Thursdays With Oswald—Prayer Is The Work

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.

Prayer Is The Work 

     The key to the missionary problem is in the hand of God, not of man, and according to Our Lord, the key is prayer, not work, as that word is popularly understood, because work may mean evading spiritual concentration. Our Lord says—“Pray therefore…” [Matthew 9:38]. … 

     We are apt to think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for work; whereas in the teaching of Jesus, prayer is not to fit us for the “greater works,” prayer is the work. Prayer is the outcome of our apprehension of the nature of God, the means whereby we assimilate more and more of His mind, and the means whereby He unveils His purposes to us. …  

     God is not impressed by our earnestness, He nowhere promises to answer prayer because of our agony in intercession, but only on the ground of Redemption. We have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” and in no other way. … 

     The armor is for the battle of prayer [see Ephesians 6:11-20]. “Take up the whole armor of God … stand therefore …” and then pray. The armor is not to fight in, but to shield us while we pray. Prayer is the battle. … 

     We have to live depending on Jesus Christ’s wisdom, not on our own. He is the Master, and the problem is His, not ours. We have to use the key He gives us, the key of prayer. Our Lord puts the key into our hands, and we have to learn to pray under His direction. That is the simplicity which He says His Father will bless.

From So Send I You

In light of these thoughts from Oswald Chambers, how does this change your view of prayer?

Smaller & Bigger

“Small” is not insignificant.

“Bigger” is not necessarily better.

If God has placed me in a place, He will bless me in that place.

It’s not my job to try to advance myself, for that would remove me from the place God is blessing.

Until and unless God says “Go,” there is absolutely no reason to even dream about what another place would look like.

God’s blessing alone makes a place significant, no matter its size by earthly standards.

Poetry Saturday—He Leads Us On

Count Nicolaus Ludwig von ZinzendorfHe leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
Yet when the clouds are gone,
We know He leads us on.

He leads us on through all the unquiet years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of losses, sorrows, and o‘er clouded days;
We know His will is done;
And still He leads us on. —Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf

What Does God Want Me To Do?

BibleI often hear people say, “I’m waiting for a word from God” when they are making a decision. Or sometimes someone will say, “I’m not sure what God wants me to do here.”

Many years ago the phrase WWJD―what would Jesus do?―was all the rage. It came from a renewed interest in Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps. In order to do what Jesus would do (and say), we must be familiar with what Jesus did (and said). Jesus Himself said that the Holy Spirit would remind us of everything He had done and said (John 14:26).

Jeremiah was one of the most prolific prophets of Israel, with his writings making up the longest book in the Bible. Yet one thing clearly stands out―over 420 times Jeremiah uses phrases like:

  • The Word of the Lord came to me
  • Declares the Lord
  • The Lord said to me
  • What the Lord says
  • Hear the word of the Lord
  • Open your ears to the words of His mouth

It’s hard to know what Jesus would do, or the direction God would have you go, or the God-honoring decision that you should make if you haven’t read His Word! He has so much to say to you, and the Holy Spirit is just waiting to help you apply God’s Word to your particular situation.

If you want to make better decisions, and do and say things more like Jesus did and said, be like Jeremiah and be immersed in God’s Word more and more.

Poetry Saturday—Thou Sweet, Beloved Will Of God

Gerhard TersteegenThe Will of God
Thou sweet, beloved Will of God,
   My anchor ground, my fortress hill,
My spirit’s silent, fair abode,
   In Thee I hide me, and am still.

O Will, that willest good alone,
   Lead Thou the way, Thou guidest best;
A little child I follow on,
   And trusting lean upon Thy breast.

Thy beautiful, sweet Will, my God,
   Holds fast in Its sublime embrace
My captive will, a gladsome bird,
   Prisoned in such a realm of grace.

Within this place of certain good,
   Love ever more expands her wings;
Or, nestling in Thy perfect choice,
   Abides content with what it brings.

Oh, sweetest burden, lightest yoke,
   It lifts, it bears my happy soul,
It giveth wings to this poor heart:
   My freedom is Thy grand control.

Upon God’s Will I lay me down,
   As child upon its mother’s breast;
No silken couch, nor softest bed,
   Could ever give me such sweet rest.

Thy wonderful, grand Will, my God
   With triumph now I make It mine,
And Love shall cry a jealous Yes,
   To every dear command of Thine. —Gerhard Tersteegen

 

Show Us The Way

Show Us The WayI have often said that one of the most arrogant, short-sighted prayers we can ever pray is this: “Lord, please bless what I’m about to do.”

Why is this arrogance? Because I’m presuming to know what’s best. I am saying, “God, this is what I have decided is the best thing to do, and I want You to bless it.” In reality, God has already decided what He is going to do, and He will bless me if I do that.

Listen to what God says—

“This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is His name: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” (Jeremiah 33:2-3)

I love that promise: Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know

This is as true for me personally as it is corporately for the church I get to pastor. So this Sunday I am taking time to talk to the congregation of Calvary Assembly of God about what I believe God is calling us to do. If you are in the area, I’d love to have you join us.

Whether you can attend on Sunday or not, this is a great reminder for all of us. Let’s not tell God our puny plans and ask Him to bless them, but let’s ask Him to show us great and unsearchable things that He is blessing so that we can get to work doing those things. You will be blessed by doing what God is doing.

My Newest Assignment

I truly believe that God directs our steps. I like Jeremiah’s prayer:

I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Jer. 10:23)

I also believe that God gives us talents and strengths, and then puts us in settings where we can use those strengths to glorify Him. Moving to Cedar Springs was truly a God-directed step for my family, and doing so has put us in so many settings where we can all use our talents.

My latest opportunity to use my God-given strengths is as the interim director of the En-Gedi Youth Center. This is an outstanding program that provides a safe and constructive environment for students after school. In just a couple of weeks in this new assignment, I’ve already met so many new people and I’ve seen so much more potential. I cannot wait to see what will happen next!

The Cedar Springs Post has an article in this week’s edition about my new temporary assignment (read the full article here). I love this forward-looking quote from the En-Gedi Board chair Sue Wolfe:

“Craig is a wonderful gift to En-Gedi, our students, and community. He is already involved with many local organizations. The transition from Tom [the first director and current Board member] to Craig has gone well and the board is enthusiastically moving forward in securing a permanent Executive Director,” said Wolfe. “En-Gedi is ready to take a leap of faith into the next phase of organization’s goal to open a youth center room in the high school and middle school. We see the need and believe we should now move forward in expanding programs, services, and special events to our community’s youth and families.”

I’m thrilled to be a part of this leap of faith that En-Gedi is about to take!

By the way… if you live near Cedar Springs and would like to get involved with this outstanding youth center, please get in touch with me right away. Perhaps God is directing your steps and your talents to be used in a new way!

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