Letting Go

Matthew 11:28-30

Subject: Evangelism, Salvation

Step 1—Admit it, I’ve got a problem. Reality step.
Step 2—Hope step—Not only am I powerless but God has power and He is willing to help out. He knows my problems and cares about my problems and cares about me. He knows everything going on in my life. He’s offering to help me to change. And that’s the Hope step.
But it’s not just enough to know that God will help you. You got to take action. You’ve got to make a decision. You’ve got to walk across the line.
Step 3 — Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.
This step is based on what Jesus said in Matthew 11: “Come to me all you who are weary and overburdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus says, “Come to Me.” It’s God’s invitation. I will make your life easier. I will lighten your load.

You will have relief. You will have release. You will have rest. You will have rejuvenation. Give Me control and care of your life and watch what I do. Life will get so much easier. Less stressful.

What a deal! Why would anybody turn that deal down? Yet some of you have heard this before and you’ve never acted on it. It’s like having an unopened gift. God says I want to give you this gift of relief and release and recovery and you’ve done nothing about it. What keeps us from taking this Third Step, this important step? What causes me to procrastinate giving my problems to God and to delay surrendering my life to the care and control of Christ?

I. What keeps me from Coming to Christ?

1. Pride will keep me from admitting I need help, (Proverbs 18:12).
“Arrogant people are on the way to ruin because they won’t admit it when they need help.” How many fathers will not stop to ask directions? Okay, men, how many of us have traveled around and around looking for our way without stopping to ask directions? When Tonya and I were first married, some of our biggest fights came when we were traveling. I would see a road and be certain this was a “short cut” that I had traveled many years prior. Tonya would say, “are you certain.” Naturally, I was as certain as I could be. After turning here and there the roads started not to look like the same road. We were going to the beach and all of a sudden we ended up at a dead end. Something was wrong with the short cut. I refused to seek help until we were at the dead end and Tonya was at the end of her rope.  Now, I no longer have this problem. I was given a Tom Tom GPS for Christmas and it has yet to fail me. Maybe you’re not ready to say, “I give control and care of my life to Christ. I’m not ready yet to do that.” All you need is a greater dose of pain. God will gladly allow it to get your attention.
2. Guilt will keep you from taking this step.
I may be ashamed to ask God to help me, (Psalm 40:12), “Problems, far too big for me to solve are piled higher than my head. Meanwhile, my sins, too many to count, have caught up with me and I’m ashamed to look up.” Ever felt that way? I’m ashamed to look up. Have you ever had guilt that kept you from doing something. I remember being a little boy at Buck Run and fighting frequently with the Davy Sanderson boy. For some reason, we would end up fighting almost every Sunday. I’m sure it was all him and I was just acting in self-defense. Nevertheless, I remember the last fight we got into. I bloodied his nose real good . . . he never messed with me again. Afterwards, I felt guilty. When mother and dad would go over to the Sanderson’s house, I never wanted to go. I felt guilty and didn’t want to face the boy.

I don’t want to ask God for help. You know how many times I’ve asked God for help and I’ve made a promise and I’ve broke the promise? God if you just get me out of this … I’m embarrassed to ask God for help. You don’t know all the things I’ve done wrong. I couldn’t go to God and ask for help.” You’re wrong. Dead wrong. There’s no sin that God cannot forgive. And He wants to help you. Don’t let pride or guilt keep you from taking this step. He wants to forgive your guilt.

3. Fear. I’m afraid of what I might have to give up.
We have all heard the illustration about the young man who falls off the cliff and half way down he grabs a branch. He’s hanging on for dear life. Five hundred feet down. Five hundred feet up. He cries out, “Somebody help!” He hears the voice of God, “This is the Lord, trust Me, let go and I’ll catch you.” He looks back down the five hundred feet down; he looks up. “Is there anybody else up there?” God is the last resort. I’m afraid to let go. Some of you are hanging on for dear life by that branch and saying, “This isn’t that bad. No problem, really, I’m fine.”

What are you afraid of if you commit your life to Christ? What are you afraid will happen if you give God care and control of your life? “He’ll turn me into a nun (priest).” You say, “I don’t want anybody controlling me.” Who are you kidding? You’re being controlled all the time. It’s just that you choose who you’re being controlled by when you let God control your life. You’re controlled by the opinions of other people. You’re controlled by hurts you can’t forget. You controlled by habits, hang-ups, by the way your parents brought you up.

Do you know what freedom is? Freedom is choosing who controls you. When you give your life in care and control of Christ He sets you free. He said, “Those who sin are slaves to sin, but if you know the truth, the truth will set you free.” Jesus says, “I set you free.”

