Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 45 and 53

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 45 and 53

[These are notes on Oswald Chambers’ lectures on Isaiah 45 and 53.]

     Ever remember that “eternal life” is to know God, therefore you cannot expect to know Him in five minutes or forty years. … There are whole tracks of God’s character unrevealed to us as yet, and we have to bow in patience until God is able to reveal the things which look so dark. … 

     God never reveals anything ahead of moral and spiritual progress. The Christian worker who has never walked in the darkness of God’s hand with no light, has never walked with God at all. The principle of walking with God is that it is a walk by faith, not by sight; a walk in the light of Christ, not in the light of dogmatic conviction. Jesus as our example was under the shadow of the hand of God. “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” He knew He could have called twelve legions of angels to His rescue, but He did not call one; not one fire of His own did He kindle, not one self-generated effort did He ever make. … Our Lord taught over and over again that things will never be explained in this life. We have to get rid of the idea that we are going to be vindicated down here; Jesus was not. The millennium age will be the vindication of the saints; this is the age of their humiliation. The triumphant thing for a saint is to stand true to God in spite of all the odds the world, the flesh and the devil can bring. … 

     Jesus Christ’s suffering was unique: He knew why He suffered. … There was nothing of the morbid fanatic about Our Lord: He looked beyond the travail to the joy set before Him, consequently He “endured the Cross, despising the shame.” … 

     Suffering unjustly will either produce sympathy with satan or similarity to Christ. Sympathy with satan arises from self-pity—“Why should I have to go through this?” 

From Notes On Isaiah 

There’s no doubt about it: suffering is hard. It’s confusing, too, for even many ‘seasoned saints.’ 

Jesus was not exempt from suffering, and neither will His followers be. In fact, Jesus even told us ahead of time that we should expect to suffer for His name’s sake. 

Our suffering never takes God by surprise. Neither is He indifferent to it. Remember that Jesus suffered in all the same ways we will without ever sinning. Now He intercedes before the Father on our behalf when we go through times of suffering. 

God’s suffering IS producing something great. Don’t bail out. Don’t give in to self-pity. Know that God is with you in your suffering, and He is accomplishing something far greater than you can ever imagine in this life. Hang in there—triumphant vindication IS coming! 

12 Quotes From “Notes On Isaiah”

Oswald Chambers always has more insights than I can possibly share with others: he is a true treasure-trove of biblical illumination! Check out my review of his Notes On Isaiah by clicking here. Below are a few shorter quotes from this book. If you would like to read some longer passages, check out my weekly series called Thursdays With Oswald. 

“What we are apt to call interruptions are God’s way of introducing us to a new knowledge of Himself.” 

“The supernatural power of satan never reasons, it appeals to man’s superstition, not to his conscience.”

“I have no right to have anything less than the hope and the belief of Jesus Christ with regard to the worst and most hopeless of men.” 

“We have to keep the call of God alive, and continually recall to our minds what we are here for. … There is no danger of spiritual retrogression if we will keep in mind the times, one or more, when the Spirit of God has touched us.” 

“God’s dates are not man’s. God seems to pay no attention to our calendars; He has a calendar of His own in which He suddenly surprises a man in the midst of his days. Leave room for God. We expect God only on special days, in particular meetings; that is not God’s way. He comes suddenly, at midnight or at noonday.” 

“We are to be in the world while not of it, and to denounce by lip and life the things that are wrong.” 

“The mark of the beast is already here, and it will grow clearer before the man of sin is revealed (see 2 Thessalonians). It is slighting no one to say that prosperity in this order of things along with godliness is impossible, and growingly more impossible.” 

“Undisciplined imagination is the greatest disturber not only of growth in grace, but of spiritual sanity [Isaiah 26:3].” 

“Conscience does not shout in thunderclaps, you can easily drown its record, but it goes on, and if you do not heed it for a while because of sensational sinning, as soon as the sensation exhausts itself, back comes the monotonous tick, tick, that nearly drives a man mad. God will never make us listen to Him; we have to will to listen.” 

“Belief in God will always manifest itself in right principles, but if you put principles first you will end in disbelief in God.” 

