April 16, 2015

No excuses

Deuteronomy 30:1–31:29, 2 Corinthians 8:1–7, Psalm 44

The Lord is commanding me in a certain area and my response has been, “This is too hard. I cannot do it.” However, this is what He says to me today . . . 

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11–14)

These words are used again in the NT to speak of salvation by faith through the saving work of Jesus Christ. However, in this OT passage, the words are by Moses. He said them right after he reviewed God’s covenant and reminded the people of His blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Moses tells them that these commandments are not too hard for them – because they are God’s covenant people. They were (or at least were supposed to be) looking forward to the promise of God for one greater than Moses, for a sacrifice that would not need to be repeated, for a Lord and Savior. It was their faith that made it possible for them to obey His commands.

Their excuses didn’t cut it. Yes, they needed the Holy Spirit to obey fully, but even as a participant in His New Covenant, so do I . . .  and my excuses don’t cut it either. I used to say, “The Lord never gives us anything we cannot handle,” but now I correct people who say that. If I could handle it, I would not need the Lord. He gives me all sorts of things that I cannot do. Otherwise, I would not need Him. Saying something is too hard is just plain disobedience.

Part of that is I’d like to be able to say that I can do it “all by myself” and that would give me a reason to pat myself on the back. When it is too hard for me, and the Lord gives me what I need to do it, then I must glorify God. Isn’t that why I am here? Glorifying me is just silly.

The NT reading gives another clue about being able to do the hard things. It says, “ . . . they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Corinthians 8:5) Making that total commitment of myself to God is vital if I want to obey His commands, particularly those that are difficult, and those that tell me to give myself to others. If I try that without Him, it will not be fruitful because it will be full of self.

On a related note, why does God bother to help any of us? The psalmist knew. He wrote this: “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.” (Psalm 44:1–3)

These words from God demolish my excuses, but they also encourage me. He is into freedom which comes through obedience, but He is also into helping His children – because He delights in us. How amazing is that!

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