Thursdays With Oswald—The Destination Is Not The Goal

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.

The Destination Is Not The Goal

     In natural life we have ambitions and aims which alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, viz., Our Lord Himself. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” [Ephesians 4:13]. We do not start with the idea of what the Christian life should be, we start with Christ, and we end with Christ. Our aims in natural life continually alter as we develop, but development in the Christian life is an increasing manifestation of Jesus Christ. …  

     “And He went on His way through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying on unto Jerusalem” (Luke 13:22). Our Lord was not fanatical. Had He been a fanatic, He would have said—“Because I am going up to Jerusalem there is no need to stay in this village or that; I have only one duty, and that is to go up to Jerusalem.” Our Lord took plenty of time to do His duty in the cities and villages that He went through on His way to Jerusalem. Nothing made Him hurry through the villages where He was persecuted, or linger in those where He was blessed. …  

     The aim of the missionary is not to win the heathen, not to be useful, but to do God’s will. He does win the heathen, and he is useful, but that is not the aim; his aim is to do the will of his Lord.

From So Send I You 

The Christian’s goal is not Heaven. The Christian’s goal is not winning a bunch of people to Christ. The Christian’s goal is not even being an effective Christian.

The Christian’s goal is to be like Jesus, making Him increasingly visible in my daily life.

God will do amazing things through us as we journey through this life, and Heaven is a wonderful reward for a Christian. But those things should never be our focal point. May our focal point always be this: I want to know Jesus more, and I want His life to be seen in me. I want His will to be done, and His glory to be seen.

Transforming Grace (book review)

Not too long ago I read that the song “Amazing Grace” was the best-known song in the entire world. People who know Jesus as their Savior certainly can attest to how amazing grace is. But what about after someone becomes a Christian? What happens with grace then? Jerry Bridges dives into this topic with his eye-opening look at Transforming Grace.

In the opening lines of the preface, Bridges states, “The Bible teaches we are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day of our lives.” This is a concept that many Christians miss, and as a result feel like they are living their lives on what Bridges calls “the performance treadmill.” In other words, far too many Christians mistakenly think that God’s grace saved them, but now it will be their own righteous works that will keep them saved.

In 13 chapters, Bridges dismantles the “performance” mindset and helps Christians see the freedom and joy that come from a proper understanding of how grace transforms and empowers our lives every day.

To help transfer Bridges’ lessons into everyday application, I also highly recommend getting a couple of friends together for this journey. Not only read Transforming Grace together, but then take some time to work through the discussion guides for each chapter. These guides will give you some Scriptures to ponder, and some discussion-starting questions to talk about with your friends. This time will help you go from learner-to-liver with the concepts of transforming grace.

I am a NavPress book reviewer.

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?

Thursdays With Oswald—Ordinary Preparation For Extraordinary Service

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.

Ordinary Preparation For Extraordinary Service

     What are the workshops that supply the munitions for God’s enterprises? The workshop of missionary munitions is the hidden, personal, worshiping life of the saint. …  

     We imagine we should be all right if a big crisis arose; but the crisis only reveals the stuff we are made of, it does not put anything into us. “If God gives the call, of course, I shall rise to the occasion.” You will not, unless you have risen to the occasion in the workshop. If you are not the real article before God there, doing the duty that lies nearest, instead of being revealed as fit for God when the crisis comes, you will be revealed as unfit. … 

     “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came forth from God and goeth unto God…”—we might have expected the record to go on: “He was transfigured before them”; but we read that the next thing Our Lord did was of the most menial commonplace order—“He took a towel, and girded Himself. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet.” Can we use a towel as Our Lord did? Towels and basins and feet and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It is not the big occasions that reveal us, but the little occasions. 

From So Send I You

Are you spending time every day abiding with Jesus and worshiping Him? Are you willing to do “the little things” that God gives you to do?

These are the things that will make God’s saints ready for “the big things” that come along. Don’t look for the big things, just do the ordinary things God desires of you every day, and then you will be more than ready for the extraordinary things in which God places you.

8 Quotes From Gordon MacDonald In “Ordering Your Private World”

In the quiet solitude of our inner lives is where real growth takes place. Or said another way: if we won’t make time to order our private world, our public world will be limited in its scope and effectiveness. Gordon MacDonald unpacks some fantastic principles to help us in his newly updated and expanded book Ordering Your Private World. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy these quote from Gordon MacDonald.

