Monthly Archives: February 2012

Yesterday Has Been Cancelled

When’s the last time you received word that an event, or appointment, or meeting you were looking forward to was cancelled? How about a cancelled airline flight home for the holidays that kept you waiting in the airport lobby for an extra day?

Once, early on in my music career, I had been scheduled to be part of a warm-up performance for a popular singer named BJ Thomas. He recorded such songs as “Rain Drops Are Fallen on My Head”. Some of my friends had planned to attend that concert and I was so excited. But the concert was “unavoidably cancelled” just a few days before.

I have had weather-related cancellations since that long-ago concert, which I welcomed with a cup of hot chocolate, as the snow swirled in the wind outside my living-room window.

The word “cancellation” has been on my mind since early last week. At the end of our weekly women’s prayer time, as we sat quietly in the warm afterglow presence of the Lord, a song floated into my head, which I began to sing. It’s an old anthem entitled “Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”.  I had not sung that hymn for many years. Our church Sunday worship music consists mainly of contemporary worship songs and choruses.

The lyrics and melody of that old hymn stayed with me all week. One verse stood out in my mind and resonated with my spirit:

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,                                                                                                                                                      He sets the prisoner free.                                                                                                                                                                  His blood can make the foulest clean,                                                                                                                                                   His blood avails for me.

The particular line that has returned to me over and over again is “He breaks the power of cancelled sin”.

As I sat in our Sunday Celebration and listened to words that were shared from the congregation – words of praise, words of what God was doing in individual lives, words of struggle and submission – an awareness of the importance of that phrase, “the power of cancelled sin” exploded into my understanding, as a revelation from the Holy Spirit.

I believe that there are many people – both Spirit-born believers and those on-their-way-to-becoming-believers – who haven’t understood or believed that our sins have been cancelled by Jesus’ death on the cross. We don’t need to struggle any longer under the power of past sins.  And we don’t have to keep paying for them over and over again.

There are people to whom many bad things happen – often a procession of bad things throughout their lifetimes – people who feel that God is punishing them for the sins of their past. I do understand that when we break God’s laws, there are natural consequences:  jump from a plane without a parachute and you’ll discover such consequences; commit murder and there are definite consequences.

However, the Scripture does not support the idea that God punishes us over and over again for confessed sins that are under the blood of Jesus. For He, “breaks the power of cancelled sin”. In case you are thinking, that’s just a line from a song, I’d like to share a Scripture that supports the beautiful and significant verse of that song.

Col. 2:13-15 – “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Jesus], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him [in Jesus].                          (English Standard Version)

Are you an ex-drug or ex-alcohol addict? You don’t have to exprience that addictive substance continually calling you back into your past sin. Were you a liar, a cheat, a sex-offender, an adulterer? Jesus has broken the power of that “cancelled sin”.  Satan no longer has a right to condemn you, hold you as a prisoner to that addiction or sin, or to continue to collect payment for the sins of your past. Christ hung on that cross to pay the full price – which cancels your debt – and to break the power of that sin. His death paid the debt – his resurrection settled the issue of who’s in control in the spirit realm.

In Colossians chapter three there are a couple lists of sins of the human nature which include: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and lying. Then, in  (Col. 3:7) the apostle Paul continues:

“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. . .” and then he adds: “ . . . you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Col. 3:9)

So what’s the problem? Understanding and believing what God’s word says:

  • that the debt of our sin has been cancelled
  • that the power of that cancelled sin has been broken
  • that the one-time prisoner, has been set free

Let’s take this one step further:  often the penalties or consequences of unacknowledged, un-confessed sin show up in our minds (negative thinking, confused thoughts, frustrations, doubts); in our spirits (bad attitudes, hopelessness, anger, resentment, bitterness, control issues, judgementalism, un-forgiveness); in our reactions (fear, self-protection, anger, rage, revenge); and eventually in our physical bodies (all kinds of ailments, symptoms, and diseases).

