Today is part two of our series called, “What Next?” And the question we’re answering is, “What’s next for me in my spiritual journey?”
God has given us a clear path to take in our walk with Him. And right now, you are somewhere along that path. My goal in this series is to help you identify where you are so you can take the next step.
Here’s why it’s important to gain clarity on where you are in your spiritual journey:
Proverbs 29:18 MSG – If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.
Maybe that’s what your life feels like. You’re stumbling in your marriage, or in your finances, or whatever it is. But know this: the problem isn’t your problem. The problem is the fact that you’re not clear on what God wants to do in your life.
When you gain that clarity, the problems that once overwhelmed you become like cockroaches. They’re gross and you don’t want them around, but all you gotta do is smash them and maybe spray some bug spray once in awhile.
Those who know God’s plan for their life are the most blessed. They have joy, patience, kindness, peace – you know, all the good stuff.
Most think that God’s plan for their life is ambiguous or something you can’t really figure out. But the truth is, God revealed His plan to us in scripture over and over again. And it all boils down to four distinct steps.
Before I give those to you, we all need to pray a prayer of faith together. We need more than just head knowledge here. We need these things to resonate with our spirit and only God can do that.
The prayer we’re going to pray is found in Psalms. Right there in your living room, or wherever you are, let’s pray this scripture out loud together in faith:
Psalms 16:11 NLT – You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Through this message today, God is going to show you the way of life. And when you gain clarity on His plan for you, God will grant you the joy of His presence and the pleasures of living with Him forever.
Alright, here come the four steps. If you’ve been with us for long, you’ve heard these before but go ahead and write them down again. If you are new here, go ahead and write these down as well.
We’re not talking about a religion. We’re talking about a relationship with God. His desire is to have a close relationship with you.
He wants you to understand that He loves you no matter what. He wants you to run to Him when you’ve messed up and when you’re hurting so He can help you. He is not looking for perfection, He is looking for relationship.
This is the first step in your spiritual journey. It’s when you understand and accept the fact that Jesus died to free you from your sin and restore your relationship with God.
You don’t have to do anything to earn this relationship. Jesus took care of all of that for you. All you have to do is believe that Jesus died to set you free and then run right into the arms of God and enjoy relationship with Him.
We’re going to talk more about this next week. And I’m excited because those you invite to church next week are going to have the opportunity to know God and step into that eternal relationship with Him.
Today, we are going to talk about the second step in this journey:
A lot of people try to put this one first. You think you have to get all your stuff together before you can know God. But that’s not how it works.
Finding freedom from your hangups, the past, the shame, the secrets, the habits, the addictions only comes after you know God. First things first, God wants a relationship with you. Then He’ll help you clean out the closet.
Knowing God is when you accept what Jesus did for you and secure the fact that you will spend eternity with God. And that’s the most important because eternity is a heck of a lot longer than this life.
But finding freedom is what enables you to live this life to the full. Yes, Jesus paid the price for you to spend eternity in Heaven. But He also paid the price for you to have an amazing life here. That’s what finding freedom is all about.
We’re going to dig deep into this one today. But first, let me give you the last two steps so you can have a clear picture of your entire spiritual journey.
You were born on purpose and for a purpose. You are not an accident. I don’t care what your momma says about you. You are not an accident.
But here’s the deal. For you to discover your purpose, you first have to know God and find freedom. There’s a lot of people out there trying to discover purpose without completing the first two steps and it just doesn’t work.
We’ll wrap up this series in two weeks by deep diving in how to discover your purpose. The reason this is important is so you can reach the ultimate destination in your spiritual journey:
Make a difference.
This is what we talked about last week. It’s much easier to understand the map when you know the destination. And here is the destination for your life:
My ultimate purpose in life is to make a difference for eternity.
There are three areas where you are called to make a difference: those closest to you, those close to you but different than you, and those far away.
Today we are talking about finding freedom. All throughout the Bible you’ll find that God’s system for finding freedom centers around relationships. And that’s kind of odd because most of your problems come from relationships.
But isn’t it just like the devil to pervert God’s system? He couldn’t create his own, so he decided to use broken relationships to lead you to pain, hangups, habits, addictions. But God uses healthy relationships to help you find freedom. Take a look:
James 5:16 NLT – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
God’s system is honesty, transparency and relationships. That’s how you find and walk in freedom. And that’s why we have small groups here at NoLimits.
