How do you break out of the cycle of despair?
If you’ve followed through on the first two choices in this series, you’re already moving out of this vicious cycle. You’ve made the “Reality Choice,” where you admitted your need. You’ve also made the “Hope Choice,” believing that you matter to God and that He has the power to help you.
Now you are ready to make the third choice, the “Commitment Choice,” where you make the decision to walk across the line. You take a step across that line of decision – a step toward God that says you are giving it all to Him and a step away from the old way of doing it all yourself.
If you haven’t made this choice as yet, it will be the most important choice in your life – the choice to accept Christ. For others who have already chosen Christ, this choice will mean a renewed commitment to let go of their lives and give them over to Christ’s care and control.
Well, I'm going to share a story with you from a man named Rodney, and he says this. He says, I can remember as a kid going to the beach and trying to hold a beach ball down underwater. I could do it for a while, he said, but soon it became too hard to hold down. I had to use a lot of concentration and constant pressure to keep it held under the water. And over time it sapped my energy. All I could focus on was holding down that beach ball. I started getting tired, and as the wind picked up, the waters around me got rougher, making it harder and harder to keep it submerged. Eventually I couldn't hold it down any longer. The ball shot up out of the water and hit me in the face. Rodney goes on. He says, Sometimes in life we do this with our deep hurts. We try submerging or controlling our life struggles only to experience greater pain. Then, when life stresses begin to pick up and the pressure becomes too much to handle on our own and our problems pop up, hitting us and our family. This only causes more pain and wounds.
I've learned this lesson in my own recovery. Rodney says, healthy change and growth cannot and will not take place until we are willing to turn our life will and our life struggles over to our higher power, Jesus Christ. Allowing God to have control of my life gives me so much energy and freedom. Thank God we don't have to face these struggles on our own. Can you relate to any part of Rodney's story? I think he hit the nail right on the head. He described how some of us are trying to live our lives. We take desperate measures, trying to keep our lives hurts, hang ups and habits buried so they don't come crashing to the surface. We try so hard to keep up a good front ending that everything is okay, when in reality we're struggling with real pain and real issues that we desperately try to ignore. And then we get stuck. We get stuck trying to keep it all together while our world is falling apart. We get stuck in unhealthy relationships and in addictive habits. We get stuck in grief or sexual relationships. We get stuck and we cannot get unstuck on our own power.
And so the cycle of despair sets in. And I put a picture of the cycle of despair on your outline for you. We start feeling guilty about our behavior. We wish we can get out of our mess, but we can't. And after a lot of failed attempts, we get angry with ourselves and others. I should be able to change. I ought to be able to get over this. But we can't. And our anger grows over time, our anger turns to the fear that things are never going to change. And when we begin to realize that our hurts hang ups and habits are controlling us. Our fear eventually turns to depression. We start feeling sorry for ourselves and we become filled with yet more guilt. Finally, we give up and say, I can't change. I quit. And the cycle of despair starts all over again. Well, how do you break out of the cycle of despair? Well, if you followed through on the first two choices that we've looked at in this series, you're already moving out of this vicious cycle. You've made the first choice where you admitted your need. This is also known as the reality choice.
It's where you step out of denial and acknowledge the reality of your situation. You have a problem and or problems that you cannot fix on your own. You've also made the second choice, believing that you matter to God and that he has the power to help you. This is also known as the hope choice. Your situation may seem overwhelming, but you are not alone. You are not without hope. There is hope for you and your situation because there is a God who loves you more than you can possibly know, and he is both willing and able to help you. Now you're ready for the third choice, which is also known as the commitment choice. This is the choice where you make the decision to walk across the line. You take a step across that line of decision, you're going to take a step away from the old way of trying to do it all yourself, and you're going to take a step toward God that says you're giving it all to Him. You're going to give Him the good, the bad and the ugly in your life, all of it. If you haven't made this choice as of yet, it will be the most important choice that you ever make in your life, the choice to accept Christ.
For those of you who have already chosen Christ, his third choice will mean a renewed commitment to let go of your life and give it over to Christ's care and control. And that might include giving God a part of your life that you may have never handed over to Him before until now. Choice three is about letting go. His consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ's care and control. Right now, as I speak, Jesus is reaching out to you, waiting for you to step across that line and into his arms. Listen to what he says. Matthew, chapter eleven, verse 28 to 30. Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Do you hear Him speaking those words to you right now? Come to me. Jesus is saying, your life will be easier, you're load lighter, you will have relief, release and rest. You will be rejuvenated. Give me the control and care of your life and watch what I do for you.
That's what he's offering you. What an amazing deal. Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, is calling you to come to Him to find a solution to everything that wearies your burden soul. Why would anybody turn him down? And yet many have heard this invitation before, but never walked across the line to Him. Choosing to step across that line into Christ's care and control is the most important decision you will ever make. What's holding you back? What's delaying your decision to surrender your problems and your life to the care and control of Christ? There are five things that can keep people from making this third choice. The first one is pride. Pride often keeps us from admitting that we need God's help. In Proverbs, chapter 18, verse twelve says, before his downfall, a person's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. And blessed are the humble or the meek, says the beatitude for this choice. Now, many people think that meekness is the same thing as weakness. But in reality, meekness and weakness are at opposite ends of the spectrum. In fact, the Greek word for meekness actually means strength under control. The word is used to describe a wild stallion that is tamed and taught to be ridden.
