June 27, 2016

No excuses for lack of faith

How many times have I used the excuse of inexperience to get out of doing something? It reminds me of an artist who said, “If I let the weather keep me from going outdoors to paint, soon I would never go at all.”

Inexperience is relative. No matter how many times I’ve done anything, I can always find someone more experienced. At least one quilter who uses a longarm machine has said to me that they practiced 10,000 hours before they felt experienced enough to advertise their services. According to that standard I will never be experienced enough to advertise mine.

Moses and Jeremiah both had a problem with excuses. Moses fudged with the excuse that he could not speak. So did Jeremiah . . .

“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’
“But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 1:4–8)

In this dialog, Jeremiah was using the term “youth” not in the sense of his age, but that he was inexperienced. He didn’t feel qualified. However, God wasn’t interested whether or not he felt as if he could do it. Like every saint of God, He wants us to come to Him in weakness and inadequacy for if we are confident, we rely on ourselves and our abilities and not on Him.

Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4) A proud or confident person who feels a sense of being up for the task is cannot abide in Christ because they are abiding in their own self. The work done will not be fruitful, but not only that, who will get the glory?

God promised Jeremiah that He would equip and deliver him. He promises me the same thing. He will guard my life should I be in a dangerous situation, but also give me words to say, and the abilities I need for obedience. Whatever I feel is not an issue, nor is what I fear.

Jeremiah was afraid no one would listen and he would be persecuted. Those things happened. God did not promise to take away the peril, only that He would deliver this fearful excuse-maker — he would survive whatever others tried to do to him.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 5 indicate that I am not to be bothered by the reaction of others. Some will treat me badly. But as Chambers says, to look for justice is a sign of deflection from devotion to the Lord. He adds, “Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it.”

When I try to protect myself, I am removing myself from the promises of God and will wind up angry at anyone who steps on my toes. When I trust the Lord Jesus Christ to protect me, He does.

Chambers says that even “the most devout among us become atheistic” when our personal safety or personal reputation is threatened because we do not believe God and are trusting self and common sense. If I lean on my own understanding, whether I tack God’s name in there or not, I cannot be trusting the Lord with all my heart.

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