Bob Dylan used to say, “You’re going to have to serve somebody.” Even if it’s your own ego. Real freedom is choosing who your master will be. So what are you afraid of? What are you holding on to that you think, “I can’t let go of this in order to give my life to God?” A relationship, ambition, a habit, a lifestyle, a possession.

“How does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? Is anything worth more than his soul?” No.

When you take this Third Step you give up everything and then you never had it so good. Because He takes what you’ve given Him, He turns it around, He adds new meaning, new significance, new vitality, gives it back to you in a whole new way.

If you’ve been afraid to open your life to the care and control of Christ that He might make you some fanatic, some nut, or something or I might have to give up ____________. Don’t worry about the specifics of what you might have to give up. Don’t worry about that. If you focus on the specifics you’ll never make the greater decision, which is the step to recovery. Just come to God: “God I don’t even know what I want to give up but I do know I want my life to be under your control so God here is a blank check.” And give God a blank check. Here’s my life. Let Him take care of the rest. Don’t worry about it.

4. Worry.
Keeps you from surrendering your life to the care and control of Christ. We confuse the decision-making phase with the problem-solving phase. Back in 1963 when JFK announced publicly, “We’re going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade,” that was the decision. Had all the problems been solved when he made that decision? No. If you’re a good manager you know you never confuse decision making with problem solving. If you confuse them, you never make the decision. You have to make the decision, then solve the problems. Kennedy said, “We’re going to go to the moon,” then it was NASA’s problem to figure out the problems’ solutions.

When Tonya and I surrendered to the Gospel ministry eighteen years ago, we didn’t know how we were going to do it. I was leaving a terrific, high paying job, I couldn’t pray in public, I didn’t know how I could make the transition from studying biology, physiology and chemistry to essay questions and theology. I didn’t say, God, give me a Ph.D., a nice church, and I will go into the ministry. No, we stepped out in faith and have lived this way the last eighteen years. We have attempted to put worry aside and just take one step at a time. You make the decision and then you solve the problems. If you wait for all the stop lights to turn green first, you’ll never go anywhere. You can’t solve all the problems first. You make the decision. I open my life to the care and control of Christ. I’ve got doubts, questions, fears, worries. I don’t know how it’s all going to work out. But I know it’s the right thing to do. So I just do it.

Thirty something years ago I took this third step and said yes to Jesus Christ. “I don’t understand it all but if You’re really real, come into my life. If You can give me a better life than I’m living right now, do it.” I opened my life to the care and control of Christ. Even today, thirty something years later, I’m still sending out change of addresses saying, “No, I don’t do that anymore. That’s not me, that’s the old me.” I’m still making change of addresses. Don’t let worry bother you and keep you from making the decision.

This is the most important thing I’ll say today: The Christian life is a decision followed by a process.
In World War II the Marines had a definite strategy they used in the Pacific when they went to retake the Pacific from the Japanese. They used the same strategy on every island and it worked every time. First, the Marines would go to the island that had been taken captive, and they would start bombing it, and they would just pelt it with bombs and grenades and all kinds of explosives. That was called the softening-up period. Many of you are in the softening-up period right now. And all kinds of explosions are going off in your life that are just sending fragments everywhere and you’re saying, “This isn’t working.” You come to a point where you say, “Yes, I need something beyond myself.” It’s softening up your pride. “I need help. I need God in my life. There’s too much stress.” The second phase, the Marines would come in and establish a beach head, maybe only twenty yards deep and two hundred yards wide but they would just get a presence on the island. When they had established the beach head, had they completely liberated the island? No. They had just gotten in. From there they began to fight the battles. Sometimes they’d move one hundred yards forward and sometimes they’d get pushed back. And sometimes they’d win the battle and sometimes they’d lose it. But everybody knew that once they’d established a beach head total liberation of the island was inevitable, just a matter of time. And in the history of WW II once the Marines had landed and established a beach head they never lost an island. It was just a matter of time that the entire island would be set free.

When you make this step, what’s happening is God gets a beach head in your life. The Bible calls it conversion or being born again. It just means God gets a presence in my life. Does that mean everything in my life is perfect? Absolutely not. It means God’s in your life, He’s got a beach head and the rest of your life He’s going to be setting you free, little by little by little. It’s a process. So don’t worry about it. Just trust God.

Maybe you worry that in this battle you couldn’t hold on and hold out. God says, “Don’t worry.” It’s not your job to keep it. He says, “I do the keeping.” “Cast all your anxiety on God because He cares for you.” He says, “I care for you. I hold you in My hand.”

