“If you put your faith in your experience anything that happens–toothache, indigestion, an east wind, incongenial work–is likely to upset the experience, but nothing that happens can ever upset God or the almighty reality of the Redemption; once based on that, you are as eternally sure as God Himself” (Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race).
If you live your life based solely on your emotions, you will be as unstable as the east wind, blowing one way one moment and blowing the other the next.
If you live your life based solely on your own understanding, you will soon get frustrated with how your life isn’t meeting your expectations, never mind how realistic those are.
But if you live your live out of the reality of God’s redeeming work in Jesus, then you find yourself much more stable and secure. You can cease striving and live out of the strength and joy that Jesus provides.
That becomes especially vital at this time of the year when it’s easy to let other people’s impatience and rudeness upset our Advent and Christmas experience.
Once you base your joy on the unchanging and unceasing reality of God’s work of redemption in your life, then nothing can steal it from you. No one or nothing has the power to take away the eternal surety of God’s promise to you to finish what He started.
“‘The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’ (John 4:14).
‘We are to be fountains through which Jesus can flow as “rivers of living water” in blessing to everyone. Yet some of us are like the Dead Sea, always receiving but never giving. Whenever the blessings are not being poured out in the same measure they are received, there is a defect in our relationship with Him. Stay at the Source, closely guarding your faith in Jesus Christ and your relationship to Him, and there will be a steady flow into the lives of others with no dryness or deadness whatsoever'” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).
I don’t see Oswald climbing the charts as a popular baby name, but the man to whom the name belonged left a legacy of wisdom behind when he died at a young age.
If you want to read about his incredible life, I recommend the book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest by David McCasland. Here’s a link to the amazon site where you can purchase the book.
I think what he’s trying to get at is that we’re called to serve out of the overflow of time spent with Jesus. It’s no good if all we do is soak up and receive and never share with anyone else. It’s also no good if all we do is serve with no time left over to receive from God.
PS I also recommend My Utmost for His Highest as one of the best devotionals you’ll find. It’s a classic.
“Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).
First of all, I am lamenting that one all-too-brief sneak preview of fall. I honestly thought it would last a few more days, but the hot stinky sweatiness has returned. Boo.
I’m still churning over Matthew Page’s sermon from The Church at Avenue South in my head. It was about prayer, not as a means to treat God as a celestial vending machine, but as a way to get to know the heart of the God who is both Father and the Infinite Almighty.
I confess I’ve fallen into the trap of making prayer a sort of laundry list of wants and needs. It’s gotten less and less about remembering who God is and what He’s already done for me and more and more about me and my needs.
I keep thinking about the Better Together celebration at Hadley Park where two churches of different backgrounds came together as one. Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a historically black congregation, and Brentwood Baptist Church, made up of mostly whites, both joined in this event to show that the Gospel trumps racism and inequality, and that the hope of Jesus is for everyone from every kind of background.
That in itself was the answer to the prayers of a lot of people. I have a feeling that the closer we as believers get to the heart of God (what God desires and longs for from us), the closer we get to those outside of our normal comfort zones and routines. The more we understand that Heaven will be comprised of people from every tongue and tribe and race.
One last thought on prayer before I go. This is essential to understanding prayer and how it works:
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work” (Oswald Chambers).
“If you are a child of God, you will certainly encounter adversities, but Jesus says you should not be surprised when they come and there is nothing for you to fear. God does not give us overcoming life–He gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there will be no strength. God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).
That’s what I need– strength for the moment. Strength to live in the moment when I’m constantly tugged in two different directions. I always feel the pull to look back in nostalgia (which can be good at times but can also distract me from the present) and to look ahead (to what might or might not come to pass).
Right now, I have a very sleepy kitten on my chest. She’s purring contentedly, not worried about what will happen tomorrow or the day after that. I need to be more like her.
As I recall, when God made Himself known to Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, it wasn’t as “I WAS” or “I WILL BE” as much as it was “I AM.” God never speaks to us in our past or our future but always in our present, always where we are.
I can’t worry about what I forgot to do earlier today or what good or bad might happen tomorrow. I can breathe deeply and trust that God is with me to handle whatever comes or has come.
By the way, this sleepy kitten is seriously putting me to sleep. She has a very calming effect like that.
May you know God’s provision for your daily bread as each day comes and trust Him in the moment as each moment comes. Amen.
“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands” (Oswald Chambers).
This came up in my Timehop from something I posted a few years ago. I’d say it’s still just as true and relevant now as it was back then.
Take heart and know that waiting on God is always worth the wait, no matter how long it takes.
“Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing—it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).
I think we are being programmed to rush and stress and worry. The classic definition of stress is that everything has to happen right now. Nothing can wait or be delayed. It all has to be now.
I get caught up in the frenzy from time to time and let worry get the upper hand. After all, you only slow down when you’re sick, and then not even all that much.
Tonight at Kairos, I was reminded that God has a much bigger and broader time table than me and my own plans. God’s designs and timing for me are not only far better than whatever I could conceive, they’re perfect.
I think my obedience sometimes looks like faithfulness in the small details as much as the grand gestures for God. It’s me e getting up and showing up every day and not giving up but growing up.
Here we are, God, ready and willing for whatever’s next.
“To wait upon God is not to sit with folded hands and do nothing, but to wait as men who wait for the harvest. The farmer does not wait idly but with intense activity; he keeps industriously ‘at it’ until the harvest. To wait upon God is the perfection of activity. We are told to ‘rest in the Lord,’ not to rust” (Oswald Chambers, The Place of Help).
I think that says it all.
May all of us learn daily how to wait well as we rest (but not rust) in the Lord.
“A river touches places of which its source knows nothing, and Jesus says if we have received of His fullness, however small the visible measure of our lives, out of us will flow the rivers that will bless to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race).
That’s it. Your seemingly insignificant little life could be the ripple in the pond that affects the world. Your small random acts of kindness might leave a legacy that will outlast you.
Mother Teresa once said that there are no great acts but only small acts done with great love. Even your sheer optimism and dogged determination in dealing with the daily drudgeries can have an impact on people that you may never meet in this lifetime.
People are watching. People notice. For better or worse, how you act and how you react will inform others on how much you really believe what you profess. Your life may be the only Bible that some will ever read.
While that could be daunting on one hand, on the other, it’s a reminder that no good deed done out of faith is ever in vain. Your life, small and trivial as it seems, matters.
One day, someone might just tell you. It will most likely be someone you never would have suspected even knew you existed. There could be ten others who you will never meet but whose lives will be just as changed by your faithfulness in the trivialities and details.
My cat snoring is a sign telling me I’d better wrap this up quickly. Ultimately, you being as true to who God made you to be and being faithful where God puts you is as powerful a testimony as any of the dramatic conversions out there.
Here endeth the lesson.
“Put all ‘supposing’ on one side and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God” (Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race).
That’s it. I should just end this post here. Oswald Chambers has been one of my favorite devotional writers for years because he was able to articulate truths like few others.
Worry is practical atheism. I confess that I’m just as much guilty of that as anybody. Sometimes I feel like anxiety and worry are default settings that I revert to when my circumstances get stressful.
The antidote to anxiety is worship. Worship isn’t telling God something He doesn’t already know, but reminding yourself of His infinite power and goodness. Worship is declaring the worth of God in everything you do– not just in singing– as a way to reboot your mind to see that God is still working out all things– including your stressful situations– for His glory and your good.
Worry is calculating without God. All those scenarios that cause such dread are missing one key ingredient– God. It’s easy to do when God doesn’t seem as present as your problems.
That’s when you trust the heart of God. You trust that faith really is believing when common sense tells you not to. You believe that God’s promises are just as guaranteed in this moment as they were through all the generations of the Bible, and that they are for you.
I’ll just end this with a quote from one of my favorite writers that sums it all up perfectly.
“Worry is belief gone wrong. Because you don’t believe that God will get it right. But peace – peace is belief that exhales. Because you believe that God’s provision is everywhere – like air” (Ann Voskamp).
“Believe in the Eternal, and do what is good—
live in the land He provides; roam, and rest in God’s faithfulness.
Take great joy in the Eternal!
His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires!” (Psalm 37:3-4, The Voice)
“Believe in the Eternal, and do what is good.” Or as Oswald Chambers said, trust God and do the next thing. Don’t worry about how you will serve God over the next fifty years. Be concerned with being faithful and obedient for the next five minutes.
“Live in the land He provides.” Bloom where you’re planted and treat your job as your holy occupation and your act of worship. In fact, treat everything you do from the moment you wake until you lay your head on your pillow as worship.
“Roam, and rest in God’s faithfulness.” Trust that God will provide. Trust that God’s faithfulness in the past is a good indicator of how the future will play out. In fact, you can safely rest in the same God who’s legacy of faithfulness is well documented through the 66 books of the Bible.
“Take great joy in the Eternal!” Live life as the gift it is and live in a constant state of joy, remembering that you are always loved and cherished by the God who made you. You are still the apple of your Father’s eye.
“His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires!” The best gift God gives is always God Himself– His presence is the best gift you’ll ever get. When you start living out of thankfulness for God’s nearness, you will find His other gifts along the way.
God is good. God is faithful. What He said, He will do. Believe that and rest tonight. Live as if what He promised has already come to pass. Thank Him for what you’ve yet to receive. Then joy unspeakable will be yours.