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Post  Admin on Sat 18 Jun 2011, 4:59 pm

June 18, 2011
Two Questions
by Charles R. Swindoll
Psalm 42:11
Comparing the acts of forgiving and forgetting, I think forgetting is the tougher assignment.
Why? Because forgetting is something shared with no other person. It's a solo flight. All the rewards are postponed until eternity . . . but how great they will be on that day!
Forgetting requires us as Christians to think correctly, which means our full focus must be on the Lord and not on people. By God's great grace, it can happen.
Before we move on, let's pause long enough to ask ourselves two questions:
First, is there someone or something I have refused to forget, which keeps me from being happy and productive? If your answer is yes, stop right now and declare it openly to your Lord. Ask Him to take away the pain and the bitterness.
Second, am I a victim of self-pity, living out my days emotionally paralyzed by anguish and despair? If your answer is yes, stop and consider the consequences of living the rest of your life excusing your self-pity rather than turning it all over to the only One who can remove it. As the Psalmist wrote:
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
It is not "too late" . . . you are not "too old to change" . . . and your situation is not "too much to overcome."
Truth be told, it is never too late to start doing what is right.
Never.

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 72--73. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Jun 2011, 2:52 pm

June 17, 2011
Determination
by Charles R. Swindoll
Philippians 3:14
I love the apostle Paul's attitude revealed in his words: "I press on toward the goal" (Philippians 3:14).
Those men and women who refuse to get bogged down in and anchored to the past are those who pursue the objectives of the future. People who do this are rarely petty. They are too involved in getting a job done to be preoccupied with yesterday's hurts and concerns.
Very near the end of his full and productive life, Paul wrote: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). What a grand epitaph! He seized every day by the throat. He relentlessly pursued life.
I know human nature well enough to realize that some people excuse their bitterness over past hurts by thinking, It's too late to change. I've been injured, and the wrong done against me is too great for me ever to forget it. Maybe Paul could press on---but not me!
A person with this mind-set is convinced he or she is the exception to the truths of God's Word. This individual is determined not to change because "life has dealt him or her a bad hand."
Nothing could be further from the truth.
When God holds out hope, when God makes promises, when God says, "It can be done," there are no exceptions. With each new dawn, there is delivered to your door a fresh, new package called "today." God has designed us in such a way that we can handle only one package at a time . . . and He gives us all the grace we need for each day as we live out that day (Matthew 6:11, 34).
Like Paul did, seize every day by the throat. Relentlessly pursue life.

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 69-70. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Thu 16 Jun 2011, 1:47 pm

June 16, 2011
Humility
by Charles R. Swindoll
Isaiah 54:4--5; Philippians 3:12--13
"I forget what is behind" is a statement that assures us Paul was not the type to live in the past. He says, in effect, "I disregard my own accomplishments as well as others' offenses against me. I refuse to dwell on that." This requires humility.
This becomes especially clear when you examine Paul's past. Just look:
Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:24--27)
Think of all the people Paul could have included on his "hate list." But he had no such list. With humility, he forgot what was behind him. He intentionally disregarded all those wrongs against him.
In order for us to forget wrongs done against us, God must do the erasing. (See Joseph's example in Genesis 41:51.) Isaiah, the prophet of Judah, puts it in these terms:
"Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the LORD of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth." (Isaiah 54:4--5)
The Lord God promises us we can forget, because He personally will take the place of those painful memories.
To you who have had a shameful youth, to you who have lost your mate, the living Lord will replace those awful memories with Himself. What a great promise! That makes the forgetting possible. Left to ourselves, no way! But with the promise that God will replace the pain with Himself---His presence, His power, His very life---we can "forget what lies behind."

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 67--69. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Wed 15 Jun 2011, 12:40 pm

June 15, 2011
Vulnerability
by Charles R. Swindoll
Philippians 3:12--13
Remember these words from yesterday?
"I have not arrived . . . I forget what is behind . . . I move on to what is ahead."
Over the next few days, I want to examine each part of this statement from the pen of the apostle Paul. The first part offers an important characteristic for us as believers: vulnerability.
"I have not arrived" is a concept Paul mentions no less than three times in Philippians 3:12--13. See if you can locate each occurrence of the idea:
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. (Philippians 3:12--13)
How refreshing! Here is this brilliant, competent, gifted, strong leader who freely declares, "I don't have everything wired," Vulnerability includes more than this, however. Vulnerability means being willing to express personal needs, admitting one's limitations or failures, having a teachable spirit, and especially being reluctant to appear the expert, the answer person, the final voice of authority.
Not only are these traits refreshing---they're rare!
If you're the type of woman who always has to come out right . . . if you're a man who has the need to be "perfect," then you will always be in the position of having something to prove. And others around you will have to do the same.

