Don’t Settle For Low Expectations

isaac-newtonSome of the greatest discoveries and revelations came about because people were curious. They refused to just go along with what they had always been told, what they grew up believing, or what the conventional wisdom told them was impossible.

Archimedes had his “Eureka!” moment because he refused to believe that it was impossible to measure the volume of an irregularly-shaped object.

Isaac Newton formulated the laws of gravitation because he curiously wondered about why apples fell perpendicular and at the same velocity.

The Apostle Peter saw a vision from God with animals, but didn’t stop there. His openness helped him realize that God didn’t have “favorites.”

Far too many people live their lives cursed with low expectations. They say, “That’s all there is.” and they put a period on it.

God wants us to soar above those low expectations! He tells us things like:

  • Come now, let us reason together… (Isaiah 1:18).
  • Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
  • Are you listening to this? Really listening? … The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you… (Matthew 13:9, 11)

great-expectationsBut we are trapped in the curse of low expectations when we put a period on things, when we refuse to learn more, see more, hear more.

  • Most people—“That’s all there is.” (period)
  • What if we changed it up—“Is this all there is?” (question mark)
  • Perhaps you might get—“There is so much more!” (exclamation point)

For example, Paul uses the word “mystery” multiple times in his letter to the Ephesians. He explains that a mystery is something hidden from those who have it all figured out (the “period” people), but is revealed to those who will ask God (the “question mark” people). Only the “question mark” people get to see the “exclamation points” God has for them. Things like…

  • God has a plan, and it is His pleasure to reveal it to me (Ephesians 1:9-10; 2:10).
  • God’s revelation is fully revealed to me in His Word (3:3-5).
  • Faith in Jesus makes Christians co-heirs and sharers in all God’s promises (3:6).
  • I have access to God’s inexhaustible riches, His immense wisdom, and I may approach Him with freedom and confidence (3:8-12).

Don’t stop with “.” but go on to “?” and experience “!

With great expectation, read God’s Word, approach His throne, dig into His riches, wrestle with the difficult things, learn more of God’s purpose for your life. He wants to give you so much more “!” 

10 Quotes From “Light & Truth—Revelation”

light-and-truth-revelationHoratius Bonar gives excellent insights into the themes in Scripture. Having him as a guide through a challenging text like the Book of Revelation is a precious resource. Check out my review of his commentary Light & Truth—Revelation by clicking here.

“The tendency of the present age is to set aside prophecy as specially belonging to the supernatural, and therefore the incredible and impossible. Let us stand aloof from this incredulity, and welcome the prophetic word as all the more precious because supernatural and specially divine. … Prophecy is a sure word, and it is as blessed as it is sure. Woe to him who slights it! Blessed are all they who meditate on it, seek to know it, and take it for guidance and counsel in the evil day!” 

“Have we realized our own dignity? Do we feel the honour, the privilege, the responsibility of being kings and priests? Do we act, live, speak, feel accordingly? Do our glorious prospects tell upon us now? Are we walking daily in the anticipation of what shall be? Are we working, praying, praising, giving, suffering, denying self, under the influence of that honour which shall so soon be ours?”

“The world scoffs at the message, and believes in no advent save the advent of gold and silver, of commerce and science, of luxury and pleasure. The Church has lost sight of it, and says, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming.’” 

“Is the Church ready for this glorious day? Has she put on her apparel? Has she trimmed and lighted her lamp? Has she filled her vessel with oil? Is she sitting loose from the world? Is she remembering her coming Lord, and seeking to be faithful to Him in His absence? He has entrusted to her His cause, His truth, His honour. Is she alive to her responsibility, and acting accordingly? Is she realizing His nearness and His glory? Is she daily influenced by His sure world of promise, ‘Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with Me?’ Is she labouring and suffering for Him? Or is she self-indulgent, worldly, indolent?”

“Be patient under wrong, and suffering, and weariness, and hope deferred! Fret not! He that believeth doth not make haste; the Lord is at hand; the kingdom is about to come; the tribulation will soon cease; the joy will soon begin; and once begun, it will never end.”