When my children were younger and we’d cross a busy street I’d grab hold of their hands. As we were walking across the street they might, as little children, want to let go. But no matter how much they wanted to let go, I wouldn’t let go of their hands because I am a loving father. There are times in your life you make decisions, “God, I don’t think I want to be a believer right now.” It’s a little difficult holding up my ethics and I may want to struggle and let go of His hand but once you have grabbed into His hand, God holds on to yours. He won’t let go. It says in Timothy, “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” God’s says, “I do the holding on so you don’t have to worry about it.” Whatever God asks me to do, He’ll enable me to do. Philippians 1:6: “God who began a good work in you, will keep right on helping you to grow in His grace until His task is finally completed.”

5. Doubt.
“I want to believe but my faith just seems so small.” You need to know the story of a guy whose son would have convulsions that caused him to get burned in the fire or almost drown. The Father said to Jesus, “If you can will you help my son.” Jesus said, “If, all things are possible with God.” He said, “Lord, I’ve got a lot of doubts. I want to believe. Help me with my unbelief.” Jesus said, “That’s good enough.” And He healed the boy. Maybe you need to say like this man, “God I want to believe that you will help me with my life. Help me with my unbelief.” That’s good enough. Don’t you have to have a big faith? Look at what the Bible says. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you.” It’s not the size of your faith that matters, it’s the size of what you put it in, the size of your God. You can have giant faith, put it in the wrong thing and get no results. Faith is not the issue. The issue is what do you put it in. A little faith in a big God gets big results. Don’t let any of these things keep you from taking this step.

Testimony: Sharon Thompson

Rob: Some of you say I’ve tried this before and it didn’t work. I’ve tried giving my life to God and it just didn’t work. My evaluation of that is that you probably didn’t fully understand what it all involved. You were involved you just weren’t committed. Like the kamikaze who went on 33 missions. He was involved but not committed.

II. How do I take this step?

You must realize that Jesus has a provision, a promise and a plan. What does it mean to take this step?
1. Jesus has given a Provision . . .
If you are weak and heavy burdened you can come to Christ Jesus.  This offer is not available to all people. It is available only to those of you who are weary and burdened. The religious leaders of the day missed the Christ because they didn’t know they were weary and burdened.
2. Jesus has given a Promise . . .
God will give you Rest, Yoke is comfortable, (means that you will find joy in this life), and burden is light, (you will be able to bear all the burdens because Jesus is bearing the weight with you).

3. Jesus has given a Plan . . . take yoke.
– I accept God’s Son as my Savior and Lord.
“Come to Me,” Jesus said. I need to be saved. I need help. I realize I need Him in my life. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” What does it mean? It means committing as much of myself as I understand at this moment to as much of Christ as I understand at this moment. Is that good enough? That is good enough.

-I accept God’s Son as my Friend and Guide.
God, I need a friend. I am going to “hang out” with your Son the rest of my life and then throughout eternity. An animal was yoked to another animal. They were together. Jesus is not looking for someone who will pray a little prayer and then leave Jesus at the altar. You must be willing to be yoked to Him for life. He will be your best friend.

-I accept God’s will as best in my life.
Take my yoke upon you, Jesus says. It is God’s yoke, not your own. You are willing to say, “I surrender my will to your will.” Your yoke is better than my yoke. I trust you, God. God, what do you want me to do? The first question I always ask is “Lord, you woke me up this morning. It obviously means you have another day for me, a purpose for my life. What do you want me to do with it?” As David says, “I delight to do your will.” I seek first God’s will. “God, I’m willing to do anything, anywhere, anytime. I don’t even have to understand it but I’m living my life on Your terms because You made me for a reason. You have a purpose and I want to fulfill that purpose that You made me for.” And God’s will becomes my strategy for life, whether I understand it or not. We must be willing to always seek God’s will in every situation. What does God want from me? What does God want in this situation?

-I accept God’s Word as my standard for living.
Have you ever received love letters? I can remember meeting some young girl at Shocco Springs and coming home madly in love. I would get her letter and open them and smell the perfume. It was great. The anticipation of looking in the mailbox. Now, I expect you get instant messages and text messages . . .somehow takes away the thrill. You have a love letter from God. It is called the Bible. He has written it so that you will know how to live and know more about His Son Jesus Christ. From now on I’ve got a manual that I’m going to live my life by. Graffiti: “This life is a test, it is only a test. Had it been an actual life you would have been given an instruction manual to tell you what to do and where to go.” Fortunately we do have an instruction manual. It’s the Bible. God says this is your standard by which you evaluate life around you. Notice: “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching the faith and correcting error for resetting the direction of a man’s life, training him in good living.”

-I accept God’s power as my strength.
Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything God asks me with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” No longer do I have to rely on my own energy. Things work better when they’re plugged in. You get plugged into God, you’re not so tired all the time. God says, “I will give you My power to be all I want you to be.”

It’s very important for you to let somebody else know of your decision and making this commitment.
Rob Jackson
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