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—Happiness Or Holiness?

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.

Happiness Or Holiness?

     “Beauty” means the perfectly ordered completeness of man’s whole nature. When once a man’s mind is upset, that beauty begins to go, the equilibrium is upset. This accounts for the characteristic tendency abroad today: ignore sin, deny it ever was; if you make mistakes, forget them, live the healthy minded, open-hearted, sunshiny life, don’t allow yourself to be convicted of sin. … 

     Happiness means we select only those things out of our circumstances that will keep us happy. It is the great basis of false Christianity. The Bible nowhere speaks about a “happy” Christian; it talks plentifully of joy. … Happiness would be alright if things were reasonable; it would be ideal if there were no self-interest, but everyone of us is cunning enough to take advantage somewhere, and after a while my inclination is to get my happiness at your cost. … 

     What kind of peace had Jesus Christ? A peace that kept Him for thirty years at home with brothers and sisters who did not believe in Him; a peace that kept Him through three years of popularity, hatred, and scandal; and He says, “My peace I give unto you”; “let not your heart be troubled,” i.e., “see that your heart does not get disturbed out of its relationship to Me.”

     But remember Jesus Christ has to upset the old equilibrium first. When a man is probed into by the Spirit of God, the waters of his conscious life get troubled and other ideas emerge. If I am going to follow the dictates of the Spirit of God and take up the attitude of Jesus Christ to things, it will produce an earthquake in my outlook. … “If you would be My disciple, says Jesus that is the cost.” …

     Take up any attitude of Jesus Christ’s and let it work, and the first thing that happens is that the old order and the old peace go. You cannot get back peace on the same level. If once you have allowed Jesus Christ to upset the equilibrium, holiness is the inevitable result, or no peace forever (Matthew 10:34). 

From The Shadow Of An Agony

Quite simply: I can live for my own happiness, or I can allow my “happiness” to be momentarily upset by allowing the holiness of God to reign in my heart.

Happiness eventually comes to an end, but holiness ultimately leads to the enjoyment of God forever!

The choice is yours: “IF you would be My disciple….”

5 Quotes On Mercy From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the merciful (Matthew 5:7)…

“The first four character traits of the Beatitudes…all address our internal character and our relationship to God. Here in this Beatitude, ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ Jesus begins to address our relationship with other people.”

“Note the subtle distinction between compassion and mercy. The Samaritan had compassion [Luke 10:33] and then showed mercy [v. 34-35].”

“Mercy expresses itself in two general areas: In the temporal sense, mercy seeks to meet the physical needs of others, as the Good Samaritan did in Jesus’ parable. The second way mercy expresses itself is granting forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.”

“The magnitude of our sin is not measured by its effects on other people but by its assault upon the infinite majesty and holiness of God.”

“To forgive others means we regard ourselves as ten-thousand-talent debtors [Matthew 18:23-35].” 

 I have previously shared quotes on:

Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

Holy Rescuers

QophThe Hebrew Aleph-Bet is nothing like the English alphabet. First of all, in English, letters are just letters; they don’t really mean anything. In Hebrew, every letter has its own definition and imagery. Second, in the English alphabet, the order of the letters doesn’t have any significance; but the order in Hebrew is of vital importance.

It is significant that qoph (vv. 145-152) comes after tsadhe (vv. 137-144) in Psalm 119. Tsadhe tells us about God’s righteousness, and how the Word gives us a reliable way to approach All-Righteous God as a humble, obedient servant. This must come before qoph, which encourages us to stay in the presence of Holy God for a specific reason.

Qoph is the second of two Hebrew letters that has two pen strokes that don’t touch. This is a reminder for us to stay close to God. But qoph is the only Hebrew letter that goes below the line. This is a reminder that God came down to rescue us!

Qoph is the first letter in the Hebrew word for holy. When Isaiah saw God, and heard the angels shouting, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty,” he saw himself unworthy to come into God’s presence, until his sin had been atoned for. After that, he was ready to be sent out as God’s messenger. (see Isaiah 6:1-8).

In the last book of the Bible, the picture in Heaven is similar, with angels still crying, “Holy!” (Revelation 4:8). As Christians, Jesus Christ has become our Atonement, so we can approach holy God’s throne with humble confidence.

Not only that, but Jesus sent us out as holy witnesses. He sent us “below the line.” Just like He came down to rescue us, He has commissioned us as holy rescuers (Proverbs 24:11-12; Jude 21-25).

As you stay close to God’s holiness, you become a more effective witness for Christ, a holy rescuer! What a privilege to be used by God in this way.

If you would like to watch the message I delivered yesterday on being holy rescuers, check this out—

(Next Sunday I will be continuing our series on Psalm 119. If you are in the Cedar Springs area, please come join us!)

Links & Quotes

link quote

[VIDEO] I loved watching Stuart Scott on ESPN SportsCenter. This video is a great tribute to his life.

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” —Stuart Scott

“Hang this text up in your house; read it every day; take it before God in prayer every time you bend the knee, and you shall find it to be like the widow’s cruse, which failed not, and like her handful of meal, which wasted not: it shall be unto you till the last of December what now it is when we begin to feed upon it in January.” —Charles Spurgeon, commenting on Hebrews 2:18

“This verse is full of encouragement for imperfect sinners like us, and full of motivation for holiness. It means that you can have assurance that you stand perfected and completed in the eyes of your heavenly Father not because you are perfect now, but precisely because you are not perfect now but are ‘being sanctified,’ ‘being made holy’—that, by faith in God’s promises, you are moving away from your lingering imperfection toward more and more holiness.” —John Piper, commenting on Hebrews 10:14

Seth Godin has a great way to help anyone gain a huge advantage over his/her peers in his post Doing Calculus With Roman Numerals.

