ITOWN TV Episode 21: Break Away

♪♪♪ Adam Bender: Hi everyone, welcome to ITOWN TV My name’s Adam and I’m one of the pastors at ITOWN Church You know, there’s so much chaos in the world around us that it can often be difficult to do what’s right or even to hear from God Today, our pastor, Dave Sumrall, will share the importance of breaking away from the things around us so that we can focus on God’s best for our lives Check it out ♪♪♪ Dave Sumrall: The title of today’s message is “To Break Away.” There’s some things in life that we have to break away from if we are actually going to make a true difference So today, I’m going to give you three keys of things that we got to break away from in order to position yourself to make the biggest difference possible in the world around us Now, when I think of the outdoors and breaking away from things, one of the first things I think about are trees And I have this very authentic, alive tree today If you believe that, I have some waterfront property in Nevada I’d like to sell you But it’s just for sermon illustration ’cause I thought of it this morning and this happened to be in someone’s office, okay? So, I think of trees, I love trees Now, I’m not old enough to know what types of trees are what, so you’ll never hear me say like, “That’s a beautiful sycamore That ficus is nice.” These are things I’ve never said ’cause I couldn’t tell you what’s what I just like the look of trees, okay? I don’t–I don’t know enough about trees to know which trees are which But when I think of trees, I think of my relationship with God And I pray after today’s message you do as well because if we go all the way back to the garden of Eden, there’s a spiritual lesson that we can learn from trees In Genesis chapter 2 and verse 9, it says, “In the middle of the garden, there was the tree of life and then the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” So, all the way back when God created the garden of Eden and mankind, they had this utopia that they lived in And at the center of that place, there were two different trees They represent two choices Verse 16, Genesis chapter 2, “The Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.'” So, God says, “I’ve given you this beautiful utopia to live in, all these beautiful trees to pick from You can eat from any tree that you want, including the tree of life.” They had the fountain of youth Adam and Eve could’ve lived forever in communion with God in this beautiful place and never had to die because they had the tree of life But then the Lord also presented a choice, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil There’s a temptation on the inside of every one of us to eat from the wrong tree, to live in our own spiritual journey out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil And I’ll show you why In Genesis chapter 3 and verse 4, here’s the serpent with Eve He says, “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said “For God knows that when you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So, I want you to see here that the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil actually represent two approaches to become close to God, two different avenues to become like God The devil says, “You’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.” So, jot this down if you’re taking notes, legalism or living out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, appeals to our desire for holiness So, here’s what happens When we come to faith in Christ, the Bible’s clear it’s by grace alone that we’re saved And so, the Lord forgives us of our sins because the sacrifice of Jesus that takes our place, he pays the price for us, and we’re overwhelmed by the goodness of God We have this brand new Father The Bible says he makes us sons of God, co-heirs with Christ It’s amazing adoption that takes place spiritually in our lives We awaken to the Lord, all things become new, it’s a beautiful transformation, salvation that takes place in the life of a believer And now we have this new Father In fact, Jesus even talking to the Pharisees says that they were the–their father is the devil And so, we’re transplanted into this brand new family, the family of God And like every child on the planet, it doesn’t matter if you are five or if you are 50, every human wants their father to be proud of them So, we want our dad, our spiritual Father, to be proud of us And so, there’s this temptation to earn his approval And the question is, how do you go about it?