These same things can also manifest in us when we fail to realize that the sins we have confessed are forgiven, and not simply forgiven, but cancelled. The enemy no longer has a right to wield power to harm us mentally, spiritually, or physically.  The power he has held over us, often even after conversion – is because we haven’t fully realized what our salvation has provided for us – “the broken power of cancelled sin”.

When we don’t know or believe that the power has been broken, we remain under bondage to past sin and its power, which has already been defeated by Christ Jesus on the cross.

Are you still suffering from the power of “cancelled sin”?

Yesterday has been cancelled. You don’t have to live in the past any longer. Believe it! Repeat it to yourself as often as you need to. Start living post crucifixion, post resurrection. Allow Christ to set the prisoner free and bring healing to mind, spirit, and body.

©2012, Marcy Alves

The Waiting Room

Does “waiting” seem to be a normal part of your life? What do you do with unexpected “waiting” times? I am not a very patient “waiter”.

Yesterday was going to be a day for writing and a trip to the hair dresser; I hadn’t decided which to do first, because I was waiting for a return call from my beautician.

Just after my shower, I received an emergency call from my niece; she was having muscle spasms in her back which caused intense pain; she needed to go across town to the walk-in clinic. Due to that spasm, she was neither able to lift her 20-month old daughter, Ellie, nor to drive herself to the clinic. So, my decision between a morning of writing and a visit to the hair dresser was resolved for me.

I drove my niece to the clinic, then, sat with Ellie while her mom was in the examination room. We waited and waited for the exam to be completed. The wait lasted about 2 hours; the examining doctor had decided that x-rays were necessary for a proper diagnosis.

Have you ever sat in a waiting room for 2 hours? With a 20-month toddler in your care?

Actually, Ellie is more than a toddler; she is a runner – with lots of energy!  And the waiting room had lots of running space, including a space in front of an automatic sliding door. It amazes me that a 25-pound tiny toddler can activate an automatic sliding door. It also seemed to amaze her . . . and amuse her. I didn’t actually remain seated for much of the 2-hour waiting period.

Someone once said that a natural way to meet people is through dogs or children. Ellie is a very out-going child, which became evident in the waiting room – each new patient who entered those automatic doors was soon greeted with a “Hi!” and a smile, adults and children alike. As a result it became easy for me to start conversations with some of the other “waiters”, particularly those with young children. In a couple of instances I said we would pray for the sick child, which I did silently, so as not to embarrass or offend.

However, as I look back on the waiting room experience, I feel that I was more distracted by my very active grand-niece than attentive to the Lord. It was only after coming away from the experience that a light bulb clicked on in my head; a waiting room experience can be a natural setting for a season of prayer.

Ephesians 6:18  ”And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert . . .”

People who find it necessary to come into a walk-in clinic are usually faced with an immediate need – a pain, a high fever, a bad cough that won’t go away, numbness, a disabling symptom of some sort that aspirin or Tylenol won’t relieve. Many of them are worn out from coping with their own or their loved ones’ presenting symptoms – many are fearful of what the cause of the symptom might be. Some are anxious about how to pay for the medical expenses related to the illness or disability.

What a potential place of ministry!  According to a clinical double-blind study conducted at a Boston hospital, patients who are prayed for, even when they don’t know they are being prayed for, respond better to treatment and heal faster than those receiving no prayer. It seems to have little to do with their faith, but with the faith of those who pray, in the God who answers prayer.

I wrote last year about a young woman from our church family who was at death’s door; in fact she was thought to be dead several different times when she stopped breathing. In a Boston hospital where we visited her, there was an attendant assigned to watch her. For much of that time, Georgia was unconscious. But the woman prayed sincerely and fervently and with total faith that Georgia would be raised up. Georgia is currently home and working again.

When we spoke with that nursing attendant, we found that her habit is to be a prayer warrior for each of the patients to whom she is assigned as a watcher.

