Unhindered - Letting go of the things that hold you back
Unhindered letting go of the things that hold you back. And so this morning I want to kick us off by talking about one of the things that holds us back in our own discipleship. I remember as a young kid. One of my Vivid memories was having this meltdown when my mom was trying to take me and my older brother I to the store to shop and maybe the dollar store or something and she had some change in her purse and she divided up that change and the way it got divided my brother got one more Penny than I did and I had an absolute meltdown. I was so offended. I thought I cannot believe this he's going to get I was so enamored with the sense of comparing and feeling like that's not fair that I had such a meltdown. This is why I remember this my mom said fine you can stay home. And drove off and I was young enough that I think that was the first time that had ever happened in my life. And I remember sitting on the front porch thinking I'm an idiot. They're gone and I'm sitting here now what I didn't know what she just drove around the block and then she came back to get the car you help and I got in the car, but but can you relate honestly, I wish I could say that was the last time in my life. I ever struggled with comparing myself to someone else with saying hey that guy got more for that person got more of this or that sort of thing. But the truth is we all struggle with that not only as little kids but as adults, can you relate to that sort of? Spiritual disease that sometimes creeps into our hearts and our minds and our thoughts and we end up comparing ourselves to others one author One Pastor talked about it. This way comparison is easy today, especially because of social media Facebook Instagram, we end up comparing are behind the scenes with their highlight reel. That's what makes it even worse, you know, because what you see on Facebook is everybody on vacation everybody looking good, you know, no one posted behind the scenes of daily life, but that's what's in her mind about ourselves. So when we see someone else gets a promotion or we see someone else takes up in exotic vacation or they've got these beautiful family photos of everyone in the beach and blue jeans and white shirt with no shoes on and you think women have family photo since we never had a family photo, you know, you just instantly and and so you compare yourself and you compare your behind the scenes. I'm too busy to even schedule a family photo with all look at how wonderful their life. Is but it's really a falsehood because we're comparing the reality we know of daily life with someone else's highlight reel what they chosen to put up there. And the truth is they have their own behind the scenes and we have our own highlight reel if we rearrange the world that way but we get stuck in that sort of comparison and it's kind of a spiritual disease comparison just respect the unique status every one of us has as a limited edition. God made individual I think about the logic of that sentence God May cheat made each and every one of us we are made in His image and we are made to be our own people to be individuals to be created to be everything that God designed us to be but when we kind of get swept up in the disease of comparison, we disrespect that creation by God and become a forfeit that uniqueness and we say you don't want Macy's will make all my decisions about my home furnishing or my clothing HGTV will tell me. What the heck on the wall and how to hang it on the wall what it should look like and we get an average with all I don't look like what what I saw on the TV show or my house doesn't look like my neighbor's house who just got this sort of makeover and we kind of forfeit individuality because we just want to compare ourselves and measure up to whatever is the current Trend whatever actv is promoting for a home's whatever is happening on television in terms of how we think we're supposed to look or what we're supposed to wear and we forfeit that uniqueness that God gave us and not only that comparison dishonors God by indulging feelings of inferiority or superiority because that's what happens when we compare Weezer compare ourselves and say, They are so much better than me. They they they have their finances together in a way that I don't or they have their health and their their looks in their appearance together in a way that I don't or their family look at how they loved each other all these photos a poster for look at how they treat each other and they and their the kids are so respectful and my kids are kicking me in the shin and running away until we just you don't we just kind of say I am just no good and we just indulge in these feelings of inferiority.
