God has no limits. The only thing that can ever limit God is our own thoughts and actions.
So let’s talk about three ways we limit God without even knowing it.
#1: Putting Conditions on Love
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find a reason not to love someone?
Maybe they lied to you, stole from you, used you. Or maybe they make a lot of money and don’t spend it the way you think they should.
Or maybe they looked at your wrong or ignored you this morning when you were walking into church.
1 Corinthians 13:2 (NLT) – If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
When thinking of a limitless life in Jesus, you probably imagine a life where you know God’s secret plans, possess all knowledge, and have faith that can move mountains.
These things are definitely part of a limitless life, but the one thing that can tear it all apart is stepping out of love towards others.
There is a way we do this that is so subtle we don’t even notice it. Let’s illustrate with a story:
Lori and Leo have been married for a couple of years and keep having the same argument. They were at a party one evening and when Lori reached for another scoop of ice cream, Leo said, “Lori, why don’t you lay off the ice cream?”
Lori, who struggles with her weight, shot Leo a nasty look and the two avoided each other for the rest of the night. Here’s the conversation that happened on their way home.
- Lori: I really don’t appreciate the way you treated me in front of our friends tonight.
- Leo: They way I treated you? What are you talking about?
- Lori: About the ice cream. You act like you’re my father or something, You have this need to control me and put me down.
- Leo: Lori, I wasn’t trying to hurt you. You said you were on a diet, and I am just trying to help you stick to it. You’re so defensive. You hear everything as an attack on you, even when I’m trying to help.
- Lori: Help?! Humiliating me in front of my friends is your idea of helping?
- Leo: You know, I just can’t win with you. If I say something, you think I’m trying to humiliate you, and if I don’t, you ask me why I let you overeat. I am so sick of this. Sometimes I wonder whether you don’t start these fights on purpose.
The women are probably feeling a little heated right now and siding with Lori. And all the men are happy to know they aren’t the only ones having this type of conversation.
But, what we have here is a classic battle of intentions.
Lori is assuming that Leo’s intentions were to control her and put her down. But, Leo made a mistake too by assuming that after he clarified his intentions were good, Lori is no longer justified in being upset.
Assuming other’s intentions, why they said or did something, is one of the most frequent ways we withhold love from others.
Most of the time, we don’t even notice it. And, it wasn’t until I read about this in a book, called Difficult Conversations, that I realized that I was doing this very thing. Not just with Beth, but with everyone.
If you looked at me wrong, I assumed you were mad at me. If you said something that hurt my feelings, I assumed you meant to hurt them. If you laughed while looking my direction, I assumed you were making fun of me. If your text message came across as hateful, I assumed you meant for it to be hateful.
Can anybody relate to this, or is it just me?
I’m convinced that assuming intentions is the easiest way for the devil to mess up our love walk. That is until we recognize what’s going on.
Now that I’ve brought it to your attention, the next time you assume intentions, you’re going to notice it. And here’s what you do.
Instead of assuming the worst, assume the best.
Kandi, our drummer, asked to meet with me earlier this week. She didn’t say why, so my mind started to wonder, “Is she leaving the church? Did she disagree with something I said last week?”
But, I’ve been practicing this for about six months now, so I turned it around. I replaced the negative thoughts with positive ones, “She’s probably just wanting to catch up since we haven’t talked in awhile. I’ll get to hear about her new business giving drum lessons, we’ll get to talk about the church. It’s going to be good.”
And, what did she want to talk about? She just wanted to catch up. But, if I hadn’t trained myself to assume the best, I would have spent a few days fretting about the meeting for no reason.
You may be thinking, “But, what if she showed up and said she was leaving the church?”
Well, would fretting about that two days leading up to the meeting change anything? Nope. It would just make me act like a punk around my family because I would have been in a bad mood.
We think that assuming the worst somehow protects us. But it doesn’t. All it does is drain our energy, make us sick and ruin relationships.
What does love do? It assumes the best, even when a person’s history tells us otherwise.
Core Value: We love others without reason.
When we find excuses not to love others, we limit God.
Our love must be a free gift. One that can’t be earned or taken away. We must strive to love others the same way Jesus love us.
The world’s system says that love has to be earned or felt. But God’s system says that love should be unconditional, irrevocable, and a free gift. It is something we do without expecting anything in return.
#2: Neglecting Your Health
One of the best ways we can love those around us is to take care of our own bodies.
Think about it, when you feel good, you are engaged, energetic, and available for those that need your help.
I am transitioning my business to primarily shoot videos – specifically shooting stories that will encourage and empower others.
In this journey, I’ve shot several stories of people who have taken control of their health, and one of the things they are most excited about is having energy to improve relationships, whether it be their spouse, kids or grandkids.
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is talking about how we should stay away from worshiping idols. He reminds us of what happened to the Israelites when the got caught up worshiping idols – they got stuck in the wilderness.
At the time Paul was writing this, a big issue was whether or not Christians could eat food that was offered to idols in other religions. His answer? The food has no significance and can be eaten. But, only if it isn’t going to offend the person you are eating with.
Here’s how Paul’s instruction ends.