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, page 66. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Tue 14 Jun 2011, 12:54 pm

June 14, 2011
Forgetting Your Own Good Deeds
by Charles R. Swindoll
Philippians 3:4--14
Yesterday, we talked about what it means to "forget" when other people do bad deeds to us. Today, I want to address forgetting when we do good deeds to others.
In other words, once our own good deeds are done, they're done. Forget them. No need to drop little hints on how thoughtful we were. Just as we refuse to keep score of how people have offended us, we don't keep score of all we've done for them.
Tucked away in the New Testament is a chapter that illustrates this beautifully. The writer, Paul, lists a number of things in his past that could be food for pride.
If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. (Philippians 3:4--6)
If you were looking for somebody to give a testimony next Sunday, Paul would be a winner. In fact, if he were not careful, he could turn it into a "braggimony." These are impressive facts . . . and they are absolutely true. But Paul kept it all in proper perspective:
But 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, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. (3:7--9)
In comparison to Jesus Christ and all the things He has made possible---His forgiveness, His love, His righteousness---everything else we may be or accomplish diminishes in significance. Paul's following words describe the healthy humility of a servant:
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (3:12--14)
Basically, Paul said, "I don't mean to say I am perfect. I haven't learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be."
Woven into Paul's words are these three statements: "I have not arrived . . . I forget what is behind . . . I move on to what is ahead."
Tomorrow, we'll begin to unpack those words. But for now, read them again with the goal of forgetting the good deeds you've done for others:
"I have not arrived . . . I forget what is behind . . . I move on to what is ahead."

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 64--66. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Mon 13 Jun 2011, 11:30 am

June 13, 2011
Can We Really Ever Forget?
by Charles R. Swindoll
1 Corinthians 13:5; Psalm 119:165; Matthew 7:1--5
A question flashes through my head as I write these words: can our minds actually allow us to forget?
The way God has made us with that internal filing system we call "memory"---it is doubtful we can fully forget even the things we want to forget.
Please understand that I'm not referring to forgetting in the technical or literal sense of the term. Rather, I'm thinking about forgetting the same way Paul did in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 when he said:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.
True servants, when demonstrating genuine love, don't keep score. Webster's defines forget as "to lose the remembrance of . . . to treat with inattention or disregard . . . to disregard intentionally: OVERLOOK . . . to cease remembering or noticing . . . to fail to become mindful at the proper time."1
That's the thought. A couple verses of Scripture illustrate and encourage this greathearted virtue.
Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
The psalmist openly declares that those who possess a deep love for God's Word will have great measures of His shalom . . . and, in addition, they will be big enough to resist stumbling over offenses.
Jesus hinted at this when He spoke out against a judgmental spirit. Read His words carefully.
"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1--5)
So, as we talk about "forgetting," let's understand that we mean:
•Refusing to keep score (1 Corinthians 13:5)
•Being bigger than any offense (Psalm 119:165)
•Harboring no judgmental attitude (Matthew 7:1--5)


1. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 2007), see "forget."
Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 62--64. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Sat 11 Jun 2011, 3:31 pm

June 11, 2011
Three Secrets Revealed
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Deuteronomy 34:1--12

When we read this part of [Moses'] epitaph and think of all the mighty power and all the miracles that Moses did, many of us tend to think, Moses is in another league. I can't touch him. This life I've observed amounts to just another theoretical study. It almost mocks me, because I'm light years from Moses.
What a colossal error we make if we come to such a faulty deduction. Moses was unique, certainly, but he was just a man in the service of God. Still, we can learn much of personal benefit from his life and death.
The secret of fulfillment in life is involvement.
When you're planning on retirement, don't plan on checking out with people or with God's Word. If you do, you'll be moving away from that which is eternal, and that's the wrong direction, my friend. So stay in touch. Give until you don't have anything else to give, and then tap into God's reservoirs and give some more. This is what lengthens the meaning and purpose---and sometimes the years---of life.
The secret of reality in life is humility.
If involvement gives life length, then humility gives it breadth. Moses presents us with a beautiful picture of real humanity mixed with deep humility and genuine godliness. Moses never believed his own press reports. He never got lost in his own track record. He never got up in the morning to see what the headlines had to say about his performance the day before. He stayed real, believable, and humble.
The secret of happiness in life is perspective.
If involvement gives life length and humility gives it breadth, then perspective gives life depth.
Death comes to all of us. And unless our Lord comes in the clouds for us first, that day of departure will arrive . . . maybe sooner, maybe later. We have no control over that, but we do have control over the way we live, right up to the moment we leave this planet.
Moses teaches us that, regardless of whether we live or die, God remains worthy of our praise. It must be our goal, then, as it was the goal of Moses, to bring honor to Him, whether by life or by death.


