Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sermon preview:

This past week was the 21st anniversary of the day I asked Carrie to marry me. My wife is an old-fashioned kind of girl, so before I proposed, I knew it was important for me to ask her parents for their blessing. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I had to stand before these very successful, intelligent, godly people and convince them that they should entrust their youngest daughter to a guy with no money, no job, and frankly, no clue. I did my best to convince them that I would take good care of her, and I guess my sales pitch worked.

Recently, I read the account of another young man who asked for a girl’s hand in marriage. Over 200 years ago, Adoniram Judson felt the call of God to take the Gospel to Burma, which had virtually no Christian witness at the time. Shortly before he was to leave, he met Ann Haseltine and fell madly in love. He wrote her father a letter, asking for her hand. Now, imagine you have a 22 year old daughter, and this is the letter you get:

I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next Spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?

We sit here in a room full of committed Christians, but if we’re honest, most of us can’t even comprehend the devotion to Christ it would take to allow our little girl to go to certain suffering and probably early death based solely on the promise that we would be glad we did in eternity. We might know it’s the right thing to do, but we would come up with some reason why she couldn’t go marry this crazy missionary guy. “Your mother needs you here.” “You’re the only daughter I have.” “I just don’t think you’re cut out for that kind of life. Someone else is probably more suited for it.” We have excuses for other things too. Some of us know that God wants us to get involved in a certain ministry or mission. Some of us have relationships in need of reconciliation; we need to ask someone’s forgiveness or extend forgiveness of our own. Some know that there is someone in their lives who God is calling them to reach out to with His love. Some know they should begin tithing of their income to God’s work; others know they should get involved in a small group for Bible study and fellowship. Then there are people, probably some in this very room, who haven’t yet committed their lives to Christ. They want to; they know they should; but there is something holding them back. We all have our reasons why we haven’t done what God wants us to do. Here is one thing I know: Between the world, our own flesh, and the Devil, there will always be reasons not to obey God. If you are waiting until it becomes easy and convenient to serve the Lord with all your heart, you will never do it.

Moses is one man who can testify to that. Here is a guy who was rescued as an infant from certain death, raised in royalty and luxury, then as a young man, became a fugitive from the law after committing a murder. Now, at the outset of Exodus 3, he’s an 80-year-old shepherd in the Midianite desert, when suddenly God appears to Him in a burning bush and tells him that he has been chosen to lead the most unlikely rescue mission anyone has ever heard of. He will go back to Egypt—the place he fled from forty years before—and stand face-to-face with Pharaoh, most powerful man in the world, demanding that he let God’s people go. In this message, we'll look at the five objections Moses had to this calling, and see how God would answer you and I when we make excuses. God responds to Moses’ five objections in five different ways, but God’s responses all have something in common. See if you can spot it.

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