Summary: God wants us to be available and to use the gifts, time and talents He has given us to serve Him and grow His church. We do not need a Seminary education or special training, just a willingness to follow His lead.
Exodus 3:1-14, 4:1-3 and 10-13
1st Peter 3 v.9-17 (esp. v 15)
SERMON – Always be prepared to give an answer
Every page in the bible contains good advice
and that contained in 1st Peter 3 is no exception,
and I would like to concentrate on one verse in particular: v.15.
People notice things.
People notice us.
The fact that we go to church somehow registers.
Some will go out of their way to argue with us, mock us, criticise us.
Some will criticise God for not stopping wars,
or not preventing a loved one’s death,
or not preventing a crime or hurt of some kind from happening,
and as God is not around, and we are,
they will take it out on us.
Sometimes they will have Q’s,
often Q’s that have no answer,
sometimes just asked because they want to catch us out, make us doubt,
such as if Adam and Eve had 2 sons, Cain and Abel,
and Cain killed Abel, who did he marry?
Did Methuselah really live until he was 969?
What sort of God would ask a man if he was prepared to sacrifice his son?
But sometimes they will have sincere Q’s,
such as what is the meaning and purpose of life,
or does God forgive all sin,
and could God forgive me?
If they come to us with Q’s,
will we, in the words of 1 Peter 3:15,
‘always be ready to give an answer’,
believing God has put them our way;
or will we be like Moses, Moses in Exodus 3,
making excuses, saying ‘but’, ‘but’, and ‘what if’;
being unready or unwilling to speak out for God?.
In Matthew’s Gospel chapter 4 verses 18-22,
when Jesus chose his first two disciples,
the 2 brothers: Simon-Peter and Andrew
while he was walking along the beach beside the Sea of Galilee;
they were fishermen and He called them to be fishers of men.
It says ‘At once they left their nets and went with him’.
They were ready and willing.
The three continued walking until they came on two more brothers,
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, two more fishermen.
Jesus called them,
and it says ‘At once they left their boat and their father and went with him’.
They also were ready and willing.
Jesus later called 8 more men to be his disciples,
and in Matthew 9:9 it says when Jesus called Matthew,
he immediately got up, left his tax office, and followed Jesus.
He was ready and willing too, to give up his livelihood to follow Jesus.
God and Jesus through the Holy Spirit
call people to serve them and the Church,
and if an opportunity comes our way,
is our response ‘But’, ‘But’, like Moses, because we are not ready.
or to drop everything and immediately go wherever God is directing,
as the disciples did?
Richard Wurmbrand was called to the ministry of the Protestant Reformed Church in Romania at a really bad time in the history of Romania –
just days before the Communists took over and suppressed Christianity.
Richard Wurmbrand studied at the Romanian equivalent of Westfield House
and was ordained, and inducted to a parish church,
and nearly every Sunday a Communist agent sat in one of the back pews
and took notes of the contents of his prayers and his sermons,
and every time here was a hint of criticism of the atheistic government,
he was called to the local police station the next day to explain himself.
He spent a total of 17 years in prison.
He was frequently beaten and tortured physically and mentally,
and eventually would have a total of 47 cigarette burns on his body.
His fingernails and toenails were all pulled out and most of his teeth.
He was told that his wife had gone off with other men,
and she was often told that he had died,
but both of them refused to deny Christ, and every time he was released,
he went straight back to his church and preached the Gospel,
until he was deported to Norway.
He died there in February 2001.
When he met God do you think he said grudgingly
‘Lord, why all that hassle and pain?’,
or like Topol in Fiddlers on the Roof,
saying ‘Thank you for making us your chosen people,
why didn’t you choose someone else?’
or gratefully ‘Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of serving you’?
I never met the man, but from reading his book ‘Tortured for Christ’
and from reading his obituary in the Daily Telegraph,
I am sure it would have been the latter.
He was always prepared to give an answer
to someone who came to him with a question.
He was always ready to share his faith, whatever the cost,
and the cost was high..