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Insight For Living~ Charles R Swindoll

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Post  Admin on Fri 26 Aug 2011, 9:44 pm

August 26, 2011

Tough Spots
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:5--7

Elijah was in a tough spot. A life-threatening spot. The brook had dried up. Had God forgotten His faithful servant? Has God forgotten you? Has He left you all alone?

The God who gives water can also withhold water. That's His sovereign right.

Our human feelings tell us that once our faithful heavenly Father gives water, He should never take it away. It just wouldn't be fair. Once God gives a mate, He should never take a mate. Once God gives a child, He should never take a child. Once He gives a good business, He has no right to take that business. Once He provides a pastor, He must never call him elsewhere. Once He gives us rapid growth and great delight in a ministry, He has no right to step in and say, "Wait a minute. There's no need to grow larger. Let Me take you deeper instead." On the contrary, He has every right!

When we hit a tough spot, our tendency is to feel abandoned, to become resentful, to think, How could God forget me? In fact, just the opposite is true. In times of testing, we are more than ever the object of His concern.

But God says, in the midst of your dried-up brook, "You are written on the palms of My hands. You are continually before me." Then He uses that wonderful image of a young mother with her new baby, and He surprises us with a realistic reminder: "Can a woman forget her nursing child?" You wouldn't think so, would you? But look at the stories in the news, and you know how many women do exactly that. Babies left in garbage dumpsters. Tiny babies abandoned---sometimes even abused or tortured or murdered. Yes, as unimaginable as it seems, even a mother can forget her nursing child. But here's the clincher: Not God. Not God! He will never forget us. We are permanently inscribed on the palms of His hands. Pause, and let that sink in.



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 25 Aug 2011, 11:17 pm

August 25, 2011

The Brook Has Dried Up
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:5--7

One morning Elijah noticed that the brook wasn't gushing over the rocks or running as freely as it had in days past. Since that single stream of water was his lifeline, he checked it carefully. Over the next few days he watched it dwindle and shrink, until it was only a trickle. Then one morning, there was no water, only wet sand. The hot winds soon siphoned even that dampness, and the sand hardened. Before long, cracks appeared in the parched bed of the brook. No more water. The brook had dried up.

Does that kind of experience sound familiar to you? At one time you knew the joy of a full bank account, a booming business, an exciting, ever-expanding career, a magnificent and exciting ministry. But the brook has dried up.

At one time you knew the joy of using your voice to sing the Lord's praises. Then a growth developed on your vocal chords, requiring surgery. But the surgery removed more than the growth; it also took your lovely singing voice. The brook has dried up.

Your partner in life has grown indifferent and has recently asked for a divorce. There's no longer any affection and no promise of change. The brook has dried up.

I've had my own times when the brook has dried up, and I've found myself wondering about the things I've believed and preached for years. What happened? Had God died? No. My vision just got a little blurry. My circumstances caused my thinking to get a little foggy. I looked up, and I couldn't see Him as clearly. To exacerbate the problem, I felt as though He wasn't hearing me. The heavens were brass. I would speak to Him and heard nothing. My brook dried up.

That's what happened to John Bunyan in seventeenth-century England. He preached against the godlessness of his day, and the authorities shoved him into prison. His brook of opportunity and freedom dried up. But because Bunyan firmly believed God was still alive and at work, he turned that prison into a place of praise, service, and creativity as he began to write Pilgrim's Progress, the most famous allegory in the history of the English language. Dried-up brooks in no way cancel out God's providential plan. Often, they cause it to emerge.



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 24 Aug 2011, 2:49 pm

August 24, 2011

God's Provisions
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:4--6

The ravens were God's catering service, delivering provisions to His prophet. "The ravens will bring in your food, Elijah." Isn't that incredible? God makes provision for Elijah's physical welfare during this time of seclusion. But He also provides for his spiritual welfare. God knew what Elijah needed; therefore, the silence and solitude were to be essential parts of his boot camp experience.

In essence, God said to Elijah, "You need to get out of the spotlight. You need to come up in the mountains, alone with Me, where you can hear my voice clearly. We need more time together, Elijah, and you need more training."

The good news is this: without one moment's hesitation, Elijah obeyed. He didn't even ask why.

So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. (1 Kings 17:5)

Notice the wording here. He went and lived by the brook Cherith. It's one thing to take a day trip off the beaten track, to go camping for a weekend, or even to spend two or three weeks backpacking in the wilderness. Such adventures offer all the delights of being away from the cares of the real world for a time, even as you have the comfort of knowing that your lifeline to civilization is still there. It's quite another thing to live in the wilderness, alone, for an extended time. But that's exactly what Elijah did for months, possibly the better part of a year. God said, "Go there. Settle there. Live there." That's exactly what Elijah did.

Would you accept such an assignment from God? Would you respond with such immediate obedience? How many of us would say nothing except, "Yes, Sir. I trust You completely. I don't need the spotlight to survive." Very few! We much prefer only comfortable and active Christianity.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with being a leader or fulfilling the role of spokesman for God, how easy it is to become addicted to the public forum, feeling that we are indispensable to God's plan. How easy to neglect, ignore, or overlook those occasions when we need to pull back, be quiet, regroup, rethink, and renew our souls.



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.



August 23, 2011

A Step at a Time
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:4

God's direction includes God's provision. God says, "Go to the brook. I will provide." Vance Havner, in his book, It Is Toward Evening, tells the story of a group of farmers who were raising cotton in the Deep South when the devastating boll weevil invaded the crops. These men had put all of their savings, dedicated all of their fields, set all of their hopes in cotton. Then the boll weevil came. Before long, it looked as if they were headed for the poorhouse.

But farmers, being the determined and ingenious people they are, decided, "Well, we can't plant cotton, so let's plant peanuts." Amazingly, those peanuts brought them more money than they would have ever made raising cotton. When the farmers realized that what had seemed like a disaster had actually proved to be a boon, they erected a large and impressive monument to the boll weevil---a monument to the very thing they once thought would destroy them.

"Sometimes we settle into a humdrum routine as monotonous as growing cotton year after year," says Havner, himself a seasoned old saint of God at the time he wrote these words. "Then God sends the boll weevil; He jolts us out of our groove, and we must find new ways to live. Financial reverses, great bereavement, physical infirmity, loss of position---how many have been driven by trouble to be better husbandmen and to bring forth far finer fruit from their souls! The best thing that ever happened to some of us was the coming of our 'boll weevil.' "¹

When God directs, God provides. That's what sustained Elijah during his boot camp experience.

