Thursdays With Oswald—God’s Purpose For Israel And Me

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.

God’s Purpose For Israel And Me

     God created the people known as Israel for one purpose, to be the servant of Jehovah until through them every nation came to know Who Jehovah was. … The election of the nation by God was not for the salvation of individuals; the elect nation was to be the instrument of salvation to the whole world. The story of their distress is due entirely to their deliberate determination to use themselves for a purpose other than God’s. … Israel is still in the shadow of God’s hand, in spite of all her wickedness. God’s purposes are always fulfilled, no matter how wide a compass He may permit to be taken first. … 

     When we are born from above the realization dawns that we are built for God, not for ourselves. … 

     The creative purpose of God for the missionary is to make him His servant, one in whom He is glorified. When once we realize this, all our self-conscious limitations will be extinguished in the extraordinary blaze of what the Redemption means. We have to see that we keep the windows of our soul open to God’s creative purpose for us, and not confuse that purpose with our own intentions. … 

     A saint is made by God…. Then do not tell God He is a bungling workman. We do that whenever we say “I can’t.” To say “I can’t” literally means we are too strong in ourselves to depend on God. “I can’t pray in public; I can’t talk in the open air.” Substitute “I won’t,” and it will be nearer the truth. The thing that makes us say “I can’t” is that we forget that we must rely entirely on the creative purpose of God….

From So Send I You

Oswald Chambers draws the analogy between why God called Israel, and why He called you. God desired to use Israel to show all nations His love, and He still desires to do the same thing with every single one of His saints today.

In order for God to use you, first be aware that He does indeed want to use you. He created you for His plan and purpose. Next, be open to how your life can glorify God. Take your eyes off you and put them on Him. Finally, stop saying “I can’t.” If God has created you to do something for Him, you most certainly can do it in His power and anointing.

Will you let God use you for His glory today?

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The Church Doesn’t Need The World

“Israel did not need the world’s help. The nations were stronger than she, but she did not require their strength to lean upon. Their strength was their weakness; her weakness was her strength. They would have helped her, but she would not be helped; and when at last she did accept their aid, it was her ruin. Her help was in Jehovah. Her security was in His favor.

Neither does the Church need the help of the world. The less of the world there is in her schemes, her enterprises, her hopes, the better. Never has she prospered when she betook herself to an arm of flesh, or to the strength of human greatness, or to the influence of the world’s smile. For the world cannot really help one who is not of this world, who has nothing in common with her joys, or cares, or ambitions. And never has the world helped the Church without exacting a favor in return; insisting on or tacitly giving it to be understood that she expects some compromise, some relaxation of her testimony, less of strictness and spirituality—more of genial fellowship and participation in her pleasures, if not her lusts and sins.” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth—Revelation (emphasis mine)

A Leader’s Most Powerful Resource

…Sanballat…mocked the Jews… (Nehemiah 4:1).

Sanballat mocked. How did Nehemiah respond to the mocking? He told Sanballat, “                .” Absolutely nothing!

At least he said nothing to Sanballat. But to God Nehemiah prayed, “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads” (v. 4).

Once again the bad guys “conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion” (v. 8). And once again Nehemiah said nothing to the conspirators; “nevertheless we made our prayer to our God” (v. 9).

When the gossip and rumors about the conspirators begin to discourage the Israelites, Nehemiah redirected them back to God: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome” (v. 14).

Even when the opposition was internal—with those who were looking out for themselves only and taking advantage of their brothers—Nehemiah again called them to look to God: “Should you not walk in the fear of our God?” (5:9).

Indeed, because of Nehemiah’s own example of the fear of the Lord, he had the moral authority to call them out, and to ask God for His blessing (vv. 14-19).

Whatever criticism or opposition Nehemiah faced, his first response was to turn to God.

A mark of a godly leader is one whose first response to problems is prayer.

This is Part 6 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

9 Quotes From “Seeing Jesus”

Nancy Guthrie marvelously shows us how Jesus links the Old Testament prophesies with His New Testament activities. This book makes the Old Testament come alive! Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy a few quotes from this book.

“satan’s power is wielded in the world in the form of death. What gives him that power is sin and the estrangement from God it brings. But on the Cross, Jesus did what was necessary for sinners to be reconciled with God. The devil thought he was defeating Christ, but in reality Christ was reconciling us to God, defeating the devil, and delivering us out of his clutches.”

“It has always been God’s way to use the weak, the foolish, the imperfect—even the shamefully sinful but ultimately repentant—in His redemptive plan. It is His glory to do so, and will be into eternity.”

“God has always wanted His people to know Him—not in a generic or shallow way, but personally, as He truly is. So He revealed Himself in a progressive way, not only through His name, but also through His glorious presence that dwelt in the Temple, through the Law, and through His mighty deeds on behalf of His people. But these revelations all led up to a definitive revelation in the Person of Jesus.”

“Our security in Christ frees us to enjoy His Sabbath rest. Christ fills our hearts with the same love He has for His Father so that we can honor our parents. Christ fills us with His very own faithfulness so that we can live in sexual purity. He convinces us of all that is ours in Him eternally so that we can stop coveting the things other people have that will not last beyond this life. As we refuse to allow anything else to be a god to us; we honor His name, His day, and our parents; as we value life; as we live in sexual purity and fidelity; as we nurture contentment and integrity, we’re not being merely legalistic. The grace of God is at work in our lives, making us holy and happy in God.”

