Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 45 and 53

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 45 and 53

[These are notes on Oswald Chambers’ lectures on Isaiah 45 and 53.]

     Ever remember that “eternal life” is to know God, therefore you cannot expect to know Him in five minutes or forty years. … There are whole tracks of God’s character unrevealed to us as yet, and we have to bow in patience until God is able to reveal the things which look so dark. … 

     God never reveals anything ahead of moral and spiritual progress. The Christian worker who has never walked in the darkness of God’s hand with no light, has never walked with God at all. The principle of walking with God is that it is a walk by faith, not by sight; a walk in the light of Christ, not in the light of dogmatic conviction. Jesus as our example was under the shadow of the hand of God. “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” He knew He could have called twelve legions of angels to His rescue, but He did not call one; not one fire of His own did He kindle, not one self-generated effort did He ever make. … Our Lord taught over and over again that things will never be explained in this life. We have to get rid of the idea that we are going to be vindicated down here; Jesus was not. The millennium age will be the vindication of the saints; this is the age of their humiliation. The triumphant thing for a saint is to stand true to God in spite of all the odds the world, the flesh and the devil can bring. … 

     Jesus Christ’s suffering was unique: He knew why He suffered. … There was nothing of the morbid fanatic about Our Lord: He looked beyond the travail to the joy set before Him, consequently He “endured the Cross, despising the shame.” … 

     Suffering unjustly will either produce sympathy with satan or similarity to Christ. Sympathy with satan arises from self-pity—“Why should I have to go through this?” 

From Notes On Isaiah 

There’s no doubt about it: suffering is hard. It’s confusing, too, for even many ‘seasoned saints.’ 

Jesus was not exempt from suffering, and neither will His followers be. In fact, Jesus even told us ahead of time that we should expect to suffer for His name’s sake. 

Our suffering never takes God by surprise. Neither is He indifferent to it. Remember that Jesus suffered in all the same ways we will without ever sinning. Now He intercedes before the Father on our behalf when we go through times of suffering. 

God’s suffering IS producing something great. Don’t bail out. Don’t give in to self-pity. Know that God is with you in your suffering, and He is accomplishing something far greater than you can ever imagine in this life. Hang in there—triumphant vindication IS coming! 

Thursdays With Oswald—When You Can’t Do Anything To Help

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.

When You Can’t Do Anything To Help

     One of the first things a worker for God has to learn by experience is that strangely obvious lesson, that none of us can understand the cases we meet to work with. Then how can we work for the cure of them? Remember the first principles we laid down: By knowing Jesus Christ for ourselves experimentally, and then by relying on the Holy Spirit. …  

     In Goethe’s writings, in 1824 he writes: “I will say nothing against the course of my existence, but at the bottom of it has been nothing but pain and burden, and I can affirm that, during the whole of my seventy-five years, I have not had four weeks of genuine well-being. It has been the perpetual rolling of a rock that must be raised up again.”

     Robert Louis Stevenson said that three hours out of every five he was insane with misery. John Stuart Mill said that life was not worth living after you were a boy.

     This is not fiction, these are human facts. What does Christian Science do—ignores them! New Thought—ignores them! Mind Cure—ignores them! Jesus Christ opens our eyes to these facts, but here comes the difficulty: how am I to get Jesus Christ in contact with these sick souls?

In the first place, will you realize that you do not know how to do it? … If you get your little compartment of texts, and search them out and say, ‘I know how to deal with this soul,’ you will never be able to deal with it; but if you realize your absolute helplessness and say, ‘My God, I cannot touch this life, I do not know where to begin, but I believe Thou canst do it,’ then you can do something. …  

     God grant us the grace so to rely on the Holy Ghost, to so know our ignorance, so to get out of the way with our knowledge, that we will let the Holy Ghost bring the Majestic Christ face to face with the diseased, sick folk we meet. … God grant we may so rely on the Holy Spirit that we allow Him to introduce through the agony of our intercession…the Living, Mighty Christ! … Blessed be the name of God, there is no case too hard for Jesus Christ! …  

     God grant that we may be so centered in Him that He can use us in that wonderful way.