“Live, and act, and walk as sons of morning. Let the world recognize you as such. Let there be streaks of dawn seen upon you.”

“Pity a dark world, and its dark children, that have no hope and no morning before them. Point out the Morning-star to them; bid them look at it; tell them what its anticipated brightness has done for you. Win souls to Christ. Draw many into the kingdom by your words and by your walk. There is little time to lose; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

“It is not lukewarmness occasioned by the cold passing gradually into heat, but that produced by the heat passing into the cold. … Church of the living God, beware of letting your temperature sink even one single degree.”

“Be separate from the world. Abstain from fleshly lusts. Lay aside all filthiness. Walk soberly. Beware of earth’s folly and idle laughter. Set your affection on things above. Be prepared for suffering. Endure hardness. Take up your cross daily and bear it aloft, and be not ashamed of it. The footsteps of the old saints are still visible on the sands of time. Follow them. Their voice is still heard, and their hand still waves, beckoning you to follow. Believe what they believed.”

“Watch, for satan tries to lull you asleep. Watch, for the world, with it riches, and vanities, and pleasures, is trying to throw you off your guard. Watch upon your knees. Watch with your Bibles before you. Watch with wide-open eye. Watch for Him Whom not having seen you love.”

I will be sharing more quotes from this powerful book in the near future. You can enter your email address by the box that says “Sign me up!” to be notified immediately when these quotes are posted. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter for a daily dose of notable quotes.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Uncommon Attitude Of The Bible

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 Uncommon Attitude Of The Bible

     It is not necessary for a man to understand things before he can be a Christian. … Theology is the science of religion, an intellectual attempt to systematize the consciousness of God. Intellect systematizes things to a man’s mind, but we do not reach reality through intellect. Theology comes second, not first, and ought always to be open to dispute. … 

     The attitude of the Bible to the human race is not a common-sense one. The Christian aspect deals with the a specimen of a human race which is a magnificent ruin of what it was designed to be. Supposing the view of the Bible to be right, to whom it is it ‘up to’ to right the wrong? The Creator. Has He done it? He has, and He has done it absolutely single-handed. The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God—God became the weakest thing in His own creation, and in flesh and blood He levered it back to where it was intended to be. No one helped Him; it was done absolutely by God manifest in human flesh. God has undertaken not only to repair the damage, but in Jesus Christ the human race is put in a better condition than when it was originally designed. … 

     The highest standard God has is Himself, and it is up to God to make a man as good as He is Himself; and it is up to me to let Him do it.

From The Shadow Of An Agony

It’s amazing how much we argue over theology! Especially because theology never saved a soul. Theology simply is a science that organizes our thoughts about God.

But God confounds those who merely want to analyze and systematize Him. I love Chambers’ thought: “The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God.” Who would have ever conceived such a harebrained idea?!

Theology has value, but it comes second. First comes faith. Never let arguments over theology sway you from your childlike faith in a God Who loved you enough to single-handedly lift you back up to Him!

7 Quotes From “The Philosophy Of Sin”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers always makes me think deeply, but The Philosophy Of Sin was a graduate-level, deep-thinking book on theology and philosophy for me! Check out my review of this book by clicking here. Below are some quotes I especially enjoyed.

“To people who are satisfied on too shallow a level the Bible is a book of impertinences, but whenever human nature is driven to the end of things, the Bible becomes the only Book and God the only Being in the world.”

“The life of nature is neither moral nor immoral; our bodies are neither moral nor immoral, we make them moral or immoral. Our Lord had a body, and we read that He hungered; it was not a sin for Him to be hungry, but it would have been a sin for Him to have eaten during the forty days in the wilderness, because His Father’s word at that time was that He should not eat. It is not a sin to have a body, to have natural appetites, it is a sin to refuse to sacrifice them at the word of God.”