The stallion still has all its strength, but now its strength is under control, ready for its master's use. God asks you to be humble, to lay down your pride and be meek in relation to Him. Meekness is surrender. It's submitting. It's agreeing to do what God wants done in your life. Now, maybe you're not ready to make this life life-changing choice. Your pride may still be keeping you from committing your life and will and care to Christ's care and control. Perhaps you still need a greater dose of pain in your life before you turn to Him, if that's what's needed. God may allow this to happen in order to finally get your attention. The second one is guilt. And this is another thing that will keep us from walking across that line and into God's arms. We may be ashamed to ask God to help us. In Psalm chapter 40, verse twelve, it says, for troubles without number have surrounded me. My iniquities have overtaken me. I am unable to see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my courage leaves me. Another translation of this verse puts it this way problems far too big for me to solve are piled higher than my head.
Meanwhile, my sins, too many to count, have all caught up with me. And I am ashamed to look up. Have you ever felt that way? You ever felt ashamed to look up? Our guilt can make us ashamed to ask God for help. You may be embarrassed to ask Him for help, or you may think God doesn't know all the things that you've done wrong and that he will never forgive you if he actually found out about them. But you're wrong. He knows, even though he knows it all. There is no sin in your life that God will not or cannot forgive. He wants to forgive all of your guilt. That's why Christ went to the cross. Number three is fear. Are you afraid of what you might have to give up if you surrender the care and control of your life to Christ? Fear takes on many forms. Sometimes we're afraid to trust God. Sometimes we turn to God only as our last resort. We're afraid to let go and trust Him. We're afraid of the unknown, afraid of what might happen if we do. Right now, you may be hanging on for dear life, saying, things aren't that bad.
No problem. Really, I'm fine. But you're not. You're not fine. You're just afraid of letting go and trusting Him. Well, sometimes we're afraid of losing control. And the truth of the matter is that we're all controlled by someone or something at all times. To some extent, you're controlled by the way your parents brought you up. You're controlled by the opinions of other people. You're controlled by your hurts, your hangups, and your habits. Part of our control issue is fear of losing our freedom. But you want to know what real freedom is? True lasting freedom is found in choosing who controls you. When you choose to give up the care and control of your life to Christ, he sets you free. Jesus said to some of those who had believed in Him during his earthly ministry in John 832, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. And the Apostle Paul wrote about one of the things Jesus accomplished for us through his work on the cross. In Galatians five one, he says, for freedom, Christ has set us free. When Jesus His given the keys to a person's life, it is only then that they get to experience freedom, to live their life as God designed it to be lived free from the things that keep us shackled to our hurts, hangups, and habits.
But a lot of people are afraid to hand over the keys to Him. They are afraid of giving up control of their life, even though, as we've already seen so far in this series, it's our being in control of our own lives that gets us into the messes we don't want to be in. When we're the ones driving the car of our life, we're the ones that drive it right off the cliff. So it's time to do what Carrie Underwood has been singing about all these years it's time to give the keys of our life to Jesus and let Him take the wheel. Now, sometimes we're afraid of becoming a religious fanatic. Maybe you've been afraid to open up all of your life to the care and control of Christ, because you think he might turn you into a fanatic, a religious nut. But Jesus does the exact opposite. He brings sanity where insanity has had its way. The Bible tells of a story of a man who was filled with demons. And this man lived in a cemetery among the tombs and was so wild and out of control that the local people had tried to bind his up, but he was too strong for them.
Nobody could control him. The demons tormented him, and he cried out day and night and cut himself with stones. Now, it's interesting that cutting his resurfaced as a current destructive way to deal with inner pain, but when his man saw Jesus, he walked across that line to him. No, no, scratch that. He ran across the line to him. The Bible says in Mark chapter five, verses six, when the demon possessed man saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. And after Jesus called the demons out of that man that people found Him. It says in Mark 515, sitting there dressed and in his right mind so what are you afraid of? What are you holding on to that makes you think you can't let go? Is it a relationship, an ambition, a habit, a lifestyle or a possession? Jesus asks this all-important question, Matthew 16, verse 26. For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life? When you make this third choice, you give up everything to God's control. God takes what you give Him.
He cleans it up and he turns it around. He adds new meaning, new purpose, new significance, and new vitality to your life, and he gives it back to you in a whole new way. Just come to God and say, God, I don't even know what I don't want to give up. I just know that I don't want to live this way anymore. And I know I want my life to be under your control. God here is a blank check. Here's my life. All you have to do is trust Him. He will take care of the rest. Now, doubt... Doubt is the fourth thing that can keep a person from making this third choice. Have you ever thought to yourself, I want to believe, but my faith is just too small? If that's you, you need to know another story found in the Bible, in Mark chapter nine, about a father who had a son, that had a spirit that made him mute. Let me read it for you. Mark, chapter nine, starting number 17. Someone from the crowd answered him. Answered Jesus, teacher, I brought my son to you. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak.
Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it up, but they couldn't. He replied to them, you unbelieving generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me. So they brought the boy to him. When the Spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into convulsions. He fell to the ground and rolled around foaming at the mouth. How long has this been happening to him? Jesus asked his father. From childhood, he said, and many times it has thrown him into the fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him, if you can, everything is possible for the one who believes. Then verse 24 immediately the father of the boy cried out, I do believe. Help my unbelief. And that was good enough for Jesus, and he healed the Father's, Son, and maybe you need to say with this man Jesus, there's a part of me that believes that you will help me with my life, but please help the part of me that's having a hard time believing.
Say that to Jesus, if that's where you're at right now. You don't have to have a big faith to decide to give Christ the care and control of your life. As a matter of fact, Jesus says in Matthew 17, verse 20, for truly, I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you. You see, it's not the size of your faith that matters. It's the who or the what that you put your faith in that does. You can have a giant faith and put it in the wrong things like money and possessions and come up empty time and time and time again. Or you can have a little faith and put it in our big God and get amazing results. The fifth thing that can keep a person from making this third choice is ignorance. Now, when a lot of people hear the word ignorance, it feels like it should be a derogatory word to them, but it's not. It's a word that simply means lack of knowledge or information. So if a person is ignorant about something, all it means is that they don't have the right information about it yet.
And when they get the right information about it, they won't be ignorant anymore. Now, there are many people who choose to turn Jesus down, even though they do understand who he is and what he's done for them. They just decide they'd rather be in control of their own lives. Thank you very much. But there are many people, many who have never walked across the line to Jesus simply because they have never heard anything about this choice before. They've never been told anything about Jesus. They've never had anyone explain the Bible to them. They don't have the knowledge they need to make an informed decision to follow Christ. And you need to know that this describes a lot of people in our culture today. That's because we live in a postchristian culture in recent generations, everybody grew up going to church, everybody had a Bible and everyone had a basic understanding of what the Bible says. But that does not describe our current generation. It's mind boggling to me how many people I've personally talked with who share with me that they have never been to church. They don't know what the Bible is about, and they've known virtually nothing about Jesus.
When I was growing up, my mom took me and my brother to church from when I was about five years old, all the way up to when I was about 13 years old. And I learned the basics of the Bible and I learned who Jesus was. But I stopped going to church when I was about 13 and I wandered around spiritually in my life until I was in my very early 20s when God called me back to follow Him. I started coming back to church. I started reading the Bible again. I picked up right where I left off when I was 13. I already had a biblical foundation laid in my life, a foundation to build upon. But so many people today do not have that same foundation in their life. They have nothing to draw on or to build upon. They are starting from ground zero. These people can't reject what they've never heard of before. And some people haven't made the choice to accept Christ because they don't know anything about Him, let alone that they can accept Him. They are ignorant about Jesus. So how can we expect these people to know anything about Jesus if nobody has ever told them?
Well, the Apostle Paul asks and answers the exact same question in the first part of Romans, chapter ten, verse 14, he says this how then can they, speaking of unbelievers, call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? Paul is asking a rhetorical question here. How can someone believe in something they've never heard about? They can't. So how can they hear? Paul answers this question for us as he finishes off the verse in Romans, chapter ten, verse 14 with another rhetorical question how can they hear without a preacher? People who have never heard about Jesus need someone to preach Jesus to them. If you are here tonight and you have never heard about Jesus and what he's done for you and made available to you, just hold tight, because later in this very message, we are going to take ignorance off the table for you. Later in this message, I'm going to explain to you what God has done for you and what Jesus is inviting you into. I'm going to give you the information and the knowledge that you need to make this choice. And after today, you will not be able to say anymore.
I never knew. Nobody has ever told me. Because you will know after today, because I'm going to tell you. So the bottom line is this don't let any of these five things keep you from making this third choice. Don't let your pride, your guilt, your fear, your ignorance, or your doubt stop you from committing your life and will to Christ's care and control. If you were to make this decision tonight, your decision might sound something like this I open up all of my life to the care and control of Christ. I don't know how it's all going to work out, but I know it's the right thing to do. I know it's the truth, so I'm just going to do it. As we begin moving forward in the direction towards Jesus, it's important for you to know or be reminded that the Christian life is a two part sequence of events. The Christian life starts with a one time decision, and then it's followed by a process that lasts the rest of your life. All this third choice is asking us to do is to make this initial decision. The process will follow. Let's see what this means for you to step across that line and into the arms of Jesus.
