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Post  Admin on Sat 03 Mar 2012, 8:27 pm

March 3, 2012
Positive Separations
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 15:30-41

Let's be painfully candid here. I've had my own share of arguments, and you've had yours. I've had some that were never reconciled. Thankfully, most ended in a renewed friendship. I've learned through the years a few strategies that have proven effective in facing difficult disagreements.

1. When in a disagreement, work hard to see the other point of view. That begins with listening. Include in the formula three qualities that don't come easily: honesty, objectivity, and humility. That's the full package for handling conflict God's way. None of that comes naturally. They come to full bloom as products of the Spirit-filled life.

2. When both sides have validity, seek a wise compromise. For those who were reared as I was, even the thought of compromise makes you bristle. If you've got backbone, you don't give in. You stand firm, regardless. I appreciate an individual with backbone---true grit. But one who never bends, one who refuses to negotiate toward resolution? Hardly. I admire more someone who willingly and graciously seeks a suitable solution to disagreement, without in any way compromising biblical principles.

3. When the conflict persists, care enough to work it through rather than walk out. Slamming a phone down in the middle of a conversation or breaking through the screen on the front door as you stomp into the street solves nothing. Nor does a lengthy, manipulative silent treatment benefit either party. Or bolting from a marriage. Or quitting your job in a huff. That's not how to handle disagreements. Work it through. Stay at it. It's some of the hardest work you'll do, but it's also the most rewarding.

4. When it cannot be resolved, graciously agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable. I think Paul and Barnabas did that. Paul never takes a shot at Barnabas when he later wrote to the churches they had planted. In all of his letters, you'll not find one slam against his former companion. And there's no evidence of Barnabas licking his wounds either.

Honestly, not all separations lead to bad endings. Some of the greatest seminaries were birthed from a crucible of conflict. Some significant churches started as a result of an ugly split. It's never too early to start moving on.

Phillip Melanchthon, that persuasive tempering force in Martin Luther's life, put it best in these few words: "In essentials unity. In non-essentials liberty. In all things charity."

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Fri 02 Mar 2012, 5:50 pm

March 2, 2012
Mission Accomplished
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 14:21-28

When Paul returned to places he had been before, there were no regrets. The end of Acts 14 chronicles the return trip Paul and Barnabas made back to home base, Antioch. En route, they visited many of the cities where they had earlier preached the Gospel. They returned to Lystra, where Paul had been stoned, then on to Iconium. They backtracked through Pisidia and Pamphylia, then down again to Perga and Attalia. Exhausted yet exuberant, they sailed across the deep-blue waters of the northeastern Mediterranean, destination Antioch---their first missionary enterprise now in the log books.

Retracing their steps, they stopped to encourage and strengthen the disciples they had made. They planted churches and appointed elders. There's no mention of lengthy attempts to reconcile the wrongs they had suffered. There were no angry outbursts, no regrets. Their focus remained the same: pursuing an authentic ministry for the glory of God.

In all that Paul did, the glory went to God. Whatever else you may remember, don't forget this. Luke writes, "And when they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles" (14:27, italics added). Is that great, or what? No big-time press conferences extolling a successful campaign. No self-serving interviews for some Christian radio station drawing attention to their hardships and successes. None of that. They reported everything that God had done through them. I love it.

Paul never forgot it was all about what God had done, not what he had accomplished. The work may be ours to do, but the glory belongs to God. The responsibility is ours to embrace, but the credit is the Lord's alone. There's to be no embezzling of glory. It all belongs to Him. That attitude never fails to put everything in proper perspective.

My challenge to you is to live a carefully examined life in an unexamining age. That will result in your maintaining a carefully examined ministry in a day when virtually anything goes. Whatever happens, keep your eyes on the goal. However difficult, don't quit. Though the obstacles are extreme, the stakes are eternal.


Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Thu 01 Mar 2012, 11:10 pm

March 1, 2012
Good Attitude
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 14:1-20

In his book, Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote these amazing words:

"We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last pieces of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms is to choose his own attitude in any given set of circumstances---to choose one's own way."¹

I could not be in greater agreement. We make a choice every waking moment of our lives. When we awaken in the morning, we choose the attitude that will ultimately guide our thoughts and actions through the day. I'm convinced our best attitudes emerge out of a clear understanding of our own identity, a clear sense of our divine mission, and a deep sense of God's purpose for our lives. That sort of God-honoring attitude encourages us to press on, to focus on the goal, to respond in remarkable ways to life's most extreme circumstances.

It was that kind of remarkable attitude Paul and Barnabas consistently maintained throughout their missionary journey. The two Antioch-sent servants faced and overcame countless and extreme obstacles with a relentless determination to stay focused on the goal.

We all need a reliable game plan for facing extreme circumstances. The situation that now looms in front of you may be fixable, or it may seem impossible to overcome in your own strength. It might be the result of your own actions, or you may be an innocent victim, caught in the backlash of someone else's consequences. Whatever the case, we can easily become intimidated, even fearful, and eventually immobile when facing such obstacles. The only way to move beyond that sort of paralyzing stalemate is to learn to accept and trust God's plan. You release the controls and wait for Him to move. And while you wait, maintain a good attitude.



1. Viktor E Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (New York: Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster, 1976).

