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Breaking the Chains Part 3: Forgiven

Recorded on August 8th, 2018

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In the third and final day of Bogart UMC’s 2018 Revival, Pastor Alissa Rothschild brings the power with a stirring message of forgiveness taken from the Bible, personal life, and mixed-martial arts.

Transcript of Sermon:

[Music] amen would you please be seated let’s pray God I thank you so much for today I thank you for these last three days this time of learning and growing together as a community growing closer to you as individuals and as a group god I pray tonight that we would be able to come before you in a wholly new way so that we could experience your love and grace and mercy as if for the first time refreshed completely to take on life and all of its temptations ready to do battle toe-to-toe with the things that want to call us away from you and may you God as we do that walk with us hand-in-hand doing all the heavy lifting just as you promised and it’s in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior that I pray and that we pray together oh man we tonight are going to be doing something a little bit different the last two days have been very practical teaching today I wanted to end with a call to the altar a call to renew your commitment to God if you’ve already given your life to God a call to give your life to God for the first time if you have yet to do that tonight we’re going to talk about what happens when we fall down and mess up the last two nights we’ve been talking about how we are driven by this desire engine inside of us and this desire engine wants the things of this world it wants power it wants achievement it wants food it wants alcohol or drugs whatever your thing is we all have at least one or two desire engines inside of us that are hungry for us to feed it hungry for us to do things that take us away from the things that are really the best for us so we talked about where we’re vulnerable we talked about how to change our habits so that we can rid ourselves of that routine that keeps us bound to sin but the truth is is that when we leave here today no matter how good of a promise we make to God or no matter how much we know we’re going to stick with whatever our plan is we’re gonna mess up we’re not gonna stay on track the whole time and what happens when we do mess up in fact we’ve all come here tonight with a past that followed behind us and that past is full of our mistakes full of our heartbreaks and full of things that we know we shouldn’t have done and we still carry them with us you know I come to you as a highly imperfect person I lived my life for so long so far away from God I didn’t accept God into my life until I was in college in my life before then I think could have been highly defined by most of the sins in this world in fact as I think about it I think sin for me was a coping mechanism for the chaos in my life now I wouldn’t have called it sin then and I wouldn’t have seen it as sin because my life was very worldly and it was just what everybody did so that’s just what I did too but when I came to know Christ my life radically changed in fact since the day that I accepted Christ into my life I have had numerous dreams where I have had nightmares really where I have where I’m living back into the lifestyle that I used to live and I wake up from those dreams and I cannot tell you the amount of joy and gladness I feel when I read I was only dreaming because the life I live now is not something that I never thought possible not only was my life chaos but the family life that I lived in was full of chaos nobody in my family was a believer nobody and my family followed God and we had a really chaotic household and so when I look at the life that Joe and I have now granted it’s not perfect we have a lot of struggles we we fight every now and then I might try and kill him once in a while with cat food but our life is beautiful and because Christ is with me even when things get harder than I think I can handle it’s still beautiful and you wonder how is that even possible but it is so I would say that my life after Christ even when I’m the least Christian that I could be in that pause in that process is is on fire compared to the drudgery that I lived before I knew God it’s laughable that I think that I can hide myself from God but I try sometimes when I first became a believer I put up some walls around me between me and God like I said yes to him and I said yes to this relationship but I still was a little bit uncertain that he really knew me well enough to accept me as his child because I wasn’t really certain that he knew all of the things that I had done before he said yes to me before he said yes it loved me and forgave me and accepted me as his child and there was this part of me I’m not gonna lie that I thought that you know if if if he ever really understood the person I really was I don’t think he could love me the way the Bible says that he loves me but the truth is that no matter how far you have gone from the love of God there’s nothing you can do that makes you unacceptable to him if you stand before him and seek forgiveness and seek his love and seek a relationship with him and on our journey to freedom on our journey to living closer to God we all have these kind of ups and downs in our lives we have times in our spiritual walk when we’re just on fire where everything is amazing and life is beautiful and a lot of times this happens when everything is awful in our real lives but the spiritual part of us is just oh so excited it just feels so great to be his child and then there’s other times where we kind of get a little lakhs of days ago yeah lakhs of days ago that’s a good word we get a little slow with our relationship with God maybe because life is going to easy and we don’t need him as much as we did before there are times when things get really hard and we actually get a little bit mad at God and sometimes we pull away from him then or sometimes the sin that happens because we are sinners still makes us think that we’re no longer acceptable to the God that loved us even though we were sinners when he first loved us and we begin to believe that the sin in us is the true us more than we believe God’s love for us we begin to believe that the sin in us has the most power is most defining and we forget to understand God’s love for us overcomes all of that when we begin to believe that the sin in us more than we believe God’s love for us we tend to do a few things and it depends on your personality or that time in your