02(Exodus 06,06-07,07) Obeying from a Wounded Heart
I. Fearing Freedom
A. We are made to be free; in fact, we need freedom. That’s what Christ has made us for.
§ Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
§ We say we want to be free. The problem is that it’s not the whole truth.
§ We don’t always want to be free.
§ We don’t always want to be released from things that hold us back.
§ Freedom is wonderful but freedom also frightens us.
B. In Exodus 6 Moses, having accepted his calling, went to Egypt with his brother Aaron.
§ There he reviewed the plight of the people of Israel.
§ He saw for himself how profound their suffering was.
§ He watched the taskmasters whip and drive the slaves mercilessly.
C. But he will discover that their physical slavery is nothing when compared to their spiritual slavery.
§ You do not always want to be released from the things that hold you back. Freedom is frightening.
§ You even resist it when it is offered.
§ The pharaohs that hold your church back are in a strange way comfortable, at least familiar.
§ The pharaohs that chain you to the fence you presently sit on are things you oppose in theory, not in practice.
§ You know you should get involved, you should witness, you should take charge, but you never do.
§ In your own strange way you don’t want the freedom that breaking the familiar chains would bring.
D. Moses has heard the wonderful promises of God.
§ Moses has discovered that God is offering the people freedom, and has promised it in every kind of way imaginable.
§ Did you notice how many times in this passage the phrase, “I will” turns up. Six times in the short space of a few verses.
§ God promises that He will free His people. Now that ought to be good news. But somehow it’s not.
E. Moses, profoundly stirred and deeply excited by God’s gracious offer, goes out to tell the people.
§ Can’t you just imagine it? Bravely Moses goes out to tell them, “There’s good news! A better day is coming. You’re going to be free!” But listen to this wet-blanket response:
§ Exodus 6:9 “So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.”
F. They had both an internal and an external problem.
§ They didn’t heed the message of freedom because of what was wrong on the inside: a broken spirit.
§ And what was wrong on the outside: cruel slavery.
G. Over the years I’ve worked with a number of people who were victims.
§ They were victimized by all kinds of circumstances.
§ Some of them were victims of poverty; others were victims of poor education.
§ Some were victims of unhappy families or even of bad religion.
H. But there is nothing so deadly as a combination of negative circumstances and a negative personality.
§ If you have been beaten and battered by the storms of life, and, in addition, you beat up on yourself, then you cannot hear the call of God to be free.
§ Of if you do hear it, you do not hear it as good news.
II. Breaking the cycle
A. So how do we break that cycle?
§ How do we get past that deadly combination of broken spirit and cruel slavery so that we can hear God’s offer of freedom? Where do you intervene to make a difference with such a personality?
§ I believe you break the cycle by choosing to be the good news for someone else.
§ I believe you break down the threat to yourself by working from someone else’s freedom.
§ You may not fully believe that you are free; you may think that you yourself are in bad shape. But if you can do something to make a difference in someone else’s life, then you can begin to hear the sounds of freedom for yourself.
B. Example in Moses’ Life.
§ Exodus 6:12 “And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, ‘The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?’”
§ Exodus 6:28-30 “And it came to pass, on the day the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, that the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I am the LORD. Speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.’ But Moses said before the LORD, ‘Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?’”
§ Lord, I can’t even get your own people excited about being free. How am I, with all the stuff going on inside me of me, supposed to speak to the enemy?
§ How easy it is, when you meet resistance trying to help someone who doesn’t really want to be helped, how easy just to give up!
§ How easy to yield to the broken spirit that’s in us and never challenge the cruel slavery that’s in somebody else’s life.
C. But the answer comes in the form of God’s straightforward command to Moses. (Exodus 7:1-7)
§ God commands Moses to challenge the things that enslave the people.
§ God says, “I don’t care if you don’t feel like challenging the slavery of my people. Just do it!”
§ And Moses, you’ll find that you can heal the brokenness in your spirit if you will just challenge the cruelty of somebody else’s slavery!
D. It is sometimes said that we here at Cross Roads Church are not going to do ministry in this community because we are such wounded people ourselves.
§ To that I respond, yes, we are, but God commands, “Announce healing to the community, and you will find healing for yourselves.”
§ It is argued that we are not going to do evangelism because we are too busy attending to our own problems and our own issues. And that may be true.
§ But God commands, “I charge you to announce the good news to others; then you may hear it for yourself.”
§ I am told that we are never going to lead missions boldly, because we have to take care of ourselves first and that charity begins at home, they say.
§ To that I can only say that if that were true, you and I would still be wallowing in our sins and blind in our ignorance, because somewhere, somehow, someone looked beyond their pain and decided to follow God’s command and bring us the gospel. Whether they felt like it or not!
III. Some Day
In the past several years we as a church have been challenged to confront just a few of the powers that enslave. We have responded, modestly perhaps, but we have responded.
But we still have a long way to go. We still have some chains to challenge out there. I hope you can hear God’s command! I hope you can listen to freedom!
Some day we will confront the Pharaoh that tells boys and girls that singing to God is for old folks and will instead offer them a church with the freedom to see worship as a defining element of any church and music as the vital element of worship. Some day we will break free of whispers and assumptions and rise to embrace a program fully vested in all of our church; 2-3 year old choir, 4-5 year old choir, children’s choir, youth choir; and the leadership and staff to provide excellence. Some day the younger adult Mom and Dads who today are enslaved to the fear of saying anything will rise up and take responsibility for the church of their children, and will insist on and be a part of ministry to the future and not just bowing to nostalgia.
Some day this church will overcome its fear of finances, and will see that it and not some other church is to be at the forefront of missions work. Some day this church will break free of the chain of comfortable repetition and take risks with a God who cannot fail. Then this church will have a heart for lost souls and not just for the familiar, comfortable faces they now safely see every week. Then it will reach beyond the land of Goshen and lead in planting churches where the gospel is not heard. Then it will reclaim the name “missionary” which now appears on the letterhead.
Some day we will show this community that in this congregation there may be some broken spirits, some broken homes, some broken lives, but, by the grace of God and because of the sacrifice of Christ, we will have heard God’s command. And we will follow. We will follow because we believe in the God of Moses. We will follow because like Moses we have heard the voice of God in the commands of Scripture.
Some day, some day. Some day God’s people will no longer dwell on their brokenness but will fully accept God’s gracious offer of freedom. Some day we will listen to ourselves and we will hear freedom, not broken spirits and not cruel slavery, but freedom.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried that grace can restore. Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.
Invitation: #74, “Rescue the Perishing”