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Wed 29 Feb 2012, 4:37 pm

February 29, 2012

Disappointing Results
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 14:1-20


A sentence in the diary of James Gilmore, pioneer missionary to Mongolia, has stayed with me since the day I first read it. After years of laboring long and hard for the cause of Christ in that desperate land, he wrote, "In the shape of converts I have seen no result. I have not, as far as I am aware, seen anyone who even wanted to be a Christian."

Let me add some further reality to that statement by taking you back to an entry in Gilmore's journal made in the early days of his ministry. It expressed his dreams and burdens for the people of Mongolia. Handwritten in his journal are these dreams: "Several huts in sight. When shall I be able to speak to the people? O Lord, suggest by the Spirit how l should come among them, and in preparing myself to teach the life and love of Christ Jesus."

That was his hope. He longed to reach the lost of Mongolia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How different from his entry many years later, "I have not, as far as I am aware, seen anyone who even wanted to be a Christian."

What happened in between? He encountered the jagged edge of an authentic ministry. When I write about succeeding in the work of the Lord, I'm not promising success as we define it in human terms. I'm not saying because you are faithful to proclaim the Word of God your church will be packed. Some of God's most faithful servants are preaching their hearts out in places where the church is not growing. A great temptation for those in that difficult setting is to turn to some of the other stuff that holds out the promise of more visible results. Don't go there. Stay at it. God is at work.

Thinking of preparing for a life of ministry? Does the thought of standing before crowds of people and delivering the Word of God with passion and conviction appeal to your sense of adventure? I need to ask you one more time: Is there anything else in this world that would bring you greater enjoyment? If so, go there. Don't even hesitate.

But if you know the Lord has called you into His work, and you would not be fulfilled doing anything else, then go there and never look back, even if the results often seem disappointing.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Tue 28 Feb 2012, 9:19 pm

February 28, 2012
Authentic Ministry
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 14:1-20

Paul's ministry was saturated with the Word of God. Fifteen times in chapters thirteen and fourteen the phrases "God's Word," the "Word of truth," the "teaching of the Lord," the "Law and the Prophets," and the "Good News" are mentioned (13:5, 13:7, 13:12, 13:15a, 13:15b, 13:32, 13:44, 13:46, 13:48, 13:49, 14:3, 14:7, 14:15, 14:21, 14:25).

On that first journey Paul took with him just enough to live on, sufficient clothing to cover his nakedness, a heart full of hope in God's truth, and a confidence in God that would keep him faithful. That's what held him together. That's what steeled him against the tightening jaws of mistreatment in the ministry.

Could it be that you've grown a little soft in the past few months in your commitment to time spent in the Scriptures? It may be happening to you just as it happens to me from time to time. Please heed this gentle warning: If you're getting ready to go off to school, or preparing to take on new ministry responsibilities, or getting ready to launch a new phase of your career, don't do it without first establishing a regular time to meet alone with the Lord, preparing yourself for the new challenge by spending time in His Word. Your spiritual future depends on it. Without that commitment to saturate your life with God's Word, you step into the unknown future at your own risk. I urge you to spend sufficient time with the Lord so you might be strengthened within. It can begin with as little as fifteen minutes each day.

Some of you are thinking, I don't have fifteen minutes a day! Try cutting your lunch break short so you've got time on the other end to spend reading through a Psalm or two or digesting one of the New Testament letters.

If Paul could saturate his life in the Word of God, you and I can too. You are touching some people in your sphere of influence that likely no one else will touch. Be known for your biblical commitment, your biblical counseling. Be known for your biblical advice. Be appreciated for your biblical stand on moral values. It all starts with your investment of time in the Bible. Go there. Become saturated with the Word of God. That in itself will carry you miles down the road toward establishing an authentic ministry.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission
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Post  Admin on Mon 27 Feb 2012, 9:33 pm

February 27, 2012
Elusive Popularity
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 14:1-20

Remarkably, though laying lifeless in a pool of his own blood, Paul got right back up and walked back into the city from which he had been dragged and left for dead. I mean, is this missionary determined or what? True grit.

Let me ask you a couple of questions: Can you imagine being so hated that people literally pick up rocks and strike you repeatedly until you're unconscious and left for dead? Here's another one: If they stone you in Abilene, are you going to stay in Abilene overnight? Okay make that Phoenix or Bakersfield. Not a chance! You're going to take as quick a flight to a place as far away from there as possible. Get serious---if you're operating strictly from a horizontal viewpoint, you don't want to be within a thousand miles of that place when the sun rises the next dawn.

That is, of course, unless you're called and fully committed to the vertical perspective. Then you stick it out. You don't quit. Neither do you retaliate or throw a pity party. You go to sleep night after night, trusting in the same God who called you to serve there---convinced that He is sovereign and in absolute control.

That's exactly what Paul did. As a matter of fact, he entered that same city and spent the night there (14:20). He picked himself up off the dusty ground, pushed aside the larger stones, wiped the blood from his face and hands, gathered his composure, and climbed right back into the pulpit. They could not drive him away. Welcome to an authentic ministry!

You'd think he'd demonstrate a little caution and common sense. After all, Lystra is a dangerous, unpredictable city. Paul was stoned and left for dead! They wanted him gone, but God called him to minister there.

