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Post  Admin on Mon 03 Oct 2011, 9:19 pm

October 3, 2011

Mundane and Miraculous
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Esther 2:1--7

Woven through the tapestry of this wonderful story we find at least three timeless lessons thus far. The first has to do with God's plan. The second has to do with God's purposes. And the third has to do with God's people.

First, God's plans are not hindered when the events of this world are carnal or secular. God is at work. He's moving. He's touching lives. He's shaping kingdoms. He's never surprised by what humanity may do. Just because actions or motives happen to be secular or carnal or unfair, it doesn't mean He's not present. Those involved may not be glorifying Him, but never doubt it, He's present. He's at work.

Second, God's purposes are not frustrated by moral or marital failures. How do I know that? Because He is a God who applies grace to the long view of life. Wrong grieves Him, and serious consequences follow, but no amount of wrong frustrates His sovereign purposes! He is a God of great grace.

Third, God's people are not excluded from high places because of handicap or hardship. Esther was a Jew exiled in a foreign land. She was an orphan. She was light-years removed from Persian nobility. Yet none of that kept God from exalting her to the position in which He wanted her.

God's hand is not so short that it cannot save, nor is His ear so heavy that He cannot hear. Whether you see Him or not, He is at work in your life this very moment. God specializes in turning the mundane into the meaningful. God not only moves in unusual ways, He also moves on uneventful days. He is just as involved in the mundane as He is in the miraculous.

He is a sovereign God at work amid the vast scenes of state and empires in our world. And we, even in the midst of our usual days, must remain pure and committed to the things of God and His work in our lives, even as we remain sensitive to His hand moving in carnal, secular, even drunken places. Only then can we bring to our broken world the hope it so desperately needs.



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 01 Oct 2011, 11:57 am

October 1, 2011
God at Work
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Esther 1:1--22

Memucan wanted an edict prohibiting Queen Vashti from ever entering King Xerxes' presence again written into the law of the Medes and the Persians---the law which can never be changed. In that way, his suggestion would affect far more than Vashti; it would have a direct effect on everyone's marriage. But if it was an attempt to get the women of Persia to have greater respect for their husbands, it was a strange way to make that happen!

What you have to keep in mind is that Esther doesn't have the foggiest idea that any of this is going on; she knows nothing of the events transpiring in the royal palace. She also knows nothing yet about this "royal edict," which will set events in motion that will totally change her own life. Esther is going about her no-big-deal business, living her everyday life, greeting the sunrise of each ordinary morning, carrying out her day-to-day responsibilities. Is she in for a surprise!

This is the wonder of God's sovereignty. Working behind the scenes, He is moving and pushing and rearranging events and changing minds until He brings out of even the most carnal and secular of settings a decision that will set His perfect plan in place. We see that here, and we'll see it throughout the story of Esther.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that God is asleep when it comes to nations, or that He is out of touch when it comes to carnal banquets, or that He sits in heaven wringing His hands when it comes to godless rulers (even today) who make unfair, rash, or stupid decisions. Mark it down in permanent ink: God is always at work. But His ways are so different from ours, we quickly jump to fallacious conclusions and either react rashly or get paralyzed in panic.

Know this: God holds the future in His omnipotent hands. So you can rest assured.



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 30 Sep 2011, 5:48 pm

September 30, 2011

Rewards for Being Different
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 5:3--6


For the past few days, we have observed the promises Jesus made in "The Beatitudes."

We are only halfway through the list, but it's a good place to stop and summarize what we have seen in this inspired portrait thus far.

Jesus is describing how to be different, how to be His unique servant in a hostile, wicked world. He honors particular character traits and offers special rewards for each.

1.Those who are genuinely humble before God, who turn to Him in absolute dependence, will be assured of a place in His kingdom.
2.Those who show compassion on behalf of the needy, the hurting, will receive (in return) much comfort in their own lives.
3.Those who are gentle---strong within yet controlled without, who bring a soothing graciousness into irritating situations, will win out.
4.Those who have a passionate appetite for righteousness, both heavenly and earthly, will receive from the Lord an unusual measure of personal contentment and satisfaction.


Before going further, let's ask ourselves these questions (try to answer each one directly and honestly):

•Am I really different?
•Do I take all this seriously . . . so much so that I am willing to change?
•Is it coming through to me that serving others is one of the most Christlike attitudes I can have?
•What significant difference will the ideas expressed in the Beatitudes have on my life?


The bottom-line question is not, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" but rather, "What are you becoming, now that you're grown?"



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, page 104. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.



September 29, 2011
A Promise for “Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness”
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 5:6


The true servant of God possesses an insatiable appetite for what is right, a passionate drive for justice. Spiritually speaking, the servant is engaged in a pursuit of God . . . a hot, restless, eager longing to walk with Him, to please Him. That's who Jesus referred to when He said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6).

Eleventh-century Bernard of Clairvaux expressed it in this way in his hymn, "Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts":

We taste Thee, O Thou living bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.¹

Bernard's pen dripped with that insatiable appetite for God.

But there is a practical side of this fourth beatitude as well. It includes not just looking upward, pursuing a vertical holiness, but also looking around and being grieved over the corruption, the inequities, the gross lack of integrity, the moral compromises that abound. The servant "hungers and thirsts" for right on earth. Unwilling simply to sigh and shrug off the lack of justice and purity as inevitable, servants press on for righteousness. Some would call them idealists or dreamers.

Another teacher, the great seventeenth-century preacher and Bible expositor, Matthew Henry, offers an eloquent assessment of this concept. He points out that true righteousness grows in humility, through patient acceptance of whatever life may throw at us. Whether life brings us poverty or wealth, sickness or health, or just normal day-to-day existence, the deeper rewards of the Christian life come through patient and obedient dependence upon God. Henry writes:

Those who contentedly bear oppression, and quietly refer themselves to God to plead their cause, shall in due time be satisfied, abundantly satisfied, in the wisdom and kindness, which shall be manifested in the appearances for them.²

The idea of hungering and thirsting for righteousness may sound a bit strained to our modern ears, but Matthew Henry tells us that those who seek God's blessings will naturally desire to experience genuine righteousness. And righteousness, he says, grows out of a deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ. The blessings of heaven are purchased for us, not by our own holiness or piety but by the righteousness of Christ.

And what will happen when this passionate appetite is a part of one's life? What does Jesus promise? "They shall be satisfied" (5:6). What a picture of contentment! Contented in soul and satisfied within, the servant with an appetite for righteousness will be filled. It's comforting to hear that promise.

