Thursdays With Oswald—Getting The Order Right

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.

Getting The Order Right

     Beware of walking in the spiritual life according to your natural affinities. We all have natural affinities—some people we like and others we do not; some people we get on well with and others we do not. Never let those likes and dislikes be the rule of your Christian life. “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” [1 John 1:7], i.e., God gives us fellowship with people for whom we have no natural affinity. …  

     Our example is not a good man, not even a Christian man, but God Himself. We do not allow the big surprise of this to lay hold of us sufficiently. Jesus nowhere says, “Follow your Father which is in heaven—that you may be good men? that you may be lovable to all men?” No, “that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” [Matthew 5:44-45], and that implies a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ. …  

     It takes a long time to get the full force of our Lord’s statements. “I say unto you, love your enemies”—an easy thing to do when you have no enemies; an impossible thing when you have. “Bless them that curse you”—easy when no one is cursing you, but impossible when someone is. “Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.” It seems easy to do all this when we have no enemies, when no one is cursing or persecuting us; but if we have an enemy who slanders and annoys and systematically vexes us, and we read Jesus Christ’s statement “I say to you, Love your enemies”—how are we going to do it? Unless Jesus Christ can remake us within, His teaching is the biggest mockery human ears ever listened to. …

     “I say unto you, love your enemies.” Jesus does not say, “Love every one.” The Bible never speaks vaguely, it always speaks definitely. People speak about loving “mankind,” and loving “the heathen”; Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Our Lord does not say, “Bless your enemies,” He says, “Love your enemies.” He does not say, “Love them that curse you”; He says, “Bless them that curse you.” “Do good to them that hate you”—not bless them. He does not say, “Do good to them that despitefully use you”; He says, “Pray for them that despitefully use you.” Each one of these commands is stamped with sheer impossibility to the natural man. If we reverse the order Jesus has given it can be done with strain, but in His order I defy any man on earth to be able to do it unless he has been regenerated by God the Holy Ghost. When a man does love his enemies, he knows that God has done a tremendous work in him, and everyone else knows it too. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

It’s impossible to do what Jesus commands if we’re trying to do it solely in our own strength. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to remake us from within, we can do what Jesus says:

  • If someone is your enemy—love them.
  • If someone persecutes you—pray for them. 
  • If someone curses you—bless them.
  • If someone hates you—do good to them. 

When we operate this way, we know that God has made this possible in us—and everyone else knows it too!

Yea Or Nay

“One of the greatest curses of the modern evangelical movement, in my opinion, is that we are somehow becoming ‘popular.’ Just as soon as you become popular, something goes out of your life, or more accurately, something has gone out of your life before you get popular.

“Historically, the Christian had to be emphatic. He had two words: yea or nay. When God was talking to him, he said yes, and when the devil was talking to him he said no. When God said, ‘Do this,’ he said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ When sinners tempted him to stray, he said an emphatic no.

“The trouble with us now is that we are double-minded. That is why we are weak. Scripture speaks of the double-minded man. He is ‘unstable in all his ways’ (James 1:8). Elijah illustrated this when he said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him’ (1 Kings 18:21). We need to be on one side or the other. Wholly committed to our high calling in Christ Jesus.” —A.W. Tozer, in The Wisdom Of God

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). 

4 Blessings From Trusting God + 1 Curse For Not

Choose lifeWhen you have a decision to make, isn’t it nice when you know the outcome of each option ahead of time? I mean, it makes it way easier to decide when you know what you’re going to get with each decision.

Like just before the Israelites head into the Promised Land, God says, “You can choose Me and have a whole lot of blessings, or you can choose another god and miss out on all My blessings” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

Easy choice, right?

I think the songwriter of Psalm 125 had that Deuteronomy passage in mind when he wrote his song of ascent. Basically, he says, you can trust God (v. 1) or you can walk on crooked paths (v. 5). What does it mean to trust God? Literally it means to have a confident expectation that He is Who He says He is, and He does what He says He’s going to do.

To help make the decision easier, the songwriter lists four blessings that come when we trust God—

  1. We become as secure and unshakeable as Heaven is (v. 1).
  2. We experience God’s “surroundedness” over, around, above and beneath us (v. 2).
  3. We escape evil’s clutches (v. 3).
  4. We experience God doing good for us (v. 4).

Of course, we can also choose not to trust God. We can try another path on our own. The curse for doing that is pretty sad—God will allow those who aren’t responsive to His voice to walk away from Him (v. 5).

Just like the story of the prodigal son (in Luke 15), the Father will allow you to walk away, but He will continue to long after you. And hopefully like that wayward son you will “come to your senses” and return to your Father. When you do, He will run to you, wrap you in His love, restore you to His family, and allow you to experience all of His blessings again!

The choice is up to you. I pray you will choose life and blessing and surroundedness, and God’s goodness toward you.

Cursing Or Shining?

There are two ways of dealing with any undesirable things around you: You can curse the darkness or light a candle. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, “Tell bad people how bad they are.” Instead He tells His followers to loveblessserveSHINE

You can curse…

  • There’s too much pollution.
  • Respect is no longer seen.
  • Politicians are crooked.
  • Newspapers only report bad news.
  • Too many marriages end in divorce.
  • My kid’s teacher is never available.
  • People hide behind Facebook and email.
  • My church is boring.
  • Halloween is dark and scary.

Or you can SHINE…

  • Pick up one piece of trash … recycle your metal and plastic …
  • Write a thank you note to your local police chief …
  • Run for office yourself … volunteer for a politician you believe in … be an informed voter …
  • Do something newsworthy … use Twitter & Facebook to highlight good news …
  • Date your mate … have dinner with another married couple …
  • Volunteer in a classroom … send an encouraging email to a teacher …
  • Take some cookies to your neighbor … send a handwritten note to a friend …
  • Start praising before you go to church … get involved in a ministry …
  • Light The Night

Light your candle and shine brightly. Then watch and see as others light their candles from yours!

No More Fear

Have you ever noticed the overarching message throughout the Christmas story? In both Matthew’s and Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus there is a repeated angelic message to humankind: “Do not be afraid.”

  • Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13).
  • Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).
  • “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife” (Matthew 1:20).
  • Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people” (Luke 2:10).

Why all this fear? Quite simply sin brings fear: Fear of God’s impending judgment. But the canceling power is Jesus. In the Christmas carol Joy To The World there are powerful, fear-lifting words in the third verse —

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

His blessing comes to bring joy wherever the curse of sin has brought fear! Jesus defeats sin, and so therefore His joy displaces all fear!

  • “His mercy extends to those who fear Him” (Luke 1:50).
  • “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed His people…. To show mercy to our fathers…. To enable us to serve Him without fear…. To give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:68, 72, 75, 77).
  • “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
  • “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Sin forgiven. Curse canceled. Fear removed. Joy has come because Jesus has come.

My prayer for you is that you are living without fear because you are living without sin. It’s only possible because Jesus came for you. Merry Christmas!

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