We have to learn to trust God one day at a time. Did you notice that God never told Elijah what the second step would be until he had taken the first step? God told His prophet to go to Ahab. When Elijah got to the palace, God told him what to say. After he said it, God told him, "Now, go to the brook." He didn't tell Elijah what was going to happen at Cherith; He just said, "Go to the brook and hide yourself." Elijah didn't know the future, but he did have God's promise: "I'll provide for you there." And God didn't tell him the next step until the brook had dried up.



1. Vance Havner, It Is Toward Evening (Westwood, N.J.: Fleming Revell, a division of Baker Books, 1968), 39-40.

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 22 Aug 2011, 8:45 pm

August 22, 2011

Into the Shadows
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:2--6

Any recruit who has been through boot camp can tell you that every hour of the day someone is ordering you where to go, when to be there, what to do, and how to survive. That's a vital part of basic training. And God did the same for His prophet. He told Elijah exactly where he was to go, what he was to do when he got there, and how he would manage to survive. How strange the plan must have seemed to Elijah.

The first thing he was to do was hide.

"Hide myself? I'm a prophet! I'm a palace man. I'm out there in public proclaiming your Word. You seem to forget, Lord, I'm called to preach."

No, God told Elijah. Not this time. "Hide yourself," God said.

The Hebrew word here suggests the idea of concealment, of being absent on purpose. "Conceal yourself, Elijah," God said. "Absent yourself in secrecy."

One of the most difficult commands to hear, and one of the hardest commands to obey, is the command to hide. The admonition to go off and be alone, to get away from the public spotlight, to drop back and deliberately remain hidden. This is especially true if you are comfortable in the limelight, an up-front kind of person, one who is obviously gifted with leadership abilities. It's also true if you are a doer. A get-the-job-done kind of person.

You may be a capable woman, whether homemaker or career woman. Then, suddenly, you are snatched from your world of endless activity and effective involvement. God says, in no uncertain terms, "Hide yourself. Get alone. Get out of the limelight. Get away from all those things that satisfy your human pride and ego, and go live by the brook."

Sometimes sickness forces such a change. Sometimes we reach the peak of our energy output and begin to burn out, or we are about to do so. Sometimes God, without explaining Himself, simply removes us from one place and reshapes us for another.

God had two reasons for commanding Elijah to hide himself. First, He wanted to protect Elijah from Ahab; and second, He wanted to train him to become a man of God. When God says to us, almost out of the blue, "Hide yourself," He usually has both purposes in mind: protection and training.



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 20 Aug 2011, 6:23 pm

August 20, 2011
Cut Down to Size
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:2--6

"I am going to cut you down to size!" If I heard that once during the ten weeks I spent in a U.S. Marine Corps boot camp more than forty-five years ago, I must have heard it a dozen times. As I recall, those words formed the theme of the opening speech, delivered with passion, by a man I quickly learned to obey. Those words still play back to me in my mind, and the shrill tone of my drill instructor's voice remains a vivid memory. He meant every word he said, and he kept his promise.

There we stood, an unorganized, ragtag bunch of seventy or so young men of every conceivable size and background, thrown together in a strange place, having no idea (thankfully) what was ahead of us. During the months that followed, every shred of self-sufficient arrogance, every hint of independent spirit, and all thought of rebellion was scraped away. Any indifference toward authority was replaced by a firm commitment to do only as we were told, regardless. We learned to survive in the crucible of intense, extreme training that has characterized the Marine Corps throughout its proud and proven history.

The disciplined regimen of boot camp---day after day, week after week---brought about remarkable changes in each one of us. As a result, we left that place completely different than we were when we arrived. The isolation of our location, the absence of all creature comforts, the relentless, monotonous drills and demanding repetition of inspections, the tests that forced us to encounter the unknown without showing fear (all mixed with the maddening determination and constant harassment of our drill instructor), yielded powerful dividends. Almost without realizing it, while learning to submit ourselves to the commands of our leader, we ultimately found ourselves physically fit, emotionally stirred, and mentally ready for whatever conflict might come our way, even the harsh reality of facing the enemy in combat.

That kind of raw recruit training is precisely what the Lord had in mind when He sent His servant Elijah from the court of King Ahab to the brook Cherith. Little did the prophet know that his being hidden away at Cherith would prove to be his boot camp experience. There, he would be trained to trust his Leader so that he might ultimately do battle with a treacherous enemy.



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 19 Aug 2011, 1:48 pm

August 19, 2011

His Word Is Final
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:1

God keeps His promises. It's a major part of His immutable nature. He doesn't hold out hope with nice-sounding words, then renege on what He said He would do. God is neither fickle nor moody. And He never lies. As my own father used to say of people with integrity, "His word is His bond."

When you stop to think about it, it was because of a promise of God that Elijah came on the biblical scene in the first place. It was the prophet's unpopular task to announce God's message to the king. That message had to do with a terrible drought that was coming: the drought would last for years, and it would not end "except by my word" (1 Kings 17:1). That message was not only a wake-up call to get Ahab's attention, it was also a not-so-subtle reminder that, even though Ahab thought he was in charge, "the God of Israel lives," and He alone determines what will happen and when.

Elijah's heroism in standing before the king of the land and telling him what he didn't want to hear came from the man of God's confidence in the word of his Lord. The Master of heaven had spoken, and that was the message Elijah brought to the attention of Ahab. God promised a drought, and nothing Ahab could do would keep it from arriving or diminish its devastating results. Furthermore, God had assured the prophet, who passed it on to the king, that the drought would not end until God determined it would end. Period. End of announcement. Exit Elijah. Bring on the drought.

The very thing that God had communicated through His prophet came to pass. Exactly as God promised, there was not a drop of rain to relieve the scorched earth. The land became parched and barren as months passed, turning into years. Rivers no longer flowed, streams dried up, wells ran dry, crops burned to a brown crisp, animals died, and the king found himself totally helpless to interfere with God's act of judgment.

God keeps His promises. Agree with it or not, His word is final. He never forgets anything He promises. That's right . . . never.



