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Post  Admin on Fri 03 Feb 2012, 6:49 pm

February 3, 2012

A Lesser Known
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:26--30

Act two of the drama opens with, "When he came to Jerusalem . . . " (v. 26). Jerusalem! Saul owned Jerusalem. He went to graduate school in that great town. I mean, the man knew that old city like the back of his hand---every alleyway, every narrow passage, every escape route. He knew virtually everyone of any significance. What a venue to restart his public ministry. "Get the microphones. Turn the lights up bright. Pharisee-turned-evangelist now appearing at the central Jerusalem auditorium. Come and hear! Come listen to this man preach!" Forget it. It was nothing like that.

Instead, we read this: "He was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple" (v. 26). Rejected again, only this time by those he most wanted to meet. Fear stood between them and the zealous, gifted preacher.

That's understandable; who wouldn't be afraid of him? He killed their fellow Christians, some of whom may have been relatives. They thought Saul was a spy---part of an elaborate hoax designed to trap them and drag them to trial. "Saul? No way. Don't let him in our ranks!"

Ever felt the sting of that kind of rejection? Have you ever had such a bad track record that people didn't want to associate with you or welcome you into their fellowship? (Or welcome you back?) It happens all the time. People are rejected because of their pasts. The load of baggage they drag behind them as they enter the Christian life keeps them from enjoying what should be instant acceptance. The rejection at times is unbearable. You may say, "Yes. I've been there. And I'm trying to forget those memories, thank you very much." No, don't forget those times. Those painful memories are part of God's gracious plan to break your strong spirit of independence. They've become an essential segment of your story---your testimony of God's grace.

Thankfully, in the midst of those times, God faithfully provides lesser-known individuals who come alongside and say, "Hey, I'm on your team. Let me walk through this with you." That's exactly what happened to Saul in Jerusalem. Someone stepped up, voluntarily. He didn't have to, he wanted to. His name . . . Barnabas, the encourager.


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 02 Feb 2012, 6:46 pm

February 2, 2012

Slow Down!
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Galatians 1:11--17

Part of the solution is to pursue the benefits of solitude and silence found in times of obscurity. For the first time in seven years, I took six weeks off one summer. No preaching, no writing, no counseling, no speaking engagements . . . no nothing. I focused on slowing down and refilling my soul with the deep things of the Lord. I prayed, I sang, I studied, I walked, I fished, I stayed quiet, and I sat thinking about and reevaluating my life. It was magnificent!

You may not have that much time available. You may have only three days, or perhaps two weeks. If you're not careful, you'll quickly fill those days with things to do, places to go, and people to see. Resist that temptation to crowd out the Lord. What a perfect opportunity to carve out time to be alone, just you, the family, and the Lord. Computer off. Fax unplugged. Cell phone tossed in the ocean.

Instead of speeding up, slow down and rethink. I don't want you to miss any of these words. I've thought about them for years. Instead of speeding up, let's find ways to slow down and rethink. Taking time to discover what really matters is essential if we're going to lift the curse of superficiality that shadows our lives. Don't wait for the doctor to tell you that you have six months to live. Long before anything that tragic becomes a reality, you should be growing roots deep into the soil of those things that truly matter.

Once Paul left Damascus and slipped into Arabia, he began taking inventory. There were no "To Do Before Sundown" lists. No "Six Fast Steps to Success" or other self-help scrolls clumped under his arms. He was alone. He walked slower. He watched sand swirl over the stones. He thought deeply about his past. He relived what he had done. He returned to what he had experienced on the road to Damascus. He considered each new dawn a gift from the Lord, the perfect opportunity to rework his priorities and rethink his motives. It takes time, of course . . . lots of time. But time spent in solitude prepares us for the inevitable challenges that come at us from the splintered age in which we live.

Slow down. Sit still. Be quiet. Rethink.

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 01 Feb 2012, 2:21 pm

February 1, 2012
Desert Retreat
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:20--25; Galatians 1:11--17

I'm convinced it was there, in that barren place of obscurity, that Paul developed his theology. He met God, intimately and deeply. Silently and alone, he plumbed the unfathomable mysteries of sovereignty, election, depravity, the deity of Christ, the miraculous power of the Resurrection, the Church, and future things. It became a three-year crash course in sound doctrine from which would flow a lifetime of preaching, teaching, and writing. More than that, it's where Paul tossed aside his polished trophies and traded his resumé of religious credentials for a vibrant relationship with the risen Christ. Everything changed.

It was there, no doubt, he concluded "whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7--8).

He had been so busy, active, engaged, advancing, and zealous. The same words describe many Christians sitting in churches today. And therein lies our problem. We're not busy doing all the wrong things or even a few terrible things. We're certainly not persecutors or destroyers. But if the truth were known, we'll go for miles on fumes, all the while choking the life-giving spirit within.

Not long ago academy-award-winning actor Tom Hanks starred in Castaway. It was one of those films with few words but an enormous amount of emotion. How he escapes is fascinating, but the good news is he is picked up by a ship and is, at last, returned safely to the now-unfamiliar world of life as it used to be. And he doesn't fit in at all anymore. The changes that transpired within him are so radical, so all-consuming, he finds himself a different man---much deeper, much more observing, much less demanding---all because of the lessons learned in solitude, quietness, and obscurity.

And so it was with Paul. He changed. How greatly he changed! And the change within him led to a change in the lives of millions of people down through the ages.