Normally, one would think such an insatiable pursuit would make one so intense there would be only fretfulness and agitation. But, no, Jesus promises to bring a satisfaction to such hungry and thirsty souls . . . a "rest" of spirit that conveys quiet contentment.



1. Bernard of Clairvaux, "Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts," trans. Ray Palmer, in Hymns for the Family of God (Nashville: Paragon, 1976), hymn 451.
2. Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible: Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961), 1220.

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 101--103. 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 29 Sep 2011, 9:41 am

September 28, 2011

A Promise for "The Gentle"
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 5:5


What comes to mind as you read Jesus's words, "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5)?

Truth be told, we may get a false first impression. We may think, Blessed are the weak for they shall become doormats. In our rough and rugged individualism, we think of gentleness as weakness, being soft, and virtually spineless. Not so! The Greek term is extremely colorful, helping us to grasp a correct understanding of why the Lord sees the need for His people to be gentle. The word is used several ways in extra-biblical literature:

•A wild stallion that has been tamed, brought under control, is described as being "gentle."
•Carefully chosen words that soothe strong emotions are referred to as "gentle" words.
•Ointment that takes the fever and sting out of a wound is called "gentle."
•In one of Plato's works, a child asks the physician to be tender as he treats him. The child uses this term, "gentle."
•Those who are polite, who have tact and are courteous, and who treat others with dignity and respect are called "gentle" people.


So then, gentleness includes such enviable qualities as having strength under control, being calm and peaceful when surrounded by a heated atmosphere, emitting a soothing effect on those who may be angry or otherwise beside themselves, and possessing tact and gracious courtesy that causes others to retain their self-esteem and dignity. Clearly, it includes a Christlikeness, since Jesus uses the same term to describe His own character (Matthew 11:28--29).

And what does the promise mean "for they shall inherit the earth"? It can be understood as one of two ways---now or later. Either "they ultimately win out in this life," or "they will be given vast territories in the kingdom, to judge and to rule." Instead of losing, the gentle gain. Instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, they come out ahead!

Even though from all outward appearances it seems the wicked are winning, it won't last. They prosper in their way, their schemes work, their cheating and lying and unfair treatment of others appear to pay off. They just seem to get richer and become more and more powerful. But God says it won't be forever (Psalm 37:7--11). The ultimate victory will not be won by the wicked. The "gentle" will win.

Believe that truth! Be different from the system! Trust your heavenly Father to keep His promise regarding your inheritance. It is you who will be blessed.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 99--101. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.


September 27, 2011



A Promise for "Those Who Mourn"
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 5:4


I remember an incident many years ago when a man in our church fell while taking a shower. As he slipped on the slick floor, he fell against a sheet of glass with all his weight. The splintering glass stabbed deeply into his arm at and around his biceps. Blood spurted all over the bathroom. Paramedics arrived quickly with lights flashing, sirens screaming, and the "squawk box" blaring from within the cab. The man was placed on a stretcher as the family hurriedly raced against time to get him to the emergency ward nearby. Thankfully, his life was saved, and he has fully recovered.

As I spoke with his wife about the ordeal, she told me not one neighbor even looked out his door, not to mention stopped by to see if they needed help. Not one . . . then or later! They showed no compassion by their lack of "mutual mourning."

How unlike our Savior! We are told, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). True servants are like their Lord---compassionate.

In recording Christ's words, "Blessed are those who mourn" (Matthew 5:4), Matthew chose the strongest Greek term in all his vocabulary when he wrote, "mourn." It is a heavy word---a passionate lament on behalf of one who was loved with profound devotion. The term conveys the sorrow of a broken heart, the ache of soul, the anguish of mind. It could include several scenes:

• Mourning over wrong in the world
• Mourning over personal loss
• Mourning over one's own wrong and sinfulness
• Mourning over the death of someone close

Interestingly, this particular term also includes compassion, a sincere caring for others. Perhaps a satisfactory paraphrase could read, "How happy are those who care intensely for the hurts and sorrows and losses of others." At the heart of this character trait is compassion.

And the promise for "those who mourn"? The Savior promises, "they shall be comforted" (5:4). In return for the compassionate mourning they have given, comfort will be theirs to claim. I find it significant that no mention is made of the source or the channel. Simply, it will come. Perhaps from the same one the servant cared for back when there was a need.

It is axiomatic but true---there can be little comfort where there has been no grief.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 98--99. 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 27 Sep 2011, 10:27 am

September 26, 2011
A Promise for "The Poor in Spirit"
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 5:3


At first glance, Jesus's reference to "the poor in spirit" seems to refer to those who have little or no money---people of poverty with zero financial security.

Wrong.

You'll note He speaks of being "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3, emphasis added). This is an attitude of absolute, unvarnished humility. What an excellent way to describe the portrait of God's servant! It is the portrait of one who sees himself or herself as spiritually bankrupt, deserving of nothing . . . who turns to almighty God in total trust.

This spirit of humility is very rare in our day of strong-willed, proud-peacock attitudes. The clinched fist has replaced the bowed head. The big mouth and the surly stare now dominate the scene once occupied by the quiet godliness of the "poor in spirit." How self-righteous we have become! How confident in and of ourselves! And with that attitude, how desperately unhappy we are!

A special promise follows the trait of spiritual helplessness: "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (5:3), says Jesus. The vital condition of receiving a part in the kingdom of heaven is that we acknowledge our spiritual poverty. The person with a servant's heart---not unlike a child trusting completely in his or her parent's provision---is promised a place in Christ's kingdom.

The opposite attitude is clearly revealed in the Laodicean congregation, where Christ rebuked them with severe words. They were so proud, and they were blind to their own selfishness (read Revelation 3:15--17). Chances are good that there wasn't a servant in the whole lot at Laodicea.

First and foremost in the life of an authentic servant of God is a deep, abiding dependency on the living Lord.

On the basis of that attitude, the kingdom of heaven is promised.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 95--98. 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 24 Sep 2011, 6:56 pm

September 24, 2011



Jesus's Command: "Be Different!"
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 6:8


When Jesus walked the earth, He attracted a number of people to Himself. On one occasion, He sat down among them and taught them some bottom-line truths about how He wanted them to grow up.

The scriptural account of His "Sermon on the Mount" is found in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. If I were asked to suggest an overall theme of this grand sermon, it would be "Be different!" Time and again, Jesus states the way things were among the religious types of their day, and then He instructs them to be different. For example:

Matthew 5:21--22: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:27--28: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:33--34: "Again, you have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:38--39: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."
Matthew 5:43--44: "You have heard . . . but I say to you. . . ."

Get the picture?