If you've ever studied the strategies that the United States employed in World War II, you would know that they used a dual phased plan of attack in the Pacific. When the US. Freed an island from Japanese occupation, they used the same strategy on every island, and it worked every time. In the first phase, the planes would fly to the island that had just been taken captive, and they would start dropping bombs and various explosives. This part of the strategy was called the softening up period. Many of you are in the softening up period right now. All kinds of explosions are going off in your life, sending fragments everywhere. You're saying, Life isn't working anymore. And if I'm being on this, it hasn't been for a long time. You may have come to the point where you're saying, yes, I need something beyond myself. I need a power greater than myself to intervene. My hurts, hang ups and habits are softening up my pride, my guilt, my fears and my doubts. I need help. I need Jesus in my life. In phase two, the Marines would establish a beachhead. They would get boots on the ground.
It may have only been 20 yards deep and 200 yards wide, but they would get a presence on the island. Now by establishing the beachhead. Had they completely liberated the island? No, the beachhead was just the beginning. It was from the beachhead that they began to fight the battles. Sometimes they would move 100 yards forward. Sometimes they would get pushed back 50. Sometimes they won the battle and sometimes they lost. But everybody knew that once they had established a beachhead, total liberation of the island was inevitable in the history of World War II. Once the Marines landed and established a beachhead, they never lost an island. It was just a matter of time until the entire island would be set free. When you make this third choice, god establishes a beachhead in your life. God removes your sin from you, and he comes to live inside of you by way of His Holy Spirit that he gives you. God makes his home in you. You become his personal place of residence. The Bible calls it conversion or being born again. And when that happens, does it mean that everything in your life is perfect overnight?
No, but it means that God has a presence in your life now. He's got a beachhead. And for the rest of your life, he will be setting you free from your hurts, hang ups, and habits, little by little. It's a process, but first you have to trust God to take care of you. You have to let Him in. But what if you're worried that in this battle of life, you won't be able to hold on? If that's you, I've got some great news for you. You don't have to worry, because it's not our job to hold on. God will do the holding, and he won't ever let you go. And nothing can take you out of his hand. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in Romans, chapter eight, verses 38 to 39. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. When you put your faith in Christ, you are brought into fellowship with Him.
You become his. You are joined to God by the power of his love, and there is no force that exists that is stronger than the love of God. So if it's the love of God that unites you to Him, there's nothing that can happen that will separate you from Him. When God's got you, he's got you It's kind of like the protective feeling a parent has for his our her children. If you were to help your small child cross a busy street, you would hold, you would take grab of their hand. And as you're walking across the street, your child might, as little children tend to do, want to let go. But no matter how much your child wanted to let go of your hand, you wouldn't let go. Why? Because you are a loving parent, and there are times in your life when you might say, god, I don't think I want to be under your care right now. Sometimes you'll want to take back control of your life and let go of God's hand. But once we grab onto his hand, God holds on tight. He says, I'll hold on so that you don't have to worry about it.
John Baker, who's the author of Life's Healing Choices, the book, shares this about his life. He says, I made the decision to ask Christ into my heart when I was 13 years old. When I went to college, I chose to follow my own way. In fact, for the next 19 years, I followed the world's way. But no matter how hard I tried to run, how many times I sinned, or how my poor choice, many poor choices I made, god never let go of my hand. My way left me empty and broken. When I was finally ready to truly repent and surrender, god was right there with me. It was then I truly understood his unconditional love and freely given grace. End quote. Now, we've talked a lot about making the choice to commit our lives and wills to Christ's care and control. So let's see how you do that right now, step by step. Number one, I'm going to get you actually to fill this in on your outline. First one. Accept God's son as your savior. Accept God's son as your savior. The first thing you need to do is admit that you need to be saved and accept Jesus as your Savior.
The Bible says in Acts, chapter 16, verse 31, believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. But what does this mean? What does it mean to believe in Jesus and be saved? Well, for starters, it means believing as you need to be saved, and not just saved from your present problems and negative circumstances. You need to be saved from so much more than the hardships that you're facing in your life right now. And I don't want this to come across like a bait and switch scenario, because over the first few messages in this series, I've been talking about the fact that we all have hurts hang ups and habits. That's true. And that we're powerless over our tendency to do the wrong things in our life. That's true. And that God cares about us and our situations. That's true. And that he has the power to help us. That's true. To be crystal clear, all that is true. God cares about you and the situation you are in right now. It's just that he wants to save you from something far worse than whatever your current difficult situation may be. God may use your present difficult situation to get your attention and bring you to Himself.
He does this all the time in people's lives. Jesus wants to deliver you out of the messes you find yourself in. He does. But he came to save you from so much more than your current temporary situation. He came to save you from the penalty that your sin deserves. Romans 323 says, for all have sinned and falls short of the glory of God. And Romans 623 says, for the wages of sin is death. The penalty. For your sin. And my sin includes spiritual death, which is the worst kind of death imaginable, separation from God now in this life and separation from God forever in the life to come. That is, unless something is done about your sin. Do you think the fallout from our hurts, hang ups and habits is bad? And of course it is. Do you have any idea how bad hell is going to be? I can promise you that anyone who goes to hell will not care about any problems that they have in their life right now that they are facing on earth here today. The problems that people are most worried about in this life will seem like absolutely nothing in comparison.
