Joel Osteen — The Chain Breaker
I want to talk to you today about the chain breaker. We all have forces that are trying to hold us back, and we wonder why we can't get ahead, or why we can't break an addiction, why we can't control our temper. Those are chains that are restricting us, chains of guilt, beating ourselves up for past mistakes. Chains of depression, that dark cloud follows us around. Or chains of low self-esteem, we never feel good about ourselves.
That recording is constantly playing, "You're not attractive enough. You're not talented. You don't have a good personality". You were not created to live bound, bound by loneliness, bound by shame, bound by negative words that were spoken over you. The good news is our God is a chain breaker, and you may not see how it can happen, your circumstances look permanent. No, get ready, the chain breaker is about to show up.
That chain of loneliness is being broken. You're going to meet a divine connection, somebody better than you're imagined. That chain of injustice, bad breaks, always being overlooked, it's being broken. God is about to pay you back. He's going to make up for the wrongs that were done. Or that chain of lack, struggle, not having enough, it's being loosed. Opportunity is going to chase you down. You're not going to have to go after it, it's going to come after you. Why? The chains came off. You're being released into favor, released into healing, released into new levels.
Luke 13, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, and he saw a lady that had been sick for 18 years. She was bent over and not able to stand up straight. It was the sabbath. You weren't supposed to do any kind of work. The religious leaders were watching to see what Jesus was going to do. He said something interesting in verse 16. "Should not this woman, whom Satan has bound for 18 years, be loosed from her sickness? He described the sickness as a chain. He said she was bound. Jesus touched the lady and instantly she was healed.
Whatever has you bound, whatever is restricting you, God is saying this is your time to be free. It is not your destiny to go through life with things limiting you, and if you will receive this into your spirit, I believe that every chain that is holding you back is being broken: chains of sickness, chains of depression, even chains that have been in your family line for generations. Now, you may not feel any different. The circumstances look the same. This is what faith is all about. Instead of thinking, "Oh man, it didn't work for me," no, turn it around. Father, thank you that my chains are gone. Thank you that I am free. Thank you that every force that's holding me back has been broken.
Get in agreement with God. Freedom starts in your mind. As long as you think, "I'll never get well. Did you see the medical report? Or my grandmother was depressed, my mother was depressed, I guess I'll always be depressed". No, the difference with you is the chain breaker showed up. God set you free. You're the one to set a new standard. You're the one to defy the odds. God told the Israelites, "The enemies you see today you will see no more". Those things that have held you back, you're not going to see them anymore. This is a new day of freedom, a new day of wholeness. I can see through my eyes of faith chains coming off, chains of debt being broken, chains of cancer, diabetes, heart trouble being loosed, chains of fear, low self-esteem, depression. You will see them no more.
Is there something limiting you today? Why don't you have this new perspective, "My chains are gone. I've been loosed"? Start living from a freedom mind-set, not a bound mind-set. Not, "I'll never get ahead. Joel, I never get any good breaks". That was the past. This is a new day. I've been released into increase. I've been released into favor, released into blessings. Instead of, "I'll have to deal with this addiction my whole life. I've had it so long". No, that chain that's held me back has been broken. I'm on my way to healing. I'm on my way to feeling better than ever.
Now, just because you're free doesn't mean everything is instantly going to change. You're going to have to walk this out. But what you'll find is you're not going to be restricted like you were before. You're going to be able to do things that you couldn't do. The guilt is not going to hold you back. The depression, the hot temper, the addiction, it is not going to control your life. Why? The chain has been broken.
This lady that came to Jesus had been sick so long, bent over for 18 years. I'm sure she thought it was permanent. But Jesus said, "Should not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, be loosed from her sickness"? A daughter of Abraham meant she was a part of the covenant that God made with Abraham. She wasn't just any woman, she had rights and privileges because she was in the family line of Abraham.
Like her, you're not just anyone, you are a child of the Most High God. If Jesus were here today, he would look at you and say, "Should not this son, should not this daughter of the Most High God be free from their sickness, free from their addiction, free from that depression"? You have rights because of who you belong to, and you may have struggled in an area for a long time, but like with her, it is not permanent. Your day of freedom is here. The chain breaker is at work.