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 Jun 2011, 12:16 pm

June 10, 2011
God of Every Detail
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Numbers 27:12--23; Deuteronomy 34:9

I am always amazed to hear how the Lord uses His Word in the lives of His people. I don't know your circumstances. I don't know how God intends to use this episode from the life of Moses in your own life.
It may be that these words fall on a very hungry heart. Or perhaps you have been strengthened and encouraged with the thought that you're very special to God, that none of His children are insignificant. Or maybe you're engaged in the awesome task of finding a man or a woman for a position that carries a great weight of responsibility, and you've been reminded that you are dependent, more than ever, on God to locate His Joshua. Or perhaps you are that Joshua, and you've been asked to accept a responsibility broader than you ever dreamed.
Whatever your circumstances, I want to remind you that our heavenly Father cares about areas of your life that would seem insignificant to a distant deity. He's never too busy to hear your hurts, to wipe away your tears, to whisper words of encouragement, and to put His big shoulder under your load. He's the God who cares about the details.
As I write these words, I'm praying that our sovereign God might be a very personal comfort to you this week. I pray especially for you who are wrestling with loneliness and discouragement. Even though you're surrounded by people, deep within there's an ache. Friend, God can meet your need as only He can, even as He did in the heart of Moses just a few hours before the great man's death.
If you're God's Joshua, you don't need to worry that you'll be forgotten. You don't need to worry that the shadow of your predecessor will eclipse you and your ministry in the years to come. In fact, you don't need to worry about anything. If you're God's Joshua, you're right where you ought to be. Remind yourself that He is sovereign. He has everything under His control. He will have His way in His time, for His glory, which includes your life, your position, and your future. Worrying over any of that is a waste. He's got every detail covered---every one.
Think of it this way: there's no such thing as God's being almost sovereign.


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 Jun 2011, 1:11 pm

June 9, 2011
A Shepherd's Heart
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Numbers 27:12--23
Moses asks for a man "who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd" (v. 17). In other words, "Lord, we need a man who realizes he must be in touch with the people before he can minister to them. He needs to be a people person."

Moses was saying, "These people don't need a mystic. They don't need a man preoccupied by his love for research, as important as that may be. These folks don't really need a super-efficient CEO or a brilliant organizational genius. They need a shepherd. They need a man who knows people, who will minister to people, understand people, and know how to guide people."
In whatever capacity you might minister---as a Bible teacher, as a student preparing for the ministry, as a woman of God ministering in your area of giftedness---your ministry is primarily people, not shuffling papers, not crunching numbers, not making phone calls, not writing letters, not planning programs, or noodling over strategies for the next decade. Of course, all of those things must be done. I must sign and/or write an average of forty to fifty letters a week and get involved in planning sessions too. Administrative details need to be handled. (As few as I can get by with!)
Do you know the most common thing I hear from individuals just beginning to come to our church? They want very much to get to know some of us on staff, and they'll say, "You don't know me, but I come on Sunday to hear you preach." And they almost apologize, as if to say, "Hey, I'm sorry to take your time, but I just want to shake your hand." I go out of my way to say to each one, "You are as important as anybody else in this entire church. There is no insignificant member of the family of God." I don't say this to make a good public relations statement or to make a good impression. I say it because I believe it---because it's true. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you are special before the God who has chosen you.

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 Jun 2011, 2:07 pm

June 8, 2011
God of All My Moments
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Numbers 20:1--13

Wouldn't you love the ability to go back in time and change something you did or said? I know there have been moments in my life---awful moments when I acted on the impulse of the flesh---that I would dearly love to call back. But alas, I cannot.
Don't you imagine, during those days prior to his homegoing, Moses would have cheerfully given his right arm to relive that incident at the rock? "Oh Lord, if I could only back up and do that all over! I would have cried out for Your help to control my anger. I would have been more concerned for Your glory. I would have done exactly as You instructed."
But he couldn't go back. In a single moment of rage, he forfeited his right to lead Israel. He threw away his opportunity to enter the Promised Land.
The sad fact is, we cannot go back. None of us can. We cannot undo sinful deeds or unsay sinful words. We cannot reclaim those moments when we were possessed by rage, lust, cruelty, indifference, or hard-headed pride. Like Moses, we may be forgiven for those sins and have them blotted out of our record by the blood of Christ. Even so, we must live with the consequences of our words and our actions. What we sow, the Scriptures warn, we will also reap.
No, we can't go back. Our gracious Lord has covered our past with His own blood, given on the cross for us. David reminds us that, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12).
But we can learn to walk much closer with Him, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. We can keep short accounts with Him and lean on the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and shield us from destructive, life-shattering sins. He will do it. He has promised to provide us with a way of escape so that we can bear up under any temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)---any temptation at any moment.
If this becomes our way of life, my friend, when God says speak to the rock, we will speak, not strike. And the water that flows from those moments of obedience will refresh a multitude, including ourselves, with no aftertaste of regret.