“Jesus was less interested in explaining Himself to Nicodemus than in offering Himself to Nicodemus. … Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand that we, too, have been bitten—not by a poisonous snake, but by the poison of sin. We, too, need a cure or we face certain death. And just as God provided the cure to His people in the desert, so has He provided a cure to us. But to experience healing requires something of us. We have to look to Jesus.”

“Jesus came into the world to make God knowable so that we can truly love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds.”

“Jesus came the first time to offer forgiveness rather than bring down fire. He came down the first time to experience the fiery judgment of God in the place of guilty sinners. But the day is coming when Jesus will ‘come with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).”

“Whereas Proverbs describes a way of wisdom that leads to life and to God, Jesus defined that way in much more personal terms. He said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6). The decision, as Jesus made clear, is not merely a matter of behavior or companions, but a choice about how we respond to Him, whether or not we will choose Him as our path, our life.”

“The people of Israel had the law; they knew what God wanted from them and for them. But they didn’t have the power or strength to obey. They knew what to do, but they didn’t have the ‘want-to’ to live as God commanded and to love Him as He desired. God’s commands in the covenant of the law were just a list of external rules. …

“In the new covenant, God’s law would be written on the hearts of His people rather than on stone tablets. He would put His Spirit inside His people. In this way, He would give them a love for His will and His ways, and a hatred of sin. His people would finally be able to love His will and walk in His ways because they would want to.”

Don’t Miss God’s Greatest Blessings

T.M. Moore“One of the great mistakes of the people of Israel in the Old Testament was to seek and wallow in the temporal blessings of God so much that they missed the great blessing of God Himself. We are in danger of doing the same today. …

“Having failed to pursue the presence of the Lord, Israel ultimately came to despise His many blessings, attributing them instead to their own prowess or to the false idols and pagan deities of their unbelieving neighbors.

“Yet God promised that their highest pleasures and most lasting joys would be found in Him, and not in the conditions of their lives. Not in His blessings, but in Him. Israel completely missed the mark, and we today are in just the same place.

“As long as we continue to seek our happiness in the blessings God provides rather than in the God Who provides blessings, we will be in danger of falling short of the exceedingly great and precious promises of God. ‘Come to Me,’ Jesus insisted, ‘and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). We will never know complete contentedness in the presence of the Lord as long we count our blessings primarily in terms of conditions and things. …

“Until seeking Him, knowing Him, dwelling with Him, walking with Him, delighting in Him, and partaking of Him is the greatest blessing, richest pleasure, and surest joy we know, we will be in danger of falling into idolatry and failing at our Kingdom-and-glory calling from the Lord.” —T.M. Moore

Links & Quotes

link quote

“O Lord, keep me strong in the sense of Thy call.” —Thomas Boston, Scottish Presbyterian pastor

“You have remained true to God under the great tests, now be alert over the least things.” —Oswald Chambers

“Mighty events turn on a straw.” —Thomas Carlyle

“God is love, but God is also just, as severely just as if He had no love, and yet as intensely loving as if He had no justice. To gain a just view of the character of God you must perceive all His attributes as infinitely developed; justice must have its infinity acknowledged as much as mercy.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Pleasures demean, disappoint, and destroy us when they are merely fleeting, fleshly, and foolish. The pleasure we ultimately seek, and for which we were created, can only be found in one place, in fellowship and communion with the Lord of heaven and earth.” —T.M. Moore

John Piper has some very insightful words in the wake of the tragedy in Paris—France: A Fabric Torn.

Jim Cymbala reminds us, “There are no trendy shortcuts, no hocus-pocus mantras that can defeat satan.” Read more in No Hocus-Pocus.

Parents, teachers, and anyone who works with youth will appreciate this counsel from Tim Elmore: 5 ways to cure the “cool kid” curse.

[VIDEO] What does the Quran teach about Jesus?—

[VIDEO] Pastor Dave Barringer is in Israel, and this real-time observation is quite eye-opening—

Christians As Priests

Priesthood of ChristiansThere are some extraordinary pictures in the Old Testament that take on new life when viewed through the lens of Jesus Christ. One picture is how God chose the Jewish people out of all the people on earth, how He then chose the tribe of Levi to serve as His priests, and then how He chose Aaron from the Levites to be the high priest.

The Jewish people, the Levites, and then Aaron became God’s special possession because He chose them; it’s not that He chose them because they were special. God did this to give us a picture of what He wants to do with all of us.

Although the Levites were chosen as priests, God tells all of Israel—

You will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. That the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

When the Apostle Peter is speaking to New Testament Christians, he uses the same type of language. He calls all Christians:

Christians are ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ that are to carry out their priestly roles while on Earth. 

Peter also talks about where Christian priests are to minister. In the Old Testament, the priests had a set location where ministry was done. But Peter says we are living stones built on the Living Stone (2:4). That means that the place of worship today is not brick and mortar, but flesh and blood.

Christian priesthood is mobile, adaptable, empathetic, and responsive to the the needs of the people.

If you are a Christian, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

We will be continuing our series about how citizens of Heaven should live on Earth (a series we’ve called Aliens and Strangers) this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, please come join us. If you cannot visit us in person, you can watch our Periscope broadcast (just search for user @craigtowens).

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