SPIRITUAL TREADMILLS, EPHESIANS 6:13-17, ENJOY GOD 49

SPIRITUAL TREADMILLS

EXODUS 1:13, 14, 16; EPHESIANS 6:13-17

So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor… 16 and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

The use of symbols and types in church teaches us that Israel is a picture of people; Egypt is a picture of sin and bondage; Pharaoh is a picture of the devil; the blood of the Passover lamb is the blood of Jesus, and the Promised Land is usually cited as heaven.

But Israel is more than a lesson of how people are delivered from sin into salvation and go to heaven. The Promised Land concept is more than geography.  It is a life of victory. The journey of the children of Israel, who were delivered from bondage and completed a wilderness journey, is loaded with lessons. It is a story of people who are learning how to live again. Breaking the defeat mentality is the starting point of a life filled with victory. Observe how there is a:

1) TREADMILL TERRITORY

The mill was where the corn was ground out in ancient times, and the millstone broke open the kernels. The stone was placed on an angle, resting against the middle point, and wheeled around on a base of stone where the grain was poured. It would be towed around like a giant wheel by brute beasts.

Moses made a rule found in Deuteronomy 25:4 that animals who tread out the corn should not be muzzled to prevent them from eating of the result of their labor when they are hungry. What Pharaoh was doing to the people of Israel was virtually turning them into treadmill beasts; their millstones were bricks they were forced to make, serving a system from which they derived no fulfillment and no salary. Given only survival rations, it was a disheartening “treadmill existence.”

This is important to consider concerning victory, as the Book of Exodus is a handbook on deliverance. How Pharaoh operated is a picture of how the devil seeks to enslave us. You may have walked with the Lord a long time, but as you live in that life that Christ offers, you still find times when He deals with you about feeling trapped and defeated, succumbing to the slavery syndrome.

Three things exemplify the slavery syndrome (Exodus 1: 13, 14, and 16):

  • Bitterness
  • Brokenness/feeling disjointed, crippled [rigor]
  • Hopelessness

Deferred hope brings us to a place where we become accustomed to defeat and failure: Reality check!  It will always be the same.

God has you in mind: Exodus 6: 5-9

You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. I have remembered my covenant with them.  6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will free you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with mighty power and great acts of judgment. 7 I will make you my own special people, and I will be your God. And you will know that I am the LORD your God who has rescued you from your slavery in Egypt.  8 I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It will be your very own property. I am the LORD!'”  9 So Moses told the people what the LORD had said, but they wouldn’t listen anymore.

They had become too discouraged by the increasing burden of their slavery.

Wrapped up in this truth is something that every one of us needs to hear the Lord say: “I see & I know.”

In the same way that, while Israel was suffering these things and didn’t know that the sovereign God had a secret program calculated and designed for their deliverance, the living God is not only alert to your situation, but somehow right now, in ways you’re not even aware of, God has His program for your deliverance already in motion whether you know it or not, but this never comes without a struggle.  Why? Satan is opposed to all of God’s purposes in your life.

Satan is personally as interested in your slavery as Pharaoh was in the children of Israel. Your adversary the devil is the malicious, calculating deceiver who does everything possible to destroy everything of God’s image and purpose in you. He is opposed to everything that is of God: “And Pharaoh said who is the LORD that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD; neither will I let Israel go (Ex. 5:2).”

God’s purpose is indelibly imprinted inside each one of us, a spiritual genetic code. It’s hampered, hindered and obstructed when the things that you long for and dream of never happen—things that God has impressed in your soul. This is where we find ourselves on the treadmill—going nowhere.

Pharaoh’s objection to Israel’s desire to go into the wilderness and worship God was not just about “time off.”  It centered on the fact that people who are free from satanic slavery move in the liberty of worship and relationship with God. They are destined for realizing the dignity of their purpose as God has designed them, and Satan hates that. His design is for your destruction, not just your temporary defeat now.

Coming to terms with Satan’s intent for your destruction hinges on this particular episode with Pharaoh in the life of Israel:

  • “If you have time to think about worshipping God, then we’ll use that time up another way—no more straw for the bricks.”
  • “You can go, but don’t leave the boundaries of Egypt.”
  • “You can leave the boundaries, but just the men go.”
  • “You can go and take the family, but leave all your cattle and your goods here.”

