Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 8-11

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.

Isaiah 8-11

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 8-11.]

     God did not give a progressive revelation of Himself through the Old Testament: the people progressively grasped the revelation, which is very different. …

     The remarkable thing is that when Jesus Christ comes, every one of the things the prophets have been saying fit in with one Personality, the Being whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah never saw Jesus Christ, he could not have imagined Him, then what inspired him? The very Mind of God (see 2 Peter 1:20). … 

     Fear is apt to make us atheistic and in our outlook we enthrone the devil, not God. God is behind it all, not a thing happens but He knows all about it. …

     If we try to draw our breath from any other source we instantly get diseased. By prayer and communion with God we live out in God’s moral open air, consequently we can live in the cities and amongst the places of men and maintain the life which is in accordance with the Messiah’s life…. The enemy of our souls goes for all he is worth against our praying, against our solitudes with God, he tries to prevent us drawing our breath in the fear of the Lord. The great need is to bring every thought and imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ until every bit of our nature is reconstructed. 

From Notes On Isaiah

In these four chapters of Isaiah, the kings of Judah are facing enemies closing in from all sides and fear is mounting. Isaiah keeps speaking a word from the Lord that amounts to God saying this: Stop focusing on your troubles and focus on Me instead!

It’s a good reminder for us still today. God is in control. Let me say that again: God is in control! Let His perfect love and His perfect power drive out fear from your heart. Keep your eyes on Him, not on the problems coming against you. Let your thoughts be captivated by Jesus, and you will be reconstructed from the inside out with the nature of Christ.

Handling Tough Texts

How do you handle a hard passage in the Bible? Peter wrote this about Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand….” But if we don’t take the time to wrestle with that passage, Peter says this is what happens next: “…which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

So here’s a 5-step plan I use when I am working through a challenging passage of Scripture.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you

All Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), and the same Holy Spirit lives in a Christian (1 John 2:20). Think about that: the same Holy Spirit that inspired an author to write the words of Scripture is the same Spirit that will illuminate them to you!

  1. Read the difficult passage in context

We will make our task much easier when we “zoom out” from the difficult text and read the whole passage surrounding the difficult verse/phrase. Perhaps we need to “zoom out” even farther to understand why the whole chapter or book was written.

  1. Identify the parts that are clear

Start off by identifying the parts that you do understand, and then see what light that shines on the tricky text.

  1. Cross reference with other Scriptures

Never, ever, ever draw a conclusion from just one passage of Scripture. Paul reminded his audience that he used the “whole counsel of God’s Word” (Acts 20:27) in forming his sermons. If the challenging passage contains an Old Testament passage, look it up; if it references an historical event, read that history. I also like to use biblegateway.com’s excellent search feature to find cross references.

  1. Draw conclusions on what appears to be the main point

Only after you have done step #1-4 should you attempt to draw some conclusions. You will set yourself up for error if you draw a conclusion first, and then try to find other texts in the Bible that agree with you.

The Apostle Peter writes something rather challenging in his first letter. In fact, Martin Luther said this about 1 Peter 3:18-22: “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” If you would like to see how I walk through the 5-step plan on this “obscure passage,” please check out the video below.

Thursdays With Oswald—A Biblical View Of Government

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.

A Biblical View Of Government

     The Bible point of view about government is that God compels men to govern man for Him, whether he likes it or not. The ordinance of government, whether it is a bad or good government, does not lie with men, but is entirely in God’s hands; the king or the government will have to answer to God (cf. 1 Peter 2:13-14). … 

     In politics also it is difficult to steer a course; there is a complication of forces to be dealt with which most of us know nothing about. We have no affinity for this kind of thing, and it is easy to ignore the condition of the men who have to live there, and to pass condemnation on them. … It is easy to condemn a state of things we know nothing about while we make excuses for the condition of the things we ourselves live in. … 

     We say, “Why does God allow these things? Why does He allow a despot to rule?” In this dispensation it is the patient long-suffering of God that is being manifested. God allows men to say what they like and do what they like (see 2 Peter 3:14). Peter says that God is long-suffering, and He is giving us ample opportunity to try whatever line we like both in individual and national life. If God were to end this dispensation now, the human race would have a right to say, “You should have waited, there is a type of thing You never let us try.”

     God is leaving us to prove to the hilt that it cannot be done in any other way than Jesus Christ’s way, or the human race would not be satisfied.” 

From Shade Of His Hand

Oswald Chambers wrote these words during The Great War (what we now call World War I), when everyone was questioning how governments could do such horrendous things.

I think Chambers sums up how a Christian should respond to earthly governments:

  1. Remember they are placed in their positions by God, so treat them with respect (Romans 13:6-7).
  2. Don’t condemn government officials, but pray for them  (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  3. Clean up the areas where we can clean up, and let the politicians clean up their own areas.

3 Quotes For Uncommen Husbands

Uncommen HusbandsI recently finished a reading plan on YouVersion called Uncommen Husbands. Here are some quotes that I especially appreciated from Brian Goins’ insights.