Then in Matthew 6, Jesus further explains how His listeners were to be different when they gave to the needy (6:2), and when they prayed (6:5), and when they fasted (6:16). The key verse in the entire sermon is, "So do not be like them . . ." (6:8).

You see, Jesus saw through all the pride and hypocrisy of others and was determined to instill in His disciples character traits of humility and authenticity. His unique teaching cut through the facade of religion like a sharp knife through warm butter. It remains to this day the most comprehensive delineation in all the New Testament of the Christian counterculture . . . offering a lifestyle totally at variance with the world system.

Are you willing to be different today?



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 92--93. 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 23 Sep 2011, 5:48 pm

September 23, 2011

When You Grow Up
by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 20:28


"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

That's a favorite question we enjoy asking children. And the answers we get usually are "a police officer" or "a nurse" or maybe "a fire fighter." Some kids are visionary. They answer "a movie star" or "a singer" or "a doctor" or "a professional ball player." One recently told me he wanted to be either a car mechanic or a garbage collector. When I asked why, he gave the classic answer for a nine-year-old: "So I can get dirty!" I smiled as I had a flashback to my own childhood. And I understood.

Let's take that same question and ask it another way. Let's imagine asking Jesus Christ what He wants us to be when we grow up. Suddenly, it's a whole new question. I honestly believe He would give the same answer to every one of us: "I want you to be different . . . to be a servant." In all my life, I cannot recall anybody ever saying that when he grew up he wanted to be a servant.

It sounds lowly . . . humiliating . . . lacking in dignity.

We find it encouraging to think of ourselves as God's servants. I mean, who wouldn't want to be a servant of the King? But when it comes to serving other people, we begin to question the consequences. We feel noble when serving God; we feel humble when serving people. Serving God receives a favorable response; serving people (especially those who cannot repay) has no visible benefit or glory from anyone except from God!

Christ gave us the example: "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). To be a servant of God, we must be a servant of people.

In business and work, the concept of serving people must undergird all that we do. When we serve, we think first of the one we are trying to serve. Employees who serve honestly in their work honor God and deepen their value to their employers. On the other hand, self-serving employees will seldom be valued in any company.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 91--92. 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 22 Sep 2011, 1:51 pm

September 22, 2011


Redirecting Our Gaze
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Kings 2:12--15; Matthew 17:1--13

The Christian's greatest goal is to be like Christ. We want to emulate His exemplary life, model His method of teaching, resist temptation as He resisted it, handle conflicts as He did, focus on the mission God calls us to accomplish as Christ focused on His. And certainly it is our desire to commune with the Father as the Son did throughout His ministry and suffering. No greater compliment can be given than this one: "When I am with that person, it's as if I'm in the presence of Jesus Himself."

Throughout this study of Elijah, I have often thought of how closely the great prophet's life resembled the Messiah, who was yet to come: the way he spent time alone; the courage he showed as he stood in the presence of his enemy and delivered God's message; the power he exhibited when it took a miracle to convince his audience that he was a man with a message from God---the one true God; the compassion he demonstrated when he cared about the widow's grief and brought her son back to life; even the anguish he felt in his own Gethsemane as he wrestled in his soul. And finally, how much like Christ was his departure. As others stood staring, he was taken up to heaven out of their sight.

Is it any surprise, then, that when our Savior asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" the answer from some was, "Elijah." Why, of course! Small wonder, for in many ways their lives paralleled. And when the two men appeared before Jesus and three of His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, one was Moses, and the other was none other than Elijah (Matthew 17:3).

Elijah's heroic and humble life urges us to be like Christ---to lift our eyes from the grit and grind of today's woes and to turn our attention to the glory and hope of another land. Immanuel's land! And in that frame of mind, we'll redirect our gaze from who gets the glory to who gives the grace. Then, while fully focused on Him---our King of grace, the gentle Lamb of God---the deepest longings of our souls will be satisfied.

If you compare your life to Christ, how long would your list be of matching characteristics?



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.




September 21, 2011

Mantle of Power
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Kings 2:12--15

Elijah's no-death contract suddenly went into effect. Elijah, prophet of power---gone. Elisha, prophet of double power---here, ready, and about to be used greatly by his God.

When a man or woman of God dies, nothing of God dies. We tend to forget that. We get so caught up in the lives of certain individuals that we begin to think we cannot do without them. What limited thinking! When even a mighty servant is gone, God has seven thousand who have never bowed the knee to Baal. He has them ready, waiting in the wings. Classic case in point: Elisha. God always has a back-up plan.

Think about it. Through the ages He has had His men and women in every era to carry on His work. Never once has God been frustrated, wondering, What will My people do now that he's gone? Now that she's no longer with them? Our Creator-God is omnipotent. He is never caught shorthanded.

Elisha may have been momentarily surprised and stunned, but that didn't last long. Remembering Elijah's words, he reached down and picked up the prophet's cloak. Claiming the power that now was his, he crossed back over the Jordan and began his own prophetic ministry. God's plan never missed a beat. Exit Elijah. Enter Elisha.

We can't help but wonder if, in the years to come, Elisha didn't stop and study that old mantle, calling to mind those great days of the past when his mentor and friend stood alone, representing God's presence and proclaiming God's message. The memory of the older Elijah---a man of heroism and humility---served to strengthen the younger Elisha, whom God destined to serve in even greater ways.

There are times, to this day, when I call to mind my granddaddy, L. O. Lundy. His wise words of counsel still linger. His life of quiet, deep character sometimes seems so close to me I can almost feel his warm breath on the back of my neck. Yes, to this day I miss him, but the mantle of his memory spurs me on to greater heights and deeper devotion.

The good news is this: I will one day see him. And we, together, will worship the same Lord face to face, " . . . and thus we shall always be with the Lord."

Whose mantle have you received? And what will you do with its inherited influence?



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 20 Sep 2011, 5:21 pm

September 20, 2011

Times of Searching
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Kings 2:1--14

Self-denial does not come naturally. It is a learned virtue (often hard-learned), encouraged by few and modeled by even fewer, especially among those who are what we've come to know as Type A personalities. Prophets are notorious for exhibiting this temperament, which makes Elijah all the more remarkable. Without hedging in heroism, he was as soft clay in his Master's hands. As we saw earlier, he did his best work "under the shadow of the Almighty." His was a life of power, because he had come to the place where he welcomed the death of his own desires, even if it meant the greatest display of God's glory.

The place of beginning, the place of the prayer, the place of battle, the place of death. We, too, have such places in our lives.

First, there's a place of beginning. That's home base---the very beginning of our Christian experience when we are born anew. That's our place of new beginning. At our own Gilgal, we become brand new.

