God is taking you somewhere. The enemy is trying to hold you back from going. God has a great plan for your life. The enemy has the opposite plan for your life. You’re either actively seeking God’s plan, or you’re passively settling for the enemy’s. This morning we will look at a story in the bible of a man being unleashed and set free and we’ll apply 3 lessons from this story to the chains which bind us today.
Peter was the apostle who walked on water with Jesus. He’s my favorite because he wanted more out of life, he wanted to experience it all, however he was always getting himself in trouble by talking before thinking. Anyone else relate to Peter?
In Acts chapter 12 we read about Peter being in jail. In verse 6-8 it says “The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, ‘Quick! Get up!’ And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, ‘Get dressed and put on your sandals.’ And he did. ‘Now put on your coat and follow me,’ the angel ordered.”
And there they are, 3 steps for you and I to follow today to break free of that which holds us back: Get up, get dressed, go. And before you dismiss this as elementary and way to simple for the serious chains you’re dealing with, I promise this applies to you.
1. First, Peter is told, “quick, get up!” and the chains fell off his wrists. Notice Peter was told to get up while the chains were still binding him. Ahhhh, he had to get up first. He had to put some effort in. He had a responsibility in his freedom. Quick get up, then the chains fell off. How often we lay around and wallow in our mess saying, “God, please help me – pick me up – set me free” but we aren’t willing to first get up.
What if the chains holding you back will only be broken after YOU get up. Get up when you don’t feel like it. Get up when it’s not fair. Get up when you fear you’ll be knocked right back down again. Get up. Chains don’t fall off when you’re just laying there. You have a responsibility in this freedom you seek. It’s not just going to magically happen for you as you do nothing. Will you be willing to get up BEFORE you feel better? Before you feel there is a change? Before you know for sure you can stay up?
Over the past week I’ve received messages from my podcast listeners who are undeniably incredible women. Strong, capable women filled with potential. But these women are chained to something that is hindering that potential. For one it is her bottle of pills, for another it is her bottle of wine. Another it is marijuana, while another it is pornography. Some are in toxic relationships or deep dark life-threatening depressions, or struggling with haunting details of the past.
And for each one, there is help. And let me be real clear, that help most often comes in the form of Jesus working through a professional. There are others just like you and you need to know that. You’re not alone. The enemy wants to convince you that deep dark nasty little secret of yours will isolate you and leave you alone, and it will, if you listen to him. Understand the voice that tells you you’re beyond repair, no one could ever understand and you’re without hope or help … that’s the voice of a defeated liar and he doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about. He’s talking straight out of his butt ya’ll!
The truth is there are groups of people struggling with the same thing you’re struggling with. They are gathered to encourage one another and offer accountability. There are professionals leading these groups who can equip you with the tools you’ve been missing. These professionals have been personally called and equipped by the almighty to help YOU. Jesus is working there and he is extending a personal invitation to you right now.
You know what your “get up” looks like? It looks like deciding you will no longer suffer alone. It looks like deciding you’re not hopeless. It looks like believing Jesus when he says he came to give you life and life to the full, and this has been a far cry from a full life. That’s getting up.
2. Then the angel told him “get dressed and put on your sandals” and he did.
Now that you’re up, get dressed. Why is this so important? Because getting dressed signifies you’re going somewhere. You’re no longer staying where you have been stuck. BELIEVE that God is taking you somewhere, so prepare yourself. This scripture shows us exactly how to do it. God says get up, get dressed and Peter just does it. Don’t question it. Don’t delay. Don’t make long lists and rewrite your lists. Don’t alphabetize your excuses. Just do it. Quickly. Now. When it doesn’t make sense.
What if the amount of time it takes you to respond to God’s prompting determines the amount of time it will take you to have your breakthrough? What if this delay is of your own doing? What if God has been waiting on YOU to get ready all this time?
When I first started in business years ago, my mentor told me “Pamela, you’ve got to fake it till you make it.” I would get up every morning and dress for a million dollar meeting all though there wasn’t a single person coming to my office to see me that day.
Now I understand it’s not so much about faking it, it’s about starting it. Start the positive momentum with what you CAN do. That little something you CAN do today is the beginning of everything. It is the seed for the harvest of your future. Be faithful with the seed of today, you never know what it might grow into.
Sometimes we’ve gotta dress the part to prove we’re ready for it. If you don’t want to be a frumpy mom today, then don’t dress like a frumpy mom today. If you want energy today, girl get outta your pajama pants. If you want to be healthy and fit, slap on a pair of spandex pants and dare to do what people who wear spandex pants do. Those people move! God’s not into looks, but he is into your participation in this process. Show him you’re ready! Show him you take responsibility for your role. Get dressed for it.