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 31 Jan 2012, 9:11 pm

January 31, 2012

A Forgotten Hero
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:20--25

The transformation is stunning. Saul, no doubt with blood stains still on his garment from Christians he had tortured, now stood with arms outstretched announcing, "I'm here to testify to you that Jesus is the Messiah, God's Son." And the people who heard it were amazed. The Greek text uses the term from which we get the word ecstatic. They responded with nothing short of ecstatic astonishment at the swift reversal of Saul's life.

Imagine sitting in the synagogue. In front of you, preaching Jesus as the Messiah, is the very man responsible for condemning innocent Christians to death. Others he had taken into prisons, perhaps some of them relatives and friends. The room was full of jaw-dropped stares. The next statement assures us he didn't slow down: "But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 9:22).

It gets better. Not only did Saul preach about Christ, he preached with remarkable skill. The word translated proving comes from a Greek verb, which means, "to knit together from several different strands." Saul's sermons were skillfully woven together, seamlessly delivered with compelling logic---all signs of a gifted expositor.

Word by word, sentence by sentence, point by point, Saul walked his listeners through the powerful passages of the Old Testament Scriptures, including the writings of the prophets, presenting an airtight case for believing in Christ as their promised Messiah. Until Saul made his case, most had never made that connection. What a convincing communicator!

Before we go on, let's pause and remind ourselves, none of these remarkable events could have been witnessed, or even recorded for that matter, had it not been for Ananias's courageous faith. You may have never thought of that until now. Saul would have remained blind and trembling had the disciple of Damascus refused to obey and go to Straight Street. All this was set in motion because God used the memorable faith of a little-known but faithful hero. His trembling but faithful obedience changed the destiny of millions, including you and 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 Mon 30 Jan 2012, 9:47 pm

January 30, 2012
Stepping Out
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:10--21

Stepping out in faith always brings clarification of God's plan. When Ananias went to see Saul, he received additional information. As Saul submitted himself to the ministry of Ananias, he found out more about God's plan for his life. "You're a chosen vessel of Mine. I'm going to use you to bear My name." Saul hadn't known that before. (He had never read the book of Acts!) He knew nothing of what was in store for him until Ananias took that initial step of faith. Both men discovered that God Himself chose Saul to be His instrument and that intense suffering would mark his ministry. That's the way God operates.

When Cynthia and I first sensed God directing us to leave California and relocate our ministry, we could hardly believe it. We had planned to stay in the same place for the rest of our lives---serving Christ at the First Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton and continuing to lead the ministry of Insight for Living. Neither space nor time allow me to describe the things God has shown us since we made the decision to move. Initially, very few people could grasp God's plan for us. It came as a surprise to everyone. In fact, some firmly rejected it. But now, as God continues to put the finishing touches on His magnificent portrait, what we see is absolutely beautiful. Until we took that initial step of obedience, all we had was, "It's time to go." It's amazing to me even as I write these words! Surprises always bring about clarification of God's plan.

Obedience always stimulates growth. By the way, the Swindolls have grown deeper in our relationship with the Lord, having trusted Him without first knowing all the details. Obeying God drives the roots of your faith much deeper. And that obedience stimulates growth in every area of life. We're stretched emotionally, often physically, but most importantly, spiritually.

Ananias's compliance with God's surprising plan allowed him to witness supernatural power. No one else in Scripture witnessed the scales miraculously falling from the contrite Pharisee's eyes. Only Ananias. When Saul's sight returned, Ananias's own eyes were also opened to the amazing power of God to transform a life. Obedience always stimulates growth.

Step out on faith, and you'll always find solid ground.

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 28 Jan 2012, 2:08 pm

January 28, 2012

A New Beginning
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:10--19

Regardless of what you have done, no one is beyond hope. That's the great hope of the Christian message. No amount or depth of sin in your past can trump the grace of God. If you question that, remember Saul, the brash Pharisee of Tarsus. When the Lord saved him, He didn't put him on probation. The other disciples did that. No, God gave Saul a new name and, in the process, made him a new creation. That's what makes grace so amazing!

Even though your past is soiled, anyone can find a new beginning with God. I've made the same statement throughout my ministry: It's never too late to start doing what is right. When Saul knelt before the living God, he finally faced the reality of his sin. Deep within the man, Christ transformed his life, and he started doing what was right. Grace provides that sort of new beginning.

Don't get stuck on where you were. Don't waste your time focusing on what you used to be. Remember, the hope we have in Christ means there's a brighter tomorrow. Sins are forgiven. Shame is cancelled out. We're no longer chained to a deep, dark pit of the past. Grace gives us wings to soar beyond it.

Could it be that you are stuck because of something from your past? Perhaps it has pinned you to the ground with embarrassment, shame, and fear. You're crippled by it. The best you can do is to limp through each day, hoping for a painless end. That way of thinking is from the enemy, Satan. He loves to push your nose in the dirt, hoping to make you miss the marvelous claims of grace.

Don't allow him that power in your life today. Around you are people who have no greater claim on grace than you do, and the Lord mercifully brought them out of their pit of sin. If He could turn a Saul of Tarsus, who was engaged in a murderous rampage, into a Paul the apostle, who preached and lived the message of grace, He can change your life 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 Fri 27 Jan 2012, 6:44 pm

January 27, 2012

A Chosen Instrument
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:10--16

If you haven't yet done so, stand for a few moments in Ananias's sandals. Understand how difficult it would have been to see how God's plan could possibly work. How in the world could God take a man known for such vicious, merciless, and murderous treatment of innocent Christians and turn him into an ambassador for Christ? Perhaps Ananias failed to hear the answer in the Lord's Word to him: "But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake' " (Acts 9:15--16).

