Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 13-23

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 13-23

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 13-23.]

     Isaiah’s message needs to come home to us today—that God is behind the devil, not the devil behind God; all the great world forces are in front of God, and they cannot do a thing without His permission. Today we are so emphasizing the freedom of the human will that we are forgetting the sovereignty of God, consequently when we come up against the forces at work in the world we are paralyzed by fear and get into despair, which we need never have done if we had been built up in faith in God. … Stand strong in faith in God—“I don’t understand this, but I know God is behind it.” … 

     There is no cowardice about Isaiah or about his message. He never lost his faith in God or got discouraged, and when the things he foretold happened, he did not desert the people. …  

     Behind everything stands God; behind the tumult and the confusion God is bringing out everything according to His will. The great thing about faith in God is that it keeps a man undisturbed in the midst of disturbance. … All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God (see 1 John 4:4). … Discouragement comes when we say what God will do—that God will always keep me healthy, that He will always be bringing me into the land of Canaan where I will eat honey; well, He won’t. God is concerned about only one thing—getting me into a personal relationship with Himself. There is no possibility of discouragement if we will only remember that this is the relationship, not God’s blessings, but Himself.

From Notes On Isaiah

When the news of the day, or events in the world, or even what’s happening in your personal life starts to rattle you, consider how Isaiah handled himself. Isaiah knew enemies were closing in, and that the day of God’s judgment was fast approaching too, but he never got fretful. Why? He kept his eyes on God.

God is sovereign. He is in control. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise. Keep your eyes on Him. And remember: “All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God.”

Thursdays With Oswald—His!

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.

His!

     “They were Yours; You gave them to Me” (John 17:6). It is this aspect of a disciple’s life that is frequently forgotten. We are apt to think of ourselves as our own, of the work as our work. A great point in spiritual nobility has been reached when we can really say, “I am not my own.” … The Son of God is the Highest of all, yet the characteristic of His life was obedience. We have to learn that God is not meant for us, it is we who are meant for God. … “Do you not know…you are not your own” [1 Corinthians 6:19]. 

     His! Does that apply to us? Have we realize that our body is not our own, but His—“the temple of the Holy Ghost”! Have we realized that our hearts and affections are not our own, but His? If so, we shall be careful over inordinate affection. Have we realized that all the ambitions of life are His? We are out for one thing only, for Jesus Christ’s enterprises. …  

     “Since you have kept My command to endure patiently” [Revelation 3:10]. This is not the patience of pessimism, nor of exhaustion, but the patience of joyfulness because God reigns. It may be illustrated by likening the saint to a bow and arrow in the hand of God. God is aiming at His mark, He stretches and strains until the saint says—“I cannot stand anymore,” but God does not heed. He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly, and the arrow reaches His mark. … 

     It takes the endurance which comes from a vision of God to go on without seeing results. We are not here for successful service, but to be faithful. Had Jesus any results? Before we go into work for Him we must learn that the disciple is not above his master. We cannot be discouraged if we belong to Him, for it was said of Him—“He shall not fail nor be discouraged” [Isaiah 42:4]. Discouragement is “disenchanted egotism.” “Things are not happening the way I expected they would, therefore I am going to give it all up.” To talk like that is a sure sign that we are not possessed by love for Him, but only by love for ourselves. Discouragement always comes when we insist on having our own way. 

From So Send I You

Can Jesus say of you that you are His? Are you trying to make your own way, or are you simply following Jesus? Are you letting God stretch you until He is ready to release you, or are you becoming exhausted and discouraged in the waiting? Is your love for Jesus absolute, or does it come with conditions?

10 More Quotes From “Shade Of His Hand”

In Shade Of His Hand, Oswald Chambers is giving us his insight on the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. I typically share longer passages from Oswald Chambers’ works in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” posts. Here are a few shorter quotes from this book.

“In personal life, in church life and in national life, we try Jesus Christ’s teaching, but as soon as it becomes difficult we abandon it, or else we compromise.”

“Jesus Christ says, ‘Come unto Me… and I will give you rest,’ i.e., I will put you in the place where your eyes are open. And notice what Jesus Christ says we will look at—lilies and sparrows and grass. … The salvation of Jesus Christ enables a man to see for the first time in his life, and it is a wonderful thing.”

“The essential element in moral life is obedience and submission. If you want spiritual truth, obey the highest standard you know. ‘If any man will do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God or whether I speak from Myself’ (John 7:17). Intellectually, curiosity is the thing; morally, obedience is what is needed.”

“Whenever our spiritual life is unsatisfactory it is because we have said to God—‘I won’t.’ … If Jesus Christ has done no mighty works for me it is either because I don’t believe He can, or I don’t want Him to. … Get to the place where you make the thing inevitable, burn your bridges behind you, make retreat impossible, then go ahead. Solomon’s counsel is wise—‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.’ It is leaning to our own understanding that keeps the bridges behind.”