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 Jun 2011, 12:56 pm

June 7, 2011
Anger's Bitter Fruit
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Numbers 20:1--13

Now, wait a minute! Did we miss something? Where did Moses get the okay to deliver that scathing address? The truth is, he didn't. Then where did it come from? From anger. Brimming with hostility and reacting in unbelief, he takes that rod and preaches an angry sermon to the people. His short fuse prompts him to take advantage of an opportunity to level these rebels with enraged verbiage.
I think there's even a hint of blasphemy here. "Shall we bring water out of the rock?" he asks. But Moses, when did you ever bring water out of a rock? Isn't God the one who summons water? True enough. But when you give in to rage, you sort of black out; you set aside your right mind and are driven by the unchecked emotions of anger. So the text states, Moses "lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod" (20:11, italics mine).

God had told him to speak to the rock; Moses struck it, not just once, but twice. And I frankly doubt whether he even cared if water came. He probably hoped it wouldn't. He was so angry, he wanted their throats to stay dry. He wanted them to choke and writhe in their thirst. "Do you think we'll give you water, you low-life scumbags? Hah!" So he belts the rock---Wham! Wham!---and much to his surprise, out flows fresh water. Scripture tells us that "water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank" (v. 11). Absolutely amazing! Amazing grace!
But that's the way God's grace works, isn't it? Have you ever acted in rash unbelief, and yet God went ahead and opened up the door in spite of you? Talk about ultra humiliation. It happens when you're out to lunch spiritually, when you're walking in the flesh and you know it. You know when it began, and you know the depth and intensity of your carnality, but God graciously gives you what is best anyway. It's remarkable, isn't it, this thing called grace? It was grace that brought forth that clear stream of fresh water for the rebellious Israelites, as well as for ill-tempered Moses.


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 Jun 2011, 12:14 pm

June 6, 2011
Not Indispensable
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Numbers 11:24--30

These young men were jealous for Moses' role. They said, "Moses, you can't let 'em get away with that. You're the prophet. What are Eldad and Medad doing in there? Who do they think they are, prophesying like that? That's your job." So Joshua says, "General Moses, sir, put a stop to it."
I love it that Moses is more broad-shouldered than that. He replies securely, without a hint of jealousy, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!" (v. 29). Talk about unselfish. There wasn't an ounce of jealousy or insecurity in that man of God.

Are you pursuing godliness? Do you want to count for Christ? Has God gifted you for service? If so, somewhere along the line, you will face the peril of jealousy, the feeling of being "indispensable" to some particular ministry. And some around you will plant seeds of jealousy in your heart that will tempt you to feel indispensable. You'll think, What's she doing up there? I could teach better than she. Or, You know, that man bears watching. He's trying to take over. Everybody knows I'm the leader. Or, I can't afford to step down. I started this organization. Ever heard those words or something similar? Ever said them yourself? Those are words of petty jealousy and proud indispensability.

Listen to me! Everybody can afford to step down if God's enthroned. Some of the most jealous, suspicious people in the world are so-called Christian public figures enamored with their own press clippings. It's vital to them that they drop the right names and be seen by the right people and have others think well of them. They crave fame. And God help the one whose fame crowds theirs!
You're not indispensable. I'm not indispensable. Nobody is indispensable, except the Lord Jesus Christ. He's the head. He's the Preeminent One. He's the founder. He's in first place. And when He moves one out and brings in another or demotes one and sets up another, He calls the shots. That is His sovereign right. The problem arises when we get to thinking we're sovereign. My friend, He put you where He wanted you. He gave you that job. He can take it away just as fast as He gave it. Faithfully do your work, lie low, and exalt 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 Sat 04 Jun 2011, 3:04 pm

June 4, 2011
Written Instructions
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 19:16--20:26
Why did God want to meet with Moses? The text gives us two good and healthy reasons:
To establish a healthy fear of the Almighty. "Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin' " (Exodus 20:20).
To communicate written instructions for the people. "Now the LORD said to Moses, 'Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.' So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God" (Exodus 24:12--13).
Isn't it great that God gave His people written instructions to obey? This is the first time in all of history that God wrote down His Word. Until the time of Moses, the written Word of God did not exist. But now, here it was. And to think, you and I possess those written words! What an awesome and majestic thought. How we take that privilege for granted.
Back before the collapse of the atheistic Soviet Union, my friend John Van Diest represented the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association at the Moscow Book Fair. The authorities had granted them reluctant permission to hand out a limited number of Russian language New Testaments, and long lines of people waited in line to receive a copy. When the supplies were exhausted, one desperately disappointed man asked if he might have one of the empty boxes that had once held those Testaments.
"But there's nothing in there!" John protested. "The Bibles are all gone!" With tears glistening in his eyes, the man replied, "Then I at least want the box." The Bible was so precious to this man that he treasured the cardboard box that had held the Scriptures. May our eyes be opened to the astonishing privilege that is ours to hold the complete written Word of God in our very 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 03 Jun 2011, 6:33 pm

