Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 7

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.

Jeremiah 7

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 7.]

     To seek a place instead of a Person is the first peril in the spiritual life, and to sentimentalize over places where God has met you is the beginning of spiritual twist. Beware of relying on a principle saving you from moral wrong, for it never can. A personal relationship to a personal Savior is the only power that can shield the soul from moral peril. The golden rule is, my personal Savior in every place, not that in certain places I meet my Savior. …  

     Self-deception always arises by ignoring the personal relationship to God….

     Self-examination is the only exercise for a soul who would remain true to the light of God. … The hardest thing in a saint’s life is to maintain a simple belief in Jesus until he realizes the one relationship is—my Lord and I; then His joy will be fulfilled in us.

From Notes On Jeremiah 

We have to be very careful about making a special landmark out of a place, an experience, or even a passage of Scripture where God met us in a profound way. Those special encounters are intended for one specific purpose: to draw us more deeply into a relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ. 

We are on the road to self-deception if we keep seeking experiences. The road to spiritual health is paved with Spirit-inspired self-examination where we ask, “How did that experience lead me closer to Jesus?” When all the other stuff is stripped away, that’s where we will feel Christ’s joy fulfilled in us.

9 More Quotes From “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

Those in pastoral ministry are ministers; they are not professional, career-minded, corporate ladder-climbers. John Piper has written a book that I believe every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Here are a few more quotes from this excellent book. 

“Is not our most painful failure in the pastorate the inability to weep over the unbelievers in our neighborhoods and the carnal members of our churches? …  

“I must feel the truth of hell—that it exists and is terrible and horrible beyond imaginings forever and ever. ‘These will go away into eternal punishment’ (Matthew 25:46). Even if I try to make the ‘lake of fire’ (Revelation 20:15) or the ‘fiery furnace’ (Matthew 13:42) a symbol, I am confronted with the terrifying thought that symbols are not overstatements but understatements of reality. …

“I say to you, on the authority of Scripture, remember, remember, remember the horrid condition of being separated from Christ, without hope and without God, on the brink of hell. ‘Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12). … 

“When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news.” 

“Warning has value in stirring us up to take the glories of holiness and heaven seriously so that we come to see them for what they are and delight in them. But it is the delight in them that causes the true grief when we fall short.” 

“Pastors, you will know your people’s souls best by knowing your own. So try to be ruthlessly honest with yourself.” 

“If the heart is without passion, it will produce lifeless, jargon-laden spontaneity. And if the heart is aflame, no form will quench it.” 

“We ought to experience the deepest emotions about the deepest things. And we ought to speak often, and publicly, about what means most to us, in a way that shows its value.” 

“Eating, exercising, and sleeping are more spiritually relevant in the ministry than we may think. … The point is that we be intentional about how our eating affects the ability of our body to be a helpful partner in seeing the glory of God.” 

“When we say that what we do on Sunday morning is to ‘go hard after God,’ what we mean is that we are going hard after satisfaction in God, and going hard after God as our prize, and going hard after God as our treasure, our soul-food, our heart-delight, our spirit’s pleasure. Or to put Christ in His rightful place—it means that we are going hard after all that God is for us in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.” 

“It will transform your pastoral leadership in worship if you teach your people that the basic attitude of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with your hands full to give to God but with your hands empty to receive from God.” 

“Brothers, we are leaders, and the burden of change lies most heavily on us.” 

You can read my full book review of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by clicking here, and you can check out some other quotes from this book here. 

A Warrior For God’s Favor

I love this guy! 

Caleb is a dog. I’m not kidding: his name literally means dog. To be more specific his name actually means a rabid dog. What?! Yeah, but it totally fits his life. 

Caleb first shows up on the scene when the Israelites are getting ready to explore Canaan for the first time. They have just been delivered from Egypt and in about two months have arrived at the border of their promised land. Moses wants to send a representative from each tribe to scout out the land. 

So the first thing we learn about Caleb is that he is a leader of the largest, most powerful tribe in Israel (Numbers 13:1-3, 6). 

After scouting the land for 40 days, these men come back with a report for everyone. Halfway through their report, Caleb interrupts everyone—“We should go take the land right now, for we can certainly do it!” (13:30). Caleb was outspoken for God’s favor. He firmly believed that God was for them. 

Unfortunately, nearly all the other scouts (except Joshua) disagreed with Caleb. They warned that there were giants in the land that would eat them for lunch. In essence, the same people who had seen God deliver them from the Egyptians and part the Red Sea for them now thought that God wasn’t able to defeat giants. This vocal majority turned the entire nation against Moses and wanted to return to Egypt! 

So God promised that none of the adults would enter the promised land, with only two exceptions: Joshua and Caleb. God pointed out that Caleb “has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly” (Numbers 14:24). This is where we first learn that Caleb is rabid. The term rabid means zealous, intense, fanatical, inspired. Caleb is a man who is focused—intensely, wholeheartedly focused—on God. In fact, this word wholehearted is used about Caleb three more times (see Joshua 14: 8, 9, 14). 

Along with the rest of the Israelite community, Caleb wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. He never thought God had forgotten him; he never lost his intense wholeheartedness; he stayed rabid the whole time. He had a trust in God that never diminished. His motto might have been: “God said it; I believe it.” 

