Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 13-23

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 13-23

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 13-23.]

     Isaiah’s message needs to come home to us today—that God is behind the devil, not the devil behind God; all the great world forces are in front of God, and they cannot do a thing without His permission. Today we are so emphasizing the freedom of the human will that we are forgetting the sovereignty of God, consequently when we come up against the forces at work in the world we are paralyzed by fear and get into despair, which we need never have done if we had been built up in faith in God. … Stand strong in faith in God—“I don’t understand this, but I know God is behind it.” … 

     There is no cowardice about Isaiah or about his message. He never lost his faith in God or got discouraged, and when the things he foretold happened, he did not desert the people. …  

     Behind everything stands God; behind the tumult and the confusion God is bringing out everything according to His will. The great thing about faith in God is that it keeps a man undisturbed in the midst of disturbance. … All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God (see 1 John 4:4). … Discouragement comes when we say what God will do—that God will always keep me healthy, that He will always be bringing me into the land of Canaan where I will eat honey; well, He won’t. God is concerned about only one thing—getting me into a personal relationship with Himself. There is no possibility of discouragement if we will only remember that this is the relationship, not God’s blessings, but Himself.

From Notes On Isaiah

When the news of the day, or events in the world, or even what’s happening in your personal life starts to rattle you, consider how Isaiah handled himself. Isaiah knew enemies were closing in, and that the day of God’s judgment was fast approaching too, but he never got fretful. Why? He kept his eyes on God.

God is sovereign. He is in control. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise. Keep your eyes on Him. And remember: “All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God.”

How Should Christians Handle Objections?

It’s no secret that when a Christian says, “This is what I believe,” or “This is what the Bible says,” or even something as simple as, “I believe in God,” that there will be people who disagree. Sometimes their disagreement may even become an outright attack.

How are Christians to respond?

Here are five ways I’ve found to be effective and Christ-honoring—

1. Don’t argue. Arguments tend to create an “I don’t want to lose” feeling in the other person, which makes them unable to truly hear what you’re saying. Solomon wrote, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself” (Proverbs 26:4).

2. Ask questions. Jesus was a master at this. Look through the Gospels and you will see Jesus asking questions to clarify others’ positions. Questions stimulate further conversation, while statements tend to shut down the conversation. Questions develop a relationship, while definitive statements make you seem superior to the other person.

3. Don’t argue. Yes, this is good enough to repeat! Paul’s advice to Timothy was, “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales” (1 Timothy 4:7).

4. Pray for mercy. Remember that if you are really speaking truths from the Bible, the person arguing against those truths is arguing with God, not with you.

5. Pray for light. Paul said that the “god of this age” has blinded people (see 2 Corinthians 4:2-4), so we should pray that the Holy Spirit would grant them light to see the truth.

“Oh, the unmitigated curse of controversy! Oh, the detestable passions that corrections and contradictions kindle up to fury in the proud heart of man! Eschew controversy, my brethren, as you would eschew the entrance to hell itself. Let them have it their way; let them talk; let them write; let them correct to you; let them traduce you; let them judge and condemn you; let them slay you. Rather let the truth of God suffer itself, than that love suffer. You have not enough of the divine nature in you to be a controversialist.” —Dr. Alexander Whyte

Let’s be passionate for people, not passionate to win an argument!

I go into more detail in this video…

Thursdays With Oswald—Passion For Souls

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.

Passion For Souls

     You hear people say that Paul showed his wonderful breath of mind, his culture and generosity, his gentleness and patience, by becoming all things to all men [1 Corinthians 9:22]. He did nothing of the sort; he said, “I am become all things to all men” for one purpose only—“that I may by all means save some.” He did not say, “I became all things to all men that I might show what a wonderful being I am.” There is no thought of himself in the whole matter.

     The phrase “a passion for souls” is a dangerous one; a passion for souls may be either a diseased lust or a Divine life. Let me give you a specimen of it as a diseased lust—“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:15). … 

     But have we got clearly in our minds what the passion for souls as a Divine life is? Read James 5:19-20: “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” … 

     God grant we may understand that the passion for souls is not a placid, scientifically worked-out thing, it compresses all the energy of heart and brain and body in one consuming drive, day and night from the beginning of life to the end—a consuming, fiery, living passion. … 

     God grant we may understand that the mainspring of our passion for souls must be a personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

From Workmen Of God

The root of our passion really does make a difference in our Christian activity. Is my passion to make converts so that people can say, “Look what a good guy he is”? Or is my passion to save a soul from death so that people can say, “Look what a great God He is”?

Fellow Christian, I pray our passion is always the latter.

Poetry Saturday—Prayer

Lord Jesus, Maker of creation, Word
and Son of God, Redeemer, Savior, Lord
and King, we worship You, because we know
You, and we know that You have loved us so
that we might never have to live in fear;
and when our sojourn has concluded here,
Your resurrection power, which now transforms
us into Your own image, and conforms
us to Your pleasure, will deliver, keep,
and bless us. Catch us up, Lord, in the sweep
of Your forever-marching-forward grace,
and bring us to Your glorious, waiting face,
where are we, with You, and like You, will abide
forever, in Your presence, by Your side.
Amen. —T.M. Moore, in To Know Him

Thursdays With Oswald—What Is A Missionary?

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 Is A Missionary?

