God's man under pressure

Week 39 (September)

Exodus 5:1-14

     "Let my people go," was the impassioned plea of Moses before Pharaoh. But not only did the hardened monarch reject Moses' request, he accused the Hebrews of being lazy and of giving religious motives in an attempt to evade their responsibilities.
     When Moses persisted, the Pharaoh countered with an order to increase the work load on the children of Israel. As the cruelty of their Egyptian taskmasters mounted, it appeared to the Israelites that Moses' attempts to free them had backfired.
     They began to blame him for their problems, wondering how he could possibly be following the leadership of the Lord. Was God really working in a situation where matters got continually worse?
     When Moses could not convince his own people, he began to doubt if he would ever convince Pharaoh to let them go. However, even under pressure from both sides, Moses didn't walk away from what he believed to be the will of the Lord.
     He took his doubts to the Lord in prayer. Instead of taking the situation into his own hands, he sought divine guidance for each step. Because he remained God's man under pressure, he was successful in carrying out the master plan.
     I have had the occasion a few times to watch my own father fulfill his divine calling while under heavy pressures. Once, for instance, a Nazarene general superintendent asked him to accept an appointment as pastor of a church in severe difficulty. The congregation had defied their district superintendent in the calling of a pastor.
     In their appeal to the general superintendent, these people had insisted on calling a man the district superintendent would not approve. They threatened not to pay the moving expenses or one penny of salary to any other man.
     It was into that kind of situation my father was asked to go. (Incidentally, he was not the man they wanted.) But he prayed through on accepting that appointment. Though he didn't have a burning bush experience like Moses, he was convinced that it was the voice of the Lord asking him to change pastorates.
     So he went, and wholeheartedly searched for ways to revitalize that church. It wasn't easy. There were pressures both from God's people and from Satan himself. His term of service even cost my father some physical well-being. But in it all, he remained God's man.
     Some years later, I walked around the property of that church with my dad's successor. The congregation had just finished a multistage building program and was growing in every way. My heart warmed with "sonly pride" when I heard this pastor say that the church was where it was because my father, even under a great deal of pressure, had remained God's man.
     Perhaps God is leading you into a new spiritual adventure. Your obedience to Him may cost you something. As Paul and Barnabas reminded the first-century Christians, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22, NIV). But whatever the pressures, you can rest assured that the Lord will enable you to accomplish His will for your life.

These devotional thoughts by Howard Culbertson appeared in the September 28, 1980 edition of Standard to correlate with the Enduring Word Bible studies series.

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