Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 2-3

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 2-3

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 2-3.]

     God is the “adornment” of His people; but God says, “My people have forgotten Me days without number”; the dead set of their life has been away from God (Jeremiah 2:32). Forgetting as an infirmity of mere consciousness is one thing; but forgetting by steadfastly refusing to recognize is another thing. These people had deliberately turned out of God’s way. They were wantoning after some other god than the God Who was holy (2:33). …  

     The thing that shocks us most is not the thing that shocked Jesus most. Social immorality shocks us till we don’t know where we are; but what struck the heart of Jesus Christ with horror was immorality against God, pride against Himself (see Luke 16:15). …  

     The innocence arising from evil is always like this—“I’ve done nothing.” It is the innocence we are all born with; sooner or later it takes its stand with evil and only knows good by contrast; whereas the innocence arising from the presence of the Spirit of God takes its stand with good and knows evil only by contrast. If we hand our hearts over to God we need never know in experience what Jesus Christ says of the human heart is true (see Mark 7:20-23). 

From Notes On Jeremiah

This is a tough concept that takes some quiet introspection in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christians should ask themselves: Do I know the difference between good and evil because I’m doing evil and the opposite of what I’m doing is good, or because I’m doing good and the opposite of what I’m doing is evil? 

Originally, Eve knew evil only as the opposite of how she was living. But when satan tempted her to take the forbidden fruit, Eve now knew evil as something she was doing. Jesus said evil is what would naturally come out of our heart, unless “we hand our hearts over to God” and allow His Spirit to supernaturally bring out of us the Christlike fruit He produces. Is this happening in your life? 

Saturday In The Psalms—Do The “Dos”

…because of evildoer… (Psalm 37)

Not one person on earth can escape from having an evildoer cross their path. The question is not IF we’ll have to deal with them, but HOW we should deal with them. For the one who follows God, here is what David writes to us.

Don’t

  • Fret over evildoers
  • Be envious of them
  • Get angry because of them
  • Do evil things back to them

Do

  • Trust God to handle them
  • Do good to them
  • Find your delight in God’s goodness
  • Commit your lifestyle to God
  • Rest in God’s grace
  • Be patient with evildoers
  • Be content with where God has you
  • Extend mercy to evildoers
  • Keep on following God’s way of doing things

The bottom line for those doing the “Dos”—And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.

When evildoers cross your path, don’t just avoid the “Don’ts” … do the “Dos”!

Poetry Saturday—Presumption

Whenever I am prone to doubt or wonder—
   I check myself, and say, “That mighty One
Who made to the solar system cannot blunder—
   And for the best all things are being done.”
Who sent the stars on their eternal courses
   Has fashioned this strange earth by some sure plan.
Bow low, bow low to those majestic forces,
   Nor dare to doubt their wisdom, puny man.

You cannot put one little star in motion,
   You cannot shape one single forest leaf,
Nor fling a mountain up, nor sink an ocean,
   Presumptuous pigmy, large with unbelief.
You cannot bring one dawn of regal splendor,
   Nor bid the day to shadowy twilight fall,
Nor send the pale moon fourth with radiance tender—
   And dare you doubt the One who has done it all?

“So much is wrong, there is such pain—such sinning.”
   Yet look again—behold how much is right!
And He who formed the world from its beginning
   Knows how to guide it upward to the light.
Your task, O man, is not to carp and cavil
   At God’s achievements, but with purpose strong
To cling to good, and turn away from evil.
   That is the way to help the world along. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Thursdays With Oswald—Knowing Evil By Living Good

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.

Knowing Evil By Living Good

     There are some things of which we must be ignorant, because knowledge of them comes in no other way than by disobedience to God. In the life originally designed for Adam it was not intended that he should be ignorant of evil, but that he should know evil through understanding good. Instead, he ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and thereby knew evil positively and good negatively. … 

     The only way to find out things in the moral universe is by obedience. … 

     The philosophy of life is based on the topsy-turvy reasoning of going into things in order to find out about them, which is like saying you have to go into the mud before you can know what clean water is. “I must know the world”—if you do, you will only know good by contrast with evil. … Jesus Christ knew good and evil by the life which was in Him, and God intended that man’s knowledge of evil should come in the same way as to our Lord. … 

     The marvel of the Redemption is that Jesus Christ can put into any man His own hereditary disposition of holiness. … 

     Jesus Christ carried out all that Adam failed to do, and He did it in the simple way of obedience to His Father. … Are we humble and obedient, learning as Jesus learned, or are we hurrying into experiences we have no right to? … We grow spiritually by obeying God through the words of Jesus being made spirit and life to us. … 

     “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil” [Romans 16:19]. … When we are born again we have to obey the Spirit of God, and as we draw on the life of Jesus and learn to assimilate and carry out what He speaks to us, we shall grow in ignorance of certain things and be alive and alert only to what is God’s will for us.

From The Soul Of A Christian

I love the fact that Jesus Christ can put into any man His own hereditary disposition of holiness. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you’ve thought or said, or what you’ve seen, Jesus Christ can put His innocence into you.

Ask yourself Chambers’ question: “Are we humble and obedient, learning as Jesus learned, or are we hurrying into experiences we have no right to?”

After asking that question, do you need to make some changes?

Thursdays With Oswald—A Dangerous (But Vital) Prayer

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.

