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.
A Major in Obscurity
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 3:1
The desert is a place of obscurity. Moses had to cope with being a nobody. All his adolescent and adult life, he had been a big-time somebody. The spotlight followed his every move, much as the contemporary spotlight follows Britain's Prince William and Prince Harry. Every time Moses stood, people looked up expectantly. Every time he addressed them, people stopped talking and listened. Every time he strolled through the streets, heads turned.
Sheep don't do that. You can say whatever you want, you can turn backflips while reciting poetry, and the flock won't be impressed at all. They'll go right on feeding their faces. As much as you and I may appreciate wool sweaters and wool socks, sheep are basically unintelligent and unresponsive animals. And Moses had the pleasure of their company for four long decades of his life.
Perhaps you identify with this situation. As you read, you're nodding your head. You are taking some course work in obscurity yourself; you find yourself struggling every day with the limitations you've had to endure. You have been forced by the very nature of the desert to give up many of the privileges, perks, and activities you once enjoyed and held most dear. Now you're "just getting by," subsisting on the absolute basics of life. That is God's plan, my friend. And if you would graduate from His school of the desert, you must take classes in obscurity; it is the first required course of the school.
Amy Carmichael, one of my favorite poets, wrote these words:
Before the winds that blow do cease,
Teach me to dwell within Thy calm:
Before the pain has passed in peace,
Give me, my God, to sing a psalm.
Let me not lose the chance to prove
The fullness of enabling love.
Oh, love of God, do this for me:
Maintain a constant victory.¹
Here is the unvarnished truth: If you don't learn to live peacefully with obscurity, you will repeat that course until you do. You cannot skip this one and still graduate.
A Major in Discomfort
by Charles R. Swindoll
Notice carefully how the process took place through those years of desert learning, because it is the same with you and me. God must break through several hard, exterior barriers in our lives before He can renovate our souls. His persistent goal is to break through to the inner person. As David acknowledged, "Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom" (Psalm 51:6).
What are those resistant layers in our hearts, and how does He break through to that hidden part? First, He finds pride. And He uses the sandpaper of obscurity to remove it ever so gradually.
Then He finds us gripped by fear---dread of our past, anxiety over our present, and terror over what may lie ahead---and He uses the passing of time to remove that fear. We learn that things aren't out of hand at all; they're in His hand.
He next encounters the barrier of resentment---the tyranny of bitterness. He breaks down that layer with solitude. In the silence of His presence, we gain a fresh perspective, gradually release our cherished rights, and let go of the expectations that held us hostage.
Finally, He gets down to the basic habits of living, he penetrates our inner person, and there He brings discomfort and hardship to buff away that last layer of resistance. Why? So that He might renovate us at the very core of our being.
Reach for the hand of your Guide! He is Lord of the desert. Make that your desert. The most precious object of God's love is His child in the desert. If it were possible, you mean more to Him during this time than at any other time. You are as the pupil of His eye. You are His beloved student taking his toughest courses. While testing you, He loves you with an infinite amount of love.
Jesus walked through the desert first. He felt its heat. He endured its loneliness. He accepted its obscurity. He faced down Satan himself while the desert winds howled. And you can be sure He will never, ever forget or forsake the one who follows Him across the sand.
An Ordinary Day
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 3:1--3
This was the day when God decided to break a forty-year silence. Pause and let that sink in! Through four decades in Midian, we have no record of God's speaking to Moses. Not even once. The day that was going to shatter that silence, however, dawned like every other day in the wilderness. The night before, as he was sleeping out under those bright desert stars with his flock, perhaps under the looming shoulder of Sinai, he saw no meteor flash across the sky. He heard no voice. No angel tapped him on the shoulder at breakfast that morning and said, "Pay attention, Moses. God speaks today."
There were no hints, no premonitions, no special signs to alert him to the fact that God Himself would break the silence that day and change his life forever. It was just your common, ordinary, garden-variety day-shift with the sheep. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.
That is the way God works. Without a hint of warning, He speaks to ordinary people on ordinary days. In other words, it will happen on an ordinary day. People will be getting married and buried. There will be problems, and there will be needs. Some people will be driving buses, others will be riding in them. Some will be on the way home from work, tuned in to talk radio. Others will be in the checkout line at the grocery store, impatiently wondering why the person ahead of them is taking so long to write that check. Some will be boarding an airplane, others stepping out of a subway.
And suddenly, the Son will come! There will be a flash in the sky, a shout, the staccato blast of a trumpet, and in the twinkling of an eye, it will be over. There will be no previous warning.
Don't look for some brilliant aura to come over you early in the morning, and a booming angelic voice announcing, "This is the day!" If that happened, you might pull the covers over your head and never get out of bed.
God works by simply stepping into an ordinary day of life and saying what He wants to say. It's a meat-and-potatoes kind of proposition. Here's what needs doing, and you're the person who's going to do it, so get after it!
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 3:4--10
What was God's larger message to Moses in that moment? Release your imagination for a few moments. It might have included some thoughts such as these: "Moses, forty years ago you were a fine looking bush, impressed with all your own foliage. You had long, strong branches and lush, green leaves. But when your bush started burning, it was gone in less than forty-eight hours. Your grand scheme went up in flames, charring your dreams and consuming your ambitions along with it. There was nothing left, was there? That was your life, Moses. And then you ran like a scared rabbit across the border to get away from the Egyptian lynch mob.