So, the next time you find it necessary to go to a doctor’s office or a walk-in clinic, or an emergency room – or the next time you visit someone in a hospital or nursing care facility, make attentive, listening prayer a part of your reason for being there.

Philippians 6:4b “ . . . in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God . . .”

There are miracles waiting to be delivered, if we learn to make faith-filled intercession a part of our daily lives.

Have you had any “waiting room” prayer experiences you care to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Are you in one of those waiting places now?

©2012, Marcy Alves

I Need, I Need! I Want, I Want!

Do you have a problem with “lust”? I heard that sudden intake of breath and imagined the shocked look on your face that I would start my blog with that meddlesome question. But before you begin a stammering litany of “true confessions”, read on.

There’s a lot more driven by lust than merely sex – though that appears to be a major motivator in the today’s deluge of uninhibited, irresponsible sex, which is both propelled by and contributing to the plethora of movies, TV shows, and music that focus on sexual relationships and unbridled passions. But, there’s a lot more to the problem of “lust”, which is a driving force in the 21st Century world, than libido.

One of our favorite comedies is “What About Bob?” staring Bill Murray. There is a scene where “Bob” is trying to convince his psychiatrist that he has to have treatment right away; he says: “You’ve got to help me. Come on: I need! I need! I want! I want! ”

This is really what lust is all about – perceived “need” which is no more than strong desire for something.

Like other typical American women, I am somewhat fashion conscious. Though I often don’t dress in the latest styles (I can’t afford to), I am very conscious of my lack of what’s “in” at any given time. It’s easy for me to be content with my wardrobe contents, until I go shopping. When I walk through the mall I can see at least 20 clothing items that cause me to relate to Bob’s plea: “I need, I need – I want, I want”.

After such a foray, I return home, look in my closet, and discover that nothing I have is “in style”. And I make myself a promise that as soon as I have a little extra money, I’ll revisit such and such a store and update my now pitiful wardrobe. I am the victim of a small elitist group of fashion designers, who don’t know or care about me personally, and who through their latest creations have relegated everything in my closet to become obsolete in one or two fashion seasons.

Clothing may not be your hang-up. Your area of desire may be houses, or cars, or gadgets, or food, or sex, or gossip, or popularity, or success, or control, or something else you don’t have enough of. But if you look closely, “lust” is there, hidden under the surface of your spirituality . . . maybe even connected to your spirituality. Perhaps your lust is for Biblical knowledge, spiritual experiences, or recognition of your service or spiritual gifts – “the pride of life”.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  1 John 2:16

We need to learn to desire things of eternal value; to be as concerned about the clothing of our spirits as we are about material clothing. Jesus said:

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matt. 6:33

All of these lusts – of flesh, eyes, and pride, are not of the Father, but of the world.

“And the world passes away, and the lust of it.” 1 John 2:17

So, what desires do you need to surrender today? What is it you just can’t get enough of?

Prayer:  Father, deliver me from greed for possessions or reputation, except that the possessions be the fruits of your Holy Spirit, and that the reputation be as a child of God who loves others as you love them. May the strongest desires I feel, be for things of your kingdom.

©2012, Marcy Alves

Liar, Liar – Pants on Fire

A young mother watches from the doorway as her four-year-old son grabs the green plastic truck from his toddling sister, shoves her to the floor and turns away, ignoring the younger child’s red-faced wails of protest. The mother enters the room, picks up the crying child and confronts her son.

“Why did you do that to your sister?”

“She had my truck.”

“I told you before not to be so rough with her, she’s only a baby. Why did you push her down on the floor?”

“I didn’t push her, she fell.”

“You pushed her.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I saw you push her.”

“Unh-uh, she just fell.”

At this response the boy’s now exasperated mother takes him in hand, and applies appropriate correction.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!!” he wails through tears.

As his mother leaves the room she turns to see the boy walk to his sister and give her a shove which again sends her sprawling.  Looking up, then and catching his mom’s eye he says, “Sissy fell down.”