If they are spending eternity where Satan will be, and that's not hyperbole, today's struggles will seem like nothing in comparison. As bad as your current issues are, your present struggles are temporary. And those struggles will cease when you pass from this life to the next. Your future destiny is forever. And that destiny will be spent in one of only two places either in eternity with God in his presence, enjoying pleasure forever, or in eternity without God, away from his presence, suffering forever. If they are left undeveloped with your sins, will keep you out of the presence of God forever. And how you choose to go about dealing with our sin will determine where you spend eternity. Now do you believe you need to be saved from your sin? You need to believe this. This is a prerequisite to believing in Jesus. So believe it in Jesus and be saved also means believing that there's nothing you could possibly do to save yourself. After all you've heard in this series up to this point, what am I about to say next may sound surprising, but you don't necessarily need Jesus to save you from all your present circumstances.
Some people end up changing some of their present circumstances without Jesus. People can get clean off drugs without Jesus. Harder. But it happens. We can't pretend it doesn't. What people can't do without Jesus is wash their sins away and give themselves a new heart. If you don't have a changed heart, you might stop using drugs, but you'll just substitute using drugs for using money or sex or control or something. Verses is its place. You will find a new addiction that doesn't bring freedom in your life. You can change some hurts, hang ups and habits without Jesus, but you can't change your heart without Jesus. You most definitely need him for that. And on top of that, without Jesus, your future destiny is an eternity. Eternity separated from God. And there's nothing you can do in your own strength to fix that. You can't do enough good deeds to wash your sins away and make yourself right with God. You need Jesus for that. Feeling sorry for what you've done by yourself, by itself, sorry doesn't erase your sins. Promising to be better doesn't cut it. You and I deserve to die for our sins, and there is nothing we can do in our own strength to get ourselves out of that jam that we find ourselves in.
Believe in Jesus and be saved means believing that God loves you so much that he sent His Son Jesus Christ to come live the perfect life that you and I could never live and then die on the cross in our place. The death that you and I deserve to die because of our sins. Jesus was born into this world with a perfect human nature, one not tainted by the effect of Adam and Eve's sin. His human nature was like ours, but so different. He was human like us in every way, except for the fact that he never sinned. His nature never prompted Him to. This is why the Christmas miracle is so fundamental to the Christian faith. Jesus wasn't born like us. Jesus was born miraculously to a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. In being born this way, Jesus bypassed receiving a sinful nature. He did inherit Adam's sinful nature when he was conceived, like the rest of us did when we were. And after he was born, Jesus grew up never sinning against his heavenly Father. Not even once. Not in his mind, not in his heart, and not in his actions.
Although he was tempted to sin in every way, he never did. He was the only person who was sinlessly perfect from the cradle into the grave, which means that he has been the only person to ever live who didn't deserve to die. Sinners deserve to die, but Jesus didn't have any of his own sin that he needed to die for. And at the end of his life, Jesus gave up his life on his own accord and he traded his perfect life on the cross for all of our imperfect lives. He died as a substitutionary sacrifice in our place. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, our sin that we deserve to pay for was placed onto Christ and God the Father executed judgment and punishment on the Son for what we deserved. If we were going to pay for our own sins ourselves, we would be paying for them in hell forever. But Jesus paid for our sins by paying for them on the cross instead. Believe in Jesus and be saved means believing that Jesus physically died a very real death. His death wasn't faked. It wasn't a hoax, it wasn't a legend. If you study what the Romans actually did to Him, you will come away knowing that there was no possible way that Jesus could have survived what he went through.
Believe in Jesus and be saved means believing that although Jesus died, he didn't stay dead. He rose from the dead on the third day after he died. His resurrection from the dead vindicated Him. It proved who he was and who he claimed to be the sinless son of God. Sinners deserved to die, and they deserve to stay dead because of their sin. But Jesus didn't have any sin, so death had no legal claim over Him. So he rose to life, and the resurrected Jesus was seen by many eyewitnesses over a period of 40 days. His resurrection happened historically. People were there who experienced it for themselves, and they wrote about it for us. They talked with Him, they ate with Him. They touched the wounds in his hands and in his side. Believe in Jesus and be saved means believing that in his life, his death and his resurrection, jesus did everything that was needed to make you right with God and to bring you into a relationship with Him, a relationship that begins the moment you believe and continues forever. This is what it means when it says in Acts chapter 16, verse 31, believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be David.