life sometimes you just run away from God just say I’m done I’m out or people who haven’t accepted God into their life this is a lot of times where they are they run as far as they can as fast as they can because they can’t have anything to do with this thing called God and then other people they still look like they’re living the life they they might show up to church every week they probably serve the church and missions somehow sometimes they’re even in Bible studies and they go to all the church events but on the inside on the inside they’re dead or close to dead they’re just going through the motions of being a Christian but on the inside that fire is gone on the inside they don’t feel life anymore because they believe the sin in them more than they believe God’s love for them and then other times you just build the wall you say yes there’s God I love God but then there’s this big wall between you and God because you don’t trust that love and you don’t want to be let down by that love you don’t want to be hurt by that love had a conversation I’ve actually said this a few times because I’ve experienced this myself sometimes I think the hope of Christ and hope itself can be one of the most painful feelings because when Hope doesn’t come to fruition that’s hard to manage in your life and you start to put up walls between you and God because things that you have hoped for things that you have prayed for haven’t come to light all three of these things have something in common and fundamentally it is that we’re not trusting his love in the core of who we are because if we think about it we’ve done some pretty bad things right we’ve used food to fix our brokenness we’ve lied we’ve lashed out in anger we’ve cheated we’ve stolen we’ve privately disregarded God thinking oh my gosh God is just for people who were weak right people who really are strong don’t need a God to rule them in their lives we sit back and let others do the work that we know we should be doing ourselves we’re addicted to shopping into pornography into alcohol into TV sometimes we’re lazy sometimes we’re stressed about things that we shouldn’t even be thinking about we are sinners though redeemed and as sinners we get caught in the trap of believing the sin in us more than we believe God’s love for us and it becomes almost impossible to believe that God will forgive me again and again and again it becomes impossible believe sometimes that God has not absolutely fed up with me and ready to just put me in a corner for about ten years and then maybe come back to me every time I talk to my children about them doing something about disobeying me I’ve said to them multiple times if you would just listen to what I’m saying which if you would just do what I’m asking you to do your life would be so much easier I’m not asking this of you because I’m a tyrant I’m asking this of you because I’m experienced and I know that this is better for you and that guess what it’s gonna be easier for you on the other side if you just do what I’m asking you to do and almost every time I say something like that to my children inside my head is this little cackle of laughter that says yeah Lissa if you would just do what I’m asking you to do I do have some experience you know I am God right but we ask of our children sometimes we’re not willing to do of ourselves because we’re human and we have that sinful nature inside of us because we’re human and we have that desire engine revving loudly telling you what you need and what that’s telling you is so far from what you actually need so why does God continue to forgive us why does he allow us to continue to stray and every time say yes daughter yes son come home well the story of the forgive of forgiveness this maze it surprised me years ago when I first realized this is written all over Scripture when I first became a Christian what I was taught about God is that the god of the Old Testament was this warmongering angry God but all over the Old Testament is testimony to the forgiveness of God in Isaiah 55 5 through 6 it says seek the Lord while he may be found call on him when he is near let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts let them turn to God and what he will have mercy on them and to our God for he will freely pardon and then in numbers 49 it says in keeping with your magnificent unfailing love please pardon the sins of this people just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt and again in Psalm 86 5 it says O Lord you are so good so ready to forgive so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help and again in psalm 130 from the depths of the of despair o lord I cry for your help hear my cry O Lord pay attention to my prayer Lord if you kept a record of our sins who or O’Lord could ever survive but you offer forgiveness that we might learn to fear you I am counting on the Lord yes I am counting on him I have put my hope in his word I long for the Lord more than the centuries long for the dawn yes more than the centuries long for the dawn o Israel hope in the Lord for with the Lord there is unfailing love his redemption overflows he himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin and that’s just a few selections that’s not the only selections of forgiveness and love that are present in the Old Testament that’s just a piece God is the God who is the same in the Old Testament and the New Testament he’s a God of mercy he is a God of love he is a God of forgiveness he’s a God of redemption and then when the New Testament comes God launches his final assault against sin because he takes it the next step no longer is it just that God forgives us No he decides to rid us eradicate us from the power of sin and darkness forever and he does that by sending his son to walk with us to teach us to show it what it looks like to be a human who can walk step by step with God he sends his son His only Son to pay the price for our sins so that not only what our guilts be dealt with but sin would be completely removed from our lives we look to John 3:16 and we see that favorite verse and as an aside did you know that the guy who made that famous at the football games didn’t even know what that meant is that not crazy he just wanted to paint he just wanted somebody pay attention to him he wasn’t a believer God and what 3:16 tells us is that for God loved the world so much that He gave His only one and only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life and in Romans 5:8 we were told that God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us why while we were still sinners throughout the New Testament we are told