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 18 Aug 2011, 4:50 pm

August 18, 2011

A Unique Spokesperson
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 16:29--17:1

God's methods are often surprising. God did not raise up an army to destroy Ahab and Jezebel. Neither did He send some scintillating prince to argue His case or try to impress their royal majesties. Instead, God did the unimaginable---He chose somebody like . . . well, like Elijah.

Are you thinking right now that somebody else is better qualified for that short-term mission assignment? For that leadership training group? For that community service?

Are you a wife and homemaker who feels that your contribution to God's service is not noteworthy? Do you see other people as special or called or talented?

You may be missing an opportunity that is right there in front of you. You may be in the very midst of a ministry and not even realize it. (What greater ministry can there be, for example, than that of a faithful wife and loving mother?) Your ministry may be to just two or three people. Don't discount that. God's methods are often surprising.

When we're standing alone in the gap, ultimately, we're standing before God. When the call comes, will God find us ready and willing to stand for Him? Will He find in us hearts that are completely His? Will He be able to say, "Ah, yes, there's a heart that is completely Mine. Yes, there's sufficient commitment there for Me to use that life with an Ahab. That's the kind of disciplined devotion I'm looking for."

No matter what role you fill in life, you're not unimportant when it comes to standing alone for truth.

What spot has God given you? Whatever it is, God says, "You're standing before Me, and I want to use you. I want to use you as My unique spokesperson in your day and age, at this moment and time."

Elijah, this gaunt, rugged figure striding out of nowhere, suddenly stepping into the pages of history, is a clear witness of the value of one life completely committed to God. An unknown man from a backwater place, he was called to stand against evil in the most turbulent and violent and decadent of times.

Look around. The need is still great, and God is still searching.


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.


August 17, 2011

Special People for Special Times
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 16:29--17:1

God looks for special people at difficult times. God needed a special man to shine the light in the blackness of those days. But God didn't find him in the palace or the court. He didn't find him walking around with his head down in the school of the prophets. He didn't even find him in the homes of the ordinary people. God found him in Tishbeh, of all places. A man who would stand in the gap couldn't be suave or slick; he had to be rugged---soft-hearted with a tough hide.

God looked for somebody who had the backbone to stand alone. Someone who had the courage to say, "That's wrong!" Someone who could stand toe to toe with an idolatrous king and his wicked wife and proclaim, "God is God."

I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. (Ezekiel 22:30)

In our culture---our schools, our offices and factories, our lunchrooms and boardrooms, our halls of ivy and our halls of justice---we need men and women of God, including young people of God. We need respected professionals, athletes, homemakers, teachers, public figures, and private citizens who will promote the things of God, who will stand alone---stand tall, stand firm, stand strong!

How's your stature? How's your integrity? Have you corrupted your principles just to stay in business? To get a good grade? To make the team? To be with the "in" crowd? To earn the next rank or promotion? Have you winked at language or behavior that a few years ago would have horrified you? Are you, right now, compromising morally because you don't want to be considered a prude?

Those who find comfort in the court of Ahab can never bring themselves to stand in the gap with Elijah.



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 16 Aug 2011, 10:18 pm

August 16, 2011

Alone in the Gap
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 16:29--17:1

We're first introduced to him as "Elijah the Tishbite" (1 Kings 17:1). Talk about stepping out of nowhere! Elijah came out of this insignificant place---out of nowhere---to make such a significant contribution to God's plan for His people that he became one of Israel's most famous heroes. He became what we often call today a legend.

The first thing that commands our attention is Elijah's name. The Hebrew word for "God" in the Old Testament is Elohim, which is occasionally abbreviated El. The word jah is the word for "Jehovah." Thus, in Elijah's name we find the word for "God" and the word for "Jehovah." Between them is the small letter I, which in Hebrew has reference to the personal pronoun "my" or "mine." Putting the three together, then, we find that Elijah's name means "My God is Jehovah" or "The Lord is my God." No one had a reason to doubt that!

Ahab and Jezebel were in control of the northern kingdom of Israel, and Baal was the god they worshiped. But when Elijah burst on the scene, his very name proclaimed, "I have one God. His name is Jehovah. He is the One I serve, before whom I stand."

By now, the spiritual chasm between God and His people had reached its widest breadth. Elijah stood alone in that gap.

Today there are still those who stand alone in the gap, those who still strive to shake us awake. A handful of brave students at Columbine High School come immediately to mind. Loaded guns and the threat of death couldn't silence them. I think of them as modern-day Elijahs, whom God uses to deliver a life-changing message. Men and women of courage, ready to stand and deliver. Authentic heroes.

Our Lord is still searching for people who will make a difference. Christians dare not be mediocre. We dare not dissolve into the background or blend into the neutral scenery of this world. Sometimes you have to look awfully close and talk awfully long before an individual will declare his allegiance to God . . . someone with the courage to stand alone for God. Is that what we have created today in this age of tolerance and compromise?

Elijah's life teaches us what the Lord requires.



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.


August 15, 2011

Servanthood Starts in the Mind
by Charles R. Swindoll

Romans 12:1--3

Wouldn't you love to live courageously in spite of the odds? Doesn't it sound exciting to be divinely powerful in day-to-day living? Aren't you eager to become independently authentic in a day of copycat styles and horrendous peer pressure? Of course!

It all begins in the mind. Let me repeat it one more time: thinking right always precedes acting right. I cannot overemphasize the importance of the renewed mind.

It is really impossible to grasp the concept of serving others---or to carry it out with joy and without fear---until our minds are freed from the world's mold and transformed by the Lord's power.

I feel the need to add a warning to my urging. A warning against anyone who might "use" others to accomplish his or her purposes. Be very careful not to do that! How easy it is to encourage servanthood so others might serve us.

That is not the way our Master walked and neither should we.

Servanthood starts in the mind. With a simple prayer of three words: "Change me, Lord."



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 89--90. 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 13 Aug 2011, 6:47 pm

August 13, 2011

Supernatural Ability of the "Renewed Mind," Part 1
by Charles R. Swindoll

2 Corinthians 10:3--5

As the truth of God's Word penetrates our hearts, it displaces those secular mental barriers we have erected over the years. In fact, we receive several very exciting benefits. Paul names two of them in 2 Corinthians 10---divine power (10:4) and authentic independence (10:11--12).

We get the distinct impression that nothing on this earth can intimidate us. The New International Version helps clarify this supernatural ability of the "renewed mind":

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3--5 NIV)

Did you catch the reality of divine power? Servants with renewed minds have a perspective on life and a power to live life that is altogether unique---divinely empowered.

