"My Utmost for His highest"

by oswald  chambers

It's NH's 2024 daily devotional reading.


"My Utmost" is one of the most famous devotional books in history.  It's a treasure trove of insights, perspectives and challenges for growing big faith.


"My Utmost" doesn't replace daily Bible reading.  Instead, it compliments our daily Bible reading plan with personal instrospection.   


Here's how you can participate:


CLICK read "My Utmost" online                               


click view NH comments on facebook                  


CLICK READ PASTOR MARK'S daily OSWALD INSIGHTS


Or scoll down for Pastor Mark's daily Oswald insights.


Holy Spirit, please speak to our head, hearts and hands.  Please make us more like Jesus.

reflections on "my Utmost for His highest"

by Pastor Mark Jordan





2.23.24

 

1. “As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until they did come to know Him.”

 

This is quite the conviction—truly laying down our lives for others.

 

It's one thing to serve others along the line of our temperament and convenience. It's another thing to “pour out our life to the last drop for others.” That means a great deal of inconvenience and exhaustion on our part.

 

I wonder, do I truly want this burden for souls? Do I want to be burdened for others as Jesus is burdened, enough to lay down my life for them? This notion certainly reveals my heart.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your constant nudging, stretching and example of self-sacrificial love for others. Thank You for the economy of the Kingdom of God—following You in denying ourselves for the sake of others. May Your motivation continue to creep into my soul. I’d like to love like You love, more and more.

 

 

2. “We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people.”

 

This works in both directions.

 

It's certainly apparent that some lord their calling over others, as if they merited it or were chosen based on their innate abilities.

 

It's also apparent there are those who believe they’re hierarchically lower than those who are called to ministry.

 

May God help us adjust our perspective.

 

As one who believes God has called me to ministry, I must declare: I am the least worthy, least likely, least sufficient, out-of-my-league, over my head, corrupt of heart candidate imaginable, and it is with great fear, trembling, humility and delight that I daily attempt to live into this calling.

 

Top of the heap?  Hardly.  I envision myself as the least of these, called to wash the feet of the saints.

 

It troubles me tremendously to be lauded, applauded or placed upon a pedestal. If people only knew what I know about myself. I’m only becoming more and more dependent upon the all-sufficient grace of God every single day. God, have mercy.

 

I beg every Christ-follower to see themselves and every other Christ-follower in the following way: All of us stand on level ground at the foot of the cross, profoundly in need of what Christ has merited by His cross, and ever-dependent upon what God provides by His Holy Spirit.

 

And, by virtue of being adopted in Christ as children of God, our Heavenly Father has critically important plans and purposes for each of our lives, every day.

 

Beloved, our God’s counting on each and every one of us. May we give ourselves all the more to His Kingdom and leadership.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the high calling to serve the Father with You in many and various ways. We present ourselves to You today for Your pleasure and disposal. Thank You for including us in Your continuing mission of saving and redeeming our world.

 

 

3. “The chief motivation behind Paul's service was not a love for others, but love for his Lord.”

 

I can't imagine a more helpful orientation of heart and life.

 

To serve people for people’s sake is incredibly challenging, because we’re often met with the heartbreak of indignation, disapproval, unappreciation, blame, accusation and more.

 

Those we try to serve can certainly try our souls.

 

But if we’re serving others out of love for Jesus, “no amount of ingratitude is able to hinder us.” That's because our motivation, affirmation and energies come from Jesus Himself, and are constantly replenished by His endless stream of amazing grace.

 

Beloved, let’s keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus as we join Him in serving those He gave Himself for.

 

Lord Jesus, it's our greatest honor and joy to serve You with all our heart and life. As we pour ourselves out for the sake of others, thank You for the fresh, Living Water You pour into our souls. Please help us maintain our vital connection with You so we don’t become discouraged, disheartened and depleted by others. Thank You.

 

 

4. “Paul's understanding of how Christ had dealt with him is the secret behind his determination to serve others.”

 

Beautiful. I am the recipient of God's unmerited love, favor, mercy and grace. How can I not offer that to others?

 

“No matter how badly others may have treated Paul, they could never have treated him with the same degree of spite and hatred with which he had treated Jesus Christ.” We take this posture upon ourselves as we realize the degree of our depravity, and the outrageous nature of God’s patience and kindness towards us in Christ.

 

“Once we realize how Jesus has served us, even in the depths of our meagerness, selfishness and sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination.” May this be our heartbeat today.

 

Thank You, Lord Jesus. May we be as gracious towards others as You are towards us. May the love of the Father flowing through You flow through us as well.








2.22.24

 

1. “Perseverance is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty.”

 

What a striking definition. We can dig down deep and persevere out of gut strength and determination. And sometimes we need to do that along the way.

 

Oswald suggests that “spiritual perseverance” is different.  It’s the steadfast assurance that our God is Who He says He is. He will never fail and He will bring it to pass.

 

This brings perseverance to the level of faith. I'm not simply gutting it out, but hoping it out because we trust our God.

 

What a powerful notion for persevering today. It's not simply brute strength. It's turbocharged by the certainty of God's nearness, capability and intervention.

 

May it be so today, Holy God. May I do what I must, while trusting Your working alongside. Thank You.

 

 

2. “Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our Hero is going to be conquered.”

 

What a tremendous statement. This is the audacity of faith. We trust our God in the face of everything trying to convince us otherwise—consequence, doubt, opposition, the enemy of our soul, etc.

 

Without fail, we will have every reason to believe otherwise. But the Scriptures, the testimony of countless saints, and the Holy Spirit within us beckons us to trust and believe Who we cannot see nor comprehend.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, our Hero, thank You for Your undefeatability. We trust with all our heart that You will prevail for us today. Please strengthen our resolve to believe.

 

 

3. “We don't simply hang on and do nothing, but we work deliberately, knowing with certainty that our God will not be defeated.”

 

It certainly is a temptation to excuse ourselves because things are hard, unfair, disappointing, etc. But we have no excuse to do so because we believe our God can do all things.

 

Consider our tremendous witness of persevering when all odds are against us. Imagine the people watching us, wondering when we'll give up and quit because of the insurmountable task or hardship before us.

 

Let’s show them differently.  Let’s keep in mind our Lord Jesus Christ, bearing His cross and completing the task set before Him. It rings throughout history as a triumph, and God gets all the glory.

 

Father, may it be so for us today. May we work with a deliberation and perseverance that declares You are with us.

 

 

4. “If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means God is purifying our hopes.”

 

It makes perfect sense that God is forever working to strengthen our hope so can persevere with patience.

 

God strengthens our hope by requiring us to exercise our hope muscles. Time and again God will bring us to the end of ourselves, permitting us to become weary and exhausted. God is training us to place our entire hope and trust in Him alone. And as we do, we discover our hope-muscles are strengthening.

 

Thank God, the weariness of hope today yields increased hope for tomorrow.

 

Father, please purify and strengthen our hopes. Please rid us of false and counterfeit hopes based on things other than You. We declare You to be the source of all true and lasting hope.











2.21.24

 

1. “Love takes us beyond ourselves.”

 

What a beautiful notion. This certainly describes our relationship with Jesus.

 

God continually goes above and beyond in His acts of kindness and love towards us—with every new sunrise, every heartbeat, every friend who crosses our path, etc.

 

And certainly with the cross of Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for us—not out of obligation or sentimentality, but out of the truest and purist love.

 

Thank You, Holy God, for Your extravagant love. I want to love You and others like You love us. May my love take me beyond my sensibilities, just as You've demonstrated towards us.

 

 

2. “Have you ever done something for God simply because you love Him?”

 

What a powerful notion. In all these conversations about obedience, what about simply doing for God out of love for God?

 

In my marriage, and for my children and friends, there are things I do simply because I love. I'm not under obligation, not trying to score points and not trying to manipulate—I’m simply doing love.

 

I wonder how I might do the same for my God? A song of praise? Silent attention and affection as I pray? Loving a stranger? Extravagant generosity? Sharing Christ with another?

 

Out of sheer love and devotion, how might I delight my God today?

 

Heavenly Father, I certainly want to obey Your commandments and follow Your leadership. But I also want to be more spontaneous with my random acts of love for You. It’s certainly Your way with me. Thank You. I love You.

 

 

3.  “God watches to see if we will give Him even small gifts of surrender.”

 

I can obey by rote, so obedience is not necessarily evidence of surrender. In fact, I may obey God in hopes of gaining something from God.

 

Surrender is a different matter altogether. It's a willful and loving abandon and deference to the will and purposes of God. In surrendering, I’m offering God my heart, not just my hands.

 

Jesus certainly demonstrated surrender to His Father: “Not My will but Yours be done.” Jesus determined He would work and speak the whim and will of His Father.

 

Surrender to God seems sacrificial, and perhaps it is. But it's also the most freeing posture we can assume. To be surrendered to God is to roll right down the center line of God's will. I’m not pressing boundaries, banging off the bumpers, braking with apprehension and balking with constraint, but willfully, joyfully and wholly giving myself to our God.

 

It’s my gift to the One Who freely gave Himself for me.

 

Heavenly Father, I love the ideal of this notion and it's easy to write about. But I know I’m guarded in my surrender to You. Please help me loosen my grip and surrender to You more fully. Thank You.

 

 

4. “Surrender to God is of more value than personal holiness, because personal holiness focuses on ourselves.”

 

Perhaps we've been raised with the notion that personal purity is an obligatory component of faith in Christ. After all, “Be holy as your Heavenly Father is holy” (1 Peter 1:15).

 

But I can see Oswald's point. If our focus is personal holiness, we can become myopic and microscopic in our personal introspection. It can even become all-consuming and a distraction from attending to God.

 

On the other hand, if we, with eyes on Jesus, seek to surrender our hearts and lives, the natural result is personal holiness, even without concentrating on personal holiness.

 

Surely this is God's ideal.

 

Heavenly Father, we do want to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pure before You. But we recognize we can do so without being fully surrendered. Please help us make the latter our goal, that the fruit of our lives might naturally be the former. And all out of love for You.

 

 

5. “The issue is not being of use to God, but of being of value to God.”

 

The hammer in my toolbox is certainly of use to me. I put it to work often.

 

But it’s not a prized possession like the people in my life. It’s because people are innately and infinitely valuable. Their value is not tied to their utility, but due to the fact they are created in the image of God.

 

I’m liable to equate my obedience to my value in God’s eyes. I may misconstrue doing for God as the way I achieve value and worth in God’s sight.

 

As it turns out, I’m of infinite value to God even before I even lift a finger for God. God’s valuation of me is demonstrated by the fact that, while I was living in my sin, God sent His only begotten Son to purchase me (Romans 5:8). Hallelujah!

 

Father, thank You that I’m of sacred worth to You simply because of Who You are. Thank You for the freedom of receiving Your adoration without earning it. It's my joy and pleasure to reciprocate.
















2.19.24

 

1. “Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work period”

 

I think we all know drudgery when we see it: “Drudgery is utterly hard, menial, tiresome and dirty work.” We all face it at some point every day.

 

I would imagine we have some ideal in our mind, what life would look like without drudgery. But my guess is, no matter who we are, no matter how wealthy and important we are, there are things we all must do that fall into this category.

 

Drudgery is the stuff that can loom over us and cripple us. We’ll procrastinate, stay in bed, sit on the couch, scroll through social media, etc., rather than do drudgery.

 

“Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character.” Oswald is insightful. Drudgery certainly proves who we are on the inside.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Oswald's insights into this every day, real world, universal experience. Please teach us to deal well with drudgery.

 

 

2. “In taking initiative against drudgery, we have to take the first step as though there were no God.”

 

Oswald continues on the same theme he's been dealing with for several days now. That is, we must often take the first step before God acts.

 

Scholars of old refer to this as “synergy.” That is, God acts as we act. I have found this to be key to a gratifying God-walk. Sometimes it requires taking myself by the scruff of the neck and hauling myself up. But as I do, God meets me there.

 

“Once we arise, immediately we find He is there.” Indeed, God never leaves or forsakes us, not even in the drudgery. Drudgery is not a form of punishment, but part of life on planet Earth. And God intends to be part of everything on planet Earth, including drudgery.

 

“Taking the initiative becomes a moral issue —a matter of obedience.” This is a great way of framing drudgery. Instead of simply a nuisance, doing drudgery is an opportunity to demonstrate our obedience to God. We do drudgery because God expects us to.

 

If I'm hoping drudgery will disappear, I will be sadly disappointed.

 

Lord Jesus, please help me get up and do drudgery today. May I do it as an act of my obedience as a child of God. May it be my act of worship for You.

 

 

3. “If I then, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another's feet.”

 

Talk about ignoble. Washing feet has to be at the bottom of the bottom. Yet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords stoops and washes ours.

 

If Jesus is willing, so must I if I’m going to walk after the example of Christ, Who lowered Himself to the greatest humiliations. He did so to demonstrate the character of God. Our God is humble. Nothing is beneath Him when it comes to serving us. Praise Him.

