Excuses

Sunday, I did a little skit with Moses and the voice of God to introduce the final message on Strategy for Grace: Pursuing the Role in Jesus.  I found the conversation between Moses and God so revealing and convicting that it needs to be highlighted here.

Moses had been raised in the best environment of the world at that time – around B.C. 1500.  He grew up in the Egyptian Pharaoh’s court and was ready to be the Second in Command if he had “stuck with the program.”  Moses didn’t because he wanted God’s will.  After fleeing from Egypt, he spent forty years in the backside of the Midian desert. 

After forty years of divine training, God appears to Moses in the burning bush.  You know the overall story at this point.  God tells Moses that He is sending Moses to bring God’s people out of Egypt.  Moses balks and makes his firstexcuse, “I’m inadequate.”  Haven’t we all done that?  God tells us to be witnesses for Him and we come up with all sorts of excuses why we don’t think we can share our faith with others.  Don’t we?  Doesn’t God want us to be who we are and just tell others what we know (Acts 1:8)?

Then God firmly but patiently like a parent, tells Moses that He will be with Moses.  What could be more comforting than the God of the universe is going to be with you on a mission?  Moses makes his second excuse that Israel’s possible erroneous view is more important to him than God’s presence.  Looking back on that excuse seems like it is crazy!  But don’t I do that?  Don’t you do that?  We get more concerned about a person’s possible rejection of us in sharing the gospel, than knowing He will be with us as we go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20)?

God again patiently answers Moses’ question regarding His name with, “I am who I am.”  God assures Moses with a brief history lesson of God’s promises to great grand daddies Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Then He tells Moses they will come out with an abundance, but Moses gives his thirdexcuse, “I can’t handle the conflict with them.”  But don’t we do that?  We have conflict with someone and we walk the other way, or turn our head so we don’t catch their eye, or avoid going somewhere if we might be near a person with whom we have a conflict?  Don’t we?  Doesn’t God want us to reconcile and restore relationships for His purpose (Rom. 12:18; 2 Cor. 5:19-20)?

God once more is patient, but firm as a parent.  He gives Moses two object lessons of Moses’ rod turning into a serpent and his hand becoming leprous.  Moses is likely surprised by both incidents.  I would be; wouldn’t you? Consider the rod that Moses used to protect himself from harm, now it becomes a serpent that would harm him.  What’s more, God tells Moses to pick up the serpent by the tail.  Now everyone ought to know that you don’t do something foolish like that!  You would go for the neck right behind the head, so the serpent couldn’t swing around and strike a deadly poisonous bite!  But when God tells you to do something, you obey, even if it goes against man’s way of thinking!  Then when Moses’ hand becomes leprous like snow, God reveals that Moses is unclean for any task God would want from him.  But God shows how He moves in our life, whether an illness, handicap, or personal attack against us, how God can work it together for good and direct that we continue with the mission. But Moses makes his fourthexcuse that he is not eloquent and is slow of speech.  Don’t we do that?  Don’t we make excuses like Moses?  Don’t we look at ourselves, our weaknesses, our lack of eloquence or ability to be smooth in a gospel presentation and we remain in the background waiting for someone else to do the witnessing?  Doesn’t God want us to just use what He has given us and do the best we can (2 Cor. 11:6)?  Doesn’t He want us to leave the results to Him?

Yet one more time, God reminds Moses who made his mouth.  God directs Moses to consider Who made us the way we are and therefore God knows the means of His message and  how He will work out His results.  Finally, Moses makes his fifth excuseand in utter fear says, “I don’t want to.  I can’t.”  Whoa. 

Scripture says the “anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses.  After five excuses, God’s anger is kindled.  Does that mean I can become angry when people refuse to listen?  Can I get frustrated when I’ve been patient for a while?  Think about that number five.  Five is the number of grace.  God is patient and merciful.  But there is a line by which we lose out on seeing how great our God is if we trust Him.

I realized this week, that my frustrations are always about me.  I rarely become angry when other people sin against God.  I do, but my anger is normally aroused when someone is snide against me, or lies to me, or is hypocritical to me.  It’s normally about me.  If I am filled with the Spirit, I’ll remain firm but calm like a spiritual parent, and disciple the person to the truth.  If I am filled with God’s Spirit I will become righteously angry, but it is only in the other person’s actions toward God.  He is the holy One.  He is the righteous One.  I don’t need to become upset at them.

As you reflect on this passage, consider two things.  First, consider how many times you make excuses to not do the right thing.  I’m not talking about not stealing, lying, or committing adultery.  How many times do you make excuses not to do what is right, and you do not?  Whether it is witnessing your faith to a lost soul or serving in a needed capacity or discipling a person who needs to grow up spiritually, what excuses to you make?  Secondly, in your relationships, do you become frustrated with people, maybe your children, because they don’t relate with you the way you want them to act.  Will you be firm and patient like a parent is with a child?

May the Lord bless you in His work.

Straight Shooting Arrows

Of course it had to happen.  Two days after the message on “Straight Shooting Arrows” or how to raise godly children, the newspaper reported exactly when a child must disobey his parents – the mom directed her son to sin.  The boy was in a very difficult situation.  In Lynnwood, WA a ten-year-old boy was directed by his mom to burglarize a home.  Unfortunately, the homeowner was home and the whole thing was caught on security cameras. The child is now under the father’s custody and the mother held on $25,000 bail.
Friends this is not just academic stuff.  It’s easy to understand the biblical principles of teaching Children, obey your parents, and Father’s do not provoke your children.  But the reality is there are two HUGE hurdles.

First is the application of making all of it work.  All things being equal if there are normal children and  parents who want to do the right thing, you have a chance of seeing hearts melted and homes repaired to godliness.  It’s difficult enough when both parents and children are “normal.”  Yet, they both have sin natures fighting against the Spirit to do the right thing.  Paul writes, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Gal. 5:17)  Furthermore, Paul writes, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. (Rom. 7:19)  There’s a battle in normal people.

However, and secondly, there is not an ice cube’s chance in Hades, if the parents are not in tune with Jesus and no one outside the home is willing to work with the children.  Our communities are filled with broken homes where parents don’t care about Jesus, right and wrong, or morality.  What is going on in the heart of the children, do you suppose?  They want to respond to Jesus, but no is leading them to the Savior and discipling them beyond their fleshly desires.  Who is teaching that boy in Lynnwood, WA how to say, “Mom, I want to obey you.  I want to honor you.  I want to do the right thing in life and that means I can’t burglarize someone else’s home.”  If we in the church don’t come along side of him, how will he learn?  Many of these young people are orphans, living at home.  James writes, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (Jam. 1:27)

Friends, we Christians have job security.  There are so many discipling opportunities if we will open our eyes and set aside our own desires to love on the youth of America.  We are beginning to have an explosion of youth at church.  If you want an eternal opportunity, you can meet with Justin to see if you have the heart to minister to them.  Most of you do.  Just let the Lord work through you.