“Paul indicates there a came a time in his life when he grew out of an immature, boyish love and embraced a more mature, and dare we say, manly love [1 Corinthians 13:11]. If we’re going to love our wives like Christ loved the church, we must let the boy die. And in marriage, that’s far easier said than done. Check out the comparisons below:

  • Boys retaliate quickly when hurt; manly love is patient and kind.
  • Boys require constant affirmation; manly love is not arrogant or rude.
  • Boys stew, stammer, and hold grudges when they don’t get their way; manly love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.
  • Boys try to win every argument; manly love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
  • Boys have a short fuse; manly love bears all things.
  • Boys write people off when wronged; manly love believes God’s best for the relationship.
  • Boys lose hope after they’re hurt; manly love always hopes for reconciliation regardless of the pain.
  • Boys expect to be served; manly love endures all things.”

“Paul says, ‘cherish’ our bride like we cherish our own bodies. The word means, ‘bring warmth to,’ and from which we derive our words, thermal and thermostat. … When Paul tells us to love our wives as we love our own bodies, he’s encouraging us to cherish their emotional needs in the same way we cherish our own physical needs. If she’s chilly, it’s our job to warm her up. If she’s steaming, then we help lower the mercury. In other words, the call to cherish means we have to engage when we’d rather shrink back.”

“I’m not sure Paul was the most popular men’s retreat speaker. When he spoke, some fell asleep…and then fell out a window (Acts 20:9). He admitted to the church at Corinth his messages were a bit convoluted (1 Corinthians 2:3-5). Even his buddy Peter threw him under the bus for his ivory tower verbiage (2 Peter 3:15-16).

“Then there was his unfortunate use of the word nourish in Ephesians 5:28. I’m pretty sure every guy in the audience cringed a bit when Paul said to husbands, ‘nourish’ your wife. We may think of nutritious foods, but in Paul’s day, the word often referred to nursing moms. Try and get that picture out of your head.

“When my wife used her God-given equipment to nourish our children I don’t ever remember a time when I asked her, ‘Honey, when was the last time you fed the baby?’ and she responded, ‘Oh, I don’t know, it’s been a few days.’ Because instinctively a mom knows her baby’s nourishment has to be consistent, catered to their tastes, and is crucial for their survival. In the same way, Paul calls husbands to nourish their brides. Is your love consistent? I don’t know about you, but I rarely miss a meal. Unless I’m fasting (for a very short time!), about every 4-5 hours I feed the beast. It’s all too common for our wives to go months between meals: a date night, taking a walk, go on an adventure, a simple text saying, ‘are you tired? You should be because you’ve been running through my mind all day long,’ or a well thought out letter. Nourishment must be ongoing. Is your love catered to her tastes? You’re not going to catch me at the all-you-can-eat tofu bar. Unless I’m on the mission field, I generally nourish my body with stuff I like. It’s common to give love the way we want to receive love. But your love language probably doesn’t match hers. Want to know if you are catering to her ‘love’ taste buds, ask this UNCOMMEN question: ‘Honey, do you feel the depth of my love? Not do you know it, but do you feel it? If not, how can I nourish your soul?’ Do you realize your love is crucial to her survival?”

6 Quotes From “Light & Truth—The Lesser Epistles”

Light & Truth The Lesser EpistlesHoratius Bonar’s insights on the Scriptures are amazing! So far I’ve read and reviewed three of the four commentaries he has prepared on the New Testament (you can read those reviews here, here and here). These are a few quotes from the third book on the epistles Galatians through Jude. Any reference in brackets is the passage from the Bible on which Bonar is commenting.

“It is a busy, lighthearted, laughing, pleasure-seeking world. But sin is here, and pain is here, and broken hearts are here, and weeping is here, and death is here, and the grave is here. Oh! in spite of all its laughter and vanity, it is an evil world. And the great proof of its evil is, that it cost the death of the Son of God to deliver you from it. … Give yourselves to Him Who came to deliver you from it, and Who stretches out His hands to you all day long, asking you to allow Him to deliver you. He yearns over you; and with sincere earnestness proffers to you His love, His friendship, His great salvation. Consent, O man, consent! His desire is to bless, and not to curse; to save, and not to destroy.” [Galatians 1:4]

“There never have been two gospels. There is not an Old Testament gospel and a New Testament Gospel. There is not one gospel for the Jew, and another for the Gentile, one gospel for the first century, and another for the nineteenth. It is but one gospel, as there is but one Cross and one Savior. Many ages, but one gospel; many sinners, but one gospel; many prophets and apostles, but one gospel. As our earth has had but one sun, so it has had but one gospel. Nor does it need more; that one is sufficient.” [Galatians 1:6-9]

“As the earth without rain or sunshine turns to barrenness, so is it with the Church or soul without the Spirit. … The age thinks it can do without the Spirit. Let the Church watch against this blasphemy. Let her keep hold of the Lord’s promise, the promise of the Father. Let her prize the gift; long for more of it. Let every saint seek more of it. Let our cry be continually: More of the Holy Spirit; more of His fullness; more of His gifts and graces!”

