our relationships. We get stuck in our habits. We get stuck in grief when we lose a loved one. We get stuck in anger… we get stuck in our work… we just get stuck. We can’t get out from under it, the weight is too much, and then it becomes this vicious cycle in our lives.

Then you start feeling guilty that you’re stuck. You wish you could get out of it and change, but you can’t, and then you get angry at yourself. Angry because you should be able to shake this thing off. And then your anger turns to fear that you’re never going to get free of this. It’s got control of you. Maybe you realize you’re going to end up in the hospital. So then your fear turns to depression and you start feeling sorry for yourself. So you have a pity party. You give up. And you start the cycle all over again and get stuck deeper and deeper.

So how do you break out of that "stuckness"?

That’s what we’ve been talking about for a couple of weeks. Conquering our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. And so the first week we talked about admitting it, being honest with ourselves and saying, "I’ve got a problem". Last week, we talked about recognizing that not only am I powerless, but God has the power and He is willing to help out. So we talked about plugging into his power, because he knows everything going on in my life, and he offers to help me to change.

And so we’ve faced the reality that our lives are not perfect, and that God offers to help us change, so there is hope for us, but it’s not just enough to know that God will help you. You got to take action. You’ve got to make a decision. You’ve got to take a step and walk across the line. I have to consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. I have got to trust Him.

So that is where we come back to what God said in the Bible… Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me… all you who are weary and burdened... and I will give you rest."

1. Finding Rest in Christ.

So our first point is finding rest in Christ. Now I won't ask for a show of hands, but how many of you could use some rest? How many of you are weary and tired of carrying your burdens? How many of you would like to rest?

I would guess that the majority of us are struggling with burdens that are often just too much. Some are struggling with burden of guilt. You've committed sins in the past that you haven't forgiven yourself for… maybe you don't believe God can forgive you either… maybe you're struggling with sin right now, and you're trying to conquer it…. but you can't… it has become an unbearable burden.

Some are struggling with the burden of financial expectations. Some are struggling with the burden of busyness… you’re just too busy. Some are struggling with the burden of failing relationships. Your marriage isn't working out the way it should… your children are rebelling against your authority… your friendships are becoming strained and difficult to maintain. Not to mention the many other burdens we carry… health problems, emotional problems, and on and on and on.

And Jesus calls out… "Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest" (v. 28).

But something deep inside keeps us from doing that. Proverbs 18:12 says, "Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor." You see, pride will keep me from admitting I need help. Pride will keep me from responding to Jesus’ call.

And some of us are hanging on for dear life, you’ve got that proverbial branch and you’re saying, "This isn’t that bad. No problem, really, I’m fine." And this keeps you from surrendering your life to the care and control of Christ. Maybe you want to make the decision… you want to believe… but your faith just seems so small. Yet the Bible says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you."

You see it’s not the size of your faith that matters, it’s the size of what you put your faith in, it’s the size of your God. A little faith in a big God gets big results. Don’t let doubt keep you from taking this step. Let go and let God! Let Him give you rest!

If you're struggling through life carrying your burdens, Jesus is calling out to you... He's offering you rest and he has something to teach you. Our second point is "Learning from Christ".

2. Learning from Christ.

You see He wants to help... And He's saying... "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…" (Matthew 11:29).

Now this terminology is foreign to many of us, but the yoke is a farming tool. Farmers use the yoke to hook multiple animals together to have more power and accomplish more work. And so whenever a young ox needed to be trained he would be attached to the yoke of an older ox. The older ox would pull the yoke and the younger ox would learn by following in his footsteps even though he wasn't actually pulling any of the load.

And what Jesus is saying is, "Learn from me, walk alongside of me, I’ll pull the load so that you don't have to. Yield to me. Let me do the hard work. Take my yoke and learn from me."

So Jesus wants to help you. The Apostle Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…" (Galatians 2:20). Jesus wants to live through you. He wants to give you his strength. Yield to him and learn from him. Take his yoke and let him carry the weight.

Certainly some aspects of living the Christian life are tough, but don’t become discouraged… don’t forget that life is a learning process. Conquering hurts, habits, and hang-ups doesn't happen instantly. It doesn't happen overnight. It's a process that we grow into.

Now I have six children and today each of them are pretty good at walking. But learning to walk was a process that took months to develop. There were a lot of falls, spills, and failures along the way. Sometimes they fell on their butt, sometimes they fell on their hands, sometimes they fell on their face, but they all learned to walk because Dana and I were eager to teach them. It is exciting to see them learning to walk. And in the same way, Jesus is more than eager to teach you to conquer your hurts, habits, and hang-ups. He wants you to learn to walk victoriously in the Christian life. And the good news is that he is the greatest teacher who ever lived and he says, "Learn from me."