about different people who had sinned and how Jesus reacted to their sin there was the woman who was caught in the middle of adultery and they brought her to Jesus expecting Jesus to rebuke her expect in Jesus to make the crowd do what they’re supposed to do which is stone her and what does Jesus do to this incredibly sinful woman he says to the crowd well sure go ahead but he who has not sinned that’s the person that should throw the first stone she walked away from that experience with grace mercy and love and then we have Peter the great disciple the one who walked closest to Jesus three times when Jesus is going through the most difficult part of his life on earth when he is experiencing pain unlike anything we will ever experience ourselves three times Peter denies his association with Jesus three times Peter walks away from a relationship with Jesus and what does Jesus do after he ascends after he rises from the dead not ascend yet but after he rises from the dead he sits with Peter on a beach and he tells Peter three times that he loves him he’s forgiven sinner after sinner life after life forgiveness is given to us it is free completely entirely free but still we have yet to answer why why does he forgive us why is it still okay for us to go be silly I was gonna say something else but that was interpret why is it okay for us to sin and come home again time after time I can see one time I could see the one time of coming to coming to know Christ and asking for forgiveness and becoming a Christian but then I would think we should just be the best we can be always but he continues to forgive us and he continues to accept us and I think the best illustration of why he continues to forgive and accept us comes from the parable of the prodigal son and now Alan shared this with us a few weeks ago and it’s it’s a parable that’s been shared that so many people know even non-believers know the parable of the prodigal son and I hesitated to use it here because it is so familiar that sometimes when something’s familiar we China just tend to go oh yeah yeah I know that story and we don’t really sit in it and we don’t tend to hear it completely so tonight I want to tell you a story and I’m gonna ask you to just listen as I read this story over you you know Jesus spoke in parables in narratives because that’s how we learn and that’s how we remember if you think about it every time you talk to somebody you’re speaking and narrative anytime you tell somebody what happened in the past you tell them in a story form it’s how we relate with one another so Jesus took this form of relating with us so that we could truly understand what he was trying to say so I’m gonna read to you the parable of the lost son I would like for you if it’s easier to eat for you to pay attention and just hear if you want to you can close your eyes or just stare off in space whatever you want to do but I want for you as I read this to you to pretend that you’re the father in this story I want to picture I want you to picture yourself as the dad I want you to think about what you would be feeling when these different things happen I want you to put yourself in his shoes here’s the Word of God there was a man who had two sons the younger one said to his father father give me my share of this estate so he divided his property between them not long after that the younger son got together all he had and set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living after he had spent everything there was a severe famine in the whole country and he began to be in need so he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs he longed to fill a stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating but no one gave him anything when he came to his senses he said how many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare and Here I am starving to death I will set out and go back to my father and say to him father I have sinned against heaven and against you I am no longer worthy to be called your son make me like one of your hired servants so he got up and went to his father and wally was still a long way off his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him he ran to his son threw his arms around him and kissed him the son said to the father father I have sinned against heaven and against you I am no longer worthy to be called your son but the father said to his servants quick bring the best robe and put it on him put a ring on his fingers and sandals on his feet bring the fatted calf and kill it let us feast and celebrate for the son of mine was dead and is alive again he was lost and is found so they began to celebrate when I read this I find myself putting my stuff in my being in the shoes of God which trust me I’m not trying to say I’m God so that’s not it but picture God working in the field and he sees some movement off to the left side of him and and his heart quickens a little bit and his pace comes up a little bit because he’s thinking is that him is that her is she coming home and he looks up and it’s it’s just a cow and the disappointment that it wasn’t you returning home to him or or maybe he’s in the house and he hears the door click and his pulse search to race and he thinks my son is finally home I know he’s home I know he’s here today and that is what God is feeling about every single one of us here when we step outside of his will for us or for those of us who have not made a decision to walk with God yet he is eagerly anticipating the day when you will say I’m done with this junk I am ready to follow you I’m ready to say yes I’m ready to step into the love and the mercy that you have freely offered to me he is so anxious for that moment he is so anxious for us to leave behind the cares of this world and to step into pace with the spirit he is that father eagerly awaiting the sound of the son who has left him who’s living a hard life because the difference between God and the Father in this story is that God knows what you’re doing when you’re away from him God sees the pain that you’re enduring when you’re away from him God sees the pain that you may be causing to others when you are away from him and God is so hungry and so desperate for you to come home I was watching a movie and it was called warrior and the movie itself is not important but there was this image in the movie that really identified this love to me when I saw it I thought of the prodigal son and I knew in an instant this was a visual interpretation of that you see the reason why God forgives us over and over and over again is because He loves us it’s as simple as that he loves us he could