Thursdays With Oswald—Where Does Christian Character Come From?

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.

Where Does Christian Character Come From?

     Christian character is not expressed by doing good, but by God-likeness. It is not sufficient to do good, to do the right thing, we must have our goodness stamped by the image and superscription of God, it is supernatural all through. The secret of a Christian’s life is that the supernatural is made natural by the grace of God. The way it is worked out in expression is not in having times of communion with God, but in the practical details of life. The proof that we have been regenerated is that when we come in contact with the things that create a buzz, we find to our astonishment that we have a power to keep wonderfully poised in the center of it all, a power we did not have before, a power that is only explained by the Cross of Jesus Christ. … 

     “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” [Matthew 5:48], not in a future state, but—“You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect if you let Me work that perfection in you.” If the Holy Spirit has transformed us within, we will not exhibit good human characteristics, but divine characteristics in our human nature. … 

     It is not a question of putting the statements of our Lord in front of us and trying to live up to them, but of receiving His Spirit and finding that we can live up to them as He brings them to our remembrance and applies them to our circumstances.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Jesus said one of the roles of the Holy Spirit was to remind us of everything Jesus said (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit will constantly be working to bring the principles in the Bible to be applied in the real-life circumstances we are in—this is how Christian character is formed in us. 

God’s Word + the Holy Spirit’s application + our obedience = Christian character perfected in us

Are you reading God’s Word? Are you letting the Holy Spirit apply the Word to your life? Are you obeying what He’s showing you? These are the steps to exhibiting our heavenly Father’s divine characteristics in our human nature. 

How Is Your Heart Hearing?

Therefore take heed how you hear… (Luke 8:18).

Therefore—when I see this word, I need to ask, “What came before?” Jesus has just shared the parable of the sower and given its fuller explanation to His disciples. Now Jesus is speaking privately to His disciples and telling them, “Be very attentive to how you are hearing My words.”  

Why would Jesus tell them that? He says that the way we pay attention to His words can either bring more blessing to our lives, or cause us to miss out on His blessings: “For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken away from him” (v. 18). 

In other words, every single one of us has the capacity to have hearts like all four types of soil Jesus talked about in His parable: hard, rocky, thorny, productive. 

I must be attentive to how I’m listening to Christ’s words…

  • …with a prepared (plowed) heart 
  • …not preoccupied with worldly things
  • …ready to obey what He says
  • …ready to share the blessings of what I hear with others

Lord, my heart is ready. Speak to me. I am ready to hear, ready to obey, and ready to share. Give me more insight into what You are saying to me.

Poetry Saturday—O Little Flock, Fear Not The Foe

O little flock, fear not the Foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow;
Dread not his rage and power.
What though your courage sometimes faints,
His seeming triumph o’er God’s saints
Lasts but a little hour.

Be of good cheer; your cause belongs
To Him who can avenge your wrongs;
Leave it to Him, our Lord.
Though hidden yet from mortal eyes,
His Gideon shall for you arise,
Uphold you and His Word.

As true as God’s own Word is true.
Not earth nor hell with all their crew
Against us shall prevail.
A jest and byword are they grown;
God is with us, we are His own;
Our victory cannot fail. —Johann M. Altenburg

 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 25-26

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 25-26

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 25-26.] 

     The prophets were holy men, not mechanisms; they were “moved by the Holy Ghost” [2 Peter 1:21] to say what they did. Each prophet had a distinct characteristic of his own, they were not all “moved” in the same way. We are not meant to be “channels only,” we are infinitely more responsible than “channels.” …

     Jeremiah continually warned the people that if they did not repent and come up to God’s standard for them, He would blight all that they possessed, including Jerusalem and the Temple. That was what enraged them against Jeremiah. They said he used his prophetic right to tell an untruth; for, they argued, God would never destroy His own holy city or the Temple in which He was worshiped (26:11). Any position before God based on a foundation other than living in the light of God and depending upon Him, is doomed to destruction.

From Notes On Jeremiah

God’s Word is still as viable and applicable to us today as it was in the days that Jeremiah and the other prophets spoke, and in the days the New Testament authors penned their words. 

J.C. Ryle issued this warning to us, “Let us beware of despising the Old Testament under any pretense whatever. Let us never listen to those who bid us throw it aside as an obsolete, antiquated, useless book. The religion of the Old Testament is the embryo of Christianity. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud. The New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade. The New Testament is the Gospel in full ear.” 

God’s Word IS speaking to us today. The question is—are you and I willing to obey what God says to us, or are we more interested in making arguments about its relevance? 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 23

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 23

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 23.] 