"You thought you were a choice, top-quality bush before that happened, and now you don't think you're worth much at all. Listen, man, any bush will do as long as I, the great God of all grace, am in the bush! I want to use you, Moses. Stand still, and let Me set you on fire!"
What does it take to qualify as a bush that God will use? You have to be dried up and thorny. Okay, I qualify. You have to be dusty and dirty. All right, I'm there. You've got to be ordinary. Right. That's me all over. What else, Lord?
You have to be burnable. God is looking for flammable bushes. There are some good-looking bushes and shrubs out there in Christendom that won't burn at all. They're made out of asbestos. You couldn't set 'em on fire with a welding torch. Napalm wouldn't even do the job. These are beautiful replicas of beautiful plants, but they won't burn. Which means they are of no use to God.
The truth is, any old bush will do as long as God is in the bush. That's what He was saying to Moses. "I want you to burn for Me as no man has burned before. You've been dried out and well-seasoned in this howling wasteland through these years. I wanted you dried out! And I have pruned away from you all those things you used to hang on to and that meant so much to you. I have reduced you to a simple love for Me. That's all you have to offer now, Moses, and that is all I want."
Hard of Hearing
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 3:4--22
Moses had been resistant for forty years, telling himself all that time that his was a lost cause. Now, when God came with a direct, simple call, the old shepherd couldn't handle it. In fact, he wouldn't let himself believe he might still be useful to God. "Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:10).
Now that wasn't complicated, was it? The Lord spoke in a tongue Moses could understand. He gave him a simple, two-fold command. First, He said to Moses, "I will send you." And second, "You will bring My people out." That was the plan.
Notice, please, that this was not a multiple choice arrangement. It wasn't even an invitation. It was a call. God does not speak and ask our advice regarding His plan. God makes declarations. He doesn't open up the scene for a rap session or a dialogue. He doesn't call in a blue-ribbon panel of consultants to suggest viable options. He speaks, and that is that.
At very unique junctures of our lives, God says to us, "Now, My child, I have this in mind for you. I know that you have knotted things up in the past. And I know that you may knot things up in the future. But as far as today, right now, this is My plan for you. Now go. I'm sending you, and I will be with you."
God told him that he would be an instrument in the deliverance, but God Himself would be the deliverer. Huge difference. In God's calling, He has a plan; but He never expects you to carry out that plan. He's going to pull it off. He simply wants you to be the instrument of action. After all, it is His reputation that's at stake, not yours. All He asks is that you give yourself to Him as a tool He can pick up and use. That's all.
And the Answer Is . . .
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 4:1--10
"But Lord," Moses was saying, "I can't be Your spokesman in this situation. Why, I wouldn't have any answers when those guys started firing questions at me."
Before we consider the Lord's response, stop and think about that lame excuse for a moment. It has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it? It's a pretext mouthed by many believers today. "Lord, I can't do that, because I'll get in a verbal corner and won't know how to handle it. Somebody will ask me, 'What about the heathen in Africa?' or 'How did they fit dinosaurs into Noah's ark?' I'll get tongue-tied. I won't know what to say, and I'll appear ridiculous and foolish in the eyes of other people. No, I can't do that, Lord. You can see that, can't You? I just don't have all the answers."
Maybe you remember what it was like in high school or college to have a teacher or professor who stranded himself out on a logical limb. He found himself in the wrong, everyone knew it, and yet he stubbornly refused to admit it. What did you do? Chances are, you began to bear down on him, sawing off that flimsy limb with a set of sharp-toothed facts. Why did you do that? Because there is something inside of us that wants the other person simply to admit, "Yeah, I was wrong."
I have never lost respect for any individual who replied to a question with the answer, "I just don't know." On the other hand, I have lost a great deal of respect for those who knew they were wrong, and knew that I knew they were wrong, but could not bring themselves to admit it.
Direct question: Why do we feel we have to have all the answers at our fingertips? Straight answer: Pride. Pride says, "If I don't have a ready comeback, if I say 'I don't know,' they'll laugh at me." But that's not true at all. Intelligent, thoughtful people won't laugh; they will realize that no one has all the answers.
Going It Alone
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 4:11--17
Do you know what God did? He accommodated Moses' desire. But the compromise was less than the best; brother Aaron proved to be an albatross around his neck. It was Aaron who got impatient while Moses was on the mountain and created a golden calf for the people to worship. It was he who told the people, "This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4).
As you read these words, you may sense God's nudge to step out on faith in a plan that seems risky at best. You don't have all the answers. You don't know the hows and whys and wherefores of what God has in mind. From a human point of view, the prospects look rather bleak. Do you know what our tendency is? It's to take someone with us. Somehow, that keeps us from having to put our full trust in the Lord's plan; we can lean on that gifted friend or companion we've brought along with us.
How many men have gone into a business partnership and lived to regret the day they chose that partner? How many women have engaged in pursuits with a companion they wish they had never asked to join them? God's call is a serious, individual matter. While I believe with all my heart in accountability, God's call does not lend itself to the buddy system or to group excursions. And before you bring any other individual along with you to fulfill that call, or before you join a team, you must make absolutely certain in your heart that each one has the same vision beating in his or her heart that you do.
If not, then take this advice, my friend: Go it alone. Follow God's voice without distraction.
God was finally willing to say to Moses, "All right, all right, have it your way. I'll send Aaron, too, but it isn't My best, Moses. The day will come when you will wish you'd followed My call on your own. You don't really need Aaron; all you need is Me."
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