The Scriptures And Our Temperament

“We naturally tend to interpret Scripture in the light (or shadow) of our own temperament and let our peculiar mental cast decide the degree of importance we attach to various religious doctrines and practices. …

“The minister above all others should look deep into his own heart to discover the reason for his more pronounced views. It is not enough to draw himself up and declare with dignity that he preaches the Bible and nothing but the Bible. That claim is made by every man who stands in sincerity to declare the truth; but truth has many facets and the man of God is in grave danger of revealing only a limited few to his people, and those the ones he by disposition favors most. …

“The Scriptures, critical self-discipline, honesty of heart and increased trust in the inward operations of the Holy Spirit will save us from being too greatly influenced by temperament.” —A.W. Tozer, in Man—The Dwelling Place Of God

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.

A Crime To Be Weak

“The devil would like us to believe that we are in a losing battle; nothing of the sort! We are ‘more than conquerors,’ hilariously more than victors, ‘through Him that loved us’ [Romans 8:31-37].

“No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God in a human spirit; it is an inner unconquerableness. If you have the whine in you take it out ruthlessly. It is a positive crime to be weak in God’s strength.” —Oswald Chambers, in Run Today’s Race

Saturday In The Psalms—Childlike Not Childish

Lord, my heart is not haughty… (Psalm 131:1).

This psalm is only three verses long, but they are three verses of immense trust in God. Truly these verses reveal extraordinary childlike dependence on God.

My heart is not haughty—I am subduing my pride.

My eyes are not lofty—I’m not looking for great things for myself.

I do not concern myself with great matters—I stay away from burdens I don’t need to carry.

I have no interest in things too profound for me—I don’t spend time on the “what ifs,” but I quietly trust God to provide for me.

I have calmed and quieted my soul—if my emotions start running too far ahead, I remind myself that God knows best what I need.

Childlike not childish!

Childlike is lovingly dependent. Childish is selfishly independent.

Childlike is trusting someone wiser. Childish is believing I know best.

John Maxwell said, “The Christian leader is mature enough to not act childish, yet remains trusting enough to stay childlike.”

Think of it this way: a “weaned child” (v. 2) is able to eat more grown-up food than an infant, but it is still dependent on a loving parent to provide that food—food that is best. It’s not necessarily food I want, but it is food I need.

David implores us to adopt this childlike dependence on God, and give up our childish independence apart from God. This attitude, David says, starts in a humbled heart.

Holy Spirit, work in my heart today. Drive out any childish selfishness for what I want, and create in me a childlike trust in my God Who gives me all that I need. Amen.

Thursdays With Oswald—Don’t Argue!

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.

Don’t Argue!

     The reason Paul tells Timothy not to argue [1 Timothy 4:7], and the reason he tells me not to argue, and the reason he tells you not to argue, is that we argue from our own point of view. We argue not for the truth’s sake, we argue to prove we are right. God grant that we may learn to take heed lest we get switched off on arguing. … 

     “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 … 

     For example… “sanctification” is not a man’s term; it is God’s: “the baptism with the Holy Ghost” is not man’s conception, it is God’s, and when a soul begins to argue on these matters, remember, worker for God, it is the Holy Spirit they are arguing with, the Word of God they are haggling about. God grant we may not hinder those who are battling their way slowly into the light. …  

     “Heal me of this lust of mine of always vindicating myself.” —Augustine … 

     If we are living rightly with God, living holy lives in secret and in public, God puts a wall of fire round about us.

From Workmen Of God

How true it is that we argue not because we’re standing up for the truth, but because we want to prove that we are right! This is a tactic of the devil which keeps us focused on less important matters.

Our only line of defense needs to be something Oswald Chambers said earlier: “the Word of God, the Word of God, the Word of God, first second and last.” If we stick to the Word, people who want to argue aren’t arguing with us, but with God. That is an argument in which we never have to participate!

8 Quotes From “Workmen Of God”

Although written over 100 years ago, Workmen Of God is still a treasure-trove for anyone in pastoral ministry today. I have shared longer passages from this book in my weekly series called “Thursdays With Oswald,” but here are a few other gems from this book. You can read my full book review of Workmen Of God by clicking here.

“We must keep ourselves in touch, not with theories, but with people, and never get out of touch with human beings, if we are going to use the Word of God amongst them, and if the Holy Spirit is to apply the Word of God through us as workmen meeting not to be ashamed.”

“Men’s minds will always assent that Jesus Christ is right—why? Because Jesus Christ is Incarnate Reason. There is something in Jesus Christ that appeals to every man, no matter what condition he is in. If once Jesus Christ is brought into contact with the man, let that man seem to us dead and indifferent, destitute of anything like goodness—let him come in contact with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, and you will instantly see that he can grasp something about Him in a way we cannot understand unless we know the Holy Spirit.”

“Unless your religion will go to the lowest and the worst and the most desperate case you know of, your religion is of no use.”

“Intercessory prayer for a backslider is a most instructive but most trying work for God, it will teach the worker that prayer is not only making petitions, but that prayer is breathing and atmosphere.”

“When the message you have to deliver, brother preacher, strikes straight home, don’t water it down just a little. Go straight for God if you come from Him. Neither for fear nor favor alter the message.”

“Love for men as men will never stand the strain. In order to catch men for the Lord Jesus Christ, you must love Jesus Christ absolutely, beyond all others. You must have a consuming passion of love, then He will flow through you in a passion of love and yearning and draw all men to Himself.”

“We need to live steadfastly in the presence of God so that when we are praised we don’t arouse the spirit of envy, the spirit that makes a man want to do something, not because he loves God, but because he wants to emulate us. … God grant we may see that the great need of every worker is a first-hand acquaintance with Jesus Christ which puts to death the spirit of ambition.”

“You cannot have holiness without a chaste physical life. Oh, the sapping power of God because of unchaste men and women who preached His Gospel.”

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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