Which is not a god-honoring feeling or maybe we compare at least I am not as bad as that this person or that person. It's all week. We let comparison become a way to make us feel Superior. You know, I'm at church this morning. There's a lot of people who don't love God more than the warmth of their home. If we have these thoughts in her head. I raise the bar. I came out on a cold morning at so we can kind of compare ourselves and we end up indulging feelings of inferiority or superiority which ends up dishonoring God cuz he didn't design us to have those sorts of emotions. Now scripture speaks to this head-on believe it or not. Look at this passage in John 21, Peter. Let me give you a little bit of background. They take that off cuz you'll be reading that not listen to me. Let me give you a little background to the store. This comes at the end of the Gospel of John. It is an encounter between Jesus and Peter but part of what you need to know is the context that precede the passage were going to read receipts. The passage we're going to read is a very significant encounter between Jesus and Peter restoring Peter because earlier in the gospel story Peter had betrayed Jesus and really if you trace the whole theme there's other elements that you see that play into this moment because earlier than that betrayal Peter had said, the Jesus Peter is one of Jesus disciples along with all the other disciples and Jesus present Peter said, hey the rest of these clowns they may betray you but I want Peter was always kind of bold and proclaiming those sorts. I'm going to follow you Faithfully. I will not betray you they may fail they may be unfaithful but not me that was not too uncommon for Peter to be that sort of bold and Jesus response to Peter in that passage of the Gospel says Peter. Actually you're going to betray me three times before morning comes before the rooster crows. You're going to be no. No, no the rest of them, but not me. Yes, you are and indeed what Jesus warned Peter about comes to pass and three times Peter denies even knowing Jesus. Even when he's around the campfire and Jesus on trial and there's a little bit of sense of Jeopardy or Consequences to knowing Jesus and someone says hey, aren't you one of his disciples this question that he says no even to the point of using foul language to distinguish themselves. I know I don't even know that guy at all and then he sees Jesus. And he's just heartbroken over his betrayal heartbroken. And now in John chapter 21, Jesus has appeared to the disciples more than once but in this appearance there in the boat fishing and they look and see Jesus on the shore and then Peter swims to Jesus and Jesus has this conversation with him and he says do you love me three times? Symbolic mini assume that that's kind of Jesus restoring Peter giving Peter three different times to say to Jesus. Yes. I love you. You know, I love you and then ask him a second time. Do you love me? Yes, Lord, you know, you know all things you know that I love you then feed my sheep then a third time and use the different word in the Greek that third time Agape a deeper. Do you do you love me Peter and Peter says yes, and he's restored in that passage and right after that beautiful moment where he's restored is this moment in scripture, okay. Peter turn after he's been restored to Jesus in those three. Do you love me questions Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved was following a message on the author of John's gospel. This was the one that is not how it looks leaned back against Jesus during the last supper and it said Lord who is going to betray you when Peter saw him. He asked Lord. What about him Jesus answered if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you? You must follow me? In the interesting right in the midst of that beautiful spiritual moment where Peter is restored to Jesus in the very next breath. He can't help but slip right in to the temptation to be comparing himself to others and so he gets restored and then he looks and sees John he says hey, what about him? What just happened to feed the sheep to sit down and lecture him. Should you give him an assignment? You told me to feed the sheep. What about him? What's he going to do? And Jesus says quite a dramatic statement. You know, what if I want him to live forever until I return if I want him to be alive until I return that's not your business.
You follow me. Interested in it that Jesus just immediately pushes aside that comparison we see I heard one professor and in Pastor talked about maybe you even see this history and kind of a comical way between Peter and John because I never thought about it this way. I think it's probably just historical detail, but it is kind of funny to look at it with this, lights. If you if you are familiar with the resurrection narratives John goes out of his way to point out that he beats Peter to the Grave Digger noticed that in the resurrection readings and maybe that is just 100% guy because I hate that, you know, and three times in the resurrection passage John the author points out that he was there first. Three different times. He points out that he beat Peter to the open grave until there's just in with Peter sort of brash attitude the rest of them may fail you but I want I won't tell you there's just kind of the spirit of competition and we see it. Most clearly win when Peter and Jesus says that doesn't matter one bit you don't worry about him. You worry about you. I'm asking you to follow me. and I think you and I Are revealed in that passage just as much as Peter is revealed in that passage because as I mentioned earlier it is so easy to slip into a mindset of comparison and to think that the very purpose of life is to beat the next the person next to us to get a better home or better spouse or more beautiful family or better job or to lose weight quicker or to look better. We don't think about it that bluntly but it kind of kind of seeps into our Spirits in such a way that we always comparing apples in a nicer car than we have in their driveway then we look at ours and think 5 minutes ago was fine one day but soon as another car pulled in next to your life. But that sort of disease of comparison can really shape us the author of Hebrews tells us what to do in regards to this. Let us run the race that is before us and never give up Hebrews 12:1 and Tuesdays. We should remove from our life anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus Son translation talk about this and that so easily entangles us. It's interesting that the wisdom the Hebrew the author of Hebrews are giving us so lines up with what we're talking about. I think we're Jesus and Peter that we need to set aside not only send we get that. Of course, we do not Embrace then we were Jacks in the sin that entangles us up and keep us from following Jesus. We put that behind us. We confess that we repent. But he says you don't want anyting that's going to hold you back. Anything that's going to hold you back. Do you think comparison is something that holds us back from being fully devoted followers of Jesus? Do you think slipping into the motive comparing everything about our lives or someone else's takes our attention and energy in our Focus off of Jesus?
