Thursdays With Oswald—The Love Behind The Warning

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 Love Behind The Warning

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” —Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14) 

     Always distinguish between warning and threatening. God never threatens; the devil never warns. A warning is a great arresting statement of God’s, inspired by His love and patience. …

     It is the great patience of God that gives the warning, “The way of transgressors is hard.” Go behind that statement in your imagination and see the love of God. God is amazingly tender, but the way of transgressors cannot be made easy. God has made it difficult to go wrong, especially for His children. … 

     If Jesus came to be a teacher only, He had better have stayed away. What is the use of teaching a human being to be what no human being can be—to be continually self-effaced, to do more than his duty, to be completely disinterested, to be perfectly devoted to God? If all Jesus came to do was to teach men to be that, He is the greatest taunter that ever presented any ideal to the human race. But Jesus Christ came primarily and fundamentally to regenerate man. He came to put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and immediately that is given to a man, the teaching of Jesus begins to be possible. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s apathy. If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t care what road we attempted to take. But He does love us, so He tells us the one and only way to get to Him: Jesus Christ is THE way. 

Chambers is exactly right when He says that Jesus was not just a great Teacher. If that’s all that Jesus came to do, we would be miserable people because we could never walk the narrow road that He taught. But Jesus came to enable and empower us to walk that road. He came to purchase our atonement (our “at-onement” with Him) so that we could live out all that He taught. 

Jesus is a Teacher, but He is also the Enabler that makes it possible for us to obey His teaching. For that, we should be eternally grateful! 

Thursdays With Oswald—Bridging The Unbridgeable Gap

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.

Bridging The Unbridgeable Gap

     When you read a book about life, life looks simple; but when you actually face the facts of life you find they do not come into the simple lines laid down in a book. An idea is like a searchlight, it lights up what it does and no more, while daylight reveals a hundred and one facts the searchlight had not taken into account. … To treat the Sermon on the Mount merely as an ideal is misleading. It is not an ideal, it is a statement of the working out of Jesus Christ’s disposition in actuality in the life of any man. … 

     No man is so labored as the man who has ideals which he cannot carry out. Jesus Christ says to such, “Come unto Me…and I will give you rest,” i.e., “I will ‘stay’ you, put something into you which will make the ideal and the actual one.” Without Jesus Christ there is an unbridgeable gap between the ideal and the actual; the only way out is a personal relationship to Him. The salvation of God not only saves a man from hell, but alters his actual life.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The words Jesus taught are more real than any other teaching anyplace. In another book, Chambers notes, “Jesus Christ’s view is that the Christian religion has been tried and abandoned, but never been tried and failed.” How true! 

But we cannot try to live out Christ’s words in our own strength. Trying to live this way will result in frustration and abandonment. Instead, Jesus reminds us that we are to be yoked to Him. We are to be as connected to Him as a branch is to its vine. The branch doesn’t beg and plead for the life-giving sap to flow into it, but simply as it abides it cannot help but receive all of the nutrients the vine supplies. 

So too with us as Christians. Don’t try to do Christian things—just abide in Jesus and you cannot help but have a new outlook, a new strength, and new fruit of the Spirit blossoming from your life! 

Thursdays With Oswald—The Golden Rule Is The Golden Measure

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 Golden Rule Is The Golden Measure

     Christian grace comprehends the whole man. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Salvation means not only a pure heart, an enlightened mind, a spirit right with God, but that the whole man is comprehended in the manifestation of the marvelous power and grace of God, body, soul, and spirit are brought into fascinating captivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. …  

     The limit to the manifestation of the grace of God in us is our body, and the whole of our body. We can understand the need of a pure heart, of a mind rightly adjusted to God, and a spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but what about the body? That is the margin of righteousness in us. We make a divorce between a clear intellectual understanding of truth and its practical outcome. Jesus Christ never made such a divorce; He takes no notice of our fine intellectual conceptions unless their practical outcome is shown in reality. … 

     So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12). Our Lord’s use of this maxim is positive, not negative. … What would we like other people to do to us? “Well,” says Jesus, “do that to them; don’t wait for them to do it to you.” The Holy Ghost will kindle your imagination to picture many things you would like others to do to you, and this is His way of telling you what to do to them. …  

     This verse is our Lord’s standard for practical ethical conduct. … We are to be written epistles, “known and read of all men.” There is no allowance whatever in the New Testament for the man who says he is saved by grace but who does not produce the graceful goods.  

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

It’s pretty simple—is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do good to others? Are you obeying? 

If so, then you are living epistle that allows everything to read of God’s love through your life. 

If not, you’re lack of “graceful goods” is showing you don’t really understand what “saved by grace” means, and neither are you letting others see that wonderful reality. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Christ’s Idea Of Social Reform

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.