 

Yet we can feel that many things are beneath us. They require us to lay aside our dignity, pride and self-esteem. How can we be expected to do such things? It's because God Himself does.

 

Lord Jesus, please help me to do the ignoble today. May I reflect Your character, love and humility as I go lower. By Your grace, O God.

 

 

4. “The way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever.”

 

My attitude is everything, and my willingness to serve God in the most menial ways, with joy and gratitude, is a gleaming reflection of our God.

 

This is part of the reason monks and nuns throughout history took upon themselves the most menial tasks: washing dishes, serving the poor, tending to lepers, agricultural work, etc. Not only was it their personal spiritual discipline of humbling themselves before God, but they recognized their life as a commentary on God’s character.

 

They were expressing the heart of God for others to see.

 

And what did people see? They experienced servant hearts, others first, great humility and humiliation, diligence and discipline, and love for and from God throughout.

 

I will surely have opportunity to do the same today.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You For Your example, and for the examples set by Your amazing saints. Thank You for the humble beauty we see in willful, obedient, kind and loving acts of service. Please sanctify our serving today and make it holy. May You be evident in and through us.




















2.18.24

 

1. “The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair.”

 

I have always experienced regret and despair as the most miserable of all emotions. The moment is gone forever, and I live with a sense of forlorn.

 

Thank God for our amazing Redeemer. He is able to redeem our moments of regret and take us onward. He doesn’t want us to revel in what could have been. He's interested in the next thing.

 

Despair is deep, deep quicksand. It latches on to our souls and pulls us under, and it has shipwrecked a great many lives. May we get the hang of letting go, letting God redeem, and moving on by His grace.

 

Thank You, Holy God. Thank You for rescuing us when we’re wallowing in our failures. Thank You for redeeming our yesterdays and bringing us into fresh, new tomorrows. Yes, we will follow You there, today.

 

 

2. “Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can't change it. But get up and let's go on to the next thing.”

 

This is such a freeing notion. I can beat myself up for the mistakes I made yesterday. Certainly, I may need to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, but I can never make it like it didn't happen.

 

But I can leave those things at the foot of the cross and refuse to spend needless emotional energy trying to undo the past. “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.”

 

Powerful. Talk about liberation. Praise God.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for fresh starts and new beginnings, every day. Help me leave the past behind and step boldly with You into the next thing.

 

 

3. “Trust Him absolutely and pray on the basis of His Redemption.”

 

Such glorious words. I get to live my daily life clinging tightly to a redemptive worldview in Christ. How healing, reassuring and empowering! Praise Jesus.

 

That means I never despair for myself, knowing God is my Redeemer. Nor do I despair for others, knowing my Redeemer is at work in their life. Nor do I despair for my world, knowing my Redeemer is actively in the process of redeeming all things.

 

This most certainly does not mean I will not grieve. “We grieve, but not as those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  Instead, it means I grieve even as I hope. And that hope makes my grieving bearable.

 

Holy Lord Jesus, please continue to teach me to pray on the basis of Your Redemption—always, in every situation, forevermore. Thank You for Your mighty Redemptive power. Hallelujah!





















2.17.24

 

1. “If we were never depressed, we would not be alive; only material things don't suffer depression.”

 

Once again, I don’t believe Oswald is speaking of clinical depression, which we've discovered is a brain chemistry illness.

 

Instead, Oswald is surely speaking of the “funk” that often comes over us. Perhaps we're tired, bored, frazzled, burdened, over-scheduled, feeling poorly, disappointed, overwhelmed, etc.

 

It's in these moments we must turn to Jesus instead of our despondency. Self-medication won't do the trick. Mind over matter won’t, either. We must learn to latch on to Jesus and find His strength to rise up.

 

“Arise and eat.” This is taking the initiative to follow God's inspiration. No one can do it for us. But God will empower us to do what we need to do. And as we do, we experience the precious grace of God overwhelming our funk.

 

Lord God, perhaps we’re in that funk today. As we turn our eyes to You and do what we know to do, we pray You will clear the haze and fog, and help us see clearly once again. We entrust our emotional and spiritual states to You. Please help us reestablish our footing in Christ.

 

 

2. “If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness or exultation.”

 

This is a powerful notion and speaks to the complexity of the human design.

 

I have the capacity to hate because I also have the capacity to love. I have the capacity to be selfish because I also have the capacity to be generous. I have the capacity to lust because I also have the capacity to be faithful to my spouse.

 

Likewise, I can become despondent with the same capacity I can experience happiness and joy. There are times what I wish my emotions only went in one direction, but that's not how God made me.

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the magnificence of Your creation. I thank You for the great capacities You've given me. Please help me connect with Your Spirit and exercise my potential virtues, while finding victory over my potential liabilities.

 

 

3. “God tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable.”

 

We're liable to think God only speaks in moments of greatness, as if He's only the God of the momentous, and not also the God of the minuscule.

 

Thank God, He’s Lord of all things. Praise Him.

 

Very early in my God-walk, I began to realize God was directing me in the most mundane things. I hesitate to even mention them because they seem foolish. But it was undeniable to me that God was teaching me to listen and respond to His still, small voice.

 

To this day I seem to recognize God's leadership throughout my day. What to do next, how to respond to this person or that situation, decision-making, spending money, spending time, etc.

 

It's not because God is controlling. It’s because God is leading me into His abundance. And I find it's my pleasure and joy to obey.

 

Holy Spirit, please open my heart and my ears to respond to Your still, small voice, even in the most mundane matters. Thank You for preparing me to respond in the weightiest matters.

 

 

4. “God inspires us to do things we would never have imagined, and as we do them, we find Him there.”

 

Is anything too big for God? Certainly not. Is anything too small for God? Surely not.

 

We are a common sense people. We say, “God gave us a brain for a reason.” That’s certainly true. But He gave us a brain to work in conjunction with His.

 

Let's be careful not use our brain as an excuse for not listening to and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It's the small steps that can change a lifelong trajectory.

 

Holy Spirit, please direct our steps today. Help us be very deliberate to listen and heed. We want to be where and when You want us to be.

 

 

5. “ If we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it.”

 

This may seem counterintuitive, but Oswald is helping us understand that spiritual matters must be addressed by spiritual means.

 

My despondency is not simply an emotional matter. It involves my spirit, mind, soul and will as well. That means I cannot address it merely with positive thinking, recreation, relaxation, self-medication, etc.

 

Instead, I must haul myself before God and let Him address my holistic being. He Who created all of me is able to minister to all of me. He is my Chief Physician, especially over dimensions of my being I'm only beginning to become familiar with.

 

Heavenly Father, I come to You with my whole self. Please care for all for me. I bring my dispositions before You. Please bring balance and wholeness to my entire system. Thank You.




























2.16.24

 

1. “Not all initiative is inspired by God.”

 

This is surely true. Consider the incredible feats humankind has attempted and accomplished throughout history—with our without a knowledge of God. We certainly do have the chutzpah to initiate.

 

Unfortunately, we’re also capable of initiating feats leading to incredible harm. The world is full of humankind’s destructive acts. Obviously, not all self-initiative is of God. Therefore, I will do well to check my spirit and God’s as I act on my initiative.

 

Nothing is neutral in God’s Kingdom.

 

Holy Spirit, please help me discern in my spirit what how I might use my knowledge, skills, abilities for You, Your Kingdom and Your glory. I don’t want to use my finite strength to initiate dead works.

 

 

2. “We all have many dreams and aspirations, but not the power to accomplish them.”

 

The older I get, the more unrealized many of my dreams become. Part of it is my increasing maturity and disinterest in the pursuits of my youth. And part is because seasons of my life are behind me, and I’m pursuing new dreams and aspirations in my present season.

 

Let the Great Adventure in Christ continue!

 

It breaks my heart to meet men and women with unrealized dreams and aspirations, but nothing else to take their place. Therefore, they live in the past with great regret, and are tempted to believe their lives serve no purpose.

 

But, for the Christ-follower, our past is overwhelmed by what God might bring today. God continues to inspire our heart with greater knowledge of Himself as we walk in faith and obedience. In Christ, we’re able to find great purpose, meaning and abundance in the day-to-day, come what may.

 

There's nothing better than knowing our lives matter to God. We gain that satisfaction as we follow God's leadership moment-by-moment. Hallelujah!

 

Lord Jesus, please have us for Your purposes. May the dreams and aspirations of our youth pale in comparison to our participation in Your Kingdom on a daily basis.

 

 

3. “When God sends His inspiration, it comes with the miraculous power to arise from the dead and do the impossible.”

 

I’m  so impressed with what many have done for God and His Kingdom over the centuries. I’ve even witnessed God's inspiration in a person’s latter years, leading to the greatest and most fruitful season of their life.

 

God’s never finished with us. His creative power never times out. He’s able to inspire at any point in our lives, and energize us to do great and wonderful things for His Kingdom.

 

But only if we want to. May it be the desire of our hearts to be inspired by God to serve His Kingdom in the many and various ways of His choosing until the glorious day we see Him face-to-face.

 

Lord Jesus, here we are. Use us. May we never, ever consider ourselves past our prime when it comes to serving You. Please inspire us today and surprise us with Your capabilities in and through us.

 

 

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

 

This is always been an inspiring Oswald-ism For me.

 

This seems to be God's way throughout the Scriptures and throughout history. God doesn't simply flip a switch and we overcome. We must put one foot in front of the other, reach for God's grace, and trust Him to see us through.

 

And as we do, and by His sufficiency, we find our ourselves overcoming.  Hallelujah.

 

We all face daily challenges, hard things, difficult people, and things we simply don't want to do. But, if we’ll hunker down with Jesus and do what we know to do, we’ll find victory, even in our hardships.

 

Lord Jesus, I fully commit myself to You today. I receive Your grace and strength to do what I need to do. I trust You to meet me there and empower me to go the distance.

 

 

5. “We have to get ourselves up; God will not lift us up.”

 

There are times when I wish God would do it for me. But God seems to do it through me instead.

 

That is, through my self-starting, self-initiating, persevering, everyday decisions, Christ is my inner strength as I pull the necessary levers.

 

This God thing is anything but automatic. We must be willing to trust Christ, follow the leadership of His Spirit, seek first His Kingdom, step out in faith and obedience, deny ourselves and take up our cross. None of that happens by accident.

 

But along the way, we find the power that created the universe at our disposal. God enables us to do everything we must—including making Him first place in our lives. May it be so.

 

Lord Jesus, today we give You what we have—our innate ability to get ourselves up, stand to our feet, stand before You, and “yes.”






























2.15.24

 

1. “I’m spiritually responsible to God for other people.”

 

There are times when I wish this were not the case. It would certainly be simpler not to be responsible for others.

 

Without a doubt we’re spiritually responsible for ourselves. No one can do it for us. But Oswald reminds us our responsibility extends to the people God places in our circles and our paths.

 

“If I allow any turning away from God in my private life, everyone around me will suffer.” I know from experience the truth of this statement. If I don't give the first and best moments of every day to my Heavenly Father, everyone around me knows it.

 

A guitar instructor once told me, “If you miss one day of practice, you know it. If you miss two days, your wife knows it. If you miss three days, you lose the gig.” The same is true of my daily time with Jesus. If I don’t show up it’s very evident to others.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for our precious time together, and thank You for what You do in my heart as we commune. I pray it will become the highest priority in my life every day.

 

 

2. “ If  one member suffers, all the members suffer.”

 

I've really never thought of this Scripture in this way.

 

The typical rendering of this passage regards our care for those among us who are suffering. We all feel one another's hurt, and all care for one another's needs.

 

Oswald suggests that, by our own neglect in pursuing Jesus, I am the one who suffers, and I cause the rest of the Body of Christ to suffer loss along with me. My spiritual poverty becomes theirs.  Yikes.

 

The last thing in the world I want is to be a burden on others. I certainly don't want to inflict hardship on others because of my own neglect.

 

Lord, have mercy.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for this admonishment. I pray I would seek You, not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of others. May it be so.

 

 

3. “Who is sufficient to live into such a lofty standard?”

 

We might resent Oswald speaking such idyllic notions.  He certainly makes us very aware of our deficiencies.

 

He also challenges all of our excuses: “Our sufficiency is from God.” Indeed, we are incapable in our own strength of living into the ideals of God. Yet, in Christ, the same Spirit that dwelt Jesus and enabled His sacrificial living and dying lives in us, too.  And by that Spirit. “We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.”

 

Oswald’s right: “You are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Wow.

 

Holy Spirit, You are indeed my sufficiency. I will own it—when I don't live into Your ideal, it's on me, not on You. Please strengthen me to be everything I can be for the glory of God.

 

 

4. “How many of us are willing to spend every bit of our nervous, mental, moral, and spiritual energy for Jesus Christ?”

 

There are things money simply can't buy—like hope, joy and peace.

 

There are also things money can't express—like love, faithfulness and devotion.

