As I walked out on stage, I looked out over the theater. The lights were so bright that I really couldn’t make out the 2,000 faces that were staring at the stage. I couldn’t even see the outlines of the people in the balcony. Suddenly it hit me as my mind raced and I thought, “Wait a minute. What was I going to say? Oh my gosh, I forgot my message. I have to set up the intro to Zach Williams. He’s only the biggest male Christian singer/songwriter in the world. This is a big deal, Trey. You forgot your lines! What the heck man?! You gotta get it together. . . FOCUS BRO!” Then the doubt started creeping in as Satan lied to me. “Yeah Trey, they wouldn’t understand your message about breaking chains through this Grace you like to talk about anyway. You’re about to make a fool of yourself in in front of this sold-out arena.” (Man, I hate it when the deceiver pops his head up in my most crucial moments.)
Ever since we reached an agreement in January for Zach to help us with our annual fundraiser “The Break the Chains Through Grace Experience”; we at MPACT poured out our hearts and creative minds to develop an experience that we prayed would leave a mark with every person who came to celebrate restoration and redemption through Christ. After 7 months, the night was here at last. The last seat in the King Center had sold out only days before. Zach and his band had arrived that morning with two tour buses and a tractor trailer load of equipment and crew. Oh man . . . this was it!! How did we come from 4 men in a living room to this is just a few years?!
Then, walking on that stage, I paused and said a quick prayer I often pray when the words seem to slip from my mind, “Father, you live directly in me, right here and right now, I trust that your Holy Spirit will speak Your truth through me, right now. Please let your words and your light flow through me for this community to see and hear. I took a deep breath, and as I exhaled, I let Him give truth and hope to all who had come to worship.
Our event with Zach Williams focused on breaking chains in our lives through Christ. As a believer in Christ, do you ever feel like you’re chained to something and have trouble breaking free? You just can’t seem to get rid of that thorn that torments you? (Just like Paul in 2 Corinthians). Do you ever think of how you became bound by those chains in the first place? Brother, I sure have.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. – Genesis 3:1
Did you catch that? God warns us about Satan’s craftiness. He’s sneaky and tries to play the long game with our minds through small little lies to derail us from knowing the full truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Think about it, Satan failed at disrupting the blood line to Christ. (SPOILER ALERT! In case you haven’t heard. Jesus was crucified and resurrected, ensuring salvation for all those who believe this) Now his mission is to keep anyone from knowing the full truth about who Christ is and who God says we truly are through our belief in Jesus. Satan wants to put the chains on each and every believer to hold us back and keep us from growing in the knowledge of who we truly are as Christians. He wants us to focus on that chain or that thorn. He wants us to withdraw, not talk about those chains or thorns and live a life in doubt and fear that our Lord isn’t the sovereign God we know he is.
You know, when you think about it, the truth about those chains, that Satan tries to tie us up in, is that he doesn’t walk up to us with an eight-foot-long set of chains to lock on us at once. He doesn’t walk up to you and say, “Here Jeremy, try these chains on for size.” (I know Jeremy would look at him and laugh.)
The Serpent said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’? . . . But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1,4,5
Did you notice that Satan didn’t offer Eve an entire chain at once. He offered her one link to a chain that would grow and grow and grow in our world from that moment to where we sit here in the year 2023. He tries to bind us in chains every day, ONE LINK AT A TIME. “Go ahead, take that drink Steve, it will make you feel better.” “Go ahead Keith, push that button and check out that porn. A little porn never hurt anyone.” “Go ahead Paul, she’s beautiful, it’s ok to stare and have those thoughts about her. Heck, you should introduce yourself and buy her a drink. Your wife hasn’t been treating you well anyway.” “It’s no problem, Eric, just tell her that lie about needing money to make your car payment, you know you’ll use that money she gave you on drugs to make you feel better.” “Jonathon, you’ll never get over that sexual abuse you suffered as a child, it’s just who you are. You should just withdraw and isolate, don’t bother anyone with your burden.”
Link, by link, by link . . . His chain grows. He then wants you to focus on that chain, that he has built in you over time, and try to make you believe there’s no way to break it and experience freedom. Just like Paul cried out to Jesus to remove the thorn Satan placed in him. The thing is, Paul, just like us today, was focusing on the one thing Jesus doesn’t want us focusing on . . . the thorn . . . the chains! When Paul had screamed out to Jesus for the third time to remove the thorn, Jesus gave him some of the most powerful words of the bible. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9 (Pause . . . Now read that again) Then, Paul’s revelation was evident in his next words, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -verses 9,10
Paul is using his experience of focusing on the thorn that torments him, that chain that is binding him, to plead with the Corinthian Church to change their focus. Repent of focusing on your chains or thorns and focus solely and squarely on Jesus. Imagine, walking out that heart set each day, and those chains that bind us breaking, one link at a time, as we grow in this knowledge of the freedom that God promised Satan, Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
As I finished talking of breaking chains this past Saturday in Melbourne, Fl, I introduced Zach Williams to lead worship for the next two hours. As he finished his set with his amazing song “Chainbreaker” twelve men who earlier confessed their chains to the audience, joined me on stage to celebrate their chains breaking and it was so inspirational. As His Spirit came to life in that theater through Zach’s songs and testimony, I saw hands raised, tears shed and joy spread amongst all 2000 people, as we focused on Jesus, knowing his strength is much more powerful than the chains that might bind us, knowing where sin abounds His grace abounds more. Yes, Grace, the most powerful gift God ever gave us, did His job as people went home after the experience with their chains left on the theater floor; useless, in the name of Christ!