Jesus said in verse 12, "Woman, you are loosed from your sickness". God is saying that to you, you are loosed from whatever is holding you back. Maybe you've been barren for years, not able to have a child. You are being loosed from that barrenness. A healthy baby is on the way. Or you've pursued your dreams, you've done your best, but doors keep closing. It's one disappointment after another, nobody will help you. Now you're tempted to accept that it's not going to happen. You are being loosed from what's restricted you.
Now, do your part and try again. You're going to see doors opened that you couldn't open. People are going to go out of their way to help you. Things are going to fall into place, and yes, we have forces trying to stop us, but the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. No chain is too much for our God, no addiction too great, no sickness too big, no enemy too powerful. God controls the universe. He said in Jeremiah, "I will tear off their chains, and they will no more be enslaved". If God doesn't break the chain, he'll simply tear the whole thing off. The Psalmist said, "You can run through a troop or leap over a wall". If God doesn't remove the obstacle, don't worry, he'll take you over it. He knows how to get you to your destiny. I believe even right now, some chains are being torn off. What's held you back is not going to enslave you anymore.
Acts chapter 12, king Herod had Peter arrested and put in prison. The night before Peter was to go on trial, he was sleeping chained between two prisoners. There were guards outside his cell and two sets of big iron gates. A group of believers had gathered at a house to pray for Peter. Herod had already put to death the apostle James. It looked like Peter would be next. But in the middle of the night, while they were praying, an angel showed up in the prison. He had to wake Peter up. He told him to get dressed, they were about to leave. Instantly, the chains fell off of Peter's wrists. The prison doors opened, the guards' eyes were blinded. They walked through the first set of gates, and then through the second.
Peter went to the house where everyone was praying. When they saw him, they couldn't believe it. They said, "Peter, what happened"? He couldn't explain it. He said, "I don't know. I was sleeping when an angel woke me up, and suddenly the chains fell off my wrists". They asked, "Did the angel unloose them? Did he get the key from the jailer? Did he pull the chains out of the wall"? Peter said, "No, they just opened by themselves, and I was able to walk out".
God has these times where you're not going to be able to explain how it happened. You got well when the medical report said you wouldn't. You broke the addiction without the treatment. You paid your house off when it should have taken you 15 more years. Chains are going to come off that don't make sense. There's no explanation. Suddenly you're catapulted to a new level. Suddenly you meet the person of your dreams. Like Peter, you were just minding your own business, being your best. On their own accord, chains are going to fall off. Now, the circumstances may say it's permanent, it's never going to change, no sign of it improving. But I've found God is full of surprises. He'll show up when you least expect it.
When the odds are against you more than ever, the obstacle looks too big, suddenly out of nowhere, God will turn it around. It's not going to be just your talent, your determination, your strength, and sure, we should do our part, but some things we can't make happen in our own ability, and when you come to the end of what you can do, where it doesn't look like it's going to work out, like Peter so to speak, you're in chains, in jail, guards outside. In the natural, it's impossible. That's when the chain breaker is going to show up and do the impossible.
Now, quit telling yourself that you're stuck, you'll always have the illness, you'll always have to fight the addiction, you'll always be lonely. Those chains are not your destiny. What's holding you back does not have the final say. The chain breaker, the Most High God is working in your life right now. He's about to shift things in your favor. You are not going to be a slave to sickness, a slave to depression, a slave to fear, and see, most of us know God as a Savior. We know him as the good shepherd, but we need to know him as the chain breaker, as the God who looses us from bondages.
It's interesting that people were praying for Peter when the angel showed up and the chains fell off, and you may have children that are off course, friends, family members that are not making good decisions, running with the wrong crowd. Keep praying for them. They may not deserve it, they brought the trouble on themselves. But God is so merciful, because of your prayers, he will loose their chains. You can stand in the gap for somebody else that's bound. That friend that's struggling with an addiction, instead of judging them, why don't you start praying for them? That co-worker that's got a sour attitude, instead of criticizing, start praying. Your prayer can be the catalyst that causes chains to suddenly fall off.