God's answer to Ananias's question is clear: "I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."

Suffering. Down through the centuries it has been God's taming ground for raging bulls. The crucible of pain and hardship is God's schoolroom where Christians learn humility, compassion, character, patience, and grace. It's true for you and for me, and it would soon be true for Saul. Years later, with scars to prove it and under the pile of heavy ministry responsibilities, he gave testimony that suffering had been his companion.

I don't understand all the reasons we suffer for the Name. But I'm convinced of this: it is part of God's sovereign plan to prepare us to be His instruments of grace to a harsh and desperate world. Clearly, that was God's plan for Saul. On his body would be the enduring stripes of his suffering---imprisonment, severe beatings, stonings, shipwreck, near-drowning, ambushes, robberies, insomnia, starvation, loneliness, disease, dehydration, extreme hypothermia. Beyond all that, he faced the stressful, inescapable responsibilities of church leadership. Each painful, awful ordeal brought him to his knees, turning him into a deeper man of grace, humbly committed to following his Savior's lead.

What have you suffered for the name of 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 Thu 26 Jan 2012, 5:14 pm

January 26, 2012

God Wins
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:5--9; Acts 26:12--15

God goaded and prodded the stubborn pride of Saul---that Pharisaic ox. Day after day he kicked against those goads, until finally he got the message. There would be no more running. No more hiding. The fight was over. As always, God won.

C. S. Lewis likened God's conquering work of Saul's rebel will to a divine chess player: systematically, patiently maneuvering his opponent into a corner until finally he concedes. "Checkmate."

Like Saul, we're no match for God. Checkmate is inevitable. It's no game either. God will do whatever it takes to bring us to a point of absolute dependence on Him. He will relentlessly, patiently, faithfully goad until we finally and willingly submit to Him.

You're probably not a notorious criminal. I know that. More important, God knows that. Your life may be morally clean. Let's face it, you may qualify as the finest person on your block. You don't cheat on your taxes or deliberately lie to your partner. You may have never committed what we would call a scandalous act, to say nothing of seriously hurting someone you love. You're living a life that's impressive to others, but you are light years from being righteous before God. Until you've surrendered your life to Christ, you're as lost as Saul was on the Damascus road.

If you've never made that decision, what a great moment this would be if you'd set this reading aside, bow your heart before the living Christ at this tender moment, and receive Him as your Savior.

You may have been a Christian for some time, but you're clinging to the reins of your own rebel will. You need to know that God will goad you too. Sooner or later He'll get your attention. No matter what it takes. He'll bring you to a place in your life where you realize there's no point in continuing to kick against the goads.

Don't wait for a storm. By then it may be too late. Settle it today on your knees. Give God complete control. Stop your own Damascus Road journey today. Like Saul, surrender. And like Saul, you'll never regret it.

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 25 Jan 2012, 5:33 pm

January 25, 2012
God's Goads
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:5--9; Acts 26:12--15

Apparently, "to kick against the goads" was a common expression found in both Greek and Latin literature---a rural image, which rose from the practice of farmers goading their oxen in the fields. Though unfamiliar to us, everyone in that day understood its meaning.

Goads were typically made from slender pieces of timber, blunt on one end and pointed on the other. Farmers used the pointed end to urge a stubborn ox into motion. Occasionally, the beast would kick at the goad. The more the ox kicked, the more likely the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg, causing greater pain.

Saul's conversion could appear to us as having been a sudden encounter with Christ. But based on the Lord's expression regarding his kicking back, I believe He'd been working on him for years, prodding and goading him.

I believe the words and works of Jesus haunted the zealous Pharisee. Quite likely, Saul had heard Jesus teach and preach in public places. Similar in age, they would have been contemporaries in a city Saul knew well and Jesus frequently visited.

Imagine Saul (the name Paul means "small," suggesting he may have been shorter than average), standing on tiptoe, straining to watch Jesus, all the while grudgingly wondering how this false prophet could be gaining popularity. Nonsense. He has to be of Satan! Pharisees loved to think that. Nevertheless, Jesus's ministry stuck in Saul's mind. The more it goaded him, the more he resisted God's proddings.

Once you've seriously encountered Jesus, as Saul did, there's no escaping Him. His words and works follow you deep within your conscience. That's why I encourage people who are intensifying their efforts to resist the Gospels' claims to study the life of Christ---to examine carefully His captivating words. Most people who sincerely pursue them can't leave Him without at least reevaluating their lives.

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 24 Jan 2012, 4:20 pm

January 24, 2012


A Quick Turnaround
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:1--4

The essence of genuine repentance is that the mind does a turnaround. The Greek word is metanoia, meaning, literally, "to change one's mind." That's precisely what happened to the once-proud Pharisee on the road to Damascus. So many things within Saul's thinking changed---and changed completely. He changed his mind about God, about Jesus, about the Resurrection, about those who followed Christ. He must have shaken his head for days. He thought Christ was dead. Now he was convinced Jesus was alive. This One who knew his name also knew what he'd been doing. The raging rebel had finally met his match, and there was no place or way to hide.

