Drink Week 1: When Slaves Begin to Dream Again
Woman: Hey! Sorry. Are you guys closed?
Man: No, come on in! We're never really closed. So, what's your name? Let me take that bag for you. It looks heavy.
Woman: Umm, I'm fine.
Man: Well, is there anything I can do for?
Woman: Umm, I don't know. I don't know what I want.
Man: Well, what are you in the mood for?
Woman: I don't know what I'm in the mood for. It doesn't really matter, I guess.
Man: Well, then I guess it doesn't really matter what you order then, does it? We're not talking about the menu anymore, are we? So, let's talk about what's really going on.
Woman: What do you mean?
Man: Honestly? I can tell you're lost. Trust me. You look lost.
Woman: Excuse me? That's a little rude, don't you think?
Man: Listen. You're not the first person to come in here without a dream.
Woman: Who said anything about dreaming?
Man: People tend to get lost when they don't have a dream.
Woman: Dreaming's for kids.
Man: Well, maybe they got it right! To them, anything is possible. Besides, you'd be surprised what can happen when you start to dream again. I'll tell you what. Have a seat and let me get you something to drink.
Wow, this place is cool. Lord, I'll speak to these people. It's better in heaven, but these people don't know what they're doing. Goodness gracious. The ceiling's all ripped out. Crazy place.
Shalom, Grace Community Church and those who watch via the internet and mobile app. What a power video that was. We can all relate, in some way, to being lost, can't we? We can all relate, in some way, to having our dreams crushed or stolen. Maybe some of you feel that way today. What would it be like for you if you started to really dream again? Or maybe even for some of you to dream for the first time?
My name is Reuben and I'm an Israelite that lived in Egypt during the great exodus. And somehow, the Lord has allowed me to come and talk with you this weekend. I'm humbled to be here because I can see that much has changed from my day. Obviously the Lord must have great things in store for you for me to be here.
"You're from Egypt, you say? Like, Biblical Egypt? You were in Egypt with Moses?"
Yes, I was a slave in Egypt and yes I knew Moses and, by the way, he wasn't Charleton Heston. I think the Lord has sent me here to share some things that happened in my life so that you can be encouraged, have faith and know that the Lord is truly faithful. I think He sent me here today to tell you that slaves can dream again and that you can dream again. I have a long story, so let me get right to it, as I've heard that believers of today don't like long messages. Good thing you weren't around when Moses lived. He'd have us wait for over a month just to hear him. But, we were like you in many ways, I guess, because we too grumbled and complained when we didn't like something. I digress.
So, what I'm trying to say to you is that I apologize in advance if I jump around a little because I have so much to say. A day in Egypt was hard, my friends. The Sun was scorching and it was so bright and so intense that we often had to squint. We could laugh sometimes at night when we realized that we had all these tan lines on our face from squinting. But, oh, the Sun. It beat down on our face and backs; it was brutal. Even though we were a tan people, we lived with perpetually sunburned skin. The itching at night, the burn, the discomfort, it was every day. The Sun was so hot. Even if you were under shade – but we weren't – the Sun and heat were continually beating down on us as we slaved, literally. It was unfortunately a continual reminder that what God had promised so long ago had not come to pass.
The Sun and heat were minor inconveniences, though, when it came to daily work. Where life was really tough is that we had no work breaks at all. Every day we had to make straw bricks for Pharaoh. Always watched, always pushed, always yelled at. And the older you got or if you got injured, forget it. That was the end of your life. Trust me when I say that you should thank God every day for how great you have it.
Anyway, you probably don't want to hear about all of my hardships or a lecture about your comfort. Most people don't. So, let me get on to the main point of why I'm here today. It hadn't always. Been so bad for my people. One of our forefathers, Joseph, who had ascended to great heights in Egypt, had allowed us to have it so good when we first got to Egypt. We came here as a people who had been promised so many things from Yahweh. And Yahweh is our way of saying Lord or God.
