I hope all of you enjoyed the Pesach last night. We appreciate all the work that everyone put into making it a successful celebration of God’s Redemption. Passover is a celebration of freedom from bondage. Our people were freed from the slavery of the Pharaoh of Egypt some 3500 years ago. Passover is also a time to rejoice in the redemption for the slavery of sin.
Yeshua HaMashiach gave up his sinless life that we, both Jew and Gentile might be free from the curse of sin. Because of his sacrifice we can be free from the modern day Pharaoh.
Sad to say, but mankind today is still living a life of subjugation. We are slaves to many things. Yes, without Yeshua, we are in bondage.
You might ask what bondage are you talking about? I live in America. I’m free. Haven’t you heard of the Bill of Rights? All that might be true, but we still struggle with all kinds of issues that weigh us down and prevent us from achieving the best God has for us.
Here are a few. There are undoubtedly several others.
1. Addictions – alcohol, tobacco, porn, video gaming, gambling. These things rob you of your time, your health and your resources. They usually start out as little threads that can easily be broken when they are small, but the more you get into the addiction the stronger the chords until you are trapped.
2. Emotions – anger issues, codependence, depression. These bonds are especially dangerous to us because many of them are too embarrassing, shameful, socially taboo. It’s one of those things you hear growing up “We just don’t talk about those things”. But they need to be addressed. Emotional problems are real and they are deadly. Don’t ignore depression in yourself or in others. Again, it can be deadly.
3. Relationships – with parents, spouses, children, coworkers. Of all the bonds that hold us, perhaps our relations with people are the messiest, most misunderstood and hardest to fix. But these are the bonds that Yeshua mentioned specifically, when laying your gift on the altar, if you have something between you and your brother, then leave the gift and go fix the broken relationship. This is vital to your wellbeing. Sometimes it is difficult to separate emotional land relational bonds.
4. Finances – overwhelming debt, out of work, underemployed. I have read that the number one cause of the failure of a marriage are financial issues. Unfortunately for many people, they are never taught how to manage their finances in high school. Most HS graduates don’t know how to balance a checkbook or even write a check. You have heard the blonde jokes about the blonde girl who was arrested for writing hot checks. When she had her hearing, she told the judge, that she did not write bad checks because she still had perfectly good checks in here checkbook.
Until we got a president that understood and promoted capitalism the job market was horrible. Unemployment was way up. There were more unemployed people in the US than ever before. Things have turned around a bit, but many have not caught up with their bills from when they were unemployed.
Credit cards are a mixed blessing. As long as you can keep track of your charges and don’t charge more than what you can pay each month, then you will not have problems. However, many people do not keep track of their purchases and end up getting further and further behind in their debt. That means bondage.
5. Health – physical limitations, mental issues. Sometimes health issues will limit what we can do. Some are born with limitations while others limit themselves with poor health choices. I strongly believe that childhood vaccinations are a major cause of autism.
In Egypt, the Israelites were kept in bondage by force of arms. The Egyptians were armed and the Israelites were not. Our bonds are kept in place by much more subtle means.
1. Fear of the unknown or fear of change. Many of us are held in place because we are fearful of launching out and making the changes we need to break through.
2. Personalities – how often are we held in check by people of overwhelming personal power or perceived power? We are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution.
3. Our own personal desires and perceived needs. There are those that don’t change because they don’t want to change. The concept of “but I want it” has a devastating effect on our ability to advance.
4. Health Issues. Here again we come to health. Some cannot make a change because they physically cannot overcome their physical limitations.
5. Environmental Issues. Often we cannot achieve breakthrough because we are born on the wrong side of the tracks. I was told by a medical school entrance office that I could not expect to get into medical school even though my grades were exceptional. He told me I was too old, too white, too male and too poor. Remember that this was in the late 70’s.
6. Spiritual Forces can hold us back. Paul the Apostle said it this way.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
1. Slide 8: The first step is to recognize that you have a problem. Some of you may be familiar with the 12 step program utilized by Alcoholics anonymous. This is their first step. Hi, my name is Steve and I’m an alcoholic. The first step toward repentance is to recognize that we are sinners and need a Savior.
2. Slide 9: Know from where our help comes. The Israelites would make the trek up to Jerusalem every year for Pesach. As they were climbing the mountainous paths they would often sing what we call Songs of Ascents. This helped pass the time and was an encouragement of to the traveler.
One of the Psalms of Ascents is 121:1-2
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains—from where does my help come? (2) My help comes from Adonai, Maker of heaven and earth.
We have to realize who is the author and finisher of our faith. As believers in Yeshua HaMashiach we cannot buy into the false premise of the self-made man. Without God in our lives we are nothing.
3. Understand the weapons available to you. If any of you have played many video games you know that during the quest to get from A to B, you can take on more weapons. This allows you to stay active in the game.
It is the same with our spiritual warfare. We need to know our weapons. Remember that we are not fighting a conventional battle with AR-15’s or Ak-47’s or the like. No, we are fighting in a spiritual arena. An just as we are not battling against flesh and blood, but against powers and spiritual entities, our weapons are suitable for the task.
Study the Bible constantly. Invoke the word of God when you pray.
For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power and love and self-discipline.
4. Take Action. Get up, get off the pew and do things. The Israelites had to take action in order to escape from Egypt. They had to prepare and pack. They had to go to their Egyptian neighbors and ask for things like God told them to do. They had to slaughter the lamb and put the blood on the door posts.
Not all the Israelites left Egypt. Ancient writing and midrash postulates that only 20% of the Israelite population in Egypt left with Moses.
a. Pay your tithes – the surest way to work yourself out of financial difficulties.
b. Take control of your health. Quit eating junk food. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Don’t make the Holy Spirit live in a cardboard shack.
c. Mend those relationships. Get rid of your anger.
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger— (20) for human anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.
The story of the Exodus is a good guide for us today. It is a story of hardship and struggle. It is a story of failure brought on by unbelief. But it is also a story of triumph. It is the story of what can happen when a people cries out to God and then has the courage to step out in faith against overwhelming odds. It is a story of redemption.