Now let me pause to clarify something important. Some Christians try to impose their rigid system of dos and don'ts on the issue of conversion. I want to caution against that sort of exercise. It's impossible to find any single place in Scripture that reveals the one-and-only way every sinner comes to Christ. While the message of the Gospel is the same, methods differ. We are so conditioned by denominational backgrounds, religious traditionalism, and narrow-thinking prejudice, we miss the point of God's grace. We tend to require more than God does! Be careful about exacting requirements on someone who genuinely turns to the Savior.

Lost people are saved while listening to a great song about Christ or while hearing a preacher or Bible teacher explaining God's Word from a pulpit or over television or on the radio. Others are saved during a small-group Bible study. Many come to Him on their own, while praying in the privacy of their homes. Day or night a sinner can call on the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and be saved. Let's stop making it so complicated. As it happened with Saul, grace abounds.

Regardless of exactly when Saul was converted, he realized that the living Jesus, whom he had hated and denied his entire life, was now his Savior and Lord.

Is He your Savior and Lord 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 Mon 23 Jan 2012, 7:03 pm

January 23, 2012

No Surprises
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 9:1--4

For more than three decades, Saul controlled his own life. His record in Judaism ranked second to none. On his way to make an even greater name for himself, the laser of God's presence stopped him in his tracks, striking him blind. Like that group of shepherds faithfully watching their sheep years earlier on another significant night outside Jerusalem, Saul and his companions fell to the ground, stunned.

That's what still happens today when calamity strikes. You get the news in the middle of the night on the telephone, and you can't move. As the policeman describes the head-on collision, you stand frozen in disbelief. After hearing the word "cancer," you're so shocked you can hardly walk out the doctor's office doors. A friend once admitted to me that, after hearing his dreaded diagnosis, he stumbled to the men's room, vomited, dropped to his knees, and sobbed uncontrollably. Life's unexpected jolts grip us with such fear we can scarcely go on.

For the first time in his proud, self-sustained life, Saul found himself a desperate dependent. Not only was he pinned to the ground, he was blind. His other senses were on alert and, to his amazement, he heard a voice from heaven say, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). Saul was convinced he had been persecuting people---cultic followers of a false Messiah. Instead, he discovered that the true object of his vile brutality was Christ Himself.

We live in a culture that regularly confuses humanity with deity. The lines get blurred. It's the kind of sloppy theology that suggests God sits on the edge of heaven thinking, Wonder what they'll do next. How absurd! God is omniscient---all-knowing. This implies, clearly, that God never learns anything, our sinful decisions and evil deeds notwithstanding. Nothing ever surprises Him. From the moment we're conceived to the moment we die, we remain safely within the frame of His watchful gaze and His sovereign plan 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 Sat 21 Jan 2012, 2:30 pm

January 21, 2012

An Unexpected Ally
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 5:33--38

William Barclay calls Gamaliel an "unexpected ally." In the midst of flaring tempers and irrational thinking, this wise, seasoned teacher calmly rose to his feet and warned, "Take care here. Don't rush to judgment." In his words: "Stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God" (Acts 5:38--39).

The young Pharisee [Saul] shook his head in disbelief. "This man was supposed to be a spokesman for Judaism. He taught me much of what I know about Judaism and the Law. He schooled me in how to do precisely what I'm doing. Master Gamaliel, you've lost your mind!"

Saul, of course, had no way of knowing that it would be this sort of calm reasoning that would hold him together when he later carried the torch for Christ. He would remind himself that those who fight against him were really fighting God. But at this moment he knew none of that. All he saw was red. Blood red. He couldn't believe the Sanhedrin would heed such calm counsel and consider going soft on these infidels. Bu that's exactly what they did.

If you would allow me a moment of digression here, I think Peter remained alive then and in the years that followed because of Gamaliel's wise intervention. I think this "unexpected ally" saved his life. Saul and the rest of them would have stoned the whole bunch. But God graciously intervened through Gamaliel. He used the words of a wise professor to preserve the lives of those who would later play strategic roles in the formation of his Christian church. Keep that in mind when you feel your circumstances have become hopeless. No matter what you face, God is still in control, silently and sovereignly working all things out according to His perfect plan. He has His Gamaliels waiting in the wings. At the precise moment when their words will have the greatest impact, they will step out of the shadows and onto the stage to deliver their life-saving words.

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 20 Jan 2012, 2:27 pm

January 20, 2012

A Brutal Beginning
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 5:29--32; 8:1--3

We must not forget that as we study the life of the man they called Paul. We must also brace ourselves for some rather gruesome surprises. The first pen portrait of Paul (whom we first meet as Saul of Tarsus) is both brutal and bloody. If an artist were to render it with brush and oils, not one of us would want it hung framed in our living room. The man looks more like a terrorist than a devout follower of Judaism. To our horror, the blood of the first martyr splattered across Saul's clothes while he stood nodding in agreement, an accomplice to a vicious crime.

Throughout our lives we've naturally adopted a Christianized mental image of the apostle Paul. After all, he's the one who gave us both letters to the Corinthians. He wrote Romans, the Magna Carta of the Christian life. He penned that liberating letter to the Galatians exhorting them and us to live in the freedom God's grace provides. And he wrote the Prison Epistles and the Pastoral Letters so full of wisdom, so rich with relevance. Based on all that, you'd think the man loved the Savior from birth. Not even close.