“The only place of confidence is personal trust in God and patient waiting for Him. … To trust in the goodness of God is not enough, it is not eternal and abiding; we have to trust God Who is infinitely more than goodness.” 

“If in the face of all the appeals of common sense you remain true to God, that is the ‘proof of your faith’ which will be found to the glory of God.” 

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 30

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 30 

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 30.] 

     The test of true religion is the knowledge of the character of God. As long as you think of God in the quietness of a religious meeting you will never know God—what kind of God have you got when you are in touch with the wrong, bad, evil things? God’s Book reveals that it is right in the midst of the very opposite of God that His blessings occur. The very things which seem to be making for destruction become the revealers of God. It is an easy business to preach peace when you are in health and have everything you want, but the Bible preaches peace when things are in a howling tumult of passion and sin and iniquity; it is in the midst of anguish and terror that we realize Who God is and the marvel of what He can do. …  

     God makes His people sing where in the eyes of the world it seems ironical to sing—in a besieged city where things are going to ruin, in the suburbs of hell, in the valley of the shadow of death. When you see lives in the midst of turmoil and anguish full of amazing brightness and uncrushable elasticity of faith in God, if you do not know God you will say, “However can they go through it? how is it that they remain undiscouraged and undismayed?” The explanation is the presence of God made real in His promises.” 

From Notes On Isaiah 

When you go through a “howling tumult” there are some things to remember:

  1. God is with you
  2. God is in control 
  3. God will help you sing through the storm
  4. Others are watching you
  5. God can be glorified in your undismayed faith in His presence through the tumult 

5 Quotes From “Light And Truth—The Old Testament”

I like to think of Horatius Bonar as a tour guide as I read through the Bible, pointing out themes and insights I might have otherwise missed. Check out my full review of Light and Truth—Old Testament by clicking here. 

The elders [1 Chronicles 21:16]. They acknowledge the stroke and the sin: ‘It is the Lord.’ They clothe themselves in sackcloth, they fall upon their faces. So far as we know, they had not shared David’s sin, yet they at once place themselves by his side in confession and humiliation. David had sinned (v. 8), Israel had sinned (2 Samuel 24:1). They identify themselves with both. It is thus that we should take up a ruler’s sin, or a brother’s sin, or a nation’s sin; not blazoning it abroad in private gossip, or in the newspapers, but taking it on ourselves, and carrying it to God.” 

“We do great injustice to the Old Testament saints and to their privileges, and no less so to the God who made them what they were, when we conceive of them as possessing an imperfect justification, or an imperfect and uncertain knowledge of their justification. Paul’s declaration was explicit on this point: ‘I know Whom I have believed’; and yet it was not a jot more explicit than that of Job: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’ When Paul said, ‘It is God that justifies, who is he that condemns?’ he was only speaking what Job had spoken in ages before: ‘I know that I shall be justified. Who is he that will plead with me?’” [Job 13:18-19]

“Everything in God’s character, has by the Cross of Christ been turned into a reason for trusting Him. The more man knows of Him the more he trusts. Trust is the natural and inseparable response of the soul to the divine revelation of the character of God. It is not what man sees in himself, of his good deeds or good feelings, of his graces, or his repentance, or his regeneration, or his faith; but what he sees in God, that calls out confidence.” 

“It is with no distant, unheeding God that we have to do; but with that God who fixes the bounds of our habitation, who counts our hairs, who feeds the ravens, notes a sparrow’s death, clothes the lilies of the field. He is nearer to us than the nearest earthly object or being; more closely in contact with us than we are with one another.” 

“We disjoined God from creation, and so see nothing in it of divine life and power. … The separation of God from His works is one of the awful features of human unbelief. How much more of Him should we know, were we to interpret His works aright. … These skies of His are not bent over us in beauty without a meaning. These seas of His do not roll for nothing. These flowers of His are not fragrant and fair for nothing. They do not say to us, ‘God is your enemy, He hates you’; but ‘God is your friend, He pities you, yearns over you, wishes to make you happy.’ How full a gospel does creation to preach to us, according to its kind and measure!”