A Dangerous (But Vital) Prayer

     No one but a fool or a sincere soul would ever pray this prayer—‘Search me, O God’ [Psalm 139:23-24] … Any soul who prays that prayer will be answered. … 

     If you want to know what the scrutiny of God is like, listen to Jesus Christ: “For from within, out of the heart of man, evil thoughts proceed…” [Matthew 15:19], and then follows a rugged catalog of things few of us know anything about in conscious life, consequently we are apt to be indignant and resent Jesus Christ’s diagnosis—“I have never felt like a murderer, or an adulterer, therefore those things cannot be in me.” To talk in that way is proof that we are grossly ignorant of ourselves. If we prefer to trust our ignorant innocence we pass a verdict on the only Master of the human heart there is, we tell Him He does not know what He is talking about. The one right thing to do is to listen to Jesus Christ and then hand our hearts over to God to be searched and guarded, and filled with the Holy Spirit. … 

     Jesus Christ has undertaken through His Redemption to put into us a heart so pure that God Almighty can see nothing to censure in it, and the Holy Spirit searches us not only to make us know the possibilities of iniquity in our heart, but to make us “unblameable in holiness” in His sight.

From The Soul Of A Christian

Are you willing to really pray this prayer, listen to what the Holy Spirit says, and then allow Christ’s work of redemption to make you unblameable in holiness?

Or, Chambers asks, “Are we willing to let God scrutinize us, or are we doing the worst of all things, trying to justify ourselves?”

It’s your choice.

10 More Quotes From “The Beauty Of Intolerance”

Beauty Of IntoleranceI found Josh and Sean McDowell’s book The Beauty Of Intolerance to be such a timely book! Parents, teachers, pastors, and anyone who works with youth should definitely read this book to help navigate through the tolerance-saturated world we live in. You can check out my review of this book by clicking here.

“God gave Moses pages and pages of highly specific rules to govern the relationships and morality of His people. Each of those rules, which we call precepts, applies to a specific situation. But each is important because it is grounded in a principle, which is a fundamental, primary law from which other laws—the precepts—are derived. Each principle, in turn, is grounded in a Person—in the very character of God Himself. … God is not behind the principles and precepts simply to validate the rules; He is there as a Person for the purpose of relationship.”

“When moral truth becomes a matter of opinion, personal preference, or the individual’s views and feelings, then practically anything goes. … In a culture of tolerance where the individual decides morality, morality has no bounds.”

“An entire generation tends to go to the Bible not to discover the truth and bend their lives to it accordingly but to use it as sort of a self-help book to help them form their own version of what’s true and false, good and evil, right and wrong.”

“When you discuss the Bible, do not refer to it simply as a spiritual book that teaches us how to live, but as a road map leading one toward the discovery of true reality. … The one true God’s communication to humanity and the whole of Christianity as a religion is based on three primary realities supported by evidences: (1) The historic reliability of Scripture; (2) The deity of Christ; and (3) Christ’s bodily resurrection.”

“While we all may have a sense of what is evil and what is good, under the philosophy of cultural tolerance, evil and good can only be relative ideals. Without an objective truth—a set of universal moral values—good and evil are defined by the individual, community, or society. Therefore we have no moral basis by which to judge another person, community, or nation for what they do or don’t do.”

“Unless justice is rooted in a moral authority beyond those with the most power or even with the most votes, there cannot be true justice for all. … Justice, charity, and human rights are grounded in the fact that we are created in God’s image with value, dignity, and worth. … God’s mercy and justice as our model has fostered societal justice and provided more positive contributions to society in general than any other force in history.”

“The intolerance of the early Christians was a beautiful thing. They believed that everyone—including the poor, the homeless, the handicapped, the sick—was made in the image of God with dignity and worth. They were utterly intolerant of injustice, and they did whatever they could to correct the injustices they saw in society.”

“Real love—biblical, Godlike love—exposes cultural tolerance as the counterfeit of love because cultural tolerance fails to point people to a universal standard of morality designed to save them from serious harm. Cultural tolerance does not address what is in the best interest of a person—it possesses no moral standard that aligns to what is universally right and good. Real love, on the other hand, looks out for the best interest of others.”

“Every truth, every rule, and every guideline coming from God’s Word is issued from the loving heart and character of God for our own good.”

“Love is making the security, happiness, and welfare of another person as important as your own. Biblical love is not merely focused on another but on the good of another, even if the other does not recognize or accept the reality of the good.”

To read the first set of quotes I shared from The Beauty Of Intolerance, please click here. And be sure to follow me on Twitter and Tumblr to read more quotes from this book, and from lots of other profound thinkers, that I share daily.

Of Antichrist And His Ruin (book review)

Of Antichrist And His RuinAs I was finishing up reading through the Bible this time, I especially noticed in the last couple of books quite a few mentions of the Antichrist. Wanting to dig a little deeper on this subject, I turned to a man who so throughly knew Scripture: John Bunyan and his book Of Antichrist And His Ruin.

The Antichrist is not something we can just brush off and say, “Well, that’s end-times stuff and doesn’t really concern Christians. After all, won’t we already be in Heaven when the Antichrist appears on earth?” But John, in his first epistle warns us—

This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:3, emphasis added)

Wow, even in the first century, John already saw the spirit of the Antichrist at work. How much more so should Christians today prepare themselves for this onslaught of evil!

I didn’t want any “pop theology” or well-intentioned ideas about the Antichrist, I wanted to know what the Bible said about it. Speaking of John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon said, “Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.”

Indeed, Bunyan’s work in Of Antichrist is a compilation of all the biblical texts, put together in a way that makes sense. Of course, the English is sometimes a bit challenging to follow, since Bunyan wrote over 400 years ago. But if you are interested in the biblical facts about the Antichrist described in the Bible, this must be your go-to source!

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