     If the preaching of a servant of God does not make me brace myself up and watch my feet and my ways, one of two things is the reason—either the preacher is unreal, or I hate being better. At sometime or other all of us have had a detestation of being better. The rage produced by being faced with a life which in reality is better than our own, awakens either a desire to be like it, or else hatred without cause against that life. “They hated Me without a cause,” said Jesus. …  

     God makes His Word living by speaking it to you. There is a feeling of deep settled peace when the Holy Ghost brings a word, full of light and illumination, you know better than you can express, “The Lord said that to me.” …

     The Bible student must be careful to distinguish between the speculations of his own heart and the Word of God. … Be simple and obedient, and the Word of God will open to you as naturally as breathing. …  

     In reading God’s Word be careful of being guided by affinities instead of by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes us face facts for which we have no affinity. …

     Never ridicule the way in which people say God guides them; all you know is that God does not guide you like that, but never ridicule. 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

In this chapter of Jeremiah, God is contrasting true and false prophets. In order for us to distinguish the true from the false today, we must be students of God’s Word ourselves. Don’t get God’s Word solely from a man’s or woman’s preaching (although that does have its place), but be a student of the Word for yourself. 

God wants to speak to you through His Word. The same Holy Spirit that inspired the biblical authors wants to illuminate that Word to your specific life and situation. Get into the Word and let the Word get into you.  

Don’t Throw Out The Message

An important reminder—Don’t throw out the message because of the messenger.

“Beware of seeking out inconsistencies in God’s children in order to evade obeying God’s message yourself. If there comes to you a message on personal holiness, beware of the tendency that puts you on the watch to see if that person is consistent; the reason you watch is that you want to evade obeying God’s message. There is an antipathy to the message of holiness which prides itself on being amazingly shrewd, and whenever a man of God is known to fall, there is a sigh of relief—‘Well, that saves me, I have always been suspicious about this holy life,’ and under the affectation of profound sadness there is a glow of relief on the inside. The trick is as old as the Garden of Eden.” —Oswald Chambers

10 Quotes From “Praying The Promises”

There is something special about turning God’s Word into a prayer to our Heavenly Father, and Max Lucado shows us how in his book Praying The Promises. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“We do not need more opinions or hunches; we need the definitive declarations of our mighty and loving God. He governs the world according to these great and precious promises. Let’s be who we were made to be: People of the Promise. Let’s keep these promises handy. Praise Him out loud. Fill our lungs with air and hearts with hope and declare our belief in God’s goodness.” 

“Everything in creation gives evidence of God’s existence. The intricacy of snowflakes, the roar of a thunderstorm, the precision of a honeybee, the bubbling of a cool mountain stream. These miracles and a million more give testimony to the existence of a brilliant, wise, and tireless God (Psalm 19:1-4). Everything shows evidence of a purposeful design. The facts lead to a wonderful conclusion. God is…and God is knowable. … We can know more than simple facts about our Creator; we can know His heart, His joy, His passion, His plan, and His sorrows. … The mark of a saint is that he or she is growing in the knowledge of God.” 

“As we fellowship with God, read His Word, obey His commands, and seek to understand and reflect His character, something wonderful emerges. Or, better stated, Someone wonderful emerges. God comes out of us. We say things God would say. We do things God would do.” 

“When we pray, we engage the power of God against the devil. When we worship, we do what satan himself did not do: we place God on the throne. When we pick up the sword of Scripture, we do what Jesus did in the wilderness. He responded to satan by proclaiming truth (Matthew 4:1-11).… satan will not linger long where God is praised and prayers are offered.” 

“We don’t need a large army. We don’t need abundant resources. God’s presence tilts the scales in our favor.” 

“If you have taken on the name of Christ, you have clout with the most powerful Being in the universe. When you speak, God listens. … Your prayers matter to God because you matter to God.” 

“When nothing quenches your deepest thirsts, when droughts turn your fields into deserts and retirements into pocket change, what can you do? Evaluate your priorities: Is God’s big thing my big thing? 

“Guilt simmers like a toxin in far too many souls, but you don’t need to let it have a place in yours. Internalize this promise: ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). Not ‘limited condemnation,’ ‘appropriate condemnation,’ or ‘calculated condemnation.’ That is what people give people. God gives His children no condemnation.” 

“The greatest news in the world is not that God made the world but that God loves the world. He loves you. You did not earn this love. And His love for you will not fade if you lose your way. His love for you will not diminish if your discipline does. You have never lived one unloved day. God loves you, and because He does, you can be assured joy will come.” 

“I will fix my eyes on things above. Because I know that this world is not my home, I will keep eternity in sight.” 

These are quotes from the section of Praying The Promises called “unshakable hope.” Stay tuned because I will be sharing soon some of the model prayers Max gave us in this helpful book. 

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