Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 7

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 7

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 7.]

     To seek a place instead of a Person is the first peril in the spiritual life, and to sentimentalize over places where God has met you is the beginning of spiritual twist. Beware of relying on a principle saving you from moral wrong, for it never can. A personal relationship to a personal Savior is the only power that can shield the soul from moral peril. The golden rule is, my personal Savior in every place, not that in certain places I meet my Savior. …  

     Self-deception always arises by ignoring the personal relationship to God….

     Self-examination is the only exercise for a soul who would remain true to the light of God. … The hardest thing in a saint’s life is to maintain a simple belief in Jesus until he realizes the one relationship is—my Lord and I; then His joy will be fulfilled in us.

From Notes On Jeremiah 

We have to be very careful about making a special landmark out of a place, an experience, or even a passage of Scripture where God met us in a profound way. Those special encounters are intended for one specific purpose: to draw us more deeply into a relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ. 

We are on the road to self-deception if we keep seeking experiences. The road to spiritual health is paved with Spirit-inspired self-examination where we ask, “How did that experience lead me closer to Jesus?” When all the other stuff is stripped away, that’s where we will feel Christ’s joy fulfilled in us.

A.W. Tozer On How To Try The Spirits

“I make available here a little secret by which I have tested my own spiritual experiences and religious impulses for many years. Briefly stated the test is this: This new doctrine, this new religious habit, this new view of truth, this new spiritual experience—how has it affected my attitude toward and my relationship to God, Christ, the Holy Scriptures, self, other Christians, the world and sin.

“Christless Christianity sounds contradictory but it exists as a real phenomenon in our day. Much that is being done in Christ’s name is false to Christ in that it is conceived by the flesh, incorporates fleshly methods, and seeks fleshly ends. Christ is mentioned from time to time in the same way and for the same reason that a self-seeking politician mentions Lincoln and the flag, to provide a sacred front for carnal activities and to deceive the simplehearted listeners. This giveaway is that Christ is not central: He is not all and in all. …

“Whatever originates outside the Scriptures should for that very reason be suspect until it can be shown to be in accord with them. … However high the emotional content, no experience can be proved to be genuine unless we can find chapter and verse authority for it in the Scriptures. …

“The Bible does not teach that there will be new light and advanced spiritual experiences in the latter days; it teaches the exact opposite.

“A growing acquaintance with the Holy Spirit will always mean an increasing love for the Bible. The Scriptures are in print what Christ is in Person.” —A.W. Tozer, in Man—The Dwelling Place Of God

Thursdays With Oswald—Not Everything Good Can Be Explained

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.

Not Everything Good Can Be Explained

     We are apt to imagine that if we cannot state a thing in words it is of no value to us. What counts in talking and in reading is the atmosphere that is produced and what is opened up that would not be otherwise. There is a literature of knowledge and a literature of power. The former gives us in forming stuff and we can say—This is what I have got; by the latter you cannot say what you have got but you are the better for it, your mind and heart are enlarged. We need more than the information. The domain of things represented by the literature of power is that which comes with a knowledge of God’s Book. …  

     The basis of Christianity is not primarily virtue and honesty and goodness, not even holiness, but a personal relationship to God in Jesus Christ. … 

     It is a haphazard life, and we have to bank on God’s wisdom, not on our own.

From Shade Of His Hand

Oswald Chambers is not an anti-intellectualist; quite the contrary! Numerous times in his works he counsels Christians to sharpen their thinking.

However, here he is commenting on Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes, and he is noting that not everything has a “satisfactory” explanation. I love to think of it this way: The one with an experience is never at the mercy of the one with an argument.

Let me explain it this way. Someone can list all of their scientific facts that they say explain that there is no God. However, I know by personal experience the difference a relationship with Jesus Christ has made in my life. Can I explain this by “literature of knowledge”? No. Can I explain this by “literature of power” and by my enlarged heart and mind? Yes, yes, yes!

Sharpen your intellect with knowledge, but don’t ever discount the power that is demonstrated by your changed life!

Thursdays With Oswald—Is Your Religion Rotten?

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 Your Religion Rotten?

      No man can redeem his own soul, or give himself a new heredity; that is the work of the sovereign grace of God. Man has nothing to do with Redemption, it is God’s “bit”; but God cannot give a man a good character, that is not God’s business, nor is it an inevitable thing. God will give us what we cannot give ourselves, a totally new heredity (see Luke 11:13). God will put the disposition of His Son, Holy Spirit, into any man who asks, then on that basis man has to work out a holy character. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you….” [Philippians 2:12]

      If your religion does not make you a better man, it is a rotten religion. The test of true religion is when it touches these four things—food, money, sex and mother earth. These things are the test of a right sane life with God, and the religion that ignores them or abuses them is not right. … A man needs to hold a right attitude to all these things by means of his personal relationship to God.

From Shade Of His Hand

God gives Christians a new heredity—a new way of looking at life through a relationship with Jesus Christ—by placing His Holy Spirit in us. That, as Chambers says, is God’s bit.

What we do with this new heredity—this new way of looking at life—is our bit.

So… how are you doing? Does your relationship with Jesus Christ help you handle food, money, sex and mother earth in God-honoring ways? Is the Holy Spirit able to correct your attitude so it aligns with the biblical viewpoint on these topics?