For some of us, that place of beginning, that home base, is far in the past. Search your memory. Can you remember when you took your first few baby steps? You tottered a little, and those who loved and mentored you helped steady you on your feet. And you learned the basics of life: how to get into the Word; how to pray; how to have time with God; how to share your faith.

And then comes the place of prayer. Remember? You first began to learn what it was to sacrifice, to surrender things dear and precious to you. For some it was a miscarriage or the loss of a child. For some it was the loss of a husband or wife. Perhaps for you it was the loss of a job, your own business, or a lifelong dream never to be realized. Coming all alone to your own Bethel, you learned to pray.

God did a real work in your life as He carried you from that place of communion to the next stage He planned for you. And because you'd learned the value of prayer, you built your altar, and you learned even more at His feet. Search back in time. Remember?

Self-denial is hard to learn, but it's worth the effort.



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 19 Sep 2011, 6:30 pm

September 19, 2011

Straight Talk
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Kings 1:1--18

Today, countless people seek to know the future. Newspapers and magazines carry horoscope columns. Television networks advertise psychic hotlines. Bus stop benches boast ads for palm readers. Magazine racks beside grocery store checkout counters offer paperback books on astrology, numerology, and other occult subjects.

To many, this hype may sound like sheer silliness; it may appear to be nothing more than harmless fun. After all, what's so bad about reading your daily horoscope? But listen up---this is enemy territory! It is anything but silliness or harmless fun. Like the wood and stone idols of Ekron, these present-day seers are substitutes for putting our trust in the living God.

God is displeased with any occult involvement. No matter what the motive, no matter how great the need, dabbling with the occult is sin. God's Word is crystal clear on this subject. Far back in the book of Leviticus, God gives His people this direct command: "Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 19:31).

Beyond that, God is dishonored by any specific pursuit of the future that does not find its source in His Word. I realize that most people who begin dabbling in astrology, fortune-telling, or Ouija boards don't take it all that seriously. Astrology, for example, has a captivating appeal. Most do it for fun or out of curiosity. But these simple, harmless-looking games begin a process that many cannot handle; and they open doors that should remain closed. Then it's only a matter of time before the dark powers of demonic forces suck them in, and they find themselves ensnared.

But let me reassure you, God is delighted when we trust Him only. The Lord strengthens those who put their trust in Him. If we are not grounded in the Word of God and seeking Him daily as our source of strength and knowledge for the future, we, too, can easily fall prey to the lure of the occult.

Learn a lasting lesson from Elijah. As you stand strong for the truth, watch out for the enemy. He not only plays dirty; he plays for keeps. And he's playing for your soul.



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 17 Sep 2011, 4:57 pm

September 17, 2011

Two Solemn Reminders
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 21:1--29

After recording these dire predictions, spoken by the Lord through Elijah, the writer of 1 Kings gives this commentary on the lives of Ahab and Jezebel: "Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife incited him" (1 Kings 21:25). What a partnership! They were partners in unparalleled evil, until God finally said, "That's enough."

Here are two sobering and solemn reminders for us to consider:

First, there is an end to God's patience. No one knows it. God's wheels of justice grind slowly but exceedingly fine. God, in gracious patience and mercy, waits for us to hear His voice and obey. People hear the gospel of salvation and do not respond. Yet God waits. Some claim His name, but live in a way that says otherwise. Still God waits.

God's patience sometimes even frustrates us, particularly when evil persists, and He doesn't step in and stop it. At times like that, it's easy to convince ourselves that evil goes perpetually unnoticed.

You and I don't know at what point God reaches His divine limit and says, "That's enough! That's all! I will tolerate this no longer." But I know from this passage and others in Scripture, and I know from His dealings with Sodom and Gomorrah, Herod Agrippa, Ahab and Jezebel that God's patience can, and does, finally run out. Don't be fooled into thinking that His longsuffering is everlasting suffering.

Second, God keeps His word. No one stops it. Never forget what you've read in this section. Ahab and Jezebel were so powerful, so intimidating, so wicked. They thought they were in charge of everything---invincible. But when God stepped in, it was curtains for them. They were helpless to stop His judgment.

If you are a child of God, He will not cast you out of His family. But if you are stubbornly refusing to obey Him, continuing to walk your own way, He will bring severe discipline upon you. He loves you too much to ignore your actions.

God is good and just. And when His justice finally kicks in, there's no escaping it. If you think otherwise, you've bought into "a deadly opiate."



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.

September 16, 2011



Look Up
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 19:10--21

Thanks to God's kind and gentle dealing, Elijah crawled out of the cave. "He departed from there." God graciously nurtured him through rest and refreshment, gave him some wise counsel, and made him feel significant again. Talk about compassion!

Then God allowed Elijah to pass his mantle to Elisha, his successor. But God did more than that, abundantly more. For Elisha "arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him." God not only gave Elijah a successor; He also raised up a close, personal friend---someone who loved Elijah and understood him well enough to help and encourage him.

God has not designed us to live like hermits in a cave. He has designed us to live in friendship, fellowship, and community with others. That's why the church, the body of Christ, is so very important, for it is there that we are drawn together in love and mutual encouragement. We're meant to be a part of one another's lives. Otherwise, we pull back, focusing on ourselves---thinking how hard we have it or how unfair others are.

Elijah reminds us to look up:

Let's look up after the Lord graciously delivers us from depression.
Let's look up when He allows us rest and refreshment following an exhausting schedule that has taken its toll on us.
Let's look up and thank Him when He gently and patiently speaks to us from His Word after we've climbed out of a pit of self-pity.
Let's look up and praise Him when He faithfully provides the companionship and affirmation of a friend who understands and encourages us.
Let's look up and acknowledge the Giver more than the gift.

Let's say, "Thank You, Lord, for telling us all about Elijah," who is an unforgettable example that there is nowhere to look but up.



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 15 Sep 2011, 3:24 pm

September 15, 2011


Come Out
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 19:10--18

God met his servant Elijah in his desperate moment of discouragement and despair. This is mercy at its best, beautifully portrayed by the Master Himself.

First, God allowed Elijah a time of rest and refreshment. No sermon. No rebuke. No blame. No shame. No lightning bolt from heaven, saying, "Look at you! Get up, you worthless ingrate! Get on your feet! Quickly, back on the job!"

Instead, God said, "Take it easy, my son. Relax. You haven't had a good meal in a long time." Then He catered a meal of freshly baked bread and cool, refreshing water. That must have brought back sweet memories of those simple days by the brook at Cherith. How gracious of God!

Fatigue can lead to all sorts of strange imaginations. It'll make you believe a lie. Elijah was believing a lie, partly because he was exhausted. So God gave him rest and refreshment, and afterward Elijah went on for forty days and nights in the strength of it.

