Saturday In The Psalms—God’s Compelling Kindness

An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes (Psalm 36:1).

David believes that fear and reverence of Almighty God would deter the sinner from his sin. This is not a dread of punishment, but a fear of missing out on the wondrous, eternal depths of God’s love.

We are not asking sinners to give up something they enjoy for a better thing. We’re calling them to step into a Relationship that is more real, substantial, fulfilling, enlivening, and satisfying than anything they’ve ever experienced or even dreamed of!

How precious is God loving kindness. How trustworthy His provision. How abundantly satisfying is His fullness. How indescribable His pleasures. How endless is His love!

It is the kindness of God that leads men and women to His presence.

Heavenly Father, may I live in Your kindness and reflect it to all around me, inviting them to share in Your bounty for themselves. Amen.

What can equal in costliness the love of God! Its preciousness is measured by the gift it gave, and by the innumerable gifts contained in that One—life, pardon, salvation, peace, the glory to be revealed. In this love there are unsearchable riches—exceeding riches of grace. There are no riches to be compared to this great love of God. Having it we are rich indeed. Without it we are poor, life is blank, eternity is dark. …

“God’s character is then the basis of human confidence. …

“This love which so suits the sinner and calls forth his confidence is that which is exhibited in the Cross of Christ. That Cross is the revelation of God’s love as a righteous thing; and thus appeals both to man’s heart and his conscience. The love furnishes the ground for trust, and the Cross removes every reason for distrust. …

“These wings [of love] are broad, and large, and strong, fitted to shelter all the sons of Adam. And thus stretched out they themselves invite us. They contain their own invitation. They say, ‘Come and be safe, come and be blessed, come and be sheltered from present wrath and from the wrath to come. Come, for all things are ready; the love is ready, the deliverance is ready, the protection is ready.’” —Horatius Bonar (emphasis mine)

C.S. Lewis Asks, Is There Such A Thing As “Christian Obstinacy”?

“There are times when we can do all that a fellow creature needs if only he will trust us. In getting a dog out of a trap, in extracting a thorn from a child’s finger, in teaching a boy to swim or rescuing one who can’t, in getting a frightened beginner over a nasty place on a mountain, the one fatal obstacle may be their distrust. We are asking them to trust us in the teeth of their senses, their imagination, and their intelligence. We ask them to believe that what is painful will relieve their pain and that what looks dangerous is their only safety. We ask them to accept apparent impossibilities: that moving the paw farther back into the trap is the way to get it out—that hurting the finger very much more will stop the finger hurting—that water which is obviously permeable will resist and support the body—that holding onto the only support within reach is not the way to avoid sinking—that to go higher and onto a more exposed ledge is the way not to fall. …

“But if we succeed, we do so because they have maintained their faith in us against apparently contrary evidence. …

“Now to accept the Christian propositions is ipso facto to believe that we are to God, always, as that dog or child or bather or mountain climber was to us, only very much more so. …

“There is, you see, no real parallel between Christian obstinacy in faith and the obstinacy of a bad scientist trying to preserve a hypothesis although the evidence has turned against it. Unbelievers very pardonably get the impression that an adherence to our faith is like that, because they meet Christianity, if at all, mainly in apologetic works. And there, of course, the existence and beneficence of God must appear as a speculative question like any other. Indeed, it is a speculative question as long as it is a question at all. But once it has been answered in the affirmative, you get quite a new situation. To believe that God—at least this God—exists is to believe that you as a person now stand in the presence of God as a Person. What would, a moment before, have been variations in opinion, now become variations in your personal attitude to a Person. You are no longer faced with an argument which demands your assent, but with a Person who demands your confidence.” —C.S. Lewis, in The World’s Last Night

Thursdays With Oswald—The One God Uses

Oswald ChambersThis 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.

The One God Uses

     Missionary enterprise, to be Christian, must be based on the passion of obedience, not on the pathos of pity. … In the New Testament the emphasis is not on the needs of men, but on the command of Christ, “Go ye.” … 

     Any sense that the cause of Christ will be benefited if I give myself to it, or any trace of listening to the suggestion of others that I should be of value in my Lord’s service, receives no encouragement from Jesus. … 

     What is the test we put first for work at home or abroad? Sentimentally, we put the call of God first, but actually we are inclined to fix on the abilities of certain people. Our Lord pays not the remotest attention to natural abilities or natural virtues; He heeds only one thing—Does that man discern Who I am? does he know the meaning of My Cross? The men and women Jesus Christ is going to use in His enterprises are those in whom He has done everything. … 

     The one who says “Yes, Lord, but…” is always the one who is fiercely ready, but never goes. … 

     Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him.

From So Send I You

God uses specific people for His service. They are ones who are:

  • Obedient to His call to “Go”
  • Humble
  • Changed from the inside out by Christ’s Atonement
  • Quick to follow
  • Not dictating to God the “where” or “when” or even the outcome of their obedience

Are you one whom God can use?

Is Christ’s Gospel Full Of Abundant Life Or Not?

“Since a saint’s gloom reflects unkindness on God Himself, how can we recommend His satisfying love if it does not satisfy us? The world thinks the Christian life is depressing anyway, a dry meal where very little wine of joy is tasted. Why will you confirm their deception, Christian? Why should they have your example as evidence against Jesus and His Word, which promises peace and joy to everyone who comes to this table?

“God forbid that your behavior, which should hold forth ‘the word of life’ and demonstrate the reality of it in the eyes of the world, ever disagree or throw doubt on His Word (Philippians 2:16). …

“When unbelievers see Christians sad as they hold the cup of salvation in their hands, they suspect that the wine is not so good as preachers say it is. … Christian, do not give unbelievers reason to imagine, by seeing you limping through the race, that they must forfeit happiness if they become Christians and spend the rest of their lives in a house of mourning, with a team of losers.

“Is Christ’s Gospel full of abundant life or not?” —William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor (emphasis mine)

8 Quotes From Gordon MacDonald In “Ordering Your Private World”

In the quiet solitude of our inner lives is where real growth takes place. Or said another way: if we won’t make time to order our private world, our public world will be limited in its scope and effectiveness. Gordon MacDonald unpacks some fantastic principles to help us in his newly updated and expanded book Ordering Your Private World. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy these quote from Gordon MacDonald.

“There is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence. But there is also a busyness (a destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life—a way of doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether it has significance; it’s just the next thing, and one does it because it’s there to do.”

“A soul—our spiritual space—is empty when one tries to do soul-based things but makes little or no effort to keep that soul filled.”

“Driven people boast of their drivenness. They have forgotten how to play. Spiritual activity seems a waste of time. They are usually too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family, or friendship, or even to carry on a relationship with themselves—not to speak of one with God. Because driven people rarely think they have accomplished enough, they seize every available minute to attend more meetings, to study more material, to initiate more projects. They operate on the precept that a reputation for busyness is a sign of success and personal importance. Thus, they attempt to impress people with the fullness of their schedules.”

“Our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health—are these things owned, or merely managed in the name of the One who gave them? Driven people consider them owned; called people do not. When driven people lose those things, it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance changes. The private world remains the same, perhaps even stronger.”

“It is worth taking time to ask how Our Lord’s command of time is demonstrated. … The first thing that impresses me is that Jesus clearly understood His mission. … A second insight into Jesus’ personal organization of time is that He understood His own limits. … Jesus included a third important element in His strategy of time budgeting, for He set time aside for the training of the Twelve.”

“Unmanaged time flows toward my weaknesses. Unmanaged time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world. Unmanaged time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies. Unmanaged time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation.”

“The unthinking Christ-follower does not realize it, but he is dangerously absorbed into the culture about him. Because his mind is untrained and unfilled, it lacks the ability to produce the hard questions with which the world needs to be challenged. The private world of a Christ-follower will be weak, defenseless, and disorganized if serious attention has not been given to this sector of intellectual growth.”

“We do not develop our intellects merely for our own personal advancement, but we put our thinking power to work for the use of others. … As my mind grows, it may make possible the growth of others.”

The Joy Of Understanding

Then Ezra read from the Book of the Law in the open square… (Nehemiah 8).

I love the simplicity of this! No sermon; just a straightforward reading of God’s Word. And look at how everyone responded…

  • “The ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law”
  • There was a respect for the Word of God and the God of the Word—“When he opened it all the people stood up…[then] they bowed their heads and worship the Lord with their faces to the ground”
  • The religious leaders “helped the people to understand the Law”
  • “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them understand the reading”

The result—“And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions [to those in need] and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

A mark of a godly leader is one who helps people make sense of God’s Word.

And when the people understand the Word, they are more likely to joyfully put it into practice.

This is Part 10 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

Ordering Your Private World (book review)

You can look all neat and tidy on the outside, you can talk a good game and even have some short-term success. But if you aren’t growing on the inside, all that good looking outside stuff will eventually come crashing down. This is exactly what Gordon MacDonald addresses in his revised and updated book Ordering Your Private World.

MacDonald shares a quote from Ezra Pound which captures the theme of this book: “If a (person) has not order within him, he cannot spread order about him.” Amen!

Here’s what I love about Gordon MacDonald’s heart. This book is a revised and updated version of his original work. The first edition sold more than a million copies! MacDonald could have sat back and collected his royalty checks, but instead, he has kept growing, kept learning, kept on ordering his own private world, and wasn’t content until he could share his ever-growing insights with a whole new generation.

MacDonald is quite candid about the collapse of his own inner world, and how he had to work to restore and rebuild that. Throughout this book you will read more of his personal stories, as well as accounts from historical people (both famous and relatively unknown), and you will learn from numerous biblical examples as well.

Ordering Your Private World will help you reassess your priorities, learn how to take control of your time, help you find the best supports for your inner world, see through a biblical lens, and learn what it truly means to take a rest.

This book will be beneficial for everyone who wants to ensure their inner world is strong enough to support their outer world, but I would especially recommend this book to those in leadership positions. Leaders tend to be much more hard-charging and results-oriented people, and as such may neglect their own inner world. But whoever you are, this book will be a valuable part of your life.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

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