No doubt all of us at one time or another has dreamed about whom we could become or about things we’d love to do for God. But then thoughts about circumstances, lack of education, experience or something else made us dismiss the idea altogether. Or we made all sorts of excuses or found ‘reasons’ why it just couldn’t happen.
And when we go down that track, we miss out on so much because we don’t go on to consider the possibilities in God. It seems that we don’t understand that Christians, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can discover abilities beyond our own natural skills.
A great truth to discover is that God’s Spirit can lift us above and beyond any excuse!
Paying the price
However, if we really want to see something happen in our lives there will be some personal price to pay. And at times it may seem that the price is too high – because it will or could cost us everything. Just like the merchant who desired the pearl of great price, and had to sell everything he had to accomplish his goal (Matthew 13:46).
To receive everything that God has planned for us, to be the person he sees that we can be, and to accomplish what he knows we can achieve, we have to be willing to give up everything that would stop us. This doesn’t mean just worldly things but giving ourselves totally over to his will by dying to self.
It was this way with Jesus. Christmas is a welcomed time – for Christians it’s the celebration of the incredible incarnation story – Jesus allowing himself to become human, lower than angels (Phil. 2:6-7; Heb.2:7) in order to fulfil the Father’s will. But then, suddenly Easter will be on us – that season will remind us that before going to the cross, Jesus again yielded to his Father: ‘Not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42).
So through obedience, dying to self, and paying an incredible price Jesus fully accomplished the Father’s will (Phil. 2:8, 11). Having such a mindset as Jesus had, we too can pay whatever price we have to and accomplish everything that God has planned for us to fulfil.
Rising above excuses
The key is that we must be willing to take up ‘our’ cross – the tasks God has for us – even to the point of being willing to lose our lives for his sake (Matthew 16:24-25). Of course, the truth is that we probably wouldn’t lose our lives – but we must be willing in the first place.
Also, we must never bow to self. Self can get in the way of what God wants to do in and through us when it controls or blocks our thinking. And, very importantly, we mustn’t listen to Satan’s lies, be side-tracked and think, ‘Who am I that God can use me, what can I achieve for him?’
In truth God wants to expand our thinking and stretch us beyond ‘ourselves’ and our own abilities. The trouble is that most times we’re simply not willing to move ahead and we sell ourselves short. We can miss out – usually because we say ‘No.’
Never say ‘No!’ and never even think you’re an unlikely candidate to be used by God. Scripture tells us that God tends to use the most unlikely people (1 Cor. 1:26-31). Having the right attitude lifts us above excuses.
Esther was an orphan, a young Jewish girl and a slave in a foreign country. Who would have thought that God could use her? Yet she became Queen of Persia and God used her mightily to rescue her own people from the evil schemes of the tyrant, Haman.
Yes, Esther was in the right place at the right time. But she also had to be willing to pay the price – to go before the king, even though he was her husband, at an unauthorised time thereby risking death (Esther 4:11-16). She had to be willing to die to self and be obedient to her guardian, Mordecai.
Mordecai’s famous encouraging words to Esther – ‘Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for a time like this?’ (v14) – are often quoted by preachers but we need to focus more on her amazing response. Esther’s attitude was a candid, determined, ‘If I perish, I perish’ (v16).
Esther bravely faced her situation by engaging firstly in prayer and fasting. Then she made her bold request to the king – not for herself but for her people, for their lives and for their freedom. And God was with her and she found favour with the king. A nation was saved – a nation that would bring forth the eternal king, Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate at this season.
Esther’s example of ready willingness
Actually, the book of Esther is a fascinating account of God’s ability to send the right person to the right place at the right time. But the point is: Being in the right place at the right time is not enough – we must be willing to take the opportunities, whatever the price!
Which raises an important matter as we relax over the Christmas celebrations (enjoying both the wonderful Christian aspects and the secular gift-giving moments with family and loved ones)… what special place has God for us beyond Christmas – in 2017? What doors is he going to open for us – expecting us to go through willingly to accomplish his plans?
Will we be willing to take the opportunities – even at some personal cost?
Of course we may not become a royal personage or placed in a palace-type position as was Esther! But if we are obedient and willing to be used, who knows where God can make us and where he can take us and just how effectively he can use us?
Again, being in the right place is not enough. Even being the right person is not enough. We need to be willing to move out of our comfort zones, walk on the water of faith and be the person God wants us to be! Then God can faithfully act on our willingness and complete some good, even great work, through us.
What about you – after the joy of Christmas?
2017 will be a pivotal year with great possibilities for great achievements. May we all declare, ‘No more excuses in 2017!’
I encourage every Christian to seek God’s plans for us for next year. Maybe you know them already – perhaps even just a hint. Dare to move in faith and discover that (as did the Virgin Mary) impossibilities can become possibilities in God!
Quite a number of you are aware that Robert and I have been willing to flow with God’s 2017 plans for us. Without going into details, this means stepping out in faith and moving on. But also dying to some things, to be thinking of others and recalling that the kingdom is always central to God’s plans. And thus willingly embracing (Matthew 6:33GNB), ‘Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.’
Now we are all kingdom servants and whatever ‘things’ we need, whatever we want from life, we must ensure that our King’s plans come first. As we think this way, we can relax and enjoy life to the max. God will take care of everything else – including kingdom matters that he knows we can fulfil with the power of his Holy Spirit working within us.
Merry Christmas and a fantastic pivotal New Year!