Breaking the Chains Forged in Life

      Philippians 2:5-11
 
In Dickens’ Christmas Carol, there is probably none more haunting or foretelling then the scene that takes place in Scrooge’s bedchamber on Christmas Eve. It’s there that Scrooge is confronted by a ghostly figure that once was his business partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge reached his front door and was frightened to see the face of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, staring back at him from the door knocker. Shaken, he hurried to his bedroom and got his bowl of gruel. Suddenly, his ghostly business partner, Marley, entered the room and confronted the terrified Scrooge. When the frightening specter of Marley’s ghost confronts the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, he is weighed down with a long, heavy chain.
 
"It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel."
 
When Scrooge inquired about the chain, Marley replied, "I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it." Then Marley asked Scrooge, "Is its pattern strange to you?
Or would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself?
For YOURS was full and as heavy and as long as this seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it since. It is a ponderous chain!"
 
In watching this scene, we can’t help but be astonished how unrelenting and blind Scrooge is.
Though initially frightened, Scrooge is unwilling to accept the reality of Marley’s ghost, and dismisses Marley’s warning - even though it means certain damnation for Scrooge.
Though wretched and callous, Scrooge refuses to see the ponderous chain he is forging in his life. He is unaware of the chain because he can’t literally see it – yet Marley can see it. In his unrepentant condition, Scrooge askes Marley for some words of encouragement, but Marley has no words of comfort to speak to Scrooge.
Enslaved by the chains he forged in life, Scrooge embodies what the Apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians:
 
“Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant.
If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death; if you plant in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit you will gather the harvest of eternal life.” (6:7,8)
 
Even as Marley and Scrooge were bound by chains, so each of us are bound with chains we have forged in life. Chains fashioned by our past. Chains capable of constraining us from experiencing the full joy of this season, But not just this season but the joys of life. even as Scrooge was unable to experience the joy of Christmas. What are these chains?
The pattern varies from person to person, forged by our particular histories.
No chain is identical.
For some the length of the chain is longer than for others, and the weight heavier. But we all bear a chain of some sort, forged by our past.
These chains keep us from realizing the full joy of God’s gift of salvation in Jesus.
 
For some, their chain is a pattern of bitterness and resentment.
They’re bitter for something that happened to them years earlier, or for the circumstances in which they now find themselves. They harbor a spirit of resentment which acts like an infection that prevents a wound from healing.
Often they’re bitter toward God, resenting God for how they believe God has disappointed them or caused them pain.
 
Others are burdened by a chain forged by unrealized dreams. Weighed down by the awareness they’ll never achieve their life’s goal, they view themselves as being a failure, plagued by disappointment and despair.
Disillusioned, they become blind to other purposes and possibilities God still has for them.
 
Others are enslaved by a chain patterned by worry. Unwilling to trust anyone - including God - they fret over all the possible things that can go wrong, burdening themselves with anxiety.
They feel overwhelmed by their inability to manage and control every detail, causing them to live in a perpetual state of apprehension and nervousness.
 
Others forge a chain patterned by their addictions. Look at Scrooge he became uncaring and callous by his addiction to greed, so there are those whose addiction is a chain that causes them to become self absorbing. Possessed by the demon of their addiction, they resist the help and love of those who care about them – not to mention the miraculous help and love of God.
 
Then there are those who forge a chain that’s patterned after their obsession to succeed. Driven by their desire to achieve, they weigh everything in terms of whether or not it will further their goals. Unable to see anything but the object of their success, everything and everyone becomes secondary – including relationships with family, friends and God.
 
During the holidays, there are many burdened by the chain of consumerism. Being the season for giving, we all get caught in this one a little bit… But the real problem in this is when its about trying to empress others with look what I got type of thing. People work their entire lives to impress others, and while you’re working so hard to impress others you never have peace of mind and peace of heart and soul. If you want to be free from the things that grip and bind you, be advised that the first step is to fear God more than you fear men.
 
These are just a few of the chains that bind people today, each fashioned by their particular past experiences.
 
