Thursdays With Oswald—No Undercover Christians

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.

No Undercover Christians

     The illustrations our Lord uses are all conspicuous—salt, light, and a city set on the hill. There is no possibility of mistaking them. …  

     “You are the salt of the earth.” Some modern teachers seem to think our Lord said, “You are the sugar of the earth,” meaning that gentleness and winsomeness without curativeness is the ideal of the Christian. Our Lord’s illustration of a Christian is salt, and salt is the most concentrated thing known. Salt preserves wholesomeness and prevents decay. It is a disadvantage to be salt. Think of the action of salt on a wounded, and you will realize this. If you get salt into a wound, it hurts, and when God’s children are amongst those who are “raw” their presence hurts. The man who is wrong with God is like an open wound, and when “salt” gets in it causes annoyance and distress and he is spiteful and bitter. … How are we to maintain the healthy, salty tang of saintliness? By remaining rightly related to God through Jesus Christ. …  

     “You are the light of the world.” Light cannot be soiled; you may try to grasp a beam of light with the sootiest hand, but you leave no mark on the light. A sunbeam may shine into the filthiest hovel in the slums of the city, but it cannot be soiled. … Thank God for the men and women who are spending their lives in the slums of the earth, not as social reformers to lift their brother men to cleaner sties, but as the light of God, revealing a way back to God. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

God wants you to be His salt and light in the world. Are you willing to do that? 

Salt preserves, but it also stings as it does so. Some people will lash out at you for being salt in their presence, but keep on loving them with the love of Jesus. 

Light guides, but it also reveals unpleasant things. Some people will lash out at you for revealing sinful things, but keep on loving them with the love of Jesus. 

Don’t let the hostile reaction of people send you “underground.” Keep being conspicuously, unmistakably God’s salt and light in a world that is in desperate need of cleansing and illumination! 

10 Quotes From “The Psychology Of Redemption”

The Psychology Of RedemptionOswald Chambers always gives me a paradigm-expanding look at the Bible and Christianity. In The Psychology Of Redemption (see my book review here), he does so in a unique way, by joining psychology and theology. Here are just a few of the many, many passages I highlighted in this fascinating book.

“Christian Psychology is the study of a supernatural life made natural in our human life by the Redemption.” 

“Sin dwells in human nature, but the Bible makes it very clear that it is an abnormal thing, it has no right there, it does not belong to human nature as God designed it. Sin has come into human nature and perverted and twisted it. The Redemption of God through our Lord Jesus Christ delivers human nature from sin, and then begins the possibility of the manifestation of the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. We are saved by God’s grace, but, thank God, we have something to do. We must take care to meet God’s supernatural work of grace by our human obedience.”

“The vital relationship which the Christian has to the Bible is not that he worships the letter, but that the Holy Spirit makes the words of the Bible spirit and life to him.” 

“The practicing is ours, not God’s. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will. If we will obey the Spirit of God and practice through our physical life all that God has put in our hearts by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes we shall find that we have not only God’s grace to stand by us but our own nature also, and the crisis is passed without any disaster, but exactly the opposite happens, the soul is build up into a stronger attitude towards God.”

“Jesus Christ sets the standard of God’s life in us. We have not to ask what good men have experienced, but to go direct to the Lord Jesus Christ and study His exhibition of the character of God’s normal man.”

“When Christ is formed in us, we are a satisfaction to our Lord and Master wherever He places us. The point of importance is to know that we are just exactly where He has engineered our circumstances. There is no ‘foreign field’ to our Lord.”

“Another evidence of new birth is that we see the rule of God. We no longer see the haphazard of chance for fate, but by the experience of new birth we are in able to see the rule of God everywhere. … We all see the common occurrences of our daily life, but who amongst us can perceive the arm of the Lord behind them? The saint recognizes in all the ordinary circumstances of his life the hand of God and the rule of God, and Jesus says we cannot do that unless we are born from above. … Nothing happens by chance to a saint, no matter how haphazard it seems. It is the order of God.”

“The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting His way with us.”

“We have to nourish the life of the Son of God in us, and we do it by obedience, that is, by bringing our natural life into accordance with His life and transforming it into a spiritual life.”

“The curse of much modern religion is that it makes us so desperately interested in ourselves, so overweeningly concerned about our own whiteness. Jesus Christ was absolutely interested in God, and the saint is to be a simple, unaffected, natural human being in dwelt by the Spirit of God. If the saint is paying attention to the Source, Jesus Christ, out of him and unconsciously to him are flowing the rivers of living water wherever he goes (John 7:37-39). Men are either getting better or worse because of us.”