I talked to a young lady that had struggled with a drug addiction since high school. She was an excellent student, very bright, but she got off-course, and life took her down a dark path. Her mother had just died, and she was going through a divorce, and she didn't think she could go on. She'd gone to rehab several times with no success. The temptation was so strong, she would always fall back.
But after being addicted for 21 years, on the day she buried her mother, she got down on her knees and said, "God, I can't do this on my own. Help me to change". From that day forward, she never touched another drug. She never touched the alcohol. She didn't have any kind of withdrawal symptoms. She said, "Joel, I can't explain it, but all of a sudden, I didn't have any desire for the drugs". Like Peter, those chains just fell off of her.
Imagine what you could become without the chains that are limiting you, what could you accomplish without the chain of fear, the chain of insecurity. What kind of relationship could you have without the chain of guilt, anger, feeling wrong about yourself? Or how high could you go without that chain of negative words spoken over you, people telling you that you're not going to be successful, that you don't have what it takes?
It's time to step into your freedom. Your destiny is too important, your assignment is too great for you to go through life bound. Why don't you do like her, say, "God, help me to change. Help me to release this anger and forgive the people that have hurt me. Help me to accomplish my dreams and leave my children better than they were before. Help me to break these bad habits, and live free and whole". Listen, if you'll do your part, God will do his part. He will make things happen that you couldn't make happen.
In the scripture, another word for chain was yoke. A yoke was something they put around the neck of an oxen like a bridle to help control the animal, and this yoke kept the animal from doing what it wanted. It was a constant burden, and even though the animal was much bigger, much more powerful, this small yoke would restrict it.
And many people don't realize they are living with a yoke around them. Some of these yokes have been passed down to us. Our parents had addictions, and now we have those addictions. Our relatives had low self-esteem. They were angry, they were bitter, they never got good breaks. Now we struggle in those same areas. If we're not careful, it will become normal to us. It's all we've known. It's normal to have bad relationships. It's normal to be hot-tempered. It's normal to be angry, to never get good breaks.
Friends, that is not normal, that is a yoke. That is a chain. It is limiting your movement. It's restricting your ability. You are made in the image of Almighty God. He has crowned you with favor. He put seeds of greatness on the inside. You were not made to go through life just barely making it. He created you to be free, to be happy, to accomplish your dreams. Not to be mediocre, but to excel, to leave your mark on this generation. Don't let a yoke become normal. Don't learn to function in your dysfunction.
This is what the Israelites did. They had been in slavery for 400 years. All they had known was being mistreated, injustice, barely making it. But God brought them out and they were headed toward the Promised Land. Everything looked great. The problem was they were still wearing that yoke. Even though they were free, they had a defeated mind-set. When they faced the Assyrian army, instead of knowing that God would give them the victory, they thought, "Oh man, here we go again. Another struggle, another heartache. This is the way it's always going to be".
But God said to them in Isaiah, "This burden is being lifted off of your shoulders. This yoke is being removed from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed". God was saying, "This is a new day. You are not going to constantly struggle. You are not going to live defeated, burdened down. I am removing that yoke". From that day forward, they stepped into a new level of their destiny. What they used to struggle with wasn't a struggle anymore. That burden to overcome enemies, that pressure to defeat other armies, it was lifted off of them. They defeated armies that were much bigger and more powerful than them.
And God is saying to you what he said to them. You have struggled long enough. You have dealt with that addiction long enough. You've been weighed down by family baggage long enough. I am taking away that burden. I am not only going to remove the yoke, I'm going to destroy the yoke. That means it's not going to come back. That depression is not going to hinder you the rest of your life. That addiction that keeps getting passed down is broken. That sickness that looks like it's going to be the end of you, no, this is a new day. The yoke has been destroyed. The burden has been lifted. Now, what you struggle with may not have started with you. It was passed down. The good news is it can end with you. You can be the difference maker.
This is what my father did. He was raised during the great depression, and his family lost everything. He grew up very poor. From his earliest memories, all he knew was poverty, not having enough food. He could never drink a full glass of milk. Being poor and defeated was normal to him. He was wearing that yoke. But at the age of 17, daddy gave his life to Christ, and something came alive on the inside. The chain breaker showed up. He said, "Joel, I made a decision that day that my children would never be raised in the poverty that I was raised in".
