Tag Archives: Oswald Chambers

Messages that Encourage Me

Messages that have resonated with me lately:

“God has given you praise as a weapon to defeat despair. ” Victory Over Despair, by Nike Chillemi

The Weapon of Praise, posted by Grace Fox.

“How do we most glorify God? By being completely satisfied in Him, realizing that the neediness we have is designed by our Creator in order to be fulfilled by Jesus. ” Satisfaction for a Thirsty Soul, by Jake Riddle

“Wait on God and He will work, but don’t wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you! Are we detached enough from our spiritual hysterics to wait on God? To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told.” (Oswald Chambers, quoted at ochristian.com)

“Inadequacy can be one of the best blessings in your life if you respond properly.” The Good Side of Inadequacy, audio message by Dr. Charles Stanley (Do take 25 minutes and listen to this…)

Offline, what is God using most to speak to my spirit? Matt Maher‘s newest album, Saints and Sinners, and Eugene H. Peterson’s classic, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

Thought Adjustment

Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
1 Corinthians 6:15b, NIV*

Talk about an odd verse for God to use to correct me! This is not exactly on my list of temptations. But I knew what He meant.

I’ve been thinking lately about Oswald Chambers’ challenge to “keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit” (Nov. 7 reading, My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition edited by James Reimann) and about the challenge to practice the presence of God throughout the day.

I need the peace of Christ to rule in my heart (instead of allowing anxiety to reign); the mind of Christ to rule my thoughts (to make them obedient to Him instead of dwelling where they shouldn’t) and the grace of Christ to be a guard on my lips (to keep errant thoughts from slipping out in irretrievable words). I’ve made it into a prayer of sorts.

On this particular day I was driving to work, listening to a favourite worship CD and remembering the need to stay close to God. The biggest challenge at that moment was in the thought department:  I was tired and a bit on the cranky side.

Zing went the prostitute verse through my thoughts. I hadn’t even read it recently! But God’s message was clear: what about expecting the mind of Christ to unite with the cranky mind? Was that any different?

The surprise factor did in the cranky nature, and the day came into much better focus.

Holy and merciful God, if I want to cultivate a sacred space for the Holy Spirit to work and rule in my life, I can’t expect Him to share it with the offensive things I bring in. Thank You for Your grace and patience to teach me your ways, and please open my ears to hear and my heart to learn.

Refiner’s Fire” makes a good prayer for us all. This is Brian Doerksen’s rendition.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Stillness and Silence

Stillness and silence aren’t natural to most of us… I know they’re not for me, even when I’m sleeping :-p

But they’ve have been catching my attention lately in a way that points to God.

At Under the Cover of Prayer, Judith Lawrence wrote:

Silence is not a familiar place for many of us but as we seek to be with God silence becomes a sought after and familiar venue. (Adventures of the Spiritual Life — click to read the whole post, it’s worth your time)

This little gem from Oswald Chambers really got me thinking:

I must keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit. Then as I lift different ones to God through prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes for them.” (Nov. 7 reading, My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition edited by James Reimann)

I don’t always “get” brother Oswald’s thoughts, since they’re often elevated above my own, but this sacred place in the conscious life… that resonates with me. A still place, a holy place, in keeping with the idea that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

I can see this sacred inner place being the basis for Frank Laubach‘s call to “keep in constant touch with God,” echoing Brother Lawrence‘s call to “practice the presence of God.” (You can read some of Frank Laubach’s writing here… just scroll through the page until you reach the excerpt from Letters by a Modern Mystic.) Or you can get hold of a copy of Practicing His Presence, edited by Gene Edwards, which contains the writings of Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence. It’s a slim book and one I consider a keeper.

I don’t usually include a song on Fridays, but here’s Brian Doerksen‘s Everything. Let it become our prayer. 

The Lord Will Fulfill His Purpose for Me

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.”
Psalm 138:8, NIV 1984*

Not everyone has a large and visible calling-type of purpose, but we’re each called to the “long obedience in the same direction,” to the faithfulness and openness to God that lets us touch many people’s lives in small ways.