The problem is that many of us refuse to release our burdens, we’re struggling along under the weight of our own man-made yoke, and we reject his offer. We don’t take this next step of letting go. And it’s amazing to think that anybody would turn a deal like that down. Yet some of you have heard this before and you’ve never acted on it. It’s like having an unopened gift in the corner from last Christmas. The tree is gone but the gift is still sitting there. And God has said, "I want to give you this gift... I want to give you relief… I want to give you victory." And yet day after day you’ve done nothing about it… the gift remains… it’s sitting there all alone… unopened…

So what is it that keeps us from accepting his offer and receiving his gift? What causes me to put off giving my problems to God; to delay surrendering my life to the care and control of Christ? And I’ll tell you, for me it was a lot of pride… a lot of fear… and worry about the "what if’s!" But about fifteen years ago I took this step of faith and I said yes to Jesus Christ. I told him, "I don’t understand it all, but if you’re going to give me a better life… even eternal life… than come on!" And I opened up my life to the care and control of Christ.

The third point is this, I chose to let Christ take my burdens.

3. Choosing to let Christ.

I encourage you this morning not to let worry bother you and keep you from making this decision. This is the most important thing I’ll say today: The Christian life is a decision followed by a process. And all I’m talking about today is the decision. It’s making that choice to let go. To tell Jesus, "OK, let’s do it, let’s go for it." So what we’re talking about today is just getting to first base.

So how do we take this step? What does it mean? Well, first it means I accept God’s Son as my Savior, because I need to be saved. I need help. I realize I need Him in my life. And the Bible says, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Romans 10:9 says, "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10).

Will you go there with me this morning? Can I see a show of hands, those who believe in their heart and are willing to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord? Are you willing this morning to commit yourself to as much as you understand at this moment… to as much of Christ as you understand at this moment? Because that is good enough. That’s all that God asks. Let’s raise our hands to heaven… let’s confess that Jesus is Lord… let’s praise him!

Okay and second, I accept God’s Word as my standard for living. From now on I’ve got an instruction manual… a book to live by... and it’s called the Bible. God says this is your standard by which you evaluate life around you. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work."

Third I accept God’s will as my plan and my goal in life. The first question to ask each day is, "Lord, you woke me up, you’ve given me another day, what do you want me to do with it?" You see it’s God’s will. I don’t have to understand it. I just know God has a purpose and I want to fulfill that purpose. So God’s will becomes my strategy for life, whether I understand it or not.

And fourth, I accept God’s power as my strength. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." No longer do I have to rely on my own power or energy. When we get plugged into God, he gives us the power to be all he created us to be.

So in the book of Revelation, Jesus says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him" (Revelation 3:20). In other words, Jesus says, "I’m standing at the door of your life and I’m knocking and I’m saying I want to come into your life," but you see, he’s a gentleman. He won’t beat the door down.

We need to open the door. And the key that unlocks that door is your willingness. Today as you’re Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups you don’t need willpower; you need a willingness to accept God’s power in your life, to go by His controls, and His system.

The Federal Aviation Administration says that a lot of small plane crashes could’ve been prevented if the person in the cockpit, when they got lost in the clouds or bad weather had simply picked up the microphone and said, "I need help." But are they going to do that? Do you think a pilot wants to admit he’s lost? To admit that he needs help? No! He wants to control it on his own, to be his own boss, to set his own destiny even if it means flying into that mountain, that power line, or tree.

Today, you have made it along pretty well in life, you’re flying along, you’ve controlled everything but it’s an inevitable part of life that you’re going to have bad weather. You’re going to hit the rough spots. You’re going to hit the clouds where you can’t see and you don’t even know which direction you’re going. At that point you’ve got to pick up the microphone and switch to God’s system. You’ve got to tell him, "I surrender… help me…" I encourage you to surrender to the care and control of God.

Jesus promised a life different than what most people think the "religious" life is all about. He didn't preach a burdensome life of religious duty and spiritual exhaustion. Jesus preached a life of rest and peace. A way that is easy. And a burden that is light.

All because he is there to carry our burdens. He bore them so that you wouldn't have to. The Bible says, "He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right" (1 Peter 2:24; NLT). This morning, right now, you can be released from your burdens. He will take them and set you free. Give them all to Jesus this morning, as we close in worship, in encourage to come forward in prayer, to give Jesus your shattered dreams, your wounded heart, your brokenness… and he will turn your sorrow into joy.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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