He hated the name of Jesus. So much so, he became a self-avowed, violent aggressor, persecuting and killing Christians in allegiance to the God of heaven. Shocking though it may seem, we must never forget the pit from which he came. The better we understand the darkness of his past, the more we will understand his deep gratitude for grace.

The first portrait of Paul's life painted in Holy Scripture is not of a little baby being lovingly cradled in his mother's arms. Nor does it depict a Jewish lad leaping and bounding with neighborhood buddies through the narrow streets of Tarsus. The original portrait is not even of a brilliant, young law student sitting faithfully at the feet of Gamaliel. Those images would only mislead us into thinking he enjoyed a storybook past. Instead, we first meet him as simply a "young man named Saul," party to Stephen's brutal murder, standing "in hearty agreement with putting him to death" (Acts 7:58; 8:1).

That's the realistic Saul we need to see in order to truly appreciate the glorious truths of the New Testament letters he wrote. No wonder he later came to be known as the "apostle of grace."

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 19 Jan 2012, 9:43 pm

January 19, 2012

Personal Response to Our Role
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Matthew 5:13--16


Since God has called us to be His salt-and-light servants in a bland, dark society, it will be necessary for us to commit ourselves to the task before us. Remember, salt must not lose its taste, and light must not be hidden. In order to keep us on target, let me suggest three statements that declare and describe how to fulfill this role.

1. "I am different."

Probably the greatest tragedy of Christianity through its changing and checkered history has been our tendency to become like the world rather than completely different from it. The prevailing culture has sucked us in like a huge vacuum cleaner, and we have done an amazing job of conforming.

But servants are to be different. As one man put it, "as different as chalk is from cheese." As different as salt is from decayed meat . . . as light is from the depths of Carlsbad Caverns. No veneer, remember. We are authentically different.

2. "I am responsible."

If I read Jesus's words correctly, I see more than being salt and light. I am responsible for my salt not losing its bite and my light not becoming obscure or hidden. Every once in a while it is helpful to ask some very hard questions of myself. True servants do more than talk. We refuse to become the "rabbit-hole Christians" John Stott speaks of, popping out of our holes and racing from our insulated caves to all-Christian gatherings only to rush back again. For salt to be tasted and for light to be seen, we must make contact. We are personally responsible.

3. "I am influential."

Let's not kid ourselves. The very fact that we belong to Christ---that we don't adopt the system, that we march to a different drumbeat---gives us an influence in this society of ours. Maybe the quaint old "keeper of the spring" was not seen very much, but his role meant survival to that village in the Alps. We are influencing others even when we aren't trying to act "religious" or preach from a soapbox.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), 133--34. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Wed 18 Jan 2012, 2:27 pm

January 18, 2012

The Light of the World
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Matthew 5:14--16

Does it seem important to you that Christ calls us what He called Himself? "I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12). "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14).

Servants of Christ shine with His light in a society that is hopelessly lost, left to itself. Now, answer two questions:

1. What is the basic function of light?
2. How can that function best occur?

The answer to the first question is obvious---to dispel darkness. Darkness cannot remain when a light is turned on. I don't care how thick the darkness may be. And the answer to the second question is found in Jesus's own words:

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house." (Matthew 5:14--15)

How can darkness be dispelled? First, by not hiding the light---it must be "set on a hill." And second, by not limiting the light---"on the lampstand . . . it gives light to all who are in the house." What stars are to the night sky, Christ's servants are to a darkened world.

Those in the light are a weird phenomenon to those in darkness. And that is exactly as Jesus planned it.

Think of some distinctive characteristics of light:

•Light is silent. No noise, no big splash, no banners---light simply shines. It's like a single lighthouse along a dark, rugged shoreline. All it does is shine.
•Light gives direction. No words, no sermon. Jesus says that others "see" a Christian's actions; He says nothing about nonbelievers "hearing" what a believer says.
•Light attracts attention. You don't have to ask people to look at you when you turn on a light in a dark room. It happens automatically.

If you are a Christian on an athletic team with non-Christians, you are the light in darkness. If you are a Christian family in a non-Christian neighborhood, you are the light in darkness. The same is true if you are the only Christian nurse on your floor, or student in your school, or professional in your firm, or salesperson in your district. You are the light in darkness---a servant of God who is being watched, who gives off light . . . a very distinct message with hardly a word being said.

At first they may hate the light, but don't worry. They are still attracted to it. Let it shine! Don't attempt to show off how bright and sparkling you are; just shine!

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), 130--32. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Tue 17 Jan 2012, 1:04 pm

January 17, 2012

The Salt of the Earth, Part 2
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Matthew 5:13


Jesus says that believers are "salt to the world" (Matthew 5:13 NEB). Our very presence halts corruption . . . and preserves society.

Salt is also a healing agent. And it creates a thirst. It adds flavor, increasing the delectable taste of most foods. Salt is amazingly beneficial . . . "but." Don't miss that little word in verse 13. Jesus adds, "But if the salt has become tasteless" (meaning, "if the salt has lost its bite, its uniqueness"), "It is no longer good for anything" (5:13). Jesus introduces not an imaginary warning but a real one. Take away the Christian's distinctive contribution, and nothing of worthwhile value remains. We become "no longer good for anything," exactly as the Lord put it (5:13).

We must do a work of preservation . . . or we lose our influence and become as insignificant as a layer of dust on city streets. Servant, take heed!