Now go ahead and write this down. Accept God's son as the Lord of your life. Accept God's, Son of the as the Lord of your life. This next bit is as much for the Christian who has been following Jesus for 40 years as it is for the person who's going to become a Christian for the very first time here tonight. There are a variety of ways we relate to God. After we cross the line and come into a relationship with Him, we come to know Him as friend, as brother, as father, as counselor, husband, Helper, Savior, Redeemer, Promisekeeper, Teacher, and shepherd. Delist is filled with titles of Jesus that are so sweet. But there's one title that's usually forgotten. For some reason, it has a hard time making our top ten list when it comes to ways we think about relating to God. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is owner pastor BJ's, the big Cajuna. He's CEO. He's king. He's God of our life. We choose to subject everything in our life to the care and control of Jesus, who is the Lord of our life. Knowing this aspect of who Jesus is is a vital part to crossing the line over to Him.
You have to know what kind of relationship you're entering into so that you know how to relate to God once you're there. But sadly, there are many professing Christians who don't relate to Jesus as Lord. They don't treat him as Lord. They don't want him as Lord. They treat Him more like he's a spiritual taxi driver instead. And you can see this play out when people come to Jesus for help to get through their temporary struggles, but then abandon Him. As soon as they get to where they want to be going, they get into his cab and Jesus says, so where do you want to go? And they say, out of this messed up situation and into a better life. And he takes them there, out from the depths of where he found them into a new, good place in their life. And what do some people say when they get to their desired destination? Thanks for the ride, Jesus, but I'll take it from here. And they get out of the cab and try to live the rest of their lives without Him. That is, until they inevitably run into another problem that they can't fix on their own.
What's that number to that cab driver again? That Jesus guy really helped me out of the jam I was in last time. And they use them again until they don't have any need for Him anymore. They only relate to Him as one who can fix the problems that they want to be fixed in their life, but they have no real intention to fix the problems that he wants to fix in their life. And that's the difference between a Jesus who is Lord and a Jesus who is a spiritual taxi driver. Now, he came to give you more than a spiritual taxi ride because you need so much more than that in your life. You need Jesus to be lord over every part of your life all of the time. I am personally convinced that this is why we live such a watered down, limp, powerless version of Christianity in the west. It's because we live a Christianity that's not real Christianity. We live a version of Christianity that neither Jesus nor the apostles ever offered to anyone. We've tricked ourselves or have allowed ourselves to be tricked. We think we can live a version of Christianity where Jesus isn't lord over every part of our life.
We think we get to pick and choose what part of God's word we will obey or not. And we suddenly take back control of our lives when we come to a place in the scripture where we don't like what it says, or we don't believe what it says, or we simply do not want to do what it says. And so then we end up not doing what it says. And then we walk around frustrated because we don't see the power of God manifested in our life or in our church. That's because we don't cherish the fact that Jesus is lord over all of our life, over every single aspect of it money, relationships, sexuality, work, family, recreation, hobbies. When I say everything, I really mean everything. Some of you might be thinking, whose whoa, whoa. That's a bit much, isn't it? That sounds radical. That sounds a little fundamentalist to me, don't you think? I just like to remind you what good has come from us being in control of our lives? Do you remember? It's not good. We are not good gods of our life. But thank God He invites us into a relationship where we willingly and voluntarily choose to give Him His rightful place as Lord over our life.
And we get to have his infinitely good, infinitely wise counsel instruct us in how to live our lives. And this is the great part. He doesn't make us surrender our lives to Him in this way. He doesn't need to make anyone do that because it's so good to have this kind of life. All God has to do is make this choice available to us and invite us into this kind of relationship where he is Lord and you know, and those who know what's good for them run to make that choice. Go ahead and fill this in on your outline. It's your next one. Accept God's word as your standard. Accept it as your standard. Once you make the choice to commit your life and will to Christ, you have from now on a new way to live, a way that's laid out for us by God in his word that he has spoken to us. Christians have an instruction manual for how we live our life. It's the Bible. God says, it is your standard by which you evaluate life. Two Timothy, chapter three, verse 16 to 17, says all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Reading the Bible, studying the Bible, meditating on the Bible, asking questions about the Bible, talking about the Bible, and this novel idea, doing the Bible, actually doing what God says to do in it. This is how Jesus is Lord of our life. The first thing we need to say as we rise each day is, lord, you woke me up this morning. This obviously means you have another day planned for me, a day with purpose. What do you want me to do with it? And we let the Bible answer that question for us. In the Psalms, David says, I delight to do your will, my God, and your instruction is deep within me, inspired by David. You can say, God, I don't even have to understand everything right now. But I choose to live my life on Your terms because you made me for a reason. You have a purpose, and I want to fulfill that purpose in my life. And as you grow with God, his will, as revealed to you in His Word, becomes the strategy for your life. Write this down. His can be the final fillin on your outline. Accept the benefits of God's grace.
Accept the benefits of God's grace. Now, don't get me wrong. Not having to pay for our own sins is an incredible benefit we get from Jesus. And if that's all we got, that would be more than any of us deserve. But God's goodness, his so overthetop that he has more blessings to give those who trust Him. When you make the decision to cross the line into Christ's care and control, a bunch of supernatural things happen in your life, things you don't deserve, things God gives to you. As a gift. You get a righteousness that's not your own. You get a new nature and you get the power to do what's right. Forgiveness of sins, as incredible as it is, is only a part of what we need to have eternal life. Wiping our sins away only brings us to a neutral position before God. It brings us out from a deficit of righteousness to net zero. Forgiveness doesn't add goodness to our account. It's not just forgiven people that go to heaven, it's perfect people that go to heaven, that's impossible. You might say nobody's perfect. And if you say it's impossible, you're absolutely right.