“When you are joyful, be joyful; when you are sad, be sad. If God has given you a sweet cup, don’t make it bitter; and if He has given you a bitter cup, don’t try and make it sweet; take things as they come. … Suffering, and the inevitable result of suffering, is the only way some of us can learn, and if we are shielded God will ultimately take the one who interferes by the scruff of the neck and remove him.”

“For a man to have doubts is not a sign that he is a bad man.”

“If your religion does not make you a better man, it is a rotten religion. The test of true religion is when it touches these four things—food, money, sex and mother earth. These things are the test of a right sane life with God, and the religion that ignores them or abuses them is not right. … A man needs to hold a right attitude to all these things by means of his personal relationship to God.” 

“We do not think on the basis of Christianity at all. We are taught to think like pagans for six days a week and to reverse the order for one day, consequently in critical moments we think as pagans and our religion is left in the limbo of the inarticulate.”

“It is only when a man is born from above of the Spirit of God that he finds the ‘want to’ is altered.”

“If you are the servant of men for their sake you will soon be heartbroken; but if you serve men for the sake of Jesus Christ, nothing can ever discourage you (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:5).”

To read more quotes from this book, click here. To check out my review of Shade Of His Hand, click here.

7 Quotes From “Hope … The Best Of All Things”

HopeJoni Eareckson Tada knows what it is to battle darkness and depression. And she also know the power of hope in those dark places. Hope … The Best Of All Things is an encouraging book for anyone going through a difficult place (please check out my book review here).

Here are some of the quotes from Hope which especially stood out to me.

“People are angry; cynicism and despair are on the rise, and the nightly news reminds us we are only one terrorist plot away from another national nightmare. Oh, how we need to grasp the soul-settling hope found in the pages of God’s Word—not only grasp it, but allow the hope of God to fill and overflow our hearts, transforming us into people who are confident and at peace with themselves, their God, and their circumstances.”

“For me, suffering is still that jackhammer breaking apart my rocks of resistance every day. It’s still the chisel that God is using to chip away at my self-sufficiency and my self-motivation and my self-consumption. Suffering is still that sheepdog snapping and barking at my heels, driving me down the road to Calvary where otherwise I do not want to go. My human nature, my flesh, does not want to endure hardship like a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3) or follow Christ’s example (1 Peter 2:21) or welcome a trial as friend. No, my flesh does not want to rejoice in suffering (Romans 5:3) or be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15). But it is at Calvary, at the Cross, where I meet suffering on God’s terms.”

“Do you know who the truly handicapped people are? They are the ones—and many of them are Christians—who hear the alarm clock go off at seven-thirty in the morning, throw back the covers, jump out of bed, take a quick shower, choke down breakfast, and zoom out the front door. They do all this on automatic pilot without stopping once to acknowledge their Creator, their great God Who gives them life and strength each day. Christian, if you live that way, do you know that James 4:6 says God opposes you? ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

“Take up your cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus (Luke 9:23). I must qualify that statement. Please know that when I take up my cross every day I am not talking about my wheelchair. My wheelchair is not my cross to bear. Neither is your cane or walker your cross. Neither is your dead-end job or your irksome in-laws. Your cross to bear is not your migraine headaches, not your sinus infection, not your stiff joints. That is not your cross to bear. My cross is not my wheelchair; it is my attitude. Your cross is your attitude about your dead-end job and your in-laws. It is your attitude about your aches and pains. Any complaints, any grumblings, any disputings or murmurings, any anxieties, any worries, any resentments or anything that hints of a raging torrent of bitterness—these are the things God calls me to die to daily.”

“You see, we are to God the fragrance of Christ. The world can’t see Jesus endure suffering with grace because He’s not here on earth, but you and I are. And we can fill up in our flesh what is lacking in His afflictions (Colossians 1:24), and in so doing become that sweet fragrance, that perfume, that aroma of Christ to God.”

“God mandates that we go out into the streets and the alleys and the highways and the byways. He mandates that we find the poor, the blind, the disabled, and the lame, and help them get busy living, because misery might love company, but joy craves a crowd. And the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit crave a crowd of joy, joy spilling over and splashing and filling the hearts of thirsty people in this world who are absolutely dehydrated from a lack of hope.”

“The hope we wait for is our only hope, the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). It is Jesus for Whom we have prevailed through all of this suffering, and, oh, for the sweetness of melding one heart into His in that intimacy that is so precious. … Our hope is for the Desire of the nations. Our hope is the Healer of broken hearts, the Friend of sinners, the God of all encouragement, the Father of all comfort, the Lord of all hope. And it is my prayer that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened so that you might know this hope to which He has called you.”