And there he stands: rebellious . . . unrepentant . . . un-forgiven  . . . destined to undergo further discipline.  Discipline not only for disobedience, but for a defiant spirit; for an act of unkindness; for pretending a lie is the truth. . . when forgiveness and restoration could be his immediate reward.

Liar, liar, pants on fire, when there could have been hugs and kisses of forgiveness.

There seems to be a pattern in the rebellious human nature of sin and deception. Remember the children of Israel in their escape from Egypt and the flight into the desert, led by Moses?

They were miraculously delivered from Pharaoh’s army through the Red Sea; food and water were provided in the desert, though there was little-to-no natural food or water in that desolate place; shoes and clothing did not wear out during years of desert wandering; God’s very presence continued with them in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night; they were protected from sickness and disease during their time of wandering as they followed the laws of God.

Though they had every necessary provision at each point of need, they complained against God and against Moses, His servant. Though they had grumbled and complained often, at the first opportunity the community sinned against God and worshipped an idol, descending into debauchery of the worst kind.

As I read the account of what happened in the camp among the people while Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days and nights, I was amazed that Aaron, Moses’ brother (who was left in charge during Moses’ absence) succumbed to the pressure of the crowds.

When the Israelites complained to Aaron that Moses had deserted them, Aaron took an offering from the people of gold jewelry, melted it down and made an idol in the shape of a calf- which he “fashioned with a tool”. He then said,

“These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4), announcing a festival “to the Lord” for the next day!

The next day the Israelites sinned before God after offering burnt offerings and fellowship offerings! They entered into sexual orgies and revelry.

God was angry with them and told Moses that they would be destroyed for their sin. Moses pleaded for the lives of the people, reminding God of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and His promise that their descendants would be given the land of promise for their inheritance.

When Moses descended the mountain and saw first-hand the revelry of the Israelites, he broke the two tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments, tore down the calf- idol and burned it in a fire, pulverized the gold into dust which he scattered on the water and made the people drink it.

Aaron’s explanation of the idol was:  “. . . they gave me the gold [jewelry] and I threw it into the fire, and out came that calf!” He never mentioned the fact that he had fashioned the calf with the tool.  Liar, liar – pants on fire.

As judgment on the people who participated in the idol worship, Moses commanded the Levites to kill about 3,000 of them that day. The next day the Lord struck the remaining people who had worshipped the idol with a plague.

Perhaps realizing that his compliance with the crowd had resulted in the deaths of so many people was all the punishment that Aaron needed for his sins, but he later was not allowed to enter the Promise Land. Sin has consequences.

However, when the Tabernacle was built in the desert, God instructed that Aaron be consecrated for service at the altar of sacrifice and in the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rested.

Our God is a forgiving God when we repent of our sins and He longs to restore us to fellowship with Him.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:9-10

In the first chapter of Romans we are told that people living a life of sexual sin have,

exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature, rather than the Creator

. . . even though God’s handwork gives them all the proof they need that He exists. They lie to themselves and it results in lives of debauchery and licentiousness. Liar, liar, souls on fire.

Prayer:  Father, help us, your children, to be able to recognize sin in our lives; to agree with you when you point out our sins to us and to not make you a liar.  Help us to put down our pride so that we can confess humbly to you and receive your Spirit’s cleansing now, so that we will not incur your judgment later.

©2012, Marcy Alves

Fellowship with God?

Have you ever been in a really dark place? A place where you could not see your hand in front of you, or the rocks and ruts under your feet? And you wished you had a light of some kind; you would have even settled for a cigarette lighter or a match?

David and I were living in Kentucky for the first few years of our married life and had occasion to visit Mammoth Cave. We entered the cave system with a tour group. After everyone was inside where no outside light penetrated, the tour guide turned off the electric lights. I had never been in darkness that was, well, so dark. After about a minute of pitch darkness, a small child began to whimper; then the tour guide lighted a match. What a difference! The match struck in the dark cave caused the darkness to disappear: light and darkness cannot co-exist.