Second, God communicated wisely with Elijah. God said, "Elijah! Get up and walk out of this cave. Man, it's dark in here. Go out there and stand in the light. Stand on the mountain before Me. That's the place to be encouraged. Forget Jezebel. I want you to get your eyes on Me. Come on, I'm here for you. I always will be."

God's presence was not in wind or earthquake or fire. His voice came in the gentle breeze. Those sweet zephyrs were like windswept, invisible magnets, drawing Elijah out of the cave. Do you see what God did? He drew Elijah out of the cave of self-pity and depression. And once Elijah was out of that cave, God asked him again, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

God showed Elijah that he still had a job to do---that there was still a place for him. Disillusioned and exhausted though he was, he was still God's man and God's choice for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). And as far as this I'm-all-alone stuff went, "Elijah, let Me set the record straight," said God. "There are seven thousand faithful out there who have not bowed to Baal. You're really not alone. At any given moment, with the snap of My divine fingers, I can bring to the forefront a whole fresh battalion of My troops." What reassurance that brought.



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 14 Sep 2011, 1:58 pm

September 14, 2011

When the Darkness Hits
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 19:1--9

Why did Elijah fear Jezebel's intimidating threats? Why did he run away from his longstanding priority of serving God and hide in fear under the shadow of that solitary tree, deep in the wilderness?

First, Elijah was not thinking realistically or clearly. He was so shortsighted that he failed to consider the source of this threat. Think about it. The threat hadn't come from God; it had come from an unbelieving, carnal human being who lived her godless life light-years from God. If Elijah had been thinking clearly and realistically, he would have realized this.

Second, Elijah separated himself from strengthening relationships.

Third, Elijah was caught in the backwash of a great victory. Our most vulnerable moments usually come after a great victory, especially if that victory is a mountaintop experience with God. That's when we need to set up a defense against the enemy.

Fourth, Elijah was physically exhausted and emotionally spent. For years Elijah had lived on the edge. He was a wanted, hunted man, considered by the king to be Public Enemy Number One. There is little doubt that Elijah had come to the end of his rope physically and, for sure, emotionally---all of which couldn't help but weaken him spiritually. I don't know if Elijah was disgusted, but I can tell you he was exhausted. You can hear it in his weary words: "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers."

Fifth, Elijah got lost in self-pity. Self-pity is a pathetic emotion. It will lie to you. Exaggerate. Drive you to tears. It will cultivate a victim mentality in your head. And in the worst-case scenario, it can bring you to the point of wishing to die, which is exactly where Elijah was.

We open the door for that pathetic liar, self-pity, when we establish an unrealistic standard and then can't live up to it. Self-pity mauls its way inside our minds like a beast and claws us to shreds.



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.

September 13, 2011

The Blues
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 19:1--9

Elijah was a heroic prophet, without question. He was also a man of great humility, as we have seen. But let's keep in mind that he was just a man---a human being, subject to the human condition, as we all are. He suffered discouragement, despondency, and depression. On one occasion, he couldn't shake it.

It is not surprising that at this point in Elijah's life the great prophet hit bottom. For several years he had stood strong amidst and against almost insurmountable odds and circumstances. But now, after a great victory, he dropped into the throes of discouragement and total despair.

He's a man, he's human, just like us, remember. Since this is true, we shouldn't be shocked to read that

He was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:3--4)

I'm glad that this chapter has been included in Scripture. I'm glad that when God paints the portraits of His men and women, He paints them warts and all. He doesn't ignore their weaknesses or hide their failures.

Elijah had to get his eyes back on the Lord. That was absolutely essential. He had been used mightily, but it was the Lord who made him mighty. He stood strong against the enemy, but it was the Lord who had given him the strength.

Often we are more enamored with the gifts God gives us than with the Giver Himself. When the Lord brings rest and refreshment, we become more grateful for the rest and refreshment than for the God who allows it. When God gives us a good friend, we become absorbed in that friendship and so preoccupied with the friend that we forget it was our gracious God who gave us the friend. How easy to focus on the wrong things.



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 12 Sep 2011, 10:47 pm

The Big Leagues
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 18:41--46

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:16b--18)

We read about Elijah and we say, "Wow, he's in the big leagues. He's a spiritual giant. I'm a pygmy in comparison to him. He's in another world entirely." Not true. Look again.

James doesn't say, "Elijah was a mighty prophet of God." He doesn't say, "Elijah was a powerful worker of miracles." He doesn't say, "Elijah was a model no man can match."

James says, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours."

That means he was flesh and blood, muscle and bone. As we're about to see, he got really discouraged, and he had some huge disappointments. He had faults and failures and doubts. He was just a man, with a nature like yours and mine. He may have been a man of heroism and humility, but let's not forget his humanity. Elijah was our kind of man!

So, what kind of man was Elijah?

Well, he wasn't afraid to square off with the king of the land or take on the prophets of Baal. The guy had guts, no question. But he wasn't too powerful to pray or too confident to wait or too sophisticated to see rain in the tiny cloud or too proud to pull up his robe and run like a spotted ape down the mountain in the rain and mud, like the roadrunner, thinking, "C'mon, Ahab . . . catch me if you can!"

No wonder Elijah is the kind of man we admire. Isn't it exciting to know we serve the same God he served? Isn't it thrilling to think we can trust the same God he trusted?

And what kind of God is that? He's the God who makes promises and keeps them.



Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Sat 10 Sep 2011, 2:34 pm

September 10, 2011

Invincible
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 18:22--40

God answered Elijah's prayer. This not only brought fire, but far more importantly, it turned the hearts of the people back to God. It also rid the land of the prophets of Baal.

Then Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape." So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. (1 Kings 18:40)

Some read that last verse and say, "What an extreme response!" Is it? What would you think of a physician who found a mass of rapidly growing malignant cells in your abdomen and said to you, "I think we'd better remove some of those cells"? Or, "I'd like to do just a little minor surgery"? No. A good physician would see that deadly mass and would say, "We have to get all of those cells out of there, along with any surrounding areas that might be contaminated." That's not extreme. That's essential. That's wise.

The prophets of Baal were an immoral, hostile, and anti-God malignancy in the land of Israel. Elijah knew he had to cut away all evidence of such a godless menace.

Nothing makes us more uncertain and insecure than not being sure we are in the will of God. And nothing is more encouraging than knowing for sure that we are. Then, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what happens, we can stand fast.