 

But we can express all that stuff by offering our invaluable, finite, costly and precious inner energies to others. To give our ourselves in this way is one of the greatest personal gifts we can offer.

 

Have we ever served Jesus with all our energies? Have we ever poured ourselves out to the dregs in service to Jesus? If we have, we know the great satisfaction of having given something to Jesus that can’t be required, but only voluntarily offered.

 

It’s in those moments we experience the truth of Jesus words: “It's more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for giving everything for us. Please have our passions, energies and strength as we offer them as our love gift to You today.

 

 

5.  “Am I willing to be of no value to this age or this life except for one purpose and one alone—to be used to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ?”

 

Hey, New Horizon.  Do you smell “DiscipleSHIFT” in this statement?  That is, Christ’s calling for all of us to become and make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples.

 

Why would we do so? Foremost, because Jesus commissioned us. And, because God is increasing our love and concern for others. We’re beginning to recognize there’s more to Jesus than going to heaven when we die. It’s a life lived in the fullness and abundance of our God, splashing and swimming in the Living Water that flows from His throne.

 

We want others to know “The Good Life” Jesus intends for each of us. Because anything less is infinitely less.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great and mighty work happening in our hearts. Please increase our heart’s desire that others might know and grow in You. It’s such a joy to be a part of Your work in them.

 

 

6.  “My life of service to God is the way I say ‘thank You’ to Him for His inexpressibly wonderful salvation.”

 

Gratitude is a great motivator. When someone has blessed me, it’s a joy to bless them in return.

 

So it is with our God. Our daily lives, thoughts, words and deeds are our love offering to the God Who offered us His greatest treasure in Christ.

 

Christ is also why our gratitude never ends. Indeed, He saved me years ago, but every day since He has graced my life with His love, mercy, kindness, generosity, strength, healing, fellowship and more.

 

As it turns out, a life of gratitude to our God yields more and more abundance, which elicits more and more gratitude. And the cycle continues endlessly.

 

God is indeed good, all the time!

 

Lord God, You’re utterly amazing. I gladly and joyfully thank You with all I am and ever will be, forever.

 

 

7. “Remember, it is quite possible for God to set any of us aside if we refuse to be of service to Him”

 

This may sound like a threat. Yet surely nothing could be more personally grievous to God.

 

God created us for His purposes. He put a mix of stuff in us that is not replicated by any other soul on earth. To use our stuff for God’s Kingdom is to live in the center of God’s will and abundance.

 

But what is God to do if we’re a hindrance instead of an asset? God beckons time and again, and time and again we ignore or turn away. But God doesn’t dismiss us. Instead, we’re self-selecting out of His Master Plan.

 

Oswald isn’t suggesting we’ll lose our salvation by refusing to obey our Savior. “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). God will continue to call to us time and again.

 

But on the day we stand before Him, amid our great praise and adoration, we will also have great regrets for not being all we could have been.

 

Father, please forgive us for being so unresponsive to Your nudges. Pease don’t set us aside. We want more and more opportunities to serve You and show You our loving gratitude for all You’ve done for us.

































2.14.24

 

1. “The discipline of darkness.”

 

There are certainly dark nights of the soul. Perhaps it's our disobedience; perhaps it's our circumstances; or perhaps it's simply God drawing us closer.

 

“God puts us in the shadow of His hand until we learn to hear Him.” This is powerful. God doesn’t exile us to a lonely desert island, but is drawing us as close as the very palm of His hand.

 

Our spirit can become anxious because God's Light seems absent. But if we’ll still our soul, we’ll sense His warmth and nearness, even in the darkness.

 

It’s one of the ways our loving God gains our attention.

 

Father, it's difficult to thank You in and for darkness. But thank You for the warmth and nearness of the palm of Your hand. Teach us to rest there as we await You.

 

 

2. “Darkness is the time to listen, not to speak.”

 

This makes great sense to me. If I speak in my times of darkness, it may be complaining and seeking sympathy from others.

 

However, if I turn to Jesus in my darkness and pour out my lament to Him, I have His full attention and compassion. I recognize He hasn’t forsaken me. He’s even closer in my darkness.

 

“Even the darkness is not dark to You” (Psalm 139:12).

 

Lord Jesus, please help me be still in the darkness, entrust myself to You, and listen for Your heartbeat. May I find Your solace as you offer me Your undivided attention.

 

 

3. “If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying.”

 

How powerful. And how counterintuitive and foreign to my nature.

 

Wise counsel is important. God certainly speaks to us through the many people in our lives. Our fellowship with others is God's gift to us.

 

But there are times when I must hear God on my own. I can’t rely on someone else to hear God for me. Talking may only complicate matters.

 

I’ve learned over the years, if God isn’t speaking, no amount of inquiry will speed the process. Nor will speaking with others. If God hasn’t spoken, even the wisest counsel is insufficient.

 

Lord God, thank You that You speak to our hearts. Thank You that You don't leave us forlorn. Please help us wait You out so we might hear You out.

 

 

4. “God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.”

 

The message we offer may be, “Wait upon the Lord, and He’ll renew your strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

 

That is, in my waiting, I’m learning, and I’ll have an opportunity to share that learning with others. And as I do, it will be precious to me because God has revealed Himself to me in greater measure.

 

“Back in the light.” Of this we can be assured: “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). The clouds will one day part and His Light will break through.

 

In the meantime, Heavenly Father, we are determined to trust You. Thank You for the precious gift that will be ours as the darkness turns to light once again.

 

 

5. “A mixture of delight and humiliation.”

 

I know this experience full well. In times of anxiety and concern, I beckon and beckon to God—as if He’s clueless, uncaring or not listening. But nothing could be further from the truth.

 

And as God brings me to the other side of the matter, I will see clearly His hand was with me throughout, He orchestrated and intervened along the way, and I was never alone or on my own.

 

That's when the humiliation comes. Not public humiliation, devaluing or cruel chastising. Instead, the sense that, once again, I failed to trust God and give Him the benefit of the doubt.

 

But even in my humiliation I'm always met with His warm embrace and reassuring words: “You can always safely trust Me” (Psalm 31:11).

 

Thank You, Father. You’re our delight, even when we doubt You.




































2.13.14

 

1. “If I love my friend, I will instinctively understand what they want.”

 

We are beginning to better understand what Oswald means when he speaks of “hearing the voice of God.”

 

Oswald isn’t implying auditory hearing, although Biblical characters and some throughout history claim they have.

 

Instead, hearing God's voice is more of a “knowing.” For instance, “I will instinctively understand what my friend wants” speaks of the intuition that comes from close proximity. God doesn't have to speak to me for me to know what He is saying.

 

“If I’m united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time. A flower, tree or servant of God may convey God's message to me.” This is the instinctual knowing of God's heart and intentions demonstrated by God through the world around me every day.

 

“The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me.” Is this not the relationship we have with those we love? We have their ear, and they have ours.

 

Lord Jesus, may our ear be inclined toward You always. May we know Your heart more and more.

 

 

2. “I show God my lack of love and respect for God by the insensitivity of my heart and mind toward what He says.”

 

I wonder if this doesn't also include our complaint that it's difficult to discern the voice of God?

 

We may claim it’s difficult to hear God because we would rather not hear God if we don't like what we hear. Perhaps the true difficulty lies in our indifference or disagreement.

 

Surely it's our love and respect for God that tunes our heart to hear His, and our deference to His will that opens this gracious channel.

 

Lord God, may it be so. May we love and respect You enough to listen to Your heart and embrace Your loving whispers.

 

 

3. “Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord’s this week?”

 

The answer is obviously, “yes.” Of concern here is the attitude of my heart in this regard.

 

If I’m defensive or obstinate in my response, or if I make excuses, or if I believe I am in the right, surely it’s an indication of my self-assurance and self-reliance.

 

But if I’m cut to the heart by this statement, surely it reveals my inclination and sensitivity to God's voice, and, regretfully, my liability and proclivity to ignore it. And it saddens me and leads me to repentance.

 

Lord Jesus, I want to be more authentically an integrally Yours in every aspect and nuance of my life. If there’s any hesitation in me whatsoever, please do what You must to root it out. Thank You.

 

 

4. “The attitude of a child of God should always be, ‘Speak, for Your servant is listening.’”

 

Perhaps this has never even occurred to me before. Thank God for brother Oswald causing us to ponder.

 

Perhaps I feel no need for God to speak to me. After all, I’m a relatively good person doing my best for others, right?

 

Or maybe it’s never dawned on me that God may have something to say to me. That notion in and of itself may open our heart to listen.

 

But perhaps Oswald’s statement spurs something in me, because I'm beginning to adopt the posture of one who follows Jesus. I’m recognizing myself as one at God’ beck and call, saved for His purposes, and learning to surrender my life to His leadership.

 

“Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.”

 

Heavenly Father, we want to be Your loving and faithful child. To that end, please speak to our heart. Please give us ears to hear and a determination to Respond.








































2.12.24

 

1. “We don't conscientiously and deliberately disobey God; We simply don't listen to Him.”

 

Of course there are times when we deliberately disobey God. We can name them. We know without a doubt.

 

But Oswald is helping us realize there are plenty of times when we simply pay God no mind. We're not interested and what He might have to say, nor what His Word might ask of us.

 

We're not alone in doing so: Jonah ran from God trying not to hear.

 

God’s not alone, either. We know exactly how it feels to have someone turn a deaf ear to something we have to say.

 

That’s the thing about relationships. All parties have to willingly participate.

 

Father, thanks for being a God Who speaks. It would be a lonely universe without You. But we will quickly admit that we often ignore You. Please forgive us and change our heart. By Your grace, may we be eager to listen and quick to respond.

 

 

2. “God has given us His commands, but we pay no attention to them because we don’t truly love and respect Him.”

 

This speaks to the horsepower of love.

 

We, along with many others, will do great and noble deeds motivated by love. Just like our God, Who, out of His great love for us, was motivated to sacrifice His Son on our behalf.

 

This is why Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me” (John 14:15). Jesus can't make us obey Him, and often our willpower will fail us. But loving Jesus enables us to do for Jesus what we won't do otherwise.

 

Lord Jesus, we love You because You first loved us. Please increase our love for You day by day. May our growing and compelling love for You cause us to pay attention and respond.

 

 

3. “We prefer to listen to God's servants rather than to God Himself.”

 

Oswald cuts to the chase.

 

If I listen to you, I have a choice. When I listen to God, I am faced with obedience or disobedience. No wonder I would rather listen to you.

 

Surely this is one of the reasons we often neglect daily Bible reading, prayer, etc. We may prefer church and friendships, because what we hear from the platform and from friends are simply opinions among many, and we treat them with discretion.

 

But when God speaks, it’s between God and us, period. And that’s not always our preference.

 

Heavenly Father, please forgive us for ignoring the still small voice of Your Spirit. Please forgive us instead for seeking the religious sense we get by listening to other Christians, teachers and preachers. Please increase our appetite for hearing directly from You.

 

 

4. “A real delight in finally hearing God is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.”

 

I hear this lament time and again. I heard it all the way through seminary: “I knew God was calling, but I didn't listen. I finally did, and I'm so thankful.”

 

Surely this is true for all of us. God nudges and nudges, and is often met with our silence and inaction. And when we finally do respond, although we grieve our delayed response, we’re met with God’s affirmation and delight.

 

Isn’t God good?

 

May our response time become sooner and sooner.

 

Father, thank You for reaching out to us again and again with Your still, small voice. Please forgive our delayed obedience, and, by Your grace, may our response time continually diminish. Thank You for Your incredible patience as we discover the blessing of deferring to Your leadership.












































2.11.24

 

1. “If you’ve never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now.”

 

My guess is, in our mind’s eye, we all imagine God. And most likely, my image of God is very different from yours.

 

Oswald is encouraging us to place ourselves before that God, to imagine ourselves in His presence, at His feet, in His arms, in conversation with Him, absorbed, laughing, learning, and receiving both His encouragement and correction.

 

Doing so forces us to be in fellowship with God. Not estranged, not distanced, not a fictitious God, not an unapproachable God, but our Holy and Blessed God, our Heavenly Father, and the One Who loves us and sent His Son for us.

 

And surely, as we place ourselves before Him in our minds, He is able to adjust, correct and focus our minds on Who He truly is. Which will only serve to encourage us to place ourselves before Him more and more.

 

Heavenly Father, what tremendous sentiments. Thank You for receiving us. Please forgive us for our negligence, fear, distractions, or whatever else keeping us from placing ourselves before You. Please help us do it here and now.

 

 

2. “There’s no reason to wait for God to come to you.”

 

It’s unimaginable to imagine that you have the privilege of approaching the throne of our Holy and Living God. Who are we to do so?

 

Perhaps we think it no strange thing  After all, why wouldn't we be able to? If we think in this manner, it’s because we do not perceive His Holiness and our unworthiness.

