James 1:4 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NLT)
I received Jesus Christ as my Savior rather early in life. I was saved. I was confident. And in the words of Oswald Chambers, I was "slovenly". I didn't do anything that differently. Other than the fact that I attended church, no one would have seen me as having anything different.
We are supposed to live our lives set apart for Christ.
I have had to "persevere" through many trials (this could be a bit of an understatement) and it has strengthened my faith in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. When I face yet another challenge and choose not to abandon my faith, that is when it grows stronger. That is when my relationship with Jesus gets deeper.
Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the external expression of that relationship must be right. ~ Oswald Chambers My Utmost...
When I take my eyes off Him, when I get lazy and fall into self-pity, or anger... or apathy - that is when I reveal the truth about myself. I am still not entirely His yet. My thoughts are on me instead of God's will for me. I want to be entirely His so I will persevere.
Watch the slipshod bits- "Oh, that will have to do for now." Whatever it is, God will point it out with persistence until we are entirely His. ~ Oswald Chambers My Utmost...
Today on My Utmost journey, Mr. Chambers tells me that disillusionment is not a bad thing. It would do us all well to give up our ideas of what and how we expect people to behave. It is my own expectations of others that can take my emotions in directions I don't want to go. The places My Father in Heaven does not want them to go.
John 2:24-25 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart. (NLT)
I learned the golden rule in Sunday School. I learned that I am to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and strength, and others as myself. They are excellent rules to live by. I don't remember, however, learning to give up my illusions that others will do the same. That is something God taught me.
Many of the cruel things in life spring from the fact that we suffer from illusions. We are not true to one another as facts: we are true only to our ideas of one another. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost...
The world lives by the notion that our relationships can only be as good as those within the relationship. That idea can lead to one of either two outcomes. I will only associate with those I have determined can live up to my expectations of the relationship. Or I will see them for what they are and pass judgment on them - as if I have risen to some superior level above them.
When I follow God's model for relationships I don't pass judgement, I love. When one has hurt me or broken my trust, it may damage but it need not destroy the relationship. I can only do those things when God, not man, is truly my first love. The hard truth is: people will fail us. They will disappoint us.
They may deceive us and they may even, whether unintentional or not, cause us pain.
Why our Lord is so severe regarding every human relationship is because he knows that every relationship not based on loyalty to Himself will end in disaster. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost...
I must not allow myself to be disillusioned about my relationships. I must accept the reality that the people with whom I have relationships are flawed (as am I.) It is when I love them because God loves them, not because they behave properly, that I know my relationship can withstand the destruction our human natures will inevitably bring into it.
I can do this when i put God at the center of all my relationships.
In life, it is inevitable. There has been, and again will be, dark moments of my life. There have been even dark seasons in my past. They are the storm clouds that disrupt our plans - and ruin our sunny days. "When it rains it pours," is and old saying that implies that when trouble rains in our life. It can sometimes pour down like a summer thunderstorm that has moved in, replacing blue skies.
Revelation 1:7 See! He is coming in the clouds. Every eye will see Him. Even the men who killed Him will see Him. (NLV)
Just like a garden needs the rain that accompanies the clouds, I need Jesus, who is always with me as the dark clouds pass through my life... and there have been plenty. What I do in those times is what is important. Do I stop what I'm doing and run for cover? Maybe I just change my up my plans and keep myself busy. I may be tempted to look up and ask, "Why now God? I have important things to do." Or, "Can You please make it stop? I can't go through this.'
Did I look to Him when the skies were clear? Did I say "Thank you Lord!" and praise Him when I felt the sunshine on my face and all was well with my world? - Not nearly enough, I'm sure. Forgive me, Lord. Am i able to be thankful when I am in the middle of a tsunami of turmoil?
Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging Gods character, we do not yet know Him. ~ Oswald Chambers
My dark, black cloud appeared on May 4th, 2010. I was uncertain if I would live to see May 5th, and in that cloud I received my greatest blessing. My notation at the bottom of the July 29 page of my devotional reads: "*Thank You that You were all I could see in that dark cloudy moment May 4 - and that others needed to know you."