“There is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence. But there is also a busyness (a destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life—a way of doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether it has significance; it’s just the next thing, and one does it because it’s there to do.”

“A soul—our spiritual space—is empty when one tries to do soul-based things but makes little or no effort to keep that soul filled.”

“Driven people boast of their drivenness. They have forgotten how to play. Spiritual activity seems a waste of time. They are usually too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family, or friendship, or even to carry on a relationship with themselves—not to speak of one with God. Because driven people rarely think they have accomplished enough, they seize every available minute to attend more meetings, to study more material, to initiate more projects. They operate on the precept that a reputation for busyness is a sign of success and personal importance. Thus, they attempt to impress people with the fullness of their schedules.”

“Our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health—are these things owned, or merely managed in the name of the One who gave them? Driven people consider them owned; called people do not. When driven people lose those things, it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance changes. The private world remains the same, perhaps even stronger.”

“It is worth taking time to ask how Our Lord’s command of time is demonstrated. … The first thing that impresses me is that Jesus clearly understood His mission. … A second insight into Jesus’ personal organization of time is that He understood His own limits. … Jesus included a third important element in His strategy of time budgeting, for He set time aside for the training of the Twelve.”

“Unmanaged time flows toward my weaknesses. Unmanaged time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world. Unmanaged time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies. Unmanaged time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation.”

“The unthinking Christ-follower does not realize it, but he is dangerously absorbed into the culture about him. Because his mind is untrained and unfilled, it lacks the ability to produce the hard questions with which the world needs to be challenged. The private world of a Christ-follower will be weak, defenseless, and disorganized if serious attention has not been given to this sector of intellectual growth.”

“We do not develop our intellects merely for our own personal advancement, but we put our thinking power to work for the use of others. … As my mind grows, it may make possible the growth of others.”

15 More Quotes From “Run Today’s Race”

Oswald Chambers’ book Run Today’s Race was originally published as a thought-a-day calendar. Here are a few more short, thought-provoking quotes.

“When we say ‘Thy will be done,’ do we say it with a sigh? If so, we have never realized that the character of God is holy love; nothing can ever happen outside His purposeful will.”

“‘Why does God bring thunderclouds and disasters when we want to green pastures and still waters?’ Bit by bit we find, behind the clouds, the Father’s feet; behind the lightning, an abiding day that has no night; behind the thunder, ‘a still small voice’ that comforts with a comfort that is unspeakable.”

“Beware of interpreting Scripture in order to make it suit a pre-arranged doctrine of your own.”

“The New Testament view of a Christian is that he is one in whom the Son of God has been revealed, and prayer deals with the nourishment of that life.”

“In order to be able to wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, we must obey, and it takes a courageous heart to obey.”

“The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a ‘happy Christian.’ Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and He prays ‘that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.’”

“If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it better, drink it in communion with Him.”

“We must distinguish between the burden-bearing that is right and the burden-bearing that is wrong. We ought never to bear the burden of sin or doubt, but there our burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. He wants us to roll them back on Him.”

“The reason we know so little about God’s wisdom is that we will only trust Him as far as we can work things out according to our own reasonable common sense.”

“Take time, strangle some other interests and make time to realize that the center of power in your life is the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”

“The essence of Christianity is that we give the Son of God a chance to live and move and have His being in us.”

“God rarely rebukes us for our impulsive plans because those plans work their own distress.”

“God will never begin to teach me His will in other matters until I do what I know.”

“‘Ye are the light of the world.’ We have the idea that we are going to shine in heaven, but we are to shine down here ‘in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation’ (Philippians 2:15). We are to shine as lights in the world in the squalid places, and it cannot be done by putting on a brazen smile, the light must be there all the time.”

“Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in? The devil? No, the cares of this world. It is the little worries always. … All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.”

Please check out my full book review of Run Today’s Race by clicking here, and the first set of quotes I posted from this book is here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Public And Private

This 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.

Public and Private 

   My worth to God in public is what I am in private.

From Run Today’s Race

Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:

  • Do I spend enough time alone with God, or am I too quick to run off to accomplish my tasks?
  • Am I listening to what God really wants to tell me in private?
  • Am I applying those private lessons to my public life?
  • Jesus spent much time in solitude with His Father; am I spending enough time in solitude with God?
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