That explains how wrongs can be forgiven, and how offenses can be forgotten, and how objectives can be pursued day in and day out without our quitting. It's divine power. God promises that He will pour His power into us (Philippians 4:13) and supply all we need if we will simply operate under His full control. When we think correctly, we instantly begin to respond correctly.

How can we "demolish" those things that once blew us away? With Christ living out His very life through ours, that's how. By His power we can give ourselves away again and again and again. And we won't fear the outcome. We won't even feel slighted when we don't get the same treatment in return. Servants, remember, don't "keep score."

When God is in control of the servant's mind, we realize as never before that life's greatest joy is to give Christ's love away.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 86--88. 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 12 Aug 2011, 11:54 am

August 12, 2011

Mental Barriers to God's Voice, Part 3
by Charles R. Swindoll

2 Corinthians 10:1--7

Along with the mental wall of habitual resistance, the humanistic reasonings that give it strength, and the proud, lofty reactions that keep the truths of Scripture at arm's length, there are actual thoughts, techniques, and devices we employ that push away God's Word and His promptings. Let me be specific.

Some of us have formed the habit of getting even rather than overlooking wrongs done against us. So when we come across scriptural instruction that requires an alternate plan, our inner reaction is "No way!" When God's counsel encourages us to be generous, to release rather than keep, we can think of half a dozen reasons it won't work. It's like having a "Murphy's Law" mentality that is immediately ready to spring into action. This keeps us from deciding favorably toward God. That's a mental barrier.

A vital point I don't want you to miss is that we really have no reason whatsoever to keep serving our secular mentality. We have been freed. Gloriously freed!

Before salvation we had no hope. We were victims of all those impulses and defenses within us. But at the cross, our Savior and Lord defeated the enemy. He said, "It is finished," and it was! No longer does sin reign as victor. But, you see, our old nature doesn't want us to believe that. It resists all messages that would give us freedom. "All renewed mind information is to be muffled," commands the sinful nature within us. And with every effort, it puts up a wall, guards, towers, and thoughts to turn all such input away.

Do you realize what our old nature resists the most? It is revealed in 2 Corinthians 10:5: "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." When that happens, the "renewed mind" is in full operation . . . and it is marvelous! At that moment, servanthood is neither irksome nor a thing to be feared. It flows freely.

When Jesus Christ truly takes charge of our minds, bringing our every thought captive to Him, we become spiritually invincible. We operate with supernatural power. We walk under God's complete control.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 84--86. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

August 11, 2011

Mental Barriers to God's Voice, Part 2
by Charles R. Swindoll

2 Corinthians 10:1--7

As the Spirit of God attempts to communicate His truth to us, He runs up against the "wall" of our overall mental attitude, our natural mind-set. Along with the wall-like fortresses, we have natural, humanistic reasonings that give the wall additional strength.

I'm thinking of those defense mechanisms, rationalization, and other thinking patterns that are habitual to us. In Romans 2:15 we read of two such "guards"---blaming and justifying.

As the Lord God pushes His truth to enter (and thus "renew") our minds, our habitual reflex "guards" the entrance of such alien thoughts! This explains why there is often such a battle that rages when biblical truth is introduced into a mind that has been walled and guarded by years of secularized thinking. We defend the old rather than consider and accept the new.

This could have happened in your own mind when you read what the Scriptures teach on forgiveness. It also may occur when you read what the Bible teaches us to do when we have offended someone. More than likely, you found yourself resisting and defending. I certainly did when I first discovered those truths! We would much rather blame the other person than accept our responsibility. Our "speculations" work like that. They put up a guard against change, causing us to rationalize and justify our actions.

Accompanying the resistance of our internal wall and guards are "lofty things" that reinforce our defense system from within (2 Corinthians 10:5). It's the idea of a thing lifted up or exalted.

What comes to your mind right now? How about pride? And those things pride prompts: argumentation, an unteachable spirit, stubbornness, and refusal to change. Is that striking a nerve yet?

As the principles of the Scriptures are declared, our natural, unrenewed minds not only resist them, they ask, "Who needs that?" or "I've gotten along pretty good up 'til now." These are the lofty things that are "raised up against the knowledge of God," as Paul put it (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We need to destroy those things . . . before they destroy us.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 83--84. 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 10 Aug 2011, 5:34 pm

August 10, 2011

Mental Barriers to God's Voice, Part 1
by Charles R. Swindoll

2 Corinthians 10:1--7

When the world tries to squeeze us into its mold, God's message gets muffled. Our minds pick up on the strong secular signals so easily that we subconsciously tune Him out. It comes naturally.

In ancient days, a city, in order to prosper, needed a security system to protect it from enemy attack. Of primary importance was a wall which restrained enemy troops from invading and which also served as a major means of defense in battle. Guards needed to be on constant watch from their sentinel posts on the wall. There needed to be towers within the city high enough for those inside to see over the wall. And finally, at the time of attack, men of military savvy and battle knowledge were needed to give orders and to direct the troops in the heat of combat from within the protection of those towers.

Paul drew a series of analogies from that familiar scene of his day . . . but remember, he's not dealing with a city but rather with our minds. The passage in 2 Corinthians 10:1--7 sets forth a vivid description of the mental barriers that block out God's directives and His counsel. Look closely. Paul uses four terms that we need to understand. If you have a pencil handy, circle each in your Bible: fortresses . . . speculations . . . lofty thing . . . thought.

As the Spirit of God attempts to communicate His truth to us (biblical information on servanthood, for example), He runs up against our "wall," our overall mental attitude, our natural mind-set. For some, it's prejudice. With others, it's limited thinking or a negative mentality. Whatever it is, it's a huge mental barrier that resists divine input just as firmly as a massive stone wall once resisted invading troops.

We all have our fortresses. And occasionally we get downright obnoxious as we operate under the control of our "walled fortress." Need a good example?

A vagrant was looking for a handout in a picturesque old English village. Hungry almost to the point of fainting, he stopped by a pub bearing the classic name, Inn of St. George and the Dragon.

"Please, ma'am, could you spare me a bite to eat?" he asked the lady who answered his knock at the kitchen door.

"A bite to eat?" she growled. "For a sorry, no-good bum---a foul-smelling beggar? No!" she snapped as she almost slammed the door on his hand.