It is impossible for us to live a perfect life. But it wasn't impossible for Jesus. He did it. And it's his perfect life that he gives to us when we believe in Him. Two Corinthians, chapter five, verse 21 says he speaking of God the Father made the one who did not know sin, God the Son, to be sin for us, so that in Him, in Jesus, we might become the righteousness of God. This verses is talking about what is known as the great Exchange. Jesus offers to trade his life for our life. Best deal you're ever going to have offered to you in your life. And the trade goes both ways on the cross. Jesus took all of our sin. He took all the trash of our life. And when we believe in Jesus, we get to take all of the goodness of his life into our life. When we we get his report card of a lifetime of sinless perfection, that record is deposited into our account. So when God looks at the Christian, he doesn't look at all our jacked up mistakes. Do you know what he sees instead? He sees Jesus. He sees Jesus in us.
And that's why we go to heaven. That's the only reason why anyone goes to heaven. It's one of the reasons why I'm so happy all of the time. I know I'm going to heaven and I also know that I don't deserve to go there. The only reason I'm going is because Jesus took my life and he gave me his life instead. The last couple of messages, we've also talked quite a bit about our broken human nature, the tendency that's within us to go the opposite way from where God is leading us. Our spiritual compass is wonky. We need a new nature, the kind of nature that Jesus has. And that's exactly what he gives us when we cross the line over to Him. Two Corinthians, chapter five, verse 17 says therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away and see, the new has come. There's something new in you, a spiritual compass that now points you towards God instead of away from Him. Your desires change within you and now you actually want to follow God. And then we also get the power to do that those Holy Spirit who comes to live in us empowers us to actually do the things we now want to do.
Whatever God asks you to do, he will enable you to do. This becomes your power statement. Philippians 413 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. All things doesn't mean I can fly now. All things means I can do all those things that God asks me to do. No longer do you have to rely on your own energy. God gives you his power to be all he wants you to be. Accept Jesus as your savior. Accept Him as the Lord of your life. Accept his word as your standard. Accept all the benefits of his grace. Doesn't that sound like a good offer? Are you ready to step across the line to Him? Jesus is extending his invitation to you right now, standing at the door of your life saying he wants to come into your life. But he's a gentleman. He will not bash the door down and force his way in. In this third choice, we need to open the door and let Him in. And the key that unlocks that door is willingness. Being willing means changing our definition of willpower. Our willpower needs to become the willingness to accept God's power.
We don't need more self will. We've already tried to run our lives on our own willpower and it has left us broken and empty. Now it's time to exchange willpower for the willingness to accept God's power to run our lives. So if you are ready to make this choice and commit your life to Christ's care and control, I'm going to get you just to answer the following questions and you can find these questions on your outline. And just circle and be honest with yourself. No one else is going to read this. This is yours. Circle yes or no beside each one. Question number one. Do you believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and proved he was God by coming back to life? Yes or no? Number two. Do you accept God's free forgiveness for your sins? Yes or no? Number three. Do you want to switch to God's plan for your life today? Yes. Our no. And then number four, are you ready to express your desire for Christ to be the Lord of your life? Yes or no? And if you answered yes to those four questions, it's time to make your decision a reality.
By making the choice, it's time to ask Christ into our life. And you can do that by praying this simple prayer. And if you've already asked Christ into your life, use this prayer time to commit to continually seek and follow his will for your life. So I just ask you to bow your heads and close your eyes and pray this with me. And if these are the words that resemble what's going on in your heart right now pray these words gas his. They are your very own. Pray them for the first time. Maybe tonight. Dear God, I believe you sent your son Jesus to die for my sins so that I can be forgiven. I'm sorry for my sins and I want to live the rest of my life the way you want me to. Please put your spirit in my life to direct me. Amen. Amen. If you prayed that prayer for the first time, welcome to God's family. Please do not feel that you need to understand everything about the commitment you just made. Understanding will come as you grow and mature in your walk with Christ. But for now, let these words be your comfort.
Jesus says once again in Matthew eleven, verse 28 to 30, come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me because I am lowly and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And as you complete the remaining five choices in this series, your life will never be the same. Your new life has begun. Praise God. With that said, I'm going to invite my friend Kyla to come up and she's going to share a little bit of her story with us. A story that testifies to the goodness of Jesus. Kylo, thanks for coming to do this.
Thank you. I'm glad.
Yeah. Awesome. First question for you. Would you be willing to share a point in your life where you had a difficult time letting go of something and turning it over to God's care and control?
