Thursdays With Oswald—How God Prepares Us For His 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.

How God Prepares Us For His Service 

     Preparation is not something suddenly accomplished, but a process steadily maintained. It is easy to imagine that we get to a settled state of experience where we are complete and ready; but in work for God it is always preparation and preparation. … 

     In writing to the Philippians Paul mentions two “perfections”: “not as though I…were already perfect” (3:12); “Let us therefore, as many be perfect…” (3:15). The first refers to the perfection of attainment; the second to the perfection of adjustment to God. … When we are sanctified, we are perfectly adjusted to God, but we have done nothing yet, we are simply perfectly fit to begin. … Think of Christ’s eyes fastening on us and pointing us out before God as He says—“Father, that is My work; that is the meaning of Gethsemane, that is the meaning of Calvary. I did all that man’s work in him, all that woman’s work in her; now You can use them.” … 

     When we are first put right with God, it is the great general principles that are at work, then God begins to make the conscience sensitive here and there. Don’t quench the Spirit. His checks are so tiny that common sense cannot detect them. … When He checks, never debate, but obey at once. … He does not come with a voice like thunder, with strong emphatic utterance—that may come ultimately; but at the beginning His voice is as gentle as a zephyr. At the same time it carries an imperative compulsion—we know the voice must be obeyed. The “go” of preparation is to let the Word of God scrutinize.

From So Send I You

When we invited Jesus into our lives to be our Lord and Savior, we are perfectly ready to be used in service for God.

Now begins the saint-ifying process. The Holy Spirit will gently, but insistently, point out what we need to address. The more sensitive we are to those “checks,” and the quicker we are to obey the Spirit’s prompting, the better prepared we are to answer God’s call to “go.”

Are you letting the Voice of God scrutinize you, so that you can be prepared to be used in service for Him?

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One-And-Done? Ongoing? Later?

If I were to ask five different Christians to give me a definition of sanctification, I just might get five different definitions!

Part of this comes from incorrect either-or thinking. However, Jesus seems to tell us that sanctification requires a both-and thinking.

In Christ’s prayer for His followers in John 17, He uses the word sanctified three times (see verses 17-19). Although He is using the same Greek word each time, He uses a different “flavor” of the word to make it really clear what He means.

First of all, the Greek word for sanctified means the process of being made into a saint. So sometimes I like to say the word this way: SAINT-ified.

Check out Christ’s prayer. First He says, “I sanctify Myself,” and then He says, “that they too may be truly sanctified.” Same Greek word, but each time is slightly tweaked.

Jesus uses a “flavor” of Greek which means sanctification is something that He has done completely and totally on His own once and for all. In other words, Christians are completely and totally sanctified at the very moment they surrender their life to Him.

But when He talks about His followers, the “flavor” of Greek means sanctification is something that is an ongoing process. In other words, we are being SAINT-ified.

So which is it? Sanctified once, or sanctified through an ongoing process?

It’s not either-or. It’s both-and!

Think about a married couple. From the moment the pastor says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” they are married. It is done; fully completed. There is nothing the bride or groom can do to become more married.

However, the groom can begin to look at the marriage through his bride’s eyes. Then he can serve her in a way that helps her feel more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within the marriage. Neither of them becomes more married, but they can get more enjoyment within the marriage.

The same thing for Christians. At the moment we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior we are saved from the penalty of our sins. We can’t be more saved. But through the process of SANIT-ificiation we can experience more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within our relationship with Jesus.

My paraphrase of 1 Peter 1:15-16—But just as He who called you has paid for your once-for-all saint-ification, so keep on being saint-ified in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

What about you? Are you satisfied with just being saved, or are you striving for a joy-filled, more fulfilling, increasingly satisfied relationship with Jesus Christ? It can truly be a wonderful both-and relationship!

10 Quotes From “The Servant As His Lord”

Whenever I read an Oswald Chambers’ book, I know I’m going to get exceptional content that is really going to make me think. The Servant As His Lord lived up to my expectations! I have shared several passages from this book already in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” posts (more about that in a moment), but here are a few more quotes I wanted to pass along to you.

“I continually come across people with rusty ‘thinkers,’ they think about their business but about nothing else, and the forces within have become desperately weak; consequently when tribulation comes their minds are confused, and the result is that errors come into the life. If the forces within are strong and healthy they give us warning and enable us to crush in a vice on the threshold of the mind everything that ought not to come there. God can impart to a man the power to select what his mind thinks, the power to think only what is right and pure and true.”

“God has no favorites, but when we let Him have His right of way through us He begins to unveil something more of His purposes in our lives. … Is tribulation making you wilt? making you swoon for sympathy? making you stagnate? It is an easy business to want to get away from tribulation, but fighting makes us strong, gloriously strong.”

“God grant we may be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we listen to His checks along every line. No power can deceive a child of God who keeps in the light with God. I am perfectly certain that the devil likes to deceive us and limit us in our practical belief as to what Jesus Christ can do. There is no limit to what He can do, absolutely none. ‘All things are possible to him that believeth.’ Jesus says that faith in Him is omnipotent. God grant we may get hold of this truth.”

“Look at the world either through a telescope or a microscope and you will be dwarfed into terror by the infinitely great or the infinitely little. Naturalists tell us that there are no two blades of grass alike, and close inspection of a bee’s wing under a microscope reveals how marvelously it is made. What do I read in the Bible? I read that the God of heaven counts the hairs of our heads. Jesus says so. I read that the mighty God watches the sparrows so intimately that not one of them falls on the ground without His notice. I read that the God who holds the seas in the hollow of His hand and guides the stars in their courses, clothes the grass of the field. Through the love of God in Christ Jesus we are brought into a wonderful intimacy with the infinitely great and the infinitely little.”

“The great need today amongst those of us who profess sanctification is the patience and ability to work out the holiness of God in every detail of our lives.”

“We are only safe in taking an estimate of ourselves from our Creator, not from our own introspection.”

“There is no one in the world more easy to get to than God. Only one thing prevents us from getting there, and that is the refusal to tell ourselves the truth.”

“God does not do what false Christianity makes out—keep a man immune from trouble, there is no promise of that; God says, ‘I will be with him in trouble.’ … No matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man’s life, not one of them can touch the central citadel, that is, his relationship to God in Christ Jesus.”

“The afflictions after sanctification are not meant to purify us, but to make us broken bread in the hands of our Lord to nourish others.”

“If we are self-willed when God tries to break us and will do anything rather than submit, we shall never be of any use to nourish other souls; we shall only be centers of craving self-pity, discrediting the character of God.”

“Thursdays With Oswald” is a weekly feature where I share a longer section from an Oswald Chambers book, along with a thought or two of my own. You can subscribe to my blog and get notified each time I share one of these posts, or you can type Thursdays With Oswald in the search box.

You can read my review of The Servant As His Lordclicking here by .

Thursdays With Oswald—God’s Surgery

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 Surgery

     It is difficult to realize that it is God who arranges circumstances for the whole mass of human beings; we come to find, however, that in the Providence of God there is, as it were, a surgical knife for each one of us individually, because God wants to get at the things that are wrong and bring us into a right relationship to Himself. … 

     The nature of any dominating lust is that it keeps us from arriving at a knowledge of ourselves. For instance, a covetous man will believe he is very generous. Thank God for the surgery of providence by means of which He deals with these absurdities. … The surgery of the providence of God will break up all ignorance of ourselves. … 

     The Holy Spirit continually urges us to sign away our right to our individual self to Jesus. “Learn of Me,” says Jesus, “for I am meek and lowly in heart.” How few of us do learn of Him! We cling to our individuality like a drowning man to a straw. … Individuality must be transfigured by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that means a sword going through the natural. … 

     God’s providence seems to pay no attention whatever to our individual ideas because He is after only one thing—“that they may be one, even as We are one.” It may look like a thorough breaking up of the life, but it will end in a manifestation of the Christian self in oneness with God. 

From The Soul Of A Christian

In Psalm 139 David confesses how thoroughly God already knows him, but then he prays, “Search me!” David recognizes that there may be part of his individuality that is keeping God from using him completely.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done.” That means my kingdom has to go, and my will has to be set aside.

Christian, we must continually allow the Holy Spirit to search our heart and then perform the necessary surgery to remove the unhealthy clinging to our own kingdom. This is the only way for us to fully know the manifestation of the Christian self in oneness with God.

6 Quotes From “The Fi5th Gospel”

The Fi5th GospelI have been watching the One Minute Apologist videos from Bobby Conway for quite awhile, and find them very helpful. Recently I finished a reading plan in YouVersion based on Bobby’s book The Fi5th Gospel. Here are a few quotes that especially caught my attention.

“If I am the only Gospel people will ever experience are they experiencing the true Gospel?”

“At no other time in human history has God so plainly and blatantly revealed Himself than at Calvary. At no point has He so graphically uncovered His heart for mankind. It was there, on a hill outside Jerusalem, the Messiah bled for us, suffering hellish agony and sin-induced banishment, all the while enduring the brutal wrath of a holy and righteous God.”