Listen to me: A ministry that lasts is a ministry that relentlessly perseveres through periods of enormous persecution. It is not fickle. It does not need the applause of people. It rejects being enshrined as a god. Authentic ministry delivers the truth of God, no matter how jagged the edges or perilous the threats. The ministry of Paul and Barnabas dripped with that kind of determination. Does yours?

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Sat 25 Feb 2012, 8:40 pm

February 25, 2012

Grace to the Saved
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 13:14-52

Paul's message emphasized the gospel to the lost and grace to the saved. That is a wonderful paradigm for any minister or ministry to adopt. As I've studied the life of Paul, particularly in his later years, I find two prominent themes woven like threads through the tapestry of his ministry.

First, to the lost he presented the Gospel: "Let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39).

Imagine the impact our churches would have on our communities if each Christian committed to sharing the Gospel once a week with someone who expresses a need.

Second, his message included large doses of grace for the saved. Just as the lost don't understand the Gospel, the saved rarely understand grace. There are few activities more exhausting and less rewarding than Christians attempting to please the people around them by maintaining impossible legalistic demands. What a tragic trap, and thousands are caught in it. When will we ever learn? Grace has set us free! That message streamed often through the sermons and personal testimonies of the apostle Paul.

The lost need to hear how they can go from the island of debris, filled with misery and guilt, to the land of peace and forgiveness, flowing with mercy and grace. We build those bridges when we lovingly and patiently communicate the Gospel. You don't have to have a seminary degree. You don't have to know a lot of the religious vocabulary. In your own authentic, honest, and unguarded manner, share with people what Christ has done for you. Who knows? It may not be long before you will know the joy of leading a lost sinner from the darkness of death's dungeon across the bridge to the liberating hope of new life in Christ. Once they've arrived, release them. Release them into the magnificent freedom that grace provides. Don't smother them with a bunch of rules and regulations that put them on probation and keep them in that holding tank until they "get their lives straightened out."; Making us holy is the Spirit's work. You be faithful to dispense the Gospel to the lost and grace to the saved. Then leave the results in the Lord's hands.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Fri 24 Feb 2012, 8:45 pm

February 24, 2012
Unexpected Opportunities
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 13:14-52

Paul and Barnabas arrived at Pisidian Antioch, weary and aching from their perilous march through the mountains. Still, they wasted no time in making their way to the synagogue early enough to find a good seat to listen to the reading of God's Word. They made their destination by the Sabbath.

They said to Paul, "Would you like to preach?" That was his cue! (I can read the man's mind: I thought you'd never ask!) Without hesitation, he delivered the goods. He started in Genesis and preached all the way through to the ministry of Christ completely from memory! He had no notes. He did it extemporaneously.

The response was overwhelming. Luke informs us that the next Sabbath the whole town showed up to hear the message he would deliver. The same was true then as it is today: people are hungry for the Word of God. When you have hungry hearts and great food served well, there's no problem getting people to come for the spiritual feast. Finding people who long to be fed the nourishing meat of God's truth is no great challenge.

Therefore, my advice is simple: When you have the unexpected opportunity to share the good news, share it. But be careful not to dump the whole truckload. If you're sitting on a plane and the opportunity presents itself, don't preach through the whole Old Testament before getting to the heart of the Gospel. Tell that hungry soul how to find a piece of bread. As you lift up Christ, tell him of your own spiritual journey. If done courteously and interestingly, he will hang on every word, just as they did with Paul. And the response was overwhelmingly positive.

As Jesus promised, "When I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32 NIV).

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Thu 23 Feb 2012, 6:44 pm

February 23, 2012
Press On!
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 12:25; 13:5, 13-15

Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark left Cyprus and sailed to the southern coast of Turkey---a land then known as Pamphylia, whose rugged coastline ascended sharply into the towering heights of a mountain range steeper and fiercer than the eastern Tauras near Tarsus, and more terrible than any hills known to the Cypriot Barnabas or the Judean John Mark.

That sight alone may have initiated the storm surge of doubt that would eventually flood young John Mark's soul. In this region Paul became gravely ill with malaria or some other serious coastal fever. That may have been the last straw for the inexperienced traveler to endure. Without any explanation, Luke simply writes, "John left them and returned to Jerusalem." But going on from Perga, they pressed on. Without even as much as a hiccup, the journey continued. Paul and Barnabas were undeterred by John Mark's desertion.

Here's an important observation: all the way through ministry, people leave. In every church there will be individuals who, for whatever reason, move on to other things. This includes those in leadership. They leave, but the church presses on. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their departure, the journey continued. For Paul and Barnabas there was neither time nor need for a long, drawn-out farewell. They pressed ahead, keeping their eyes focused on the goal.

It's hard to press on when you feel abandoned. It's easy to give in to discouragement and allow that to siphon your tank dry, but Paul and Barnabas had no such luxury. Emotions in check, they had a job to do. So they moved forward with an even stronger determination.

One of the marks of maturity is the ability to press ahead regardless of who walks off the scene. The alternative isn't an option. Once you've said goodbye, it's time for everyone to move on. That's exactly what Paul and Barnabas did. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians: "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (3:14).