The tour guide said that after a certain amount of time in total darkness, the human eye straining for light would begin to see phosphenes – which are flashes of light induced by a stimulation of the retina – people can experience light without any real light entering the eye.

There are people who think they are walking in spiritual light – in fellowship with God – who are really walking in darkness; they are actually walking in sinful things (darkness), but are experiencing flashes of “light” that seem to be indications of God’s presence.

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth.”  1 John 1.6

What is fellowship with God?  In Scripture, fellowship with God is likened to walking in light (1John 1:7).   “Walking in darkness” excludes fellowship with God. Why? Because where there is light, there is no darkness; where there is darkness, there is no light: they are mutually exclusive.

Is fellowship with God equated to attending church services? Sitting in a Sunday School class? Giving money to the church? Singing in the choir?  Helping the poor? Serving as a deacon or elder or Bible teacher?

No. It is possible to do all those things and have no fellowship with God at all, just as it is possible to be a wife or husband and go through all the external rituals, including sex, with no touching of spirits – no fellowship.

Fellowship with God is communion with Him . . . it is enjoying His presence as you would enjoy the company of someone you love, who reciprocates that love.  Fellowship is possible when there is nothing between you and God which blocks, shadows, or causes pain or embarrassment. Fellowship is being conscience-clean in God’s presence, not cringing in fear of exposure of some hidden sin. Fellowship is peace with God.

We cannot fellowship with God and deliberately continue in those things which characterize lives that have no spiritual light. For sin destroys communion with God: it is darkness and cannot co-exist with light. If we walk in sin and say everything is all right between us and God, we are lying to God and to others, but mostly to ourselves.

Where are you walking? Are you experiencing true fellowship with God in the place where you are walking, or are you just seeing spiritual “phosphenes”?

Prayer:  Father, continually shine your light in my life so that I will not walk in darkness. Shine your light on any sin in my life – expose it so that it can be confessed and my heart can be swept clean by your Holy Spirit.

©2012, Marcy Alves

Things that Last in the Midst of Change

Change is inevitable. It happens all around us and it happens to us. Culture changes. Prices change – which seems to happen daily with the ever rising fuel costs. Health changes. Jobs change. And there seems to be nothing we can do about it. We are swept away in the fast moving current . . . unless we have a lifeline to rescue us from the swirling water. There is such a lifeline that is older than time.

“That which was from the beginning…..”  1 John 1:1

If you read the book of 1 John – one of the 3 short epistles that the Apostle John wrote – you’ll discover that he made frequent use of the phrase “from the beginning”.  The word of God was “from the beginning”, the commandment to love was “from the beginning”, the devil sinned “from the beginning” and God’s love for us was “from the beginning”. The beginning of “time” as we know it.

When I was a child, I thought that things that I knew from my “beginning” on earth would never change – my mother, my father, my family, our home – I thought they would be there forever.

But my mother died while I was in college and my father succumbed to cancer a few years later.

As I sat in a swing which hung from a large tree in the yard of my father’s home, knowing my father would soon die and that the family property would be sold, it struck me that nothing of this earth remains forever.  A sadness began to envelope me; then God brought back to my mind words I had read in a book written by C. S. Lewis . . . “Don’t ever let your happiness depend on something that can be taken away from you.”  In other words, don’t let your happiness depend on things that change.

What are the things that don’t change?

God does not change. His promises do not change.  The power of the cross of Christ to transform lives doesn’t change.  And the power of love to overcome evil never changes. God is the same as He was from before the beginning of this world as we know it – as James 1:17 says of Him

“there is no variableness or shadow due to change” with God.

For those who have a committed relationship with God through faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, his resurrection from the dead, the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in their reborn hearts, and a solid belief in the return of our Lord, fear and dread of unknown and unwanted change have had their stingers removed.

Faith in our Father’s love for us will rise victorious over any apprehension of the future, as we learn to rest in Him and hold on to truth which has been there from “the beginning”.

“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you,” (1 John 2:24)  . . . and His peace will be yours in the midst of constant change.

Prayer: Lord, keep my thoughts focused on things which are eternal – that which will be here after the end of things as I know them now – “that which was from the beginning”.

©2012, Marcy Alves

God’s Call and Our Excuses pt.2

Has God placed a “call” on your life? Are you saying “yes”, “no”, or “later” to that call? What are your excuses?

We have spent some time in my two previous posts following the life of Moses, his rescues by God, and God’s ultimate plan for his life.  In my last post, God’s Call and Our Excuses pt.1, we looked at the first 3 of 4 excuses that Moses made to God for why He has the wrong man. Let’s look at #4.

  • Excuse #4 – I am not qualified for this job.

“O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”  Ex. 4:10

Maybe you can identify with Moses on this point: God has called you to a task or ministry that requires more than you think you have to offer; public speaking, sharing your faith with someone, teaching a children’s class, working with people in a capacity where you need to speak – but you don’t think well on your feet. You get tongue-tied, you stutter.

Some people who are eloquent may not bother to consult with the Lord before speaking and may end up not saying what God wants them to say. It’s always best to replace self-confidence with God-confidence.

God had an answer for Moses:

“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Ex. 4:11

It sounds like God has all the bases covered. Could anyone ask for more than that? Moses did.

  • Out of Excuses – the Final Plea

Moses’ final attempt to avoid God’s call on his life is in the form of a plea:

“O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Ex. 4:13

Have you ever bargained with God to do get someone else for the job?

God gets angry with Moses; the Scripture says God “burned with anger against Moses”. Why did God get angry with Moses? Because Moses was still focused on his own weaknesses and the comfort of the predictable life into which he had settled. What would you expect from an 80-year-old man? (see Acts 7:29-30) Apparently God’s call disregards all of our limitations, including age and personal comfort.

Moses did not want the job God was calling him to do.  He didn’t want to be a leader of this unruly nation. He was not a confident man at this time in his life and did not trust God to get him through it.

God provides a solution, but He does not relieve Moses of the responsibility to fulfill the call for which he has been rescued those many years ago. God tells Moses that He will send someone else – with Moses, not in place of Moses.  God adds Moses’ older brother, Aaron, to the team as the mouthpiece.

God’s call on your life is your appointment, not someone’s else. God has rescued you and equipped you for the “good works which He has prepared beforehand” for you to accomplish.  If the call seems too hard for you, it probably is – so that you will learn to rely on God’s strength, not your own.

Moses was a reluctant servant all along the way – God knew his weaknesses and worked through Moses in spite of all his fears, insecurities, obstinacy and weaknesses.  The desert experience is a learning process for Moses throughout, and he becomes a powerful leader for Israel.  It was his friendship with and dependency on God, developed during that 40-year desert trek, that is a lesson for us today.

Moses established tent meetings in which he conferred with God for the needs of the people; when he emerged from those meetings, his face glowed with such a radiance that the people could not look at him – he had to wear a veil to hide the glory of God which shone forth from his face.  He had learned submission to God and fulfillment in following God’s call on his life.

What about you? Has God called you to a task, a duty, a life of sacrifice for the cause of His kingdom? Have you substituted other service in place of the specific purpose for which God has rescued you? It’s in total obedience to the call of God that the glow will come into your life.

What excuse are you making to the Lord for why you are not following His call?

©2012, Marcy Alves

God’s Call and Our Excuses pt. 1

Have you ever sensed God’s call on your life? Did you answer it or make excuses for why you “can’t do it”?

Let’s look at the verb form of the word “call”.  To “call” is to summon a person – as a phone call, when the ring-tone summons you to answer.  To call is also “to select or appoint for a specific office, duty, or employment” – as a “call to arms” gathers soldiers or citizen militias for battle readiness.

So a “call” from God is a summons, a selection, and an appointment to a specific area of service or a special task. A good example of a call is from the life of Saul of the New Testament, who later became the Apostle Paul:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God . . . “ Romans 1:1.

A “call” begins with a personal experience with God: first He calls us to enter a relationship with Him. Some respond affirmatively to that call – others answer either “No” or “Later”.

For those who have responded with a “Yes” to the call to salvation and are then summoned to a specific duty or ministry office,  this second “call” will be answered with either obedience or disobedience. There is no middle ground to a call of God on your life – you either do what He asks or you don’t.

There are many excuses that I have heard over the years from people whom God has called to serve Him in a particular place, with a special duty or task; I’ve probably made some excuses myself. Why do spirit-born Christians sometimes say “No” to God’s call?

We’re going to look at an Old Testament saint who was called to a specific mission and responded, “No thanks” to God, with a head full of excuses.

In my blog post entitled Rescued for a Reason, we looked at the early part of the life of Moses. We saw how Moses had been rescued from death three times by God.

Now we find Moses, after 40 years of a shepherd’s life, standing before a burning bush in the wilderness. During this personal encounter with the Holy One of Israel, Moses is issued a call by God to a specific task – to go to Egypt to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s enslavement.

Moses opens his arsenal of excuses and explanations as to why God picked the wrong man.

  • Excuse #1 – Why me?

His first excuse is in the form of a question:

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ ” Exodus 1:11

The implication is “I’m nobody”. Did Moses think God was not already aware of that? God frequently takes nobodies and makes them into somebodies in His kingdom plan.  But God, understanding that Moses is really afraid to return to Egypt, answers this excuse with: “I will be with you.” What more can you ask for? Apparently quite a bit more.

Moses has bad memories of his last experience in Egypt when he killed an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave. The deed was known among both the Egyptians and the Israelites; neither took kindly to Moses’ rash deed. Another question to delay obedience:

  • Excuse #2 – Is this really you, God?

You can’t blame Moses for asking the question, “Who are you anyway?”  It’s not every day you encounter a burning, talking bush. Sometimes I wish God would speak that clearly to me. I can imagine Moses doing a quick mental scan: he asks,

“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

Apparently, at this point in his life, Moses had not been spending time with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or he would have known who was commissioning him. It’s only after stepping out in obedience to the call of God that Moses later becomes the man with whom “God spoke face-to-face, as with a friend.” Ex. 33:11

God patiently answers Moses’ question,

“I AM WHO I AM. [In some translations, I AM WHO I WILL BE.]  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Exodus 3:14

God then gives Moses his full instructions; to whom he is to deliver the message and exactly what he is to say.

  • Excuse #3 – What if they don’t believe me?

Moses stalls again with the question:

“What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

There are those of us who always imagine the worst outcome when we see the assigned task as a hard one. We call ourselves “realist”. In reality, we’re sometimes just too scared to try. We fear rejection. We fear failure. If you don’t try, you won’t fail, right? But if you don’t try, you also don’t succeed. We seldom think of not trying as a lack of trust in God.

We haven’t yet learned that when God calls us, He will give us what we need to carry out the assignment, even though there can be pain and disappointments in the process. Many people opt out when the going gets tough. If God has indeed called us to a place of service, we’ll never be really fulfilled until we wholeheartedly enter into the call.

God then reveals another part of His plan to Moses: He demonstrates a series of miracles which will convince the elders of Israel that God indeed has sent him. Moses’ staff turns into a snake and back to a staff; his hand becomes leprous and then whole again; then God says that water from the Nile will become blood as Moses pours it onto the ground.

Moses is still not convinced.

We’ll look at the closing arguments between God and Moses in part 2 of God’s Call and Our Excuses. You may see yourself in those closing discussions. Will Moses fulfill God’s call on his life willingly? What will it take to persuade him?

Have you been rescued by God; seen miracles in your life, but remain skeptical that God will take care of you and your family if you answer His call on your life?

©2012, Marcy Alves

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