Think about these three practical, positive aspects of salt. First, salt is shaken and sprinkled . . . not poured. It must be spread out. Too much salt ruins food. A good reminder for Christians to spread out rather than stay huddled all together. Second, salt adds flavor . . . but it's obscure. No one ever comments, "My, this is good salt." We frequently say, however, "The food is really tasty." Servants add zest to life, a flavor impossible to achieve without them. Third, salt is unlike any other seasoning. Its difference, however, is its strength. It can't be duplicated, and it must be applied before it is useful. Salt in the saltshaker does nobody any good!

I want to be quite direct with you. Secular thought has taken a tragic toll on the servant of God's distinctiveness. This has begun to influence the church of Jesus Christ. Many a believer has surrendered his or her mind to the world system. The uniquely Christian mind, therefore, is a rare find. Humanism, secularism, intellectualism, and materialism have invaded our thinking to such a marked degree that our salt has become diluted---in some cases, nonexistent.

Influenced and impressed by the press, our secularized system of education, shallow social expectations, and the quasi-omnipotent forces of conformity to peer pressure (not to mention the impact of television and movies), Christian servants can be easily caught in the trap. We can literally stop thinking biblically and stop shaking salt.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), 129--30. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 9:07 pm

January 16, 2012
The Salt of the Earth, Part 1
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Matthew 5:13


Ever smelled old, rotten meat?

Remember forgetting for several weeks something you put in the refrigerator? There is an odor that accompanies decay that's like nothing else. Down in Houston where I was raised, we were only fifty miles from the seaport city of Galveston. Delicious, fresh seafood was available in numerous restaurants in that area---and still is. But there were other ways we used to use seafood, especially shrimp.

When a friend would get married, one of our favorite tricks was to secretly pull off the hubcaps of his getaway car and stuff them full of shrimp. It was great! Those shrimp wouldn't make any noise as they sloshed around hour after hour in the heat of South Texas. But the result was unreal. After two or three days of driving, parking in the sun, stop-and-go traffic, the bride (bless her shy heart) would slowly start sliding over closer to the door. She would begin to wonder if maybe her beloved groom had forgotten his deodorant. As the day wore on, he would begin to wonder the same about her! All the while, those little shrimp were doing their thing in each wheel. Finally (and sometimes they wouldn't discover the trick for over a week!), young Don Juan would pop off a hubcap---and I don't need to tell you the result. Old shrimp inside a hot hubcap for a week would make a skunk's spray seem like a shot of Chanel No. 5. It is gross! To keep shrimp, you must preserve them. If you don't, they perish. Years ago, salt was used as a preservative. Today, we use ice.

Now, think of this earth as shrimp when you read these words of Jesus: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men" (Matthew 5:13).

A society characterized by savage violence and the darkness of depravity and deception will, without a preservative, deteriorate . . . and, ultimately, self-destruct. Because servants of Christ are like salt on society, our influence is essential for society's survival.

Are you being salty?
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), 128--29. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Sat 14 Jan 2012, 7:34 pm

January 14, 2012
The Keeper of the Spring
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Matthew 5:13–14


The late Peter Marshall, an eloquent speaker and for several years the chaplain of the United States Senate, used to love to tell the story of "The Keeper of the Spring,"¹ a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps.

The old gentle man had been hired many years earlier by a young town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt from the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, "Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? For all we know he is doing us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!" By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's services.

For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was detected. The millwheels moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

Embarrassed, the council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring . . . and within a few weeks, the river began to clear up.

Fanciful though it may be, the story carries with it a vivid, relevant analogy directly related to the times in which we live. What the keeper of the spring meant to the village, Christian servants mean to our world. The preserving, taste-giving bite of "salt" mixed with the illuminating, hope-giving ray of "light" may seem feeble and needless . . . but God help any society that attempts to exist without them! You see, the village without the keeper of the spring is a perfect representation of the world system without the salt and light of God's servants (Matthew 5:13--14).



1. Catherine Marshall, Mr. Jones, Meet the Master (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1951), 147, 148.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), 122--24. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Fri 13 Jan 2012, 2:06 pm

January 13, 2012

The Influence of a Servant
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Matthew 5:1–12

Ours is a tough, rugged, wicked world. Aggression, rebellion, violence, cutthroat competition, and retaliation abound. Not just internationally but personally. What is true in the secret council chambers of nations is also true behind closed doors of homes. We are stubborn, warring people.

What possible influence could the servant-hearted people Jesus described in Matthew 5:1--12 have on a hard, hostile society like ours? What impact---how much clout---do the "poor in spirit," the "gentle," the "merciful," the "pure in heart," or the "peacemakers" actually have? Such feeble-sounding virtues seem about as influential as pillow fighting in a nuclear war. Especially with the odds stacked against us. Servants of Jesus Christ will always be in the minority . . . a small remnant surrounded by a strong-minded majority with their fists clenched. Can our presence do much good? Isn't it pretty much a wasted effort?

Jesus---the One who first painted the servant's portrait---did not share this skepticism. But neither did He deny the battle. Don't forget the final touches He put on that inspired canvas. Remember these words? They make it clear that society is a combat zone not a vacation spot.

