Summary: We must quit making excuses for not surrendering to God's plan for our lives.
I’ve got great news. I believe the next 30 minutes will be life-changing for many of you. With what you’re going to learn from God’s Word, your life will never be the same, because you’ll follow even more fully what God has for you and look back and say it was on this day you heard from God and your life moved in a new direction.
But I also have bad news. Many of you will find excuses why you can’t apply God’s Word to your life. And that will also be life-changing.
If I asked, “What would you like to see changed in your life?” Most of you could give me two or three things. The problem isn’t seeing the need for change, it’s seeing the change come about. Because you see, as soon as I decide to embrace meaningful life-change, Satan gives me excuses to stay the same. Jesus told a story about this problem.
In this parable, Jesus compares the call to follow Him to an invitation to a great banquet. Everything was ready and the invitation extended. But the invitation was greeted with excuses. And as a result, none of those invited benefited from the invitation. Let’s see what lessons this passage can teach us to help with the problem of excuse making.
1. Meaningful life-change is comes from God.
When I said each of us could come up with one or two things we’d like to change, the fact is, what things you say today, will be different tomorrow, because we really don’t know what changes are best and are influenced by our feelings, our friends, or advertising. All these sources of what should change in our lives are always fickle and fleeting. Which is why we must understand that meaningful life-change comes from God. He made us and has a plan for us; and His plan is the best.
“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you’ - this is the Lord’s declaration - ‘plans for your well-being, not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.’ ” - Jeremiah 29:11 (CSB)
This banquet invitation was something one should’ve been honored to receive. But because they didn’t appreciate it’s value, they easily made excuses. And notice what was used as excuses: a piece of land, a team of oxen, and a wife. Why were these seen as good reasons for turning down the invitation? Because the invitation wasn’t seen to be valuable and because, as the excuses reveal, they also thought that to accept the invitation meant they’d lose the other opportunity.
But accepting this invitation didn’t mean one couldn’t look at his land later (although I don’t know why he bought it without first seeing it); and it didn’t mean the other couldn’t try out his oxen another day; and it didn’t mean the other one couldn’t bring his wife! While God’s plan will mean setting some things aside, but it will also mean receiving so much more! It isn’t a choice between “either/or” but it is a “both/and.”
“God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” - Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)
Is there a person in your life with whom you would trust your very life, if necessary? A spouse, parent, sibling, friend? Think of that person. Now realize that God loves you infinitely more than that person with whom you would trust your life!
“Then trust the Lord completely, don’t even trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” - Proverbs 3:5 (Living Bible)
God’s plan results in living a life of eternal significance, for it extends well beyond here and now; it extends on into eternity. So even if embracing God’s plan includes suffering and sacrifice for now, I know this isn’t all there is - there is now; but there is also then. God’s plan includes an eternity full of great adventure and fulfillment.
Paul describes God’s plan as “good, acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Paul is doing so from an eternal perspective. We can be helped to see the good, acceptable and perfect nature of God’s plan by faith, but we’ll definitely see it in the next, when faith becomes sight. What will be sad is when eternity comes, many who have been climbing the ladder of success in this life, will see their ladder was leaning against the wrong building, because they were following their own, faulty plan, rather than God’s good, acceptable and perfect plan. They thought their plan is better than God’s, so they found it easy to make excuses when it comes to the meaningful life-change God had in mind for them.