I think it does. Don't you? It becomes this thing that holds us back and in today's world, we can almost do it in Daily. They can almost be like devotions. Is that a strange thought that almost on a daily on a regular basis? We can pull up Facebook or something like that and we can meditate we can reflect on our lives. We can click on her high school high school friends and say oh I look a little younger or I don't look a little younger. We can almost constantly spend energy and time in comparison almost like it's a devotion how well am I doing measuring up against everyone else again, we either cultivate feelings of inferiority or feelings of superiority based on that false path.
what if We all learned to look to Jesus more. What if we obeyed that passage in Hebrews that said focus on Jesus only let go of the sin that so easily entangles get rid of anything that will get in your way of following Jesus that might look like having an attitude of gratitude a my opinion. Not only for everything that God has done in your life as the hymn says Count Your Blessing sometimes when you're when you're enamored with comparing you need to let go of that step back and say what do I have for which I need to be grateful to God.
There's a lot of value in cultivating in your own heart and your own life and attitude of gratitude and thanking God for what you do have. I met a family last weekend at the wedding Lynn and I attended and their little child was born at 27 weeks and I said, oh I was born at 27 weeks and the mother was just fascinated by that thinking there might be hope and then she talked to her in a while and thought oh, no, it's not it's not going to be good. Sweet. We swap stories about how fragile we were. I was born at 27 weeks at 1 month old. I was 3 lb viewing all of that. I'm legally blind in my left eye because of birth issues that's never restored by lenses or anything like that. But that's the only lasting consequence I have from being born in East Tennessee of all places in the six with all those complications that conversation just reminded me. I've got a lot to be thankful for I'm going to just my health alone. Is something bad that my wonderful wife my kids this church a home food all the blessings that we have an imagine all of us could sit and think you know what there is so much that I have to be grateful for and you see how the adversary comes in with with with comparing yourself to others and gets our mind instead of focusing on we do have he quickly wants us to focus on what we don't have. Hey, you don't have a car as new as your neighbors. Five minutes ago. My car was one of the things I was thankful for and then suddenly the other Siri gets me thinking. Yeah, but I wish I had just a little more Andy Stanley preaches about this and he calls it the land of her. He says we get lost in the land of Earth. We just wish that we were a little Rich. We just wish that we were a little pet a little stronger a little happier. We just get lost in this dream that somehow a little more of something we'll meet this need in her heart that only God meets. What would it look like if we cultivated an attitude of gratitude even about ourselves Psalm 139 the Simon Says in verse 14 of Psalm 139. He says I thank you God for I am fearfully and wonderfully made if you were saying to God for you.
Never get out of the shower and look in the mirror.
It's hard for me to thank God for me. Or go to the doctor and have him say okay. Let me lose some weight. You got to get this medicine. You got it. You got to start eat some vegetables, you know you but the truth is we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God Scripture challenges us to thank him to have an attitude of gratitude even about ourselves and you realize if we have that attitude of gratitude even about our self that that empowers us not to feel jealous or competitive or be obsessed with comparison with others. If we say God is my maker God is my author. He made me he does not make junk. He created me and I thank you God. I thank you for everything about me. I thank you for my uniqueness for my strength and my weakness is I thank you for everything God if we can have that sort of peace. An attitude of gratitude that thanks God that will Empower us to focus on Jesus and walk with God the way we should be 26. I thought about this this week. Jesus gives gives thanks at the Last Supper. Don't think about the implications of that. He knows everything that's coming and he knows what the bread represents and what the wine represents he tells the disciples. This represents my body which will be broken just in a matter of hours and my blood which will be shed and spill just a matter of hours and he thanks God. Thanks God. Imagine being grateful to God for everything.