Yahweh had called our Father, Abraham, and promised him a great nation; a nation that would bless everyone. But trusting God doesn't always work out the way you think. I hope you know that. It's important to know. It's even more important to know when you're waiting. As we waited for God's promises to be fulfilled, we had come to Egypt because of the famine. From what I had heard and was taught as a child, the first many years in Egypt weren't so bad. There was abundant food. The pharaoh at the time had been benevolent to our people. We had plenty of land to settle along the Nile.
But, in roughly 430 years, a lot had changed. And that was my time. We had spent almost 430 years in Egypt. We had been slaves for more years than we had been free. And pharaoh after pharaoh came, and each remembered Joseph less and less. And the hatred for my people grew. Just to give you a reference, we had been slaves in Egypt for longer than you, as Americans, had been a nation. Our people had been born into slavery and died in slavery, and what made it so difficult was the fact that God had promised us so much.
Where had He gone? Why was this happening to us? Was He really there for us? You might not think so. But I know when my life got tough and I couldn't see God's hand anymore, it was really easy for me to start doubting. It was really easy to give up. The reality is that's when dreams start to be shattered. These stories that my parents had taught me about what God was going to do and the dreams I had of what it was going to look like started to look less and less likely. Oh, don't get me wrong. There were some who kept saying to trust God. There were some who said He would act soon. But, to be honest, between the abuse of being a slave, the conditions I lived in and constantly reminding myself that I was not free had crushed my dreams.
I often said to myself, "How I wish I could dream again." My dreams were really crushed when my wife, Elizabeth, and I finally conceived. What a day that was to know after the years of trying to have children we were going to have a child. It may seem strange to you these days, but we hoped and prayed it would be a boy. Having a son to carry on the family name and to have an heir was the hope of every Jewish family.
Those months, waiting to know whether God had blessed us with a boy, were tough. We didn't have those pictures like you all have today that show these babies. We had to wait. In fact, we had to wait for most of everything. Back to the birth, we had waited almost nine months an, on that beautiful evening after work, my wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to our little baby boy: Josiah. Elizabeth went through incredible pain and suffering to give birth. In fact, giving birth cost her life. She died right after labor. As I said, my dreams got crushed when Josiah was born.
As if that weren't enough, right after Josiah was born as I was riding the emotional waves of having a newborn and a wife who had just passed away, suddenly Egyptian soldiers came in and grabbed my son. I tried to fight back. I tried to protect him. But I was worn out. I'd worked all day and I had so very little strength. They took my newborn, my boy, and drowned him in the Nile. I not only watched my son drown, but had to endure watching child after child drowned in the Nile, as Pharaoh wanted to kill off our people. That day, I turned bitter. I turned bitter towards God. The dreams I had were gone.
I had heard all these stories about God, about His faithfulness, about His promises. I had also heard stories that many, many years before this, the Egyptians had also drowned a bunch of children. One supposedly got lucky and was raised in Pharaoh's house. They said his name was Moses. Somehow, through this, many of my people had somehow been able to see the loss of their sons as a promise to life.
Imagine that craziness. That the loss of a son – your one and only son – could bring life to many. I didn't care about that silliness. The loss of a wife and the loss of a son was too much to read into some fantasy or fairytale. I was done. I was a slave in Egypt; broken, dreamless. And, honestly, wondering why I'd ever been born. You think that story's bad? Imagine having to get up and make bricks for Pharaoh the next morning as the Egyptian leaders mocked you about the loss of your wife and son. Imagine getting whipped for being broken after that loss or for not working hard enough.
You want to talk about tough times and you want to talk about anger? You want to talk about crushed dreams? That was me. A slave who would never dream again. Maybe you're like me today. Maybe your dreams are gone. Maybe you've had some things happen at your life that have crushed your dreams. Maybe things haven't turned out the way you thought. Maybe you're like I was that day right now. Not able to see yourself ever dreaming again.
God had promised so many things, but they had never come. If He was so good, where was He? If He was all-powerful, where did He go? I was a slave who wanted so desperately to have never lived. A slave without any dream or hope.