Halfway down the lane the tramp stopped, turned around, and eyed the words, St. George and the Dragon. He went back and knocked again on the kitchen door.

"Now what do you want?" the woman gruffed.

"Well, ma'am, if St. George is in, may I speak with him this time?"

Ouch.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 81--83. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nel
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Post  Admin on Tue 09 Aug 2011, 10:16 pm

August 9, 2011

Natural Thinking in Today's World
by Charles R. Swindoll

2 Corinthians 10:1--7

Today, let's focus in on a single passage of Scripture and digest it carefully. One of the most helpful passages to help us train our minds is 2 Corinthians 10:1--7. Take a few moments to read and meditate on these seven verses. Try reading them out loud.

Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ---I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. (2 Corinthians 10:1--7)

The Corinthian Christians were an ornery lot! Although born again, they often operated in the realm of carnality because they had a secular mentality. To borrow from yesterday's reading on Romans 12, they were "in the mold" of the world system . . . their minds were "unrenewed." At times you would have sworn they weren't even in the family of God. For example, they fought with one another, they criticized Paul, they were competitive in the church, and they winked at gross immorality in their midst. Other than that, they were just fine.

In this section of Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he points out several of the ways they revealed natural thinking. I find five characteristics:

1. They were prejudiced instead of objective (10:2).

2. They focused on the visible rather than the invisible (10:3).

3. They relied on human strength, not divine power (10:4).

4. They listened to men instead of God (10:5).

5. They perceived things superficially rather than deeply (10:7).

When our carnality is in gear, Paul's comments aptly describe our mind-set: surface judgment, shallow thinking, lack of depth, closed, independent, overly impressed with humanity, and spiritually out of focus.

When we get "squeezed into the mold" the world does a number on us, doesn't it?



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 80--81. 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 08 Aug 2011, 11:40 am

August 8, 2011

A "Renewed Mind" Is Essential
by Charles R. Swindoll

Romans 12:1--2

Let's talk about some positive input on the correct mentality of a servant. Is it possible to think so much like Christ that our minds operate on a different plane than others around us? Not only is it possible---it's essential!

The familiar words of Paul in Romans 12:1--2 need to be reviewed.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1--2)

At this point in his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul drops to his knees, as it were, and pleads. That means it's important, perhaps one of the most important truths he would ever write. After urging us to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, he adds a warning. Let's read it this time as J. B. Phillips paraphrased it:

Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves toward the goal of true maturity (Romans 12:2 PHILLIPS).

Stop being squeezed in! Quit aping the system of thought that surrounds you, its line of reasoning, its method of operation, its style and techniques! How? By a radical transformation within. By a renewed thought pattern that demonstrates authentic godlikeness.

Living differently begins with thinking differently. A life that is characterized by serving others begins in a mind that is convinced of such a life. That explains why that great section of Scripture describing Christ's willingness to take upon Himself the form of a servant begins with the words: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).

Jesus's life of serving was the outworking of His mind---"unsqueezed" by the world system in all its selfishness---and remains, forever, our example to follow.

For us to be true servants of God, our minds must be renewed.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 79--80. 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 06 Aug 2011, 2:57 pm

August 6, 2011

What Serving Others Doesn’t Mean
by Charles R. Swindoll

Romans 12:1-2
Christians talk a lot about serving and giving and releasing rights and putting down self---and we should. It's part of the whole Christian package. It's expected, to an extent. But isn't it possible to go overboard on stuff like this? Aren't there some people who will take advantage of servants and turn them into slaves? You bet there are!

In fact, that is the ace trump among cultic leaders. The secret of their success is mind control. They want your mind, and they are not satisfied until they have absolute control over it. The ultimate control is behavior modification, which is just another word for brainwashing.

A tragic example of this is the story of a religious leader named Jim Jones who headed a cult called The People's Temple in the sixties and seventies. In part, Jones preached a radical social gospel based on feeding the hungry and housing the poor. But it went beyond that. Thousands flocked to his revival services, and they eventually founded communes in California's Redwood Valley and around San Francisco.

But the power was apparently too much for Jones. At some point, he proclaimed himself the "only hope for salvation," and there were stories about beatings and blackmail of his followers, as well as rampant promiscuity. When officials began making inquiries about Jones and his followers in 1976, The People's Temple fled to the tiny nation of Guyana on the northeast coast of South America, where they formed a community known as Jonestown. By 1978, the stories of violence and abuse at Jonestown hit the headlines, compelling California congressman Leo Ryan and a group of investigators to fly to Guyana to look into the charges. Shortly after arriving, Ryan and his colleagues were machine-gunned and beaten to death! In the aftermath, Rev. Jim Jones persuaded his followers to commit mass suicide by drinking a concoction of Kool-Aid and cyanide.

This dark and grisly affair shocked the entire world, but it proved just how far men and women who are deluded by their lust for power will go to carry out their fantasies. The story isn't mentioned very often these days, but may God help us never to forget the lessons of that terrible episode or the dangers that always follow when such people gain complete control over other people's lives.



Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, pages 75--76. 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 05 Aug 2011, 5:56 pm

August 5, 2011

A Legacy
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Chronicles 29:10--13

Finally, and naturally, David falls on his knees and utters a beautiful prayer, an extemporaneous expression of his worship of the Lord God. The first verses are expressions of praise. Praise leaves humanity out of the picture and focuses fully on the exaltation of the living God.

David was surrounded by limitless riches. Yet they never captured his heart. He fought other battles within, but never greed. David was not trapped by materialism. He said, "Lord, everything we have is Yours---all these beautiful places where we gather for worship, the place where I live, the throne room---all of it is Yours, everything."

What an important investment it is to pass on to our children a proper scale of values, so that they know how to handle the good things of life, knowing that those good things are just a wisp---here today and gone tomorrow. Such an investment also teaches them how to handle it when things aren't easy. David held everything loosely, another admirable trait.

What lessons can we learn from such a man? We learn hope, in spite of his humanity. We learn courage, even in the midst of his own fear. We learn encouragement and praise in the songs that grew out of his hours of despair. We learn forgiveness in his dark moments of sin. And we learn the value of serving the purpose of God in our own generation, even though all our dreams may not be fulfilled.

Thank you, David, for being a good model, teaching us by your life such significant truths. And thank you, Father, for being our Master; using us though we are weak, forgiving us when we fail, and loving us through all the Sauls and Goliaths and Jonathans and Abigails and Bathshebas and Absaloms and Joabs and Solomons of our lives. Thank you for showing us that we can be people like David . . . people of passion and destiny.