It’s only when you get into a small group of people that you build a relationship strong enough that you are willing to confess your sins to each other and you know they’ll help you and not bash you for your mishaps.
I know we are in uncertain times right now and it’s a bit paralyzing, but please, find a way to continue building relationships with your small group members. Call them, text them, have everyone get together on Zoom, start a Facebook chat group and engage in it daily.
Do whatever it takes to continue building relationships because at some point, you are going to need someone in your corner to pray for you so you may be healed. Don’t wait until your life falls apart. Build the relationships now.
Although relationships with other believers is the primary way we find freedom, there is nothing about God that is one dimensional. So today I want to talk to you about how we find freedom in the cross of Jesus Christ.
I’ll go ahead and warn you, I’m going to have to get serious here for a minute. Because I want to show you the power of the cross. And what Jesus did for us is quite sobering to say the least.
It’s easy to casually position the cross as a cool symbol on our walls. But there is so much depth to the cross of Christ and it’s always good to remember what the cross really means to us.
1 Corinthians 1:18 NLT – The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.
The cross is not just a symbol. It is the power of God. And everything that Jesus went through leading up to the cross was intentional and provided something very specific for us as believers.
Jesus getting whipped had purpose. The crown of thorns had purpose. The nails had purpose. And even the spear in Jesus’ side had purpose. All these things were done so that the power of God could work in every area of your life.
And I am going to show you what all of these things mean today. But you must understand that the message of the cross is the very power of God. It’s not a necklace, it’s not wall decor, its God’s power at work on your behalf.
But let’s back up a bit. Jesus was doing His thing. He was teaching people, healing people, helping people and loving people. He never did anything wrong, He never lied, He never deviated from love, He lived a perfect life.
And then there was this group of religious people who hated Jesus. They hated Him so much that they arrested Him without a good reason. I mean, what can you do to someone who has lived a perfect life?
They wanted Him dead, but couldn’t find anything to charge Him for until this:
Matthew 26:63-67 NKJV – The high priest said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, “ It is as you said.” … Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands.
Since Jesus said He was the Son of God, they charged Him with blasphemy. They thought they finally found something against Him. Little did they know, He really was the Son of God which they found out after they killed Him.
What’s interesting about this whole ordeal is that God could have picked any time to send His son Jesus to die for our sins. Yet, He picked the time in history when execution was the worst.
Today, the worst that would have happened to Jesus is lethal injection. But God chose the time when people were executed on the cross. The most painful, drawn out execution that has ever existed.
I think God did this on purpose to show how much He really loves us.
One of the most interesting things in the Bible is how the death of Christ was prophesied in exact detail in the book of Isaiah 800 years before it happened. That’s amazing. The whole time, God knew what was coming.
Isaiah prophesied about four different things that Jesus would go through:
Isaiah 53:5 NIV – But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
These things didn’t just happen to Jesus; they happened for you. All four of these represent something and I want to show it to you.
I’m going to go through each of them not in the order of this verse, but in the order they actually happened to Jesus.
The first step in any Roman execution was the scourging. They would use a tool called “the cat of nine tails”. It was 9 leather straps connected to a handle. And they would use horse hair to tie bone, rock, wire and glass to the leather strips.
They would then soak the leather strands in water to make them heavier and then take two hands to embed all the bone, rock, wire and glass into the flesh and then yank down.
This happened to Jesus 39 times. Thirteen across one shoulder, thirteen across the other shoulder, and thirteen down the middle of his spine. Roman law didn’t allow more than 39 times because most died before they even made it to the cross.
Isaiah tells us why this happened:
1. The Whip: Freedom in my body.
Isaiah 53:5 NKJV – …by His stripes we are healed.
Every time the whip hit Jesus it provided healing for sickness and disease. He didn’t just pay the price for your sin, He paid the price for your sickness as well.
Jesus took the stripes on His back so you could be free from sickness. God does not give us sickness and disease to teach us a lesson. The devil is the author of sickness and disease and Jesus paid the price for you to be free from it all.
Am I saying that God still heals today? You better believe it. The Great Physician is still working miracles as we speak. The question is, why doesn’t everyone get healed then?