Christ’s Idea Of Social Reform

     Humility and holiness always go together. Whenever hardness and harshness begin to creep into the personal attitude towards another, we may be certain we are swerving from the light. The preaching must be as stern and true as God’s Word, never water down God’s truth; but when you deal with others never forget that you are a sinner saved by grace, wherever you stand now. If you stand in the fullness of the blessing of God, you stand there by no other right than the sheer sovereign grace of God. … 

     Today the great craze is socialism, and men are saying that Jesus Christ came as a social reformer. Nonsense! We are the social reformers; Jesus Christ came to alter us, and we try to shirk our responsibility by putting our work on Him. Jesus alters us and puts us right; then these principles of His instantly make us social reformers. They begin to work straightway where we live, in our relationship to our fathers and mothers, to our brothers and sisters, our friends, our employers, or employees. “Consider how God has dealt with you,” says Jesus, “and then consider that you do likewise to others” [Matthew 7:12]. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Our lives are meant to be living answers to this prayer. 

We must be so immersed in God’s grace and love that we have a burning passion for everyone else to know this grace and love for themselves. I want to do for others what God has done for me. So as Jesus has changed my heart and my paradigm, I now become a “social reformer” in the places God has placed me—in my family, at my workplace, in my community. 

Jesus isn’t going to change society. The Holy Spirit changes us, and then we can lead God-honoring social reforms right where we are. 

“Consider how God has dealt with you, and then consider that you do likewise to others.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Swine And Testimonies

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.

Swine And Testimonies

     Jesus Christ is inculcating the need to examine carefully what we present in the way of God’s truth to others [Matthew 7:6]. … 

     Over and over again men water down the Word of God to suit those who are not spiritual, and consequently the Word of God is trampled under the feet of “swine.” Ask yourself, “Am I in any way flinging God’s truth to unspiritual swine?” “Be careful,” Jesus says, “not to give God‘s holy things to ‘dogs.’” …  

     Our Lord never tells us to confess anything but Himself, ‘Whosoever…shall confess ME before men…’ (Matthew 10:32). Testimonies to the world on the subjective line are always wrong, they are for saints, for those who are spiritual and who understand; but our testimony to the world is our Lord Himself, confess Him, “He saved me, He sanctified me, He put me right with God.” … 

     If we are only true to a doctrine of Christianity instead of to Jesus Christ, we drive our ideas home with sledge-hammer blows, and the people who listen to us say, “Well, that may be true”; but they resent the way it is presented. When we follow Jesus Christ the domineering attitude and the dictatorial attitude go and concentration Jesus comes in. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The apostle Paul also talked about wanting to make sure that Jesus was seen above all else. More harm than good is done when we talk about our personal experiences with God, which have now become our personal doctrines about God. 

Let God be as unique with others as He is with you. Don’t make other people fall in line with what you believe. Just point them to Jesus. As Chambers says, our testimony should be nothing but “He saved me, He sanctified me, He put me right with God.” Anything else, and we run the risk of casting pearl before swine. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Don’t Judge Others

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.

Don’t Judge Others

     This statement of our Lord’s [Matthew 7:2] is not a haphazard guess, it is an eternal law which works from God’s throne right down (see Psalm 18:25-26). … Life serves back in the coin you pay; you are paid back not necessarily are the same person, but the law holds —“for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” …

     In Romans 2, this principle is applied still more definitely—I am guilty myself of what I criticize in another. Every wrong I see in you, God locates in me; every time I judge you, I condemn myself. “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” [v. 1]. …

     We have judged our fellow-men as sinners; if God had judged us like that we would be in hell. God judges us through the marvelous Atonement of Jesus Christ.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Jesus warns us against judging people by a different standard that even God Himself uses! Can you imagine that we think we actually know better than God does who should be punished and who should be spared?!

The trouble is, we cannot see inside the other person’s heart so we judge by mere outward appearances. We ended up judging the other person by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions. How utterly unfair! 

We are in a far better place to simply let the Holy Spirit help us deal with the beams in our own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5), and let the Holy Spirit deal with others too. There is no good in my being involved in any judgments at all! 

Thursdays With Oswald—The Holy Spirit’s Spring-Cleaning

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 Holy Spirit’s Spring-Cleaning

     A man’s character cannot be summed up by what he does in spots, but only by what he is in the main trend of his existence. … In Matthew 7 our Lord is dealing with the need to make character. First up: The uncritical temper.

     Criticism is part of the ordinary faculty of the man, he has a sense of humor—a sense of proportion, he sees where things are wrong and pulls the other fellow to bits; but Jesus says, “As a disciple, cultivate the uncritical temper.” In the spiritual domain, criticism is love turned sour. In a wholesome spiritual life there is no room for criticism. …  

     No human being dare criticize another human being, because immediately he does he puts himself in a superior position to the one he criticizes. … That is never the work of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost alone is in the true position of a critic; He is able to show what is wrong without wounding and hurting. … If we let these searchlights go straight down to the root of our spiritual life we will see you why Jesus says, “Don’t judge”; we won’t have time to. Our whole life is to be lived so in the power of God that He can pour through us rivers of living water to others. …  

     Jesus says of criticism, “Apply it to yourself, never to anyone else.” … It is impossible to develop the characteristics of a saint and maintain a critical attitude. The first thing the Holy Spirit does is to give us a spring-cleaning….

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The dictionary defines criticism as the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality something. Jesus is looking for disciples whose character-in-action brings glory to our heavenly Father. 