June 3, 2011
A Healthy Fear
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 19:16--25
What a magnificent experience! If you live in an area shaken by earthquakes, you feel a little ripple now and then, get a funny feeling, and then life returns to normal. But how often do you see a granite mountain shaking, or hear constant thunder rumbling from lightning strikes between clouds and earth, or shrink before the long blasts of heavenly trumpets announcing that God is ready to meet you?
Just your regular, ho-hum quiet time, right? In no way. Can you imagine how Moses felt when the Lord said to Moses, "Come up, Moses"? Wow! If you were Moses, what would you do now? How would you do it? How could you carry on? I'll tell you how: with fear and trembling Moses made that historic journey up into the clouds. He'd stood before a burning bush, but that was nothing compared to this epochal experience. The writer of Hebrews says, "So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, 'I am full of fear and trembling' " (Hebrews 12:21).
A healthy fear of God will hold us in awe and do much to deter us from sin. When we have a proper fear of the living Lord, we live a cleaner life. Any born-again person who sins willfully has momentarily blocked out any fear of God. You and I can do that. When we actively engage in sin, we consciously put aside what we know to be the truth about God. We deliberately suppress the knowledge of Him in our hearts and minds. We lie to ourselves by saying, "We'll get by. God won't mind so much." Yet God used Moses to reveal to His people a reverential and healthy fear of the Almighty.
When you come to that understanding, and God's light breaks into your life like the pure whitewater of a rushing river, you learn to thoroughly hate and dread those actions that will plunge you again into darkness. The psalmist expressed that thought with these words: "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:103--105 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 02 Jun 2011, 2:38 pm

June 2, 2011
A God Too Small?
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 19:1--15
So deep, so profound must be this respect for God's holy presence that no one was even to touch the mountain. The people were to wait upon God to speak to Moses and hear the Lord's words through the Lord's servant.
What a needed reminder! This story makes it clear that we live in a day of pitifully shallow concepts of God. Some of today's contemporary Christian music leaves the impression that God is our buddy---a great pal to have in a pinch. A film star once said of God, "He's my great Big Daddy upstairs." One pop song asks, "What if God were just a slob like us?" That is not the biblical view of God. That is a human being's feeble attempt to make God relevant.
The Puritans, that rigorous people of old, possessed a solidly biblical concept of God. Do you know why it is so crucial for us to recover such a respectful understanding? Because a shallow view of God leads to a shallow life. Cheapen God and you cheapen life itself. Treat God superficially, and you become superficial. But hold God in profoundest respect, and it is remarkable how deep the roots of your spiritual life grow.
God is holy. Exalted. He is the only wise God, the Creator, the Maker, the sovereign Lord. He is the Master. He tells me what to do, and I have no safe option but to do it. He offers no alternative, no multiple choice. We have but one directive, and that is to do His will. We reaffirm that truth in our times with Him.
But not today. Today He's our pal, our understanding buddy, our ever-available bellboy. No, He is not! The Lord is our God. He does not bow to our hurried pace, but in silence He waits for us to meet His demands. And once we slow down enough to meet Him, He is pleased to add incredible spiritual depth to our otherwise shallow lives.
What has been your concept of the Lord? Who is your God? Be honest, now. Does He look anything like the God of Mount Sinai?


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 Jun 2011, 1:09 pm

June 1, 2011
Delegate the Workload
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 18:1--27
The Christian worker is a strange breed. He or she wants it to look as if the work is terribly hard. In fact, the more difficult and strained the look, the better. Christian workers are notorious for what I call the "tired blood" look, better known as the overburdened and outdated "missionary image," or, better stated, the exhausted "overburdened religious image." They usually carry an old, worn-out Bible, and walk with a slump, listing to port. They seldom smile---sort of a "please pity me" image. Makes me want to gag.

I don't mean to be super critical. The tragic reality is, some of these folks are overworked and hardly have enough to live on. But I believe you can be in full-time ministry without having to resemble the poor-me stereotype.
The happiest people on earth ought to be those of us in God's service. And we ought to look like it. We have every reason to smile more than anyone else. Even though our work is terribly serious, we ought to have more fun and have a better time doing it than anybody in any other career or calling. I think an individual in cross-cultural ministry or a local pastor ought to be able to enjoy his or her taste in music and live it up, just like anybody else.
Frankly, those who look as if they've just finished their last piece of bread do not minister very effectively, certainly not to me. Those who minister to me, and those to whom I think I minister, are men and women who truly enjoy life. We really don't need to spend all our time on the negatives of life; there are enough heart-breaking experiences to go around for all of us.
Please don't misunderstand me. Ministry is not an easy calling. There are times when you must work longer than you should. And those times can occur back to back. But we don't need to remind most pastors of the need to work harder. We need a reminder of another sort. "You're making your job harder than it should be. Share the load. Lighten up! Your work can be easier. Let us help you get these things done."