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Wed 22 Feb 2012, 5:48 pm

February 22, 2012
A Phony Prophet
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 13:6--12

This was no time for Paul to be tolerant or passive. We live in a culture that virtually deifies tolerance. One lady recently said to me with a broad grin, "I love everybody; I even love the devil." I call that "tolerance gone to seed." Make no mistake, we're not to love the devil, nor are we to love everything everybody does. Christ commands us to love people, even our enemies, but that doesn't mean we shrink from standing up for righteousness.

Paul didn't back off an inch. I can see the hair stiffening on the back of his neck as he showed his spiritual teeth and growled,

"You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time." And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. (Acts 13:10--11)

When he had to be firm, he stepped up. The result was magnificent. Stunned by the obvious display of God's power and Paul's emboldened response, the pagan official believed, and we can almost see the door to the Gentiles opened wider.

You may face similar opportunities to confront enemies of truth. They come in a number of different forms. Some are more insidious than others. My advice, when the opposition against the truth is this severe, based on Paul's model, is that you confront it. Leave the results with God. Step up and speak out in the name of the Lord. Be certain of His protection. Don't rush in. Pray for wisdom in the choice of your words before saying anything, and then speak boldly. The results may not be as dramatic as what happened in Cyprus, but the Lord will honor your faith. The few times I've had to stand this firmly against wrong, the Lord gave me a sense of near-invincible courage.

When you stand for God, you stand with God. He's got your back. So you can stand with confidence.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Wed 22 Feb 2012, 12:20 am

February 21, 2012
Like Clay
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 12:25--13:5

Keeping the clay of your will supple and flexible calls for constant attention along the way. Once you grow hard and brittle to God's leading, you're less usable to Him. I want to take the truths we've wrestled with here and make them into a softening ointment you can regularly apply when a change is on the horizon. The ingredients in the ointment you need to apply include a pinch of the negative and a smidgen of the positive.

First negative: Do not remove any possibility. Stay open to whatever it is God may have for you by removing all the limitations. Tell the Lord you're willing to cooperate. But don't forget, you may be the next Barnabas or Paul the Lord decides to move. Remember, we're dealing with change---changing so we might obey.

Second negative: Do not allow a lot of activity to dull your sensitivity. Remember, God spoke while they were ministering. You can be so busy in church activities you can't figure out what the Lord's saying.

First positive: Let God be God. He is selective when He moves people. He picked two and left three. That was His prerogative. He could have chosen all five or only one. It's His call. Our sovereign Lord does as He pleases, and when it's clear, our response is to obey.

Second positive: Be ready to say yes. Don't wait for all the details to be ironed out before you agree to release and obey. Sure, there will be hardships, some uphill stretches in the road. So what? Be ready to say yes, and trust Him to take care of the rest.

Only you and the Lord know the condition of your heart. Is it soft and pliable clay, ready to be molded and shaped by the Master sculptor? Or has it hardened into brittle and fragile pottery from years of faithless living? You know exactly what God is asking you to do. It may be well beyond the boundaries of logic and far outside your comfort zone. You may even have a few friends telling you that what you believe He's asking you to do is wrong, completely wrong. Still, His leading is clear. Only one thing is needed: say yes, Lord, yes.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Mon 20 Feb 2012, 12:23 pm

February 20, 2012



People Pleasing
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Acts 12:25--13:3
I need to make a couple of observations about the nature of ministry. The way God chooses to lead His ministry is often difficult to get our arms around. Finding direction in the corporate world comes somewhat easier. There's a clearly stated bottom line, shareholders to report to, and defined markets that guide company decisions.
Ministry matters are rarely that obvious and objective. We serve a Head we cannot see, and we listen to a voice we cannot literally hear. Often we feel as if we're being asked to follow a plan we do not understand. And I need to repeat here, during the process of discovering God's leading, we are subject to enormous changes. These are changes we must embrace in the power of the Spirit if we are to obey our Lord's lead. Though we are accountable to the churches we serve, ultimately, each one of God's servants answers to God. Without that sort of single-minded devotion to the Lord, we run the risk of becoming people-pleasers. Christian leaders who become pawns as they focus on pleasing people are pathetic wimps.

Honestly, there have been times in my younger life when I stumbled onto that slippery slide. I look back on those few occasions with only regret. Nothing good ever comes from a ministry devoted to pleasing people.
Rather than being a warrior for the King, it is easy to become an insecure wimp, relying on human opinions and longing for human approval. By His grace I won't go there again. My responsibility is to deliver what God's people need, not what they want. As I do, that truth hits me with the same authority as it does the folks with whom I communicate. May God deliver every honest pastor, every truth-seeking church leader, and every Christian from the bondage of pleasing people.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Post  Admin on Sat 18 Feb 2012, 6:22 pm

February 18, 2012
Ministering Together
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 11:19--26

In every ministry there are at least three essentials that produce an atmosphere of joyous cooperation. They are objectives, people, and places.

First, whatever God plans, He pursues. That has to do with the ministry essential of objectives. There's nothing wrong with having a clearly defined mission statement that gives direction and purpose to the vision of a ministry. In fact, there's everything right about it as long as it is the Lord who provides the direction. God's plan unfolds in ways that confound human wisdom and sometimes defy common sense. But it is His plan. Objectives are essential when they are His objectives, not ours.