One area in which we all need to have the loving, penetrating searching of the Holy Spirit is in the area of our criticism We can criticize—but only ourselves; never others. We can criticize ourselves—but only in the loving eyes of the Holy Spirit who knows best how to give us a proper spring-cleaning. 

Thursdays With Oswald—The Leap Of Faith

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 Leap Of Faith

     Suppose Jesus tells you to do something that is an enormous challenge to your common sense, what are you going to do—hang back? If once your nerves are in the habit of doing anything physically, you will do it every time, until you break the habit deliberately; and the same is true spiritually. Over and over again you will get up to what Jesus wants and turn back every time when it comes to the point, like a man balking a hurdle, until you break the habit and abandon resolutely. Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts in Him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man in exhibits in his life. If a man is going to do anything worthwhile, there are times when he has to risk everything on a leap, and in the spiritual world Jesus Christ demands that we risk everything we hold by our common sense and the leap into what He says. Immediately we do, we find that what He says fits on as solidly as our common sense.

     Following Jesus Christ is a risk absolutely; we must yield right over to Him, and that is where our infidelity comes in, we will not trust what we cannot see, we will not believe what we cannot trace, then it is all up with our discipleship. The great word of Jesus to His disciples is Abandon. When God has brought us into the relationship of disciples, we have to venture on His Word; trust entirely to Him and watch that when He brings us to the venture, we take it. …  

     It is not only wrong to worry, it is real infidelity because it means we do not believe God can look after the little practical details of our lives, it is never anything else that worries us. Notice what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in—the devil? No, the cares of this world. That is how infidelity begins. It is ‘the little foxes that spoil the vines,’ the little worries always. The great cure for infidelity is obedience to the Spirit of God. Refuse to be swamped by the cares of this world, cut out nonessentials and continually revise your relationship to God and see that you are concentrated absolutely on Him. … 

     At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements are those of a fool; but bring them to the bar of faith and the Word of God, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Wow, I don’t think I can add anything else to that! Except to repeat Chamber’s words: “If a man is going to do anything worthwhile, there are times when he has to risk everything on a leap.” 

Do you trust God enough to take a faith leap beyond your common sense? 

Thursdays With Oswald—Grow Like A Lily

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.

Grow Like A Lily

     Jesus declares it to be unreasonable for the disciple to be careful of all that the natural man says we must be careful over [Matthew 6:26-32]. … Jesus does not use the illustration of the birds and the flowers by accident, He uses it purposely in order to show the utter unreasonableness from His standpoint of being so anxious about the means of living. …

     Imagine a lily hauling itself out of its pot and saying, “I don’t think I look exactly right here.” The lily’s duty is to obey the law of its life where it is placed by the gardener. “Watch your life with God,” says Jesus, “see that that is right and you will grow as the lily.” We are all inclined to say, “I should be all right if only I were somewhere else.” There is only one way to develop spiritually, and that is by concentrating on God. …  

     How are you to grow in the knowledge of God? By remaining where you are, and by remembering that your Father knows where are you are and the circumstances you are in. Keep concentrated on Him and you will grow spiritually as the lily. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Don’t think for one moment that God doesn’t see where you are. Don’t think He doesn’t care about you. He knows precisely where you are, and He knows precisely what He is doing. 

If you want to grow, don’t worry about your circumstances or your setting. Keep concentrated on God and let Him grow you as only He can. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Becoming Carefully Careless

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.

Becoming Carefully Careless

     Faith is our personal confidence in a Being Whose character we know, but Whose ways we cannot trace by common sense. … Common sense is mathematical; faith is not mathematical, faith works on illogical lines. …  

     To have faith tests a man for all he is worth, he has to stand in the common-cents universe in the midst of things which conflict with his faith, and place his confidence in the God Whose character is revealed in Jesus Christ. …  

     Most of us are pagans in a crisis; we think and act like pagans, only one out of a hundred is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God. …  

     Jesus does not say, “Blessed is the man who does not think about anything”; that man is a fool; He says, “Be carefully careless about everything saving one thing—your relationship to God.” … Many people are careless about what they eat and drink, and they suffer for it; they are careless about what they put on, and they look as they have no right to look; they are careless over property, and God holds them responsible for it. Jesus is saying that the great care of the life is to put the relationship to God first and everything else second. Our Lord teaches a complete reversal of all our practical sensible reasonings. Do not make the ruling factor of your life what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, but make zealous concentration on God the one point of your life. … Jesus Christ says, “Reverse the order, get rightly related to Me first, see that you maintain that as the great care of your life, and never put the concentration of your care on the other things.”

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

It does seem illogical from our human perspective to not think about the basics of life first and foremost, but Jesus is clear and consistent in His message to us that God should be THE priority. Seek Him first and all the other things fall into place. Be “carefully careless” about everything except your relationship with Jesus! 

Don’t be a pagan atheist in a time of trial. Don’t be that 99 out of a hundred that abandons God when times are tough. Instead, be that “one out of a hundred [that] is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God” no matter what the circumstances are! 

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