Unfortunately, a lot of people eat from the wrong tree The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents if I follow all the rules and I know a lot about God, then I can become like God And when I become like God, I could be close to God because I’ll have earned my way there That’s what we call religion Relationship is the tree of life, that it’s all been taken care of for me All I have to do is eat of the good things that the Lord has already sacrificed and paid for I just have to stand in the promises that God has given me I just have to live the life that’s been given to me in justification, just as if I had never sinned I was made right not because of what I have done, but because of what Christ has done for me And so, it’s easy for us to shift from this being wowed by grace to becoming a professional rule follower, a professional Christian “Well, how many small groups do you attend? And are you serving yet?” And while it’s great to serve, it’s great to give, those are wonderful things for you to do, we have to remember that we are saved for good works and not by good works It’s not about what you do, it’s all about what he has done, and we can never forget that So, the problem is we have this tendency to become professional Christians And when you’re a professional rule follower, you’re not going to have anybody want to have what you have You’ll be ineffective in evangelism So, number one, we have to break away from the law You got to get away from legalism that creeps in It’s easy for us ’cause it feels right It feels like we ought to pay a price for the sacrifice of Jesus It feels like we should be doing something to earn our way to God Jesus confronted it, John chapter 5 He says to the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life But these Scriptures testify about me, and yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” In other words, it’s good for you to read your Bible, but there’s no life in the discipline of reading your Bible The life is when your Bible reads you, not when you read the Bible And so, I want you to know I read my Bible every day, I do it out of the One Year Bible reading app that we have on our–on the phone on our own ITOWN Church App So, you can download the app and it takes you through the Bible in a year, and it’s a little bit of Psalm and Proverbs, New Testament, Old Testament, it’s got a little devotional there But I’m going to be perfectly honest with you as your pastor, I very rarely make it through all the passages Because I’m not reading the Bible so I can check the list off of reading the Bible I read the Bible until it reads me I read the Bible until God speaks to me And when he speaks to me, if it’s in the first verse or in the last, I’m done ’cause my goal is to hear from God, not to check a box And you need to have the freedom to do that Some of you are like panicking, like, “But then you wouldn’t read through the Bible in a year.” Guess what, there’s next year And then God’s not proud of you because you read–you can read the whole Bible in a year and never get anything out of it I read half the Bible in a year and get everything out of it Which one do you think God is going to approve more of? We have to make sure we’re doing it out of the right motivation because it’s all about relationships 2 Corinthians chapter 5, “God has done all of this He’s restored our relationship with him through Christ, and then given us the ministry of restoring relationships.” The ministry of restoring people’s relationship with God Think about that, it’s not the ministry of teaching rules, it’s not the ministry of getting people to start acting right or to stop sinning It’s a ministry of relationships Why? Because this is supposed to be a relationship And when we keep it a relationship, when we live in awe of what God has done for us, the automatic overflow is evangelism In fact, jot this down if you’re taking notes, found people find people Found people find people When you live in awe of what God has done for you and the reality that we are all sinners saved by grace And I just can’t believe every day that God has set me free from the law of sin and death, and that I don’t have to pay the price for my own sin, you will automatically share that with everybody that you meet But when you become a religious person, all of a sudden you are no longer a found person because you have found yourself You’re earning your own way to God, and legalism makes it all about you, religion makes it all about you Isn’t it all self-centered? How good did I do, and how well did I perform, and how much did I accomplish? It becomes about us But when you’re a found person, when you live with the understanding of grace, you automatically want to share that grace with everybody you meet That should be the testimony of our lives, all flowing out of relationship We got to break away from religion That’s why Paul says in Ephesians chapter 1, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