I wish I could answer that for you, but I don’t know either. What I do know is that I’ve seen God heal incurable cancer. I’ve watched with my own eyes as someone’s leg grew out because one was shorter than the other.
I’ve witnessed God perform amazing healing miracles. At the same time, just a few years ago, my father-in-law died of cancer at the age of 50. We prayed for his healing, but turns out, he received it in heaven instead of here on earth.
Can I explain that? No. Am I going to abandon faith in healing because God didn’t do it the way I wanted Him to? No. I trust God and I believe that His best plan for our lives is to live in complete physical health.
Actually, some of you are going to receive healing today. Take a look at this:
1 Peter 2:24 NKJV – Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed.
It’s past tense! You have already been healed. Someone listening right now was just filled with faith. You are going to step into the healing that’s already been provided for you. When you receive that miracle, be sure to tell us about it by sending us a message.
After Jesus took the stripes on His back for your healing, the guards did something they wouldn’t normally do. They took Jesus to the place where all the guards would hang out so they could mock Him.
This was not normal protocol, but they were all kind of mad at Jesus because He said He was king of the Jews, and they wanted to be the ones ruling the Jews. So, they took Jesus aside to privately mock Him.
They would blindfold Him, someone would slap Him in the face and they’d say, “If you are a prophet like you say you are, then tell us who just slapped you.”
Of course, we all know that Jesus could have told them who it was. He could have even turned them into a puff of smoke if He wanted to, but He didn’t. He just sat there in complete peace and quiet.
They slapped Him, they spit on Him, but they couldn’t get a reaction out of Him so they decided to make a crown out of a thorn branch that had two-inch thorns and then shoved it onto His head.
Not only did this make blood run down His face, but it also would have caused intense pressure in His head. Isaiah saw this when he said, “the punishment that brought us peace was on him.”
Isn’t it interesting that when you don’t have peace, it’s because of an attack on your mind. That’s why the crown of thorns had a purpose:
2. The Thorns: Freedom in my mind.
Isaiah 53:5 NIV – …the punishment that brought us peace was on Him.
Don’t we need this now more than ever. Are you struggling with overwhelming fear about this virus? Are you worried that you might lose your job? Are you anxious about what is going to happen to those around you?
The fear, the anxiety, the stress – it’s not for you! Jesus didn’t come just so you could get into heaven. Jesus came to give you peace!
John 14:27 NKJV – Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
If you aren’t walking this thing out in peace, then you are rejecting a gift that Jesus died to give you. Sure, you can live without peace and still go to heaven. But why leave one of the benefits of your salvation on the table?
You don’t have to be troubled. You don’t have to be afraid. Jesus gave you a gift of peace that doesn’t even make sense to the world. If you are wondering why you aren’t experiencing this peace right now, let me show you:
Isaiah 26:3 NLT – You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Can I make this super practical for you? Turn off the news. There’s nothing that will take your mind off of God faster than watching the news. They don’t care about you – they care about ratings. And fear sells.
You might as well get off of social media while you are at it because there’s way too much fear and hate filling our social feeds right now.
If you fix your thoughts on the latest death stats, and trying to figure out what is going to happen next, and worrying about the economy, you are going to get the world’s gift to you: fear and anxiety.
But if you turn off the world and fix your thoughts on God by listening to sermons online, studying your Bible, and spending time in prayer, you are going to get what Jesus died to give you, overwhelming peace.
Every time you see a picture of Jesus with the crown of thorns, remember that Jesus suffered pain in His head so you don’t have to suffer pain in yours. He took the crown of thorns to give you freedom in your mind.
After they tortured Him and mocked Him, they brought Jesus back out into the public and made Him carry His own cross to the place where they would crucify Him. Then they nailed Him to the cross. They nailed His hands and His feet.
The reason people die in a crucifixion is because they suffocate. They are hanging there, their shoulder muscles are severed from the beating, and they can’t get a full breath of air.
So they hung Jesus with a little bend in His knee so He could push up with His legs, rubbing His raw back along the splintery cross, and grab a breath before dropping back down.
I know, this is a little graphic, but it’s important that we know what Jesus went through for us. We tend to romanticise the cross, but there was nothing romantic about it. It was torture.
