Thursdays With Oswald—Strength For Others

This is a weekly 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.

Oswald Chambers

Strength For Others 

     The real reason for prayer is intimacy of relationship with our Father. 

We kneel, how weak, we rise full of power.
Why therefore should we do ourselves this wrong
For others that we are not always strong,
That we are ever overcome with care
That we should ever weak or heartless be
Anxious or troubled, when with us is Prayer
And joy and strength and courage are with Thee?

From Christian Disciplines 

It’s a pretty simple principle: I cannot give to others what I do not possess.

Jesus rose early in the morning to find a place of private prayer (see Mark 1:35) so that He would be filled with His Father’s presence and able to meet the pressing needs of people that day. Why, oh why, don’t I follow my Lord’s example more?

People all around me need encouragement, light, hope, love. I cannot give what I do not possess. But I can possess these things in abundance if I will make use of prayer to tap into that intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father.

Prayer provides the strength I need for the day, so that I can provide the strength that others need for the day. Without prayer, I not only rob myself of God’s help, I rob others as well.

See God Bigger

See God BiggerGlorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3)

“I am positively sure after many years of observation and prayer that the basis of all of our trouble today, in religious circles, is that our God is too small. When David says magnify the Lord, he doesn’t mean that you are to make God big, but you are to see Him big. When we take a telescope and look at a star, we don’t make the star bigger, we only see it big. Likewise you cannot make God bigger, but you are only to see Him bigger. … My brethren, God calls us to magnify Him, to see Him big. A meeting is not big because a lot of people are present. A meeting is big because a number of people see a big God in the meeting. And the bigger God is seen, the greater the meeting. A friend of mine has a little saying, ‘I would rather have a big, little meeting than a little, big meeting.’ There are a lot of big meetings that are little because the God in them is a small God. And there are a lot of little meetings that are big because God is big in the midst of them. … That is the first thing—magnify God. Your ministry will be little, and you will live and die little unless you have a bigger God.” —A.W. Tozer

If Thou Wilt Be Perfect (book review)

If Thou Wilt Be PerfectOswald Chambers points out something very interesting in his book If Thou Wilt Be Perfect: discipleship with Jesus is optional.

Chambers writes: “Whenever our Lord speaks of discipleship He prefaces what He says with an ‘IF.’ ‘If any man come after Me….’” So this book focuses on the IFs of discipleship, reminding us that is optional for us to step into this deeper relationship with Jesus.

Each chapter was originally a lecture that Chambers gave at the Bible Training College in 1912, and they clearly reveal the mindset that drives him. Most of the chapters/lectures are entitled “The Philosophy Of …” so you will gain a deeper insight into how Oswald Chambers reads the Bible and applies the truths there to the Christian walk.

As I have said before, there are few authors who challenge me to go deeper in Christ than Oswald Chambers. All of the chapters are meaty, but well worth your time and attention.

Making A Name For Yourself

D.L. MoodyIt’s a focus of far too many people: “I’ve got to make a name for myself.” It’s nothing new, but has been going on as long as men have been on earth.

In Revelation 3, Jesus is addressing the church in Sardis about their pursuit of a reputation. Jesus tell them, “You have definitely made a name for yourself. People know you are making things happen, and you have a reputation of being successful.” Sounds good, right? Except Jesus goes on to say, “But I’m not concerned about your reputation; I’m more interested in your character.”

Jesus uses the same Greek word four times in just six short verses to show the progression He is looking for from popular reputation to godly character:

  • You have tried to make a name for yourself, but your focus is wrong (Rev. 3:1).
  • The name you should focus on is My name—you should be glorifying Me, not yourself (v. 4).
  • If you glorify Me, I will make sure your name is never erased from the Book of Life (v. 5a).
  • Not only that, if you glorify Me, I will personally introduce you to My Father. I will say, “This one is Mine!” (v. 5b)

Wow! 

Contrast that with people who say, “Jesus, didn’t we do some pretty amazing things in Your name? Did you check us out?!?” And Jesus will reply to them, “I never knew you because you were only using Me to make yourself look good” (see Matthew 7:21-23; Revelation 3:2).

I am not living for the applause of men, but only for the applause of nail-scarred Hands.