And it’s His purpose, not my plans. Oswald Chambers writes, “We have to maintain our soul open to the fact of God’s creative purpose, and not muddle it with our own intentions.” (My Utmost for His Highest, Sept. 21)

This takes the pressure off. Instead of trying to keep track of everything and move it forward, I need to be looking to see what He’s going to do in any situation. What He might want to do through me.

I’m under authority. I’m neither the strategist nor the victim of circumstances. I’m a vessel the Potter has made, to fill and pour out as He sees best. And I believe on the other side of this life we’ll look back from His perspective and see that He has done all things well.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me…”

Simple. Straightforward. I think I can hold onto that today.

Father, help me keep perspective and balance. Help me not get too self-absorbed or take too much responsibility for my own usefulness. Help me trust and obey You.

Here’s Robin Mark with “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)”. (Note the line “The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures…”)

* The 2011 NIV says “The LORD will vindicate me…” New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Source of Our Worth

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

[Jesus] replied… “I have given you authority… However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20, NIV*

No wonder the disciples are pumped: their mission succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. That’s a good thing. And I don’t think Jesus is rebuking their excitement. I think He’s giving them perspective.

Oswald Chambers interprets Jesus’ words here as “Don’t rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.” (My Utmost for His Highest, August 30: “Usefulness or Relationship?)

I’ve been reading about the damage perfectionism does, how much harm comes from basing our worth on how well or poorly we perform, and what a widespread problem it is even among Christians. (The Search for Significance, by Robert S. McGee)

From that angle, I see this verse as an antidote I can use when I don’t meet my own (or others’) achievement standards.

Step one: seek God’s direction first, not my own or someone else’s arbitrary standard.

Step two: rely on God’s strength.

Step three: celebrate success, acknowledge and learn from failure. Ask God’s opinion.

Step four: know my value isn’t performance-based but redemption-based.

Mighty and righteous Creator God, all our righteousness is only filthy rags compared to Your perfection. We can’t earn Your love or approval. Thank You for Your grace that redeemed us and made us acceptable—adopted—valued. Help us truly believe this, at the deepest level. Help us find our worth in You.

This week’s song is “He Knows My Name,” from Geoff Moore’s Speak to Me album.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Unless the LORD

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labour in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Psalm 127:1-2, NIV*

We need God in it—in each day, in each part of it—at a foundational level. Or there’s no point in what we’re doing.

I know that, but somehow this psalm reminded me in a fresh way. Then Jan Cox’s post, “First,” from A Better Way, showed up in my inbox.

Jan challenged me to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and she quoted the previous day’s entry for My Utmost for His Highest, which I’d only half processed. Oswald Chambers had written:

So often we mar God’s designed influence through us by our self-conscious effort to be consistent and useful. Jesus says that there is only one way to develop spiritually, and that is by concentration on God. [My Utmost for His Highest, May 18]

Concentration on God. Seeking Him first in the day and in each endeavour.

A comment at the end of the “First” post led me to the Pursuing Heart blog, where Cherry  had posted “The Source of Beauty.” She also referred to that same Oswald Chambers quote, and she said:

How often do we put our focus in the wrong place? …Forgetting that all that is needed is to let our roots go down deep, and our hearts to reach up to Him… I am called back to this simplicity over and over again.


All our running around, self-directed and self-powered because we’ve forgotten to let God be God, in first place in our lives. We’ve complicated it. And added stress.

In vain.

Father God, our Creator and Sustainer, forgive us for the times we run ahead of You. Quiet our spirits to seek You first. Remind us we’re never too busy not to pray. Root us deep in Your love. Show us where You’re working, and how we can best work with You.

Here’s a new-to-me but classic hymn, sung by the Antrim Mennonite Choir: “Day by Day.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Expecting God’s Mercy

Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Psalm 119:132, NIV*

Do you hear the absolute trust and confidence in God’s character and in His commitment to care?

As You always do.”

We may not have a clue of what God will do, or how or when, but we can know that He will always keep His word. For those of us who love Him, part of our responsibility is to actively trust Him, and to keep alert to recognize His mercy when it comes.

Or, as Oswald Chambers expressed it in My Utmost for His Highest, we need to live in “Gracious Uncertainty”:

Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in—but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 29. [Click the link to read his entire message—it will bless you.]