To read more Oswald Chambers quotes, you may want to subscribe to my blog. Every Thursday I publish a lengthy passage from the current Chambers book I am reading. You can subscribe by simply filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of the screen.

I also share Oswald Chambers quotes frequently on both Twitter and Tumblr.

The Blessing Of Humility (book review)

The Blessing Of HumilityIt’s not very often that someone would describe humility as a “blessing,” but Jerry Bridges solidly makes the case that Jesus taught and exemplified humility as one of the greatest blessings of all. As with every other Jerry Bridges book I have read, The Blessing Of Humility is a paradigm-changer.

Bridges introduces the topic of his book like this: “The character trait of humility is the second-most frequently taught trait in the New Testament, second only to love. At one time I counted fifty instances of love taught, either by precept or example, in the New Testament; I counted forty instances of humility. I regard these two traits as the foundational stones of Christian character. All other character traits, in one way or another, are built upon love and humility” (emphasis mine).

The longest recorded sermon from Jesus in the gospels is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This sermon begins as Jesus is addressing His followers, and He lists eight “blessed are” statements which we now call The Beatitudes. Jerry Bridges believes that each of the Beatitudes point us to the lovingly humble lifestyle that should characterize all Christians. So one-by-one, Bridges unpacks each Beatitude, showing us how Jesus lived it out, and how His followers can too.

In fact, Bridges says, “Our guide will be Jesus Himself, Who began His longest recorded sermon with a litany of countercultural blessings known to us as the Beatitudes. Taken together, they offer a portrait of humility in action, something which God commands and which God promises to bless.”

This book isn’t very long, and probably could be read through quite quickly. However, if you will read this book slowly, allowing time to “soak in” each Beatitude and its implications for your life, I believe your spiritual heart will be unalterably changed.

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

12 More Quotes From “The Place Of Help”

The Place Of HelpAs always, there are more quotes from Oswald Chambers’ books than I have space to share them. So here are a few more from The Place Of Help.

“If we are going to be used by God, He will take us through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for us at all, but meant to make us useful in His hands. There are things we go through which are unexplainable on any other line, and the nearer we get to God the more inexplicable the way seems. It is only on looking back and by getting an explanation from God’s Word that we understand His dealings with us.”

“The essence of Christianity is that we give the Son of God a chance to live and move and have His being in us, and the meaning of all spiritual growth is that He has an increasing opportunity to manifest Himself in our mortal flesh.”

“Temptation is a short cut to what is good, not to what is bad. satan came to our Lord as an angel of light, and all his temptations center around this point—‘You are the Son of God, then do God’s work in Your own way; put men’s needs first, feed them, heal their sicknesses, and they will crown You King.’ Our Lord would not become King on that line; He deliberately rejected the suggested short cut, and choose the long trail, evading none of the suffering involved (cf. John 6:15).”

“God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in a crisis they are the ones upon whom He can rely. … God expects of us the one thing that glorifies Him—and that is to remain absolutely confident in Him, remembering what He has said beforehand, and sure that His purposes will be fulfilled.”

“God has never promised to keep us immune from trouble; He says ‘I will be with him in trouble,’ which is a very different thing.”

“The Bible characters never fell under weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness.”

“Do we trust in our wits or do we worship God? If we trust in our wits, God will have to repeat the same lesson until we learn it.”

“The coming of Jesus Christ is not a peaceful thing, it is a disturbing thing, because it means the destruction of every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself.” [Matthew 10:34]

“The peace that Jesus gives is never engineered by circumstances on the outside; it is a peace based on a personal relationship that holds all through. ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: … in Me … peace.’”

“God is a holy God, and the marvel of the Redemption is that God the Holy One puts into me, the unholy one, a new disposition, the disposition of His Son.”

“In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord teaches us not to look for justice, but never to cease to give it. That is not commonsense, it is either madness or Christianity.”

“When the love of God is in me I must learn how to let it express itself; I must educate myself in the matter; it takes time. Acquire your soul with patients, says Jesus [Luke 21:19]. Never give way to this spirit—‘Oh well, I have fallen again, I will stay down now.’ Have patience with yourself, and remember that this is salvation not for the hereafter, but for the here and now.”

You can read the first set of quotes from The Place Of Help by clicking here.

My review of The Place Of Help is here.