“Lust simply means, ‘I must have this at once’; it may be a bodily appetite or a spiritual possession. The principal lust works on is, ‘I must have it at once, I cannot wait for God’s time, God is too indifferent,’ that is the way lust works.”

“If all Jesus Christ can do is to run a parallel counteraction with what satan can do, His right name is ‘Culture,’ not ‘Savior’; but His revealed nature was stated by the angel to Mary, and repeated over and over again, ‘Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.’ The slight views of salvation, the sympathetic drifty views that all Jesus Christ can do is to put in us a principle that counteracts another principle, will cause anyone who is got to the last limit to blaspheme God for a thing like that. It all comes from a flimsy, wrong view of sin. If that is all He can do, what is the good of calling Him Savior? … It is sin that He came to cope with; He did not come to cope with the poor little mistakes of men, they cope with their own mistakes; He came to give them a totally new stock of heredity, that is, He came to implant into them His own nature, so that satan’s power in the soul is absolutely destroyed, not counteracted.”

“This aspect of the death of Jesus takes us into a spiritual domain beyond the threshold of the thinking of the majority of us. The cry of the Cross, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ is unfathomable to us. The only ones—and I want to say this very deliberately—the only ones who come near the threshold of understanding the cry of Jesus are not the martyrs, they knew that God had not forsaken them, His presence was so wonderful; not the lonely missionaries who are killed or forsaken, they experience exultant joy, for God is with them when men forsake them: the only ones who come near the threshold of understanding the experience of God-forsakenness are men like Cain—‘My punishment is greater than I can bear’; men like Esau, ‘…an exceedingly bitter cry’; men like Judas. Jesus Christ knew and tasted to a fuller depth than any man could ever taste what it is to be separated from God by sin.”

“How Jesus Christ does cleanse our conscience! It is freedom not only from sin and the damage sin has done, but emancipation from the impairing left by sin, from all the distortions left in mind and imagination.”

“The conscience formed in us by the Holy Spirit makes us amazingly sensitive to the things that tell against the honor of God.”

I’ll be sharing other quotes from this book in the near future, and I also share an extensive passage from the current Chambers’ book I am reading every Thursday. If you want to be notified when those quotes are posted, please enter your email address in the box to the right and click “Sign me up!”

I share quotes from Oswald Chambers and other inspirational authors daily on both Tumblr and Twitter.

11 More Quotes From “Culture”

cultureA.W. Tozer wrote almost 50 years ago, but his words to the church still ring true today. Check out my review of Culture, and then enjoy some additional quotes from this book.

“To preserve life the physician and the druggist use words of fixed meaning common to both. How much more should the pulpit and the pew have a clear understanding about the words of eternal life. The modern effort to popularize the Christian faith has been extremely damaging to that faith. The purpose has been to simplify truth for the masses by using the language of the masses instead of the language of the church. It has not succeeded, but has added to rather than diminished religious confusion.”

“The hope of the church yet lies in the purity of her theology, that is, her beliefs about God and man and the relation to each other. These beliefs have been revealed to her by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the sacred Scriptures. Everything there is clear-cut and accurate. We dare not be less than accurate in our treatment of anything so precious.”

“I think we make two mistakes in our attitude toward our Christian leaders, one is not being sufficiently grateful to them and the other in following them too slavishly.”

“Today we evangelicals are showing signs that we are becoming too rich and too prominent for our own good. With a curious disregard for the lessons of history we are busy fighting for recognition by the world and acceptance by society.”

“That terrible zone of confusion so evident in the whole life of the Christian community could be cleared up in one day if the followers of Christ would begin to follow Christ instead of each other.”

“The difficulty we modern Christians face is not misunderstanding the Bible, but persuading our untamed hearts to accept its plain instructions.”

“Our churches these days are filled (or one-quarter filled) with a soft breed of Christian that must be fed on a diet of harmless fun to keep them interested. About theology they know little. Scarcely any of them have read even one of the great Christian classics, but most of them are familiar with religious fiction and spine-tingling films. No wonder their moral and spiritual constitution is so frail.”