     A missionary is a saved and sanctified soul detached to Jesus. The one thing that must not be overlooked is the personal relationship to Jesus Christ and to His point of view; if that is overlooked, the needs are so great, the conditions so perplexing, that every power of mind and heart will fail and falter. We are apt to forget that the great reason for missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people; nor first the education of the people; nor even first the salvation of the people, but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ—“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.” If we are going to remain true to the Bible’s conception of a missionary, we must go back to the source—a missionary is one sent by Jesus Christ as He was sent by the Father. … 

     In revising the lives of men and women of God and the history of the Church of God, there is a tendency to say—“How wonderfully astute those men and women were! How perfectly they understood what God wanted of them!” The truth is that the astute mind behind these men and women was not a human mind at all, but the mind of God. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough in the eyes of the world to trust God’s wisdom and supernatural equipment, while watching carefully their own steadfast relationship to Him. … 

     The special person called to do missionary work is every person who is a member of the Church of Christ. The call does not come to a chosen few, it is to everyone of us.

From So Send I You

Are you a Christian? Then Jesus calls you His missionary too!

Do you feel equipped to be a missionary? Jesus said all that is required for missionary service is a total reliance on Him.

With that in mind, go be Christ’s missionary to your world today!

Saturday In The Psalms—God’s Compelling Kindness

An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes (Psalm 36:1).

David believes that fear and reverence of Almighty God would deter the sinner from his sin. This is not a dread of punishment, but a fear of missing out on the wondrous, eternal depths of God’s love.

We are not asking sinners to give up something they enjoy for a better thing. We’re calling them to step into a Relationship that is more real, substantial, fulfilling, enlivening, and satisfying than anything they’ve ever experienced or even dreamed of!

How precious is God loving kindness. How trustworthy His provision. How abundantly satisfying is His fullness. How indescribable His pleasures. How endless is His love!

It is the kindness of God that leads men and women to His presence.

Heavenly Father, may I live in Your kindness and reflect it to all around me, inviting them to share in Your bounty for themselves. Amen.

What can equal in costliness the love of God! Its preciousness is measured by the gift it gave, and by the innumerable gifts contained in that One—life, pardon, salvation, peace, the glory to be revealed. In this love there are unsearchable riches—exceeding riches of grace. There are no riches to be compared to this great love of God. Having it we are rich indeed. Without it we are poor, life is blank, eternity is dark. …

“God’s character is then the basis of human confidence. …

“This love which so suits the sinner and calls forth his confidence is that which is exhibited in the Cross of Christ. That Cross is the revelation of God’s love as a righteous thing; and thus appeals both to man’s heart and his conscience. The love furnishes the ground for trust, and the Cross removes every reason for distrust. …

“These wings [of love] are broad, and large, and strong, fitted to shelter all the sons of Adam. And thus stretched out they themselves invite us. They contain their own invitation. They say, ‘Come and be safe, come and be blessed, come and be sheltered from present wrath and from the wrath to come. Come, for all things are ready; the love is ready, the deliverance is ready, the protection is ready.’” —Horatius Bonar (emphasis mine)

11 More Quotes From “Cherish”

Gary Thomas calls on husbands to not just love their wives, but to cherish them. It’s an admirable goal for all married men! Please check out my review of Cherish by clicking here. Below are a few more quotes I especially liked.

“Never forget: You married a spouse with natural weaknesses. You married a spouse with a history of hurt. We can be agents of healing redemption and acceptance in our marriage, or we can do further harm, perhaps unintentionally.”

“Of course, there’s no promise that if you persevere, you’ll get just what you’re hoping for. But the one certainty is that if you give up, you definitely won’t get it.”

“Every conversation—every one!—takes you closer to or farther away from a cherishing marriage. The Bible declares this truth: ‘The tongue has the power of life and death’ (Proverbs 18:21).”

“If we want our spouses to feel cherished, we may have to work at a few things we’re not so good at by nature.”

“Pam Farrel writes in several of her books that a wife often feels most loved when her husband is simply more curious about her. … It’s not enough to simply listen. We have to take the next step, engage, and go even further to say, ‘I want more. Tell me more.’ We have to maintain our curiosity. … Husbands, cherishing often isn’t about what your wife is saying; it’s about who is saying it.”

“Silence is often unintentionally malicious, so try to verbalize every positive thing you can think of.”

“A joyful person walking in grace and hope can cherish much more than one who is tangled up in the guilt that Christ died to remove. Our guilt serves no one. In Christ, our self-condemnation offends God; it doesn’t please Him. To walk in condemnation is to call God a liar and Christ’s work insufficient. One of the worst sins you can commit as a Christian is to define yourself by your sin. In the same way, one of the worst sins you can commit against your spouse is to always define them by their sin. Biblical marriage is about defining each other as Christ defines us—saved.”

“Your spouse has a unique history, so cherish your spouse by treating them according to their reality: They are living a life that has never been lived before. They have a personality that has never existed before. They have a unique blend of strengths and weaknesses, temptations and gifts, as well as a once-in-the-universe calling. Your role is to help them complete their one-of-a-kind story.”

“Never, ever, get to the point that you expect your spouse to never stumble. Otherwise, you won’t cherish them; you’ll resent them.”

“Stop comparing your spiritual maturity with your spouse’s; instead, start comparing your spiritual maturity with Ephesians 4:1–3. If you do that, you will change the climate of your marriage.”

“When someone pledges to be your spouse, that commitment alone should earn him or her the benefit of the doubt. Even when things may not look the best, seek understanding before you even think about censure. Cherishing our spouses doesn’t mean living in Fantasyland, but it does mean giving our spouses the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping immediately to accusation.”

To read the first set of quotes I shared from Cherish, click here.

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