We can be out of a job but know that we are in the will of God. We can face a threatening situation but know that we are in the will of God. We can have the odds stacked against us but know that we are in the will of God. Nothing intimidates those who know that what they believe is based on what God has said. The equation is never eight hundred fifty against one. It is eight hundred fifty against one plus God.

When we know we're in the will of God, we're invincible.

Never once was Elijah intimidated. In this passage, Elijah spoke eight times, and every time he commanded. Yes, every time. He didn't shift, he didn't stutter, he didn't suggest; he leveled a command. He wasn't on the defense; he was on the offense. He knew where he stood. The word to describe that? Invincible.



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 09 Sep 2011, 5:26 pm

September 9, 2011

Prayer of Faith
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 18:22--40

Isn't it amazing how often people try everything but prayer? It's like the old saying: "When everything else fails, read the instructions." The same with prayer. When everything else fails, try prayer. "Okay, okay . . . maybe we should pray about it." But Elijah didn't use prayer as a last resort. Prayer was his first and only resort. A simple prayer of faith was his major contact with the living Lord. It set everything in motion.

Let me ask you a straight-out question: Do you, personally, pray? Now notice that I didn't say, "Do you listen when the preacher prays or when your parents pray?" I didn't say, "Do you know a good Bible study on prayer?" I didn't even say, "Have you taught on prayer?" I asked, "Do you, personally, pray?" Can you look back over the last seven days and pinpoint times you deliberately set aside for prayer? Even just a solid ten or fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time with God?

This entire incident revolves around one dedicated life---the life of Elijah. He was a man all alone, overwhelmingly outnumbered by a hostile king, the king's wicked and powerful wife, eight hundred fifty pagan prophets and priests of Baal, and countless numbers of unbelieving Israelites. Yet all of them were silenced and intimidated by this one dedicated man of God.

Never underestimate the power of one totally dedicated life.

How exciting it would be if, through your own dedication to Jesus Christ, you could influence one person this next week, either by leading him to Jesus or by building her up in the faith. Sound impossible? You know it's not. The Bible and the history of the church are filled with stories of the difference one person's dedication to God has made.

Elijah staged a magnificent showdown with the prophets of Baal. But the greatest showdown of all time was at Calvary, where the enemy of God was defeated by the sacrifice of God's own Son. Why? Because God had one dedicated life He could count on: His own dear Son, Jesus. In fact, the difference He made changed all of history.

I urge you: step up!



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 08 Sep 2011, 3:45 pm

September 8, 2011
Divided Allegiance
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 18:16-21

Divided allegiance is as wrong as open idolatry. "How long will you hesitate between two opinions?" Elijah asks the people of Israel. The easiest thing to do when you are outnumbered or overwhelmed is to remain in that mediocre state of noncommitment. That was where the people of Israel lived, but Elijah never went there. He told them, "You cannot continue in this period of divided allegiance any longer."

The strongest words that were given to the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, were given to the church at Laodicea. And the reason is clear: They were uncommitted. They existed in neutrality. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:15--16).

Get off the fence of indecision, Elijah told the people of Israel. Either you are for God or against Him.

Perhaps you have known God for many years but have never truly been committed to Him. Now is the time to change that. Stop hiding your love for and commitment to Christ. Let the word out! Tactfully yet fearlessly speak devotedly of your faith. Start now. There are so many strategic ways God can use you in your business, your profession, your school, your neighborhood. You don't agree with the ungodly cultural drift that's happening around you? Say so! You sense an erosion of spirituality at your church, and you're serving in a leadership capacity? Address it! Neutrality in the hour of decision is a curse that invariably leads to tragic consequences.

Our most effective tool is the prayer of faith. When it came down to the wire, when Baal had failed and God was about to do His work, the one instrument that Elijah employed was prayer.



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 07 Sep 2011, 4:52 pm

September 7, 2011

No Doubt
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 18:1--15

In the first verse in 1 Kings 18, there is an eloquent phrase: "The word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year." Three years! That's an incredibly long time to go without rain. We can't imagine it, can we? But God was up to something. By now, not even those false prophets could garner much credibility. All repetitious prayers and rituals and voodoo tactics had proven useless. Is it any wonder that Elijah had the people's attention when he challenged the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a public showdown with Jehovah God? By now, they were willing to try anything. Elijah didn't have to plead for their cooperation.

And is it any wonder that, when God proved Himself to them, the people "fell on their faces" and immediately acknowledged, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God" (18:39)? And when Elijah told those same people to seize the prophets and not let one of them escape, he didn't have to beg them; the people of Israel had had enough of those idolatrous fools! The fire from heaven may have convinced them, but the never-ending drought had already sucked dry most of the confidence they'd had in the pagan leaders they had once followed. God's delay worked wonders when the choice between who was worthy of worship needed to be made. Natural calamities normally turn hearts toward God, not from Him.

But look again at that first verse in 1 Kings 18, and you will find another promise of God. Elijah was more than ready to hear this one! "I will send rain on the face of the earth," God said.

Finally. What relief that promise must have brought. I find it interesting that God's prophet had never once complained about the drought, even though the very brook from which his water supply came had dried up, and even though it must have been as dreadfully difficult for him as it was for the others in the land of Israel. But the difference between Elijah and the others was simple: he knew God would one day fulfill His promise and bring rain. Until then, Elijah would wait, never doubting, because he was fully persuaded of something most of us, at one time or another, doubt: God keeps His promises.



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 06 Sep 2011, 11:17 am

September 6, 2011


The God of Impossibilities
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:24

All over this world, around us every day, are people who are looking for the truth to be lived out in the lives of those who claim it. Just as the widow watched Elijah, there are people watching you. They hear what you say you believe, but they are watching to see what you do.

Remember, you are here by God's appointment, you are in His keeping, you are under His training, for His time. Give Him the corpse of your life, and ask Him to revive those lifeless areas that need to be revived. If the situation calls for it, trust Him for a miracle, in His time, if it be His will, for your life.

On the bed of your life place the remains of your broken and scarred past; the emptiness of your poor character traits; the habits, even the addictions that have so long controlled you; the limited vision that continues to characterize you; the slight irritation that nags or the large one that looms; the anger or violence or lust or greed or discontentment or selfishness or the ugliness of pride. Lay all these before the Father, and stretch yourself out under His shadow as you ask Him to bring about remarkable, even miraculous changes in your life.

Is He able? Get serious! I'm referring to "the God of impossibilities," the One who has limitless power, who has never---and will never---meet an intimidating obstacle He cannot overcome, an aggressive enemy He cannot overwhelm, a final decision He cannot override, or a powerful person He cannot overshadow.