God was with me as that cloud passed. I felt closer to Him than I ever had in my life. I wasn't afraid. I didn't try pleading with Him to spare me. My thoughts were only of Him, and the work for His kingdom that I had left undone. Who didn't I tell about Jesus? Am I sure my family knows him? My friends? I had peace knowing I would be with Him. But would they?
His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child - God and my own soul, other people are shadows. ~ Oswald Chambers
Mark 6:45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home.
This page in My Utmost... had been highlighted already. Mr. Chambers had a message that spoke to my heart in at least one of the previous years I had read the July 28 devotion. Today, however, I couldn't make the connection to the verse that he referenced. I had to pray about it, and study it, and make an effort to understand how he came up with that particular message. Mr. Chamber's message is a good one. I just couldn't link it to the scripture.
Then God revealed it to me in this way. The disciples had their own ideas of what they needed to do. They didn't see His greater purpose at that moment. They had just witnessed a miracle in the feeding of the of the crowd. Jesus had just multiplied the 5 loaves and 2 fish. Then he sent the disciples away.
Why? Because they still didn't "get it." They wanted to send all the people home to eat. They didn't consider the purpose for them being there in the first place, and that He would meet their need.
So many time I think ahead. I try to figure out what God's purpose is going to be.
His purpose is that I depend on him and on His power now. ~ Oswald Chambers
He wants me to learn to only trust Him - now. His will for my life will be revealed as my circumstances unfold daily. Sometimes His will is confirmed by others. Sometimes it isn't. His will for me in those times of uncertainty is to depend on Him - to trust His yet-to-be revealed plan.
God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. ...if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious. ~ Oswald Chambers
John 7:17 If anyone is willing to act according to His purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me? (VOICE)
1 Thessalonians 4:3 Now this is God’s will for you: set yourselves apart and live holy lives; (VOICE)
I've heard it so many times. "I have faith,"; "I'm good with God,"; "Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ,"; or some variation of the same claim. I have done the same thing myself.
I recall as a teenager, making the same declaration with self-righteous arrogance.
Not long after I had visited a friend's church, a "visitation team" arrived at our door. While one man maneuvered my mother into a private counseling session in the kitchen, the other two men were interrogating my brother and me in the next room. - Or that's what it felt like. I'm sure they believed they acting in obedience, but what they did may have turned another away from God.
I had all the right answers to the stranger's questions. "Yes, I am saved and am going to heaven when I die. Jesus is my Lord and Savior." (He wasn't going to trap me.) I was sure of what I told him. Looking back, however, I've wondered which was stronger - my faith or my determination to shut the man down.
My faith was genuine, but it was far from mature. I didn't know about sanctification much less its role in my walk of faith.
Am I willing to be "myself," and nothing more - no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest - simply ready for death? That is sanctification. ~ Oswald Chambers
Nearly 30 years later, as I lay at death's doorstep (figuratively and literally), I realized that I truly was "ready for death." I cherish the gift of that moment of absolute assurance - and of the ability to share it with others.
When I pray - "Lord, show me what sanctification means for me," He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me. ~ Oswald Chambers
Matthew 5:3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (NLT)
For some, it is necessary to lose everything - to become impoverished to see God.
The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.
~ Oswald Chambers
When we are comfortable and happy with our lives there is the tendency to see little need of God. There is, usually some event that prompts us to turn to Jesus. Something that helps us to realize our need of Him.
Our own personal poverty is different from that of another's. Whatever it is that keeps me from seeing my need for God, that is what I must lose. It may be money, family, health, our job, our reputation - anything that is a source of selfish pride.
The "poverty" that Jesus speaks of is not monetary. It is the impoverished soul that is driven to his knees when the realization of futility occurs. It is when we cease to believe that we can do something about our sinfulness.