Second, whomever God chooses, He uses. That has to do with the ministry essential of people. And I must quickly add, the people God chooses are never perfect. That includes me. That includes you. In fact, we prove more useful to the Lord when we accept that reality and trust Him with our imperfections.

Third, wherever God selects, He sends. That has to do with the ministry essential of places. I wish He would send all of the great ones to Stonebriar Community Church. And I wish He would never let any of them leave. That's desire based on my limited human perspective. I never prayed this prayer, but I've been tempted to pray, "Lord, send us only the great ones and keep them here forever. Don't ever take them anywhere else." (Being imperfect, I'm not above a few selfish prayers!)

God's plan, however, includes removing some very gifted people among us and sending them elsewhere. His ways are not our ways. His places are not the places we would choose to go on our own. None of that matters. What matters is this: God sends people of His choosing to places of His choosing. The sooner we accept and embrace that truth, the more contented we will be.

Ministering together is always an adventure. It's about embracing change. It's about maintaining flexibility. It's about walking with God through the surprising events He has designed. Barnabas needed help. The work was too much for one gifted but limited man. Paul stepped into the gap. And together they turned Antioch upside down for Christ.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Feb 2012, 6:23 pm

February 17, 2012
The Power of Two
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 11:19--26

Do you recall what David did after he killed Goliath? God had already appointed the young shepherd as the next king of Israel. Most young conquerors would have located the nearest Macy's and tried on crowns. Not David. He went right back to the Judean hills to keep his father's sheep---a true shepherd with a servant's heart.

Paul kept a similar vigil in Tarsus. He waited patiently until Barnabas tapped him on the shoulder. Only then did he step into that critical, highly visible role of leadership. I find nothing more attractive in a gifted and competent leader than authentic humility. Paul's giftedness was framed in the crucible of solitude where he had been honed and retooled by the living Christ.

The evangelist Dwight L. Moody, although unschooled, was a gifted man of God preaching in Birmingham, England, far back in 1875. A noted congregational minister and well-respected theologian, Dr. R. W. Dale, cooperated in that enormously successful campaign. After watching and listening to Moody preach and witnessing the incredible results of the ministry of that simple man, Dr. Dale wrote in his denominational magazine, "I told Mr. Moody that the work was most plainly of God, for I could see no real relation between him and what he had done. Moody laughed cheerily and said, 'I should be very sorry if it were otherwise.'" No defensiveness, no feeling of being put upon, no embarrassing uneasiness. Moody was the most surprised of anyone that God chose to use him so mightily.

That was Paul. No wonder Barnabas wanted Paul to lead the program in Antioch. What a duet they sang! For an entire year these two men served side by side, and God was greatly glorified.

I love Warren Wiersbe's succinct definition of ministry: "Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God." Paul and Barnabas could have sat for that portrait. Why did Paul and Barnabas experience such pleasure in serving together? No competition. No battle of egos. No one threatened by the other's gifts. No hidden agendas. No unresolved conflicts. Their single-minded goal was to magnify Christ. It didn't matter if the crowds multiplied to thousands or shrank to only a few. All that mattered was that Christ be proclaimed and worshipped.

Praise God for the power of two!

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission
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Post  Admin on Thu 16 Feb 2012, 8:40 pm

February 16, 2012


Sufficient Grace
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Corinthians 12:2--10
Release the idea that contentment requires comfort. Contentment is possible no matter how dire your circumstances. While under house arrest, Paul wrote, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11--13). There it is again. Did you see it? The secret to Paul's contentment was knowing Christ's strength was perfected in his weakness. He really got it . . . and what a liberating concept it became!

Suffering is a delicate subject. It's not easy to address because I realize I'm writing to people who have known a depth of suffering to which I have never gone. In no way do I wish to give the impression that I am a model of how to go through it. To be honest with you, I fail in my responses to adversity more than I succeed. It's a lot easier to write a chapter on it than it is to model those things that look good in print. Along with the occasional pity parties I throw for myself, my heart is occasionally broken, and my spirit takes a tumble. So if that is your experience today, I can identify with that.

My desire is for you and me, together, to claim grace and cultivate grit in the midst of our suffering---like Paul. And in the process to wean ourselves from the rabid pursuit of happiness so prevalent in our culture. Happiness is a byproduct of contentment. Once Paul discovered that, he lived it. I'm not fully there yet. Most likely, neither are you. And so, we press on together, growing and learning, reminding ourselves that He must increase, and we must decrease.

Next time you hear a knock at the back door, before you open it, repeat these words to yourself: "His grace is sufficient for me."

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Wed 15 Feb 2012, 8:23 pm

February 15, 2012

Nothing New
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Corinthians 12:2--10

Remember that suffering is not new. In what is probably the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, we read, "For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). Now there's a statement we need to teach our children and grandchildren, starting today. The message they consistently hear is that God has nothing but happiness and success in store for them if they'll entrust their lives to Him. The Bible never promises that! Amazingly, while scraping sores from his diseased and pain-racked body, Job asked, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity?" He made that statement in response to his wife's advice to "curse God and die." She too was broken from the loss of her children and the misery of watching her husband suffer so terribly. (As a young preacher, I came down too hard on Job's wife. Now I go easier on her. She was grieving, not blaming. She needed God's perspective on her pain.) It was when her husband witnessed how deep her grief was that he responded as he did. He wanted her to realize that God is not a heavenly bellboy, delivering only pleasurable and comforting things to our door. He doesn't exist to make us happy. We exist to bring Him glory.