 

But perhaps we hesitate to approach God because we don’t yet apprehend what Christ has done for us by His cross and Resurrection. We’ve been cleansed, forgiven and adopted children of God! “Therefore, we boldly approach His throne to receive His grace during times of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

 

If we're waiting to be invited, we already have been.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for making a way to the Father. Father, thank You for receiving us as Your children. Please help us practice taking full advantage of having full access to our God and Father.

 

 

3. “Your creative mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him.”

 

What a powerful insight.

 

Thank God for our creative minds. We use them every day. It's amazing to behold what imaginative minds throughout human history have produced in terms of education, art, technology and more.

 

But, what if God has blessed us with such creativity capacity primarily to imagine our infinite God? How else might we conceive of and engage with a God we cannot see, touch or fully comprehend?

 

Consider the joy of forever exploring our amazing God with our thoughts, imaginations and intellect. How satisfying to have our minds consumed by the splendor and majesty of our God.

 

Father, thank You for the gift of our incredible minds. May We use them to interface with You in greater capacity. Please help us devote our minds to this glorious pursuit.

 

 

4. “When times of trial come, our minds are one of the greatest assets of our faith, because our faith and mind work together with the Spirit of God.”

 

Some consider Christian faith to be anti-intellectual, as if faith and reason do not go hand-in-hand.

 

Oswald challenges us to recognize our mind as part of activating our faith. We’re always conscious when we extend our faith and trust toward God. Our mind and faith couple with the Holy Spirit, and we find ourselves able to endure, conquer, gain victory, step out in boldness, sacrifice, submit to God and obey, etc.

 

It would seem our minds are part of God's equation as we live in union with our God. Who would have ever thought? 😊

 

Holy Spirit, thank You for stimulating our mind and catalyzing our faith. Thank You for our whole being and Your brilliant design for engaging our Maker.
















































2.10.24

 

1. “We starve our God-imagination by looking on the face of idols.”

 

This really registers with me.

 

“Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is it yourself? Your work? Your previous experience of God?” If this is the case, we tremendously limit the way we visualize God. He can be no bigger than our idols.

 

That is, we cannot imagine a God bigger than our intellectual and experiential capacity to perceive Him. That is, we can only perceive of God based on the context of our work, family, hurts, hardships, life experiences, etc.. Even our previous experiences of God can limit our imagination of Who God is.

 

“Begin to use our imagination correctly, with every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades.” Even the limitless glory of God's Creation beckons us to loose our imaginations and visualize God in greater and endless measure.

 

Because He’s always bigger and greater than we can imagine.

 

Heavenly Father, please forgive us for impoverishing our imaginations by limiting You by the confines of what we know, understand and have experienced. Please expand our ability to imagine our unimaginable God.

 

 

2. “The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your thoughts and imaginations under control.”

 

Ouch.

 

Perhaps you, like me, struggle with bringing thoughts and imaginations under control. Sometimes it seems impossible, because my mind can stray so easily. It requires vast energies to constantly direct and redirect my thoughts.

 

Oswald says “spiritual focus” is the crux of the matter—lifting my eyes to Jesus, time and again, as my mind wanders. While staring at Jesus I’m able to rebuke godless thoughts, harness my attention and sustain godly thinking about life, circumstances and others.

 

I can’t seem to do it on my own. I need “the Mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). And I sustain that mind by constantly focusing my attention on Jesus.

 

Holy Spirit, I’m in great need of harnessing Your strength to reel in my thoughts and imaginations, and focus my attention on the things of God. You know my wandering thoughts. You know my vivid imagination. By Your grace, and face-to-face with Jesus, may I become more and more capable of leveraging my intellectual capacities for Your Kingdom and Your glory.

 

 

3.  “Intercession is actually more important than personal contact with others.”

 

This one tests our sensibilities.

 

I would imagine we all affirm the power and effectiveness of God's response to our prayers for others. But, we may also be likely to imagine our interactions with others to be more effective than praying for them.

 

Hmmm.

 

Oswald isn’t suggesting we simply pray instead of offering ourselves for others in need. We’re certainly God's vessels for His care in people’s lives.

 

But the notion of intercession being more important than hands-on serving certainly stretches our valuation of the efficacy of prayer. Oswald is challenging me to understand that, although we can help to an extent, God is the only constant Helper for humankind. And our intercession is a means to engage that Helper for the sake of others.

 

Lord Jesus, I undervalue and underestimate my praying for others. I toss up a prayer out of obligation, then work with my hands as if You’re not in the picture. Have mercy. May we become ever-more vigilant and fervent in intercession, trusting that You can do exceeding and abundantly more then we can ever do. Thank You.
















































2.9.24

 

1. “Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies.”

 

As a Christian worker, this is such a helpful perspective.

 

It’s utterly exhausting to care for people's needs, communicate well, navigate relationships, and help people grow in their faith. Certainly, if my source of energy is my own soul, I will become depleted in no time.

 

Which leads to disillusionment, discouragement, a sense of failure and giving up.

 

Conversely, as we connect with Jesus, our output to others becomes, “rivers of living water flowing from our belly” (John 7:38). And it's life's most rewarding experience.

 

Years ago I suffered from spiritual bloat—great spiritual intake and zero spiritual output. It’s no wonder that, in time, the Scriptures and prayer were no longer alluring, and worship and fellowship lost their luster. I had no appetite for more of God because I wasn’t giving away what God has already given me.

 

Beloved, let’s dole out what God pours in.  God blesses us that we might be blessings to others.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the rigor of spiritual output. It's the joy of our lives to be used for Your glory. Please help us maintain our focus of connecting with You. Please fill us up so You might empty us for the sake of others. And all for Your glory and honor.

 

 

2. “You have to be the nourishment for other people's souls until they learn to feed on God.”

 

When working with our disciple-makers at New Horizon, we speak of helping people become “self-feeders.” That is, helping others develop the ability to hear God speak through the Scriptures, and metabolize God’s grace for themselves.

 

Unfortunately, oftentimes “the church” does the searching, digestion and feeding, rather than preparing others to learn to feed themselves. After all, “You have need that no man teach you, because the anointing you have received from God teaches you” (1 John 2:27).

 

And, as we learn to feed ourselves, we’re able to help do the same. Surely this is disciples, making disciples, making disciples.

 

Lord Jesus, may this be the case among us. May we not depend on others for our sustenance, nor become lifetime surrogates. Instead, may we grow and grow others in successfully receiving directly from You. After all, You’re the Source of all good things.

 

 

3. “We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.”

 

May we become more and more aware of God's intention to use each and every one of us in helping others know and grow in Jesus.

 

For me, this is the core motivation for my own personal, spiritual care. I'm of no use to God or anyone else until I make a daily connection with God, receive1 His download, and set off to influence others for His Kingdom.

 

Most of us aren’t good at caring for ourselves with proper diet, exercise, rest and more. We’re certainly far more disciplined about the care and feeding of our children, family members, our elderly, clients, etc.

 

May we become as good at self-care, both physical and spiritual, as we are at caring for others.  And, may our spiritual self-care be motivated by our eagerness to have a hand in helping others becoming Jesus’ disciples.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the motivation to do for others what I will not do for myself. May I practice what I preach in caring for my own soul, so I can effectively offer myself to others.

 

 

4. “You have no right to complain, ‘O, Lord, I am so exhausted.’ He saved and sanctified you to exhaust you.”

 

These are hard words.

 

We live in a world preoccupied with holistic care, balance, emotional well-being, etc. I certainly don’t minimize or diminish the need for these practices. But, for the Christian worker, giving our all seems to be par for the course.

 

This is the example of many, many Bible characters—including Christ Himself. God put them to doing, and they served God with all they had. Saints throughout history have done the same, pouring themselves out to the dregs for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.

 

And why wouldn't we? Is there any greater honor or privilege than serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Of bringing God as much glory as we can with our finite earthly lives? Of seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness in everything we do?

 

Lord Jesus, please replenish our souls as we exhaust ourselves for You. And please forgive us when we complain about being exhausted. May it be the desire of our hearts to use all our energies and resources for Your purposes.





















































2.8.24

 

1. “Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit's work in us?”

 

Oswald helps us understand the weight and significance of sanctification. According to his definition, surely “we take the word ‘sanctification’ much too lightly.”

 

We understand sanctification is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in us as we give ourselves to His efforts. That sounds well and good. I welcome the Holy Spirit strengthening me, healing me, cleansing me, etc.

 

But Oswald suggests sanctification goes far beyond. It is “a deep restriction of all our earthly concerns, and an extensive cultivation of all our godly concerns.” That is, God is working to shape our affections and appetites. “The things of earth will become strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

 

It’s certainly a challenging process as God calls for more and more jurisdiction in our souls. Oswald alludes to the intense cost of “permitting God to perform in us everything for which He has separated us.”

 

I like the romantic notion of sanctification—God with me, God strengthening me, God comforting me, etc. Will I just as eagerly receive the heart and life transforming process of sanctification as well?

 

Lord Jesus, it's Your will to sanctify me wholly by your Holy Spirit. I pray for Your continuing grace that I might fully participate. May my ultimate ambition be entire sanctification.

 

 

2. “Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God's point of view.”

 

This certainly ups the ante on sanctification.

 

I'm not convinced this simply means adding more and more of God's point of view to mine. I fear this means less and less concern with my point of view and making God's point of view my priority.

 

This would insinuate that God is more than a supplement in my life. He’s to become the very center of my life, my north star, reference point, foundation, pursuit and preoccupation.

 

I appreciate Oswald’s insistence on “my utmost for his highest.” It's inescapable as I read this book.

 

May it be so in me, Lord Jesus. By Your grace. Thank You.

 

 

3. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us.”

 

A powerful summation.

 

We recognize the life of Christ as one completely given over to God's will and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Jesus became flesh to demonstrate this mode of being.

 

When we say, “the Holy Spirit is making us more like Jesus,” surely this is what we mean. The Holy Spirit is not simply making us kinder and more loving people. He is invading and usurping control. He is the nature of Christ in us, seeking to reign from the throne of our heart.

 

Armed with this perspective, we understand the battle before us. Our will does not give up its throne easily. It must be wrestled to the ground and crucified—daily—that the Resurrected Christ might live through us.

 

It's the grace of God through the Holy Spirit that helps us assume this posture. And it's the grace of God through his Holy Spirit that will give us grace to participate as He works the ongoing process of sanctification.

 

Please, Lord.

 

Holy Spirit, I think I want this. Please help me want-to-want this. And to stay the course and go the distance as You work Your sanctification in me. All by Your mercy, for the glory of God. Hallelujah.

 

 

4. “The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus Christ.”

 

This is such a powerful statement. It's not spiritual gifts, spiritual power, miracles or manifestations of the Holy Spirit that mark us as disciples. Instead, it's our resemblance to Jesus Himself.

 

This speaks to something far beyond moral and ethical behaviors. It’s describes the humble posture of our humble Savior Who surrendered Himself, stooped to the earth and gave His life. Jesus demonstrated complete obedience to the will of God, for the glory of His Heavenly Father and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.

 

Oswald says it’s this posture and lifestyle that demonstrates our kinship with Jesus. What a beautifully high, high bar.

 

Holy Spirit, I love the idea of having a family likeness to Jesus. Thank You for Your intense work to make it so in me. Please do as You must to bring it about.


























































2.7.24


1. “Dejection.”

 

Let's hear Oswald correctly: “If I'm depressed or burdened, I’m to blame, not God or anyone else.”

 

We may object to Oswald's statement because we live in a day in which we are understanding ourselves better than at any time in history. Certainly more so than in Oswald's day.

 

Today we recognize things like clinical anxiety and depression, PTSD, ADHD, autism, etc. We've learned that these can emerge from our brain chemistry, and can be exacerbated by our upbringing, abuse, trauma, environment and more.

 

Oswald's term, “dejection,” helps me differentiate. Dejection comes from a misinterpretation of Who God is, how He operates and what He might be doing in our lives. “We were hoping He was the One.” Jesus WAS the One, yet they were feeling dejected because God didn’t live into their ideal.

 

Surely we’ve all felt the same “dejection” when God has failed to live into ours.

 

Heavenly Father, please forgive us when we insist that You live into our expectations. Please forgive us for doubting and blaming You when our circumstances are distasteful. Thank You for never leaving or forsaking us. May we learned to cling to You as we face the temptation of feeling dejected.

 

 

2. “Spiritual lust causes me to demand an answer from God instead of seeking God Himself.”

 

This certainly demonstrates our human nature.

 

We recognize our physical lusts and appetites. They can be great liabilities. We know good and well the trouble they can cause.

 

But do we recognize our spiritual lust, making demands of God, bargaining, pouting and more? We've all certainly been and know children who do the same of adults.

 

How childish of us to see God merely for what He can do for us rather than for God Himself. I'm certainly glad that's not God's way with me. He’s interested me as a human being, not merely in what I can do for Him. Thank You, Lord Jesus.

