Thursdays With Oswald—New Healthy Habits

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

New Healthy Habits

When the Spirit of God brings a Word of God to us, are we going to wake up and lay hold [Ephesians 5:14-18] of it, or remain in the condition St. Augustine was in—“a little more worldliness; a little less intensity”? … When God tells us to do a thing He empowers us to do it, only we must do the doing. … All we need is grit and gumption and reliance on the Holy Spirit. We must bring the same determined energy to the revelations in God’s Book as we bring to earthly professions. Most of us leave the sweat of brain outside when we come to deal with the Bible. …

When in your soul’s vision you see clearly what God wants, let me advise you to do something physical immediately. If you accompany a moral or spiritual decision with a physical effort you give the necessary initiative to form the new habit. …

How are we going to find out the will of God? “God will communicate it to us.” He will not. His will is there all the time, but we have to discover it by being renewed in our minds, by taking heed to His Word and obeying it. If we are not going to be “conformed to this world; but transformed,” we must use our brains. God does the spiritual, powerful part we cannot do; but we have to work it out, and as we do the obeying we prove… “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” [Romans 12:1-2].

From The Moral Foundations Of Life

Everything we need to form new, healthy, God-pleasing habits has already been given to us in the Bible. Now we need to put our brains and our bodies to work—

God’s Word + Holy Spirit revelation + Concentration + Physical obedience = 

New God-honoring habits

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading from today…

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” —Mother Teresa

A challenging word from John Stonestreet: The Pornification Of The Church.

“Here is no need to expound fuller what the Christian Scripture teaches on this point of feelings. It subjects the whole mind to God’s governance and assistance, and all the passions unto it, in such manner that they are all made to serve the increase of justice.” —Augustine

“…For we are not under law in Christ’s church, but under grace, and grace will prompt you to do more than law might suggest….” —Charles Spurgeon

A great story about Pittsburg Pirate star Andrew McCutchen and his parents.

Ryan Anderson has 7 reasons why the current homosexual “marriage” debate is nothing like the debate on interracial marriage.

Apparently we cannot win: the change from CFCs to HFCs in our spray cans is repairing the ozone but raising the earth’s temperature. Oh, wait a minute: this isn’t settled science, but merely someone’s “model” based on “what the data suggests.” Sounds a lot like faith to me!

The Love In The Law

Love In The LawWhen I say “Law” what sort of words come to your mind. Do you think of words like: restrictive? killjoy? barriers? hindrances? no fun?

If you’re a Christian, perhaps the same descriptive words come to mind when you think of biblical commandments. Maybe you think, “Don’t do that” (or for those of you who think in King James English: Thou shalt not).

But if we think of the law/commandments that way, that also means we have to think of the Lawgiver that way. In other words, God becomes a Policeman. He is closely watching to see who will break His laws so that He can dispense the appropriate punishment. After all, if the laws are a bunch of no-nos, then Someone has to be watching for law-breakers and handing out the penalties.

If that’s the case, what do we do with the Bible’s description of God that says “God is love”? If the Lawgiver is Love, how does that change our view of the laws themselves?

It must mean that God’s laws are an expression of His love. It must mean that His love is in the laws He has given us.

It must mean that God’s laws are NOT no-nos, BUT yes-yeses. 

Join us this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we talk about The Love In The Law. We’ll be working our way through the Ten Commandments, especially looking at God’s love that make each commandment a giant YES for our lives. Prayerfully, this series will completely change how we view God’s laws and commands.

Inconceivable

InconceivableThe “therefores” in Scripture always intrigue me. They are a signal that there is a natural conclusion to the words that just came before the therefore, so it’s important to look at both sides.

The prophet Hosea opens his book with these words: “…the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2). The picture is painted of God’s people acting like a wife that has not only abandoned her husband, but turned to prostitution as well. So the list of things that follow God’s therefore are what we might expect—

  • I will block your path
  • I will take away My grain
  • I will take back My wool
  • I will expose your lewdness
  • I will stop your celebrations
  • I will ruin your vineyards
  • I will punish you (Hosea 2:6-13)

Then here is what I find almost inconceivable: the very next word of the very next verse is therefore again, and God says things that, in my mind, are completely unexpected—

  • I will allure you and speak tenderly to you
  • I will restore our marriage
  • I will remove your stains
  • I will obliterate the past
  • I will betroth you to Me forever
  • I will answer your prayers
  • I will restore your crops
  • I will establish you forever
  • I will cancel your divorce
  • I will call you Mine (2:14-23)

This kind of love is mind-blowingly incomprehensible to me. It is so unexpected, so lavish, so overwhelming! This is absolutely the last thing I would have expected God to say, and yet His love is furious and relentless and boundless!

How could I ever slight such a love?!

Taste And See (book review)

Taste & SeeTaste And See is made up of 140 short, powerful thoughts from the pen of John Piper. As the title advises, these are thoughts that you will want to chew on slowly, enjoying the flavorful way Pastor Piper brings Scripture to bear on our daily lives.

Each day’s reading is short (perhaps three pages long at the most), so you would almost think you could speed-read right through it. But the limited number of words for each reading is in no way an indication of the weight of those words. Some devotionals convicted me; some brought me to tears; some made me angry; but all of them made me think differently.

If you are already familiar with John Piper’s books, Taste And See will be a welcome addition to your library. If you haven’t read anything from him yet, this book will be an excellent introduction to this wise and gentle pastor/author.

Taste And See is part of a verse of Scripture which says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the the one who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8). Indeed, the best part of Pastor Piper’s writings is that you will taste and see more clearly how good and worthy of praise God is!

Mobile, Messy & Meaningful

21st-century Americans in Christ's timeI think we have made the Church and Christianity something different than what the New Testament shows us. We’ve created far too many “things” which simply aren’t in the Bible. That’s not to say these things are wrong, but they may become stumbling blocks to us if we make secondary things the primary thing.

So what is the primary thing about church?

It might surprise you to know that the word church is only used twice by Jesus (Matthew 16:18, 18:17). He used a Greek word ekklesia, which meant a gathering of people called out from their homes into some public place. This word originally had more of a “town hall” meaning to it, but Jesus used this as a starting point to show us true church.

In Christ’s time the church for Him was…

Mobile—wherever He was, church was. Look at the extensive traveling He did. He held as many “church services” in people’s dining rooms as He did in the synagogues.

Messy—often as Jesus was speaking…

  • People constantly coming and going
  • Pharisees yapping and interrupting
  • Kids playing
  • Women sitting at His feet, anointing Him, crying over Him
  • Food and drink were usually involved
  • Foot washing was taking place
  • When He was outdoors: wind, waves, farmers, passers-by…
  • When He was indoors: food being served and eaten, roofs being ripped off…
  • People constantly interrupted His sermons: “Blessed is Your mother…”; “Tell my brother to give me my inheritance…”; “My daughter is dying!…”

Meaningful

  • “I must go through Samaria.”
  • “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
  • “Zaccheus, today I’m eating dinner at your house.”
  • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach good news to the poor, freedom to the captive, sight to the blind, favor to the oppressed.”

Jesus asked His disciples Who they thought He was (see Matthew 16:13-18). The correct answer was Peter’s declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus said, “You’re right, and on that declaration I will build My church.”

Our job is to make Jesus known as the Christ, the Son of the living God (v. 16).

Christ’s job is to build His Church (v. 18).

He didn’t tell us to build a building and invite people to come on Sundays.

He didn’t tell us to start a Sunday School or a feeding program or a youth group.

There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they are not the main thing. 

The main thing is Jesus being seen as the Son of the living God. Where we are gathered together in that confession and purpose—even just two or three of us—that’s where His church is (see Matthew 18:20).

We must be mobile, taking a meaningful message into people’s messy lives. That is true church.

God’s Longing

God's LongingHere’s what God says about you and me: “I long to redeem them” (Hosea 7:13). The prophet Hosea has a front row seat, watching God pursue and woo His people, and Hosea records for us God’s longing passion.

The placement of God’s declaration—I long to redeem them—is a wonder to me. It’s right in the middle of a catalogue of His people’s sins. God says:

  • Your kings fall because they don’t call on Me (Hosea 7:7).
  • You don’t realize how weak and powerless you’ve become because you won’t pray to Me (7:9-10).
  • You try to rule yourselves without consulting Me (8:4).
  • You disregard My laws as if they were irrelevant (8:12).
  • You no longer pay attention to My prophets who are calling you back to Me (9:7).

And still in the midst of all this comes, “I long to redeem them.” Astounding!

God tells us what we need to do—

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. (10:12)

The alternative?

BUT you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors…you will be completely destroyed. (10:13-15)

What will you choose: To seek God OR to depend on your own strength?

God LONGS to redeem you, but you have to ask Him to do so.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,928 other followers

%d bloggers like this: