Disturbing the Peace?

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To deal well with the worst of life, with the effects of fallen nature, with our own Sin, and with our own sins, and with the effects of the sins of others upon us, we need Jesus Himself, the Wisdom of God, more than any kind of common sense that will not recognize Him as Lord. This last of three brief posts on the theme We need More than commonsense also comes from Oswald Chambers…

“What do you want me to do for you?”
He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” Luke 18:41 ESV

Oswald Chambers wrote: “What is the thing that not only disturbs you but makes you a disturbance? It is always something you cannot deal with yourself. “They rebuked (the blind man) that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more.” Persist in the disturbance until you get face to face with the Lord Himself; do not deify commonsense.

“When Jesus asks us what we want Him to do for us in regard to the incredible thing with which we are faced, remember that He does not work in commonsense ways, but in spiritual ways.

“Watch how we limit the lord by remembering what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past: ‘I always failed there, and I always shall’; consequently we do not ask for what we want, ‘It is ridiculous to ask God to do this.’ If it is an impossibility, it is the thing we have to ask. If it is not an impossible thing, it is not a real disturbance. God will do the absolutely impossible.

“This man received his sight. The most impossible thing to you is that you should be so identified with the Lord that there is nothing of the old life left. He will do it if you ask Him. But you have to come to the place where you believe Him to be Almighty.

“Faith is not in what Jesus says but in Himself; if we only look at what He says we shall never believe. When once we see Jesus, He does the impossible thing as naturally as breathing. Our agony comes through the willful stupidity of our own heart. We won’t believe, we won’t cut the shore line, we prefer to worry on.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

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Yes, but…

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What we call common sense may be a reliable help to us on many occasions, though we need to be careful that what we call common sense is not something else entirely;
like the man (or woman) who speaks in Proverbs 22:13 – ‘The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!” Whatever the case, there are times when only faith in God’s word will be enough to see us through. This second of three brief posts on the theme We need More than commonsense also comes from Oswald Chambers…

‘Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but…’ Luke 9:61 ESV

Oswald Chambers writes… “Supposing God tells you to do something which is an enormous test to your common sense, what are you going to do? Hang back? If you get into the habit of doing a thing in the physical domain, you will do it every time until you break the habit determinedly; and the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and every time you will turn back when it comes to the point, until you abandon resolutely. ‘Yes, but – supposing I do obey God in this matter, what about …?’

Yes, I will obey God if he will let me use my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.’ Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts Him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man exhibits. If a man is going to do anything worthwhile, there are times when he has to risk everything on his leap, and in the spiritual domain Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what He says, and immediately you do, you find that what He says fits on as solidly as common sense.

“At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. Trust entirely in God, and when He brings you to the venture, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis, only one out of a crowd is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Stormy weather?

UtmostWhen Peter (Matthew 14) stepped out of his boat in a storm, but in faith in Jesus, he began so well, but, ‘when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Later, Paul would write (2 Corinthians 5:7-8) “for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage…” We need more than our common senses can provide if we are to walk with Jesus as his disciples, in both fair weather and foul. This first of three brief posts on the theme We need More than commonsense comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers wrote…  “Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 ESV Every time you venture out in the life of faith, you will find something in your commonsense circumstances that flatly contradicts your faith. Common sense is not faith, and faith is not commonsense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your commonsense cannot trust Him? Can you venture heroically on Jesus Christ’s statements when the facts of your commonsense life shout ‘It’s a lie’?

“On the mount it is easy to say- ‘Oh yes, I believe God can do it’; but you have to come down into the demon-possessed valley and meet with facts that laugh ironically at the whole of your mount-of-transfiguration belief.

“Every time my programme of belief is clear to my own mind, I come across something that contradicts it. Let me say I believe God will supply all my need, and then let me run dry, with no outlook, and see whether I will go through the trial of faith, or whether I will sink back to something lower.

“Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into personal possession only through conflict. What is your faith up against just now? The test will either prove that your faith is right, or it will kill it. ’Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.’

“The final thing is confidence in Jesus. Believe steadfastly on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith, and the last great test is death. May God keep us in fighting trim! Faith is unutterable trust in God which never dreams that He will not stand by us.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Overcome by love?