And be sure to look for “Thursdays With Oswald” to read quotes and thoughts from the current Chambers’ book I am reading.

10 Quotes From “Our Portrait In Genesis”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers has given us another valuable resource in Our Portrait In Genesis, as he walks through the first book of the Bible with us. You can read my full book review here. As usual, there are just way too many good quotes to share all at once, so here is the first batch of quotes from this book.

“It is not my faith laying hold of the Word, but the life in the Word laying hold on me.”

“We transgress a law of God and expect an experience akin to death, but exactly the opposite happens, we feel enlarged, more broad-minded, more tolerant of evil, but we are more powerless; knowledge which comes from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, instead of instigating to action, paralyzes.”

“No man can murder his brother who has not first murdered God in himself.” 

“It is ingrained in our thinking that competition and rivalry are essential to the carrying on of civilized life; that is why Jesus Christ’s statements seem wild and ridiculous. They are the statements either of a man or of God Incarnate. To carry out the Sermon on the Mount is frankly impossible to anyone but a fool, and who is the fool? The man who has been born again and who dares to carry out in his individual life the teaching of Jesus. And what will happen? The inevitable result, not the success he would otherwise have. A hard saying, but true.”

“Grace is the overflowing immeasurable favor of God; God cannot withhold, the only thing that keeps back His grace and favor is our sin and perversity.” 

“Faith un-tried has no character value for the individual. … Spiritual character is only made by standing loyal to God’s character no matter what distress the trial of faith brings.”

“We must be careful never to compromise over any promise of God when by reason of human limitation there has been only a partial fulfillment. Such a compromise is easily detected whenever you feel, ‘Oh well, I suppose that is all God meant.’ Every word God has spoken will be absolutely fulfilled; to climb down from that confidence is to be disloyal to God.”

“There is always the danger of becoming a fanatical adherent to what God has said instead of adhering to God who said it.”

“The only way to wait for the Second Coming is to watch that you do what you should do so that when He comes is a matter of indifference.” 

“It is a question of faith in God, the rarest thing, we have faith only in our feelings. I don’t believe God unless He will give me something in my hand whereby I may know I have it, then I say, ‘Now I believe.’ There is no faith there.”

Rewards

RewardsJesus says there are only two types of rewards we can receive: from God, or from men.

Men reward because of appearance. That is, the more visible or pious or charitable our acts, the more rewards men give (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). However, these outward-only acts get “no reward from your Father in Heaven” (6:1).

God rewards what’s done for His eyes only, and for His glory only. He rewards abundantly, even when no one else seems to notice (6:4, 6, 18).

So Jesus advises us to not seek the rewards or treasures of men, because they are fickle and liable to loss. God’s rewards, however, are eternally secure and of infinite value (6:19-21). When my focus is on loving God and serving others, rewards in Heaven are the result (6:25-34).

I cannot live for the applause of men and the applause of God (6:24). So I choose only the applause from nail-scarred Hands!

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The world has put a little letter before the word ‘musing,’ and these are the days, not for musing, but for a-musing. People will go anywhere for amusement; but to muse is a strange thing to them, and they think it dull and wearisome. … Now there is much virtue in musing, especially if we muse upon the best, the highest, and the noblest of subjects. If we muse upon the things of which we hear and read in sacred Scripture, we shall do wisely. It is well to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. A man who hears many sermons, is not necessarily well-instructed in the faith. We may read so many religious books, that we overload our brains, and they may be unable to work under the weight of the great mass of paper and printer’s ink. The man who reads but one book, and that book his Bible, and then muses much upon it, will be a better scholar in Christ’s school than he who merely reads hundreds of books, and muses not at all.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The Sermon on the Mount is our Doctor’s medical advice, not our Employer’s job description.” —John Piper

“Every time I open my Bible I will read it as the Word of ‘God, that cannot lie;’ and when I get a promise or a threatening, I will either rejoice or tremble because I know that these stand fast.” —Charles Spurgeon

I can use this: 25 habits to get a better night’s sleep.

Rev. Tim Dilena has an amazing reminder of God’s perfect timing in sending Jesus to earth—He Couldn’t Have Timed It Any Better.

“Given the Greek and Roman acceptance of homosexuality, it is difficult to overstate the courage and conviction required by the early Church to write and speak out on behalf of a biblical, sexual ethic.” Read more in the article When Christians Rejected Homosexuality.

Eric Metaxas shares some good news from Baltimore.

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