I will never see the Kingdom of Heaven unless I realize I could never be "good" enough to get there on my own. It is only by allowing Jesus to teach me and the power of His Holy Spirit to work in my life.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Dependency - it's a bad word. We're told it's unhealthy to be dependent, but it all depends on what, or in whom, we are dependent. I am completely dependent on God - because I choose to be. I have family, friends, people that I can count on. But at some point they can and will fail me. They are human. It is inevitable.
God is the only One in whom I can depend on.
I depend on Him for wisdom and guidance, for provision and peace - and salvation. He has never failed me yet. Some may believe, given my circumstances that I'm crazy to think that God has not abandoned me. But they could not be more wrong.
We live in a sin-sick world filled with pain and suffering, disease and death. We defiled God's perfect world and continue to do so. As I choose to walk with Him, He goes through this life with me. He helps through the trials of this life.
The reality of God's presence is not dependent on my place, but only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us. ~ Oswald Chambers
It is true. I have known suffering, pain and death. My darkest hours have been the ones in which I did not depend on Jesus. Every time I look at my suffering rather than at my Savior, my pain is bigger than it has to be. Sometimes problems can be distracting and painful... and overwhelming. They pull our thoughts away from the One who can help.
Dependency on God is the only healthy dependency. As we allow His Holy Spirit to live within us, He remains there willing to guide us and help us - every day. He gives us new strength to soar, to run, and to walk with Him.
If our common-sense decisions are not His order, He will press through them and check; then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence. ~ Oswald Chambers
This is a statement often heard when a rebellious child is defying the instruction of placed in someone in authority over them. It may be a sibling, grandparent, or babysitter. Those with deep authority issues may even make this declaration to a parent.
John 13:13 "You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am."
.... when His life has been created in me by His Redemption, I instantly recognize his right to absolute authority over me. ~ Oswald Chambers
Obedience is evidence of a life changed by the Holy Spirit.
It is recognition and acceptance of the absolute authority of God. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that He is the One and Only Son of God who died for my sins. His work involved in my salvation was completed on the cross. Though I am saved by the blood of Jesus, my work is not complete.
My work is not so that I can be saved. It is in obedience because I am saved.
I am a slave to Jesus Christ, but it is not "slave labor." He paid a very high price for me - His very life.
I am a slave by choice, not by mandate. As such, my "job" is to trust and obey Him.
God educates us by means of people who are a little better than we are, not intellectually but "holily," until we get under the domination of the Lord Himself, and then the whole attitude of the life is one of obedience to Him. ~ Oswald Chambers
The idea of having to be "obedient" can, at times, seem so oppressive. By nature I think we all want to do it our own way. - So much so that it has been declared in song.
Today in My Utmost..., Chambers explains Christian obedience so everyone can "get it."
The revelation of my growth in grace is the way in which I look upon obedience. ~ Oswald Chambers
The difficulty in reconciling our "free gift" of salvation through Jesus, and our responsibility to "work out one's salvation," is understandable. This one page in My Utmost for His Highest puts the concept into a perspective that brings about the infamous, "Aha!" moment.
The Son's obedience was a Redeemer, because He was Son, not in order to be Son. ~ Oswald Chambers
When I accepted Jesus as our Savior, I was adopted into the family of God. I choose to be obedient not to become a child of God, but because I already am His child.
Many people ask the "Why me?" question. Usually, it's when something bad happens. I ask because I am amazed every day that God chose to open my eyes and give me a seeker's heart.
Act 9:4-5 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” 5) “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!" (NLT)
I have often wondered why God gave me this heart so willing to believe - so ready to follow. It was certainly not because I deserved it. Like all other sinners, I have been disobedient. I have rebelled. I always had faith, but it is deeper and more meaningful now.
My faith used to be something that I had. It now makes me who I am.
Why do other people not believe? How can anyone not believe? It is inconceivable to me.
Instantaneously, Paul became a servant - a slave of Jesus Christ. This after persecuting His followers. His faith caused him to obey his religion. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was transformed. Why?
Because his faith was sincere.