From Workmen Of God

How to help those in need:

  1. Admit that we can’t help them
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to help them
  3. Share only what the Spirit tells us to share
  4. Intercede in prayer for our friend

“God grant that we may be so centered in Him that He can use us in that wonderful way.” Amen!

11 Quotes From “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

John Piper has written a book that I think every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. You can read my review of this book here. Below are just a few quotes that caught my attention.

“We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. … The professionalization of the ministry is a constant threat to the offense of the gospel.”

“I defined spiritual leadership as ‘knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.’ …  So the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God’s glory.”

“The Son of Man has not come seeking employees. He has come to employ Himself for our good.”

“In this fallen world, the tide is always going out. That is, the affections of our people have for God Himself (as distinct from His gifts) are continually prone to shrink. Our job is to tilt the world, by the power of the Spirit and the Word, so that the tide rolls in again.”

“A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit knows neither God nor himself.”

“Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Love is a gift of God (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Faith is a gift of God (1 Timothy 1:14). Wisdom is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:17). Joy is a gift of God (Romans 15:13). Yet as pastors we must labor to ‘save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:22). We must stir up the people to love (Hebrews 10:24). We must advance their faith (Philippians 1:25). We must impart wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:7). We must work for their joy (2 Corinthians 1:24). We are called to labor for that which is God’s alone to give. The essence of the Christian ministry is that its success is not within our reach.”

“Are not our people really yearning to be around a man who has been around God? Is it not the lingering aroma of prayer that gives a sense of eternity to all our work?”

“Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.”

“The domestication of God is a curse on preaching in our day. We need to recover reality and the language of majesty and holiness and awe and glory.”

“He knows that the only way he can deliver God’s message to God’s people is by being rooted in it and by saturating his sermon with God’s own revelation in the Bible. The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God’s words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.”

“Our salvation and the salvation of those who hear us week after week depend in large measure on our faithful attention to personal holiness and sound teaching” [see 1 Timothy 4:16]. … Oh, how earnest we should be in attending to ourselves and the soundness and helpfulness of our teaching!”

Thursdays With Oswald—What Prayer Does In Us

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 Prayer Does In Us

     Prayer is the point where the reality of God merges with human life. Until we are born from above, prayer with us is honestly nothing more than a mere exercise; but in all our Lord’s teaching and in His own personal life, as well as in the emphasis laid on prayer by the Holy Ghost after He had gone, prayer is regarded as the work (see John 14:11-13). … 

     If prayer is the highest reach of communion possible between Almighty God and the Son of Man, what part ought prayer to play in our lives? … 

     Prayer is not meant to develop us, but to develop the life of God in us after new birth.

From The Psychology Of Redemption

In another lesson, Chambers reminds us that prayer is easy for us because it cost Jesus so much to make it possible for us.

Jesus knew the value of prayer, which is why it was an essential priority all throughout His earthly life. Now we have access to the same Almighty God through the name of Jesus. Yes, Jesus is interceding for us, but we don’t have to stop there—we should never stop there!—because Christ’s death and resurrection makes a way for us to go right into Almighty God’s presence.

Prayer is powerful! Prayer brings the life of God right down into our own souls.

So… what part ought prayer to play in your life?

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as He really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God.” —John Piper

It’s pretty sad—and quite telling—when Planned Parenthood’s arguments for abortion sound eerily similar to pro-slavery and pro-Nazi arguments of the past.

Seth Godin reminds us that past performance is no guarantee of future results. Check it out! I also really liked Seth Godin’s warning about getting caught up in the Black Friday hype.

“Things will all work out” and “You can do anything you set your mind to” are just two of the seven sentimental lies you might believe.

Eric Metaxas shares about a “crisis of despair” where the church is desperately needed.