We live in superficial, skeptical times. When hard times occur you will find scores of newly released titles questioning how a loving God could be so unfair and unjust. It is easy to be confused in one's understanding of God. But He has not changed. His ways have not been altered. As with Job and Paul, He continues to allow suffering to mold us into humble, useful servants.

Throw one of us in a dungeon and we want to talk to our lawyer! Throw those guys in prison, and the world ends up with Pilgrim's Progress, or some other magnificent literary work that endures for centuries, putting our suffering back into perspective. Resist the temptation to rethink God just because hard times come. Look deeper. Cling to Him tighter. Refuse to question His motives. He's doing something great within you. Suffering is nothing new.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Tue 14 Feb 2012, 10:10 pm

February 14, 2012

It's Not About You!
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Corinthians 12:2--10

I need to underscore a foundational fact: God's goal is not to make sure you're happy. No matter how hard it is for you to believe this, it's time to do so. Life is not about your being comfortable and happy and successful and pain free. It's about becoming the man or woman God has called you to be. Unfortunately, we will rarely hear that message proclaimed today. All the more reason for me to say it again: Life is not about you! It's about God.

How can I say that with assurance? Because of Paul's response: "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (vv. 9--10). That's it! He got it too. And he went with it for the rest of his days.

When you and I boast of our strengths, we get the credit, and we keep going under our own head of steam. But when we boast in what He is doing in the midst of our brokenness, inability, and inadequacy, Christ comes to the front. His strength comes to our rescue. He is honored.

Don't miss that point. The very things we dread and run from in our lives are precisely what brought contentment to Paul. Look at the list: I am content when I lose. I am content when I am weak. I am content with insults. I am content when I'm slandered. I am content in distresses. I am content with persecutions. I am content with difficulties and pressures that are so tight I can hardly turn around. Why? "Because when I am weak then I'm strong." Knowing that brought the apostle, ablaze with the flaming oracles of heaven, to his knees. What a way to live your life---content in everything---knowing that divine strength comes when human weakness is evident.

That's what gave the man of grace true grit. It will do the same for us.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Mon 13 Feb 2012, 8:43 pm

February 13, 2012

Grace That Won't Let Go
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Corinthians 12:2--10

This is a good time to correct faulty thinking. It is not always God's will that you be healed. It is not always the Father's plan to relieve the pressure. Our happiness is not God's chief aim. He doesn't have a wonderful (meaning "comfortable") plan for everybody's life---not from a human perspective. Often His plan is nowhere near wonderful. As with Paul, His answer is not what we prayed and hoped for. But, remembering that He is forming us more and more into the image of His Son, it helps us to understand His answer is based on His long-range plan, not our immediate relief.

Thankfully, in the midst of that suffering, He gently whispers, "My grace is sufficient for you" (v. 9). As with Paul, His grace supplies more than we need to endure whatever it is that threatens to undo us. Let me amplify that thought. His grace is more sufficient than your strength. His grace is more sufficient than the advice of any trained counselor or close friend (though God uses both). His grace is sufficient to carry you through whatever your own unique "thorn" may be. His grace---that's the ticket.

Would you like to know why? Because God's power is perfected in weakness (v. 9). What an amazing statement from the Lord! And all this time we thought power was perfected in success. We've been taught all our lives that it is achievement that makes us strong. No. A thousand times, no! Those things make us proud and self-sufficient and independent. Painful thorns make us weak. But the good news is this: when we are weak, He pours His strength into us, which gives an entirely new perspective on pain and suffering, hardship and pressure. Those stresses and strains drive us to our knees. It's at that point our God comes through, takes us by the hand, and by His grace lifts us up.

His grace is sufficient for you too.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Sun 12 Feb 2012, 8:38 am

February 11, 2012

From God's Perspective
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Romans 8:22--23

Any study of the life of the apostle Paul requires a serious look at the subject of pain. Suffering is not a pleasant subject to explore. Explaining Paul's words to the Romans, John Stott writes, "It is not only our fragile body which makes me groan; it is also our fallen nature, which hinders us from behaving as we should. Our groans express both present pain and future longing. Some Christians, however, grin too much (they seem to have no place in their theology for pain) and groan too little."

The man has grown weary of the perpetual Christian grin---frankly, so have I. If you groan and allow your countenance to reflect any measure of inner turmoil, people frown at you judgmentally, as if to suggest you're not walking in the Spirit. Don't get me wrong. I find nothing offensive about Christians laughing. I wrote an entire book affirming that God's people need to laugh more. Laughter demonstrates authenticity in our lives. I simply believe there's no need to glue a permanent Cheshire grin to our faces, lest we look like we're not living a victorious Christian life. If a fellow believer tells you he's going through a particularly tough time, I urge you not to insist he smile. (I tell the folks at the church not to ask me to listen to one of my tapes on joy when they notice I'm feeling down.) Don't urge people to sing along with you on some tune you think they should be singing. Sometimes we just don't feel like singing or smiling. After all, God gave us more than one emotion on purpose.

