Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 12

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 12

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 12.]

     Few suffer more seriously in character than the men and women who for one reason or another are exempt from frank, honest criticism. …  

     Progressive realization does not mean that God reveals Himself by inches, but that we realize His revelation of Himself by inches as we obey. … 

     God would have been “a wall of fire round about and…the glory in the midst” [Zechariah 2:5] if they had been obedient. The difference between God as a consuming fire and natural fire is just this, that the further you get away from God the more fiercely you feel His burnings, but when you are close to Him, you will find it is a glorious protection. … 

     The truth about God is Jesus Christ—light, life and love. Whatever is dark to us will, by means of our obedience, become as clear as the truth which we have made ours by obedience. The bit we do know is the most glorious, unfathomable delight conceivable, and that is going to be true about everything to do with God and us. The process is continual obedience. 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

God wants to reveal Himself to us, even if He has to be a consuming fire in order to do so! 

God will burn up everything that keeps us from obeying Him—everything that takes our attention off of Him. He will burn up everything worthless so that we can know what is of incalculable worth; namely, Himself. 

If you want to have more of God revealed to you, scrupulously obey the parts that have already been revealed to you. 

5 Lessons From 2 Mothers

If you’ve been reading my series of posts on God’s favor, I hope you are becoming more aware of how strongly I want you to know this: God is for you! He’s not looking for opportunities to blast you, but to bless you. (If you want to read some of these previous posts, check out the link at the bottom of this post.) 

In writing his account of the birth of Jesus, Luke is captured with the idea of God’s favor. Luke uses the word favor more than any of the other gospel writers, and he uses the word quite frequently as he relates the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. During his narrative we meet two women—Elizabeth and Mary. Here are five lessons we can learn from these two mothers. 

(1) “Favor” is not the same thing as “favorite.” To say, “I am the one on whom God’s favor rests” is not the same as saying, “I am God’s favorite.” Elizabeth recognized God’s favor on both herself and on Mary (Luke 1:25 & 43), and Mary also recognized God’s favor on herself (Luke 1:28, 30, 48-49). But nowhere did these women think they were God’s favorites. God has no favorites, but instead He showers His abundant, never-ending favor on everyone! 

(2) “Favor” probably didn’t look like what they would have planned for themselves. Elizabeth didn’t get pregnant until the age when she should have been a grandmother, and Mary got pregnant before she was even married. I’m sure neither of them thought their lives would go this way! But God knew what He was doing all along (see Isaiah 45:7-9; Psalm 139:16). 

(3) They needed humility, obedience, and perseverance to remain in the place where they could recognize God’s favor. No one can stop God’s favor, but the devil would love to keep you from recognizing God’s favor. One way satan does this is by trying to get us to appeal to our pride (“I think I can do this better”) because then obedience to God and perseverance through the trying times is very difficult to maintain. 

(4) God’s favor is for God’s glory (not necessarily for our comfort). God is accomplishing HIS plan through us. His favor toward us places us where He needs us, when He needs us there, and with the talents we need to respond correctly when we get to that moment. Mary spoke the words that I’m sure were also in Elizabeth’s heart: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me just as you have said.” 

(5) God’s favor doesn’t necessarily answer all our questions. Even though God’s favor places us in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, we will still undoubtedly have questions about why God is doing what He’s doing. If you feel that way, you’re not alone—Hebrews 11 is full of people who felt the same way. But hang in there and keep trusting God: He knows what He’s doing! In the meantime remember this: God is able to make ALL grace abound toward you, that you, ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency in ALL things, may have an abundance for EVERY good work (2 Corinthians 9:8). 

Check out this video of the full message I shared on these lessons from the life of Elizabeth and Mary. 

Join me this Sunday as we continue looking at God’s favor. You can join me either in person or on Facebook Live. 

If you’ve missed any of my previous posts on God’s favor, check out: 

This Is My Doing

This is My doing“My child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear so any storm clouds that may arise will shine with glory, and the rough places you may have to walk will be made smooth. It is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being, and use them as a pillow to rest your weary head: this is My doing [1 Kings 12:24].

Have you ever realized that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? For whoever touches you touches the apple of My eye [Zechariah 2:8]. You are precious and honored in My sight [Isaiah 43:4]. Therefore it is My special delight to teach you. I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in like a pent-up flood [Isaiah 59:15], that this is My doing and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.

Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? This is my doing. I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident—you are exactly where I meant for you to be. Have you not asked Me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught. Your circumstances and the people around you are only being used to accomplish My will.

Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? This is My doing, for I am the one who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I will meet all your needs [Philippians 4:19]. I want you to prove My promises so that no one may say you did not trust the Lord your God [Deuteronomy 1:32].

Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? This is my doing. I am a Man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering [Isaiah 53:3]. I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive eternal encouragement and good hope [2 Thessalonians 2:16].

Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? This is my doing. You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of My deepest truths. They also serve who only stand and wait. In fact, some of My greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.” —Your loving Heavenly Father (as recorded by Laura A. Barter Snow)

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

AdventWe began our series on The Carols Of Christmas by looking at the poem written by Charles Wesley in 1744: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus. As far as I can find, Wesley never shared where he got his inspiration for this prose, but I have a hunch that it might be from a song in the Bible called The Benedictus.

Zechariah had been unable to speak for nearly a year because of his doubt over the message God sent him through the angel (see Luke 1:5-20). When his son was born and Zechariah named him John, his tongue was loosed and he “was filled with the Holy Spirit” and burst into song (Luke 1:67-79). The first word of his song in Latin is benedictus, from which the name is derived.

Here’s what I love about both Zechariah’s and Wesley’s songs—they both look forward to Chris’t first Advent and His second Advent. Mary was still pregnant with Jesus when Zechariah sang his song, but his lyrics reflect the Redemption story that Jesus would fulfill as Emmanuel, God with us. Charles Wesley picks up this same theme, rejoicing over Christ’s birth and His imminent return.

In fact, that’s exactly the point! We aren’t celebrating Christmas as much as we are celebrating Advent. Jesus was born “when the time had fully come” for His first Advent (Galatians 4:4-5), and “this same Jesus, Who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11). That’s the message that should encourage us (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Check out the remarkable parallels between the Benedictus and Wesley’s hymn—

Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus & Benedictus

 

If you’d like to download a PDF of this side-by-side comparison, here it is → Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus & Benedictus ←

We are continuing our series on the rich, meaningful messages in the familiar Christmas carols next Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us!

Small Beginnings

Small beginnings“Hey, Pete,” I asked, “How’s the new workout routine going?”

“Well,” said Pete a little sheepishly, “It’s not.”

“What do you mean?”

“I wanted to be able to run that 5k charity run next spring, but I can hardly make it around the block. How in the world am I ever going to run 5 kilometers?! So I just threw in the towel.”

If Pete has never run before, it’s a bit unrealistic for him to complete a 5k on his first day lacing up his running shoes, don’t you think? But far too often we throw in the towel before we even get started! 

How about someone’s pursuit of God? God is so vast, so majestic, so awesome. And then we hear words from Jesus telling us, “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Just like Pete we think, “How am I ever going to do that?!” and we throw in the towel before we even start.

But God already started something when He created you. What God creates, He completes; and what He completes, He completes perfectly.

The prophet Zechariah said, “Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10).

The psalmist wrote, “Your hands formed me and made me; give me understanding to learn Your commands” (Psalm 119:73). There is just one Hebrew word for “Your hands” and it also happens to be the name of that section in Psalm 119: Yodh.

Yodh has a corresponding Greek word: Iota. This word shows up in Matthew 5:18 when Jesus says, “Not one iota of God’s Word will ever be wasted.”

God created you perfectly and on purpose. What He created, He wants to see completed perfectly too. He will do this through His Word working in you. The question is: Will you get started? The Hebrew letter yodh is the smallest of the Hebrew letters, but don’t despise its small beginning. Don’t despise the work God started in you either. So what if you can’t run a spiritual 5k yet … you can grow into that maturity by letting God’s Word work on you right now, right where you are.

Will you let God get started today?

I will be continuing our P119 Spiritual Workout series next Sunday … hope you can join me!

No Missed Opportunities

God doesn't forgetOne fear that can haunt us is the fear that we’ve missed an opportunity. The fear becomes even more acute when the opportunity we fear we’ve missed is an opportunity that we believe God has promised us.

That’s the fear the plagued Zechariah (Luke 1:5-13). He and his wife Elizabeth were both PKs (priest’s kids), they were godly people who were upright in God’s estimation. Zechariah was even chosen by God to offer the incense in the Holy Place of the temple. Yet one fear haunted Zechariah: he and Elizabeth were childless.

The Bible says they were well along in years; or as the King James Version more poetically says it, they were stricken with years. This literally means they had moved on… they weren’t in their prime childbearing years any longer.

Zechariah had almost pushed this out of his mind, thinking that he had missed his window of opportunity, when the angel showed up with God’s message to him—

Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…. (Luke 1:13)

Did you notice this phrase: your prayer HAS BEEN heard? The verb tense really makes it say: The thing you used to pray for—the child you used to believe for, the pregnancy you used to try for—has been heard. But you stopped praying, you stopped believing, you stopped trying to get pregnant.

Zechariah let his fears speak louder than God’s voice. That’s why the angel called him by name. Zechariah means Jehovah doesn’t forget

What has God promised you? Are you still praying for it? Still believing for it? Still doing what you need to do to see it happen? Zechariah needed to sleep with his wife. What do you need to do? Do you need to go back to school? Make a phone call? Setup an appointment?

If God spoke it to you, He has not forgotten you! Don’t believe the lie that the window of opportunity has closed!

If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. (Habakkuk 2:3)

Join me next Sunday as we hear another Fear Not! that the Christmas season loudly proclaims to us.

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