The tactics of the adversary are:

  • “I’ll give you some slack, but you’ll be attached to a pole. Nothing changes.  In fact, it gets worse.”
  • “You can get saved, but you’ll never get ahead.”
  • “I’ll turn you loose, but don’t think it’s going to improve your marriage or your relationship with your children.”
  •  “Don’t turn your finances over to kingdom principles either because you’ll never afford to sacrifice to God.”

When this mentality is entertained or embraced, treadmills begin to turn.

II) TODAYS TREADMILLS

Treadmill territory is anything which becomes a grinding area where you never make headway, no matter how hard you try or how much you wish you could change.

  • Physical — Sickness you can’t overcome; habits you can’t quit
  • Emotional — Depressed, anxious, fearful; haunted by the past
  • Relational — Difficulty getting along with others
  • Vocational — Reverses, disappointments
  • Sexual— Driven by thoughts/behavior you want to have victory over
  • Intellectual — Doubt, excessive reasoning (counter to faith), confusion
  • Financial — Never enough (seemingly)
  • Parental — Can’t make inroads with the kids
  • Attitudinal — Bitterness, resentment, lack of forgiveness, negativity
  • Spiritual — People who love the Lord but dryness and laziness have set in
  • Goals and objectives that seem to keep eluding you

Pharaoh is the slave master but the people rise up against Moses

Every one of us has experienced the hope and anticipation of a promise, but as soon as you began to get a handle on it, the enemy moves in and says: “I’m going to make it tougher on you now.” 

This usually leads to spiritual blame shifting: the bummer is there are people who fear to rise up against the adversary and get irritated at God instead. Pharaoh says he’s going to make it tougher for Israel, and their response is to get mad at Moses. We not only need to learn the enemy’s tactics, but how to break the slave mentality. The sinister force of the power of darkness is opposing you and you must decide either to receive the message of hope, or surrender to the slave-defeat mentality.

The call today is to arrive at the place where you turn the adversary’s tactics around on him. When he begins to lean harder into you, rise up and stand in the promise of God and say, “Wait just a minute, Satan—I’ve got a word for you: That’s the last straw!”

While “circumstances” are real, and our “personal weaknesses” are to blame for some treadmill territory in our lives, it’s not always just accidental or my fault. Behind all treadmills is a manufacturer. Pharaoh is the manufacturer of the treadmill Israel is going through. There was a power designed against their fulfillment, their freedom, their purpose and their realization as a people, yet in the midst of this the Lord has designed a program of salvation that includes our provision, our prosperity, and a guarantee of His bringing us along the way successfully.

 III) MILITANT TREADERS VS TREADMILL MANUFACTURER

Jesus unmasks the manufacturer of the treadmills you and I face. He does not invite us to avoid our own accountability (1), nor does the Lord unrealistically say there’s no such thing as circumstances (2). Jesus says there is a third factor — the thief, the adversary, the slanderer who has come to steal, kill and to destroy. The only overcoming power is the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12).

Those slaves needed it broken in their minds whether Pharaoh was bigger than God or not. When that corner turns for Israel, then the Lord begins to speak to them (Exodus 6):

  • I will bring you out from your burdens
  • I will bring you in—you’ll come to fulfillment
  • I will rescue from your bondage
  • I will redeem you by a manifestation of My strong arm reached out in your behalf
  • I will take you as My people—you are My private possession
  • I will be your God—it will be a personal relationship between us.
  • I will give you the land for an inheritance—there’s not only going to be something for your fulfillment, but something for you to give away/leave behind.

The Lord promises us He’ll not only break the slave mentality and the bondage at that treadmill point of our lives, but He’ll bring you to the place where you become a transmitter/imparter of your riches to the people who you touch.

 CONCLUSION

The turning point comes when we decide that the treadmill is a trap, denounce its manufacturer, and declare our acceptance of the Supreme Deliverer.

 We are called to liberty

The Lord has called us to liberty (Galatians 5:1). Jesus asked the man with the infirmity of 38 years, “Do you want to be made well?” and he replied, Every time the water’s stirred, I can never get in (John 5:5-7). That’s the slave mentality. You look around and see God’s grace in other people’s lives and say, why can’t that ever happen to me? If you would talk to them, they would say the same things about you.

Everybody has treadmill territory, and the summons of Jesus Christ to us is to learn to live again. It’s not that everything is solved in a morning’s message, but that you come to a place where the slave mentality is broken. Israel is going to experience deliverance, but that deliverance will go through a succession of challenges because there’s a pathway of learning to live again. The beginning point is when you say to the devil, “That’s the last straw.”

 

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