What a comfort we can have in this—“This very day I am being saved by the eternal intercession of Jesus in heaven. Jesus is praying for us and that is our salvation [Hebrews 7:25]. We are saved eternally by the eternal prayers (Romans 8:34) and advocacy (1 John 2:1) of Jesus in heaven as our High Priest. He prays for us and His prayers are answered because He prays perfectly on the basis of His perfect sacrifice.” —John Piper

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks a vitally important question: How’s your prayer life?

[VIDEO] A great look at competitiveness from John Maxwell—

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Is it not said in Scripture, ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate’? Why is Christ an advocate today? Only because we want an advocate every day. Does He not constantly intercede yonder before the eternal throne? Why does He do that? Because we want daily intercession. And it is because we are constantly sinning that He is constantly an advocate, constantly an intercessor.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights.” —Oswald Chambers

“Unbelief hinders Christ from working those works which show the glory. It seems a strange saying, and one which we could not have ventured to utter had it not been written down for us by inspired men. That a child’s hand held up against the sun should hinder it from shining; that a weathered leaf thrown into a stream should stay its flowing or dry up its source; that the breath of man, breathed up against the sky, should quench the light of its myriad stars—these things would not really be so marvelous as that man’s unbelief should prevent God’s power from being sent forth, and the Son of God from doing those things which would reveal the glory of the Father. Yet we find the strange truth thus recorded. The evangelist Matthew thus writes, ‘He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief’ (13:58); and Mark uses still stronger language, ‘He could there do no mighty work, saving that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and heal them; and He marveled because of their unbelief ‘(6:5, 6).” —Horatius Bonar

A really nice story about our church’s move.

Despite what some people want to teach, here are 24 reasons to believe Hell is a reality.

George Muller was a faith giant. But check out what John Piper writes about him: Muller did not have the gift of faith.

Jon Bloom writes, “If we want to really know what’s going on in the world, we cannot depend on CNN or FoxNews. We will keep our eyes on the global church. She is at the center of history,” in his post entitled America’s one enduring legacy in history.

[VIDEO] Does free speech offend you?

Why Revival Tarries

Leonard Ravenhill“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.

“Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.

“The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer. The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer-the highest ministry of all human offices—is open to all. Spiritual adolescents say, ‘I’ll not go tonight, it’s only the prayer meeting.’ It may be that satan has little cause to fear most preaching. Yet past experiences sting him to rally all his infernal army to fight against God’s people praying. Modern Christians know little of ‘binding and loosing,’ though the onus is on us-—‘Whatsoever ye shall bind….’ Have you done any of this lately? God is not prodigal with His power; but to be much for God, we must be much with God.

“This world hits the trail for hell with a speed that makes our fastest plane look like a tortoise; yet alas, few of us can remember the last time we missed our bed for a night of waiting upon God for a world-shaking revival. Our compassions are not moved. We mistake the scaffolding for the building. Present-day preaching, with its pale interpretation of divine truths, causes us to mistake action for unction, commotion for creation, and rattles for revivals.

“The secret of praying is praying in secret. A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning. We are beggared and bankrupt, but not broken, nor even bent.

“Prayer is profoundly simple and simply profound. ‘Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try,’ and yet so sublime that it outranges all speech and exhausts man’s vocabulary. A Niagara of burning words does not mean that God is either impressed or moved. One of the most profound of Old Testament intercessors had no language ‘Her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.’ No linguist here! There are ‘groanings which cannot be uttered.’

“Are we so substandard to New Testament Christianity that we know not the historical faith of our fathers (with its implications and operations), but only the hysterical faith of our fellows? Prayer is to the believer what capital is to the business man.

“Can any deny that in the modern church setup the main cause of anxiety is money? Yet that which tries the modern churches the most, troubled the New Testament Church the least. Our accent is on paying, theirs was on praying. When we have paid, the place is taken; when they had prayed, the place was shaken!

“In the matter of New Testament, Spirit-inspired, hell-shaking, world-breaking prayer, never has so much been left by so many to so few. For this kind of prayer there is no substitute. We do it—or die!” —Leonard Ravenhill,  from his book Why Revival Tarries

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