The pros and the cons the strengths and weaknesses the good and the bad. It even though God gives and he takes away that we would still say Blessed Be Your Name Blessed Be Your Name, Oregon. Secondly, what if we cultivated a heart of compassion where we could trust God more and Champion others, these things are like together the more we're grateful about everything in our life the more we have peace about our lot in life. So to speak and we thank God for what we do. Have we focus on gratitude the more we can have peace about who we are and we can quit thinking of everyone else that somebody to do better then or to beat or to overcome and said we can think about championing those people trusting them and Luke 23, Jesus looks down from the cross and says father forgive them for they know not what they do if there was ever a moment when you be tempted, Took two to issue justice. So to speak or retaliation. Will it be that moment when your Jesus even victimized by all these people who are spitting and calling you names these soldiers when you be tempted to say, you know what I'm going to get you guys and instead he has the heart that says they don't they don't know what they're doing father forgive them for they know not what they do you imagine if we trusted God in such a way that we could Champion others instead of filling competition with him. What would the world look like? If we as Christians heated These Warnings and this advice from Jesus to stop comparing yourself with others to not worry about them. But to worry about our own discipleship to worry about our following him at a zebra says we put our eyes on him and just let go of those other things. What would it look like if we were a people of gratitude? As opposed to being the people who at least I'll just speak for myself. I'm tempted to be whining all the time. I mean our culture cultivate that in as I believe and we have to be countercultural and cultivate an attitude of gratitude. How many people when you go somewhere I went to give me some stuff. I went to Spectrum this week. I know Spectrum everybody hates Spectrum in Lexington. I see that there are awful. And again just as soon as you backup globally and imagine yourself telling someone globally about your problems. You think you've Got It Bad safe country to live in I have a cable company as you can tell them that management. It said be nice to everyone because everyone hates us in Lexington.
How they came up with clipboard. Hey, what is check your run in and I was turning in some equipment cuz I was one of those disgruntled customers. Another lady came in behind me. There may be four of us and they said you can wait anywhere you'd like their cheers that were super nice and she was on her phone with a friend and she said I got stuff to turn in and they gossip will check your INR just take a moment to take a turn in. Can I just give it to you know, we have to kind of look up your account associate the training with your account. Fine fine on the phone. She goes man there in person customer service is worse than their on the on the phone customer service and I'm thinking there was nothing bad about that. You're going to have to wait maybe 6 or 7 minutes before you get served by this company. Will you see how we live in a culture? That makes us say, oh my goodness. I can't believe I'm waiting. I can't with fennel went through what I went through a drive-thru and they got my dress and unsweetened tea and I pulled away that was sweet. My day is ruined. You see how we can just so we have to be counterculture. We have to say I'm going to cultivate in myself and attitude of gratitude. I'm going to count my blessings. I'm going to think about what God has given me what God has provided for me. And because I trust God because I let go of that sense of whining and complaining and comparison and winning and instead. I trust that God has my back. I trust Jesus. Only grateful for my past but I trust him with my future. I trust him with everything that I'm tempted to worry about. I trust him with my finances. I trust him with my relationships if we start trusting him on a deeper level than we don't have to take matters into our own hands. We don't have to think I've got to win. I've got to win at work, even if it means poking somebody else in the back in order to get ahead and get that promotion. I've got the win plan to leave. It means writing something on my taxes that I know really isn't a fair representation. If we let go of that since that we're on our own and it's dead trust Jesus. Trust him not only with gratitude for our past, but trust him for our future then like Jesus if we trust God the way he did we can Champion others we can be on across our self and still say father forgive them. What would what would it be like if we were able to love others who had persecuted us. Do you think that's going to be needed in the church today and in the future? What if it would be like if we were able to show gratitude even when we're not treated well, and we are able to trust God and said sometimes we take matters into our own hands as if there is no God and we reap the fruit of that is a church over the past 20 or 30 years of just be honest with you taking Pluto matters into our own hands and saying people will show you what it's like to have power now, we've got it and then we will did it. And now we don't have it and those same people are saying now we have power and neither of us represent a god.