Now, nothing had changed on the outside. Wasn't like he got a big job, a big promotion. He had no money, no education. But on the inside, in his mind, chains were broken. That yoke that had been around his family for generations was destroyed. His family told him, "John, you better stay here on the farm with us and pick cotton. This is all you know how to do". They couldn't understand why he'd want to leave. They didn't think he would make it. My father went on to pastor great churches and touch people all over the world. It would have never happened if he had not gotten that yoke off of his neck.
God has freed you, but you have to do your part and take off the yoke. It's in your thinking. Quit telling yourself that you can't have good relationships, you've been hurt too much. You can't accomplish your dreams, you don't have the talent. You can't break the addiction, everyone in your family has it. Those are lies trying to keep you from your destiny. The yoke has been destroyed. The chain has been broken. God is releasing you to go where no one in your family has gone. You are going to break bad habits that nobody else was able to break. You are going to accomplish dreams bigger than you've imagined. Talent is going to come out of you that you didn't know you had.
Those addictions that keep getting passed down are broken. The depression is coming to an end. The low self-esteem is over. God is not only breaking chains, he's about to catapult you to a new level. He is going to give you favor, respect, influence in ways like you've never seen. "Well, Joel, you're just getting people's hopes up". You can't have faith if you don't first have hope. Listen to what Jesus said. "The spirit of the Lord is on me to announce deliverance to the captives, freedom to those that are bound". That's what I'm doing, announcing freedom, announcing that yokes have been destroyed, announcing that chains have been broken.
Now, it's up to you to receive this. You have to know that what's been limiting you has been taken away. What's been hindering your progress has been removed. Now, get ready for favor in new ways. Get ready for God to surprise you, to make things happen that you didn't see coming, and here's the key. God is not only breaking chains that hold you back, but he is breaking chains that are holding back what belongs to you. There are blessings that have your name on them, promotion, a healing, a business, that baby you've been praying for. God's about to release what's been held up.
In the scripture, Daniel prayed and asked God for something, and nothing happened. Day after day went by, no sign of it. Three weeks later, an angel showed up with the answer. Daniel asked what took him so long. The angel said, "The moment you prayed, God sent me with the answer, but there were forces blocking my way. God had to send another angel to help fight through all the opposition".
In the same way, there are forces trying to hold back what you're believing for: your dream, your healing, the restoration. Stay encouraged, it is on the way. Those forces that are holding it back, just imagine right now God breaking the chains, God making that path clear. What has your name on it is on the way. All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has promised you.
I heard a story about a dog that lived out in the country. He'd been on a leash his whole life, about 30 feet long, tied to a tree, and other dogs would come by, and he'd take off running to the end of that leash, and bark and bark, and he wanted to go play with them and run out through the fields, but he couldn't do it, he was on a chain.
This went on for years, and one day, his owner felt sorry for him, and decided to let him run free like the other dogs. But instead of taking the whole leash off, he just unfastened the dog's collar around his neck. He stepped back and waited for the dog to take off. Another dog came trotting by, and the owner thought, "All right, here he goes," and his dog got up, took off running. But when he came to the end of the leash, he stopped where he always did. A few minutes later, a cat came by. This cat had tormented the dog his whole life. The dog wanted to get him so badly, but the cat knew just where to walk outside the dog's range. The dog got up, took off running. Once again, he stopped where he always did.
What was the problem? The dog was free, he just didn't know it. He still felt the collar, he still heard the chain. All he had to do was go a little bit further than he normally did, and that collar would have come off and he would have realized he was free.
My challenge to you today is don't be like this dog. Your collar has been loosed. Your chains have been broken. Those yokes have been destroyed. Now, do your part and walk out of it. Start thinking like you're free, talking like you're free, acting like you're free. Go a little bit further than you're used to. It may not have worked out last time, but this is a new day. Your collar has been loosed. If you'll do his, I believe and declare you're about to step into a new sense of freedom. What has hindered you in the past will hinder you no more. The chain breaker, the Most High God, is releasing you right now into freedom, into healing, into new levels, into the fullness of your destiny in Jesus's name.