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! 

Common Sense Or Trust

“God expects of us the one thing that glorifies Him—and that is to remain absolutely confident in Him. … 

“Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? ‘Abide in Me,’ says Jesus, in spiritual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make life what it is.” —Oswald Chambers, in Run Today’s Race

How Confident Are Your Prayers?

David hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s never tried to lead a rebellion against King Saul. In fact, he’s never even talked poorly about Saul. And yet Saul is out to kill David!

David tries to get as far away as he can, choosing to live in the desert so that he might get some relief from Saul. Still Saul comes after him with a force of 3000 men! Every time David moves, Saul’s men are hot on his trail. David described his situation like this

My mortal enemies surround me. Their hearts are cold and calloused toward me, and they speak terrible things about me. They track me down and surround me. They are like hungry lions, crouching, waiting to pounce on me!

If you were in David’s sandals, how confident would you be that God could get you out of the situation? Remarkably, David’s confidence was as high as it could be!

David not only was confident that God would hear him, but that He would listen to him. More than that, David knew God would pay attention to him. And then David boldly said, “I call on You, O God, for you WILL answer me.”

How could David pray such a confident prayer? The answer is in this principle…

There is a direct correlation between intimacy and confidence.

David made two very intimate claims about his relationship with God:

  1. You will keep me as the apple of Your eye
  2. You hide me in the shadow of Your wings

The apple of the eye is the pupil. Our eyes are amazingly designed to not only take in information but to protect themselves. If something is getting too close to our eye, the eyelids blink in protection faster than we can consciously tell them to. So David was claiming that God would protect him by reflex!

The shadow of Your wings was a reference to the top of the Ark of the Covenant; a place called the mercy seat. Here is where the priest sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial lamb to atone for the people’s sin and to appeal to God’s mercy. The mercy seat was over-shadowed by two angels’ wings.

David was saying that God kept him in this intimate place—covered by God’s mercy and protection!

Jesus also told us about intimate confidence when He said, “If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7).

  • Intimacy: remain IN Jesus, and let His words remain IN you
  • Confidence: ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you

Are your prayers this confident? If not, don’t work on raising your confidence, but work on increasing your intimacy. Check your intimacy level with questions like:

  • Am I abiding in Jesus?
  • Are His words abiding in me?
  • Do I have any unconfessed sin?
  • Is my prayer a “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” prayer?

Focus on intimacy, and then watch your confidence soar! 

If you are interested in learning more about the prayers of David, I have also discussed his prayer for help, his prayer of crying out loud, and his prayer of praise.

8 Quotes From “Live Dead Journey”

Live Dead Journey are notes from missionaries on the front lines. You can check out my book review by clicking here. One of the things that stood out to me was the focus of these “tour guides” on their time abiding with Jesus. Here are some quotes that share their heart on this.

“Abiding time is extravagant daily time with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus spent close to 90 percent of His life in a village of twelve families, and even His three years of ministry were characterized by time alone with the Father. Moses spent forty years in Midian and had multiple trips to the mountain with God. Paul spent thirteen years in preparation, some of it in the Arabian Desert, and prayed constantly. Adam, Joseph, David, Elijah, Daniel, Mary, John, and others all gave God extravagant time. When we examine the lives of any heroes of the faith, we can see that they lingered daily with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus has become my safe place. When stability is not present in life here, I can lean on Him. When friends are not constant, Jesus is. He knows what I need and provides everything. Jesus is enough for me.” –Joy Hawthorne

“I’ve learned that not spending time with Jesus today is one step in not spending time with Him tomorrow.” –Miriam Davis

“One thing I have discovered is that I can’t survive throughout the day on just one block of time with Jesus. So at some other point in my day, I spend time basking in His presence. … Abiding is a lifestyle.” –Eva Bridges

“To help draw out the lessons from a passage, I now look for the following. Is there:

  • A command for me to obey?
  • A promise for me to claim?
  • A sin for me to avoid or repent of?
  • An example for me to follow (good) or avoid (bad)?
  • A truth to believe?
  • A prayer to pray?” –Jeff Griffin

“I’ve realized that what I desire I become–Jesus is my desire, and I want to be like Him.” –Cathy Stone

“How extravagant are you toward Jesus with your time? Do you lavish time on Jesus? Do you give Jesus the most energetic and focused times of your day? Or do you tend to give Jesus the crumbs of your schedule?” –Dick Brogden

Live Dead Journey (book review)

Live Dead is a call to missionaries to leave the comfortable and the familiar behind to take the message of Jesus where it hasn’t been taken before. In Live Dead Journey you will see twelve different mission fields in the Arabic world through the eyes of Live Dead personnel who are living and serving in those cities.