13 Quotes From Jerry Bridges In “Transforming Grace”

Transforming GraceI think Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges is one of the best books about God’s grace I have ever read! You can read my full book review by clicking here. There are way too many quotes for me to share from this book, so here are a few that really zero-in on grace (I’ll be posting more quotes soon).

“I think most of us actually declared temporary bankruptcy. Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us into heaven, but we do think they earn God’s blessings in our daily lives.” 

“It was because of His grace that God the Father sent His only Son to die in our place. To say it another way, Christ’s death was the result of God’s grace; grace is not the result of Christ’s death.”

“The gospel is addressed to those who have no money or good works. It invites us to come and ‘buy’ salvation without money and without cost [Isaiah 55:1]. But note the invitation to come is addressed to those who have no money—not to those who don’t have enough. Grace is not a matter of God’s making up the difference, but of God’s providing all the ‘cost’ of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.” 

“We can never rightly understand God’s grace until we understand our place as those who need His grace.”

“We were dead in our transgressions, but God intervened. We were in bondage to sin, but God intervened. We were objects of wrath, but God intervened. God Who is rich in mercy intervened. Because of His great love for us, God intervened and made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins. All this is summed up in one succinct statement: ‘it is by grace you have been saved.’ Our condition was hopeless, but God intervened in grace.” 

“God’s grace, then, does not supplement our good works. Instead, His grace overcomes our bad works, which are our sins. God did this by placing our sins on Christ and by letting fall on Him the wrath we so richly deserved. … That’s the way His grace operates. It looks not to our sins or even to our good deeds but only to the merit of Christ.”

“The apostle John wrote that Jesus was ‘full of grace and truth,’ and ‘from the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another’ (John 1:14, 16). The idea portrayed in verse 16 is analogous to the ocean waves crashing upon the beach. One wave has hardly disappeared before another arrives. They just keep coming from an inexhaustible supply. So it is with the grace of God through Christ. He is full of grace and truth, and it is from His inexhaustible fullness that we received one blessing after another.” 

“God often does bless people who seem to us to be quite unworthy. But that is what grace is all about, because we are all unworthy.”

“We all want grace, but we cannot enjoy grace when there is an attitude of comparing.” 

“Under a sense of legalism, obedience is done with a view to meriting salvation or God’s blessing on our lives. Under grace, obedience is a loving response to salvation already provided in Christ, and the assurance that, having provided salvation, God will also through Christ provide all else that we need.”

“All Christians look to Christ alone for their justification, but not nearly as many also look to Him for their perfect holiness before God. … Holiness should be an objective for your daily life. But to live by grace, you must never, never look to the work of the Holy Spirit in you as the basis for your relationship with God. You must always look outside of yourself to Christ. You will never be holy enough through your own efforts to come before God. You are holy only through Christ.” 

“When our Father looks at us, He does not see our miserable performance. Instead, He sees the perfect performance of Jesus.”

“We died to the observance of the law as a requirement for attaining righteousness before God. We died to the curse and condemnation that resulted from our inability to perfectly keep the law. … Being under law implies the wrath of God, whereas grace implies forgiveness and favor. Law implies a broken relationship with God, whereas grace implies a restored relationship with Him. So when Paul said we died to the law, he meant we died to that entire state of condemnation, curse, and alienation from God.” 

Don’t Misuse God’s Name

Representing God's nameYou’ve heard the old nursery rhyme: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. We all know this isn’t true: words do hurt, and names that people call us may leave lasting wounds.

Words and names are important to God. God used His word to create the universe (God said, “Let there by light”); Jesus was called The Word (see John 1:1); God has named people and even renamed them to reflect their character or destiny.

The most important name of all is God’s own name, so the Third Commandment says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God…” (Exodus 20:7). How can we misuse God’s name? There are five ways—

(1) As emptiness or nothingness

  • Are our words empty? Do we use filler phrases like “Oh my God!” that neither talk to Jehovah or about Jehovah? We shouldn’t use God’s name unless we’re talking to Him or about Him in a respectful way.

(2) In vanity

  • In reality this means calling ourselves a Christian, but speaking in an un-Christlike way.
  • “Giving God a ‘bad name’ might diminish or demolish people’s belief, respect, and awe for God, a tragedy for a world that needs holiness. … It is a major responsibility to represent God; one which should not be taken lightly.” —Dr. Laura Schlessinger

(3) Being insincere

  • Are our promises empty, or is our word our bond? If we have to use phrases like “I swear to God that I will…” then that means we cannot be trusted on our own merits. When we claim to be Christians but cannot be trusted, we undermine the trustworthiness of God in the minds of other people.
  • “The godly man, therefore, will make promises cautiously but keep them conscientiously once they are made, knowing that irresponsibility and unreliability here are great and grievous sins.” —J.I. Packer

(4) Having an unholy vocabulary

  • Holy means something set apart for a special use. Perhaps there are words we use to describe God that we are also using for lesser things. It might be good to listen to how the Holy Spirit would challenge us to have a unique vocabulary to talk to or about our unique God.

(5) Worthlessness of conduct

  • As the cliche goes, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” So we need to make sure that we both talk like Jesus talked and live like Jesus lived.

Anything less than these standards just may be misusing God’s holy name and character by misrepresenting Him or giving Him a “bad name.” What do you think?

I am continuing our look at the Ten Commandments in our series The Love In The Law next Sunday. I would absolutely love it if you could join us!

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