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?

9 Quotes From “Leadership Promises For Every Day”

leadership-promisesLeadership Promises For Every Day is a devotional book for leaders and aspiring leaders. A passage from the Bible is combined with a passage from one of John Maxwell’s outstanding books. It’s an excellent way to start your day! If you haven’t already, check out my review of this book here, and then enjoy a few quotes—

“How many leaders have ruined their lives and damaged the lives of others through immorality? Character has become a crucial issue today precisely because of the myriad of leaders in the political, business, and religious worlds who have fallen morally. No doubt they fall partly because the enemy has targeted leaders for attack. Leaders need to remember that they influence many others beyond themselves; they never fall in a vacuum. They also need to realize that replacing fallen leaders is a slow and difficult process.”

“Our goal among brothers should not be to punish or excommunicate, but to restore. Confrontation is a redemptive act of leadership.”

“Leaders need to respond to individuals based on their needs rather than their faults. … Good leaders do this well. They don’t lead out of a predetermined package of behaviors, but size up every situation and discern what must happen to reach the desired goal.”

“People rise or fall to meet our level of expectations for them. If you express skepticism and doubt in others, they’ll return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they’ll wear themselves out trying to do their best.”

“Leaders must constantly ask if their plans fit God’s revealed will for them and their organization. Then they must ask if their plans remain relevant to the needs of their mission, their values, their vision, and their long-range objectives. Finally, they need to ask if their plans fit the needs of their culture and time.”

“We need to remember that when people follow behind us, they can only go as far as we go. If our growth stops today, our ability to lead will stop along with it. Neither personality nor methodology can substitute for personal growth. We cannot model what we do not possess. Begin learning and growing today, and watch those around you begin to grow.”

“Servanthood is not about position or skill. It’s about attitude.” 

“People who blame others for their failures never overcome them. They simply move from problem to problem. To reach your potential, you must continually improve yourself, and you can’t do that if you don’t take responsibility for your actions and learn from your mistakes.”

“Laughter breeds resilience. Laughing is the quickest way to get up and get going again when you’ve been knocked down.”

I am always sharing great quotes from John Maxwell and others on Twitter and Tumblr. If you’re not following me there, please do so!

Poetry Saturday—In The Center Of The Circle

FullSizeRenderIn the center of the circle
   Of the will of God I stand:
There can come no second causes,
   All must come from His dear hand.
All is well! for ‘tis my Father
   Who my life hath planned.
Shall I pass through waves of sorrow?
   Then I know it will be best;
Though I cannot tell the reason,
   I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love, and God is faithful,
   So in perfect Peace I rest.
With the shade and with the sunshine,
   With the joy and with the pain,
Lord, I trust Thee! both are needed,
   Each Thy wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, did we but know it,
   Often means our heavenly gain. —I.G.W. (from Streams In The Desert)

Thursdays With Oswald—Working Out God’s Will

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.

Working Out God’s Will

     We do not enter into the life of God by imitation, or by vows, or by ceremonies, or by Church membership; we enter into it by its entering into us at Regeneration. The Cross of Jesus Christ is the gateway into His life. … 

     The world is that system of things which organizes its life without any thought of Jesus Christ. … 

     Nothing blinds in the mind to the claims of Jesus Christ more effectually than a good, clean-living, upright life based on self-realization. For a thing to be satanic does not mean that it is abominable and immoral. The satanically managed man is moral, upright, proud, and individual; he is absolutely self-governed and has no need of God. … 

     When by the Cross of Christ we have entered into the experience of identification with our Lord, then there comes the practical working out of Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” … 

     God will bring across our path people who embody the characteristics that we have shown to Him—stubbornness, pride, conceit, opinionatedness, sensuality, a hundred little meannesses. “Now,” He says, “love them as I have loved you.” 