Then, something happened. We got word through our brothers that this Moses, who had been raised in Pharaoh's court, was demanding that Pharaoh let God's people go. What kind of sick joke was this to add to my misery? This crazy guy, who people said stuttered and couldn't even talk, was publicly saying that Yahweh had visited him. In fact, he had gone away for years. He left us high and dry. How do you say it today? He had given us the "bye Felicia." And now, after many years, he was going to come back and be this great leader? Yeah, right. He even had the audacity to say that Yahweh had heard the cries of His people and had come to deliver them. I sure know I cried.
All the people were getting their hopes us. A bunch of slaves were now starting to ask, "Could it be that Yahweh was getting ready to fulfill His promises? Could it be that all the promises that Yahweh had made to His people were going to come true?"
People started to dream. They started to rejoice. They started to believe again. I sure didn't. Then the decree came from Pharaoh to not give us straw to make bricks. Now we had to go get straw. Before, we were supplied with straw. Do you think they understood we had more work now? Not at all. We had to make the same amount of bricks as before. Pharaoh said we were starting to think we might be delivered and we were getting up false hopes. He said we would never be delivered. We were his slaves and we would work even harder.
And his decree, which is recorded in your Bibles in Exodus 5:9 was... Whoa. Look at this thing. It's like a generate scripture. You've got to get one of these.
This is what it said: "Let heavier work be laid upon the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words."
As I worked I cursed God, the promises and even Moses. What had been the worst conditions I could have ever imagined got worse. The foreman of our people were livid. They went to Pharaoh and they begged for deliverance from the work. They looked to Pharaoh for their answers and help to their problems. They even met Moses and Aaron on the way out of Pharaoh's court and blasted them for the conditions.
They said to Moses and to Aaron – this is recorded in your Bibles in Exodus 5:21: "The Lord look on you, Moses, and judge, because you've made a stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us."
Can I take a moment just to digress to make a point? When life isn't going your way, when political leaders make things difficult for you, be very careful who you blame and be very careful who you look for for deliverance and who you think may help you. It hurts me to say, but people in bad circumstances often blame the very ones that are trying to help them. And they ask the ones for help that are trying to hurt them. I guess what I'm saying is don't look to your pharaoh for your answers to your conditions; look to Yahweh. And certainly don't blame and grumble at your spiritual leaders, because they're the ones that God will usually use to bring your deliverance.
Well, then it started. All of a sudden, the waters of the Nile – the very sustenance of Egypt, the strength of the culture, the life of the people – turned to blood. It was horrific. Then there were frogs. And when I mean frogs, I mean frogs. Everywhere. In the houses, in the streets, in the mud, in the bricks, in the kitchen. Everywhere. I started to notice, thought, that in all the turmoil, we were less burdened with work. I thought that was cool. Crazy frogs giving me a break. "Ribbit" never sounded so good to me.
So many people were complaining about the frogs, though. But I was happy to have less work. It's funny like that, isn't it? The way people can see one thing one way and someone else something differently? One person sees problems, one sees promise. Maybe that doesn't speak to you today because you have it so good, but put that nugget away in your memory. Trust me. It's a good one.
Thank God, though, that the frogs didn't last long. And we started to hear at that time, through all of our people, that all of these things that were going on was because Moses was dueling with Pharaoh and he was showing Pharaoh Yahweh's power.
Next were the gnats and flies. Then the livestock of the Egyptians died. Next were boils and hail. After that, locusts. As these plagues continued, we counted them. The ninth one was crazy. Darkness came over the whole land, except where we lived; God's people. It lasted three days. Three days of darkness and then light. Just a little bit of Biblical information for you: when you're reading the Old Testament, pay attention to the phrase "three days," because it's very important when you read about a man named Jesus.
I have to be honest with you. At this time, my attention was raised. I really wondered what was going on. I genuinely started thinking could it be possible that God was up to something? What I knew for sure is that it was a crazy time.
I have said everything that I've said up to this point to get you to here. Listen well and lean in. We were told that God's long-delayed deliverance was finally coming. It spread throughout the camps of all the Hebrew people. News like this was what many had been praying for. Those were the ones who went to work with a smile. They were the ones that had believed God all along; unlike me. The instructions were very specific. It was very specific instructions.
