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.

Good Pastor, Good Book

Many evangelical Christians are familiar with Robert Murray McCheyne, a pastor in Scotland in the mid 1800’s.  He is known to us primarily through the biography written by his good friend, Andrew Bonar.  I have been recently blessed by reading the biography of the biographer – the story of Andrew Bonar.  The Good Pastor, published in 1999 by Ambassador Publications, contains selections of the original version which was edited by Bonar’s daughter, Marjory, and originally published in 1895.

I’ll get right to it.  This book is filled with many quotes that just bless, encourage, and challenge me as a pastor.  Here are a few.  Enjoy.  Then read the book.

Referring to the first sermon he preached, he commented, “I had no heads.”  We call them main points.  He called that a mistake because, “Hearers need pegs on which to hang the truth.”

During a time of revival in his region, “The thirst for the word of God was very great.  Not only did the people walk long distances to hear, but they never seemed to grow tired of listening.”

Regarding creativity in his messages and methods, “There is more originality in a full heart than in anything else.”

Once after listening to a couple of uneducated men preach, his evident enjoyment was observed by someone, and he said, “If you are very thirsty you will not be particular about the dish you drink out of.”

Regarding the Lord’s Table, “Christ’s nearer coming casts deeper solemnity over every Communion.”

To the Sabbath School teachers, he said, “Be sure and aim at the conversion of the children.  They are never too young to come to Jesus.  I hope you pray for each of your scholars by name.”

To an older church member, he said, “You must keep fast hold of the text which was written for you:  ‘Even to your old age I am He; and even to gray hairs will I carry you’ (Isaiah 46:4).  Just as you carried the children when they were young, so the Lord says He will carry you now when you are old.”

In a letter to a friend, he wrote, “We must learn more and more how to suffer.”

He spent two hours in prayer and meditation on God’s Word every morning before going out.  He said, “Persevering prayerfulness – day by day wrestling and pleading – is harder for the flesh than preaching.”

After taking his two daughters to see the Queen when she visited Edinburgh, he told a friend, “We saw her, but we were not changed.  But when we see Him, we shall be like Him.”

He called people who spent too much time by themselves “earthworms.”  “A man can’t meditate when he is always alone.  He needs to have intercourse with others to stir him up to meditation.”

On desiring God’s work, “Pray for blessing, for it is like the dew which Gideon prayed for.  It falls where it is sought.”

Regarding weariness in ministry, he said, “I have great difficulty because of my own soul which cannot stand three successive weeks of giving out.”  “Vessels are not fountains.  Vessels need to be filled as well as to give out to others.”

In a letter of encouragement, “If there were twenty crosses for this year written down for you in God’s book of providence, they will soon be past; ye will soon be at the nineteenth, and then there is but one more, and after than nothing!  For then ye shall lay your head on His bosom, and His own soft hand shall dry your face and wipe away your tears.”

I am reading this book as a devotional right now, and it really helps this pastor’s heart.  I think it will encourage yours too.