Because Elijah believed in "the God of impossibilities," not even death caused him to doubt. He learned his theology of faith in the secret hiding place at Cherith. He was given the opportunity to develop it during his advance training at Zarephath. But it was not until he stared death in the face, literally, that he personified it. And he did it all standing in the shadow of God.

And so must I. And so must 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.

September 5, 2011


Faith Personified
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:24

When the woman saw that her son was alive, she didn't see Elijah. She saw the Lord. "Elijah, I've heard you talk about the God of heaven. I've heard you refer to Him in various ways. But now, when I look at this miracle, I know that you speak the truth."

If you wish to be a man or woman of God, it is essential that you face the impossible situations of life with faith, as Elijah did. If you are a young person who desires to live a godly life that will leave its mark upon this world, you must learn early to stand in the shadow of your Savior, trusting Him to work through the trials you encounter, through the extreme circumstances you cannot handle. The God of Elijah is your God. He is still the God of impossible situations. He still does what no earthly individual can do. Trust Him to do that!

Elijah approached the impossible with calmness and contentment, with gentleness and self-control, with faith and humility. As I've mentioned from the beginning, Elijah was heroic in exploits of faith, but he remained a model of humility.

Examine your own life for these character traits and take them one by one before God. You might say to the Lord, for example, "Lord, today I want to do what You say regarding contentment; I want to have a calm and gentle spirit. I don't simply want to call myself a Christian. I want to be known as a genuine servant of God because my life demonstrates the truth I say I believe. Help me this day to face everything and deal with everyone with a gentle and quiet spirit. Help me to be content, even though things don't go my way.

"Help me today with diligence, Lord. I tend to lose sight of the goal as the day wears on. I'm a good starter, but I don't finish well. Help me to do a quality piece of work and not to give in to the mood of the moment.

"And, Lord, help me, when You begin to bring to pass these qualities in my life, not to call attention to them, but just to let them flow out of my life in glory to You. Help me to become Your servant, Your man, Your woman."

That is how we personify a life of faith.



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 03 Sep 2011, 7:36 pm

September 3, 2011

All Your Heart
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:20--22

That was some prayer. Elijah was not able to say, "Let this child's life return to him, as it happened to Enoch, as it happened to Isaac, as it happened to Moses," because there was no precedence for this particular miracle. So Elijah said, "Lord, I'm trusting You for a miracle. I'm asking You to perform the impossible." He then waited. Everything, at that epochal moment of faith, rested in the Lord's hands.

You may be in the process of placing your own life before the Lord in this way. Things are critical, and only a miracle can breathe new life into your situation. Circumstances are totally out of your control. So you take it to your special place, and, standing in the shadow of your God, you lay it out before Him, prostrating yourself before Him, pleading for His intervention, trusting completely in His miraculous power, refusing to lean on your own understanding.

Dr. Raymond Edman, in his little book, In Quietness and Confidence, writes about a godly man who faced just such a trial.

This is how he met it: He was quiet for a while with his Lord, then he wrote these words for himself:
First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.
Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.
Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
Last, in His time He can bring me out again---how and when He knows.¹

Can you make these four statements? If you can . . . will you?

1. I am here by God's appointment.
2. I am in His keeping.
3. I am under His training.
4. He will show me His purposes in His time.

By God's appointment, in God's keeping, under His training, for His time. What an outstanding summary of what it means to trust in the Lord with all your heart!


1. V. Raymond Edman, In Quietness and Confidence (Wheaton, Ill.: Scripture Press, 1956), 63.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Fri 02 Sep 2011, 2:16 pm

September 2, 2011

Alone with God
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:20--22

Now wait a minute. What is going on here? Up to this point in Scripture, there has been no account of anyone ever being raised from the dead. The closest to that would be Enoch, but he was not resurrected or resuscitated, because he didn't die. God simply took him to glory. "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:24).

So what is Elijah thinking here? How does he dare ask God to do such an unprecedented thing?

Elijah could not go back through the record like some spiritual attorney and try to find another case he could point to and say, "Ah! Precedence recorded in the Scriptures---there's a case like mine. God did it there. He will do it here.” But God never claimed to provide a written record of absolutely everything He has ever done. And I believe He has left the record incomplete, so to speak, so that we will not trust in the past but in the God who is fresh and alive and creative and real, able to meet today's need today.

Elijah had no this-is-how-God-always-does-it manual to follow. Instead, he relied solely on one thing: faith. He had only his faith in the living God.

Don't you wish at times that you had a book where you could look up "impatience"? Okay. "What to do when I'm impatient in the face of testing": here are steps one, two, three, four, and five. And in case of severe emergency: six, seven, and eight. You've got the answer! Or, what to do when death comes: one, two, three, four. If it is the dearest friend you've ever known: five and six. If it is your own child: seven and eight. But there's no such manual. Thankfully, in His Word God does include principles to follow in most crises, but not a precise procedure in all difficult or impossible situations. God leaves us on the cutting edge of today so that we will trust in Him and the principles in His great and gracious Word. That's all we have. That's enough.



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.

September 1, 2011


When Tragedy Strikes
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:17--19

I'm deeply impressed by the man's gentleness. Though Elijah deserved none of the woman's blame, he stood silent under her blast. That's gentleness. Someone, somewhere, has called this fruit of the Spirit "the mint-mark of heaven." When it is present in a highly-charged setting such as this, it becomes a testimony of the Spirit of God at work in the one who could lash back, but doesn't. It is His life, at that gentle and tender moment, being made evident.

I am also impressed with this grieving mother. She, without question or hesitation, places her precious, lifeless son into Elijah's arms. Perhaps the prophet's gentleness suddenly melted her and prompted her, once again, to trust him.

Then, Elijah, the man of God, silently climbed the stairway to the room where he had been doing battle before God on a regular basis. I say this because I believe that Elijah had spent hours, even days, on his knees in that room. He had formed that habit while alone with his God at Cherith.

Do you have a room like that---a place where you meet with God? Do you have a quiet retreat where you and the Lord do regular business together? If you don't, I strongly urge you to provide yourself just such a place---your own prophet's chamber where you and God can meet together. It will be there that you will prepare yourself for life's contingencies. Without it, you'll lack the necessary steel in your foundation of faith.

What do you do when tragedy strikes? What do you do when a test comes? What's your first response? Is it to complain? To be angry? To blame? To try to reason your way out of it? Or have you formed the habit of doing what Elijah did? Do you go to your special place and get alone with God? Elijah provides a wonderful example for us. No panic. No fear. No rush. No doubt.



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 31 Aug 2011, 4:05 pm

August 31, 2011


Confident in the Lord's Power
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:17--19

She stands there, tears streaming down her face, holding the body of her son in her arms. And at that precise moment, Elijah holds out his arms and says, "Give him to me."