So that you may know him better That word “know” means to encounter or to experience, not to know about or not to study God never intended to be studied, he intended to be experienced We can’t get there until we break away from religion So, the next time you see a tree, I want you to think, “Am I living out of the right tree? Is it about all the things that I’ve done, or all about what Jesus has done?” We have to break away from all that and be impacted by the presence and the power of God in our own lives We got to break away, break away from the law All right, the second thing about nature when we get outside is that you’ll notice the stars Now, I love how we say, “We’re going to go sleep under the stars.” Especially when we camp, which we’re not sleeping under the stars, we can’t see it, we’re inside of a tent And the other thing that’s true is that we always sleep under the stars The problem is we can’t see them ’cause most of us live in a city We live in places where there’s a lot of competing light There are other voices that are keeping us from seeing what’s actually above us And I think we need to break away from some of that so that we can see more clearly the things that God has for our lives It’s so easy for us to get trapped in the rhythm of life Look at Luke chapter 5 In verse 15, Jesus is ministering to people, it says, “The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” He was here on earth for 33 years, and he had three and a half years to accomplish his entire mission Think about that And he often withdrew, he modeled for us how to live life He often withdrew to lonely places and pray And not just like as he was preparing for ministry This verse is written in the midst of revival There are crowds, there are thousands of people who are demon possessed, who are sick in their bodies, and they desperately need a touch from heaven And in the midst of success, Jesus said, “I’m going to slip away for a minute I’m going to get with the Father I’m going to spend some time in prayer I’m going to shut it down for a minute I’m going to make sure I’m focused on some of the right things.” Even though there were people that needed him And put it in today’s context, it could be in the middle of revival at church, or maybe it’s in the middle of you getting ready to get married, it’s in the middle of you getting ready to have a child, it’s in the middle of going back to school, it’s in the middle of finals season, it’s in the middle of that company just taking off, it’s in the middle of the boom It’s in the middle of everything that you believe for, prayed for, lived for, fasted for, asked God for And even in the midst of that, Jesus said, “I’m going to get out of here for a minute I’m going to stop for a moment.” You know why? Because he teaches us this principle, jot it down if you’re taking notes, a change of pace plus a change of place produces a change of perspective A change of pace plus a change of place brings us to a change of perspective Jesus wanted to make sure that he was focused on the right thing, so he often slipped away to lonely places He got away to the campsite, he got away to that prayer closet, he got away to a place where no one was disturbing him so that he can refocus on what the Father had for his life, for his destiny, for his call And I would submit to you today that so many of us are just simply too busy to see what God has for us I’m telling you there is a world that’s hurting, and you’re right in the mission field every time you step foot outside your house Every place you go with every person you meet, there is a life that you could touch and a difference that you could make, but you won’t see it if you don’t break away from life So, we got to break away from the law, but we also have to break away from this system, this fast paced world that we’re all plugged into I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with accomplishing a lot, and working hard, and running fast, I love all those things But if you’re not disconnecting and withdrawing to lonely places to pray, then you’re not following the model of Jesus, and chances are you’re not seeing things correctly In fact, I brought this little prayer that’s impacted me time and again, it’s called a different kind of prayer And it’s a prayer we ought to pray on a regular basis It says, “Heavenly Father, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is actually a single mother who worked nine hours that day and was rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry, and spend just a few precious moments with her children Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student who’s balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum begging for money in

the same spot every day, who ought to just get a job, is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares Help us to remember the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that based on the biopsy reports she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together Heavenly Father, remind us that each day, of all the gifts you have given us, the greatest gift is love It’s not enough to share that love with those we hold dear We should open our hearts to those who are close to us, but also to all humanity Let us be slow to judgement, quick to forgive, patient, full of empathy and love.” You see, if we’d shift our perspective with the people around us, I think it would change the way that we live our lives We would see people for who they are That’s the problem in today’s world, isn’t it? Through Facebook, Instagram, through social media, we see people as an opinion or even as a problem And even in this culture where, for a season, we need to wear masks to try and protect one another and get through this pandemic, you don’t really look at people anymore We’re not really recognizing humans, a person for whom Christ died And yet everywhere we go, they’re all around us, people who desperately need a touch from heaven from you and from me In fact, in 1973, Princeton actually was a theological seminary, I know many of you may not know that, but Princeton was a theological seminary at its foundation In 1973, they played a trick on 67 students to do a social experiment They told them that