Thursdays With Oswald—Love’s Focus

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.

Love’s Focus 

     We live in a complex world, a mass of sensibilities and impressionabilities that we are apt to imagine that it is the same with God. … The key to missionary devotion is put in our hand at the outset, “For His name’s sake they went forth” [3 John 7]. The key is amazingly simple, as is everything connected with Our Lord. Our difficulties arise when we lose the key, and we lose the key by not being simple. …  

     “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You” [John 21:16]. In verse 15 Our Lord had made a comparison—“Do you truly love Me more than these?” Here He makes no comparison—“Do you truly love Me?” To demand a declaration of love beyond comparison is to risk losing all. A missionary must be dominated by this love beyond compare to the Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise he will be simply the servant of a denomination or a cause, or a seeker for relief from a crushing sorrow in work. Many go into Christian work not for the sake of His Name, but in order to find surcease from their own sorrow; because of unrequited love; or because of a bereavement or a disappointment. Such workers are not dominated by the Master, and they are likely to strew the mission field with failure and sighs, and to discourage those who work with them. There is only one thing stronger than any of these feelings, and that is love.

From So Send I You

It’s a good question for any Christian to ask themselves: Why do I do what I do?

Does it seem like a good idea? A noble idea? Is it because someone asked me to help? Maybe I saw a need that wasn’t being addressed?

Or do I do what I do as a Christian because I am so in love with Jesus—so focused on Him—that I cannot help but stay “on mission” with Him? His directive was not to DO things, but to BE His witness wherever I went, teaching people whatever He taught me (see Matthew 28:19-20).

Love for Christ should be the only reason we do what we do.

Love Is Really Love

Love is really love—when we are loving the unlovable.

Forgiveness is really forgiveness—when we are forgiving the unforgivable.

Repentance is really repentance—when we let our wrong loves be broken by the rightness of God’s unbreakable love.

Faith is really faith—when we believe God for the unbelievable.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Broken Way

Poetry Saturday—Christmas Fancies

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, 
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, 
    And etched on vacant places 
    Are half forgotten faces 
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know— 
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near, 
We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear, 
    That continent Elysian 
    Long vanished from our vision, 
Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear, 
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth, 
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth, 
    And draws from youth’s recesses 
    Some memory it possesses, 
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth, 
When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis 
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss. 
    Not all the seers and sages 
    With wisdom of the ages 
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss 
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays, 
As passing years are proving, for all of Time’s sad ways. 
    There lies a sting in pleasure, 
    And fame gives shallow measure, 
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days, 
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes, 
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes, 
    Let Love, the world’s beginning, 
    End fear and hate and sinning; 
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshiped in all climes 
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Thursdays With Oswald—Is Jesus My Master?

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.

Is Jesus My Master?

     To have a master and to be mastered are not the same thing, but diametrically opposed. If I have the idea that I am being mastered, it is a sure proof that I have no master. If I feel I am in subjection to someone, then I may be sure that that someone is not the one I love. To have a master means to have one who is closer than a friend, one whom I know knows me better than I know myself, one who has fathomed the remotest abyss of my heart and satisfied it, one who brings me the secure sense that he has met and solved every perplexity of my mind—that, and nothing less, is to have a master. … 

     Our Lord never takes measures to make us obey Him. Our obedience is the outcome of a oneness of spirit with Him through His Redemption. That is why, whenever Our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an “IF”—“you do not need to unless you like”; but—“If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself.” 

From So Send I You

After reading Oswald Chambers’ definition of a loving master, would you say Jesus is your Master?

After reading what Chambers says about obedience being an expression of love, would you say you obey your master out of love or out of duty?

How you answer these questions makes all the difference in how you live as a disciple of Jesus.

11 Quotes From “If”

As I said in my book review of Amy Carmichael’s book If, this is definitely not a book for everyone. Amy herself said, “It is clear, I think, that such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be undershepherds.” So the quotes I’m sharing today are just a few of her “If…” statements that especially resonated with me in my role as an under-shepherd pastor.