“The exclamation point to this graphic love letter to us was the resurrection—Jesus’ conquering moment of triumph over sin, satan, and the grave. This is what Christians are all about right? It’s how we are saved. Take away the Cross and we’re no different from any other religious idea. It’s Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Strip away all the modern church fluff and this is what you find at the core of our faith. It’s essential. Nonnegotiable. Undeniable. It’s what makes us who we are. It’s what makes Christians ‘Christian.’ And it’s why Jesus is the answer to all of life’s deepest issues.”

“The sacrifice [God] requires isn’t death on a cross, but rather death to our pride and fear of what other might think. God just wants us to be proud of Jesus and what He has done for us. He wants us to be unashamed of His Son.”

“Though we were originally created in God’s image, God’s reflection in us was marred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned. And though His image wasn’t completely erased, it was defaced and tarnished. When you trusted in Christ, the Holy Spirit began a beautiful work of ‘image restoration’ in you; masterfully remaking you to more accurately reflect God’s virtue. He began sculpting, forming, and transforming your character to better display Christ to the world. You become His image-bearer, and His ongoing work in your life distinguishes you from the world. This is a lifelong process, by the way, and one God is committed to completing.”

“None of us will ever perfectly represent God’s character. As long as we’re on this earth, we’ll have imperfections. And it’s these imperfections that some unbelievers are quick (and happy) to point out and expose. But there is value in listening to what others say, of taking an honest look in the mirror, of stepping into an unbeliever’s shoes to see what they perceive about Jesus and His bride. Think of it as a spiritual awareness-building exercise.”

Thursdays With Oswald—6 Questions About Your Relationship With Jesus

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.

6 Questions About Your Relationship With Jesus

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the enteral Spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)

     Our right to ourselves in every shape and form was destroyed once and for ever by the death of Jesus, and we have to be educated into the realization of what this means in all its fullness. We have to come to a relationship to the Cross in thought as well as in life. … 

     We are here with no right to ourselves, for spiritual blessing for ourselves; we are here for one purpose only—to be made servants of God as Jesus was. …

   “How much more” does the death of Jesus mean to us today than it ever has before? Are we beginning to be lost in wonder, love and praise at the marvelous loosening from sin, and are we so assimilating the nature of Jesus that we bear a strong family likeness to Him?

     The most devout among us are too flippant about this great subject of the death of Jesus Christ. When we stand before the Cross, is our every common pious mood stripped off? … 

     How does all the profound thought underlying the death of Jesus touch us? The writer to the Hebrews instantly connect it with conscience—“How much more shall the blood of Christ,…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Has conscience the place in our salvation and sanctification that it ought to have? … 

     Are you thankful to God for your salvation and sanctification, thankful He has purged your conscience from dead works? Then go a step further; let Jesus Christ take you straight through into identification with His death until there is nothing left but the light at the foot of the Cross, and the whole sphere of the life is hid with Christ in God. 

From The Philosophy Of Sin

I challenge you: take some time to thoughtfully answer these questions.

Thursdays With Oswald—What “Religious” Things Perplex You?

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 “Religious” Things Perplex You? 

     If we are perplexed over the question of sanctification, or about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we ourselves are the reason why we are bothered. God has written a Book, and the phrases “sanctification” and the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” are His, not man’s; why do we not go to Him about it? 

     We are the reason why we do not go; we dare not go. If we honestly ask God to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire, anything that happens is His answer, and some appalling things happen. If we accept the revelation that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, are we prepared to ask God to fulfill the purpose of the Holy Ghost in our body? If we are, watch the consequences—that friendship must go, that book, that association, everyone of them must decay off like a lightning flash. 

     If anyone has a difficulty in getting through to God, it is never God who is to blame. We can get through to Him as soon we want to, there is nothing simpler.

From The Psychology Of Redemption

I believe Chambers’ line of reasoning goes like this:

  • God has revealed His full will in the inspired words of Scripture.
  • The same Holy Spirit Who inspired the Bible can illuminate our hearts.
  • We don’t have insight because we either don’t ask for it [James 1:5], or we don’t really want to hear the truth [James 4:3].
  • Asking for help while posturing ourselves to obey will quickly bring clarity—“Jesus Christ’s life must work through our flesh, and that is where we have to obey. So many go into raptures over God’s supernatural salvation, over the wonderful fact that God saves us by His sovereign grace (and we cannot do that too much), but they forget that now He expects us to get ourselves into trim to obey Him” (Oswald Chambers).
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