Neither of us said here's what it's like to have power. I'll give it up for the sake of the other. Aren't you glad that God didn't say to us. Here's what it's like to have power. I'll judge everyone of you instead. He opened his hands and said I will sacrifice myself for you. I will give myself up for you. Can you imagine? What are church and what are neighborhoods and what our families would be like if we could let go? Of the sense of competition and comparison that sometimes just seizes our hearts and we could trust God and we could Champion others even those that we don't agree with even our enemies. Jesus tells us to love them. If we if we had the ability to Champion whatever they were doing. That was good and right because no person is doing absolutely nothing good a right, even if we might have many things that we would disagree with if we see something that is good and right if we had that ability to Champion say that's wonderful. That's awesome. Is so pleased with that area of your life. Instead of just having a spirit of US versus them. You might want to be like for us personally if we could Champion that in our lives if we could let go. Stop comparing and competing. Would your Christmas shopping change this year? Would you not really have to have that purse or those boots or that jacket or that boat that you thought was going to really make a difference in how you felt about yourself? And would you might be able to say maybe I could even give that away to somebody who doesn't even have boots to begin with? Or maybe a vehicle at all. And I'm not saying that to make you feel guilty. I'm saying that to say which is a more wonderful activity. We forget stuff we get for Christmas years later. We can't remember what we got. We won't forget if if we allow God to work in a heart in such a way that we we cultivate gratitude and we Champion others and we just open up our hands and we trust God we don't see ourselves as competing with everybody else or comparing herself with everyone else. But as God's representative championing others anything that God is doing in their life anything that's good in their life being willing to extend our sale in Champion somebody at work that you're in competition with for a promotion when people say about that and it was Larry's really good at that one thing in that new job. You guys need your supposed to meet with people privately and tell them bad things about Larry so that he doesn't get the job and you do get the job. What would it change our workplaces and family let go That sort of comparison and competition that can seize us and we trusted God. Trusted him. I'm going about the worship team to come forward. As we sing Our Song of invitation if you have a decision to make during the song I'll be available in the back you can come to me and I'd love to pray with you or answer questions or make a decision with you celebrate a decision with you They'll also be folks both in the front and the back door prayer concerns. If you have prayer needs on your heart, we invite you to come to any of those folks and pray with them this morning. 4 for all of us at the chances we sing the song to just kind of re remind ourselves of the invitation from Jesus to trust him. To trust him with all the things that worry us with all the things that we worry about so much that were tempted then because of that worried to take matters into our own hands and start kind of competing and comparing and trying to friend and make stuff happen in our own strength and energy and inhuman ways. It's an opportunity to say Lord. I let go of those things. I let go of those things. Help me. Trust you more help me gain. My self-esteem. I value my my security from you. from your word from your truth so that I lean on you. I trust in you not my own ways. My own methods. And we trusted him there's a piece that comes with that that empowers us to love others. Empowers us not to see the resources in this world is limited. So we all have to grab while it's available and it's dead know that it's unlimited because of God the father and because of him we can be gracious and open-handed to others with our time with our love. Because he'll keep refilling that heart with love so that we can give to others. It's a complete change of life and suddenly we don't realize how easily we get grouped into the other path of competition and comparison. So every Sunday really in some ways, I don't know about you. Sometimes I feel like every Sunday. I'm like, huh? Yeah, I need to come to the communion table and it's a renewal of this week. Sometimes I forgotten to do the things, you know, I haven't had you on my mind haven't been the kind of disciple that I know you want me to be but Lord. I want to renew that if I ever feel like you need to rule like every 7 days. Yeah, I don't just wake up and say I'm doing it and then do it for 365 days until Christmas. I'll renew again. I need it everyday. I need it every week. So use this song as a chance just to renew your pledge to God to give your heart to him to trust him and let Cole all the baggage in the anxiety that comes with the sense of competition or comparison that our culture constantly Whispers in our ears to be obsessed with instead. Let's just trust Jesus. Let's let go of those things trust him. Our lives will be richer more amazing more full than we could ever make them through our own efforts if we simply open our hands and give them over to God. Please stand as we sing.