Everyone’s A Critic

These are wise words from John Maxwell in The Maxwell Leadership Bible

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12:1)

Leaders can bank on two truths. First, they will be criticized. Second, criticism always changes the leader. Unhappy people tend to attack the point person.

Moses’ only family criticized him. Notice what God and Moses teach us on how to handle criticism (Numbers 12):

  1. Maintain your humility. (v. 3)
  2. Face the criticism squarely. (v. 4)
  3. Be specific about the issue. (vv. 5-8)
  4. Lay out consequences. (vv. 9, 10)
  5. Pray for the criticizers. (vv. 12, 13)
  6. Restore them when appropriate. (v. 14)

Beyond that, consider the ways leaders should handle criticism:

  1. Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.
  2. Look beyond the criticism to see the critic.
  3. Guard your own attitude toward the critic.
  4. Keep yourself spiritually in shape. Associate with people of faith.
  5. Wait for time to prove the critic wrong.
  6. Concentrate on your mission; change your mistakes.

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Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 6

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 6.]

     My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. … Until I am born again and enter the Kingdom of God I see only along the line of my prejudices. …  

     The purpose of the vision is to enable me to see “the arm of the Lord” behind all circumstances (see Isaiah 53:1). God never gives a man the power to say “I see” until his character proves itself worthy of its purification. What hinders the purging of our perception is that we will build our faith on our experiences instead of on the God who gave us the experiences. My experience is the evidence of my faith, never the ground of it, and is meant to reveal to me a God who is bigger than any experience. …  

     The symbol of the live coal ‘from off the altar’ represents the twofold nature of the substitution of Christ, not only Christ for me, but Christ in me. … 

     God only gives us visions of Himself for one purpose, that we may work them out into character. … After God has given us a time of face-to-face contact with Himself and then puts us into tumults, the temptation is to sit down and say “Where is the blessedness I had when I first knew the Lord?” The Spirit of God holds us steady until we learn to know God, and the details of our lives are established before Him, then nothing on the outside can move us.

From Notes On Isaiah

There are specific reasons God will give us a clearer revelation of Himself—

  1. to purify godly character in us
  2. to help us deal with our own sin
  3. to see God at work in everyday affairs
  4. to keep us energized through trying times
  5. to make us more aware of what Jesus has done for us and in us
  6. to be His messenger among needy people

God doesn’t give visions or revelations just to thrill us or give us an experience. God is perfectly purposeful in everything He does. His visions are for His glory.

How Should Christians Handle Objections?

It’s no secret that when a Christian says, “This is what I believe,” or “This is what the Bible says,” or even something as simple as, “I believe in God,” that there will be people who disagree. Sometimes their disagreement may even become an outright attack.

How are Christians to respond?

Here are five ways I’ve found to be effective and Christ-honoring—

1. Don’t argue. Arguments tend to create an “I don’t want to lose” feeling in the other person, which makes them unable to truly hear what you’re saying. Solomon wrote, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself” (Proverbs 26:4).

2. Ask questions. Jesus was a master at this. Look through the Gospels and you will see Jesus asking questions to clarify others’ positions. Questions stimulate further conversation, while statements tend to shut down the conversation. Questions develop a relationship, while definitive statements make you seem superior to the other person.

3. Don’t argue. Yes, this is good enough to repeat! Paul’s advice to Timothy was, “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales” (1 Timothy 4:7).

4. Pray for mercy. Remember that if you are really speaking truths from the Bible, the person arguing against those truths is arguing with God, not with you.

5. Pray for light. Paul said that the “god of this age” has blinded people (see 2 Corinthians 4:2-4), so we should pray that the Holy Spirit would grant them light to see the truth.

“Oh, the unmitigated curse of controversy! Oh, the detestable passions that corrections and contradictions kindle up to fury in the proud heart of man! Eschew controversy, my brethren, as you would eschew the entrance to hell itself. Let them have it their way; let them talk; let them write; let them correct to you; let them traduce you; let them judge and condemn you; let them slay you. Rather let the truth of God suffer itself, than that love suffer. You have not enough of the divine nature in you to be a controversialist.” —Dr. Alexander Whyte

Let’s be passionate for people, not passionate to win an argument!

I go into more detail in this video…

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