Born successful?


Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this,
that the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Luke 10:20 ESV


Jesus sends us, as disciples, to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and we succeed in varying degrees (Matthew 13:23). But our great value to God is not our fruitfulness; rather it is our relationship to Him. Our greatest ‘success’ in life is no work of our own at all. Jesus says “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” (Hebrews 2:13). This final brief post on the theme of successful discipleship also comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers wrote: Jesus Christ says, in effect, ‘Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me’. …. You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ…. When once you are rightly related to God by salvation and sanctification, remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfill God’s purpose, as long as you keep in the light as God is in the light.

“…. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that our Lord heeds in a man’s life is the relationship of worth to His Father. Jesus is bringing many sons to glory.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

‘…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV


HE must increase….


‘…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

An elderly Aunt’s favourite poem was Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. She particularly identified with lines 55/56 ‘Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air’. Now, the lady was a Christian, a wife, mother, and grandmother. That she ever felt that these, with other quiet works of faith, went somehow unrecognized, is sad. No fragrance of Christ in the world is wasted, or any fruit of the Spirit, and we may rightly feel pleasure (our own and our Master’s too) in them. This second of three brief posts on the theme of successful discipleship also comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers wrote: “The great marvel of the Incarnation slips into ordinary childhood’s life; the great marvel of the Transfiguration vanishes in the devil-possessed valley; the glory of the Resurrection descends into a breakfast on the sea-shore. This is not an anti-climax, but a great revelation of God.

“The tendency is to look for the marvelous in our experience; we mistake the sense of the heroic for being heroes. It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us. If we do not want mediaeval haloes, we want something that will make people say – ‘What a wonderful man of prayer he is!’ ‘What a pious, devoted woman she is!’ If you are rightly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the sublime height where no one thinks of noticing you, all that is noticed is that the power of God comes through you all the time.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Successful disciples?


Jesus parable of the talents (Matthew 25) sheds some much needed light on our often murky ideas of what constitutes successful discipleship. That the servants commended were successful even before their investments paid off probably would not have occurred to them. This first of three brief posts on the theme of successful discipleship comes from Oswald Chambers…

‘Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat
and go before him to the other side,’
Mark 6:45 ESV

Oswald Chambers wrote: “We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us, and we obey Him, He will lead us to great success. We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end.

“What is my dream of God’s purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process – that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.

“God’s training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.

“God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present; but if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Living (and growing) sacrifices?

Growing oldI appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 ESV

Someone said that one problem with ‘living sacrifices’ is that they are continually jumping off the altar. That Caleb, from youth to old age, followed God ‘fully’, may be an encouragement to us all. It is, at least, a challenge to that sort of commitment to following God that is possible in Christ, by His Spirit. This final brief post on the theme of Growing, Old comes from Dr. J. O. Sanders…

Dr. Sanders wrote: “But the most astounding testimony (about Caleb) comes from God Himself, “My servant Caleb … has followed me fully.” (Numbers 14:24). The conclusion is plain. Caleb completely subdued and dispossessed his enemies, giants and all, because he wholly followed the Lord. He entertained no divided loyalties.

“Throughout his life there was consistent obedience to light received and uncomplaining acceptance of the divine will. To him the will of God was good, acceptable, perfect. God moved very slowly to fulfil His promise but Caleb was content to await His time. In New Testament language, (Caleb) presented his body a living sacrifice to God as a logical act of worship (Romans 12:1) a striking contrast to the faithless multitudes whose bodies ‘fell in the wilderness’ (Hebrews 3:17) because they were unwilling to make that sacrifice.

“So Caleb dwelt in Hebron, the place of fellowship and communion with God, the very place where God had given Abraham the promise of the land….”

From Dr. J. O. Sanders in Men From God’s School.

HE is the vine….

Growing old

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6 ESV

Some say Caleb was strong in old age only because he was strong in his youth. Because we have failed once (or twice) may we never experience success? Do we feel that with fewer talents than some, or with our struggling faith, we may know only stunted growth at best and bear only the poorest of fruit for Jesus? At any age Caleb was strong only because he was grounded in the strength of God. Who knows what fruit Jesus, the True Vine, may bear in the least (or the oldest) of His branches who remain firmly grafted into him? This second of three brief posts on the theme of Growing, Old comes from Dr. J. O. Sanders…

Dr. J. O. Sanders wrote: “(Caleb’s) ambitious request of Joshua is a grand watchword for the aging Christian: “Give me this mountain.” As we near old age, do we lose the spirit of aggression, become hesitant to risk a step of faith for God? Do we shrink from the rigours of battle? Perhaps we too should remove our slippers and attack some menacing mountain in which the enemies of God are entrenched! Caleb is an endless source of encouragement and inspiration. The message of his life is that the best is yet to be. He never ceased growing because his devotion to God never weakened.”

From Dr. J. O. Sanders in Men From God’s School.