 


Heavenly Father, please forgive us for our often demands of You. We want to be more interested in You then we are in what You will do for us. May it be so, by Your grace.

 

 

3. “The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer.”

 

Oswald isn’t suggesting that we not ask of God: “Let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

 

Instead, he's helping us understand the great privilege of prayer. God is not a vending machine. Our Heavenly Father created and rules Heaven and Earth, and is greater , grander and more holy than we can possibly imagine. Yet, by His grace, He avails Himself to us for fellowship. Wow.

 

God permits us access to His holy throne by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Hallelujah!

 

How unfortunate when we take this for granted and squander it. To reduce our gracious and costly connection with God to a hot line for help when we have a need is to infinitely undervalue what Christ has done in atoning and adopting us as God’s beloved children.

 

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your unending availability. May it be the joy of our lives to be with you.

 

 

4. “It is in the everyday things of life that we realize the magnificent deity of Jesus Christ.”

 

We might imagine that God reveals Himself only in miraculous, colossal and supernatural ways. Yet it's often the smallest things that most loudly proclaim God’s glory.

 

For instance, a word from a friend, the smile of a child, a busy hummingbird, and the beating heart in our chest—all of these easily overlooked moments can exude the intimate love, grace and presence of God.

 

It’s hard to comprehend that our humble God often expresses His infinite majesty in the quietest ways. Wow.

 

In turn, let’s realize we must never underestimate the very smallest things we say and do because they could be the means by which God is speaking to others.

 

Lord Jesus, please open our eyes to see Your magnificence in the cracks and crevices of our lives. Please forgive us for overlooking Your intimate care while our attention is trained elsewhere.
































































2.6.24

 

1. “Are you ready to be poured out as a drink offering?”

 

Oswald is referring to the “drink offerings” or “libations” first mentioned in Leviticus 23:13. Drink offerings amounted to a wine mixture priests poured out upon various burnt offerings during sacrificial rituals in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple.

 

Oswald uses this as a metaphor of our willingness to permit God to use us as He will. It’s letting God help Himself to our heart and life, and pouring ourselves out for His purposes.

 

There’s something incredibly holy about the drink offering. It's not a have-to; it’s a get-to. It’s a sacred surrender of our soul out of love for our Heavenly Father. He does not force or require it from us. We freely give it to Him.

 

Father, we can't imagine how You might use us today or tomorrow. But we can choose now to place our life in Your hands and give You permission to do with us as You will. By Your grace and through your Spirit, please have us. It's our highest honor and greatest joy to give ourselves to You.

 

 

2. “It is an act of your will, not your emotions.”

 

We do enjoy mountain top emotional experiences with our God, moments of joy when God is very present and His power is very real. Thank God for those occasions.

 

But emotions are periodic, stirred from within and without by various circumstances and stimuli. Emotions stand in stark contrast to an act of our will, because the latter requires decision-making and follow-through using our heart, mind and chutzpah.

 

Emotions happen. Our will is on purpose.

 

So much of the Christian walk is an act of our will. We choose, decide and act on our own. It can’t be forced. No one can do it for us.

 

Thankfully, God gives us His Holy Spirit to turbocharge our will. That is, God's grace enables us to decide, and when we decide, God's grace is able to amplify our willpower. It’s God’s way of strengthening us to choose and act on our choices.

 

It's precisely how our Lord Jesus Christ operated: “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your powerful example. Holy Spirit, please graciously help us will to do the Father’s will. Heavenly Father, by Your grace we declare, “not my will but Yours be done.” Amen and so be it.

 

 

3. “Accept the consequences as they come, without any complaints, in spite of what God may send your way.”

 

This speaks of the Sovereignty of our God. Do I believe God is Sovereign overall? Do I believe “not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of our Heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:29)? Am I confident His hand is on the tiller in my life?

 

If so, I'm able to keep my head when the going gets tough, stay in the race during uphill battles, patiently interact with challenging people, etc.

 

Yet I am given to complaining, seeking sympathy and licking my wounds. I have a way of letting others know of my hardships, hoping for their attention and empathy.

 

But Jesus says, “Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3). I need not broadcast my hardships to others. If God is indeed Sovereign over my life, I can hide myself in Jesus, draw from His grace and reckon with my circumstances.

 

Heavenly Father, as I surrender to Your Lordship, please put me to what You will. I accept the circumstances You place me in. Thank You for Your all-sufficient grace as You accomplish Your purposes in and through me.

 

 

4. “Once you have experienced the crisis in your will, you will take no thought for what it will cost when it begins to affect you externally.”

 

My will directs my response.

 

As I surrender my will to God, I am no longer mine. What happens to me is happening to God Himself. My concern, then, is not for myself, but for my God, His purposes and His glory, and I can give myself to hardships for His sake.

 

As long as I have something at stake in the matter, everything will matter to me. If I am concerned for my reputation, for my druthers, for my ease and pleasure, anything that disturbs those things will disturb me.

 

But, as I offer my heart as a love offering to God, I am no longer concerned with me, only Him.

 

Is this an idyllic notion? Without a doubt. But, by God's grace, may we strive daily for that ideal.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for wrestling with our heart and will. May we be won over by Your love, and freely give ourselves for Your disposal. Thank You for the progress You’re making in me.

 

 

5. “You must be willing to be placed on the altar and go through the fire—the elimination of every desire and affection that is not grounded or directed towards God.”

 

Oswald's metaphor is profound. A sacrificial offering is placed in the fire, representing the refining flame of God, Who is removing the dross and impurities that we might come forth as gold.

 

We're liable to think God's way is cruel. The process of chastening, correcting, forging, shaping and fashioning us for His purposes may seem mean-spirited. That's only because we don't recognize how deeply rooted in our heart is the nature that opposes God.

 

That nature doesn't depart from me when I become a new creation in Christ, but remains a part of me, always with me, always lurking in the background. Old habits are hard to break, including permitting my old nature to rule the roost.

 

Therefore, it’s by God’s grace and mercy that He purge my system of my old tendencies and proclivities. They don't go easily. They require God's fiery illumination and extermination.

 

The question becomes, will I remain in the heat long enough for God to work His perfect work in me?

 

Spirit of the living God, Holy Flame of God's grace, do what You must to tame my will and make me Yours.  Thank You.

 

 

6. “After you’ve gone through the fire, nothing will be able to trouble or depress you.”

 

When I imagine the disposition of saints throughout history, those who have suffered immeasurably for Christ, I picture a stillness of soul, a tranquility with God, carrying them through their trials, persecution and even martyrdom.

 

I imagine the same of those today who live in oppressive, Communist and anti-Christian nations around the world.

 

I also imagine God doing the same for me, preparing me for every future eventuality, training me to access God’s grace as I faithfully navigate. I want to be able to demonstrate their disposition.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the amazing saints, throughout history and around the world today, who have been through the fire and exhibit supernatural grace as they suffer. Please form the same disposition in me.


































































2.5.24

 

1. “Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer?”

 

This is surely the fruit of supernatural humility, and a determination that God receive the glory, not us.

 

Who among us doesn’t enjoy affirmation, congratulation and adoration? In fact, we may unwittingly be seeking these in much of what we say and do.

 

I so respect and appreciate the amazing saints in my life who are willing to get behind others, serve in the shadows, defer admiration, seeking only that others be encouraged and God be glorified.

 

Am I willing to do the same? To be indifferent about myself for the sake of God's Kingdom?

 

Lord Jesus, You are the ultimate example of pointing to the Father rather than to Yourself. Everything You said and did was in obedience to Your Heavenly Father, and for His sake and His Kingdom. I desire that heart and motivation. Please.

 

 

2. “I don't want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice.”

 

This statement reveals an important truth: A sacrifice is diminished when it's on our own terms.

 

My sacrifices may be noble, but a sacrifice of my choosing is different than a sacrifice that requires my inconvenience.

 

Yet, the latter is often the way of God. Jesus constantly deferred to God's will rather than His Own. And, if I will be faithful in following Jesus, I, too, will often offer the sacrifice of deference.

 

Surely there is no greater demonstration of my love and commitment to my Savior.

 

Lord Jesus, forgive me for putting qualifications on my serving and sacrifice. I long to fully follow after Your example and steadfastly declare, “Not my will but Yours be done.” Please keep working on my heart.

 

 

3. “God may require me becoming a doormat under other people's feet.”

 

This is quite the statement.

 

I don’t believe this is the speaking of one who is codependent, self-loathing, or has difficulty setting boundaries. These often lead to being used and abused. Beloved, if that’s us, may we find God’s grace to be lifted up and delivered.

 

Instead, this is the picture of Christ Himself:  “As a lamb is led to slaughter, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus was not incapable, but willingly laid down His life in response to God's calling.

 

Is there a person in my life before whom God is calling me to humble myself, become transparent, serve, exercise long-suffering, sacrifice and more? It may exhaust me without an ounce of appreciation from that person.

 

But our Heavenly Father sees and knows. He’s shaping and forming us, and, like His Son, He’s spending us for the sake of others. And one day we will joyfully lay those sheaves at His feet.

 

Father, please help me be a faithful doormat, should You call me to be so.

 

 

4. “Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in a bucket, to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you?”

 

It often occurs to me that, just like countless ancestors before me, my name will fade into obscurity very shortly after my death. And 100 years from now, no living soul will have known me personally.

 

It’s a healthy perspective to realize our eternal timeframe.. Our lives on earth are certainly not insignificant; God is using us for time and eternity. But we don’t find our contentment on this plane. Instead, in Christ, we recognize ourselves as citizens of God’s Kingdom, and, like Christ, we live out our days pursuing the purposes and glory of God.

 

And we find our cups running over as a result.

 

Lord Jesus, we offer all we are, and all we say and do, for You and Your glory, now and forevermore. Thank You for the high honor of being significant in Your sight.

 

 

5. “Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude, because they feel such service is beneath their dignity.”

 

This is certainly a convicting statement.

 

It's one thing to maintain our poise and godly character while performing notable and public deeds. It's another to carry the same attitude into changing a flat tire, standing in line at the DMV, working with a call center agent on the telephone, etc.

 

Lord, have mercy.

 

Is anything beneath us? There certainly wasn’t for our Lord and Savior: “Let this attitude be in you that was also in Jesus… Who became obedient to the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

 

Lord Jesus, Your humility knows no bounds. And, in Your humble long-suffering with me, You never complain or seek my gratitude. Thank You for Your incredible example. I want to be more like You.










































































2.4.24

 

1. “The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God.”

 

This is such an amazing statement, especially when I compare it to the things that grip me on a daily basis. I confess: I can be raptly attentive to my duties, cares, concerns, interests, pursuits, hobbies and more, while being unmoved, uncompelled and unconstrained by the unbelievable love of God.

 

Not cool.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your all-pervasive, all-encompassing, all-consuming love for us. Thank You for demonstrating Your love with Your cross. May I come to love You as You have loved me. How I would love for Your love to grip me to the exclusion of everything else.

 

 

2. “You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person's life.”

 

Oswald is challenging the pudding out of me. I know good and well the Spirit of God does not live unhindered in me.

 

I wonder what that would look like? I wonder what that would cost? I wonder if I'm willing to pay the price?

 

Holy Spirit, I love the idea of giving You absolute free reign in my heart, mind, body, soul and spirit. But I know that's far from the case. Please continue working Your work in me so this might one day be my reality.

 

 

3. “You shall be witnesses to Jesus, not witnesses to what Jesus can do.”

 

This is smoking hot. This points to our proclivity of giving testimony to the things God has done, rather than to the greatness and glory of God Himself.

 

Oswald’s certainly not down on us testifying to the goodness of God manifested in our lives. That's surely part of our great gratitude.

 

But, we turbocharge our testimony by sharing not only what God has done, but Who God is—His all-sufficient grace, His all-encompassing love, and His flawless and glorious character.

 

Our boast is not merely of God's capabilities, but of God Himself.  Hallelujah!

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for all You do for us. May we in turn declare, not only Your deeds, but You.

 

 

4. “We accept everything that happens to us as if it were happening to Him.”

 

What a powerful depiction of the nearness of Christ.

 

Christ is not unaware of our daily life experiences. Instead, He is so near and so intertwined that, whatever happens to us, happens to Him. If it's personal for us, it's personal for Him. This is the depth of our connection with Jesus.

 

It follows, then, that we can walk in daily fellowship with Jesus, knowing He knows, cares and is able. Nothing surprises Him. Nothing escapes His glance. And nothing is out of His reach.

 

We have the privilege of living moment by moment in the bosom of our all-present God.

 

Lord Jesus, help me live in this reality today, to walk knowing You walk beside me, knowing all, and all-powerful. Thank You for the never-ending peace and reassurance of Your kind and caring fellowship.

 

 

5. “Total surrender will leave the mark of God's holiness and power, never drawing attention to you.”

 

Indeed, when I consider the amazing saints in my life, I'm certainly drawn to them as human beings. But it's their God who truly amazes me.

