Day 40

Five Excuses

Wisdom Proverbs 4:10-19
New Testament Matthew 26:31-46
Old Testament Exodus 4:1-6:12


It is the song most frequently played at British funeral services. It is the most remade song in history. It was popularised by Frank Sinatra on his 1969 album, My Way. In the Philippines, ‘My Way’ is so popular in karaoke bars that it has been declared responsible for a number of deaths where arguments over performance degenerated into violence!

And did it my way!
Yes, it was my way!’

‘I did it my way’ is the way of the world. It is not the way of Jesus. Jesus said, ‘Yet not as I will, but as you will’ (Matthew 26:39). He prays, ‘May your will be done’ (v.42). He made no excuses. Jesus did it God’s way. Moses, on the other hand, as we will see today, made five excuses before eventually agreeing to follow God’s way.


Proverbs 4:10-19

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
   and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
   and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
   when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
   guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
   or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
   turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
   they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
   and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
   shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
   they do not know what makes them stumble.


‘Wisdom Way’

Spiritual growth is like a journey. You progress one step at a time. What matters is not so much how far you have got – but that you are heading in the right direction and that you keep going.

The book of Proverbs tells us that there are two ways: ‘The path of the wicked… the way of evildoers’ (v.14) and ‘The way of wisdom…’ (v.11); ‘The path of the righteous’ (v.18). We are not told to avoid wicked people (that would mean withdrawal from the world). Rather, we are told to avoid their ways – to avoid doing what they do. If you follow God’s guidance he promises to lead you on the ‘Wisdom Way’ (v.11, MSG).

God’s way may not be easy, but there is great joy and excitement in following his way: ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’ (v.18). ‘The longer they live, the brighter they shine’ (v.18, MSG).


Lord, thank you that you promise to lead me along straight paths. Help me to follow the way of wisdom today.

New Testament

Matthew 26:31-46

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

   “‘I will strike the shepherd,
     and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.


36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”


Your way

The way of Jesus is to say to God, ‘not my way but your way’. Jesus not only taught us to pray ‘your will be done’, he also prayed it himself: ‘My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. But, what you want?’ (v.39, MSG). A second time he prayed, ‘My father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way’ (v.42, MSG).

These are not prayers of resignation, but prayers of great courage – being willing to follow God’s ways, no matter what.

In this passage we see Jesus’ humanity: ‘He began to show grief and distress and was deeply depressed’ (v.37, AMP). He has his three closest friends with him. The same three who saw Jesus in divine glory at the transfiguration now see Jesus in the depths of human sorrow. He prays for God the Father to show him if there is any alternative. Nevertheless, he is willing to do the Father’s will whatever the cost.

For Jesus, the cost was of a totally different order to anything we face. He took the sins of the whole world on his shoulders. Hence his soul was ‘overwhelmed with sorrow’ (v.38). Three times, Jesus prays for ‘this cup’ to be taken away from him (vv.39,42,44). The cup refers to his impending suffering and death.

Just before going to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spoke of the cup at the Passover meal representing his blood ‘poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (v.28). More than that, as is often the case in the Old Testament, this cup includes reference to God’s wrath (for example Isaiah 51:22; Habakkuk 2:16). On the cross, Jesus took the cup in your place.

When you are deeply depressed, overwhelmed with sorrow, troubled or in the middle of tough times, it is such an encouragement to know that Jesus has experienced all that you face, and far more. He knows what you are going through and you can follow his example by submitting your ways to God.

There is an amazing contrast between what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and in the Garden of Eden. ‘Not your way, but mine’, was the essence of the response of Adam and Eve to God in the first garden. However, in the second garden, ‘Not my way, but yours’ was Jesus’ prayer to the Father. Doing it God’s way meant suffering and death. But, it brought the redemption of the whole world.


Lord, help me to follow your example and pray, ‘Yet not as I will, but as you will… May your will be done.’

Old Testament

Exodus 4:1-6:12

Signs for Moses

4 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?”

2 Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

3 The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

6 Then the LORD said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

7 “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

8 Then the LORD said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

10 Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.”

Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”

19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead. ” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)

27 The LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.

29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

Bricks Without Straw

5 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”

2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”

3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.”

4 But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labour? Get back to your work!” 5 Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.”

6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”

10 Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”

15 Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? 16 Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”

17 Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”

19 The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” 20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, “May the LORD look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

God Promises Deliverance

22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

6 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”

2 God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’”

9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labour.

10 Then the LORD said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”

12 But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”


God’s way

I find great comfort and encouragement in this passage. I am quite shy and introverted. I am, by nature, a reluctant leader. I find it enormously encouraging that even the great leader Moses was a reluctant leader and that he tried to make excuses as to why he should not do what God was calling him to do.

In yesterday’s and today’s passage, we see his five excuses (all of which I can identify with):

  1. ‘You have got the wrong person’

Moses says, ‘Who am I?’ (3:11). He felt inadequate. I feel, ‘I am not good enough.’ ‘I am not holy enough.’ Moses said to God, you’ve got the wrong person. Why me?

God’s reply is, ‘I will be with you’ (v.12a). That is all that matters.

  1. ‘I am not ready yet’

Moses says, ‘What shall I tell them?’ (v.13). He felt ill-informed. He did not think he would be able to answer all the questions. He thought he would have nothing to say.

God said, ‘This is what you are to say’ (v.14). God will give you the message at the right time.

  1. ‘I might fail’

Moses says, ‘What happens if it all goes wrong?’ ‘It might not work out.’ ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”?’ (4:1).

In answer, God showed Moses his power (vv.2–9).

  1. ‘I do not have the skills’

‘Moses says, ‘I do not have the right gifts’: ‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent… I am slow of speech and tongue’ (v.10). It seems that Moses may have had a stutter or some other form of speech impediment. (‘I speak with faltering lips’, 6:12).

God said, ‘I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’ (4:12). God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.

  1. ‘Someone else will do it’

Moses says, ‘Please send someone else to do it’ (v.13). It is easy to think, ‘someone else will do it better than me’.

God was not best pleased with Moses but said he would send Aaron to be with him: ‘I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do’ (v.15b).

Eventually Moses agreed to go God’s way and followed God’s call. Then all the battles started and things got worse rather than better. Pharaoh’s ‘way’ (5:15) was certainly not God’s way. The people of God were required to make bricks without straw. Moses and Aaron faced criticism and opposition from their own people (v.21). Moses complained to God that he had not yet done what he promised to do (v.23).

God responded to Moses’ complaint by giving him a clearer vision of who he is. God said, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them’ (6:2–3).

In a few sentences, God reveals more of his character to Moses. His character has not changed; he is faithful and keeps his word (vv.4–5). He suffers with you and feels your pain (v.5). He guarantees deliverance and freedom (v.6). He brings you into an intimate relationship with himself (v.7). He leads you to your inheritance and takes you home (v.8).

But when Moses told the people all this, ‘They refused to listen to Moses because of their impatience and anguish of spirit and because of their cruel bondage’ (v.9, AMP). Moses complains to God that the very thing he fears has happened. He says, ‘My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!’ (v.12, NLT).

This is so often the biblical pattern. First comes God’s call and vision; then follows all the challenges and difficulties before you see the promise fulfilled. God’s way is not always easy – it is extraordinarily challenging but, at the end of the day, wonderfully fulfilling.


Lord, thank you that you say, ‘I will be with you’ (3:12). Thank you for the immense privilege of hearing your call and walking in your ways. Even when sometimes things seem to be getting worse rather than better, help me to keep going your way.

Pippa adds

In Matthew 26 Peter says, ‘I will never disown you’ (v.35b). Like Peter we all have good intentions, but we are all flawed and we can’t follow through without the power of God. The disciples fall asleep when they were supposed to be praying. I have great sympathy with them. I’ve fallen asleep many times when I'm supposed to be praying. It’s the closing of the eyes I find dangerous!



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Frank Sinatra, ‘My Way’, lyrics © EMI Music Publishing.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations (marked NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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