From The Psychology Of Redemption

So God’s will is not something we learn by going to church, or imitating someone we think to be a godly person. God’s will is living like Jesus:

  • Totally abandoned to God’s will
  • Staying linked to Jesus
  • Loving the people that God brings across our path like God loves us

How are you doing?

Thursdays With Oswald—My God-Given Vocation

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.

My God-Given Vocation

     The vocation of our Lord had accepted was that of sin-bearer, not of dominating world-lord. satan’s aim was to get Him to fulfill His vocation on another line, “There is no need to die for sin, You can fulfill Your vocation by a ‘short cut’ and evade the Cross.” Our Lord came here for one purpose only—to bear away the sin of the world in His own Person on the Cross. He came to redeem man, not to set them a wonderful example. … 

     Have we accepted that kind of vocation, or are we only concerned that we get deep conscious communion with God? The acceptance of the saint for himself is that he is concerned about nothing at all saving this one thing, “that I might finish my course with joy,” not happiness. Joy is the result of the perfect fulfillment of what a man is created for. Happiness depends on things that happen, and may sometimes be an insult. It is continually necessary to revert to what the New Testament asks us to accept about ourselves. 

     Have we received to this ministry from Jesus, “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world”? How did the Father send Him? “For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” The first obedience of Jesus was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men. Then our first accepted vocation is not to help men, but to obey God, and when we accept that vocation we enter into relationship with the despised and the neglected. 

From The Psychology Of Redemption

Do I sometimes wish God would give me a “bigger ministry”? Or that He would use me in more visible ways? Am I looking for applause or recognition?

Jesus prayed, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” And He taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”

If I truly accept the vocation God has given me, I will see that it is the same vocation He gave Jesus: to go to the “despised and neglected,” and in the process to be despised and rejected by the world, just as Jesus was. But I’m not looking for the applause of men; I just want to obey God regardless of the personal cost. This is my God-given vocation.

12 Quotes From “The Place Of Help”

The Place Of HelpAs always, any Oswald Chambers book I read is thoroughly highlighted. There is always so much great content! On this blog, I have a weekly series called “Thursdays With Oswald” where I share quotes and thoughts from his book I’m currently reading. Be sure to check that out. Below are just a few of the quotes I noted from The Place Of Help. (By the way, you can read my review of this book by clicking here.)

“This is the age when education is placed on the very highest pinnacle. In every civilized country we are told that if we will educate the people and give them better surroundings, we shall produce better characters. Such talk and such theories stir aspirations, but they do not work out well in reality. The kingdom within must be adjusted first before education can have its true use. To educate an unregenerate man is but to increase the possibility of cultured degradation.”

“Not what the disciple says in public prayer, not what he preaches from pulpit or platform, not what he writes on paper or in letters, but what he is in his heart which God alone knows, determines God’s revelation of Himself to him. Character determines revelation (see Psalm 18:24-26).”

“Our Lord never gives private illuminations to special favorites. His way is ever twofold: the development of character, and the descent of Divine illumination through the Word of God.”

“The voice of the Lord listened to in darkness is so entrancing that the finest of earth’s voices are never afterwords mistaken for the voice of the Lord.”

“Jesus Christ distinctly stated that He came to do the will of His Father. ‘I must work the works of Him that sent Me.’ His first obedience was not to the needs of men, but to the will of God. He nowhere chose the altar of His sacrifice, God chose it for Him. He chose to make His life a willing and obedient sacrifice that His Father’s purpose might be fulfilled. … ’For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake,’ as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:5. We are the servants of men, says Paul, not primarily because their needs have arrested us, but because Jesus Christ is our Lord.” 

“If you become a necessity to a soul you have got out of God’s order, your great need as a worker is to be a friend of the Bridegroom. Your goodness and purity ought never to attract attention to itself, it ought simply to be a magnet to draw others to Jesus.”

“Suppose you talk about depending on God and how wonderful it is, and then others see that in your own immediate concerns you do not depend on Him a bit, but on your own wits, it makes them say, ‘Well, after all, it’s a big pretense, there is no Almighty Christ to depend on anywhere, it is all mere sentiment.’ The impression left is that Jesus Christ is not real to you.” 