 

These people never draw attention to themselves, They simply are, be and do. It's never showy or contrived. There’s nothing of them about it, only the quiet glow of Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for these saints and they're saintly way—humble, contrite and transparent. How delicious are their lives. How beautiful is their countenance. How glorious is the God we see in them. Hallelujah!


















































































2.3.24

 

1. “We’re too cautious and concerned about our own desires to allow ourselves to become the filth of the world.”

 

This is convicting. We certainly are concerned with our reputations and with others’ opinions of us. We go to great lengths to be well thought of.

 

What if it would tarnish our reputation in the eyes of some if we were to go public with our faith and allegiance to Jesus? What if we were rejected by family, friends, neighbors and coworkers because we choose to follow Jesus?

 

One of the most powerful demonstrations of fidelity to Jesus is our consistent faith, even when we’re rejected. Consider the saints gone before us who suffered for the sake of Christ. Consider the saints around the world today who are paying the ultimate price. Their example of faithfulness to Jesus under encourages and strengthens our faith. May our example do the same for others.

 

Because of our faith, we may be regarded as filth in the eyes of some. But we’ll forever be precious in the eyes of our God.

 

Lord Jesus, please forgive us for attempting to guard our reputation at the cost of denying You. Please grant us the boldness and fortitude to be disapproved of by others as we seek to faithfully follow You.

 

 

2. “Beloved, don’t think it's strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.”

 

Our nation is emerging from a period in which Christian faith was a cultural norm. In the middle of last century, many upstanding citizens were also churchgoers. That mood has changed in the last several generations.

 

If we lived in those days, we might think it strange that our faith today would be criticized or vilified. How could one possibly object to and reject the loving grace of our amazing God?

 

“Don’t think it strange.” Rejecting the Gospel has been commonplace throughout human history, and is violently opposed in many nations around the world today.

 

May we not retreat, relent or appease. May we adjust our thinking instead. Our Lord was crucified by those who rejected Him. In the same way, “Jesus said, ‘They will reject you because of Me’” (John 15:21).

 

Lord Jesus, help us not think it strange. Instead, please help us pray through and, “having done all, to stand.” Strengthen us by Your strong Spirit to be salt and light, even in the darkness of our world.

 

 

3. “You can be saved by the skin of your teeth if you like.”

 

I believe the cross of Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation for all who will trust Christ.

 

Of course, God will be the final judge of the state of our heart. But God doesn’t require our own goodness, holiness, purity or obedience for our salvation. Righteousness and salvation come by faith in Christ alone.

 

Yet I grieve “skin of your teeth” Christ-followers. Not because I doubt their salvation, but because they’re missing out on “The Good Life” of walking in the way of God's abundance. “Jesus said, ‘I have come that you might have abundant life’” (John 10:10). Every compromise with Jesus is another compromise in the goodness and wellbeing that can be ours as we submit ourselves to Christ.

 

Let's don't toe the line, friends. Let's take a running jump into the arms of Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, please don't let us be satisfied with salvation alone. May it be our heart's desire to “know You, and the power of Your Resurrection, and the fellowship of Your suffering, and become like You by dying to ourselves” (Philippians 3:10). It’s our honor and privilege to follow after You.

 

 

4. A true servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to experience martyrdom for the reality of the Gospel.”

 

I would not choose to be a martyr. But, from the testimony of martyrs throughout history, I’m convinced the grace of God would meet me there if that were the case.

 

However, there is a figurative “martyrdom” which will always be a constant challenge for each of us. That is, putting to death our will and embracing God’s , and putting to death our druthers and embracing His.

 

Beloved, may we be found faithful in our martyrdom to ourselves today.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for laying down Your life for us.  By Your grace, please help us lay down our lives for You.

 

 

5. “When a moral persons is confronted with contempt, immorality, disloyalty or dishonesty, they are so repulsed that they turn away and close their heart to the offender.”

 

This is a big one. What’s my response to the heathen, the loathsome, or those who vehemently reject Christ? My response is an indicator of the condition of my heart.

 

It's helpful to see my wickedness from God's perspective. I fall infinitely short of His holy standards, and yet He loves me, receives me and claims me as His own as I trust Christ.

 

How can I not see others in the same light in which Christ sees me? After all, compared to Jesus, I'm no different than the most vile offender.

 

Thankfully, Jesus doesn't see me for who I am, but for who I can become as I trust Christ. May I extend the same grace to others.

 

Thank You, Father, for Your incredible optimism towards me. May I see others with the eyes through which You see me.


























































































2.2.24

 

1. “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel.”

 

This is Oswald's first tip of the hat to those who have received a vocational calling to preach the Gospel. That is evident in his statement regarding the Bible Training College he was speaking to at the time.

 

I'm curious if there might be any who are reading with us who are sensing that particular swelling and calling in their soul? I beg you to wrestle with God in this mattter. Please do not refuse the One Who is calling you. We need you.

 

As Oswald states, this is not a general calling. This is specific to Paul and others, perhaps myself, who deal with the compelling force to proclaim Christ.

 

However, it does not negate the general calling that, “everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact of their salvation.” All Christ-followers will have regular opportunities to share with others the hope within us because we have placed our faith and trust in Christ. The world needs regular moms, dads, sisters, brothers, school teachers, plumbers, business people and retirees, who will be open about their God-walk with those who cross their path.

 

May we all be prayerful for those who are sensing the vocational calling to preach. God is in the process of wrecking their life (in a glorious way) for the sake of the Kingdom. Yet this is God's Sovereign way in the soul of those whom He chooses. Let's pray they’ll respond with all their heart.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for calling all of us to give witness to our salvation. Please help us be faithful to that high calling. We also hold before You those who wrestle with a vocational calling. May they boldly step out as You carry them.

 

 

2. “There is nothing easier than getting saved, because it is solely God's Sovereign work.”

 

What a powerful statement. We are liable to think salvation is hard and arduous. It’s not, because the work has been completed for us in the cross of Christ.

 

It’s certainly challenging to bend our knee, to deny ourselves, and to reckon with our sin and need for salvation. Yet it's God's Spirit Who draws us to Christ, enables us to repent, and gives us faith to believe.

 

A takeaway might be this: As we encourage people to trust Jesus, let's not represent it as a difficult transaction. And let's not sympathize with the humiliation it requires. Instead, let's boast of the incredible and generous grace of God that is freely bestowed upon us by Christ through His sacrificial death and Resurrection.

 

It's God's glorious gift to all who will humbly receive.

 

Father, thank You for drawing us by Your Spirit and redeeming us by Your Son. Thank You for the free gift of salvation. We relish Your goodness and mercy. May we joyfully help our friends and loved ones come to know You, too.

 

 

3. “Our Lord never requires the same conditions for discipleship that He requires for salvation.”

 

With New Horizon’s present emphasis on discipleship, this matter cannot be overstated. Salvation is God's free gift as we turn from our sin and receive Christ.  But discipleship is another matter.

 

“Discipleship has an option with it—‘if.’” I can freely receive Christ, yet refuse to become His disciple. Whereas salvation costs only my humility and faith, discipleship requires laying down my life, taking up my cross and following Jesus.

 

We must not make requirements of salvation; it is for “Whosoever will.”  We must, however, persuade and compel ourselves and others to walk the narrow road of discipleship

 

Discipleship requires that you constantly encourage me, and that I constantly encourage you. Which is why we need we.

 

Lord Jesus, help us say yes to Your free gift of salvation. And help us freely give ourselves to Your glorious invitation to become Your faithful disciples. All by Your amazing grace.

 

 

4.  “God makes us broken bread and poured out wine to please Himself.”

 

This is another time-tested Oswald-ism. He uses the metaphor of Holy Communion to help us recognize where God is headed with us. God is making us broken bread and poured out wine, just like He did with His Son. This is how we submit ourselves to God and offer ourselves for others.

 

Am I willing to be broken and poured out? Certainly not immediately. It requires the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to condition my soul for this willful and sacrificial self-giving

 

Thankfully, we have the very best demonstration ever: Our Lord Jesus Christ. And the same Spirit Who lives and works in Christ is living and working in us.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for becoming broken bread and poured out wine for us. Please continue Your work to transform our hearts that we might become the same. May we, too, be found faithful to our Heavenly Father.




























































































2.1.24

 

1. “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)

 

It may seem that Paul is splitting hairs here.

 

Doesn't “preaching the Gospel” include baptizing new believers and ushering them into a life of godliness? Surely this is the aim of discipleship, is it not?

 

Paul begs to differ. In proclaiming the Gospel and discipling believers, we are not creating saints to put on a shelf. “We are not commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification—we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ.”

 

That is, the goal of the God-walk is to produce Kingdom-centered human beings, who lift Jesus higher in every aspect of their lives. The end of Christ’s work is not my holiness, but my Kingdom involvement in helping others join Jesus in propagating His Kingdom on earth.

 

The curation of saints is not the role of Christ's Church; that’s the work of the Holy Spirit conforming us to the image of God's Son.  The purpose of Christ Church is to hold Jesus up for the world to see, compel men and women to offer Him their hearts, and to begin living their lives for His sake.

 

The result is certainly the salvation of humankind. But the endgame is that Christ and His Kingdom be glorified in all of Heaven and Earth.

 

Lord Jesus, please help us keep this clear in our minds. May the goal of our lives be to reflect Jesus, not merely what Jesus has done for us.

 

 

2. “Jesus Christ labored in redemption to redeem the whole world and to place it perfectly whole and restored before the throne of God.”

 

I believe this to be one of the most understated dimensions of the redemptive work of Christ.

 

Certainly Jesus suffered and died for our salvation. But, “Christ was slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) for the purpose of redeeming ALL of Creation:

 

“Creation itself will be set free from its enslavement to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

 

God is jealous for everything He created. We may well be the top of the food chain and “the apple of God’s eye” (Psalm 17:18), but everything God made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) prior to the fall of humankind. And the all-powerful, all-redemptive offering of Christ is all-sufficient to redeem and restore all of Creation.

 

Beloved, we will one day stand drop-jawed as we witness firsthand God’s Creation redeemed and restored precisely as God intended in the beginning. And we will be overwhelmed by its display of the goodness, genius, power and majesty of our God and Creator.

 

Heavenly Father, we long for that day. Please expand our understanding and appreciation of all You are doing for all of Creation through the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Hallelujah!

 

 

3. “We burden God’s energies from morning till night asking for things for ourselves or for something from which we want to be delivered.”

 

Let's be careful not to accuse Oswald of something he is not saying.

 

Of course God is concerned with our healing, deliverance and freedom. He cares about our burdens and concerns. He’ll graciously provide today’s needs.  And He’s certainly redeeming our yesterdays, and bringing about His kind and gracious future for each of us.

 

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

 

But, if we're not careful, we can become preoccupied with every nuance of disquiet in our souls. We can become distracted by our burdens and overlook our victories. And we can fixate on our struggles instead of His Kingdom.

 

I'm often struck by how “mopey” we can be as Christ-followers. I have a proclivity to wallow in my sorrows, lick my wounds and seek other’s sympathy. I certainly recognize the incredible wounds and sorrows many of us bear. But I'm struck by saints among us who carry enormous crosses, yet still manage to demonstrate peace, rest, stillness and joy in Christ. They seem to have learned the discipline of fixing their eyes on their Savior instead of their trials.

 

“Paul welcomed heartbreak, disillusionment and tribulation as part of his devotion to the Gospel of God.”

 

Theirs is an amazing witness to me, because I know how petty I can be.  Mercy.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your loving patience with me. Thank you for receiving me as I come to You in my hardships. May I recognize my challenges as par for the course as I choose to walk with You.





























































































1.31.24

 

1. “Our Calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the Gospel of God.”

 

What a powerful statement.

 

In other faiths, holy men and women are set up as examples of the epitome of religious devotion. They are spoken of, sought after, listened to and imitated.

 

As Christ-followers, our example and goal is not Peter, Paul, Mary, James or John.  It’s our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself. “That we might know You, and the power of Your Resurrection, and the fellowship of Your suffering” (Philippians 3:10). We are seeking after Jesus’ heart, fellowship and leadership.  We place ourselves before God to be transformed by His Spirit into the likeness of Jesus.

 

Our hope and desire is to live lives that are pleasing to our Savior and tantalizing to others. We want others to see Christ in us, that we might introduce them to Jesus.

 

We strive for holiness, not as a means of earning salvation, but as an act of gratitude to God for His free gift of salvation by faith in Christ. Our personal purity is our love-gift to Jesus, for His glory, not for our own.

 

So bet it, amen.

 

Lord Jesus, may our thoughts, words, deeds, actions, affects and motivations all point to You, our Lord, Savior, Leader and love. May our lives convince others You’re real, so they might come to know You, too.

 

 

2. “Reality is not goodness, holiness, heaven or hell. It’s redemption.”

 

We're liable to think our God-walk is about becoming good, kind and loving people. Or, about escaping hell and spending eternity in heaven.