He wanted to obey God. He thought his actions pleased God. Then he met Jesus and realized he could never be good enough to please God. Saul (now Paul) realized faith in Jesus was the only way. God opened his eyes to true faith... Why?
There is nothing miraculous about the things we can explain. ~ Oswald Chambers
Faith is miraculous.
The Holy Spirit began to make my heart ache for lost souls and my own sin became ever more apparent. I accepted Jesus when I was young, but I could tell the difference. I knew Jesus was in my heart and that my faith was real.
Many a soul begins to come to God when he flings off being religious because there is only one Master of the human heart, and that is not religion but Jesus Christ. But woe be to me if when I see Him I say - I will not. ~ Oswald Chambers
1 Corinthians 2:4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. (NLT)
The thing about sharing faith is that we don't know who or when our words will be effective.
Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the efficacy of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God. ~ Oswald Chambers
The ability to speak with ease before an audience is definitely a gift. I enjoy listening to a great preacher or motivational speaker and hear moving testimonies. There's something about hearing how God works in people's lives that touches my heart.
It's a gift I have yet to receive. I may, or may not ever receive it.
Paul's message in 1 Corinthians 2:4 is encouraging to me, and seeking to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't have to be extraordinarily gifted to share the gospel. Though Paul was intelligent and a gifted speaker, his gifts are not what moved those listening to faith. God can use anyone regardless of their level of "expertise."
I always want to offer my best, in service to Him. I also never want to feel like I've gotten so good, at whatever God calls me to do, that pride in my "performance" is my focus rather than my purpose.
Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of his Redemption from doing its work. ~ Oswald Chambers
Though I need to be willing to be used by God - I am not necessary. The message of Jesus' Redemption and the power of God are enough.
Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. "Ask and t shall be given you," ~ Oswald Chambers
Matthew 7:11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
There are more than enough concerns of this world in which we could worry about right? As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I need not - and should not, worry about anything. Things may seem hopeless at times. I may see no end in sight to a valley I am going through. I have to take my eyes off the concern and look to Jesus.
I need to remember that God is the one in control. He loves me and whatever is going on he knows all about it. I can go to Him and He will help me through it. I know my place - and it is not in control. God is the one in control of my life. Whatever the outcome, I can trust Him with it.
There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. ~ Oswald Chambers
God will, however, bring His light into my darkness when I allow Him.
Roman 1:14 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. (NLT)
Chambers questions if we feel the same sense of indebtedness to Christ that Paul did, concerning every unsaved soul. Paul was overwhelmed by it and spent himself expressing it. His view of Jesus Christ was that of a spiritual creditor and he was indebted. This inspired his desire to reach the lost. He wanted all to experience His overwhelming grace.
I relate to this because while I lay awaiting an ambulance, unsure if it would be my last day, the questions haunted me. "Who didn't I tell? Did I do enough?" I wasn't afraid. I just wondered if I had done all i could to complete that purpose. I didn't feel like I had.
It is not my job to 'save' anyone. However, the overwhelming indebtedness of the realization of what Jesus Christ has done for me inspires me to share Him with those who have yet to realize it. That gives my life purpose.
Every bit of my life that is of value, I owe to the Redemption of Jesus Christ; am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His Redemption into actual manifestation in other lives? I can only do it as the Spirit of God works in me this sense of indebtedness. ~ Oswald Chambers
Matthew 5:39 But I tell you, do not fight with the man who wants to fight. Whoever hits you on the right side of the face, turn so he can hit the other side also. (NLV)
The disciple realizes that it is his Lord's honour that is at stake in his life, not his own honour.
I have to admit; this is a tough one to live out. Self-defense is an instinct. After all, "They deserved it." When I have been insulted, hurt, or have experienced injustice, my instinct has always been to return evil for evil. That was, until the day I realized that in doing so, Satan was using me - against Jesus.