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10--12)

No, He never promised us a rose garden. He came up front with us and admitted that the arena of this world is not a friend of grace to help us on to God. Nevertheless, strange as it may seem, He went on to tell that handful of Jewish peasants (and all godly servants in every generation) that their influence would be nothing short of remarkable. They would be "the salt of the earth" and they would be "the light of the world." And so shall we! So far-reaching would be the influence of servants in society their presence would be as significant as salt on food and as light on darkness. Neither is loud or externally impressive, but both are essential.

Without our influence, this old world would soon begin to realize our absence. Even though it may not admit it, society needs both salt and light.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), 121--22. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Thu 12 Jan 2012, 5:07 pm

January 12, 2012
Blessed
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Job 42:9--15

Did you read that too quickly? The end of verse 9? Mark it. "The LORD accepted." And then, "The LORD restored." End of verse 10, "The LORD increased." Beginning of verse 12, "The LORD blessed." Those are words of grace---statements of divine favor. Let them hit with full impact:

Accepted.
Restored.
Increased.
Blessed.

Because of the fallout of our cynical society, you and I are being programmed to rush by words of grace and blessing and to hurry on to words that are negative. They bring us down. Killings in the workplace. Mold in your house. Weather disasters. Fractured families. Forest fires. High rate of divorce. Economic woes. Acts of terrorism. The homeless. Fallen ministers. Broken hearts. Mistreatment of children. Spouse abuse. Chemical dependence. Deadbeat dads. Premature deaths. Fraudulent builders. Rising unemployment. Scandals among CEOs and famous athletes. On and on. That's what fills the evening news.

We never hear: "Now, tomorrow night we'll report only good news." Instead, it's "Stay tuned if you think that report was bad; in a moment we'll have a full exposé."

I mean, even the weatherman predicts "partly cloudy." He never says, "Mainly sunny tomorrow." It's always a 20 percent chance of rain. He never says, "There's an 80 percent probability of sunshine." And furthermore, he's usually wrong (talk about job security). Enough of all that!

Who does God bless? Job! This is great news! You haven't forgotten that Job cursed the day he was born, have you? Or that he resented the fact he didn't die when he was placed on his mother's breast? He was also the one who said, "I am not at ease. I am not quiet." In other words, "I resent what has happened." That's the same Job who is wonderfully blessed at the end of the book. Why? Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace!


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 11 Jan 2012, 7:54 pm

January 11, 2012
Choose God's Will
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Job 42:10--17

A major goal of wholesome, healthy Christians is the hope of reaching maturity before death overtakes us. I will tell you without hesitation that one of my major goals in life is to grow up as I grow older. A commendable etching on a gravestone would be: "Here lies a man who kept growing as he kept aging." Growing up and growing old need to walk hand in hand. Never doubt it: maturing is a slow, arduous process. Job accomplished it; he reached that goal. Small wonder we read that he died an old man and full of days. He lived the rest of his 140 years full of enthusiasm and passion. What an enviable way to finish life.

When trouble comes we have two options. We can view it as an intrusion, an outrage, or we can see it as an opportunity to respond in specific obedience to God's will---that rugged virtue James calls "endurance."

Endurance is not jaw-clenched resignation, nor is it passive acquiescence. It's "a long obedience in the same direction." It's staying on the path of obedience despite counter-indications. It's a dogged determination to pursue holiness when the conditions of holiness are not favorable. It's a choice in the midst of our suffering to do what God has asked us to do, whatever it is, and for as long as He asks us to do it. As Oswald Chambers wrote, "To choose suffering makes no sense at all; to choose God's will in the midst of our suffering makes all the sense in the world."

Where are you today? Where is your journey leading you? More important, which option have you chosen? Are you viewing your trial as an outrage or an opportunity? Try hard not to forget the lessons Job teaches us about ourselves. It will make an enormous difference. As you grow older, keep growing up. And, instead of simply reading about the life of Job, begin living that kind of life.

That makes all the sense in the world, doesn't it?

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 10 Jan 2012, 4:11 pm

January 10, 2012
Staying Young
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Job 42:10--17

I‘d like to offer several tips on how to stay young.

Number one: Your mind isn't old, keep developing it. Watch less television and read more. Spend time with people who talk about events and ideas rather than sitting around a shop talking about people and how sorry this young generation has become. Nobody wants to be around a crotchety old person who sees only the clouds and talks only about bad weather.

Number two: Your humor isn't over, keep enjoying it. I love being around older people who still see the sunny side of life. They see funny things happening. They can tell a great story. They enjoy a loud belly laugh. You look fabulous when you laugh. And it takes years off your face.

Number three: Your strength isn't gone, keep using it. Don't let yourself get out of shape. Stay active. Eat right. Watch your weight. Guard against becoming isolated and immobile. And while I'm at it, quit addressing every ache and pain. Quit talking about how weak you're getting and how others will have to do this or that for you. Jump in there. You keep doing it.

Here's a fourth: Your opportunities haven't vanished, keep pursuing them. There are people all around you who could use an encouraging word, an affirming note, a phone call that says, "I love you and believe in you, and I'm praying for you." So go there. Opportunities to help others have not vanished.

The fifth is obvious: Your God is not dead, keep serving and seeking Him. The living God is ageless. The Lord Jesus Christ is timeless and ever relevant. Continue to enjoy some time alone with your Lord. It's so important!

You have lived long enough to know that there is no one more trustworthy than the Lord Himself. Continue cultivating a meaningful relationship with Him. Seek Him diligently and often.