Yeah. As I process the question, I think about just before 2011. I had been an alcoholic for almost eleven years and I was so broken, so lost, and I felt like I had no hope at all. It was in those times that I thought, what humility would it take to actually admit that I had that problem? See, my life looked good on the outside, I guess, but I was playing hockey at a national level, I was running a sports store, I own my own business, teaching high performance hockey. And this whole time I was just so broken inside. Wrapped up in all of that was also just a life. At about the age of five, I remember being just devastated when I found out I wasn't created as a boy. And all through my life growing up that affected me, just my gender in general, and I wrestled with that also in my teens, being brought up in a Christian home, I also realized that I had same sex attraction. And if you can imagine being in a Christian home and just the guilt and shame that I carried from that. One thing that I just wasn't willing to give up was my sexuality and gender.
What was preventing you from turning that thing over to God's control?
So I came in into recovery in 2011. I could admit at that point that I had a problem drinking. My life was amassed, and everything was broken. I lost every relationship. I was depressed, and I honestly wanted to die. That was okay to admit at that time, but the part that I wasn't willing to admit was like, okay, if I have to give God my sexuality and my gender, then I would have to believe that, one, God is a good God. Two, that I could trust my whole entire life, my sexuality and my gender and everything into his care. And I didn't know if I was ready to do that at that time. You know, at the age of 18, my my own earthly father had abandoned me. And so that tainted a lot of my relationship with God in trusting whether or not he was good. And so in 2011, six months into recovery, I transitioned from female to male.
Thank you so much for sharing that the commitment choice that we're talking about here. Tonight is all about letting go and surrendering your will to God. Can you share with us what brought you to the point of surrender?
Well, when I was in recovery, I was still going to meetings. I had about five years clean. My life looked good. I was a productive member of society, as they call it. But a relationship with a woman ended, and that left me broken again on my own. Lost five years, transitioned. And I just remember one day so clearly so it was probably the fifth year of my transition. I had been going to a ministry called God Rock, which most of you know, because that was our church. And that was about the fifth year when you, Jess, took over. And I remember so clearly just wanting to be known. And then you guys started home groups, community groups upstairs, and we started to go with that. I started to open up the Word of God. I started to see your lives being changed and transformed by the Word of God. And that also started to transform me. I started to build relationships with you, Jess, Heidi, Kyle, a whole bunch of people, and these were powerful relationships. And the Word of God started to penetrate my heart and my mind. And at that point, as I started to trust you guys, I had a big secret, and I wanted to tell you.
And so five years into my transition, I opened up my life to you, and I just said I was born female, and I've been living as male for five years. And I said, Will you guys walk this out with me? Because I wanted to obey whatever it said in the Word of God. And so we started to do that together.
Amen. I remember, that was like yesterday. It was so sweet and profound. Are you glad that you made this choice? This one to surrender everything over to God. And what has God been doing in your life since you made this decision?
Well, I'll just start with god had a different story written for me. I thought that I could be the God of my own life. I thought that gender and sexuality didn't matter. But then I started to read where he said he knitted me together in my mother's womb and he had plans and purposes before the foundation of this world and it penetrated me. I broke down. And I remember one day so clearly, I was crying out to God and this was five years, actually six years now, into my full transition. And I heard Him so clearly say to me, he said, Kyla, which was my birth name, and I was going by Bryson at the time, said, Return to me, Kyla. And I fell down, face down and I was weeping. I said, God, but I don't know what that looks like. And I heard Him say so clearly to me, he says, do you trust me? And are you willing? In that moment, I just cried out, yes, whatever you want. And so I didn't know if I had gone too far in my transition, if I would ever look female again. And so in that moment, yeah, it was just full trust and surrender to Him.
And I did. I believed he was a good God. I believe he is a good God. And now he's just working in my life. I get to do the things that he's calling me to do. I get to help others work with women, speak all over the world. And I just am so blessed. Like none of that matters compared to the relationship and closeness that I have with Jesus.
Amen. Last final question for you, Kyla. What would you say to someone who is struggling to make the decision to surrender their entire life and will to Christ's care and control?
As I was thinking about this question, I tried to think back of when I would have been sitting there and asking that same question and having a problem surrendering my entire life. And it's just that God knows you. He knows you so completely better than any person could ever know you. What is it like to be known by God, the Creator of the Earth, and then to know that he has purposes and plans for you and that you can be used by God? And I think of like he's near to the brokenhearted. If you're broken today, that's good because God his nearing close to you, it means that he wants us to come closer to Him. He desires to have that intimate relationship with us. And so whether or not we want to admit that or not, that is who God is. And so I would encourage you and say, please don't leave today without taking on a leap of faith and giving everything over to. Him because there is freedom. When we do that, the world says there isn't freedom. Says we are free to be whoever we want to be. But that's actually slavery, I believe.
And so he offers us true freedom. And it's not going to be easy. Like, I'm not sitting here saying that every day is easy. And you know this. We've walked through hard, hard times together. And just over a week ago, again, just crying and weeping over the things that I have to give up. But at the end of the day now, I'm just fillin with more joy and peace...
...as I surrender to him.
Praise Jesus. Praise Jesus.