There was significance to the nails that went through His hands and feet. Your hands represent everything you’ve ever done. Your feet represent everywhere you’ve ever been.
And that’s why Isaiah said, “He was pierced for our transgressions.”
3. The Nails: Freedom from my past.
Isaiah 53:5 NIV – He was pierced for our transgressions…
Jesus took the nails through His hands and feet to give you freedom from everything you’ve ever done and everywhere you’ve ever been.
We talk a lot about how Jesus forgives our sins. And that is absolutely true, but there’s more to it than that:
Hebrews 8:12 NLT – And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.
If a kid broke the neighbors window when playing ball, the dad would probably go make mends with the neighbor and pay for a new window. But you better know when he gets back, little Johnny is going to get a whoopin.
In other words, the dad paid for it, but he didn’t forget it. And that is exactly how so many Christians view God. You know Jesus paid for your sins, but you think He still remembers it.
No He doesn’t. He’s done forgot all about it and He’ll never again remember it. He didn’t file it away for later. He burned it up, never to be seen or talked about again. And He actually goes further than that.
How many of you know that you can have something paid for, and your daddy forgets it, but you dont forget it? Everyone else is good, but you continue to carry around shame and guilt and regret.
So, Jesus not only paid for your sin. He not only forgot about it. But:
Hebrews 9:14 NLT – Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God.
He takes the stain of shame, guilt and regret off your life too. And there’s a bunch of you listening right now that know your sins have been forgiven but you are still carrying around that shame.
Jesus wants to free you from that right now. Freedom from your past belongs to you, and today is the day for you to step into that freedom and let God purify your conscience so you can walk free from shame.
I hope you guys are getting this. I latched onto this truth a few years ago and after years and years of holding onto shame from what I did in my teenage years, I let it go and stepped into freedom.
Now I’m free from not only my dark past, but even from what I did wrong yesterday. I don’t hold on to nothing because Jesus already paid for it, He forgot about it, and He gave me freedom from my past.
We don’t use this as an excuse to live a sloppy life. No, we use this as power to live the full life that God planned for us where we are free from sin and living side-by-side with Him.
Jesus took the nails to give this to you.
So there He was, hanging on the cross and at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon He breathed His last breath.
They were kind of surprised because they expected Him to last longer, so one of the guards took a spear and jabbed it up under His rib cage and into His heart to make sure He was really dead.
Out of His chest cavity came a mixture of blood and water. Medical science would tell you that this reveals that His heart would have already ruptured before they even stuck the spear in Him.
So, how did Jesus die? From blood loss? No. From pain? No. From suffocation? No. He died because His heart was crushed. This makes sense to all of us because we’ve all had our hearts broken before.
Isaiah said, “He was crushed for our iniquities.” I wonder how many of you listening right now have had your heart crushed; by a divorce, by someone you love dying way before they were supposed to, by a grown child headed in the wrong direction, by a business failure.
Jesus knew we would all experience our hearts getting crushed by the circumstances of this life. And the pain He felt because of our pain caused His heart to rupture while He was hanging on the cross.
That’s why the spear represents this:
4. The Spear: Freedom in my heart.
Isaiah 53:5 NIV – …He was crushed for our iniquities…
Jesus gave you freedom in your body. He gave you freedom in your mind. He gave you freedom from your past. And He also wants to give you your joy back.
Psalms 147:3 NKJV – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Jesus didn’t just come to give you Heaven, He came to heal you. He did what it took for you to experience wholeness in every area of your life.
Yeah, it hurts. And the people around you might have even told you you’d never recover from what happened to you. But Jesus says otherwise. Today, Jesus wants to heal your broken heart and restore you back to joy.
Maybe you are reading right now and you’ve heard about Jesus before, but today you finally understand. Your spirit was touched today by what Jesus did for you and you are ready to give your life to Him.
If that’s you, please know that this is the best decision of your life. Believing in Jesus and committing your life to Him not only gives you eternity in Heaven, it gives you freedom here on Earth.
You’ve already made the decision in your heart, but say this prayer out loud to seal the deal:
“Jesus, thank you. I don’t deserve the things you did for me. I sinned against you and you still forgave me. You didn’t just forgive, you forgot. I believe in you, Jesus. I believe what you did is more than enough. Thank you for new life. Thank you for a fresh start. I submit my life to you today.”
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.