“The highest Divine love is not only exhibited in the extreme amazement of the tragedy of Calvary, but in the laying down of the Divine life through the thirty years at Nazareth, through the three years of popularity, scandal, and hatred, and furthermore in the long pre-incarnate years (cf. Revelation 13:8).”

“The Cross is the supreme moment in Time and Eternity, and it is the concentrated essence of the very nature of the Divine love. … The Self-expenditure of God for His enemies in the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, becomes the great bridge over the gulf of sin whereby human love may cross over and be embraced by the Divine love, the love that never fails.” 

“Christian experience does not mean we have thought through the way God works in human lives by His grace, or that we are able to state theologically that God gives the Holy Ghost to them that ask Him—that may be Christian thinking, but it is not Christian experience. Christian experience is living through all this by the marvelous power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost working in me does not produce wonderful experiences that make people say ‘What a wonderful life that man lives’; the Holy Ghost working in me makes me a passionate, devoted, absorbed lover of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“It is not the baptism of the Holy Ghost that changes men, but the power of the Ascended Christ coming into men’s lives by the Holy Ghost that changes men. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is the evidence of the Ascended Christ.” 

“There is only one Lover of the Lord Jesus and that is the Holy Ghost; when we receive the Holy Ghost He turns us into passionate human lovers of Jesus Christ. Then out of our lives will flow those rivers of living water that heal and bless, and we spend and suffer and endure in patience all because of One and One only.”

More quotes from this book coming soon…

Confession: I Struggle With Being An Atheist

ITLWYou see, I love my day to be highly organized. I like to get to all my meetings on time, and then have them run smoothly and efficiently. I like to setup my To Do list, and then methodically check off each item as I go through my day. I like to be in charge of my day.

I am an atheist.

I’m the one calling the shots. I set my agenda. I determine my day. I decide who to see and what project to accept.

There was a guy that Jesus talked about who did the exact same thing. This guy thought to himself and talked to himself all about his plans. Seriously, in just three verses he says me/I/my a dozen times (Luke 12:17-19)!

But God said, “You fool!” The word for fool means without mind. He didn’t mind his mind. He thought the thoughts he wanted to think, without ever consulting anyone else. Not even God.

Jesus made prayer a priority every day (Mark 1:35). What do you think He prayed? Do you think He said, “Here’s what I’m going to do today, and I want You to bless it, Father”? No way!

When Jesus taught us to pray He said, Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:9-13). Not only did Jesus pray this way, He lived this way too. He didn’t do a single thing unless His Father directed Him to do it (John 6:38), and He didn’t say a single word unless His Father directed Him to say it (John 12:49).

The problem is not going into my prayer closet to meet with God in the morning, the problem is thinking I can leave God in the closet as I go about my day! That is atheism!

The Apostle James gave us this sound counsel: Instead of making my plans all on my own, I should say, “If the Lord wills, this is what I will do today” (James 4:13-17). And wise King Solomon said I shouldn’t lean on my own thoughts when planning my days, but lean onto God, and then watch to see how He will direct my life in the right way (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I’ve begun writing I.T.L.W. on the top of my daily calendar. It’s my reminder to say, “If The Lord Wills” this is what I will do today. And if something else comes up, I quickly acknowledge that God is directing my path where He needs me to go.

Your Kingdom come means my kingdom has to go. Your will be done means my agenda takes a distant second.

If you’re feeling stressed about your schedule, that should be your reminder to pray: “God, what do you want to have done here.” Silence the atheistic thoughts that sound like, “I have to get my list done.” Stop and pray right there on the spot.

Here’s the full video of my message on this topic—

We will be continuing our series called Practical Prayer this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in Cedar Springs, please come be our guest. Or you can tune into our live broadcast via Periscope.

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