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 04 Aug 2011, 12:27 pm

August 4, 2011


The Best I Can
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Chronicles 28:1--11

David was saying, "God did not give me a yes answer. When it came to my own dream, He gave me a no answer. But He did give me other things in place of that dream, and I'm making the very most I can of those other things." We can all glean much from David's mature response.

Do you have some cherished desire that you know you are going to have to relinquish? Usually it takes getting up in years to realize that's going to happen, because the younger we are, the greater our dreams, the broader our hopes, and the more determined we are to make them happen. But as we get older, many of us see that some of those great hopes and dreams are never going to be realized. Perhaps it is a dream of some great accomplishment through a unique kind of ministry. Maybe it is a desire for an unusual career or personal recognition. Maybe it is a desire for romance and marriage. Maybe it's a longing for relief from something in your life that you've had to live with for years. Whatever it is, you may now recognize that it is never going to happen, and that's a hard pill to swallow. But, like David, it's an opportunity to find satisfaction in what God has allowed you to do. As he reflects on his life and his own unfulfilled desire, he says, "I want to turn my attention away from what wasn't to be and focus on the things God has done."

This is our challenge, isn't it? We can live the last years of our life swamped by guilt or overwhelmed by regrets from the past. We can either "eat our heart out," or we can say, "By the grace of God, I did the best I could with what I had. And I claim His promise that somehow He'll use what I did accomplish for His greater glory." What a wonderful attitude to have at the end of one's life!



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 03 Aug 2011, 12:01 pm

August 3, 2011 .

Penetrating the Darkness
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 22:1--51

Are times hard? Are days of trouble upon you? When times are tough, the Lord is our only security. David assures us in his song that the Lord delights in us; He sees and cares about what is happening in our lives, this very moment.

The Lord is our support. In tough times He is our most reliable security. He rescues us because He delights in us. What encouragement that brings as the battle endures and exhausts us. David's song of triumph begins on this easily forgotten theme. I am thankful he reminds us of it.

For You are my lamp, O LORD;
And the LORD illumines my darkness. (2 Samuel 22:29)

That reminds me of a scene from my boyhood days. When I was just a lad, my dad and I used to go floundering, a popular pastime on the Texas Gulf Coast. We'd carry a lantern in one hand and a two-pronged spear in the other (called a gig) as we walked along, knee-deep in the shallow water along the shore. As we walked, we'd swing the lantern back and forth as we searched the soft sand for the flounder that came up close to the shore in the evening to eat the shrimp and the mullet. The little lantern provided just enough light to reveal the fish down on the sand beneath the shallow water . . . and just enough so that we could see a few feet ahead as we waded through the water. Actually, it was all the light we needed. It penetrated just enough of the darkness so that we could see where to walk, but not much beyond that.

The same is true of the light we receive from God. At times we flounder along, trying to peer too far into the darkness ahead. Yet He gives us just enough light so that we can see to take the next step. That's all the light He gives and, in reality, that's all we need.



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 02 Aug 2011, 10:18 pm

August 2, 2011

Downward Steps of Sin
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 13:1--30; 18:24--33

Tracing the downward steps in David's eroding family relationships, we now have Absalom murdering Amnon, a brother murdering a brother. "The sword will never depart out of your household, David." Here he is groaning under the ache of that prediction.

Now if that's not bad enough, after Absalom kills David's son, he then flees: rebellion. When Absalom fled, he went to Geshur. That's where his grandfather lived---his mother's father, who was a king in Geshur. He can't live at home, so he'll go stay with granddad while he licks his wounds and sets up his plan later on to lead a revolt against his daddy. And that's precisely what he does. Absalom leads a conspiracy against his father.

Later, Joab murders Absalom. The sword has still not departed from David's house.

David dearly regrets the day he ever even looked at Bathsheba and carried on a year of deception. And finally, in the backwash of rape, conspiracy, rebellion, hatred, and murder, he's sitting alone in the palace, no doubt perspiring to the point of exhaustion, and in comes a runner bearing bad news. Absalom has been killed.

David is a beaten man. He's strung out, sobbing as if he's lost his mind. Every crutch is removed. He's at the bitter end, broken and bruised, twisted and confused. The harvesting of his sins is almost more than he can bear.

If you have taken lightly the grace of God, if you have tiptoed through the corridors of the kingdom, picking and choosing sin or righteousness at will, thinking grace covers it all, you've missed it, my friend. You've missed it by a mile. As a matter of fact, it's quite likely that you are harvesting the bitter fruit of the seeds of sin planted in the past. Perhaps right now you are living in a compromising situation, or right on the edge of one. You are skimming along the surface, hoping it'll never catch up. But God is not mocked. It will. Trust me on this one . . . it will.

Turn to Him right now. Turn your life over to Him. Broken and bruised, twisted and confused, just lay it all out before Him. Ask Him to give you the grace and strength to face the consequences realistically and straight on.



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 01 Aug 2011, 1:40 pm

August 1, 2011

A Sheltering Tree
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 15:1--18

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as "a sheltering tree." What a beautiful description of that special relationship. As I read those words, I think of my friends as great, leafy trees, who spread themselves over me, providing shade from the sun, whose presence is a stand against the blast of winter's lonely winds. A great, sheltering tree; that's a friend.

David was leaving the great city of Zion---the city named after him, the City of David. As he came to the edge, at the last house, he stopped and looked back over that golden metropolis he had watched God build over the past years. His heart must have been broken as he stood there looking back, his mind flooded with memories. All around him the people of his household scurried past, leading beasts of burden piled high with belongings, running for their lives.

He was at the last house, and he needed a tree to lean on. Somebody who would say, "David, I'm here with you. I don't have all the answers, but, man, I can assure you of this, my heart goes out to you." When the chips are down and there's nobody to affirm you and you run out of armor and you have no reputation to cling to, and all the lights are going out, and the crowd is following another voice, it's amazing how God sends a sheltering tree.

All of us need at least one person with whom we can be open and honest; all of us need at least one person who offers us the shelter of support and encouragement and, yes, even hard truths and confrontation. Sheltering trees, all!

Thankfully, David had a grove of such trees. As a result he made it through the toughest and loneliest hours of his life.

Do you? If so, it is a good time to call them up and thank them for their shelter. If not, it's a good time to get a shovel and plant a few. You'll need every one. Just ask David.



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 30 Jul 2011, 11:30 am

July 30, 2011

The Consequences of Sin
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 11:1--12:13

Nathan didn't come on his own; he was sent by God: "Then the LORD sent Nathan to David." I think the most important word in that sentence is the first one, "then." God's timing is absolutely incredible.

When was he sent? Right after the act of adultery? No. Right after Bathsheba said, "I am pregnant"? No. Right after he murdered Uriah? No. Right after he married Uriah's pregnant widow? No. Right after the birth of the baby? No. It's believed by some Old Testament scholars that there was at least a twelve-month interval that passed before Nathan paid the visit. God waited until just the right time. He let the grinding wheels of sin do their full work, and then He stepped in.

To be totally honest with you, there are times when I really question the timing of God. Times when I just don't know why He's so slow to carry out what I think He ought to do. But every time I have looked back in retrospect, I have seen how beautifully He worked out His plan, how perfectly it had come to pass. God not only does the right thing; He does the right thing at the right time.

In confronting someone in his sin, the timing is as important as the wording. Most importantly, you need to be sure that you're sent by God. Nathan was.

In his sin, David had despised the God he served. Now, as a result of that sin, in days and years to come, David would experience grief within his own household.

Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun." (2 Samuel 12:11--12)

Whew! Talk about the consequences of sin. David sits there with his mouth still open, leaning back, perhaps staring at the ceiling, listening to the voice of God from Nathan.

David, realizing he was absolutely guilty, admitted without hesitation, "I have sinned. I've sinned against the Lord." With that admission, restoration began.



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.

July 29, 2011

Helpful Hope for Broken Dreams
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 7:18--29; 1 Chronicles 22:1--6

What a father! He may have been weak at other times, but at this moment, David stands tall. "Lord, I know You don't want me to fulfill the dream, but, Lord, I'm going to set apart as much as I can to support my son as he fulfills the dream that was on my heart." What an unselfish response.

I see two simple truths in all this. First, when God says no, it means He has a better way, and He expects me to support it.

Second, my very best reaction is cooperation and humility. He doesn't call everybody to build the temple, but He does call everyone to be faithful and obedient. Some of you who are reading this are living with broken dreams. Sometime in the past you had high hopes that your life would go in a certain direction. But the Lord, for some mysterious reason, has now said, "No." And you've moved along in life and now you're up in years, and you find yourself slowly becoming shelved, and the younger ones are taking charge and moving on. How quickly age takes over!

Just about the time we get our act together, we're too old to pull it off. And so we release it to the Solomon in our lives. It takes genuine humility to say to that person, "May God be with you. I'll do everything I can to support you in seeing that it gets accomplished."

Do you identify with David? Did you have your hands full of your dreams and your visions, ready to present them to God on the altar of sacrifice? Did you have your plans all prepared and thought through, only to see them crumble at your feet? And now you're standing there, empty-handed?

Know this: God is ready to fill your empty hands like you would never believe, if you will only lift them up to Him in obedience and praise, as David did. God is still alive and well, and He knows what He's doing. To some He says yes. To others, no. In either case, the answer is best. Why? Because God's answers, while surprising, are never wrong.



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 28 Jul 2011, 3:50 pm


July 28, 2011

Who Am I?
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 7:4--17

God does not call everybody to build temples. He calls some people to be soldiers. He calls some people to do the gutsy work in the trenches. He calls some people to compose and conduct music. God has all kinds of creative ways to use us---ways we can't even imagine and certainly can't see up there around the next bend in the road. One of the hardest things to hear is that God is going to use someone else to accomplish something you thought was your role to fill. That's what David had to hear. "It won't be you, David . . . it will be your son, Solomon."

"Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord GOD, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. . . . Again what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord GOD!" (2 Samuel 7:18--20)

Isn't that like a little child? When a child refers to himself, he often calls himself by name. Just like a little boy, David sat down before the Lord and said, in effect, "Dad, what is David, that You've blessed my house and You've blessed my life, and You've brought me from leading a little flock of sheep to giving me this magnificent throne? Who am I?"

It's important that every once in a while we sit down, take a long look at our short lives, and count our blessings. Who are we to have been protected from the rains that fell and the strong winds that destroyed regions, leaving hundreds homeless? Who are we that He has blessed our house and kept it safe? Warm in the winter . . . cool in the summer. Who am I, Lord, that You should give me health and strength to be able to hold a job or pursue this career or get this degree? Or to have parents who have encouraged me? Or to have these great kids and to see them grow? Who am I?

"Dream or no dream, I'm a blessed person," says David. Here is more evidence that David was a man after God's own heart.



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 27 Jul 2011, 8:09 pm

July 27, 2011

When God Says "No"
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 7:4--17

"David, you will know the delight of having a son by whom this temple will be built. Not through your efforts, but through your son the dream will be fulfilled."

It is not a question of sin here. It is not God's judgment that is coming upon David as a consequence of wrong. It is simply God's redirecting David's plan and saying, "This is a great resolve, but I say 'no' to you and I say 'yes' to your son. Now accept that."

Well, was David wrong to begin with---wrong in thinking of building the temple?

It is not a question of being wrong. It's a question of accepting God's "no" and living with the mystery of His will. We people on this earth package everything. And we expect God to package His plan for us just like we would. We want the logic that we use to be His logic. And when it isn't, we wonder what's wrong because it's not working out like we would have worked it out.

When God says no it is not necessarily discipline or rejection. It may simply be re-direction. You have pursued His will; you have wanted to do His will. With all good intentions you said, "By God's grace I am going to pursue this." And here you are, thirty or forty years later, or maybe only five years later, and it hasn't materialized.

Now if you listen to some people, you'll be put on a guilt trip. "You see there," they say, "you set your heart on God, but you have run from Him. You're out of His will." I don't know how many couples I have talked with who, early in their lives, had their life's plan all mapped out, but it didn't transpire. Perhaps the very road they are traveling is God's will for them, and it took His saying "no" to get them on that right road. Others were of little help.

The thing we have to do in our walk with God is to listen carefully from day to day. Not just go back to some decision and say, "That's it forever, regardless." We need to look at it each day, keep it fresh, keep the fire hot, keep it on the back burner, saying, "Lord, is this Your arrangement? Is this Your plan? If it is not, make me sensitive to it. Maybe You're redirecting my life."