He said to her, "Give me your son." Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. (1 Kings 17:19)

There the woman stands, holding the limp, lifeless body of her only child. Her world has come crashing down, suddenly and unexpectedly. And Elijah simply says, "Give him to me."

Do you know what really impresses me here? It's the silence of Elijah. Somehow he knows that nothing he can say at this moment will satisfy this grieving mother. No words from him can soothe her stricken spirit. So he does not argue with her. He does not rebuke her. He does not try to reason with her. He doesn't remind her of all she owes him or of how ashamed she should be for blaming him. He simply asks her to place her burden in his arms.

Pause for a moment to realize that Elijah is again in a situation that, at least from a human point of view, he doesn't deserve. He has obeyed God by going to Ahab then hiding at Cherith. He has walked with God from Cherith to Zarephath. He has done exactly as the Lord instructed, He's trusted God, and now he's receiving the brunt of this woman's blame.

God sometimes seems to put us in the vise, and then He tightens it and tightens it more, until we think, in the pain of His sovereign squeeze, "What's He trying to do to me?" We walk closer to Him and even closer to Him. We don't see how we could walk any closer, but still more tests come, one on top of another.

That's where Elijah is, but he doesn't waver. He stands tall and silent in the shadow of God, grounded in faith, confident of his Lord's power. That's humility at its best.

He doesn't question God. He doesn't fall apart at the seams. He doesn't lose control. He doesn't argue with the woman. He simply says, with quiet compassion, "Give me the boy."



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 30 Aug 2011, 5:09 pm

August 30, 2011

Incredible Associations
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:10--16

Elijah had walked into a situation that was, from all human perspective, impossible. But the good news is that he saw beyond the difficulty. He handled the problem with faith, not fear.

Elijah was determined that those initial first-impression blues were not going to get him down. The widow had her eyes on the impossibilities: a handful of flour, a tiny amount of oil, a few sticks. Elijah rolled up his sleeves and focused only on the possibilities.

How could he do that? Because he was an emerging man of God.

He had been to Cherith. He had seen the proof of God's faithfulness. He had survived the dried-up brook. He had obeyed God, and, without hesitation, he had walked to Zarephath.

You can't talk the talk if you've never walked the walk. You can't encourage somebody else to believe the improbable if you haven't believed the impossible. You can't light another's candle of hope if your own torch of faith isn't burning.

When Elijah saw the near-empty flour bin and oil jug, he said, almost with a shrug, "That's no problem for God. Get in there and fix those biscuits. And fix some for you and your son too." Then he told her why. Listen to these confident words of faith: "The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth."

What a promise! That woman must have looked at Elijah, this tired, dusty stranger, with wonder and bewilderment, as she heard words like she'd never heard before.

Have you ever spent time in the presence of a person of faith? Ever rubbed shoulders with men and women of God who don't have the word "impossible" in their vocabulary? If not, locate a few strong-hearted souls. You need them in your life. These are the kind of incredible associations God uses to build up our faith!



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 29 Aug 2011, 5:46 pm

August 29, 2011

Crucible for Christ
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:8--9

As we did earlier, let's first examine the significance of the name of this place where the prophet was told to go. Zarephath comes from a Hebrew verb that means "to melt, to smelt." Interestingly, in noun form it means "crucible." The place may have gotten its name because there was a smelting plant located somewhere near there; we don't know for sure. But whatever the source of its name, Zarephath would prove to be a "crucible" for Elijah---a place designed by God to further refine the prophet and make a major difference in the remainder of his life.

It was almost as if the Lord were saying to His servant, "I first took you to Cherith to wean you away from the bright lights and the public platform, where I could cut you down to size and reduce you to a man who would trust Me, regardless. It was there I began to renovate your inner man through the disciplines of solitude, silence, and obscurity. But now it's time to do an even deeper work. Now, Elijah, I will turn up the heat in the furnace and melt you so that I might mold you far more exactly into the kind of man I need to fulfill the purposes I have in mind."

If you walk with the Lord long enough, you will discover that His tests often come back-to-back. Or perhaps it would be even more accurate to say back to back to back to back to back. Usually, His preparatory tests don't stop with one or two. They multiply. And as soon as you climb out of one crucible thinking, "Okay, I made it through that one," you're plunged into another, where the flame is even hotter.

Crucibles create Christlikeness. This is precisely what the hymn writer had in mind when he wrote:

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.¹

That's what a crucible does. That's what a furnace does. It brings all the impurities to the surface so that they can be skimmed off, leaving greater purity.



1. George Keith, "How Firm a Foundation," third stanza, 1787.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Sun 28 Aug 2011, 1:58 pm

August 27, 2011

Laying the Foundation of Courage
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:1--7; James 5:17--18

EIijah had prayed that it would not rain and, ultimately, it did not rain for three and a half years. So the dried-up brook was just an indication that the very thing he had prayed for was beginning to take place. He was living in the result of his own prayer.

Have you ever had that happen? "Lord, make me a godly man." "Lord, mold me into a woman after your own heart." Meanwhile, in your heart you're thinking, but don't let it hurt too much. "Lord, make me stable, long-suffering, and gracious," but don't remove too many of my creature comforts. "Lord, teach me faith, make me strong," but don't let me suffer. Have you ever bargained with God like that? We want instant maturity, not the kind that requires sacrifice or emotional pain or hardship. "Lord, give me patience . . . and I want it right now!"

God's spiritual boot camp doesn't work that way. It is designed for our development toward maturity, not for our comfort. But self-denial is not a popular virtue in today's culture.

A short time before Robert E. Lee passed into his Lord's presence, a young mother brought her tiny infant to him. With tenderness, Lee took the child and held him in his arms, looking deeply into the baby's eyes. He then looked up at the mother and said, "Teach him he must deny himself."

The seasoned veteran knew whereof he spoke. As Douglas Southall Freeman writes, "Had his [Lee's] life been epitomized in one sentence of the Book he read so often, it would have been in the words, 'If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.' "¹

Our God is relentless. He never ceases His training regimens. He shaves off our hair, He takes away our comfortable and secure lifestyle, He moves us into cramped and unfamiliar quarters, and He changes our circle of friends---it's like we're in a spiritual boot camp!

In the process, He strips us of all our pride! And then He begins to lay the foundation blocks of heroic courage, and a new kind of confidence, if you will---the kind that no longer defends us but defends Him. What a magnificent change that is. And how essential in our journey toward maturity! Again, it's all part of being cut down to size.



1. Douglas Southall Freeman, R. E. Lee (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1947), 3:216.

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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