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 May 2011, 1:48 pm

May 31, 2011
The Wilderness Cycle
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 17:1--16
Each of us has his or her own wilderness cycle. Some struggle with a quiver full of small children at home. Others have no children. Your test may not be related to the home at all; it may be connected to your employment. Perhaps you're wrestling with relationships; you're abrasive and have difficulty with people. That's why God keeps you with people and grinds away so that your long-standing Egyptian habit might be altered. With others it's finances; you live continually under the gun of insufficient funds. Maybe it's a problem related to academics and school issues. That's your wilderness.
Your wilderness does not separate from you merely because you fly several thousand miles to some other spot. Wherever you go, your Egyptian appetite accompanies you. God is in the business of not only putting you through the Red Sea at salvation, but in getting you to Canaan by way of the wilderness. Conversion is often a brief trip to the altar, but maturity is always married to time.
Remember that this week. You have never lived the seven days in front of you, and you will never live them again. Life is like a coin. Spend it any way you want to, but you can spend it only once. God would like you to learn from your experience in the wilderness. He wants to change your appetite, change your habits, change your style, and, in the process, change your entire life.
As I've been writing, such deep, inward changes do not suddenly occur; they begin at the cross, where you lay down your arms and accept God's gift, Jesus Christ. Now may be your time to say, "Lord Jesus, this is Your moment. I give You my heart, my life, as Your child."
May we never forget the lessons of history, whether they be our personal history or the history of ancient Israel. And may we heed the words of my high-school history teacher, Mrs. Allen, "There are two things that you can do with history: you can ignore it, or you can learn from it."
Learning from the past may be hard, but continuing in ignorance is expensive. Better to learn those priceless lessons today than to search for pennies in the scorching wilderness tomorrow.

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 May 2011, 2:19 pm

May 30, 2011
The Test of Time
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 16:1--36
Time has passed. If you read the previous passage in chapter 15 with a careful eye, you observe that it took them only three days to find the water they now enjoyed. But now it's been a month and a half---more than forty days! I call that the test of time. There they are in the midst of the wilderness with their unrealistic expectations. "We thought we were through with those parched days in the wilderness. We were already there three days. Why do we have to go back?"
And guess what? Out rushed the complaints: "The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness" (16:2). Why were they grumbling? Again, they were looking back. Listen to their words in verse 3: "Would that we had died by the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger" (v. 3).

Sound like your response? If so, it's time to learn a timeless lesson. If you focus on the past, it won't be long before complaints start oozing from your lips. You will remember a long-ago time, bathed in the hazy, rosy glow of memory, when something was easier and more comfortable than it is today. And as you compare then to now, I guarantee it, you will grumble.

It hurts to endure life's trials, and it hurts worse to repeat such episodes. Yet, without those deep hurts, we have very little capacity to receive godly counsel or make forward progress toward maturity. The test of time is perhaps the most rugged of all.
Over the long haul, God is honing us through such tests. Stretching us. Breaking us. Crushing us. Reducing us to an absolute, open-armed trust, where we say, "Lord, I have come to the end of my own flesh. If You wish me to die in this wilderness, here is my life. Take it. I refuse to look back and complain about where I find myself at this moment." Moses had learned to wait. His congregation needed to learn as well. How about you?

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 May 2011, 4:25 pm

May 28, 2011
Sing It Out!
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 14:23--15:22
After God drowned Pharaoh's entire army in the sea, for the first time in history Israel found herself living in the Egyptian desert, out in the open, completely on her own. The Hebrews had begun their journey to the land of Canaan. God had proven Himself faithful; the nation had walked through the sea on dry land. How awestruck they must have been! As a result, they sang a song of great praise to God. All the way from verse 1 to verse 21 of Exodus 15 they continue to sing.
Have you ever done that? Have you ever, on the spur of the moment, scratched out a song of praise to the Lord? I recommend it to you; it's actually an exciting experience. You say, "Well, Chuck, that's fine for you, but I'm not some kind of eloquent, creative poet. I don't have that gift. Words don't flow through me like that."
Really? How do you know if you never try? The next time you go through an experience, and God proves Himseld faithful, stop and think, Maybe I could write a song. (Even if it's for an audience of One.) That's how praise songs are born. Why not compose one today?
On the heels of this Hebrew song of triumph and gratitude comes a word denoting a particular time; "then." When? After the Red Sea. After the first flush of freedom. After their wonderful song of praise. Scripture records, "Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur."
What a description of the Christian life! All of us have been through the Red Sea. Spiritually speaking, believers have all been placed in God's family through the cross. We have come to know the Lord Jesus. And in coming to know Him, we have been delivered for the first time from bondage to the old life. How glorious! Freed from the domination of our old master, we have been given a new song, a new life, a new beginning. But in this beginning we quickly discover we must endure some wilderness experiences. Looking back, we later realize they were deserts designed by God for a very real purpose. But what a come-down after our Red Sea conversion.