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“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Revelation 2:7 NKJV

Jesus’ message (Revelation 2:1) to the weary, struggling, patiently enduring Christians in the city of Ephesus, both comforted and confronted them. To know that Jesus knows when we are ‘bearing up’ for His name’s sake is comforting. To hear Him say that we have ‘forgotten (our) first love’ for Him, and must repent and set to work again, is confronting. But only in a close, committed relationship with Jesus will it be possible for us to overcome all the opposition we meet in living for Him. This last of three brief posts on the theme of Overcoming Life also comes from Oswald Chambers…

“To him who overcomes …” Revelation 2:7

Oswald Chambers writes… “Life without war is impossible either in nature or in grace. The basis of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual life is antagonism. This is the open fact of life.

“Health is the balance between physical life and external nature, and it is maintained only by sufficient vitality on the inside against things on the outside. Everything outside my physical life is designed to put me to death. Things which keep me going when I am alive, disintegrate me when I am dead. If I have enough fighting power, I produce the balance of health. The same is true of the mental life. If I want to maintain a vigorous mental life, I have to fight, and in that way the mental balance called thought is produced.

“Morally it is the same. Everything that does not partake of the nature of virtue is the enemy of virtue in me, and it depends on what moral caliber I have whether I overcome and produce virtue. Immediately I fight, I am moral in that particular. No man is virtuous because he cannot help it; virtue is acquired.

“And spiritually it is the same. Jesus said – In the world you shall have tribulation,’ i.e., everything that is not spiritual makes for my undoing, but – ‘be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)

“I have to learn to score off the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness; then it becomes a delight to meet opposition. Holiness is the balance between my disposition and the law of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

No strain, no strength?

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I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 ESV

 

After thanking Jesus for ‘speaking plainly’ at last about his mission (John 16:28) the disciples affirmed their faith in him; so I wonder how they felt when Jesus added, plainly, ‘Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.’ (16:32). Plainly, it would take some time yet (and the gift of the Holy Spirit) for the disciples to grasp the truth that, even in Jesus, peace comes with tribulation. This second of three brief posts on the theme of Overcoming Life also comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers wrote… “God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength. Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot, unless you will accept the strain. Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength. Overcome your own timidity and take the step, and God will give you to eat of the tree of life and you will get nourishment. If you spend yourself out physically, you become exhausted; but spend yourself spiritually, and you get more strength. God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute. The temptation is to face difficulties from a commonsense standpoint. The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

Rise and Shine?

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Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
Ephesians 5:14 ESV

‘Apart from me you can do nothing,’ Jesus said. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ said Paul. Jesus was reminding sinners, like us, that, apart from Himself, we would be forever unfruitful. Paul was reminding sinners, like himself, but in whom Christ Himself now lived, that anything God willed, they could do, overcoming every obstacle and bearing much fruit. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Overcoming Life comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers writes…  “All initiative is not inspired. A man may say to you – ‘Buck up, take your disinclination by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!’ That is ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, ‘Buck up,’ we find that the initiative is inspired. We all have any number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real. We cannot do the things we long to do, and we are apt to settle down to the visions and ideals as dead, and God has to come and say – ‘Arise from the dead.’

When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life comes after we do the ‘bucking up.’

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.

When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, ‘Arise from the dead,’ we have to get up; God does not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand – ‘Stretch forth thy hand,’ and as soon as the man did so, his hand was healed, but he had to take the initiative. If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

What God wants….

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And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.  
Mark 14:3 ESV

 I remember a debate, years ago, about whether, in Christ, we are ‘saved to serve’? Well, yes and no. When we are genuinely saved, we will serve, because ‘faith without works is dead’. Yes, we are saved by faith alone, but no, faith is never alone. As a child, faith taught me, ‘Jesus loves me…’. Only later did I begin to think I needed to (or even could) do something more to earn or to keep his love. The right response to love is love, though love, like faith, is never alone. This final brief post on the theme of our abandonment to God also comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers writes…. “Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realised that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him ….? Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as marvelous, but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?

“There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him the abandoned tokens of how genuinely we do love Him. Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness. Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God.

“We have to get rid of this notion – ‘Am I of any use?’ – and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth. It is never a question of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest