Thursdays With Oswald—The Destination Is Not The Goal

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 Destination Is Not The Goal

     In natural life we have ambitions and aims which alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, viz., Our Lord Himself. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” [Ephesians 4:13]. We do not start with the idea of what the Christian life should be, we start with Christ, and we end with Christ. Our aims in natural life continually alter as we develop, but development in the Christian life is an increasing manifestation of Jesus Christ. …  

     “And He went on His way through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying on unto Jerusalem” (Luke 13:22). Our Lord was not fanatical. Had He been a fanatic, He would have said—“Because I am going up to Jerusalem there is no need to stay in this village or that; I have only one duty, and that is to go up to Jerusalem.” Our Lord took plenty of time to do His duty in the cities and villages that He went through on His way to Jerusalem. Nothing made Him hurry through the villages where He was persecuted, or linger in those where He was blessed. …  

     The aim of the missionary is not to win the heathen, not to be useful, but to do God’s will. He does win the heathen, and he is useful, but that is not the aim; his aim is to do the will of his Lord.

From So Send I You 

The Christian’s goal is not Heaven. The Christian’s goal is not winning a bunch of people to Christ. The Christian’s goal is not even being an effective Christian.

The Christian’s goal is to be like Jesus, making Him increasingly visible in my daily life.

God will do amazing things through us as we journey through this life, and Heaven is a wonderful reward for a Christian. But those things should never be our focal point. May our focal point always be this: I want to know Jesus more, and I want His life to be seen in me. I want His will to be done, and His glory to be seen.

11 More Quotes From “The Broken Way”

Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way wrecked me … in a good way! Ann shows us how Jesus steps into our brokenness, and how He then prepared us to take His love into other people’s brokenness. It’s a fantastic book, so you really should check out my book review by clicking here.

“I am not the mistakes I have made; I am the righteousness He has made. I am not the plans I have failed; I am the perfectness He has finished. I am not the wrongs I have done; I am the faultlessness He has been. I am not the sins I have chosen; I am chosen by the Beloved, regardless of my sins. In Christ, I am chosen, accepted, justified, anointed, sealed, forgiven, redeemed, complete, free, Christ’s friend, God’s child, Spirit’s home.”

“You’ve got to give your gifts or they may become your idols.”

“The thread of your life becomes a tapestry of abundant colors only if it ties itself to other lives. The only way to strengthen the fabric of society is to let the threads of your life break away to let Christ, who is in us, weave around other threads. … The strong must disadvantage themselves for the weak, the majority for the minority, or the community frays and the fabric breaks.”

“We will be known for our actual fruits, not the intentions of our imaginations.”

“Don’t we all have to unlearn fear before we can truly learn to love?”

“Jesus comes to give you freely through His passion what every other god forces you to try to get through performance.”

“Compassion says there will only be abundance for me when there is abundance for you.”

“Instead of flexing His muscle, Jesus surrendered His muscle to the nail. Instead of leveraging His position, He leveraged Himself out on a Cross. He made sacrifice His default position. Instead of stonewalling people with His authoritative power, He laid down His authority, lay down in a tomb, lay in a suffering death till the stone was rolled away.”

“The focus of God’s people is not to create explanations for suffering, but to create communities around suffering, co-suffering communities to absorb suffering and see it transform into cruciform grace.”

“Suffering is not a problem that needs a solution as much as it’s an experience that needs compassion.”

“Faith is confidence in the kindness of God, no matter the confusion of circumstances.”

You can read other quotes I’ve shared from The Broken Way here and here.

A Leader’s Confidence

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray (Psalm 5:1-2).

When David prays, he prays with confidence—he is confident that God will hear him.

Where does his confidence come from? From these two truths about the nature of God:

  1. You are a God who takes no pleasure in wickedness (v. 4), so David must confess his sin quickly.
  2. In fear of You I worship (v. 7), so David doesn’t have to cower before God wondering if God will forgive his sin.

David didn’t take the condition of his soul for granted (v. 5), but he came quickly into God’s presence because he knew of God’s mercy to forgive.

Not only was David confident that God would hear his prayer, but he also eagerly anticipated receiving…

  • …God’s answer to his prayer
  • …God’s joy
  • …God’s blessing
  • …God’s protection

A mark of a godly leader is one who prays confidently and then eagerly expects God to answer.

If you want confidence in your earthly leadership, do what David modeled: Enter God’s presence quickly and confidently, and then eagerly anticipate what God is going to do!

This is Part 16 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

The Power To Turn Worry Into Worship

Anxiety makes people feel overwhelmed. We over-burden ourselves with worries like…

  • Can I do it?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Do people really like me?
  • What if I fail?

Jesus said, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” Jesus went on to say that this type of worry and anxiety was exactly the opposite of what His followers should be doing: “People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things.”

Instead, Jesus said, we are to turn our focus on Him: “Your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” (see Luke 12:22-31)

Instead of worrying … pray!

My friend Josh Schram said,

“When we worry, we communicate to God that we don’t really trust Him to take care of us.”

OUCH!

You might be saying, “If I’m supposed to pray every time I worry about something, I’d be praying all the time!” You know what? That’s actually a good thing because it’s exactly what the Bible instructs us to do—

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. (Philippians 4:6)

“We have the power to turn our…

  • anxiety into prayer
  • worry into worship
  • struggles and trials into testimonies.” (Josh Schram)

Are you using that power God has given you? Don’t let worry cause you to feel overwhelmed. Keep turning your worries over to God again and again and again and again….

Saturday In The Psalms—Generations

I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord… (Psalm 78:3-4).

If George Santayana* was right about the dangers of unlearned history lessons for the general population, he identified something even more vital for those who follow God.

Asaph recounts a history of God’s people where God blessed them, the people became complacent in His blessing, until they turned from God and became subject to His wrath. The cycle, sadly, repeats again and again.

Asaph wants today’s generation to learn this lesson and to break this cycle. 

He calls on this generation to continually remind the next generation of God’s blessings for obedience, and God’s judgment for disobedience—

Make them known to their children (v. 5).

The children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children (v. 6)

For today’s parents this means…
No complacency. 
No assumptions. 
No letting kids “figure it out on their own.” 
Constant diligence.
Constant communication.

May this generation speak words of life to the generation to come!

* George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And he also noted, “A child educated only in school is an uneducated child.”

 

8 Quotes From “Transforming Grace”

Jerry Bridges’ book Transforming Grace is an amazing read! Check out my book review by clicking here.

“One of the best-kept secrets among Christians today is this: Jesus paid it all. I mean all. He not only purchased your forgiveness of sins and your ticket to heaven, He purchased every blessing and every answer to prayer you will ever receive. Every one of them—no exceptions.

“Why is this such a well-kept secret? For one thing, we are afraid of this truth. We are afraid to tell even ourselves that we don’t have to work anymore, the work is all done. We are afraid that if we really believe this, we will slack off in our Christian duties. But the deeper core issue is that we don’t really believe we are still bankrupt. Having come into God’s kingdom by grace alone solely on the merit of Another, we’re now trying to pay our own way by our performance. We declared only temporary bankruptcy; we are now trying to live by good works rather than by grace.”

“To be justified means more than to be declared ‘not guilty.’ It actually means to be declared righteous before God.”

“God not only blots our sins from His record, He also remembers them no more. This expression means He no longer holds them against us. The blotting out of our transgressions is a legal act. It is an official pardon from the Supreme Governor. The remembering them no more is a relational act. It is the giving up by an injured party of all sense of being offended or injured. It is a promise never to bring up, either to Himself or to you, your sins.”

“God’s reward is out of all proportion to our service and sacrifice.”

“God often does bless people who seem to us to be quite unworthy. But that is what grace is all about, because we are all unworthy.”

“We all want grace, but we cannot enjoy grace when there is an attitude of comparing.”

“The Bible is full of God’s promises to provide for us spiritually and materially, to never forsake us, to give us peace in times of difficult circumstances, to cause all circumstances to work together for our good, and finally to bring us safely home to glory. Not one of those promises is dependent upon our performance. They are all dependent on the grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ.”

“Our love for God, expressed through obedience to Him, is to be a response to His love, not a means of trying to earn it.”

Questions To Ask Myself

“When you are tempted to walk toward vanity, look at Christ’s holy walk and ask yourself…

  • Am I like Him in my thoughts and in the way I spend my time?
  • If He were physically living on earth right now, would He do what I am doing?
  • Would He not choose His words more carefully than I do?
  • Would silly speech come from His lips?
  • Would He enjoy my friends?
  • Would He spend a fortune pampering His body, and swallow enough food at one meal to feed hungry people for a week?
  • Would He be fashion-conscious, even if that made His appearance ridiculous and offensive?
  • Would His hands be busy with games that drive time away?
  • Should I do anything that would make me unlike Christ?”

—William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor

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