home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > May > EXCUSE ME

EXCUSE ME

I happened to walk past a TV when there was one of those quiz game-shows on. The compere’s question was,  “What is the most common excuse?” The most common answer was, “Sorry I can’t come, I’m not well.” There are variations of this excuse that most of us always use, especially if you’re a parent. The propensity to make excuses for things we don’t want to acknowledge or accept dates back to Adam. When God visited the Garden of Eden just after Adam and his wife Eve had betrayed God, the first thing that Adam did was to make an excuse by blaming Eve. It seems that from the beginning, when people have resisted God’s will, they have made excuses for it. Perhaps this is why Jesus addressed excuse-making directly in His parables. As we read His parables we can not miss His frustration at human excuse-making and must wonder why He was just so frustrated?

But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
Luke 14:16-20

This parable reveals the heart of God; and, Christ was telling us how upset His Father feels when people make excuses in response to His gracious invitation to dine with Him. But this is not the end of the parable. 

 

THE ESSENCE OF AN EXCUSE

The essence of an excuse is the word, no. If we get invited to a party that we don’t to go to and we make a polite excuse to decline the offer, in essence we are saying “No, I will not come to your party.” This is the gist of the parable that Christ told in Luke 14 about His Father who sent His Son as His Servant to personally invite those who had already received an invitation to come to a great banquet. (It’s interesting how Jesus describes His Father’s heaven as a great banquet.) By saying “No” to the great banquet invitation those who were declining this invitation were saying that they had a better offer. What offer could be better than dining with the Source of Life, Joy, Peace, and Power, as His special guest in His luxurious mansion? What happens next in this parable also says a lot about how God feels when people make excuses to decline His offer to dine.

So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
Luke 14:21-24

 

IT SEEMS THAT SOME EXCUSES CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR SOUL

People sometime ask, “How could a good, loving God send anyone to Hell?” Perhaps we might respond with a better question (and one easier to answer), “Why would any rational, reasonable, person decline God’s offer of eternal forgiveness, bliss, supreme joy and fulfilment, and salvation from eternal condemnation — and willingly choose to experience the consequences of their rebellion against God forever and ever?” I’ve even heard of people who have made the excuse that they cannot accept God’s offer, because the consequences of not doing so sound so incredibly unfair! But the truth is, this is an extremely weak excuse because in reality the only consequence that is incredibly unfair is God’s offer of eternal life/forgiveness/joy/peace/happiness/adoption! This offer is incredibly unfair in our favour! Why unfair? Because fairness has to do with deservedness (it’s only fair that you get what you deserve). But God’s offer is infinitely unfair because none of us deserve it! We have done nothing to deserve it. We can do nothing to deserve it. We are in fact undeserving of it! The Bible calls this unfairness, grace. Someone who was profoundly effected by God’s grace, wrote this-

¶ For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.
Romans 5:6-10

Of course, some excuses are quite reasonable. Your priorities should help you to determine which of two invitations involving the same time-frame you should accept and which one you have to therefore decline. If you’re invited to your child’s wedding at the same time as someone has invited you for a coffee, hopefully you’ll excuse yourself from going for coffee. But your highest priority should determine your highest quest. Our highest quest must be to please and know the God who made us for Himself. In C.S. Lewis’s classic book, Mere Christianity, he concludes by discussing man’s greatest quest – 

It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose. It says in the Bible that the whole universe was made for Christ and that everything is to be gathered together in Him…What we have been told is how we men can be drawn into Christ – can become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer to His Father – that present which is Himself and therefore us in Him. It is the only thing we were made for.
Excerpt From: Lewis, C.S. “Mere Christianity.” Apple Books.

And for those whose best excuse for not accepting God’s lavish offer of eternal life and bliss is that God did not reveal Himself to them, you might need to come up with a better one based on what God has said in Romans 1 – 

For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse…Therefore you have no excuse!
Romans 1:20, 2:1a

Your pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

3 Comments

  1. Michael Sladden

    Very good Pastor Andrew, thank you.

    There is no logical reason or excuse for not accepting Jesus’s gracious gift of salvation

    Brother Mike

    Reply
  2. Wendy Williams

    There are more causes of blindness than physical infirmities. Those who can’t see their way clear to accept Jesus offer are the ones who are in most need of His help. They are to be prayed for every day.

    How blessed we are that, despite our own blindness, He enabled us to see His offer at the right time to accept.

    And how very blessed we will be, if we are able to see through a physically sighted person’s blindness, to reach that part of them Jesus wishes so much to heal.

    We can only pray that Jesus gifts us with such a blessing.

    Reply
  3. John Sands

    Please excuse us from non attendance this Sunday. Will be in Queensland. If we find internet will join on line. Love you all.

    Reply

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LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > June > LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENTLOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT For anyone who is a fan of aviation, the movie Sully (2016) is one you will have probably enjoyed watching. The storyline is biographical drama based on the 2009...

THE BENEFITS OF A DAILY DOSE OF VITAMIN R

The Greatest Exponent of what vitamin R can achieve within a person was the One who introduced vitamin R in small doses to His twelve followers. There initial dose came from simply complying with the request to, “Follow Me.” This they did for some three years or so. After watching Him intently, they then got a larger dose when they were told to, “Go…and proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” And as every example of those who have ever received a near maximum dose of vitamin R bears witness, just before they received their ultimate dose vitamin R they felt two universally common sensations: inadequacy and inability. Yet, as everyone who has received such high doses of vitamin R from the One who gives the ultimate enabling strength found in vitamin R, somehow they were supernaturally enabled to do the very thing they felt both inadequate and unable to do!

A PICTURE IS PAINTED BY A THOUSAND WORDS

The most difficult challenge you’ll ever have to deal with throughout your life is others. They’ll make you angry, get you frustrated, and hurt you. At the root of these challenges will be miscommunication with others and communication breakdowns. Your ability to understand how language and communication really works could save you from much of this heartache. But the most unrealised — and by far the potentially greatest source of — heartache may eternally shock untold numbers of poor souls when they realise too late that they did not respond to God’s communications.

THE BUSY FOOLS ARGUMENT WITH THE BUSY WISE

What makes our busyness wise busyness? It’s when our busyness is doing what Christ wants for the reasons that He wants it done. It’s when we are busy without neglecting the priorities of spiritual disciplines and our obligations to those we are responsible to and for. This is why, when Christ calls someone to take on a greater responsibility in His Kingdom it is almost certain that they are already busy. I am not at all suggesting that a Christ-follower needs to be frenetic in their busyness for Christ, or that they should never sabbath (two points I have tried to make clear in this Pastor’s Desk by contrasting the busy wise with the busy foolish). But I am hoping that those who have been following and serving Christ for some seasons will recognise the doors of opportunity that Christ will enable them to walk through wisely. And as they do, and we do together, may we begin to see glimpse of the Great Commission being fulfilled in our valley-city.

IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY

“That I may know Him!” Fancy that! The apostle who was struck from his horse by the radiant glory of Christ while on the Persecutor’s Road to Damascus; the apostle whom the resurrected Christ appeared to in a vision and spoke directly to him (Acts 18:9-10); the apostle whom Christ used to raise people from the dead and to heal many people miraculously; and, the apostle who testifies that he was caught up to heaven and saw things too wonderful to reveal — this apostle gets toward the end of his life and states that he doesn’t yet know Christ the way he should! This apostle, the apostle Paul, toward the end of his life begins to see his life and his troubles in the light of eternity. And I am thus assured that in this light many of the problems that we face today will fade from our gaze and vanish as we fix our eyes on the Source of eternity’s Light.

BELONGING

I’m not sure about you, but one of my great wrestles in becoming more Christlike is that sinful tendency to see my time, my resources, my life as belonging to me. I like to control it. I like to own it. I like to decide what happens and when.

God, in His great grace and wisdom, seems to work in our lives reminding us how little we truly control and that it all truly does belong to Him. So often these reminders come in the way of hardship and loss with the call to surrender ownership and control.

If our Heavenly Father was a despotic God, a cruel, tyrannical God who acted arbitrarily and selfishly for His own ends, knowing we belonged to Him would cause us to tremble and live in fear and apprehension.

But praise Him that this is not our God!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies your with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5

ROOFS AND DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING

ROOFS AND  DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING
John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”  J.R.R. Tolkien said, “It does not do to leave a live a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” Having a plan is generally a strategy that will help us to get things done, or respond correctly when things go wrong. A plan may help us to find a solution and a way through an adverse situation that we are experiencing. A plan also helps us to know what resources we might need for dealing with situations that we can foresee.

When it comes to thinking about the importance of planning, a statement that is worth considering is one that I like to get my Maritime Passage Planning students to contemplate:

‘The best thing about failing to plan, is that disaster comes as a complete surprise that is not preceded by hours or days of stress and worry associated with the planning process.’

SOMETHING FOR SLUGGARDS TO CONSIDER

There are those who look busy but are not very productive. There are those who are busy but are highly productive. Often these people have learned that busy needs to be managed so that their time is focused on maintaining their important relationships, taking regular sabbaths, prioritising the important over the urgent, and cooperating with others. These busy people have learned to recognise God’s open doors and have confidence that the Apostle Paul had that it is God who gives them supernatural energy to toil, struggle and work to get things done when no-one else thought it could be.

WHAT COVID DID TO CHURCHES’ MOMENTUM

The Covid pandemic and its effect upon Churches has caused many church leaders and their teams to reevaluate what it means to be the Church. This leads into some really healthy questions that challenge what many had previously unquestionably accepted as “Church”. What ‘should’ a church do when it meets together for its weekly gathering (especially if it can’t actually ‘gather’)? How should the leaders and members of a church contribute to the issues confronting society and culture? Or should the Church be disengaged from ‘the world’ and treat its Christianity as purely ‘private’ matter between the worshiper and God? What do the ministries within a Church within a church — especially that of an evangelist — look like it the Church can not actually meet due to ongoing Covid lockdowns? Perhaps several of these questions might never have even been asked if it wasn’t for Covid. But one thing is for sure, the answer to these questions can be found within Scripture and the lessons from Church history and require that we prayerfully seek the Spirit’s guidance as we apply the best answers. Perhaps it will be then that we can build some fresh momentum and reach the current and next generation for Christ.

CONSPIRITUAL CONSPIRACIES

This is why we can have great confidence in the accounts given in the Bible. Two of the four evangelists (Matthew and John) who wrote Gospels were eye-witnesses to many of the events they describe – particularly and critically – the resurrection appearances of Christ. Rather than appealing to a “trust me when I tell you…” approach, the Biblical writers of the New Testament invite readers to examine the evidence for themselves and consider carefully what they have presented. They do not present their accounts anonymously or in an only share this after I’ve died memoir approach. When the apostle Paul could say that the physically resurrected Christ was seen by up to 500 people at one time and that most of these people are still alive (1Cor. 15:6), he was inviting verification of the facts that he presented (and we have no record of anyone ever refuting Paul’s claim). This made the claims of Christianity verifiable and it therefore makes the further claims of Christianity about a spiritual new birth testable and verifiable today.

¶ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:30-31