My desire is to help equip you for what life will inevitably sling across your path. I understand you may be bearing a burden or heartache, the likes of which I've never known. You may be living with pressures or some debilitating physical disease or emotional pain I couldn't even begin to imagine. In almost four decades of pastoral ministry, I've often seen the evidence of inner turmoil surface on the faces of God's people. In those times, when I feel at a loss to offer encouragement, I am most thankful for the Scriptures. In God's Word we not only discover His will for our lives, we find words of genuine comfort for those times when life comes unglued.

So be careful not to grin too much and groan too little.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Fri 10 Feb 2012, 10:11 pm

February 10, 2012

Trusting God in the Shadows
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 11:25; 2 Corinthians 12:2--6

I want to dispense a fresh supply of hope. To help accomplish that, let me suggest four principles. They may mean more to you later than now---in a time when God leads you to wait in the shadows.

First, when God prepares us for effective ministry, He includes what we would rather omit---a period of waiting. That cultivates patience. As I write these words, it occurs to me that I've never met anyone young and patient. (To be honest, I've not met many old and patient folks either.) We're all in a hurry. We don't like to miss one panel of a revolving door. Patience comes hard in a hurry-up society. Yet, it's an essential quality, cultivated only in extended periods of waiting.

Second, as God makes us wait, hiding us in His shadow, He shows us we're not indispensable. That makes us humble. One major reason the Lord removes us and has us wait in His shadow is to remind us we're not the star attraction. We're not indispensable. That realization cultivates genuine humility. I'm convinced Paul never once questioned God for having His hand on Peter and Barnabas, rather than on him. In a time when most gifted individuals would have been volunteering at the revival headquarters, Paul willingly remained behind the scenes. All the while waiting for his time---correction, God's time.

Third, while God hides us away, He reveals new dimensions of Himself and new insights regarding ministry. That makes us deep. What we need today is not smarter people or busier people. A far greater need is deeper people. Deep people will always have a ministry. Always. God deepens us through time spent waiting on Him.

Fourth, when God finally chooses to use us, it comes at a time least expected, when we feel the least qualified. That makes us effective. The perfect set-up for a long-lasting, effective ministry begins with surprise. "Me? You sure You don't want that other person? She's got great qualifications and obvious gifts. You may want to talk to her." That's the idea. It's refreshing, in this highly efficient age, to find a few who are still amazed at the way God is using them.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Thu 09 Feb 2012, 3:52 pm

February 9, 2012
God's Waiting Room
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 11:25; 2 Corinthians 12:2--6

If you go back fourteen years from the time Paul wrote the second letter to the believers at Corinth, that places him at the time he was waiting in Tarsus. Quite possibly, during one of his numerous floggings he received in Tarsus, or in an agonizing battle to survive being stoned, he lapsed into a semi-conscious state---something of a trance. Possibly, while in that state of mind, the Lord transported him to Paradise and revealed inexpressible, profound truths to him.

The point I want to make is, even in all that, he refused to boast in his giftedness. Instead, he confessed, "I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9--10). That's true humility. Incredible perspective. He learned to boast in nothing but his own weakness. And, remember, he learned that in the shadows. But nobody knew about it. His transformation never made the headlines.

Your time of God-ordained waiting will never be all that significant in other people's minds. All they may know is that you dropped out of sight. You're gone from the scene. It may begin with a bankruptcy. It may start with a horrible experience you go through, such as a tragic accident or a devastating illness. You may endure the pain of a torn reputation caused by someone who didn't tell the truth. All that devastation has a way of breaking you. The Lord uses the disappointment to lead you to your own Tarsus---otherwise known as His waiting room. There He begins to work deep within your soul until you, like Paul, gain such a renewed perspective, you can honestly confess, "When I am weak, He is strong." When that happens, as it did with Paul, you will be ready to come out of the shadows.

Paul was now ready. Not surprisingly, God moved.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Wed 08 Feb 2012, 10:12 pm

February 8, 2012
Out of the Shadows
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 11:19--26

Some of you who read these words today could use a little extra hope, especially if you find yourself in a waiting mode. You were once engaged in the action, doing top-priority work on the front lines. No longer. All that has changed. Now, for some reason, you're on the shelf. It's tough to stay encouraged perched on a shelf. Your mind starts playing tricks on you.

Though you are well-educated, experienced, and fairly gifted in your particular field, you are now waiting. You're wondering, and maybe you're getting worried, that this waiting period might be permanent. Admittedly, your response may not be all that great. You can't see any light at the end of the tunnel. It just doesn't seem fair. After all, you've trained hard, you've jumped through hoops, and you've even made the necessary sacrifices. Discouragement crouches at the door, ready to pounce on any thought or hope, so you sit wondering why God has chosen to pass you by.

I want to offer you some encouragement, but I need to start with a realistic comment: it may be a long time before God moves you into a place of significant impact. He may choose not to reveal His plan for weeks, maybe months. Are you ready for this? It could be years. I have found that one of God's favorite methods of preparing us for something great is to send us into the shadows to wait.

But that doesn't mean you're doomed to terminal darkness. Take heart from the words of British author James Stalker who wrote, "Waiting is a common instrument of providential discipline for those to whom exceptional work has been appointed." Pause and let that sink in. Read the statement again, slower this time.