After 40 years in the wilderness, and then five more years fighting to claim their promised land, Caleb was still raring to go. He told Joshua, “I am still just as strong as I was 45 years ago. I’m 85 years old and still ready to take on giants. Let me at ‘em!” And he did it! Caleb drove out three giants in order to claim his territory (Judges 1:20).

But Caleb wasn’t done yet. He then used God’s favor to be a blessing to others. The Apostle Paul tell something that Caleb lived out: God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need AND plenty left over to share with others (2 Corinthians 9:8). Without a word of complaint, Caleb gladly accepted not only the responsibility of letting the Levities live in the town he had conquered, but he also took on the added duties of making that city of Hebron a “city of refuge.” In this city, Caleb would keep anyone safe from those seeking their lives until a proper trial could be held. 

Caleb was successful for nearly 90 years because he was convinced that God was for him.

Nothing could distract him from wholeheartedly clinging to God’s favor! 

Caleb was a warrior for God’s favor, and he was a successful warrior because of God’s favor. The same can be said of you IF you will decide to cling to God’s favor wholeheartedly.

Saturday In The Proverbs— Deliverance (and other blessings) (Proverbs 11)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…delivers… (Proverbs 11).

Following God’s wisdom delivers people from a world of hurt—even an eternity (literally!) of suffering. 

Those who follow God’s wisdom are delivered from:

  • the second death 
  • lust that derails 
  • troubles that usually send people tumbling
  • hypocrisy’s fallout
  • God’s punishment 

Other blessings that come when we follow God’s wisdom includes: 

  • guidance 
  • direction
  • blessing your city
  • safety from poor decisions 
  • security and freedom
  • honor
  • soul health
  • sure rewards
  • eternal life
  • God’s delighting in you
  • great return on investments
  • blessing others
  • blessing from others
  • favor
  • flourishing
  • leadership
  • soul winning
  • God’s ultimate rewards 

WOW—who wouldn’t want that list of blessings?!

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 6

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.

Jeremiah 6

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 6.] 

     Providence is God’s oversight and in-ruling of the men on this earth, and men without the Spirit of God alternately disbelieve and hate the providence of God. … When we have the Spirit of God we do not understand what God is doing, but we know God. Faith is the process by which our confidence is built up in a Person Whose character we know, however perplexing the present things may be that He is doing. Fate is superstitious yielding to a person whose character we do not know and have not the slightest confidence in but have succumbed to. … 

     If we cling to things that are going to be shaken, then God will not prevent us being shaken with them, until we learn to let go of everything that He has condemned. 

From Notes On Jeremiah

God is in charge. God rules this earth and the men on this earth. 

Even for Christians, this is a hard concept to grasp, but it’s impossible for men without God’s Spirit to comprehend. Christians may not fully understand what is happening, but they can know Who is making it happen. 

God tells us, “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). 

God also gives us a choice between a curse and a blessing—Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. … But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 5, 7-8)

It’s your choice: Confidence in One you know (with His blessing), or superstitiously yielding to one you don’t know (with God’s shaking). 

God’s Gift To The World

You are a gift. You are God’s grace gift to the world. 

Max Lucado said it this way: “You are you-nique. 

God made you on purpose and for a purpose.

God implanted unique abilities in you from conception (see Psalm 139:13). And check out what God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew and approved of you…” (Jeremiah 1:5). Before you were even conceived, God already knew all about you AND He approved of you! 

Why did God implant these unique abilities in you? Because He knew of the unique opportunities you would face during your lifetime (see Psalm 139:16). Because God is for you, He gave you all that you would need to successfully face every opportunity that came your way. 

Every one of us has been given these grace gifts of unique talents and opportunities, The Bible says, “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Ephesians 4:7). If God is for you, and God is for me, then that means that you have been gifted to be a blessing to me and I have been gifted to be a blessing to you (Romans 12:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

Let me state it again: every one of us has been entrusted by God with unique talents in order to successfully face the unique opportunities that He knew we would face. Jon Bloom reminds us, “Some are given more, some are given less, but all are given much.” 

So what do we do with what we’ve been entrusted? There are two possibilities: (1) We can invest our talents and abilities in a way that glorifies God, or (2) We can squander the talents God has given us. 

How do you squander the grace gift of your life? 

  1. Not discovering it—I have a gift?
  2. Devaluing it—I’m nothing special.
  3. Overvaluing it—I’m super-important. I don’t need anyone else.
  4. Laziness—I don’t want to mess it up, so there’s no need for me to invest my gift.
  5. Short-sightedness—My gift is just for me, so it doesn’t matter what I do with it.

I hope we can all say what Erma Bombeck wrote: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left but could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’”

How do you honor God with your you-niqueness? I can tell you in just three simple words—You be you! 

If you will just be who God made you—not downplaying your talents, not wishing you had someone else’s talents—that’s when you will feel fulfilled, and God will be glorified, and the rest of the world will be blessed! So…

YOU BE YOU! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—But… (Proverbs 10)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

But… (24 times in Proverbs 10).

These proverbs of Solomon make clear the distinctions between God’s way and man’s way. Doing things God’s way brings all sorts of blessings, but trying to do things man’s ways is a dead-end road. 

Check out the contrasts—

 

(click on the image to see a larger view or click here to download a PDF → Proverbs 10 – but)

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