“Strength for the race is needed, hourly strength, superhuman strength; for it is no earthly race, but something lofty, supernatural, divine. Forgetting the supernatural source of strength, we betake ourselves to the internal or the simply external. And so we weary. For only God can supply the power which keeps us running. By Him only shall we run, and not be weary.” [Galatians 5:7]

“‘To Him who is able’—He is the Mighty One, the mighty God, the Lord God Almighty. Hear how this word ‘able’ is used. ‘He is able to subdue all things unto Himself’ (Philippians 3:21). ‘He is able to help them that are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). ‘He is able to save to the uttermost’ (Hebrews 7: 25). ‘He is able to keep us from falling’ (Jude 24). It is with the mighty God that we have to do; mightier than ourselves or our foes; mightier than earth or hell; omnipotent.” [Ephesians 3:20]

“Are you expecting the Lord? Are you living in this expectation? Is it a deep-seated, abiding, cherished hope? Is it a hope that tells upon your character, your life, your daily actings in public or private, your opinions, your whole man? Does it quicken you? Does it purify you? Does it keep you separate from the world? Does it keep you calm in the midst of earth’s most exciting events, or most untoward changes? Does it give you a new view of history as well as prophecy? … Let your expectation of the Lord’s coming be a calm and healthy one; not one that excites, but one that tranquilizes; not one that unfits for duty, but one that nerves you more firmly for it; not one that paralyzes exertion, but one that invigorates you for it; not one that makes you indifferent to present duty, but one that makes you doubly in earnest about everything that your hand findeth to do; not one that stops liberality, and prayer, and work, but one that increases all these a hundred fold; not one that dwells exclusively on the future’s dark side—the judgments that are at hand—but one that realizes the glory and the joy of Messiah’s approaching victory and triumphant reign.” [Philippians 3:20]

3 Bible Studies For You To Try

Book by book studyLast week I spoke and wrote about some tools you might use to study your Bible. Now I’d like to share some Bible study projects you might try with those new tools. As always, I recommend that beginning Bible studies go verse by verse through the Bible. I believe you will lay a strong foundation for your faith when you systematically put God’s Word into your heart.

Book By Book

I’ll use the book of Ephesians as an example. Using my Bible atlas I find that the city of Ephesus is located along an important trade route, and it is the Roman capital of the province of Asia. My Full Life Study Bible tells me that because so much trade passed through this city, this letter was probably intended to be a circular letter for all of the communities near Ephesus. As a result, Paul is not addressing any specific problems in this church, but writes theological ideas for a broad spectrum of people.

As I begin reading, I paused in the first verse when I came to the phrase “the faithful in Christ.” I asked myself, “What does it mean to be faithful IN Christ? Can I be faithful outside of Him?” By the time I got to verse 3, I saw a similar phrase: “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Now I went back and used a blue highlighter (there’s nothing special about blue, it just happened to be the first highlighter I grabbed), and marked those two “in Christ” phrases. I see two more in verse 4: “He chose us in Him” and “holy and blameless in His sight.” Going through the whole book I discovered 36 times the phrases “in Christ” or “in Him.” This is helpful to me to know the kind of security I have in Jesus.

Another thing that stood out to me were Paul’s prayers for the church. I see His very moving prayers in passages like 1:15-19 and in 3:14-21. I also see in 6:18 that he tells us to pray all kinds of prayers for ourselves and for others. And I see in 6:19 that Paul asked the church to pray for him too.

And always look for “therefore” phrases. For example in 4:24-25 or 4:32-5:1. The “therefore” phrases tell us how to live or think in light of the ideas that were just shared.

Chapter By Chapter

A good place to do this is in the Psalms or Proverbs. These are usually stand-alone chapters. When reading the chapters in these two books, I love reading them in parallel with other translations. For example, check out this from Psalm 1.

In Psalm 59, notice the superscript (or introduction). This gives us some background information to the psalm. Using my concordance, I found that this psalm was written this time in David’s life.

There is usually a theme to each chapter of the Proverbs, so try to discover that. In Proverbs 2, I noticed the “if … then” statements. In the first four verses I see things like “IF you will seek wisdom like this,” and then in verses 5-22 I see a whole bunch of blessings that follow the “then” that starts verse 5.

Word By Word

Sometimes I like to go really deep in a passage, so I slow down and look at it word by word. Here you need to use a Strong’s Concordance of the Bible. I like the one available on Blue Letter Bible. For example, next to 2 Peter 1:5, you can hover over the word “Tools” and select “Interlinear.” Clicking on “Interlinear” you will see all of the Greek words that make up this verse. By clicking on the Strong’s number, you can see the definition of that Greek word. Scrolling down a bit, you can see all of the other verses where that Greek word is used in the New Testament.

None of these tools are meant to take the place of the Holy Spirit. He is called the Spirit of Truth, and since He is the One who inspired all of the Scripture, ask His help before you begin any Bible study.

In this video I go into more detail on how I undertake all of these Bible studies. And be sure to join us next week as we take another look at different types of Bible studies.

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