 

Instead, the reality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is redemption. That is, we’re saved, not merely for heavenly bliss, but from woeful, eternal and personal separation from God. In Christ we are brought back into union with our Heavenly Father, just as God intended from the dawn of Creation.

 

It’s God we’re after. Heaven wouldn’t be heaven if God weren’t there. Nor can our lives be fully abundant without a soul-to-soul connection with the One Who made us.

 

For this we were created, and for this Christ has redeemed us.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for reestablishing our union with God. Thank You for our daily reality of walking in step with our Maker. Thank You for bringing us back to the beginning of God's will and intentions: “God walked with Adam in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8).

 

 

3. “Personal holiness is an effect of redemption, not the cause of it.”

 

This is a critical change in our mindset.

 

For whatever reason, the human heart imagines our goodness is our way to God. It’s as if we believe we’re earning our keep, winning God's favor and blessings, and purchasing eternal life with our good deeds.

 

Really???

 

Surely, as we come to know Jesus, we realize how vain and feeble this notion is. For us to imagine we’re worthy of God’s blessings vastly overestimates our goodness and underestimates God’s.

 

Instead, as Christ-followers, we understand that trusting and receiving Christ enacts God's redemptive work in our lives. And, as His Spirit takes up residence in us and begins His transforming our hearts and minds, our lives begin to exhibit His righteousness, not our own.

 

We wholeheartedly believe Christ is God’s means of redemption, and we give Christ all the credit for the life-changed happening in us.

 

Lord Jesus, all praise, glory and honor is Yours! You save us, redeem us and make us new. We receive and relish Your continuing work in our lives. May You in us become more and more evident every day. Hallelujah!

 

 

4. “Don't ask me to be concerned with others’ redemption. I’m only interested in my own.”

 

What an impoverished sentiment of Christian faith. It desperately lacks the passionate and compassionate love of God for humanity, and dismisses the entire point of God sending His Son to save the entire world.

 

Surely the evidence of Christ’s redemption in us is our grief and burden for those who haven’t yet experienced His redemption. It's unimaginable to truly know Jesus and not want the rest of the world to know Him, too.

 

Lord Jesus, please root out of us every germ of self-centered faith. May our ongoing union with You cause an increasingly greater disturbance in our soul for the souls others.

 

 

5. “Paul was a recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose—to proclaim the Gospel of God.”

 

May the example of passionate faith in other Christ-followers stirs our souls. Thank God for their demonstration of radical, bombastic, sold-out, world-changing living for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

 

Paul certainly fits that bill. There was a reckless abandon in him, a total surrendering of self and givenness to Jesus, to the extent that he paid the ultimate price for others to know Jesus.

 

Thankfully, I’m not shamed or suffocated by Paul's example. Instead, I am motivated to know Christ to the extent that he did. I’m compelled by Pual’s passion for Jesus, exhibited in his living and dying.

 

It only makes me more and more thankful to be a part of the amazing Body of Christ.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for our amazing Tribe. Thank You that we “spur one another on to love and to good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Thank You for those who do so for me. May my life do so for others.


































































































1.30.24

 

1. “God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand.”

 

I can certainly offer an “Amen” to this. Goodness.

 

I have never heard God speak audibly. I only know one man who says he has.

 

Instead, over the decades, I have come to associate certain nudges, promptings and quickenings as the Holy Spirit communicating with my spirit.

 

It’s certainly not an exact science. It can be so shrouded and subjective. But that's probably on me. I'm far more comfortable in my skin that I am in my spirit.

 

But, over the years I believe I’m becoming more and more familiar with God's Spirit in me. And, I think I’m becoming more willing to yield to that Spirit.

 

If you ask me to describe this experience, I cannot. It’s beyond words. At the same time, I can’t deny it.

 

How about you?

 

Spirit of the Living God, please prevail in me. Speak the heart of God to my heart. Please help me become more adept at training my ears on Your still, small voice. And please redeem matters when I misunderstand and/or respond incorrectly. I want You to be able to count on me to hear and respond. I want to grow to the place where I offer you my unreserved “yes.”

 

 

2. “Without the Sovereign hand of God, nothing touches our lives.”

 

This is a great challenge upon my vision of Who God is. Is He truly Sovereign over all, or do we live in the willy-nilly of the hand of fate in a chaotic world?

 

Is it too hard to imagine God knows when every sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29), that He knows our thoughts completely before a word is on our tongue (Psalm 139:4), that He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), that He’s intimately acquainted with all our ways (Psalm 139:3), and He holds us in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 41:10)?

 

If God is infinite, and if nothing is impossible for Him, it’s certainly not beyond His reach to exercise His Sovereignty upon every molecule and movement in every nanosecond throughout Creation.

 

I'm growing more and more assured of God's Sovereignty over all things, including my life today. Not that God will force my hand, but, should He choose, God will intervene. He may permit or He may not. And, as such, I have the opportunity to experience the peace and rest that comes from the assurance that God rules and reigns from His Holy throne.

 

Father, I choose to live within a worldview that embraces Your complete and utter Sovereignty over all things. Thank You for the joy that accompanies abiding in Christ.

 

 

3. “Get into the habit of saying, ‘speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance.”

 

This describes the beautiful dance of living under the leadership of God's Spirit.

 

What a gift we've been given, that, in every moment, we have direct access to the God of the Universe. And it's not simply an intercom to the throne room of God. It's the very Spirit of the Living God dwelling in me. Wow.

 

What a joy to walk in that fellowship daily and every day. And what a great adventure to follow the Spirit’s nudges along the way. It means we never know what to expect, other than the good pleasure our obedience brings to our good God.

 

Speak, Lord, as often as You will. Thank You for Your sweet fellowship. Thank You for choosing to abide with me as I choose to abide with You. It's an honor to host You within.

 

 

4. “We must not become amateur providences, attempting to prevent suffering in another's life.”

 

This is one of Oswald's reverberating themes. We will hear it time and again.

 

This speaks of our natural inclination to ensure that others do not experience hardship and pain. Let’s do our best to hear Oswald correctly and in the right spirit.

 

When Denise and I visit India, we find poor and helpless people living in deplorable conditions. There is no social services net in India because radical Hindus believe human suffering is the result of God's chastening from a previous life. To interfere would be to interfere in God's Providence.

 

This is not the way of Christ-followers. “Jesus said, ‘Let those who have two cloaks give to the one who has none’” (Luke 3:11). Instead, we meet human needs out of a love for God and others, and as an opportunity to help them know and grow in Jesus.

 

However, Oswald is addressing our refusal to let others suffer the consequences of their actions. In doing so, we may be circumventing God's process of speaking to us in our circumstances. For instance, if I feel the need to immediately alleviate the ramifications of someone's poor decision-making, I may be robbing them of their opportunity to wrestle with God.

 

This is where we need great discernment. It may seem cruel to permit someone to struggle. But in intervening, we may actually be indicting God of being cruel for permitting suffering. There may be times when we must let things play out for the sake of God's work in others, and these moments can be arduous for our souls.

 

Father, thank You for Your gracious work in me, particularly for what I learn through suffering. I don't like it, but I'm keenly aware I receive things in my suffering that I cannot receive otherwise. Therefore, “put me to suffering” (John Wesley's Covenant Prayer), as You will and for Your purposes, and help me know when I must permit such suffering in others.

 

 

5. “Never ask another person's advice about anything God makes you decide before Him.”

 

Once again, let's hear Oswald correctly. He's not suggesting we should never ask for advice: “There's wisdom in a multitude of counselors” (Proverbs 11:14).

 

Instead, Oswald is helping us understand there are times when God approaches us and we must decide for ourselves. It may well be a hard ask, but no one can say yes for us. And, in actuality, seeking advice from another may be our way of wriggling out of what we know God has spoken to our hearts.

 

Father, thank You for giving us Your wise counsel and Your all-sufficient grace to respond to what we know are Your promptings. Please help us when we attempt to justify our unwillingness to decide for ourselves how we will respond to You.

 



































































































1.29.24

 

1. “There is no escape when our Lord speaks.”

 

This speaks to one of my deep convictions: I believe we know the voice of God better than we're willing to admit.

 

I can certainly become cluttered when I'm seeking for God’s direction. It gets messy because there are any number of voices in my head.

 

But there are times when “the Lord speaks to me with a strong hand.” These are the moments when there’s very little doubt about it—God has spoken to my heart with utmost clarity.

 

But that Word to my soul may not be what I anticipate or expect. Sometimes it’s inconvenient or contrary to my druthers. Or it may be I’m not interested in God’s opinion on a matter.

 

Yet there is no denying it; God has spoken. Try as we might, we can’t explain it away. Deep in our soul we know better, and God's nudge will quietly continue to remind us until we respond.

 

There is simply no escape.

 

Father, please help me become more willing to respond to the still, small voice of Your Spirit. I know it better than I’m willing to admit. May I become more and more delighted to do Your will.

 

 

2. “God speaks in the language you know best—not through your ears, but through your circumstances.”

 

My circumstances can certainly get my attention, no matter if they are consequences are of my own doing or someone else’s.

 

In those moments, I do well to listen to the still, small voice of God. Perhaps it's His affirmation or encouragement. But it may also be His conviction or correction. Either way, God seems to get my attention through my circumstances.

 

Yet I will do well not to presume God is speaking. For instance, if something seems to goes right, I mustn’t assume God is affirming me. Conversely, if something goes wrong, I mustn’t assume God is correcting me.

 

Sometimes stuff simply happens.

 

And why wouldn't God speak to me in my circumstances? Isn't He the God of every moment of every day? Isn't He Personally concerned with all my ways? Doesn't faith and life come down to living, doing and obeying God in the everyday circumstances of my life?

 

Thank God for a God Who’s intimately acquainted with every aspect of who we are and what we’re about, and Who loves us enough to speak to our heart.

 

Father, thank You for speaking in the everyday circumstances of our life. May I have ears to hear and a heart to respond.

 

 

3. “God speaks in a way that overwhelms us by revealing the depths of our ignorance.”

 

Our humanness assumes we know all about God, that God agrees with us, and that we know God's opinion about matters.

 

But our foregone conclusions about God prevent me from hearing God in any way other than the manner of my choosing.

 

What an impoverished view of God we have. God forgive us when we put Him in a box and prescribe to Him how we would have Him work in our lives. How sad if we are not having continuing and surprising revelations of His goodness, kindness, greatness, nearness, power and purposes.

 

May our great ignorance of our infinite God be overwhelmed by His magnitude and magnificence.

 

Father, my presumptions are my overestimations of myself, and my underestimations of You. Have mercy. Please continue to reveal how great You are and how small I am.

 

 

4. “We serve Jesus in a spirit that is not His.”

 

Surely this speaks to my imagination of the character of God.

 

If I see God as a cruel taskmaster, my service towards Him can become dutiful, and I may speak of Him to others in that spirit. If I imagine God as haphazard, and His commandments as random and impersonal, I’m liable to pick and choose my obedience. If I imagine God to be a pushover, I will likely dictate my relationship with God.

 

It takes years of seasoning to recognize God for Who He is, because He’s infinitely contrary to my nature and my human experience. If I overlay perceptions upon my understanding of God, I’m approaching God backwards. It's God Who must reveal Himself to me.

 

Lord Jesus, in what ways am I misrepresenting You to myself and others? How might I be forming You from my own imaginations rather than recognizing it’s You Who’s forming me? Please continue to shape my heart, mind and spirit after Yours.




































































































1.28.24

 

1. “Why are you persecuting Me?”

 

We’re certainly aware of the persecution and atrocities Christ's followers have suffered throughout history, and even in our day.  How Jesus must grieve.

 

But does it occur to us that our disobedience, self-will and stubbornness is hurtful to Jesus as well?

 

We act as if the commandments of God and the nudges of His Spirit are impersonal, like a police officer enforcing the speed limit. My unwillingness to obey the Rules of the Road does not personally impinge upon the cop.

 

I must think differently about my indifference towards Jesus. It's very personal for Jesus because we are the beloved of God, purchased by Christ’s scars, and pursued by His Holy Spirit.

 

Beloved, may our God-walk be motivated by nothing less than sheer love and gratitude in return.

 

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I hurt You with my actions and inactions, and with my thoughts and motivations. I have surely “stabbed” You countless times. May I do so less and less as I love You more and more.

 

 

2. “We are brought into the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.”

 

I love Oswald’s reckoning with “the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.” Here’s referring to the point at we “we finally understand that it is Jesus we have been persecuting.”

 

Oswald is describing our moments of deep, personal conviction regarding our abiding and personal sin. I recognize I alone am responsible for my sin, and I realize my sin Personally grieves God’s heart.

 

“It’s the most crushing revelation ever.” This is the growing awareness of my wretched heart and my paramount need for Jesus. If I think anything more of myself, or anything less of Jesus, I won’t humbly submit myself before Christ for His redemption.

 

And I will find the gulf between myself and my God remains.

