Bible Study Notes 4/18/2023
Word Alive! © 2023 Winter /Spring Series Living and Thriving Again! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 18 April 2023, Lesson/Chapter 6, Part 2
Thom S. Rainer, Anatomy Of A Revived Church, © 2020
Quiet Time: Thom S. Rainer, Lesson/Chapter 6 (pp. 83-94)
Growing Beyond Excuses and Blame – Excuses and blame have always been an accommodation for human, fear, shame, and blame. Early in the Scriptures, we are introduced to this aspect of behavior after the serpent enters the idyllic Garden of Eden. The serpent is shown lurching at human victims, not with venomous fangs, but by appealing to their sensate needs. God’s human persons, we learn as Adam and Eve, were given permission to freely engage in all aspects of their environment; except for a special tree God had placed in the middle of Eden. The command God gave first to Adam; was part of the covenant relationship given to both Adam and Eve who were the only known inhabitants of Eden, and stewards of their beautiful environment (See, Genesis 1:28, NKJV). The specific command to avoid eating from the forbidden tree, was broken when Eve was tempted into possibly tasting the fruit from the tree, and sharing the same with Adam. What follows is a rapid change in their behavior. Fear and panic replaced their trust in, and peace with, God. They were both called to accountability, where excuses and blame, fractured their relationship with God (Read, Genesis 3:8b-13, NLT). Throughout the Scriptures we find great people of faith and relationship with God, who have at some moment in life succumbed to excuses; or blame. These aspects of behavior often speak to deeper issues of fear and some resignation in the face of challenge. Seeking God’s guidance, and repenting of these emotional and spiritual constraints, can lead to a healthier and more mature spiritual life (Read, Proverbs 28:13, NLT). Moses approached God with at least five excuses, as to why he felt disqualified to represent God as a deliver of his people before Pharoah of Egypt. On each occasion, God assured Moses that He would provide him with what he needed, to accomplish the task (Read, Exodus 3:10-12, NLT). While the source of some excuses or issues we perceive as impediments to our growth, may seem legitimate; God has, or will, make provisions that will help us attain success and vitality. The prophet Jeremiah also had to be convinced, that God’s plan and care were far better than the young prophet’s doubts and concerns (See, Jeremiah 1:4-5, NLT). It is refreshing to know, God is aware of the inner doubts and fears, that form the source of our excuses and blaming. In his helpful book, The Anatomy of A Revived Church, Thom Rainer, says that when some churches are in a downward spiral; they tend to cite factors, such as low attendance. Often, he says, the blame is not with others, but within themselves. Looking inward; seeking God, can lead us to renewal!
Growing Beyond Excuses And Blame, Part 2 – God never warns us about our excuses and blaming, without offering to help us; provided we’re willing to acknowledge our fears and repent. Although God told Moses he would be appointed the task; Moses was still reluctant to return to Egypt. God then told Moses that he would allow his brother, Aaron to accompany him back to Egypt, and serve as his aide and interpreter before Pharoah (Read, Genesis 3:13-17, NLT). We see in this, God’s provision for the need Moses experienced. Excuses and blame often are byproducts of fears and insecurities that we have. Although Moses had left Egypt forty years earlier; he left as a fugitive and had forfeited his status as a member of Pharoah’s household. After those many years, Moses likely feared some form of reprisal; or even death. The antidote to such inner fears is the acknowledgement of God’s love, which can reach us at every level of our existence. The Apostle John says: “Such love has no fear. Because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment. And this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” (Read, I John 4:18, NLT). God’s perfect love is unconditional!
Jeremiah, as a young candidate for prophetic ministry, perhaps blamed the inexperience of his youth as an excuse for not wanting to obey God’s call. After God assured Jeremiah that his call to ministry was prenatal, He assured the young prophet that divine messages would be given to him, along with the authority of the prophetic ministry. (Read, Jeremiah 1:6-10, NLT). Often emotional throughout his ministry, Jeremiah dispelled his doubts, and excuses. He endured suffering and imprisonment, but he did not cease to obey God’s call. If we are to break any pattern of illegitimate excuses and blaming, we may harbor; we must humbly come to terms with God’s plan for our lives. There is never any revival of God’s people; nor renewal of Christian commitment, without repentance before God. Repentance is true change, and involves two essential acts: Discarding thoughts and behavior, which prevent Christian growth and change; and, Discovering God’s plan for renewal in our lives, and in the church. We are to give all that we are to God, through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. God has better! (Read, Romans 12:1-2, NLT).
What We Believe!
“Eliminating excuses and blame, brings spiritual growth.”
A persistent pattern of excuses and blame, hinders spiritual maturity and transformation.”
Genesis 3:8b-13 NLT
“…So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the Lord asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me.” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
Proverbs 28:13, NLT
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
Exodus 3:10-12, NLT
“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I the Lord?” Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you what to say.”
Exodus 3:13-17, NLT
“But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send someone else.” Then the Lord became angry with Moses, “All right,” He said. “What about your brother Aaron the Levite? I know He speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouth- piece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”
Jeremiah 1:6-10, NLT
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I am too young! The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”
Romans 12:1-2, NLT
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
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