If you can answer “yes” to those questions, your religion is true. If not, Chambers says you have “a rotten religion.”

Thursdays With Oswald—What Makes Life Worth Living?

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 Makes Life Worth Living? 

     Think of the devastations and havoc throughout the world just now. What is going to make up to the people who are broken? To say that “every cloud has a silver lining” is a kind lie. Unless a man can get into a relationship with the God Whom the Bible reveals, life is not worth living. …  

     Solomon says whether you are wise or foolish, upright or not, a king or tyrannized over by a king, successful or a failure, in society or solitary, stubborn or sagacious, all alike ends the same way. All is passing, and we cannot find our lasting joy in any element we like to touch. It is disastrous for a man to try and find his true joy in any phase of life, or in the fulfillment of ambition, or in physical or intellectual solitariness, or in society; he will find his joy only in a personal relationship to God. …

     When once a man is there, he receives a hundredfold more of all he gave up to get there, and he never demands an infinite satisfaction from those other relationships. The man or woman who does not know God demands an infinite satisfaction from other human beings they cannot give, and in the case of the man, he becomes tyrannical and cruel. It springs from this one thing, the human heart must have satisfaction, but there is only one Being Who can satisfy the last abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

From Shade Of His Hand

As a Christian, you have an opportunity to show people how much joy there is for a life in Christ. And then Peter tells us to be ready to tell people the Source of your joy (see 1 Peter 3:15-16).

Do you have the spiritual courage and moral backbone to show and tell? Chambers says, “The Christian faith is exhibited by the man who has the spiritual courage to say that that is the God he trusts in, and it takes some moral backbone to do it.”

Let’s do this!

Thursdays With Oswald—Out Of The Soup And Into God

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.

Out Of The Soup And Into God

     As long as we have our morality well with in our own grasp, to talk about Jesus Christ and His Redemption is “much ado about nothing”; but when a man’s thick hide is pierced, or he comes to his wits’ end and enters the confines of an agony, he is apt to find that there is a great deal from which he has been shut away, and in his condition of suffering he discovers there is more in the Cross of Christ than intellectually he had thought possible.

     Beware of believing that the human soul is simple; look at yourself, or read the 139th Psalm, and you will soon find the human soul is much too complex to touch. When an intellectualist says that life is simple, you may be sure he is sufficiently removed from facts to have no attention paid to him. Things look simple as he writes about them, but let him get “into the soup,” and he will find they are complicated. The only simple thing in human life is our relationship to God in Christ.

     Circumstances are the things that twist a man’s thinking into contortions. … 

     The problem I am up against is the muddle inside. Can I see a way out there? Is the God I have only an abstraction? If so, don’t let me treat Him as anything else. Or is He One with Whom I can get into a personal relationship, One Who will enable me to solve my problems? 

From The Shadow Of An Agony

Problems tend to make crystal-clear the difference between how we thought things worked and how they actually work.

This is equally true of those who think they have God all figured out. Then along comes a trial, a pain, a tragedy and they realize they don’t have all the answers. What then?

Then it’s time, as Chambers suggests, to return to something like Psalm 139 to see how intimately God knows you, and to see that your dark time did not take Him by surprise. Getting “into the soup” may be just the thing to help you get into God. It’s so true: “The only simple thing in human life is our relationship to God in Christ.”

May all your problems draw you deeper into Jesus Christ!

12 Quotes From “Think On These Things”

think-on-these-thingsJohn Maxwell’s books always inspire me to think differently. In Think On These Things—the first book Maxwell wrote—we get to see the seed thoughts that would appear in fuller form in his later books. Be sure to check out my review of Think On These Things by clicking here, and then enjoy a dozen John Maxwell quotes.

“Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today.”

“The truth of a man is known not by how he acts when he is in control but how he reacts when things are beyond his control.”

“Your willingness to learn and adjust positively from mistakes and shortcomings will largely determine how far you will travel the road to success.”

“A thankful heart is one that has had time to count blessings.”

“Our spiritual, physical, and emotional condition will greatly determine how we react to situations. The better we feel, the more capable we will be to evaluate difficult situations and make important decisions.”

“If you haven’t made any mistakes lately, I question if you are trying hard enough. … When you make a mistake, you can resolve never to make another one. But that is impossible. You can decide that mistakes are too costly and become fearful of them, that that fear will keep you from fulfilling your potential. You can constantly think about your mistakes and live with regret, but that is self-torture. Finally, you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person, and that is progress.”

“Success is never instantaneous. It is never an accident. Success is continuous. It takes growth and development. It is achieving one thing and using that as a stepping-stone to rise higher up the mountain of accomplishment.”

“No problem will leave you the same person after it has gone. Problems are the great dividers between success and failure. How you handle them will determine on which side you will live.”

“An experience is not a failure if it prods us to keep on trying. An experience is not a failure if through it we discover how we failed and put that knowledge to good use. An experience is not a failure if through it we discover our own true selves. An experience is not a failure if through it we become better-disciplined individuals.”

“Problems are reminders. They remind us that we need God’s help to handle the upheavals of life.”

“Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first and the lesson afterward. Experience is yesterday’s answer to today’s problems.”

“It is vitally important to realize that either the situations around us control our lives or we control them.”

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