11 Quotes From “How High Will You Climb?”

How High Will You Climb?How High Will You Climb? is an abridgment of Dr. John Maxwell’s amazing book The Winning Attitude. Truly, attitude will determine your success in life. I highly recommend either of these books (you can check out my review by clicking here). Below are some attitude quotes I highlighted and one helpful infographic.

“The attitude is an inward feeling expressed by behavior. That is why an attitude can be seen without a word being said.” 

“It is impossible to perform consistently in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves. In other words, we usually act in direct response to our self-image. … We should also remember God’s unconditional love and acceptance. He thinks more of us than we do of ourselves. … This principle works in reverse too. How we see ourselves reflects how others see us. If we like ourselves, it increases the odds that others will like us.”

“Others can stop you temporarily, but you are the only one who can do it permanently.”

“Usually wrong decisions are made at the wrong time, and right decisions are made at the right time. The reason? We let our environment control our thinking, which controls our decisions. Therefore, the more decisions that are made in the calm of life, the fewer times storms can bring us down.”

“Failure—we hide it, deny it, fear it, ignore it, and hate it. We do everything but accept it. By acceptance, I don’t mean resignation and apathy. I mean understanding that failure is a necessary step to success. The person who never makes a mistake never does anything.”

“Fear of failure grips those who take themselves too seriously.”

“First, discouragement hurts our self-image. … Discouragement causes us to see ourselves as less than we really are. This fact becomes even more important when we realize that we cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves. Second, discouragement causes us to evade our responsibilities. … Third, discouragement causes us to blame others for our predicaments. … Fourth, discouragement causes us to blur the facts.”

“When our attitude crashes, we have two alternatives. We can either alter the difficulty or alter ourselves. What can be changed for the best, we must change. When that is impossible, we must adjust to the circumstances in a positive way.”

“We are either the masters or the victims of our attitudes. It is a matter of personal choice. Who we are today is the result of choices we made yesterday. Tomorrow we will become what we choose today.” 

“It is a sad day for any person when he becomes so satisfied with his life, his thoughts, and his deeds that he ceases to be challenged to do greater things in life.”

“When an opportunity for growth is open to you, what do you tell yourself? Will you grasp the chance with a tingle of excitement and say, ‘I can make it work!’ or do you smother it by saying, ‘That’s impractical… too difficult… I don’t think it can be done’? In that moment, you choose between success and failure. You helped to form a habit of either positive or negative thinking by what you tell yourself. So give your ‘better’ self a chance to grow. Form the habit of positive reaction followed by positive action.”

Change your vocabulary

 

A View To Pleasing God

I read an article this week 10 Bad Reasons To Be A Pastor. For the most part it was right on-target.

Even if we have the right reason (singular, not plural) for being a pastor—namely, that God called us—we can still battle discouragement over what is or isn’t happening in our ministry. I am convinced that much of this discouragement comes from listening to the wrong applause.

Chrysostom

John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom, a man very reluctant to answer God’s call on his life to enter the pastorate, wrote—

“Let, therefore, the man who undertakes the strain of teaching never give heed to the good opinion of the outside world, nor be dejected in soul on account of such persons; but laboring at his sermons so that he may please God, (For let this alone be his rule and determination, in discharging this best kind of workmanship, not acclamation, nor good opinions,) if, indeed, he be praised by men, let him not repudiate their applause, and when his hearers do not offer this, let him not seek it, let him not be grieved. For a sufficient consolation in his labors, and one greater than all, is when he is able to be conscious of arranging and ordering his teaching with a view to pleasing God. (emphasis added)

Our view must always be to pleasing God. It matters little whether humans hands applaud us or not. We must live, and preach, and discharge our pastoral duties solely for the applause of nail-scarred hands. If our Master says, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” what does it matter what anyone else says?

Thursdays With Oswald—Strength For Others

This 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.

Oswald Chambers

Strength For Others 

     The real reason for prayer is intimacy of relationship with our Father. 

We kneel, how weak, we rise full of power.
Why therefore should we do ourselves this wrong
For others that we are not always strong,
That we are ever overcome with care
That we should ever weak or heartless be
Anxious or troubled, when with us is Prayer
And joy and strength and courage are with Thee?

From Christian Disciplines 

It’s a pretty simple principle: I cannot give to others what I do not possess.

Jesus rose early in the morning to find a place of private prayer (see Mark 1:35) so that He would be filled with His Father’s presence and able to meet the pressing needs of people that day. Why, oh why, don’t I follow my Lord’s example more?

People all around me need encouragement, light, hope, love. I cannot give what I do not possess. But I can possess these things in abundance if I will make use of prayer to tap into that intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father.

Prayer provides the strength I need for the day, so that I can provide the strength that others need for the day. Without prayer, I not only rob myself of God’s help, I rob others as well.

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