1 Corinthians 10:33 (NLT) – I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.
How many of you, when you eat, are thinking about how your choices are going to affect others?
How is it going to affect your spouse when you are laid up on the couch because you ate too much? How is it going to affect your kids?
How’s it going to affect your ability to share Jesus when you are tired all the time from eating loads of junk food?
I know, this isn’t a fun conversation. And, it’s one that isn’t often talked about in churches. Actually, we’ve kind of written off eating as one of those things we have a “free pass” on. We can do what we want.
I mean, as long as we stay away from the “big” sins, like getting drunk, we can take our liberties on what we eat. But, check out this scripture.
Proverbs 23:21 (AMP) – For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And the drowsiness [of overindulgence] will clothe one with rags.
What?! In this scripture, a drunk and over-eater are put in the same category. And the end result isn’t pretty – poverty.
It’s interesting. We know the Lord expects us to work towards keeping the flesh in line, yet when it comes to food, we’ve convinced ourselves we have a free pass.
I’ll just eat what I want. And, if I have a health problem later on because of it, I’ll just receive God’s healing.
And, I believe God would heal you. But, what about all that time you spent tired and sick leading up to it because of your own choices?
It may feel like I’m slapping you around right now, but I am really just trying to renew your mind.
Don’t let this message condemn you for the fact that you’ve failed to take control of your appetite in the past. Today is your new beginning.
The enemy has a plan to cripple the church through gluttony and poor eating habits. Today is where it ends for us. We are no longer going to give into his clever lies.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT) – So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
When we sit down to eat, we need to ask ourselves two questions.
- Is this glorifying God, or am I trying to fill some void or fleshly appetite that only God can fill?
- How is this choice going to affect those around me?
This really isn’t about setting rules and regulations about what you can and can’t eat. This is about taking control of your appetite and taking control of your health. It’s realizing that your eating habits are not about you – it’s about those around you.
Core Value: We take care of our bodies.
Today is the day we stop limiting what God wants to do in our lives because of poor eating habits. Today is the day we partner with God to take control of our health. We no longer use food to satisfy a hunger that only God can satisfy.
#3: Living in Regret
Do you remember the last time you messed up?
Maybe you fell into an old habit, said something you shouldn’t have, watched something you shouldn’t have, smoked something you shouldn’t have.
Whatever it is, we all make mistakes. Even the guy who wrote most of the New Testament in the Bible made mistakes.
Romans 7:19-20 – I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
This is great news. You’re not the only one that struggles with sin!
But notice how Paul separates himself from the sin, “I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
Hold up. Some of you are having a struggle right now. Even though this is the Apostle Paul, you’d probably give him a piece of your mind saying, “Paul, just take responsibility for your own mistakes!”
This is really challenging to understand. How could Paul say that it wasn’t him doing wrong, it was the sin living in him doing the wrong?
All our life, we’ve been taught that when someone cheats on their spouse, gets caught up in pornography or get’s sucked into a drug addiction, they are just a sorry piece of work. Why can they just make better decisions?
Well, let’s get a little more personal. Why do you keep eating things you know aren’t good for you? I’m not picking on you, I just know that it is something almost every person struggles with. And, it brings it into perspective, doesn’t it?
I bet you want to eat healthy, but somehow when it’s evening and your tired, that twinkie finds its way into your mouth.
Drugs, pornography and other “big” sins are easy to pick on. But the truth is, we all have the same type of struggle with something, like food.
So, what do we do about it? Just keep sinning? Let’s keep reading what Paul has to say.
Romans 7:24-25 – Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
That’s the end of the chapter, but it’s not the end of Paul’s message. He didn’t take a break before this, it was a continuation.
Romans 8:1-2 – So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Where we get stuck is the ‘no condemnation’ part. Because, it’s not until we understand this that we are able to live through the power of the Holy Spirit, which is what frees us from sin.
Spoiler alert: You are incapable of freeing yourself from sin. There is no amount of willpower that can keep you 100% out of trouble.
We get caught in a cycle of making a mistake, spending a few days or weeks feeling bad about what we did, making the mistake again, and the vicious cycle continues.
The devil tricks us into thinking that living in regret somehow pays for our sin. So we live our life in condemnation and never experience the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our job is to separate ourselves from our sin, just like Paul did. It’s not me doing it, it’s my sinful nature. Then, go directly to God and thank Him for the forgiveness that was already there and move on.
Don’t waste one moment in regret.
We’re talking about blind limitations, and one way we limit God without even knowing it is by living in regret.
Core Value: We don’t waste one moment in regret.
You are not doing God a favor by feeling bad about yourself. You didn’t earn right standing with God, Jesus did that for you! So you also can’t mess it up!
The only way out of sin is to first remove regret and then rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
- If you’ve messed up, do not leave today condemned. Instead, let Jesus make all things new. Let today be your new beginning.
- If you struggle with bad eating habits, don’t leave today condemned. Let Jesus make all things new.
- If you’ve been living your whole life in regret for things you’ve done in the past, don’t leave today without letting it go.
- If you’ve lived your life believing the worst and thinking bad of others, today is the day that changes. From now on, you are going to see the best in others and silence the negativity that tries to overtake your mind.