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.
July 26, 2011

The Interludes of Life
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 7:1--3

David brought the ark of God up to Jerusalem and back to the people of Israel. It had begun to bother him that the ark of God was in a tent while he lived in a beautiful house. So he got the idea in his mind to build a permanent residence for God in which to house all the sacred furniture. David said, "It isn't fitting that the king should live in this lovely cedar dwelling and the ark, the very presence of Jehovah himself, should be in a little tent out there. I will build a house for God. I want to build a temple in His honor." God had never dwelt in a permanent house, but David resolved to do something about that.

Now I want to emphasize, from everything we know about him, David had no ulterior motive here. He had no selfish ambition. He had no desire to make a name for himself or his family. As a matter of fact, he wanted to exalt no other name but God in building this house.

It is during the interludes of life that we have time to seize a dream or an ideal objective. Some of you, in a quiet moment of your life, realized the vocation into which God was calling you. Maybe it happened at a camp or a retreat, where you threw a branch of promise on the fire, having determined an objective to follow. Maybe it happened in the quietness of your own room after a church service one evening. Or maybe it was while you were a student in a dormitory. You couldn't go to sleep, so you turned through the Scriptures and landed on some thoughts that began to make sense. Before long, they stretched into a direct arrow toward some new and exciting objective. And you said, "That's it! That's my commitment; that's where God is leading." It's in the interludes of life that those things happen. You have to slow down and become quiet in those special times to hear His voice, to sense His leading.

But let me add this: sometimes the dream is from God; sometimes it's not. Both are noble. Both are great resolves. Both are ideals. But when it's not of God, it won't come to fulfillment---nor should it.



Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Post  Admin on Tue 26 Jul 2011, 9:03 am

July 25, 2011

True Freedom
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 6:16--23

Why in the world would they get so excited about it? Because they're free. When you obey, you're free. When you disobey, you're in bondage. All around us we see individuals in bondage because they're in sin, and all they talk about is freedom. They're not free. The obedient guy dancing is free.

I should warn you, when you're really free, the people who are not so free will have trouble with your being free. Look at David's wife in verse 16. Her husband is down there dancing and singing and shouting, and there's Michal up in the second floor flat, frowning down on her husband. "Then it happened as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart" (2 Samuel 6:16).

Two things strike me here. Both have to do with the issue of focus; one is horizontal, and one is vertical. David's eyes were on the Lord; Michal's eyes were on other people.

First, the better you know where you stand with the Lord, the freer you can be. When you do the homework, you find out where you stand with your Lord, and when you follow His plan, then you are free. I mean really free! Many won't understand, of course. To some, you will be seen as independent---a maverick. You'll be misunderstood. Like David with his own wife. But you won't care that much about public opinion either. You'll care mainly about the Lord's opinion. There is no freedom like the kind He provides. In a word, it's grace.

Second, the freer you are before the Lord, the more confident you will become. When you know where you stand, that is real security.

Knowing where you stand before the Lord leads to true freedom. Being free before the Lord, you will become confident, and that is genuine security.



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 23 Jul 2011, 5:29 pm

July 23, 2011

God Cares
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 6:1--9

We've got David standing here mad at the Lord, when, in fact, the Lord was angry at David. About now you might be thinking, Well, I thought you said he was a man after God's heart. I did---or, rather, God did. Does that mean he's perfect? It does not. Having a heart for God doesn't mean you're perfect, it means you're sensitive. It means every detail is important. And when you see you're wrong, you face it. You own up. You come to terms with it.

The problem was that David had not done his homework. We often get into trouble when we don't do our homework---when we think we see pretty clearly what the Lord's will is, and so in expediency or in convenience (usually in a hurry) we dash off to do it our way. And the Lord says, "Look, I've written a lot of things in My Book about that decision you just made, and I want you to take counsel from Me. That's why it's not working. If you want to have a heart for Me, then you check My Word, and you find either a precept or a principle then go according to that. When you do that, I'll give you joy like you can't believe. If you don't, I will make you miserable." In fact, in David's case, the Lord said, "I'll even take some lives."

Centuries later, Ananias and Sapphira did very much the same thing. They presumed on the Lord and didn't take Him seriously. We see Uzzah the same way, taken from the earth because he touched an ultra-holy article of furniture that was not to be touched, especially by a non-Levite. Who cares about Levites? God does. Who cares about little ringlets and little golden poles that go through ringlets? God does. If He didn't care, He wouldn't have said anything about it. And because He cares, we must also care.

That's the whole point here. When we begin to care about the things God cares about, we become people after His heart, and only then do we begin to have real freedom and real happiness.



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 22 Jul 2011, 12:25 pm

July 22, 2011

From Fugitive to Monarch
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 2 Samuel 2:1--7

Because of David's many mighty acts and the legacy he left, it is easy to forget that for a dozen or more years he lived as a fugitive and spent many hours of discouragement and disillusionment in the wilderness. He was a broken, humbled man during those days as a fugitive. He learned much from those crushing years, but little good would come from his reliving the pain they brought into his life.

Finally, though, he becomes king, the second king of Israel, chosen and anointed by God Himself. How did he take the throne? Did he storm into the role and demand everyone to submit to his rule? No. David was a sensitive man. He had learned how to lead and how to rally others around him in the afflictions of his yesterday . . . especially while he was a cave dweller.

Often we're better at handling affliction than we are at handling promotions. As Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish essayist and historian, said, "But for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity." But David was a man faced with success. His predecessor was dead, by his own hand. If there was ever a chance for a person to take life by his own two fists and demand a following, it was now. But he didn't.

David remembered when Samuel anointed him and whispered, "You will be the next king." He remembered that from many years earlier when he was only a teenager, so he asked, "Lord, shall I go up to one of the cities?" He really wanted to know, "Is it time now, Lord?" He didn't rush to the throne and take charge. He waited patiently on God for further instruction. And God revealed His plan to him. He said, in effect, "Begin your reign in Hebron."

In those days the Lord spoke audibly to His servants. Today He speaks from His Word. You might be in a situation where you are wondering, "God has opened the door, and I'm about to walk through it. But is that what I should do?" Our tendency is to race in when there is some benefit that will come our way. Sometimes it's best to begin very quietly, to pace our first steps with great care.



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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