they wanted them to come take a personality test and then give a presentation about the Good Samaritan story But the whole thing was a setup They were actually studying human behavior What they did was they had them take a personality test and turn it in, which meant nothing to the study, and then they had them walk from one building to another to give a presentation about the Good Samaritan story But along the way, they would encounter an actor who was doubled over in a doorway that they had to pass through who was moaning, literally replicating the story that they were going to give a speech about, they were going to give a message about it And they wanted to see how they’d react They set up three different conditions For the first group, they said, “You’re late They need you, you better hurry.” Then to the next group, when they handed in their personality tests, they said, “You’re right on time, just head right over and they’ll be ready for you when you arrive.” To the third group, they said, “You’ve got plenty of time They’re not ready for you, but I would recommend you go ahead and head over to the other building You’ll have a few minutes to gather your thoughts before you make the presentation.” This is what they found As people moved from one building to the other, the ones who were in low hurry, 63% of them actually stopped to ask the person what was wrong and if they could help Forty-five percent of those that were in medium hurry stopped and addressed the person who was hurting But only 10% of theology students when they were in a hurry even recognized the person that was moaning, and majority of them had to step over the person moaning to get to the room to tell the story about the Good Samaritan And so, the lesson it teaches us is that hurry is the enemy of love God has called us to recognize the hurting around us and to make difference in the world that we’re supposed to touch And yet, our schedules are so full, and you and I are so incredibly busy that we just don’t even notice the pain in the people around us And when we do, we don’t think we have enough time in our schedules to stop We need a fresh perspective We’ve got to at least once a day change our pace and change our place so our heavenly Father could change our perspective You see, we need this authentic relationship with God that gets away from the law, and then we need to unplug from life so that we begin to see the pain in the people around us The last thing about the tent as we close today is that no one has ever said, “Let’s go tent camping so we can catch up on some sleep.” You know what I’m talking about? Like dirt that sits underneath this tent is not comfortable Unless you’re Tom Haverford, this tent will not be bougie or relaxing or comfortable You are sleeping on the ground, it is painful, it’s awful You’re going to wake up with a crick in your neck and go, “What am I doing?” But if you’re really going to experience the outdoors, this is the way to do it, right? There’s little bit of discomfort that’s involved Well, the same thing is true in our journey of faith If we’re really going to live the life God’s called us to live, there has to be a little bit of discomfort involved

Matthew chapter 8 and verse 19, one of the teachers of the religious law says to Jesus, “I want to follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus responds in verse 20, “Foxes have dens to live in and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to even lay his head.” What he’s saying is the life of following Jesus is not comfortable, it’s not easy, and it’s not safe So, if we are actually going to live a life God’s called us to live and be a witness to the world around us, number three, at some level, we’re going to have to break away from luxury Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have nice things and that God doesn’t want to bless you ’cause I believe all those are true What I’m saying is that there’s a little bit of inconvenience that comes with following Christ There’s adversity, and trials, and moments of discomfort, and pain that inherently come with following Christ That’s the gospel Jesus doesn’t want you to have all your dreams come true, he wants you to die to all of your dreams and the life you want to live for yourself, and take up your cross and follow the life that he has for you, which is better than anything you could’ve imagined for yourself But there’s still a death that’s involved in the process It’s painful and there’s sacrifices If you’re going to be a light for Jesus, there are going to be moments that are uncomfortable for you I remember back when we lived in Birmingham, Kate and I were leading this college ministry at Church of the Highlands And we had young kids at the time, and so we had this vehicle And I am categorically against minivans in life, there’s just no way to make a minivan cool, and so we have never owned a minivan However, in Birmingham, we had an SUV that happened to have sliding doors, and that was convenient for us, but it was not a minivan I refuse to call it a minivan, it was an SUV with sliding doors So anyway, I was in this SUV with sliding doors, and I’m on my way up to church, and we have a meeting that night, we had a leader’s meeting, and I was already running a little bit late And I saw this guy in the highway as I’m driving up the highway And I just want to make an announcement to everybody as your pastor, please never pick up people on the highway, okay? It’s not safe, especially if you’re a young person, especially if you’re a young lady in our church Never ever, ever don’t ever pick up, unless it’s