Many years ago I read the story of a woman who was embarrassed by her weight. She desperately wanted to get healthy, but she was terrified of what others would think of her when she walked into the gym. So one day she worked up the courage to get dressed, then drive to that gym. She sat in her car and looked at the building. She watched the people go in the door, but couldn’t find the courage to do it herself. But at least she was in the parking lot. She continued to get dressed and drive there each day of week 1.
On week 2, she not only drove to the gym, but she walked to the door. It took every ounce of courage she had to get out of that car. But she did it. She touched the door, then returned to her car. It was progress. She continued this until week 3.
Week 3 she walked into the gym door and made her way to the locker room.
Each week she continued to just go a little further than she had the week before. Eventually she was working out. Eventually she was losing weight. Eventually she was becoming healthy and gaining her confidence. Eventually this woman became incredibly successful, but remember how did it begin? On day 1 week 1 she just got dressed and sat in her car.
If you’re one of my sisters struggling with a chain like an addiction or a deep dark shameful secret that’s stealing your future, what does step 2 of “getting dressed” look like for you? That looks like preparing yourself for help. Searching for those groups of people like you meeting near you. Making a phone call to a professional. Reaching out for accountability and sharing your truth. And let’s be clear, your current truth may be that you’re struggling and it’s vital to admit that so you can get help … but your absolute truth is you’re fully redeemed, set free, and more than a conqueror of anything that has been holding you back.
I’m asking you point blank, will you seek help? Will you start the research? Will you make the phone call? Will you schedule the appointment? Will you ask God to guide you there?
You want out of the chains? You want to live unleashed? You want to finally break free? Quickly, get up, get dressed and then step 3, “follow me”.
3. God is saying “let’s go.” If you will be willing to get up and get dressed, God is going to take you somewhere. He will help you live a life of freedom. Those chains that have held you back in the past will be broken, but you have a responsibility in this too. Let’s go. Let’s get moving. You don’t know where you’re going … hey you don’t have to know the way, you’re just following God. God will be so faithful to guide you, and you know how he does it … one step at a time. He always makes the next step right in front of you. Just follow him. His holy spirit lives within you and it prompts you. Start listening to his voice and those promptings from within.
Here’s the thing I’ve discovered about that voice and those promptings … I don’t typically hear him when I’m sitting around doing nothing. The promptings are halted when I’m wearing my “giving up on life” pants. You know, we’ve talked about those pants before. The ones that make you so comfortable you just want to lounge around all day. Girl, put you on some pants with a zipper. Put you on something that says “I’m showing up for life today”, even if you don’t know what it is. When you’ve gotten up and when you’ve gotten dressed, then God will start showing you where to go and what to do.
We’ve had it all backwards. We lay around and mope saying, “If God would just tell me what to do, I would do it, but I never hear from him.” Oh maybe we don’t hear from him because we’ve forgotten the first 2 steps. Get up and get dressed. Prepare yourself. This is an act of faith that God is taking you somewhere and you don’t want to miss it! If it’s been a while since you felt God’s promptings and guidance, then ask yourself if you’ve been prepared. Have you been showing God that you’re ready? Have you been up and ready to go? Have you been dressing the part for the life which you seek?
Decide you’re not staying in this funk. You’re not surrendering to this addiction. You’re not settling for how things have been. That’s a get up!
You’re not alone in your struggle. You no longer have to hide in shame and guilt. Listen to me right now, you could message me with your deepest darkest secret and I can say with absolute confidence … I STILL LOVE YOU WILDLY. None of this changes your potential. None of this affects what God can do in you. You are still wildly loved and believed in. Whatever you could tell me would only confirm all the amazing things God wants to do with you!
Reach out. Search for that group. Make a call to a professional. Schedule that appointment. If you genuinely don’t know how to find that help, then you reach out to me, I’ll help with that research. We will pray together and God will lead. This is your step 2. This is what getting dressed looks like.
Then, you will go. Then you will show up at that gym. Then you will meet with the therapist. Then you will go to the doctor. Then you will meet with that group. Then you will go apply for that job. Then you will go!
And those chains will fall. You will be set free. You will be unleashed. This is how it happens.
Get up, get dressed, let’s go. Unleashed. This is the life for you. Break the chains. God is about to blow your mind with the life available to you, won’t you take it?