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.  

Handling Tough Texts

How do you handle a hard passage in the Bible? Peter wrote this about Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand….” But if we don’t take the time to wrestle with that passage, Peter says this is what happens next: “…which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

So here’s a 5-step plan I use when I am working through a challenging passage of Scripture.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you

All Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), and the same Holy Spirit lives in a Christian (1 John 2:20). Think about that: the same Holy Spirit that inspired an author to write the words of Scripture is the same Spirit that will illuminate them to you!

  1. Read the difficult passage in context

We will make our task much easier when we “zoom out” from the difficult text and read the whole passage surrounding the difficult verse/phrase. Perhaps we need to “zoom out” even farther to understand why the whole chapter or book was written.

  1. Identify the parts that are clear

Start off by identifying the parts that you do understand, and then see what light that shines on the tricky text.

  1. Cross reference with other Scriptures

Never, ever, ever draw a conclusion from just one passage of Scripture. Paul reminded his audience that he used the “whole counsel of God’s Word” (Acts 20:27) in forming his sermons. If the challenging passage contains an Old Testament passage, look it up; if it references an historical event, read that history. I also like to use biblegateway.com’s excellent search feature to find cross references.

  1. Draw conclusions on what appears to be the main point

Only after you have done step #1-4 should you attempt to draw some conclusions. You will set yourself up for error if you draw a conclusion first, and then try to find other texts in the Bible that agree with you.

The Apostle Peter writes something rather challenging in his first letter. In fact, Martin Luther said this about 1 Peter 3:18-22: “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” If you would like to see how I walk through the 5-step plan on this “obscure passage,” please check out the video below.

10 Quotes From “#Truth”

Josh McDowell has a book that is perfect for this generation of youth. #Truth is a 365-day devotional that brings biblical truth to bear on the issues today’s students face every day. You can check out my full book review of #Truth by clicking here. Below are a handful of quotes that caught my attention.

“All healthy relationships require a willingness to be known and have things pointed out so that all offenses can be addressed.”

“If a person is unwilling to forgive others, it’s a clear sign he or she hasn’t really experienced God’s mercy and grace. When people refuse to forgive those who wronged them, God knows that any confession of their own sins is less than genuine and sincere. How could anyone who truly experiences God’s amazing grace of forgiveness not also give mercy and grace to others?”

“Jesus died and rose again so that you could be set free from sin and death and enjoy the benefits of spiritual freedom. That freedom is not a license to live however you want to live, but to live as God meant you to live.” 

“Don’t believe the lie that you are alone and no one cares. Since Christ sees you as a member of His body, accept this as your new reality and realize that you are always wanted and very much needed.”

“Jesus too had a totally different view of this world than those around Him. … Because you have accepted Jesus as the Truth and follow Him, you too see the world differently. You see the world through a spiritual lens that makes you sort of like an alien.”

“Jesus’ Kingdom message is a whole new way to see God, yourself, life, and relationships. It is a view of the world defined by Jesus and His Word. … Loving God and making Him the first priority in your life develops a Kingdom mindset that brings everything into perspective—love God and those around you as you love yourself [Matthew 22:37-39].”

“This life is short in comparison to eternity, and God wants your thoughts to include Him and make His Kingdom a priority in your life. … Letting heaven fill your thoughts is about keeping Jesus first in your life.”

“Only those who have been made alive to God and have His Spirit can listen and understand the spiritual insights of Scripture.”

“When you read from the Bible you are reading God’s words as if He were writing them for you. … Scripture is a supernatural book that has come from God Himself.”

“Jesus felt misunderstood. He spent years telling His followers who He was and why He came to earth. ‘But they didn’t understand any of this…and they failed to grasp what He was talking about’ (Luke 18:34). Because Jesus faced misunderstanding He is able to identify with your hurt and give you the help you need when you need it.”

Chase The Lion (book review)

chase-the-lionThere is always something about a Mark Batterson book that motivates me to do even bigger things. But Chase The Lion took that to a whole new level!

Chase The Lion is sort of the sequel to In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. In the first book, Batterson looked at the life of Benaiah, who was a lion killer. In Chase The Lion, we go deeper into Benaiah’s motivation. What motivates a man to run toward the roar? Is he a unique individual, or can others do what he did?