“To accept the call of Christ changes the returning sinner indeed, but it does not change the world. The wind still blows toward hell, and the man who is walking in the opposite direction will have the wind in his face. And we had better take this into account when we ponder on spiritual things.”

“Christianity’s scramble for popularity today is an unconscious acknowledgment of spiritual decline.”

“The desire to stand well with our fellow man is a natural one, and quite harmless up to a point, but when that desire becomes so all-consuming that we cannot be happy apart from the praises of man, it is no longer harmless, it is sinful in itself and injurious in its effects.”

“A Christian’s standing before God does not depend upon his standing before men. A high reputation does not make a man dearer to God, nor does the tongue of the slanderer influence God’s attitude toward His people in anyway.”

To read some additional quotes I shared from Culture, click here. You may also follow me on Twitter and Tumblr to read quotes which I share daily from Tozer and other notable thinkers.

The Qur’an And The Bible

Answering JihadIn his outstanding book Answering Jihad, Nabeel Qureshi gives us an understanding of the beliefs which support the Islamic faith. One thing that is key for Muslims is their reliance on multiple sources for definitive answers to their faith. Nabeel explains it this way…

“The Qur’an that was the first Arabic book ever put into writing, and the Arabic script of the seventh century remained too deficient to capture the richness and complexities of its text. … Muslim biographers begin to write about Muhammad’s life around 770 A.D.” 

“By the middle of the ninth century, there were more than 500,000 traditions of Muhammad’s life in written and oral circulation, and Muslim scholars decided to undertake the effort of sifting through them and distilling the most authentic accounts.” 

“Since there are thousands of verses in the Qur’an and hundreds of thousands of hadith, it is expected that only trained Muslim jurists can engage in determining what sharia teachers. The jurist must give primacy to the Qur’an, then consider the actions (sunnah) and sayings (hadith) of Muhammad, followed by reviewing the consensus of Islamic scholars, or ijma, before using his own reasoning (qiyas). By following these four steps, a Muslim jurist can make a decision, or fatwa, about what sharia teaches on a given matter. The ultimate goal is to apply the teachings of sharia to Muslim life, and that is called fiqh.” 

“As is probably clear by now, at no point was the average Muslim expected to read the Qur’an to decide upon correct Islamic practices by himself or herself. Not only is Islam not a faith that upholds the sufficiency of scripture alone, the complexity of its foundations virtually necessitates a reliance on jurists and scholars for proper practice.” 

I prefer to pattern my life after the Bible, a book which I am free to read on my own. It’s authenticity has been well-established, and it doesn’t require me to find an “expert” in the texts and traditions to explain to me how to live my life.

I would highly recommend you read two books by Nabeel Qureshi: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and Answering Jihad. If you are curious about the claims of the Bible, you can check out God-Breathed and Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. And if you want to dig any deeper, search this website for the quotes I have posted from all four of these books.

Archeological Study Bible (book review—part 2)

Archeological Study BibleI wrote a review on the Archeological Study Bible when I was roughly halfway through the Bible, but as I have now finished, I thought another review was in order.

Zondervan did an amazing job on this project! I love reading the Bible, and I love studying history, and this study Bible helped me to do both of those things without getting lost on too many “rabbit trails.” Some study Bibles I have read require a lot of page flipping to follow a thought or do a little research. But the ABS kept the historical articles, maps, and graphics close at hand to the biblical text I was reading, so page flipping was kept to a minimum.

At over 2300 pages, there is so much history that came alive as I read through the Bible. I also read through the Bible in chronological order, so I really felt like the ABS was helping me move seamlessly along the timeline of history.

Purchasing this Bible gives you access to an online gallery of many of the photos and other study materials. I also purchased the Kindle version of this Bible, to make searching for content much easier.

If you are looking for a fresh way to study the history surrounding the Scripture, I highly recommend the Archeological Study Bible to you.

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