They’re chains that enslave them, keeping them from experiencing the full potential of God’s saving grace. We often get so wrapped up in our world of troubles, despair, depression, sufferings, and sorrows that we forget that we serve a mighty and powerful God who protects us and delivers us from the chains that bind. As long as we walk in the flesh we will walk in bondage.
When we learn to walk in the spirit we will no longer walk alone in fear of bondage and sin. When we learn to walk hand in hand with God as His word says in Isaiah 41:13
"For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, `Do not fear, I will help you”.
 
Once you become a child of God you can have freedom from bondage John 8:32 says "and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." -And
John 8:36
"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed".
 
What holds you in bondage today?
What is it that keeps you from a life free of the chains of bondage?
 
During the 3rd year into the Civil War Abe Lincoln freed the Black people of slavery… As the word got out many of the men ran to the north and joined the Union army but many stayed - they stayed and continued to worked for there old masters they where free men and yet they stayed – isn’t that the way it is with so many Christians - Christ has freed us from the chains of sin the chains that robs us of our Joy. Here is the sad thing with many Christians we are free of our bondage of sin and yet so many are still picking cotton for the master – What hold does Satan have on you that God has already taken to the cross for you?
 
Are you ready to break the chains of bondage that holds you to sin, corruption, and pain?
Don’t let pride get in your way of a life of freedom from the bondage of sin- Remember- the first step is to fear God more than you fear men Take that first step to spiritual freedom right now.
 
With that first step you will hear those first chains of bondage SNAP Christmas is about celebrating God’s miracles.
 
But Christmas is more than celebrating the miracle of Jesus’ birth 2,000 years ago. While the birth of Jesus is central to our celebration, His birth serves as a compass that points us to the miracles God is still doing in our world today – miracles that are transforming people’s lives.
 
Christmas is also about celebrating the miracles God is doing today by breaking the chains that bind us, setting us free from our pasts, and giving us another chance at life – even as Ebenezer Scrooge was given another chance at life.
 
In celebrating the birth of Jesus, we celebrate God has come to us. Emmanuel: “God with us.” God is not some spiritual entity far removed from our world – far removed from our lives.
 
God is not someone sitting on His heavenly throne passively watching everything that happens, wondering how it will all play out. God is with us – God has come to us -as one of us. In Jesus, God became a man. And in Jesus, God delivered Sin and Death a fatal blow that first day of the resurrection morning when Jesus walked from His tomb.
 
On that great and glorious day Jesus shattered the chains that tried to constrain Him.
 
The good news of Christmas, is that God has come to us to shatter the chains that bind us.
 
No matter the nature of your chains, God in Jesus can set you free. The very purpose for which God came to earth was to set you free from the chains that enslave you. God in Jesus offers you another chance – even as Ebenezer Scrooge was given another chance.
 
You no longer need to be enslaved by the chains you’ve forged in life. God has come to transform our humbugs into hallelujahs. But you ask, “How can Jesus possibly break my chains?’
 
The answer: by humbling yourself before Jesus your savoir and saying you are my King and will serve your purpose Just as the Shepherds and Wise Men.
 
Only in the context of humility can Jesus shatter our chains. We must humble ourselves before Him, exalting Him as KING.
 
For Him to be your savoir He must also be your KING... 
 
We must allow Him to lead, and we must be satisfied to follow.
Only then can a Christmas miracle occur in our lives.
Only then can we experience release from the chains that enslave us. I
 
f God humbled Himself to be born in poverty so as to be laid in a manger (the Son of God in a feeding trough) how much more do we need to humble ourselves and accept the Lordship of Jesus?
 
It’s when we’re willing to kneel and worship Jesus, honoring Him as Lord, that Christmas miracles can happen. Miracles that can shatter the chains that bind us, and set us free with a shout of hallelujah!
 
Today as we prepare for our coming Christmas Advent, Where we begin to celebrate the miracle of Christmas, why not let God work a miracle in your life? If you’ve never humbled yourself before Jesus and accepted Him as Lord; if you’ve never surrendered control of your life to Him that He might save you, then I invite you to do so today. Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s miracles. Why not let God work a miracle in your life this Christmas? Ask Jesus to set you free from the chains you’ve forged in life, and experience the genuine joy this Christmas holiday has to offer.
 
Let God transform your humbugs to halleluiahs.
 
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