“If I enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, ‘Just what I expected,’ if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I cast up a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin against another, and allow my remembrance of that sin to color my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I do not give a friend ‘the benefit of the doubt,’ but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I say, ‘Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,’ as though the God who twice a day washes all the sands on the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“Let us listen to simple words; our Lord speaks simply: ‘Trust Me, My child,’ He says. ‘Trust Me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandoned to My will than ever thou didst before. Trust Me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute. And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering that flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt so much as that. Draw all the closer to Me.’”

Thursdays With Oswald—Hearing God’s Voice

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.

Hearing God’s Voice

     Very few of us hear the call of God because we are not in the place to answer. …

     Most of us have no ear for anything but ourselves, anything that is not “me” we cannot hear. We are dead to, and without interest in the finest music, we can yawn in a picture gallery, and be uninspired by a sunrise or a sunset. That is true not only of the soul’s denseness to natural beauties, or to music and art and literature, but true with regard to the awakening of the soul to the call of God. To be brought within the zone of God’s voice is to be profoundly altered. … 

     The call to service is the result of my obedience to the realized call of God. … God does not have to come and tell me what I must do for Him, He brings me into a relationship with Himself wherein I hear His call and understand what He wants me to do, and I do it out of sheer love to Him. To serve God is the deliberate love gift of a nature that has heard the call of God.

From So Send I You

According to Oswald Chambers, we can hear God’s voice clearly when: (a) we make it a priority to remain in His presence, and (b) we listen to God’s voice with an attitude of loving obedience. What do you think?

One thing absolutely clear: responding to God’s voice is always “I get to!” and never “I have to.”

11 Quotes From “Man—The Dwelling Place Of God” by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer’s 50-year-old publication Man—The Dwelling Place Of God still rings with timely truth for today. You can check out my full book review by clicking here.

“I long ago decided that I would rather know the truth than be happy in ignorance. If I cannot have both truth and happiness, give me truth. We’ll have a long time to be happy in heaven.”

“Shakespeare may be enjoyed without penitence; we may understand Plato without believing a word he says; but penitence and humility along with faith and obedience are necessary to a right understanding of the Scriptures.”

“Faith and morals are two sides of the same coin. Indeed the very essence of faith is moral. Any professed faith in Christ as personal Savior that does not bring the life under plenary obedience to Christ as Lord is inadequate and must betray its victim at the last. The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is not true faith present.”

“There are two kinds of love: the love of feeling and the love of willing. The one lies in the emotions, the other in the will. Over the one we may have little control. It comes and goes, rises and falls, flares up and disappears as it chooses, and changes from hot to warm to cool and back to warm again very much as does the weather. Such love was not in the mind of Christ when He told His people to love God and each other. … The love the Bible enjoins is not the love of feeling; it is the love of willing, the willed tendency of the heart.

“Let no one interpret the Scriptures for you in such a way as to rule out the Father’s gift of the Spirit. Every man is as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. Make your heart a vacuum and the Spirit will rush in to fill it.”

“I am among those who believe that our Western civilization is on its way to perishing. It has many commendable qualities, most of which it has borrowed from the Christian ethic, but it lacks the element of moral wisdom that would give it permanence. Future historians will record that we of the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it.”

“The church today is suffering from the secularization of the sacred. By accepting the world’s values, thinking its thoughts and adopting its ways we have dimmed the glory that shines overhead. We have not been able to bring earth to the judgment of heaven so we have brought heaven to the judgment of the earth. Pity us, Lord, for we know not what we do!”

“David Brainerd once compared a man without the power of the Spirit trying to do spiritual work to a workman without fingers attempting to do manual labor. The figure is striking but it does not overstate the facts. The Holy Spirit is not a luxury meant to make deluxe Christians, as an illuminated frontispiece and a leather binding make a deluxe book. The Spirit is an imperative necessity.”

“I do not believe that it is the will of God that we should seek to be happy, but rather that we should seek to be holy and useful. The holy man will be the useful man and he’s likely to be a happy man too; but if he seeks happiness and forgets holiness and usefulness, he’s a carnal man.”

“That religion may be very precious to some persons is admitted, but never important enough to cause division or risk hurting anyone’s feelings. In all our discussions there must never be any trace of intolerance; but we obviously forget that the most fervent devotees of tolerance are invariably intolerant of everyone who speaks about God with certainty. And there must be no bigotry, which is the name given to spiritual assurance by those who do not enjoy it.”

“The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected.”

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