In each of twelve stops, you will have a fantastic tour of a key city in the Arabic world. Then you will hear from each of these missionaries how they are empowered to minister in such challenging fields. Each of them credits abiding time with Jesus, but they will share with you how this is personalized to each of them, in fitting with their own personality and temperament.

Live Dead is not to be undertaken lightly, but it’s an all-in commitment. “If we are to finish the task, there will be a cost. It will take blood and boldness, sweat and suffering, tears and tenacity. Some will be imprisoned, some will die, some will spend a lifetime of labor with little credit and little reward. All will have to live dead.” But the eternal rewards are so worth it!

Although this book is featuring the Arabic world, any Christian who desires to make an impact in his or her community will find ample encouragement in the words of these front-lines missionaries. As an added benefit, you will also know how to pray for and support these Live Dead missionaries.

I am a Live Dead Publishing book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—Ordinary Preparation For Extraordinary Service

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.

Ordinary Preparation For Extraordinary Service

     What are the workshops that supply the munitions for God’s enterprises? The workshop of missionary munitions is the hidden, personal, worshiping life of the saint. …  

     We imagine we should be all right if a big crisis arose; but the crisis only reveals the stuff we are made of, it does not put anything into us. “If God gives the call, of course, I shall rise to the occasion.” You will not, unless you have risen to the occasion in the workshop. If you are not the real article before God there, doing the duty that lies nearest, instead of being revealed as fit for God when the crisis comes, you will be revealed as unfit. … 

     “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came forth from God and goeth unto God…”—we might have expected the record to go on: “He was transfigured before them”; but we read that the next thing Our Lord did was of the most menial commonplace order—“He took a towel, and girded Himself. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet.” Can we use a towel as Our Lord did? Towels and basins and feet and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It is not the big occasions that reveal us, but the little occasions. 

From So Send I You

Are you spending time every day abiding with Jesus and worshiping Him? Are you willing to do “the little things” that God gives you to do?

These are the things that will make God’s saints ready for “the big things” that come along. Don’t look for the big things, just do the ordinary things God desires of you every day, and then you will be more than ready for the extraordinary things in which God places you.

10 Quotes From “Live Dead Life”

Joy Hawthorne is a 16-year-old living with her parents in a radically Islamic Middle East country. Live Dead Life is her personal journal that she is sharing with other students in the same setting, but I find her words compelling, challenging, and encouraging for readers of all ages! Check out my full book review of Live Dead Life by clicking here.

“I step outside my door and follow Jesus where He leads. I seek to keep my feet on the path with Jesus, knowing a great adventure awaits.”

“To go through my day for Jesus, I need to spend time with Him. I can only give for Jesus what I received from Him. That is why I need time with Him daily.”

“I discovered that it’s easier to walk with Jesus all day when I think of Him as a friend I live with and not a duty I spend time with.” 

“It takes a lot of practice to intentionally involve Jesus in all part of my day, and I often forget, but I keep trying. And maybe that’s what Jesus wants—not perfection in a moment but persistence over time.”

“To reflect the image of God to the world, I have to know what He looks like and sounds like, right? I can’t do that without spending time with Him, and so it’s through my abiding time that I see Jesus and know Him and hear His voice. As I spend time with Him, I get a picture of Him to reflect to others. Jesus in me naturally flows out of me. Abiding affects everything and everyone around me.”

“I didn’t pick this place, but I can decide how I am going to live here.”

“All I have to do is look around. I might not be perfect, but I can follow Jesus and be there for others. I can be their first Christian friend. I can live with them. I can share my heart and the Gospel with them. All I have to do is say, ‘Yes.’ Yes to whatever Jesus has for me and wherever He wants to take me, whether I feel ready or not.”

“As God gives me life, He doesn’t give it so I can keep it for myself. God gives it so I can give it back. This is my chance to express the love that He shows to me, back to Him. I have one life to spend, and one death to give, so what happens when I stop trying to steal the gift He has given and instead offer it back? What happens when I let go of my plan and follow His, no matter how inconvenient? Choosing to live dead points me in that direction, to constantly turn things over to Jesus.”

“Jesus is too good to keep to myself. He’s worth telling the whole world. He’s worth sharing with my unreached neighbors.”

“When I cry out to Jesus, God delights to give an answer, and the answer is Himself—His heart in us. Then when I cry out for more, the answer is again Himself! When I cry for a broken world, hurt people, evil things, a deep wound, or gaping holes in hearts, God delights to be the answer to my prayers. He is the answer. I was never meant to be the answer to a lost, broken world. I am just meant to be in the place God calls me to be, to be able to tell the lost that He hears, that He hasn’t forgotten, that He knows.”

More quotes from this amazing book are coming soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I would highly encourage all Christians to download a free copy of Joy Hawthorne’s book (the download link is in my book review).

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