MONDAY MORNING DEVOTION – FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS

READING Exodus 7

Do what God tells you to do. Say what God tells you to say. Trust God with the outcome.

When facing an overwhelmingly difficult ministry responsibility, you can proceed with confidence by following the instructions God has given. If the Word of God gives steps to follow, you can just take those steps and trust God with the result.

For example, a church member persists in known sin. He or she may be part of an influential family in the church or community. What should you do? Carefully, patiently, prayerfully follow the steps laid out in Scripture (Galatians 6:1; Matthew 18:15-20). Or you believe you should develop disciple-makers in your church who can teach and mentor others in Christian growth, but volunteers are lacking. Select just one or two and follow Paul’s instruction in 2 Timothy 2:1-2. Or someone is infecting the church with discontent, gossip, and hostility toward the leadership. The instructions are clear in Titus 3:10-11.

Following instructions includes delivering the message God has given even when some people will not receive it. God told Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you” (v. 4) but instructed him to deliver the message anyway – “tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land” (v. 2).

There are certain people who will not listen to your message. Their minds are made up to resist and defy God. They may be in your church – the reluctant husband who attends because his wife nags him to, the surly teenager who comes to Sunday School and youth group because her parents make her. Their body language portrays the hardness of their hearts. In fact, it seems the more they hear, the harder they become. It is not your job, nor is it within your power, to make them listen. You cannot force conviction onto their hearts.

God made Moses’ responsibility clear: “You shall speak all that I command you” (2). He has made yours equally clear: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim 4:1-5).

Deliver God’s Word faithfully and fully. That is your responsibility. How people respond is theirs.

PRAYER
Today I feel overwhelmed by some of my shepherding responsibilities, especially _____________________ . I am wrestling with what to do next and my willingness to do it. With your help, I will follow the instructions in your Word. With wisdom you provide, and with grace in my heart, I will deliver your message to those who need it. You are my Chief Shepherd, and I serve you. You are Sovereign God, and I am here to fulfill your purpose. I entrust the outcome of this difficult situation to you.

MONDAY MORNING DEVOTION – “I AM” WITH YOU

READING – Exodus 3:1-14

One of a pastor’s greatest struggles is feeling inadequate. The responsibilities are great, the problems complex, even exciting ministry opportunities can be overwhelming.

When the God who made and rules all appears in our consciousness and enlists us in impossible endeavors against formidable opponents, we naturally respond, “Who, me?” To which God responds, “Yes you, but not by yourself. I, the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the ages, will be with you.”

This paraphrase of Exodus 3:14 is helpful: “I am truly he who exists and who will be dynamically present then and there in the situation to which I am sending you.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Exposition of Exodus, Digital Edition)

Just as God sent Moses, God has sent you. Just as God was with Moses, God is with you. Jesus said when He commissioned His disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

I think of Paul near the end of his life in a Roman prison. When he appeared for his pre-trial hearing, where character witnesses could speak in his behalf, none of his friends were there.  “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:16).  But he was not resentful: “May it not be charged against them!” He knew that the “I AM” was present with him in his situation. The one who had sent him had not abandoned him. “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it” (v. 17).

Wherever you are, no matter how hard your ministry circumstances may be, He is there, personally present with you.

PRAYER
You are the eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, self-existent God, worthy of my praise, submission and service. You rule my life and my world.

You revealed yourself to me and enlisted me in a life of ministry. I serve in the great cause of building up your church, shepherding your people, for the glory of Christ.

I often feel inadequate. Sometimes I struggle with willingness. Certain situations and people make me fearful.

I need to think less about who I am and more about who you are.

I need to be less intimidated by my responsibilities and more conscious that you are with me in every situation.

When my preaching plan brings me to a complicated scripture passage or a theological paradox, you are with me.

When I attempt to counsel family members with long-standing resentment between them, and I feel like I’m wrestling two lions, you are with me.

When objectives for developing new ministry efforts seem unattainable, you are with me.

When unreasonable people resist my influence in their lives and leadership of the church, you are with me.

When I struggle with loneliness because of my isolated place of ministry, you are with me.

When I get up Monday and feel discouraged about Sunday, you are with me.

With your help, I will serve where you place me, I will minister to whom you call me, and I will fulfill the assignments you give me. I believe, accept, and rejoice that You are with me. You are “dynamically present” here and now, where you have sent me.