It isn’t easy for people who like to see, touch, and forecast our world. People who are used to instant fixes. But that’s how God works, and it trains our spirits to trust Him.

Sovereign and loving God, thank You for Your Word that teaches who You are and what You’ve said. Help us in our unbelief, increase our faith, and open our spiritual eyes and ears to notice Your touch on our lives and circumstances. Help us to give You praise, and to live in this “gracious uncertainty” that is certain of You—for our own benefits and for a demonstration of Your goodness to the people around us.

Here’s a new-to-me version of Ira Stanphill’s classic hymn, “I Don’t Know About Tomorrow,” sung by Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Desiring God

How lovely is your dwelling place,
LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Psalm 84:1-2, NIV*

This psalm opens with a progression: it’s not just the Temple courts the writer craves, it’s the Presence in that sacred space.

A few of the late April readings in Oswald Chambers’ classic My Utmost for His Highest touch on the danger of desiring the experience of God or the blessings from God instead of desiring God Himself.

A holy hush in the sanctuary, a strong spiritual experience, God’s tangible touch on our lives—these are wonderful gifts we need to receive with praise. But they’re evidence of His glory, they’re not the ultimate desire of our spirits.

If you make a god out of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life… until you have learned not to be obsessed with those exceptional moments He has given you. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 25 

Holy and loving God, because of Jesus Christ our Saviour we can come into Your presence, and Your Holy Spirit dwells in us and makes us His Temple. Give us a thirst for closer relationship with You, a hunger for more than Your blessings—a hunger for You alone.

Matt Redman’s song, “Better is One Day,” echoes this psalm. Not sure who’s singing here.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Pray Before Giving

Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.’”
2 Samuel 7:5-6, NIV*

King David’s desire to build a temple for God came from a good heart. He wanted to honour God, not to live in an elaborate palace while God’s dwelling was a tent.

David loved God, and God had given him so much. I wonder if David saw a chance to do something for Him as a gift. Good heart, good idea, wrong timing.

We get love-born impulses too, to do things for God or for others. These verses remind me we need to pray before acting.

God may want us to bless Him with our hearts’ attitudes but to not act—or to not act yet. In His plan, timing matters.

Sometimes the very things we long to do for others are the things that would undermine what God is doing in their hearts. Oswald Chambers says, “It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s order for others.” (“What is that to Thee?” Nov. 15)

Father God, we want to give back to You out of the love You’ve given us. Impress on our hearts how best to please You—and how to show love to those around us. Help us to always come first to You for wisdom. Make us sensitive to Your prompting to act or to not act. Keep us in the centre of Your will.

The gift God wants most is our hearts. Here’s my favourite Third Day song: “Offering.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

New Places I’ve Found on the Web

Here are some of the new or new-to-me places I’ve found on the Internet:

My Utmost for His Highest provides daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers

Under the Cover of Prayer shares insights, revelations and stories that will show the power of prayer.

Kyria is an online, subscription-based magazine for Christian women. You can check out a free sample here: Kyria: December 2009: Rest.

Listening to My Hair Grow is a new blog from Rose McCormick Brandon with posts on various topics that arise from “a search to regain quietness in my life”.

Live Green, Live Better is a garden-related blog by Kim Burgsma, offering “tips, tricks and true confessions from a landscape designer”.

Heartfelt Devotionals offers a variety of “Thoughts for Common Sense Living” from Brenda Wood.

Return Home and Tell is a new blog from Kimberley Payne, acting on Jesus’ words in Luke 8:39, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

Free2soar offers flight-themed poetry and Scripture.

Talk on the Way is a website “dedicated to helping our generation know more than just facts about Jesus–to know Him personally” with articles and conversations to deepen personal spiritual growth and relationships.

Maureen’s Musings is the art-and-words blog of Nova Scotia folk artist and writer Maureen Newman. Maureen’s Rural Moments site will let you see all of her paintings.

Dreaming Big shares “reflections about identity, freedom and dreaming with God” from Christian speaker Heather Boersma.

And a hearty thank-you to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience, whose blog is not new to me but whose Write! Canada workshop on blogging challenged Christian writers to remember Jesus’ upside-down definition of success and to serve with our words.