As I prayed to be more of what Jesus wanted me to be, my need for delivering "justice" began to fade away. - Oh, I don't get me wrong. I still feel those same feelings. But inviting the Holy Spirit to guard my heart, my attitude (and my mouth) and allowing Him to lead me prevents me from actin on them. - Most of the time anyway. God is definitely not through with his work on me.... and I just have to continue to allow Him to do so.
To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.
"Experience the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus." - That's what I want to do.
Isaiah 6:1 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. (NLT)
Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God I see along my own prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and an internal purification. ~ Oswald Chambers
This was one of the lines highlighted in my book. I think the first time I read this God used it to help me understand why my life had to be the way it was at the time. - Why my life, and that of my family had been turned upside down. Why it was necessary to have that life "taken away."
It seemed like forever that I had been praying for Larry, for his salvation. I wanted us to be able to share our faith - to worship God in unity. God heard my prayers and He answered. I could have asked "Why God?" but instinctively I already knew. Until there was nothing else, God could not be first for Larry. Until Larry became entirely dependent on God, there would be a struggle.
God brought us to the place where he would be "first, second, and third." - Mercifully, unlike Uzziah, no one had to die for Larry to "see the Lord."
I received my copy of My Utmost For His Highest on June 26th, 2010. By July 13th I realized God would use this man's messages from 100 years prior, to speak to me and strengthen my faith. I continue my devotions with Oswald Chambers because, his messages never get old or tired. They are as useful today as they were when he gave his sermons and lectures so many years ago.
Ministries concern themselves with "relevancy" in our world today. There is nothing more relevant than the message of the gospel. Oswald Chambers knew that if we are 100% sold out for the cause of Jesus Christ- to see the lost saved; that alone makes us relevant.
To fulfill God's design means entire abandonment to Him. ~ Oswald Chambers
Church shouldn't be about the music, the programs, or the even about the fellowship. None of which are bad things. Yet so many times these this become tend to replace its purpose. The Church's purpose, however, is to "build up the Body of Jesus Christ."
The programs and praise, music and meditation, sermons and services, gifts and guest speakers - at the center of all of it, everything must be Jesus Christ and His purpose.
The success of failure of the Church will be determined by Him. It is not the attendance, applause, the amount or approval of others. It is Who brought us there, and the reason we return.
Ephesians 4:11-13 11) Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.12) Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. (NLT)
Phillipians 3:10 That I may know Him.
The spiritual saint never believes circumstances to be haphazard, or thinks of his life as secular and sacred; he sees everything he is dumped down in as the means of securing the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
I want my faith to be authentic. Therefore I choose to see the good, the bad... and everything in between, as events that can draw me closer to Jesus Christ.
It's not about me. It's all about Him and what He wants for me and from me. Life is not about what I want or what I think. He created me for a purpose. and to fulfill it I have to know Him.
To know the heart of Jesus Christ I have to invest the time to know Him.
"You cannot serve the Lord." Joshua 24:19
...That is if I rely on anything other than Him. Whether it be my own wisdom or ability, or the ability of anyone else.
Anything that I do is worth nothing if I am not doing it for Him. Living a life of service for the Lord cannot be out of pride in my own capabilities. My obedience to do all that He asks, (whether I feel capable or not) is what glorifies the Father.
Joshua tells me I cannot serve God if I am not putting Him first, above all else. I cannot serve Him if I believe my skills, or the value of my service, is of more value than my obedience.
Profess to Him - "I will be loyal."
I have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. I will be His loyal follower.
I have chosen to marry my husband. I will be a loyal wife.
I have chosen to be a mother. I will be loyal to my child.
I am a daughter and sister, aunt and niece. I will be loyal to my family
I am selective when choosing who I share my life with. I will be a loyal friend.
I have joined the church I attended. I will be a loyal member.
I have chose for whom I will work. I will be a loyal employee
I was born in the United States. I will be a loyal American citizen.
I Will to be loyal
"If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult."
Melinda started her fifth year of her devotions reading Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest. In 2015 she has made the commitment to share what this year's journey. Taking a detour, she began living Every Day With Jesus