WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Charles R. Swindoll" [11-17 thru 11-24] DEVOTIONALS


Seven Days of Devotion

  The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.

Heat but No Light
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Exodus 2:11--14; Acts 7:20--29

Moses believed he was to be the deliverer, many years before he received his recommission at the burning bush. He assumed everyone else would realize it too.

The passage goes on to tell us, "On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting" (Acts 7:26).

Now why did he go back to the scene of the crime? I think he returned to carry out his plan. He'd proved his loyalty to the Hebrews by striking down an Egyptian official. That was Plan A. Now for Plan B. He would return to the scene of his action and rally the troops. But they didn't listen to his counsel. In fact, they didn't respect him at all. "But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and judge over us?'" (Acts 7:27).

How those words must have stung a man who had just risked everything.

It's a pretty simple plan, isn't it? A meat-and-potatoes sort of proposition. If you're a spiritual leader, spiritual people will follow you. That's true of any leader. If you've got the goods, people follow. But they didn't follow Moses. At that point, the prince of Egypt led a lonely one-man parade. The bills of the flesh are now coming due.

Let's level with each other. Have you ever experienced something like that? Most of us have been there. You get all ready to pull off something big for God. You set goals. You spend time and money. You tell a bunch of people. But as painful as it may be for us to admit it, goals not bathed in prayer or brought before the Lord in humility turn out to be downright useless. They don't go anywhere. They don't accomplish anything. They generate heat but no light. And you're left with confusion and defeat.
Bottom line: If you are moving in the energy of the flesh, your efforts are doomed to fail. But when you trust the Lord God to give you the next step, when you wait in humility upon Him, He will open the doors or close them, and you'll get to rest and relax until He says, "Go."




Bumps in the Road
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Exodus 2:11--15

First surprise. Next confusion, followed by fear, like icy fingers around the heart. When Moses' well-kept secret hit the prime-time networks, he got the shakes. And acting on fear, the biblical account states that "he fled from the presence of Pharaoh." Why did he run? Verse 15 tells us, "Pharaoh tried to kill Moses." Now that Moses had tipped his hand and shown his true loyalties, Pharaoh couldn't stomach having such a threat around. In the king's eyes, a disloyal and out-of-control prince was better off dead. What awful repercussions grew out of Moses' ill-considered action.

It is very possible that you, too, have been forced to deal with such consequences. Your track record may reflect a pattern of great ambition but little knowledge. Great desire but little discernment. Great aspirations but little humility. Great zeal but little wisdom. And so you have to run the rabbit trails right to the bitter dead-ends, one after another. You've run faster each time, but never succeeded. None has taken you where you wanted to go. And if the truth were known, your impulsive actions have resulted in an unbearable situation.
In my book, there's only one thing worse than being at the end of a self-directed life, and that's being in the middle of one.

You say, "Well, I'm in my thirties, I ought to know better than that." Moses was forty.

You say, "Hey, I'm no novice! I've got education and training like you wouldn't believe!" Better than Moses? Remember, by this time in his career, he was "educated in all the learning of the Egyptians."
Our impressive resumé is part of the problem. Sometimes we're educated beyond our own intelligence. We know more than we're safe to handle! The truth is, when you rely on the flesh to get a job done, you don't need more schooling. You don't need another degree. You don't need more training seminars. Plain and simple, you need wisdom. So do I. So do all of God's people.

But discerning wisdom takes time. It takes some major bumps in the road. It takes enduring some failures and swallowing big and bitter doses of humility. Welcome to reality



Sit Down!
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Exodus 2:11--15

Moses was a frightened and disillusioned fugitive running, escaping for his very life. His vaunted education now meant nothing to him. His knowledge of hieroglyphics and Egyptian culture gave him no comfort. His military victories seemed hollow. Thanks to his rash act of violence, that same military wanted to kill him. And with every step, he probably groaned within himself over his untimely deed, saying things like, "Life is over. God can never, never use me. I'm absolutely finished."