I wish for you a full life, like Job's, marked not by living happily ever after (an impossibility), but by being truly satisfied, fulfilled, challenged, useful, godly, balanced, and joyful.

Yes, for sure, joyful! And don't forget---reasonably sweet.

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 09 Jan 2012, 9:16 pm

January 9, 2012
Found Faithful
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Job 42:1--17

If you return to Job 1:3, you can read what Job originally owned. He had 7,000 sheep, and he winds up with 14,000. So his flocks grow as he feeds them and breeds them. Their numbers increase to twice the original flock. There's plenty to eat. And there's also plenty of land to graze, so the sheep grow in number to 14,000.

He must have been able to see from every window of his home luscious, green, and colorful plants and the growth of all his crops. He's even got 1,000 female donkeys. So the man has twice as much as he had before. Not instantaneously, but over the passing of a few years, his possessions grew. Candidly, Job had more than enough. Much more. He was rich before; now he is enormously wealthy!

There are times when the Lord chooses to bless certain individuals with much more than is enough. What we must learn is to let it be. If envy is your besetting sin, I urge you to break yourself from one of the ugliest habits among Christian people! I'll be completely honest with you, I hear it frequently. The great temptation is to remind the Lord of how faithful you have been when you see a neighbor or a friend whose business grows when yours doesn't. Please stop trying to outguess the Lord in such matters.

It is both unfair and inaccurate to assume that most wealthy individuals have not earned their riches or did not receive them from the hand of God. Some of God's dearest saints are eminently wealthy. So? I say again---let it be. If you are one of them, you hardly need the reminder that you didn't create it yourself. It came because of His grace. Use it appropriately. Give generously. Walk in humility. And if He chooses not to bless you as He has blessed another, respect and appreciate His choice rather than resent it. Let's applaud Job for being a recipient of God's prosperous favor. He has "come forth as gold," having been tested and found faithful.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice!"

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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Insight For Living~ Charles R Swindoll - Page 11 Empty Re: Insight For Living~ Charles R Swindoll

Post  Admin on Sat 07 Jan 2012, 5:41 pm

January 7, 2012
God Hears
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Job 42:1--11

When the day of reckoning arrives, God is always fair. He blesses those who have walked with Him. He forgives those who bring their offerings and humble themselves before Him. God restores. God rewards. God heals. God honors Job, who prayed for his friends with an open heart. God noticed it all. I suggest you underscore Hebrews 6:10 in your Bible: "For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints." Eugene Peterson, in The Message, renders those first words "God doesn't miss anything" (Hebrews 6:10, The Message).

Some who read my words have been terribly abused. You have been victims of the worst kind of mistreatment. You have been taken advantage of by someone you trusted. You have been abandoned by your mate, treated unfairly, ripped off. You've lost a fortune through a fraudulent scheme. Every one of us could give hell stories of abuse and neglect, misrepresentation and unfair treatment that have never been made right. So, please return to this great truth: God does not forget. He just doesn't adjust His plan to our timetable. His Accounts Settlement desk doesn't operate on a nine-to-five schedule. He doesn't handle our cases when we want them handled. I wanted God to zap Eliphaz the very moment he said that first insulting word to Job. He's waited through all the sarcastic speeches, stayed silent through all the insults. Finally, He says, "Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, you have been wrong."

God heard! Yes, He heard! He didn't say anything at the time, but He heard it all. He is not unjust to forget one idle word. And I can assure you, He didn't overlook one wrong act committed against you. He has a perfect plan. His plan is unfolding. When His timetable says, "Now," justice will roll down, and His Accounts Settlement desk will take swift action.

God's arrangement of things is not a frustrated plan. God is not sitting on the edge of heaven, biting His nails, wondering what He's going to do about our world. He knows exactly what He's going to do and when He's going to do it. Job sees that clearly . . . now. He realizes, finally, that God doesn't miss anything.

He hasn't missed anything in your life either.

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 06 Jan 2012, 4:19 pm

January 6, 2012
Humble Yourself Now
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Job 42:1--11

Take special notice of Job's words. He does not reply, "I've got an argument here." On the contrary, He says, "I retract and repent." There's no divine force. There's no threatening rebuke from God. "Job, if you don't get down on your knees and beg for mercy from Me, I'm going to finish you off!"

No. In gentle, resigned submission Job rests his case in the Father's will. He says, "You instruct me, and as a result of Your instruction, I will willingly submit and accept it." Do you know what I love about Job's attitude? There is an absence of talk about "my rights." There is not a hint of personal entitlement. There is no expectation or demand. There's not even a plea for God to understand or to defend him before his argumentative friends. Furthermore, there's no self-pity, no moody, depressed spirit. He is completely at rest. His innermost being, at last, is at peace.

You may say, "Well, if God had blessed me as He blessed Job, I'd say that too." Wait. He hasn't yet brought relief or reward. The man is still covered with boils. He still doesn't have any family. He's still homeless. He's still bankrupt. With nothing external changed, Job says quietly, "Lord, I'm Yours."

Focus on the timing. Humble yourself not after He exalts you, but humble yourself now. Don't wait. Pull back, stop the arguing, and rest in Him. It is remarkable how He will quiet your spirit and transport you to a realm of contentment you've never known before, even with most of the answers missing. The philosophers of this world demand answers. The believer who has now learned through this kind of cataclysmic experience to trust, regardless, demands nothing. And the worries slowly fade away, one after another.

"Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (James 4:10).

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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