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 May 2011, 2:26 pm

May 27, 2011
The Highway to the Promised Land
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 14:15--22

Had we been in charge of the Red Sea project, we would have handled it differently. Our group of engineers would have pushed back that water a week in advance. We would have installed great, massive fans to dry out the land. We would have erected huge neon signs. Somebody would have brought in concession stands to handle the hot dogs and drinks. You see, when people do it, the project takes on all the trademarks of market-driven hotshots. The supernatural is easily eclipsed by human ingenuity.
That's not God's plan. When He wants you cornered, outnumbered. And there are no signs. There is no slick ad campaign. There are no great human resources to trust in. There's just an uncrossable Red Sea and an encroaching army of impossibilities. So you wait. And time passes. He will fight His way at His time. Bite your nails all you want to---He's in no hurry.
Do you feel cornered right now? Up against it? Overwhelmed? Listen, child of God, your predicament is by His design. It takes those dark and dreary streets of heartache and those dead-end feelings of intimidation to prepare you for the glorious days of deliverance.
Perhaps you're a single adult. Those can be frustrating, hard years and lonely times. More than anything you'd like to find a spouse.
Or maybe you're married. You can be so involved in making a living that you fail to make a life, and then the time is gone.
Or perhaps you feel backed into some physical cul-de-sac, where you've languished for weeks, months, maybe years . . . still in that wheelchair.
Listen carefully. Read this slowly. Coming to the Red Sea is just as much a part of His plan as crossing it. It may well be that the Lord is breaking a habit born in Egypt, a habit that has no business living in Canaan. Those habits are tough to break. The tears flow as God works in His time. But in the burning of those tears, God becomes very significant and real. And we realize, at last, that a predicament in God's hands finally leads to a highway to the Promised Land.


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 May 2011, 5:15 pm

May 26, 2011
"Do Not Fear!"
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 12:31--14:14

Humanly speaking, predicaments are terrible experiences. If you stay in one long enough, you will begin to question the very roots of your faith. By and by you'll begin to look for someone to blame; usually it'll be somebody in leadership.
That's why I am extremely impressed with Moses' response. He didn't say, as most are prone to say, "God helps those who help themselves." People think that familiar saying comes from the Bible. It doesn't. It's from the pit. No, God helps the helpless!
Note Moses' more biblical response in verse 13: "Do not fear!" What strange counsel. Can't you hear his fellow Israelites? "Hey, Moses, the Egyptians are around the corner. They've got chariots and bows and arrows and pointy spears. And you're saying, 'Don't fear'? What's the matter with you, man? Do you need a change in your eyeglass prescription? Can't you see they're coming? God, save us from this near-sighted shepherd!"
"Oh, I see them fine," Moses replied. "But I'm still saying to you, 'Don't fear!' "

But Moses isn't done. After telling them not to be afraid, he has a second piece of counsel for his followers: "Stand still." And a third: "Watch." And a fourth: "The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent."
Now, there's a prescription for people in an inescapable predicament! Don't be afraid, stand still, watch God come through, quit talking. The hardest is the fourth, because we just have to complain or tell somebody what a predicament we're in. But God doesn't need to be informed. He knows the predicament. He is simply waiting for us to calm down and keep silent.
When you are in a cul-de-sac, led by God to that tight place, it is there you will discover some phenomenal surprises designed just for you. That's why Moses said, "Look, let's stand still. There's a great blessing here for us that we'll miss if we turn tail and run."
You know the common response to panic? First, we become afraid. Second, we run. Third, we fight. Fourth, we tell everybody.
God's counsel is just the opposite. Don't be afraid. Stand still. Watch Him work. Keep quiet. It's then that He does His best work on our behalf. He takes over! He then handles our predicament opposite the way we'd do it. The Lord is tapping His foot, waiting for us to wait.


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 May 2011, 12:27 pm

May 25, 2011
Historical Joy
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 12:29--30; Psalm 105:26--38

Isn't that great? Rather than sadness and fear, there was exhilaration that night. The sweet fragrance of freedom was in the wind. We love to sing the hymn, "O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise." If you think that sounds good, how about, "O for two million tongues to sing!" You could hear those voices echo far away into the distant reaches of the empty desert as Moses led the way, and the joyous throng followed. Great clouds of dust billowed as Jacob's children walked out of Egypt, walked out of their chains and away from their bondage.
Just think of that day or night when you came to know the Lord Jesus as your Savior. Can you recapture the emotions of that moment? Remember when that friend gave you the Good News about God's provision for sin and His offer of eternal life? Remember when you realized it was really for you? Remember when that pastor or teacher explained the gospel, and for the first time it really made sense? Remember when your dad or mom sat down with you in your bedroom and explained the truth about sin and Christ and eternity, and you said, "Tonight's the night"?
Was that a harsh, hard experience? Admittedly, you left all the familiar things of Egypt behind you, but don't forget you also left your chains! You left your years of slavery to sin's domination, and then you began to taste of God's provision. You began to drink from the deep wells of His grace. Nothing ever tasted so sweet and so refreshing.
It's not over, friend. There's more out there. His plan goes a lot deeper than getting you out of Egypt. Getting you into His family was Plan A. Getting you into His will, for your whole life---that's Plan B. And maybe that's where you are as you read these words. You find yourself about to step into unknown territory and follow God where you have never been before. Looking at it through the eyes of the ancient Hebrews, you're about to make history. Good for you!