Maybe that's where you are today as you read these words. This man Moses lived thousands of years ago, but the situation I've just described may seem as contemporary to you as today's stale bread in your kitchen. You say, "I've worked so hard. Tried so many things. Pushed myself so relentlessly. But it's gotten me nowhere. Nothing has worked for me. It's curtains."

Believe it or not, you may be closer than ever in your life to a spiritual breakthrough. You won't quit running in the flesh until you get to the endless, waterless sand dunes. When you finally get there, when you finally stumble to a stop in the pitiful shade of some sun-scorched rock, you will be saying to yourself, "Will God ever, ever use me?" And there you'll sit.

When the self-life finally sits down, the well of a new life lies near. When will we ever learn that? Highly qualified, capable people prefer to be on the move; sitting down goes against the grain. Yet when that broken forty-year-old named Moses finally slumped to the ground at the end of a self-driven life, fresh, cool drinking water was available right next to him.

Sit down. That's right, my friend, sit down!

You have run far enough. You have pushed long enough. You have fought, demanded, and manipulated your way for too many years. God has finally grabbed your attention. He is saying, "Quit! Stop! Let Me handle it! Sit there on the hot sands of the desert where you have brought yourself. Look at what lies next to you. It is a well, full of fresh water." Soon it will be God's delight to bring up the bucket and refresh your soul. Sit still. Stay there. Be quiet. Listen.



Shrink-Wrapped Salvation
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Exodus 2:15--25

Moses took a forty-story fall. As we pick up the biblical account, he's a heavy-hearted, bruised-and-battered soul who has come to a sudden stop at the bottom. In a matter of mere days, he has stepped off the top of the pyramid as Pharaoh-designate and down to a bedraggled, penniless fugitive on the backside of Zipville.

Living as we do in a product-oriented culture, we like to package our faith too. We prefer to sell a slick, shrink-wrapped version of salvation that includes prosperity and peace, endless happiness here and now, and heaven by and by. While there is nothing wrong with teaching principles that can result in genuine, God-given success, there is something wrong if we neglect to mention the process, which must inevitably include times of defeat and failure.
I wouldn't have to go back very far on my calendar to revisit a week where I missed the mark---missed the whole target---more than I hit close to the bull's eye. And I don't have to be a prophet to proclaim that you have experienced the same. Of course you have. You may be having such a week even as you read these words.
What I'd like to know is who erected such a happily-ever-after standard of perfection in the first place? God knows very well we aren't able to produce perfection; that's why Jesus, the perfect Son of God, graciously died in our place. That's why He gave us a position of perfect righteousness in Him, reminding us by contrast that our own daily experience will constantly fall short.

If you're waiting for a seamless, blemish-free week, friend, you're going to wait in vain. There is no such thing. And until we learn how to derive lessons from seasons of failure and loss, we will keep repeating those failures---digging ourselves into an ever deeper hole---rather than moving on as we grow up.

What you and I need is the reminder of the process that leads to times of victory and success. Then, with memories of those golden moments shining in our minds, we'll learn how to avoid some of those valleys, or how to climb out of them more quickly. That process, I believe, is every bit as important as the product.



Selfless Dedication
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Exodus 2:15--25

Moses, the Prince of Egypt, alias Prince Charming, watering animals? Why? Because Moses had just choked down the biggest wedge of humble pie you can imagine. By now, the man was ready to do anything. Isn't it interesting, though, that in this incident Moses was allowed to be a deliverer on an immensely smaller scale? Earlier, he had thought he was going to deliver a nation. He had grand dreams and mighty schemes. But this time God said, "You want a job as deliverer? Then stand up and do it, son. Start here. There are seven women here in Midian who need a champion at this moment."
Moses could have shrugged it off. He could have said, "Aw forget it. I'm out of the delivery business. Let someone else do the job." But he didn't. It was here Moses took his first steps in becoming a man of selfless dedication. The young women would later tell their father, "An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock" (v 19).

That thought moves me. If you can't do the good you would, do the good you can. You may have had big-time plans in your life---major league dreams that haven't panned out. You were going to write a best-selling book, but the opportunities just haven't come along. Are you willing to write for your church newsletter?

Maybe you wanted to teach in seminary or Bible school, but the pressures of life forced you in a different direction. Are you willing to teach a fourth-grade Sunday school class? Are you up for leading a small group Bible study? Is it really the teaching that draws your heart, or is it the prestige that goes along with the position?

Failure, you see, teaches us a servant's attitude. And what does a servant do? He does "the next task." She does what is available and ready for her to do. Those without such an attitude resist getting their hands dirty. They never want to get involved in the messy part of working with people. They always want the polished part, the popular part. But the tough stuff behind the scenes? Well, give that to someone else.

God, however, will use our failures and setbacks to cultivate within us a servant's heart. That's step one. It's all part of the process.



Living in Obscurity
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Exodus 2:16--25

Pay close attention to that last sentence. "Moses was willing to dwell with the man." How good that is. Here is a man he had never met; an obscure desert priest and shepherd, who had spent a lifetime raising sheep (and daughters!) in the desolate patch of land known as Midian. "And he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, "I have been a sojourner in a foreign land" (vv. 21--22).

Moses, who would have been in line to marry an exotic Cleopatra-type beauty back in Egypt, settled down with a shepherdess. And when she gave birth to their firstborn, Moses gave him an unusual name: Gershom. It means "a sojourner." That's what Moses had become---a sojourner in a distant land, forgotten and obscure. He came into Midian not knowing anyone, not knowing the ropes, not even knowing where he was going to live. But when Jethro said, "Young man, would you like to live with us?" Moses replied, "Yes, I would. I'll live anywhere."

Let me ask you directly: Are you willing to be obscure? A servant's mindset will teach you what that attitude is all about. To put it in simple terms, in the Body of Christ some people are called to be the toes. Not everyone can be a right hand, an eye, or an ear. Some people have to be the toe, or the heel, or the kidney, or the liver. These members are (hopefully) seldom seen. But just let one of them stop functioning for awhile and watch out! The whole body is in trouble.

Moses was willing to be obscure, to dwell apart from the limelight, to accept his new status. I ask again: Are you? God will use failure in your life to break down that strong desire in your heart to see your name in lights. And when he finally breaks you of that lust for recognition, He may place you before the lights like you could never have imagined. But then it won't matter. You won't care if you're prime time or small time, center stage or backstage, leading the charge or cooking the food. You're just part of the King's army. People of selfless dedication are mainly available. That's plenty!


Through It All
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Exodus 2:15--25

You'd better believe that Moses, though tucked away in a corner of that wasteland, heard the latest news from the travelers in caravans making their way up from Egypt through the Midian desert. When Moses learned the Hebrews were crying out, his heart must have turned over within him. But unlike before, he rested and relied upon God. He didn't try to organize a rescue party. He didn't slip back into Egypt as an assassin or saboteur. Not him! He'd learned that lesson.

Do you know who it is who keeps erecting all those unrealistic standards in your life? Do you know who keeps raising the bar beyond all hope of clearing it?

It's you. You do. And so do I. Our Heavenly Father doesn't. The psalmist tells us, "He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust." We think we're finished because of our failures, but God says, "No, you're just getting started. Press on!"

Our problem isn't that we've failed. Our problem is that we haven't failed enough. We haven't been brought low enough to learn what God wants us to learn. We're still trying to redeem Egypt single-handedly.

So what are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to impress? Why don't you step off that treadmill and just be yourself? Plead with the Spirit of God to prepare you, then use you, however He pleases, dark side and all. You'll be amazed how that takes the pressure off.

This very moment, you and I are the recipients of a gift from One who loves us just the way we are: warts, cracks, failures, and all. Since it is a gift, you might as well open your hands and receive it. Look, there---that's your name on the tag, just underneath the ribbon.

The gift is called grace.





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