I don’t want the headlines here, but I want to hear my Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

I don’t want a reputation here, but I want a godly character in Heaven.

That’s the name I want!! 

If you are near Cedar Springs this weekend, please join us for part six of this series The 7-Star Church.

Character Over Reputation

Matthew HenryHere are some of the quotes I shared this morning…

The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation …
   the truth you believe determines your character.…
Reputation is what you are supposed to be;
   character is what you are.…
Reputation is the photograph;
   character is the face.…
Reputation comes over one from without;
   character grows up from within.…
Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community;
   character is what you have when you go away.
Your reputation is made in a moment;
   your character is built in a lifetime.…
Your reputation is learned in an hour;
   your character does not come to light for a year.…
Reputation grows like a mushroom;
   character lasts like eternity.…
Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor;
   character makes you happy or makes you miserable.…
Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone;
   character is what the angels say about you before the throne of God. —William Hersey Davis

“Men may go toward Heaven, yet come short; and they may go to Hell with a good reputation.” —Matthew Henry

“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” —D.L. Moody

Lord, Save Me

He shall save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

C.H. SpurgeonLord, save me from my sins. By the name of Jesus I am encouraged thus to pray. 

Save me from my past sins, that the habit of them may not hold me captive. 

Save me from my constitutional sins, that I may not be the slave of my own weaknesses. 

Save me from the sins which are continually under my eye that I may not lose my horror of them. 

Save me from secret sins; sins unperceived by me from my want of light. 

Save me from sudden and surprising sins: let me not be carried off my feet by a rush of temptation. 

Save me, Lord, from every sin. Let not any iniquity have dominion over me. —Charles Spurgeon

A Pastoral Prayer

Daniel Payne

Daniel Payne

I love this prayer that Bishop Daniel Payne (1811-1853) prayed for himself. Pastor, do you think you could pray this? Could you pray to become invisible so that only Jesus Christ is seen and heard?

“Lord, Thou knowest my weakness—be Thou my strength. Thou knowest my ignorance—be Thou my wisdom. Teach me, that I may not be a blind leader of the blind, but a scribe well instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven. O, let not the people see me; let them see You in Your vesture dipped in blood. Let them not hear me; let them hear You in Your voice of saving truth!

Lord, may I be able to live this out in my pastoral ministry!

Thursdays With Oswald—The Purpose Of Prayer

This is a weekly 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.

Oswald Chambers

The Purpose Of Prayer

     The purpose of prayer is the maintenance of fitness in an ideal relationship with God amid conditions which ought not to be merely ideal but really actual….

     So in the better and new way of breathing spiritually in prayer, we shall be conscious of forming the habit, but it will soon pass into normal spiritual health, and it must never be worshipped as a conscious process. 

From Christian Disciplines

Chambers is saying that prayer ought to be as natural to us as breathing. In order to get to this place, we must develop the habit of prayer, which mean disciplining ourselves to return to prayer when we might normally revert to another natural response.

But in forming the habit of prayer, we must not become like the Pharisees who worshipped their spiritual activities. They thought they were spiritual because of what they did, so they kept track of all they were doing, and they pointed to how many times each day and each week they had prayed. In essence, they worshipped prayer more than they worshipped the God they were supposed to be addressing in prayer.

The habit of prayer does take discipline (as the title of this Oswald Chambers book suggests), but it leads us to a life fully engaged in God’s presence. It’s a habit that is well worth the disciplined effort!

Sometimes God Fights Me

Sometimes God Fights MeSometimes life is hard, and God is walking right alongside me. Sometimes life is hard, and God is the One creating my difficulties.

Why? Because He loves me too much to allow me to head down a dangerous path.

Once a man named Balaam was heading to a meeting that he shouldn’t have been going to. As he trotted along on the back of his donkey, suddenly the donkey pulled up, dug on her hooves and would not move. Balaam beat her and still she wouldn’t budge. This next part is amazing to me: the donkey turned and talked to Balaam! She said, “Why are you beating me? Haven’t I always been faithful to take you where you needed to go?”

But Balaam was so intent on getting to his ill-advised meeting that the fact that his donkey was talking didn’t even phase him! What did get his attention, though, is when he saw what his donkey had seen all along. Jesus was standing in the middle of the road with a drawn sword.

Jesus said to Balaam, “I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before Me” (Numbers 22:32).

You and I should count it as a blessing when God opposes us—when He makes our path difficult—because we are heading somewhere reckless.

When life is hard, when things aren’t going as you had hoped, when your donkey suddenly stops carrying you along, you should ask a question: Why is this happening? Sometimes it just may be that life is hard, but God is still with you. Or it just might be that God is opposing you because your path is a reckless one. Don’t keep beating trying to get your donkey to move, but pause and ask why your donkey has stopped.

God’s opposition to your reckless path is a blessing!

21 Quotes From “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn”

Sometimes You WinAs I mentioned in my book review (which you can read by clicking here), John Maxwell always expands my horizons with his writings. I appreciate his ability to use his own life experiences as well as historical and contemporary examples and writings. So some of my favorite quotes from Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn are from Dr. Maxwell, and some are from others that he quotes. Enjoy!

“I sometimes react to making a mistake as if I have betrayed myself. My fear of making a mistake seems to be based on the hidden assumption that I am potentially perfect and that if I can just be very careful, I will not fall from heaven. But a mistake is a declaration of the way I am, a jolt to the way I intend, a reminder that I am not dealing with facts. When I have listened to my mistakes, I have grown.” —Hugh Prather

“Those who profit from adversity possess a spirit of humility and are therefore inclined to make the necessary changes needed to learn from their mistakes, failures, and losses. … When we are focused too much on ourselves, we lose perspective. Humility allows us to regain perspective and see the big picture. … Humility allows us to let go of perfection and keep trying.” —John Maxwell

“Most people spend their entire lives in a fantasy Island called ‘Someday I’ll.’” —Denis Waitley 

“An idealist believes the short-run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short-run determines the long run.” —Sydney J. Harris

“Those things that hurt, instruct.” —Benjamin Franklin

“You can’t grow and learn if your focus is on finding someone else to blame instead of looking at your own shortcomings.” —John Maxwell

“The highest reward for our toil is not what we get for it but what we become by it. … Mistakes are not failures. They are proof that we are making an effort. When we understand that, we can more easily move out of our comfort zone, try something new, and improve. … Improvement demands a commitment to grow long after the mood in which it was made has passed.” —John Maxwell 

“Success in most things comes not from some gigantic stroke of fate, but from simple, incremental progress.” —Andrew Wood

“The main trouble with despair is that it is self-fulfilling. People who fear the worst tend to invite it. Heads that are down can’t scan the horizon for new openings. Bursts of energy do not spring from a spirit of defeat. Ultimately, helplessness leads to hopelessness.” —Norman Cousins

“Positive thinking must be followed by positive doing.” —John Maxwell

“When you are influential and highly respected, people tend to tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. They are seeking your approval, or they flatter you. Unfortunately, this creates a gap between what you hear and reality. If you find yourself in that situation, you will need to work extra hard to get the people close to you to speak honestly into your life. And you will have to become highly intentional in observing and listening.” —John Maxwell 

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.” —Doug Larson

“Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; but they are the instruments of the wise.” —Samuel Lover 

“Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience.” —Denis Waitley

“Ninety percent of those who fail are not actually defeated; they simply quit. … As you face bad experiences, it’s important for you to remember that you can rarely see the benefits while you’re in the midst of them. You usually gain perspective on the other side of it.” —John Maxwell 

“Most people would rather change their circumstances to improve their lives when instead they need to change themselves to improve their circumstances. They put in just enough effort to distance themselves from their problems without ever trying to go after the root, which can often be found in themselves. Because they don’t try to change the source of their problems, their problems keep coming back at them.” —John Maxwell

“To grow, you must be willing to let your present and future be totally unlike your past. Your history is not your destiny.” —Alan Cohen

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” —Tallulah Bankhead

“Maturity is doing what you are supposed to be doing, when you’re supposed to be doing it, no matter how you feel.” —Dom Capers 

“Have you not succeeded? Continue! Have you succeeded? Continue!” —Fridtjof Nansen, Nobel Peace Prize winner

“How we think when we lose determines how long it will be until we win.” —G.K. Chesterton

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