Excuses

Excuses

“I answered, ‘Oh, Sovereign Lord, Really I do not know how to speak well enough for that, for I am too young.’ The Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” But go to whomever I send you and say whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of those to whom I send you, for I will be with you to protect you,’ says the Lord.” –Jeremiah 1:6-8

What does the LORD say to Moses when he tries to back out of God’s calling with the same excuse of being “slow of speech”? “Who gave a mouth to man, or who makes a person mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? So now go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you must say,” (Exo 4:11-12).

The LORD is our Creator. He knows us intimately better than we know ourselves (Mat 10:30). So why would we ever use our weaknesses as if that were a factor in limiting God in His works? If we do so, we are admitting our weak faith and demonstrating a prideful confidence in our own strength and not a humble confidence in His.

And as for the excuse of age before men, “Let no one look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity,” (1Ti 4:12). It matters not our status before men, but simply our faithful obedient walk before our Heavenly Father. So do not fear men, but God alone (Mat 10:28); and live not to please men, but seek to be a slave to Christ (Gal 1:10; Eph 6:6), living only to do the will of The Father (Luke 22:42; John 5:19).

Go as He has directed, and begin to see His gracious hand granting you immense favor and faith (Psa 84:11; 1Pe 1:3-6) as He fills your heart with the joy of His calling and presence (1Ch 16:27; Psa 16:11).

Billy Neal

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Unlocking Favor

antique-lock-with-key-unlocked-padlock-with-key

“Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, ‘Come on, let’s go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will intervene for us. Nothing can prevent the Lord from delivering, whether by many or by a few.’” –1 Samuel 14:6

Read 1 Samuel 13-15 and contrast these two men: Saul and Jonathan. It is startling to witness the way God demonstrates distinctions. And so it should not surprise us when later Jonathan humbly steps aside to let his rule pass to another (1Sa 23:17), while Saul becomes filled with bitter hatred (1Sa 19:1).

So see here where Saul continues to sit in disobedience (14:2), worrying about dwindling numbers (13:8), Jonathan is focused only on the victory (14:10)—boldly seeking to advance the kingdom without permission from men (14:1), and unconcerned with the fact it was just him and his armor bearer with only a single sword between them (13:22). Saul is so preoccupied with the need for a religious sacrifice to unlock favor (13:12), that he neglects obedience (10:8; 15:22). Yet Jonathan trusted in the greatness of the Lord and His promise of deliverance (9:16) and putting thousands to flight when He was the object of trust (Lev 26:7-8; Deu 28:7). Jonathan understood that it is God who fights for His people (Jos 23:10), and so he sought not the favor of his father (14:29), but only the true king of Israel—the LORD (14:12; Psa 24:8).

And so how often is our advance halted when we, like Saul, look to earthly evidence of strength (13:5-6), seeking greater numbers to give us confidence? How often do we cause ourselves and others to blunder (14:32) and lose sight of love (14:39) by exalting our own will above God’s (14:24,32). How often do we limit our own victory (14:30), by making the battle about us (14:24), seeking to honor ourselves (15:12).

Oh, Lord, help us to live as Jonathan, not depending on any religious practices to garner favor with You, but help us to activate the favor promised us by moving forward in obedience through faith. You have promised us the victory!

Billy Neal

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Consent

consent

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. — Matthew 3:13-15

Men, Jesus has come from Galilee to John the Baptist. Feeling inadequate, John tries to deter Jesus from being baptized by him. John expects that he should be baptized by Jesus. He knows that Jesus is the Lord in flesh and will soon baptize with the Holy Spirit. John relents when Jesus explains “it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness”.

Jesus was not going to be content to fulfill most of what we needed to see from Him. He wasn’t going to walk “most” of the steps of faith and leave the rest to interpretation. From the start, Jesus is intentional about fulfilling all the acts of righteousness. John knows He doesn’t need to be baptized to wash away any sin. Jesus is sinless. Jesus came to redeem from sin, but first He is committed in obedience to every basic step outlined in the Word.

Today we say we should baptize to identify with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Rightly so, but do we also identify with His commitment to fulfill all righteousness? Jesus could have appeared in glory, demonstrated His full authority, lain down like a King upon the throne. But He chose to humble Himself. He chose selflessness. He chose to be among us in every way. Baptism is not the first example to follow from Jesus.

Move forward men, with humility as we walk among our brothers and sisters in humanity. Through Christ and by His examples, we too can engage in every act of righteousness. In fact, read it again. Jesus tells John “it is right for US to fulfill all righteousness. As agents of Christ we participate with Him. John consented to the request of Jesus. What is His Spirit asking of you? Have we even been listening? Through His Spirit, Jesus approaches us. Do we recognize Him, His voice, His compelling? As John did, recognize Him for who He is regardless of the form He comes in. Consent to His request of you with humility. All righteousness is in Him all the time within all His forms, flesh, Spirit and in Glory.

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