God created man in his image and likeness: strong, loving, relational connections; confident in his goodness and identity; and very creative. He was clothed with God's glory. When man sinned, we lost the glory - shame and fear came in, as a thief stealing our identity and intimacy, by changing how we think. We are still a child of God, but damaged and needing repair. It is time to break the power of shame, address the root problem, and life life again, according to God's original design.
Great. Well we're in for a great, great day today and it started well, enjoying the presence of God. I want to just share with you something. We started off this year talking about how God wants you to grow. How many people in their heart really understand God wants you to grow? No growth without a bit of pain. It means something will change, and it won't change until you identify what is going to change. So we looked the week before last at a message on breaking through your limitations. We identified a number of areas that your life could be restricted or limited. How many believe you've got limitations in your life? Distinct areas, it can be in the area of finance, a financial limitation, it can be an emotional one, there's issues in the emotions haven't been sorted out. It could be a relational one, a spiritual one, there's a whole range of ways. It could be just a skill limitation you know, and I find like in working Word documents, I've only got so much skill on it, and then when I start to try and get these things to line up they all re-number, re-label and reline and it drives me crazy. I want to hit the computer - so that's a skill limitation.
There's no use staying there. You just make a decision to actually take the actions that'll change that; get someone to show you, practice it and come up in another level of skill. So if we want to grow in the capacity that we have to serve God, we have to make a decision to change. We may need to get others to help us in that changing. Let's go back to that scripture in Isaiah 54. I want pick it up and just look at a specific area I want to help you change. I want to actually help us all change. I want to break through in this area to a new level too and in Verse 2 it says: enlarge the place of your tent. You enlarge, enlarge - and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare, don't hold back or place limitations. Lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes - and here's why we have to prepare, because you will expand to the right and the left. So expansion requires we demonstrate faith that God will do it, by making stretches in our personal life, so if we go down here it says: for you shall expand to the right and left, your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.
Now this is the part we're going to focus on here, because these are some of the limitations that people have, all of us have it. All of us have it. If someone says they don't, tell them come on, you're dreaming and you're in denial. We will establish clearly these things are an issue, so do not fear. Do not fear. How many people at times have felt afraid? How many have felt that sort of gut-pulling fear, when you're knotted up inside, and you're almost paralysed in your mind? I've had that a few times too - we've all had that, see? So fear, fear is a spirit from hell, and it says: fear not, neither be ashamed, neither be ashamed. How many people have felt at sometime, something about you wasn't good, you didn't like it? If you could change it, you'd change it. Okay then, sometimes you have a look at the movie stars, we think they've got it all together, but I'm curious as to why if they've got it all together, they have to do so much surgery to change what it looks like. It means they're ashamed of what they are like, ashamed of what they are.
So fear and shame are extremely powerful spirits that work to limit us and restrict us. I felt the Lord put it on my heart over two or three weeks to begin to help us face this area so that we can become enlarged, so if I said that this is a problem for the majority of the church, most people would think it's the guy next to me, but I want to over two or three Sundays just help us see how it is actually an issue for all of us individually, and it is one corporately as well. I want to show why it is, and then how you can get out of it. As I was thinking about this series and what to do and how to just speak about it, I felt the Lord tell me well, don't focus on shame, focus on the theme unashamed, shame free, unashamed. So rather than finish up with that bit, I'm going to start with that bit. I want us to today get a little bit of a picture about how God designed us to operate, and then what actually changed all of that, then what it'll look like when we've shifted again. Then in the subsequent weeks we're going to look at the issue of how shame and fear come in, and then how you can recognise them, because if you don't recognise it, no doubt you'll never change.