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 May 2011, 8:49 pm

Historical Obedience
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 12:1--28
The instruction Moses gave was to be passed along from generation to generation. After he finished with these specific instructions, Scripture says, "And the people bowed low and worshiped. Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did" (vv. 27--28).
We're back again to the key word: obedience. Pharaoh did not---would not---obey. As a result, he exposed both himself and his nation to the judgment of the Lord. The Hebrews, however, heard the Lord's Word through Moses and did obey, right down to the smallest detail. As a result, they experienced a great deliverance. They made history, while Pharaoh became history.

I would like to apply some of these thoughts before we press on. My personal conviction is that our greatest struggle is not in the realm of understanding the will of God; it's in the realm of obeying the God whose will it is. To be painfully honest, when you and I look back over our lives, we do not find ourselves puzzled and mystified about God's will nearly as much as we find ourselves stubborn and resistant to the One who was directing our steps. Our problem wasn't that we didn't know; our problem was that we knew but weren't willing to follow through.
That's the basic struggle of the Christian life. The clear truth of God is set before us time and time again. It's available to us, we read it, we hear it explained from a pulpit, in a Christian book, or on a Christian radio program, and we sense the Holy Spirit whispering, Yes, this means you. We understand Him clearly . . . but we resist. When the chips are down, our tendency is to say, "I've got it planned another way." Looking back, we wonder, "Why didn't I obey?" Or, "Why didn't I follow God's call?"
At some juncture in our lives---maybe at several junctures---we need to ask ourselves those questions. You may say, "Well, Chuck, he's not calling everyone to that task." I know that. But that's not the issue here. We're not talking about everyone. The question is, how do you know He isn't calling you?

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 May 2011, 1:35 pm

The Essential Ingredient
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 11:1--10

The main point, the central ingredient of Exodus 11 and 12, is obedience. God spoke, some people heard and did what God said. As a result, God used them in His plan at that time in history.
God knew in advance what use that silver and gold would be put to when the new nation arrived at Mount Sinai out in the desert. God already had something in mind that no one had ever dreamed of yet---the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting where the Israelites would meet in close proximity with the awesome holy God who had delivered them.
At this point, God didn't tell them why they would need those precious metals. He just said, "Ask for them," and they did. It's called obedience.
Isn't that encouraging? Earlier, we read about Moses' bad day. The ex-shepherd was under the gun, snarled at by the king and thoroughly hated by the Hebrew leadership. But now we read that he was "greatly esteemed" in Egypt by the Egyptians. From the court of Pharaoh on down to the man on the street, people were saying, "Now there's a great man."
Do you know why that was true? Because Moses stood all alone and trusted God (he obeyed), and the Lord gave him favor in their eyes. The Lord delights to do that. Remember Proverbs 16:7? "When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." We see that borne out yet again in this amazing development.
That may be the very word you need from the Lord today. Perhaps in your work you have come to an impasse; there's an issue of integrity at stake, and you've determined not to compromise. Because of your stand for Christ, you find that you are resented. I want to assure you that if you handle your situation wisely and tactfully, God will see to it that in the eyes of those who are now your enemies, you will one day be esteemed. They will respect your stand because you are standing alone, doing what is right.


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 May 2011, 2:53 pm

May 21, 2011
I Will Not Retreat
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 6:13
Right after God told Moses what He would do, He said to him, "You must believe it. I command you to do this thing." "Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt" (v. 13 NIV).
God was saying, "This is going to happen. The Israelites will come out of Egypt. This isn't wishful thinking or a nice sentiment. I intend to bring it to pass. Get ready to execute the plan."
So often the arrow that penetrates our soul at the weakest point is our unbelief. We know in our heads what God has said, but it takes faith to put it into gear, to get out there and start practicing what He has told us to do. Then and there, at that split-second of hesitation, the battle is won or lost.
This is how we need to pray, even when we feel as if we never want to pray again: "Lord, I don't feel like praying right now, but hear my prayer anyway. Lord, I will believe You, even though the tide is rising, and I'm already on tip-toe. I will believe You, even though it seems like it's taking You forever to keep Your promise. I will believe You, even though I've come to the ragged end of my strength, the dregs of my hope, the broken shards of my plans. I will not look for a shortcut. I will not rely on a carnal option. I will not retreat from the battle. I will believe You!"

God's promise to Moses is the same to us: "Because I am who I am, I will do what is best for you." There isn't a day on this side of eternity, no matter how grim, that can't be improved by clinging to that reassuring thought.


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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