Waiting is one of God's preferred methods of preparing special people for significant projects. The Bible makes that principle plain from cover to cover.

As Psalm 27:14 says, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD."

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Tue 07 Feb 2012, 11:12 pm

February 7, 2012


Stubborn Independence
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:28--31

Rather than considering yourself (even secretly) indispensable, remind yourself often, It's the Lord's work to be done the Lord's way. I first heard that principle from Francis Schaeffer while attending one of his lectures. There he stood in knickers and a turtleneck sweater, delivering this very message to a group of young, idealistic listeners---many of us struggling to find our way. I heard him say this again and again: "The Lord's work must be done the Lord's way. The Lord's work must be done the Lord's way. The Lord's work must be done the Lord's way."

If you're in a hurry, you can make it work your way. It may have all the marks of promotion, but it won't be the Lord's way. Stop and realize that. It may be time for you to be let down off your wall in a basket to learn that in your life.

John Pollock, on page 45 of his splendid book The Apostle, states, "The irony was not lost on him that the mighty Paul, who had originally approached Damascus with all the panoply of the high priest's representative, should make his last exit in a fish basket, helped by the very people he had come to hurt."

That about says it all, doesn't it?

Just to set the record straight, our lives are not caught "in the fell clutch of circumstance." Our heads are not to be "bloodied, but unbowed." You and I are neither the "masters of our fate" nor are we the "captains of our souls."¹ We are to be wholly, continually, and completely dependent on the mercy of God, if we want to do the Lord's work the Lord's way. Paul had to learn that. My question is: Are you learning that? If not, today would be a good day to start. Now is the time to humble yourself under His mighty hand. If you don't, eventually He will do it for you. And it will hurt. In His time, in His way, He will conquer your stubborn independence.

God is never pleased with a spiritually independent spirit.

1. Quotations are from Willliam Ernest Henley, "Invictus." Public Domain.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Mon 06 Feb 2012, 10:47 pm

February 6, 2012
Humble Reliance
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:28--31

Wasn't it a waste of great talent for God to put Paul on hold? Not at all. Wasn't Tarsus a strange assignment? Not if He wanted him to be prepared to write the letter to the Romans. Not if he would have any lasting impact on the backsliding believers at Corinth. Not if He wanted Paul to mentor Timothy for a lifetime of strategic ministry in Ephesus. Those projects (and dozens of others) called for a depth of character, forged through the lessons that taught him dependence---both on God and on others.

Humble yourself. Rather than racing into the limelight, we need to accept our role in the shadows. I'm serious here. Don't promote yourself. Don't push yourself to the front. Don't drop hints. Let someone else do that. Better yet, let God do that.

If you're great, trust me, the word will get out. You'll be found . . . in God's time. If you're necessary for the plan, God will put you in the right place at just the precise time. God's work is not about us; it's His production, start to finish. So back off. Let Him pull the curtains and turn on the stage lights. He'll lay hold of an Ananias or Barnabas, who'll come and find you at your most vulnerable point and lift you over the wall. Or He may choose you to be one of the nameless, lesser-known individuals who make the difference for someone else. Your part, pure and simple: humble yourself.

This would be a good time for you to resist going through life trying to live according to your own understanding---thinking if you can just climb up one or two more rungs on the ladder, you'll be there. You'll have what you need. Your family will be (what's that word we like to use?) . . . "comfortable." You know what your family needs more than extra money in the bank or a more impressive address or a TV in each room? They need you to be right with the Lord. That means that you walk humbly with Him. They need your gentle touch, acknowledging that He's the Lord of your home, not you. That takes humility. Go there, my friend, go there.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Sat 04 Feb 2012, 10:34 pm

February 4, 2012
Son of Encouragement
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:26--30

The disciples feared Saul. They couldn't bring themselves to believe he was a disciple. "But Barnabas . . . " Isn't that a great opening? Out of nowhere comes Barnabas to encourage Saul and be his personal advocate. How did Barnabas know Saul needed his help? We don't know. Yet we do know that God is sovereign and has his Barnabases in every town, every church, on every college and seminary campus, and even on the mission field. Each Barnabas stands ready at a moment's notice to come to the aid of someone in need of encouragement.

So rather than operating out of fear and prejudice, Barnabas stepped up and "took hold of him." Saul was willing to accept his assistance. That's a healthy dependence. Barnabas took Saul under his wing and said, "Come with me, I'll set this thing straight with these men. They trust me." So off they went, and the sacred narrative says that Barnabas "brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus" (v. 27). That's what I call divine intervention through a lesser-known saint! Barnabas basically said, "I've checked this guy out---he's the genuine item. He saw the risen Christ, just like all of you. The man is on our team. Make room . . . relax!"

The next statement describes the result of Barnabas's action on behalf of Saul: "And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord." For the first time in his ministry, Saul spoke freely about Christ in Jerusalem, in the company of respected disciples---set free to be himself for the glory of God. What made the difference? Barnabas!

You may be a Barnabas today. Do you know someone who has been kicked in the teeth because he has a bad track record? Someone who can't get a hearing, yet she's turned her life around and nobody wants to believe it? I urge you to step up like Barnabas did for Saul. Look for those individuals who need a second chance---a large dose of grace to help them start over in the Christian life. Everybody needs a Barnabas at one time or another.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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