like a relative that you know, don’t ever pick up anybody on the highway, ever for any reason please Don’t get that part out of the story But the Holy Spirit told me to pick this guy up And I ignored the Holy Spirit like every good Christian does, you know? Like, “No, devil, you’re trying to get me killed.” You know you do And so, I fly past this guy, and I’ve got this sick feeling in my stomach, like man, I missed it The Lord really–so I stopped Now, it’s worse ’cause I’m driving backwards on the highway to go get this guy And I’ll never forget this moment where I’m rolling down the blacked out window of the minivan and I look at this guy, I’m like, “Hey, you want to get in?” I don’t know if that moment was scarier for him or for me “Get in my van I’m cool It’s totally safe I don’t have kids in here, it’s just mine It’s not weird, don’t care what you say.” And he jumped in my van and we–he just needed a ride up to the gas station It didn’t take me more than 15 minutes to have that moment with him And I would love to tell you that like because I stopped, that guy was like, “Man, I’ve been struggling with alcoholism.” And I laid hands on him, and man, he got set free, and he emails me all the time, and he’s now married and he loves the Lord, and he’s like in ministry with five kids, and life is great No, the truth is I don’t even know his name The conversation that we had felt fairly insignificant I told him that God loved him and he kind of brushed it off I tried to invite him to church, he didn’t seem that interested And I don’t think in this life I’ll ever know what that moment was about I just know the Lord told me to stop and pick him up, tell him that God loved him I’ll have to wait till eternity to find out if that really meant anything at all But I left that moment with this understanding, I want you to jot it down today as we close, a small inconvenience for you could mean eternity for someone else It could be everything for them And the Bible says Paul writes that one plants the seed and another waters, but it’s the Lord that makes it grow And none of us really know what it’s all about because it’s not us–it’s not up to us to know, it’s just up to us to obey, to be a part of the process, and to inconvenience ourselves And I just want you to know if you want to be divinely used by God, you’re going to have to be okay with being interrupted and being inconvenienced because it’s not always comfortable, it’s not always cushy You got to step outside of your comfort zone You’re going to have to miss a meeting or two You have to jump off your cellphone if you’re going to

make a difference in the world around you with actual humans that are surrounding you But God has called us to live a life that has an impact I want to encourage you, especially this week, let’s break away from some of these things that are holding us back Revival begins with us We’ll say, “You know what? I’m going to break out of all that legalism, I’m going to remember my first love and the fact that Jesus set me free I’m going to stop for a moment and I’m going to recognize people for who they are People that are in pain, for whom Christ has died, he loves them, and so I’m going to inconvenience myself to do everything I can to share with them the love of Jesus.” ‘Cause found people find people We need to be a church that lights revival fire in every person that we meet Adam: God wants to do big things with our lives If we can just break away from the rules, from the busyness, from the comforts of life, God can do things beyond our wildest dreams But he can’t move through us until we allow him to work in us, until we give him control of our lives The truth is God loves you so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus to this earth to die on a cross to pay the price for our mistakes, so that we can have a relationship with him And all of you have to do is ask him into your life If you’ve never done that, I want to give you an opportunity to do that right now We’re going to pray a simple prayer and you can just repeat after me Just say, “Dear Jesus, I give you my life Thank you for dying on the cross in my place I turn from my old ways and I turn to you today in Jesus’s name.” And God, I pray that you would be with each one of us Give us the strength to break away from the comforts of life and the busyness that consumes us Help us to step away from the chaos so that we can make a difference in the world around us Let the fire of revival start in us to that we can share the hope and the power that’s only found in Jesus with our world Fill us today with your Holy Spirit We love you so much In Jesus’s name we pray, amen Well, if you just made the decision to give your life to Jesus, we are so proud of you And it’s honestly the best thing that you could do with your life Our church is built to support people just like you on this journey of faith, and we’d love to come alongside you and support you on that journey The easiest way we can help is if you’d grab your cellphone and text the word “hope” to the number 63566 We’ll send you a link to a quick video from Pastor Dave with some next steps you can take to help you grow in your relationship with God I’d also love for you to join us live in person for a Sunday service at one of our locations in Fishers, Anderson, or Bluffton You can also stream live online, and more details for all of that can be found at itownchurch.com We hope to see you soon, but until then, we love you and we’re praying for you God bless ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ CC by Aberdeen Captioning 1-800-688-6621 www.abercap.com