Pastor Batterson then broadens his circles by looking at the other Mighty Men who, along with Benaiah, were attracted to King David. What brought these courageous warriors together? What kept them together? What were they fighting for?

Then skillfully Mark weaves together his own lion-chasing journey, with other historic characters, as well as those mighty men surrounding King David. Time and time again Mark challenged me to be disenchanted with the status quo, to dream bigger dreams, to try more courageous things, to see that my life is not just lived for me. The life I live is made possible by other lion-chasers who came before me, and the way I live my life will make it possible for still more lion-chasers to follow my example.

Before getting to chapter one I read “The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto” and I was already fired up to read and learn more. The rest of the book was chapter after chapter of new inspiration and encouragement.

What an amazing book! I can’t recommend Chase The Lion enough to anyone who wants to do great things, and leave a legacy of greatness for generations to come.

I am a Multnomah book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—What “Religious” Things Perplex You?

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.

What “Religious” Things Perplex You? 

     If we are perplexed over the question of sanctification, or about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we ourselves are the reason why we are bothered. God has written a Book, and the phrases “sanctification” and the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” are His, not man’s; why do we not go to Him about it? 

     We are the reason why we do not go; we dare not go. If we honestly ask God to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire, anything that happens is His answer, and some appalling things happen. If we accept the revelation that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, are we prepared to ask God to fulfill the purpose of the Holy Ghost in our body? If we are, watch the consequences—that friendship must go, that book, that association, everyone of them must decay off like a lightning flash. 

     If anyone has a difficulty in getting through to God, it is never God who is to blame. We can get through to Him as soon we want to, there is nothing simpler.

From The Psychology Of Redemption

I believe Chambers’ line of reasoning goes like this:

  • God has revealed His full will in the inspired words of Scripture.
  • The same Holy Spirit Who inspired the Bible can illuminate our hearts.
  • We don’t have insight because we either don’t ask for it [James 1:5], or we don’t really want to hear the truth [James 4:3].
  • Asking for help while posturing ourselves to obey will quickly bring clarity—“Jesus Christ’s life must work through our flesh, and that is where we have to obey. So many go into raptures over God’s supernatural salvation, over the wonderful fact that God saves us by His sovereign grace (and we cannot do that too much), but they forget that now He expects us to get ourselves into trim to obey Him” (Oswald Chambers).

Links & Quotes

link quote

“satan is real and may have a hand in our calamities, but not the final hand, and not the decisive hand. James makes clear that God had a good purpose in all Job’s afflictions: ‘You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful’ [James 5:11]. So satan may have been involved, but the ultimate purpose was God’s, and it was ‘compassionate and merciful.’” —John Piper

“God’s will is determined by His wisdom which always perceives, and His goodness which always embraces, the intrinsically good.” —C.S. Lewis

“Let us never suppose that there is any lack of charity in speaking of hell. Let us rather maintain that it is the highest love to warn men plainly of danger, and to beseech them to ‘flee from the wrath to come.’ It was satan, the deceiver, murderer, and liar, who said to Eve in the beginning, ‘You shall not surely die.’ (Genesis 3:4.) To shrink from telling men, that except they believe they will ‘die in their sins,’ may please the devil, but surely it cannot please God.” —J.C. Ryle

“You aren’t the only person with your skill. But you are the only person with your version of your skill.” —Max Lucado

“There is nothing natural about the Christian life. It is all supernatural. It’s a life dependent upon miracles from the very beginning (including your conversion). And it simply can’t be lived without faith in the supernatural.” —David Wilkerson

It is time for science to detach itself from an atheistic worldview. Douglas Rushkoff states, “By starting with Godlessness as a foundational principle of scientific reasoning, we make ourselves unnecessarily resistant to the novelty of human consciousness, its potential continuity over time, and the possibility that it has a purpose.”

Detroit Tigers fans (like me!) will love this: an interactive map that shows where every Tiger has been born.

John Stonestreet asks, “Why is pop music so angry?” Check out his answer in Bad Blood.

[VIDEO] John Maxwell challenges us to find someone we can inspire this weekend—

 

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