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I AM WITH YOU

May 21, 2015

 

Text: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;  they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

This world is such a demanding environment  that it is not at all unusual for human beings to feel overwhelmed. There are so many challenges to our efforts that we grow weary and faint-hearted. Life wears away at us until we may collapse with despair. Have you given up? Have you allowed yourself to be overcome with  frustration? So many have abandoned the church because they felt unable to “fight the good fight” any longer. Don’t let your feet fall upon that downhill slope.

The story is told of a preacher in a small parish in England long ago. After two services one Lord’s day evening he strolled homeward with one of the deacons. After  a while the preacher fell silent and they continued in some solitude until the deacon broke the lull and said, “What are you thinking, preacher?” The preacher  responded, “Just two more, Lord. Just two more.”  You are probably scratching your head about what he meant. He was pondering his need for two more sermons for the next Sunday!

Despite all those jokes about preachers working just two hours a week, preparing two fresh, new sermons each week is a very difficult regimen.  Plus, I promised myself that I would never go to the pulpit unprepared, and though I kept all my outlines,  I  would seldom preach them again. That was sometimes a great burden  on my resources. Now add to that preparing two Bible lessons a week, visiting the sick and the elderly, taking people to the doctor or visiting those in the hospital, etc. The college degree that I labored to obtain was only a drop in the bucket of the knowledge of the Bible that I needed for 40 plus years of ministry. It demanded constant reading and study. I had to amass a good library of books.  An adequate understanding of the Bible to do that preaching well is the work of a long lifetime. Besides reading all those  other books constantly, I have  read the entire Old Testament more than 30 times and the entire New Testament nearly 100 times. (Honest Injun!) So sometimes I felt totally inadequate! After I retired I decided to write this blog, I told a friend of mine that my intention was to encourage mature people to remain faithful to the church, and she said, “Good luck. You’ll run out of material on that.” Perhaps I have broadened my first vista on the subjects, but thus far I have written around 120 articles and have a little spiral notebook with more that 20 new titles to tackle.  How do I do it? Hard work and God being with me!  God’s enabling presence is indispensable in any of life’s undertakings.

Some Bible characters demonstrate that God promised to be with them in their duties. Let’s begin with Moses. Having accosted God in the burning bush on Mt. Horeb, Moses whines  about his commission to go to Egypt and free the Israelites. God gives him a promise. “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you…” Exodus 3:12a   What did the professed stammerer and “nobody” accomplish. He returned to Egypt and initiated the 10 plagues, devastating Egypt. He led the cowering Israelites through the parted Red Sea and after their passage closed the waters and  eliminated an army. He spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai without sustenance and received the Law which ruled Israel. He brokered a covenant between God and Israel. He led the wavering and rebellious people through the dessert for 40 years. How could all this have happened if God were not with him?

Second case in point: Joshua. God ordered him to take the people across the Jordan  into Canaan. (Joshua 1:2b) As God was with Moses he promise to be with Joshua. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses. so I will be with you.” Joshua 1::5b  Then God strengthened that promise: “Have I not commanded you? Be  strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9  And what were Joshua’s results? He trained and led an army, crossed the Jordan River,  and invaded the land of Canaan and during his years-long campaign he lost only one battle.

And what about Gideon? After a time in the Promised Land the Israelites defected from worshipping Yahweh and thus the Lord allowed the Canaanites to oppress the Israelites. In Gideon’s region the Midianites, Amalekites, and other tribes raided and seized the crops, starving God’s people. Gideon had to hide in the family winepress just to beat the chaff from the wheat. On one of  the nights he was thus occupied, he was accosted by the angel of the Lord who said, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:12 Then the Angel enlisted Gideon to save Israel from its troublers. The reluctant youth objected: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Judges 6:15  God had an answer:  “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:16  How did Gideon fare in this commission? He gathered a large army of over 30,000  men, but God told him to reduce the force. After two cuts Gideon was left with a cadre of only 300 warriors. (That sounds like a bad military strategy.) Used as God told him, Gideon and this small force routed an encamped  army of thousands  that intended to eradicate the Israelites. God had to be behind it!

When you feel inadequate, incapable, and harried, you could use divine assistance. That would be the time for God to be with you. That would be the time to beseech God to re-enforce your energy and walk beside you. Ask him to increase your whole body and spirit with the strength you need to complete your objective  to serve the kingdom. But remember that this actually demands something of you! To walk with God your character must be assured.  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Oh, and here is perhaps the greatest encouragement. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

REM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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