Thursday, June 10, 2010

“By command…all excuses set apart”

That was the title Pastor gave his sermon last Sunday. The phrase was taken from the invitations sent out by Queen Elizabeth before her coronation.

“We greet you well. Whereas we have appointed the second day of June 1953 for the solemnity of our coronation, these are therefore to will and to command, all excuses set apart, that you make your personal attendance upon us, at the time above mentioned, there to do and to perform such services as shall be required of you.”

“All excuses set apart” That phrase has been ringing in my mind ever since I heard it. It seems like this summer is the time God has chosen to teach me about setting excuses aside. Every time there is something difficult or beyond my “comfort zone” to be done, I am tempted to put it off with another excuse, but then I am reminded of that phrase, “All excuses set apart”

I am reminded of Moses, among others, (including myself) who met God’s command with excuses. In Exodus 3-4, Moses is told by God to go back to Egypt, and speak to Pharaoh, and so deliver the Hebrews out of their slavery. Moses gives several excuses, which I so often find myself attempting to use when I am prompted to go and speak God’s word to others.

Excuse #1: “Who am I?”
Often, I meet God’s prompting to witness with similar thoughts. Who am I, that I should go talk to them? They don’t even know me! I feel inadequate and unprepared, and try to squirm away from the Holy Spirit’s leading. But there are no excuses with God! Here is His answer, to Moses, and by extension, to us.
“Certainly I will be with thee…” We may well ask, “Who am I?” if we go on our own, but we do not. We ought instead to ask “Who goes with me?” When we share God’s word with others, it is not by our own authority, but God’s! He is always right there with us. –We need never fear!

Excuse #2: “But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.” This, too, is another familiar page out of my book of excuses. How easy it is to put off speaking to someone about their need of the Savior simply because they might not believe or listen! Sometimes the people I am most sure will not be happy to be offered a tract are the most open! Often, there are common interests or connections that we have no idea exist with those to whom we witness until we begin to talk to them.
Here is God’s answer to this reluctance on account of lack of credibility:
“What is that in thine hand?” God is the one who gives us talents, abilities, and interests. He knows who to send us to speak with, and has uniquely equipped each of us to minister to those He brings our way.

Excuse #3: “O Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” This is the most often excuse I am tempted to use when convicted about my lack of witnessing. I never know what to say to people, and I always wonder what doors are closed to the gospel because of my verbal clumsiness. But God answers this objection as well, with an assurance that I always find most encouraging:
“Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

And He does, most faithfully!

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