not love you more and I wish I wish with all of my might I could understand just a little bit of God’s love for me because I know I haven’t understood it all completely I know that my life would be different if I could just step into his love just a little bit more and this movie warrior was about a family that was broken big surprise because that’s what happens these days right we all live in broken families and it was about two brothers who had lived in a drug-addicted home their mother and father did not get along the mother and father had lots of issues and then the family split and one brother went with the mother and one brother went with the father and the brothers the youngest brother really was so angry about the whole thing and real so angry at his brother for leaving and not going with him and that younger brother lived a life that was just filled with her hardship he was addicted to medication and was addicted to alcohol he was struggling the older brother though had broken through those changes the older brother was living a pretty great life not great in terms of awesome but great in terms of healthy he had broken some of the chains of his past he had a very sick daughter though and the end of this movie comes to a point when the two brothers come together for a boxing match of sorts if you know what mixed martial arts is or MMA it’s this type of boxing where they are allowed to kick basically it’s the only way I can describe it because I don’t get it but that’s about what it is and they end up fighting each other at the very end of this one brother the oldest one totally loving the younger brother wanting the younger brother to experience freedom wanting the younger brother to have a better life wanting the younger brother to accept him back into his life the younger brother wanted nothing to do with the older brother was still so angry and in the middle of this fight the younger brother gets really hurt and I remind myself I remember thinking how’s this gonna work out because this older brother is a really nice guy is he going to be able to finish this fight because he loves his brother is he going to take advantage of this situation and the younger brother refuses to give up he refuses to stop he’s just so angry and he’s just so filled with rage and in the middle of this as they’re facing offices they’re hitting each other the oldest brother just starts saying to the younger brother it’s okay it’s okay over and over again as this fight continues the older brother says to the younger brother it’s okay and he gets the younger brother in this vise grip that the younger brother cannot get himself out of and as he’s in this vise grip he just continues to say it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay and you see the younger brother finally finally decide to tap out to give up but he’s not giving up just in the fight what you see in this scene is the understanding that this brother is finally decided to give up the love that his brother wants to give him to give up and say to give up the pain and the hurt that he has been feeling in this moment he is stepping into the love that is being offered him and I think that’s what God is like with us he is with us always he has got his hands on us always and no matter how hard we fight and no matter how much we want to do things of this world God has got his arms around you saying I love you I love you I love you it’s oh okay we are created by God loved by God and redeemed by God and we have been set free by God God is offering us all every moment of every day of our lives a do-over whenever you need it it’s available to you all you have to do is stand before him and ask for it Oh God I have sinned against you in heaven father please forgive me of my sins I would love to experience the love of Christ or I would love to walk with Him anew or I would love to leave this thing behind that has trailed me ever since I said yes to you the first time but God please take it away and help me to walk closer with you see if freedom is what you want today freedom from sin freedom from the power of temptation freedom from hurt and pain and sorrow that freedom is yours right now this week we have taken a deep dive into our strongholds that keep us from God the strongholds that keep us from living a life of freedom the strongholds that put up a wall between us and the ability to experience God’s love fully and completely together we have looked inside ourselves and taken account of our sinful nature tonight I want to offer you the opportunity to turn those strongholds over to God to repent of your sin to repent of your weakness in the face of temptation and to take the first step towards freedom from that stronghold you were each given a card tonight you have it I don’t have it you have it three by five card I’m gonna since I realized I didn’t put the pins out Janet we’re gonna walk around with some pins you know there’s gonna be something every night right we’re gonna give you a pen there’s pens and a fuse beautiful use the pens and the fuse if you don’t have one I will bring you one this is the what do we call this basket this is the anointed red basket I’m gonna ask you if you would be so brave as to write down the stronghold that you would like to give back to God the one that you want to work on now we’ve talked about that we all have a few but we need to choose one right now because we can’t fix everything in one foul swoop ride it on that card bring it in here put it up put it in here facedown nobody else needs to see it and then take a minute and pray offer yourself to God ask him for forgiveness ask him for help these next days in these next weeks in these next months as you try to walk closer with him in a new way wow that was some lightning God really wants you to do it I’m telling you right now offer it to him if you would like for me to pray with you I’ll be over on the side ready to pray with you if you have not accepted Christ into your life if you don’t know this thing that set my life on fire and then has allowed me to live a life that I never knew possible I would love to share with you if you want to pray that’s that prayer with me today I will be up here ready to do that with you if you’re not quite ready yet my information is on that or on that bulletin you can call or text the church anytime or text me and call any time and I will be willing and ready to take those steps with you whenever you’re ready so Tom’s gonna play some music for us we’re going to take a few minutes to allow you time to do this come up as you’re ready and then we will end by singing I surrender all together