We were to get inside our houses and we were to put blood on the doorposts. That night, we were to stay put and we were to have a dinner. You call it the Seder or the Passover now. The way it worked was this: if Yahweh saw the blood on the doorposts, you were spared. If not, you lost the firstborn. This was serious. Blood and the loss of a firstborn were to lead to our deliverance. We didn't do anything but put blood on the door. Nothing. It didn't make a difference if someone had been faithful all of their lives or whether, like me, they had lost their dreams and vision to an attitude of unbelief. What mattered was whether or not there was blood on the door.
The blood delivered. There was power in the blood.
While we waited in our houses we had a dinner. There were four cups of the Passover meal we were to drink. They were very specific, too. Your pastor is going to go into great detail over the next four weeks about these cups, and you will lift your spirit like never before.
The four cups, the things that we said as we drank them, are now located in your Bibles in Exodus 6:6-7. The passage reads: "I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you will know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."
The first cup – the cup of sanctification – dealt with, "I will bring you out." We were moving out of slavery. We were being set apart. So many people think that sanctification is holiness. Sanctification is simply to be set apart. God was taking us out of Egypt, our slavery, and setting us apart for His works and His plans. He was literally delivering us. He was literally saving us.
You church people often refer to salvation as almost something that's just a spiritual thing. Let me tell you the truth: salvation isn't just spiritual; it has physical results. We move from lost to found.
The second cup – the cup of blessing or deliverance – dealt with, "I will deliver you from slavery." This cup was putting all of our yesterdays behind. You know, putting yesterdays behind can sometimes be quite difficult. We all laugh now in Heaven that God took three days to get us out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of us. But this cup was true. God wanted to deliver us from the burdens of slavery. He wanted to set us free from our past. He was putting a future in front of us for His glory.
The third cup – the cup of redemption – dealt with, "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm." Do you know what it means to redeem? It means to fully buy back. To fully buy back a slave and set them free to be the person they were created to be. This was the cup where we started to realize that God had a purpose and a plan for our lives.
The fourth cup – the cup of praise – deals with, "I will take you to be my people and I will be your God." This is where God now calls us His people and He desires that we go into the Promised Land and tell everyone of His glory. We're a kingdom of priests; a holy nation. We are to go and be a light to the world. We are to fulfill the promise to Abraham and have so many people that cannot even be numbered. We are to take His message into the world and bring others in. What a night that was.
The morning was like nothing I've ever seen. The weeping and the wailing of the Egyptians over the loss of their children. In one way it was a victory of the Lord, but in another way it was sad and I could relate. What I remember thinking is that you really do reap what you sow. They had killed so many of our children and now they were reaping. I'll even jump forward a little and remind you that Pharaoh, who drowned our children in the Nile, ended up himself being drowned in the Nile. Because, when you live by the sword, my friends, you die by the sword.
Back to the story: we fled out of Egypt. It was a journey and a race to get out of Egypt and, eventually, to the Red Sea. I have to admit that it was quite exhilarating. We seemed to be snaking through the land, but there was a pillar of fire to lead us at night and a cloud by day. My spirits were starting to rise. I was actually starting to dream again. I was living out the promises that God made to my people. Why had I doubted? Why had I even thought I could understand that ways of God?
My parents had told me to be patient. My parents had told me that Yahweh did things for everyone and His delays were always for a reason. But in the day to day grind and the difficulties and pains of life, I had doubted. But my dreams started to rise again, I'll tell you. But then, just like that, my dreams were shattered again.
Here we were against the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army was closing in on us. We had been delivered to die. How foolish was I to believe and dream again? We'd been given, as you all say, a big pump fake, it seemed. Delivered to die. And Pharaoh wasn't playing this time.
Oh, we complained. We griped. We blamed it all on Moses. I hang my head in shame. Anything that God does through His leaders is never usually loved by all of the people. It's easier to gripe and complain than believe in what God has promised, isn't it? It's hard enough to trust God, let alone trust a leader when your backs are against the Red Sea and the Egyptians are closing in. But that evening with the spirit, the ruark, the wind of God hovering over the waters, dry ground emerged and there was light by the pillar of fire.
Walking into that sea that night was a step of faith. But, when those waters parted, I knew that I would never be a slave again. See, when you see waters part like that, you know there's a God. I knew at that moment that the blood on the doorposts back in Egypt was pointing to something more than I could ever imagine. I knew at that point God was taking me from lost to found, taking away my yesterdays, giving me a life of purpose and calling me to reproduce His glory and goodness into others.
This was when a slave began to dream again.
All my fears were cast aside as I saw His perfect love walk us through the sea on dry ground. I hadn't done anything to deserve it. I hadn't done anything to gain it. I just went. I just followed. I put blood on the doorpost and I entered those waters. All the doubt that I had had and all the questions I had, they were misplaced. Misery had lead to doubt and doubt to fear and fear to unbelief. I let them control me rather than taking them to Yahweh and believing in Him.
But He parted the sea. He delivered me. He delivered us. All we had to do was put blood on the doorposts, have a meal and follow Him through the waters. For you today, that's Jesus and His blood that saves you. It's His meal that signifies His work for you. And the waters of baptism that you follow Him through. It's all right there in Scripture.
Oh how He loves you and wants to deliver you. Maybe you're right here right now and you've lost your dreams. Maybe you're ready to give up. Maybe you've been trying to follow God for a long time and you feel dead inside. Maybe it's your marriage. Maybe it's your job. Maybe your faith in God has left like it did for me. You are not here by accident. Yahweh is speaking to you right now.
You can dream again. It's time for slaves to dream again. It's time to let God be God in your life. It's time to let go of fear and doubt. What I want you to do with me, the whole church, I want you to stand up with me right now. I want you stand up. Everyone, please stand up. Don't let this moment pass you by. Right now just shut your eyes and say, "God, speak to me like never before."
As the band comes to lead us in a song. When we got through the Red Sea, we sang a song. It was a song of triumph and a song of victory. It was His victory and He let us be a part. Let's all sing together right now and allow God to minister to you like never before. Let His spirit start to move upon the waters of your life. Let Him part the Red Sea that's in front of you. Drink deeply of His love for you. Drink deeply of His victory in your life because we are no longer slaves to fear.
Church, we are children of God.
You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone
I'm no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I'm no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
From my mother's womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I've been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins
I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance
We've been liberated
From our bondage
We're the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom
You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
So I could stand and sing
I am a child of God.
I am a child of God
I’m Chip Bennett and I’m the pastor of Grace Community Church and the reason I did what I did today is because I have a commitment to teaching the church the Bible. And I felt like, as we entered into this new series and we talked about the four cups, I wanted us to really live in that moment of what it would’ve been like to have been there. And I want to tell you something: you’re not here by accident today. You didn’t show up here just because. You’re here because God wants you to know that He has so much more for you than you could ever imagine.
Paul says He can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think. And maybe you’re here today and maybe you hadn’t been to church in a long time. Maybe you feel like your first love is gone. Maybe you’ve never even lived your life for Jesus and something’s tugging at your heart. Let God speak to you. Just let Him do what He does. Just let His Spirit hover over you and start to do what only God can do.
And if you’re saying, “You know, I’ve been living my life without Jesus, but I really feel like I want to live my life with Jesus,” then find somebody, find a pastor, find somebody with a name tag and say, “Hey, I want to follow Jesus. I want to make a commitment.”
If you find yourself in here burnt out, dreams gone, this is the series for you to get those dreams back and those hopes back because God wants you to walk in His victory.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to You right now and I ask, God, that Your Spirit would hover over every life in this room right now and that they would know the extravagant love that You have for them. Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that some people would start dreaming again here at Grace. Lord, to realize that You have so many great plans for all of us, if only we will follow You.
So Lord, I pray that as we leave here today, I pray, God, that You would go with us, watch over us and protect us, lead and guide us, and I pray that no one would leave here today, at all, the same way they came in. So Lord, as we go, help us to be that light that You’ve called us to be as a church shining bright in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Bradenton for Your glory. Bring us back safely to when we meet again. We thank You for everything. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”