 

Holy Spirit, please keep me in the place where I grieve because I have grieved You. May my disobedience and disinterest become abhorrent to me. May my givenness to God be my greatest concern.

 

 

3. “Does my life betray the things I profess to teach?”

 

This particularly speaks to my heart.

 

Given my “professional vocation” as a pastor, I am constantly teaching and preaching the Scriptures, and proclaiming and exhorting the Christian life. But, do my words and deeds, affect and persona, demonstrate that which I declare?

 

Surely this was my challenge before I was a pastor, too. Prior to making these grand declarations as a public speaker, I had professed them to God. And He knows better than anyone else if my heart and mind align with my commitment to Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, please help us be authentic and integral with what we say we believe and how we live out our faith. We don't want to reflect badly on You. We declare You are worthy of our very best.

 

 

4. “All I do should be based on a perfect oneness with Him.”

 

What a tremendous gauge for my life and decision-making. Does the thing I'm thinking about and doing at the moment, and the direction I'm choosing and heading, catalyze “perfect oneness” with my God?

 

It certainly doesn't take much to get out-of-sorts with a friend or loved one. A fraction of a degree will cause distance very quickly. And, over time, that distance can become a great divide.

 

I must be aware of the part I play in my union with God. If there is distance, it's never on Him; it's always on me. He’s forever seeking me, wooing me and drawing me. And only I can decide how I will respond.

 

And my response will depend entirely on how interested I am in obtaining “oneness” with my God.

 

Father, there are times when I imagine the beauty of “perfect oneness” with You. How amazing! Then there are times when it doesn't even cross my mind. Please forgive me. May my union with You become my constant and growing pursuit.











































































































1.27.24

 

1. “The cares of this world will choke out the life of God in us.”

 

I like Oswald’s language of, “the life of God in us.” It makes me think of a house plant under our care. It requires our consistent attention to thrive and grow.

 

Likewise, our negligence will lead to its demise. If we put it off till tomorrow, or neglect it, or feed it incorrectly, it will suffer.

 

No one else can attend to the life of God in me.

 

Indeed, there are plenty of distractions in our everyday life. Unless we're intentional and determined, they will draw our attention away from the most important thing: cultivating the life of God in us.

 

Lord Jesus, above all things, and by Your grace, please help me nurture my nearness to You. Forgive me when Your life in me receives second best.

 

 

2. “We’re never free from the recurring waves of invasion.”

 

I am fooled if I anticipate some sort of plateau I may one day reach in which I will never be troubled from within or without.

 

Rather, I live in a troubled world, and am bombarded by its wind and waves on an ongoing basis. There may be a moment of calm here and there, but it will not last.

 

So I must stand at the ready, feet upon the Rock, waiting, watching, calling upon my Keeper as I’m assailed. I won’t survived by wishing it away. I will only survive in the palm of His hand.

 

Lord Jesus, I asked You to help me. “Having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). Thank You for the strength and protection of Your strong Spirit as I withstand the recurring waves of invasion.

 

 

3. “Our common sense shouts loudly.”

 

Once again, we may contend with Oswald’s idealism: “Don't worry about your life.” The problem is, those aren’t Oswald’s words; they are Jesus’.

 

Without a doubt, Jesus isn't calling us to sit on our hands regarding life’s essentials. Those things don't simply arrive on our doorstep.

 

But those things must not become “the primary concerns of our life.” Especially for those of us who live in a day and age of great plenty.

 

We must be aware of common sense. With it we can justify a great many things. Jesus is calling us to a life of abiding in Him, deferring to Him in all matters, trusting His care and following His leadership.

 

May our great attention to Jesus overwhelm all our senses, even including our common sense.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your invitation not to worry about our life. Please help us not make excuses for doing so.













































































































1. “The simple statements of Jesus are always a puzzle to us because we will not be simple.”

 

How have I complicated my faith and my life? How have I brought the clouds that veil God?

 

Oswald says Jesus' message is pretty simple: “Receive His Spirit, recognize and rely on Him, and obey Him.” That's pretty simple—if I can receive it.

 

But I tend to complicate it by bringing in the ifs, ands, ors and buts.  Perhaps I’m legitimately seeking clarity so I can obey appropriately. Mary did this when Gabriel told her she was pregnant: “My Lord, how shall this be?” (Luke 1:34).

 

But perhaps I’m just blowing smoke because I don’t want to obey. It requires a great deal of humility to lay aside our druthers and sophistication, and simply attend to Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I complicate things. I would imagine I'm more clear about Your will than I'm willing to admit.

 

 

2. “How much more will He clothe you if you keep your relationship right with Him?”

 

Do I truly want to be “clothed” in Christ?

 

Perhaps I want to be clothed differently than Jesus offers. Perhaps I want clothed on my own terms. Perhaps I would rather clothe myself.

 

Could it be that I’m “disrespectfully thinking I know better than Jesus?”

 

Beloved, to be “clothed in Christ” is to “put on Christ” (Romans 13:14). It’s to be covered in the lavish goodness and mercy of our compassionate and generous Lord and Savior.

 

But permitting Christ to cloth us requires great humility. We can’t do it ourselves. It means bending our knee and presenting ourselves in our nakedness to the One Who clothes us in His righteousness.

 

And when Jesus clothes us, we discover anything less is filthy rags.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for clothing us in the finest of fare as we seek first Your Kingdom. We rejoice in the beauty of Your holiness (Psalm 96:9).

 

 

3. “The birds of the air obey the instincts God placed within them.”

 

I certainly have instincts, but some of them are the product of my fallen nature. These include my insecurities, fears, worries, lusts, self-centeredness, etc.

 

But, in Christ, I have a new nature. I am a new creation. The goal of my God-walk is to walk according to my new nature. Oswald says, “obeying His Spirit in me.” As I do, I will find God tenderly caring for “my feathers.”

 

To live in this way will require the constant “uncluttering of my mind”—learning to detect and defeat my old nature—and “growing where I have been planted” as I learn to walk in my new nature.

 

Such is daily, blessed, glorious and liberating process of growing in Christ.

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for sowing the seed of Your Nature in me as I trust and walk in Christ. May my new nature overwhelm my old and become my predominant mode of being.

 

 

4. “Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do.”

 

“Appointed me to do” sounds like some act of service, vocation, or life-calling Christ has laid upon me. Perhaps it's far more general than that.

 

“Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). This is surely the all-encompassing pursuit to which God has appointed. I’m eagerly seeking and following my Savior, and responding in loving obedience to every nudge from His Spirit.

 

“Consecration” seems like such a strong word. It’s because “seeking first His Kingdom” requires the faithful, willful, continual and sometimes brutal “separating myself from everything except” God’s Kingdom.

 

We might object to such a notion because we surely cannot separate ourselves from the plethora of our family, job and community responsibilities.

 

Rather, to consecrate ourselves to God’s Kingdom simply means bringing all of these things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And as we do, we discover the supernatural grace to navigate our daily lives in God’s peace and rest.

 

Lord Jesus, as an act of our will, and by the strength of Your Holy Spirit, we consecrate all we are to Your Kingdom today. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.















































































































1.25.24


1. “We must learn to make room for God, to give Him elbow room.”

 

How we must limit God. Mercy.

 

We can be so square-box, buttoned down, analytical, reasonable and sensible. And we assume our perceptions, perspective and comfort level is God's as well.

 

What if we were to take the lid off and impose fewer limitations upon our God? What might God do if we permitted Him to roll up His sleeves and act in and through us as He will?

 

I'm guessing we might quickly realize how much of an impediment we've been.

 

Heavenly Father, please forgive us for placing constraints on You, restricting You with our impoverished understanding, and insisting You act only in the manner of our choosing. Infinite God, please have Your way in spite of the very finite box we put You in.

 

 

2. “Don't look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. Expect Him, but not in a certain way.”

 

What are our expectations of God? That He meet our needs? That He be subject to our discretion? That He act only as we might prescribe?

 

How unfortunate it is to limit our limitless God by our feeble imaginations. How sad it is to dictate the terms of our relationship with our Holy God.

 

Lord God, please forgive us for the demands and constraints we place on You. Please act in and through us according to Your good pleasure. Please help us trust You are good and eagerly watch for You with great anticipation. Thank You.

 

 

3. “He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook the element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way.”

 

When I think back on the moments when God has been most evident, those moments seemed to come in surprising ways. And why wouldn't they? God's ways are not my ways.

 

Perhaps we don't like the element of surprise. Perhaps because we’d rather be in control. But a great truth of life is, we rarely are. Especially when it comes to what God may or may not do.

 

How small our God would be if He were predictable. I'll bet He’ll be full of surprises when we see Him face-to-face, and we’ll find ourselves wondering why we so underestimated Him.

 

Lord God, please pleasantly surprise us today. Please work in Your surprising, mysterious and wonderful ways, not in ours. And may we stand amazed.


















































































































1.24.24

 

1. “I have appeared to you for this purpose.”

 

Oswald is highlighting God's purpose for our life: “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; You are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” Those are incredibly stout words.

 

Have we misconstrued the Gospel, proclaiming that its purpose is our personal benefit? It’s certainly that we obedience to Jesus results in profound peace, grace and blessing. But God's purposes are bigger than that.

 

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” God's purposes for our life trumps our personal preferences, and the whole of the God-walk is putting druthers aside and yielding to Him.

 

At first, this may seem unpalatable and demanding. That is, until we recognize that God's purposes alone will satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.

 

Of course they do, because for this we were created and exist.

 

Father, every generation has sought the meaning of life. Thank You for opening the door for truth, meaning and purpose as You reveal Yourself and Your ways to us. By Your grace, may we lay down our ways and embrace Yours.

 

 

2. “We have visions of what Jesus wants us to be.”

 

Oswald Suggests that we can imagine in our own mind the person God intends for us to be, including deep devotion to Jesus, the Fruit of the Spirit emanating from our lives, great love and patience with others, etc.

 

At the same time, surely we know we aren’t that person.

 

Has God-given us an unattainable goal? Hardly. “The Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life.” A high bar to say the least, but also a noble and an achievable goal by the transforming work of God's Spirit in me.

 

The question becomes, do we want God to make us that person?

 

Holy Spirit, thank You for “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Please help us not despair of our shortcomings, but maintain a vision of who we are becoming as we permit Your ongoing work in our life.

 

 

3. “Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim.”

 

I love the nature of our God-walk. Not a list of commands and demands, but an invitation “into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ.”

 

How unfortunate it is when our conception of following Jesus is the former rather the latter. Because, while do’s and don’ts can be stilting and soul-crushing, a vivacious connection with Jesus stimulates and motivates loving obedience for our personal and beloved Savior.

 

“Paul was devoted to a Person, not a cause. He absolutely belonged to Jesus Christ. He saw nothing else and He lived for nothing else.” What a beautiful depiction of the God-walk.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for this heart-to-heart, hand-in-hand, day-by-day, living & breathing connection with our amazing God. It's the desire of our heart to walk with You.






















































































































1.23.24

 

1. “An unveiled openness before God becomes a mirror for others.”

 

I have certainly experienced this in others.

 

I know Christ-followers who exhibit incredible openness, and I experience Christ in them when I'm around them. It makes me long for what they have.

 

They seem to have crossed a threshold and have become an open book before their God and others. I often imagine myself on the other side of that threshold, clutching temporal and lesser things. Ugh.

 

Friends, thank you for mirroring Christ for me. I intend to become more and more like you.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the givenness of so many of Your saints throughout history. Thank You for their great humility and transparency. Thank You that I get to see a reflection of You in their lives. It's beautiful, and challenges me in my aspirations to be that for others. And all for Your glory.


 

2. “Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish the mirror in you.”

 

I'm challenged by the notion of the mirror in me that reflects my relationship with Jesus. I would imagine its reflection could be greatly improved.

 

I’m very aware that my affect, attitudes and actions all reflect on the God I confess to trust. I'm also very aware that there is far more of me in that reflection than Jesus. Lord, have mercy.

 

Father, please forgive me for the poor reflection of You I often emit. It breaks my heart. Please help me become more and more aware of anything that would “spot or tarnish that mirror.” I want to be a squeaky clean vessel for my Lord and King.

 

 

3. “Keep our lives completely spiritual through and through.”

 

What great language, and a great challenge.

 

To be “completely spiritual, through and through,” does not absolve me from my responsibilities in the physical world. Surely, instead, it constrains me to live every moment for the glory of God, while stiving to do so in the very presence of God.

 

I do well to erase any mental line the divides between the “secular” and “spiritual” and my life. Surely, for the God of the Universe, it's all one and the same. I am a spiritual being living in a physical world.

 

What would my day look like if I viewed each and every moment, and each and every circumstance, as spiritual in nature? Would I become a freak? Or would I begin seeing our world more like God sees our world?

 

Lord Jesus, please help me to live like You are intimately involved in every aspect and every interaction of everyday life. To live like You truly know, care and are intervening. To recognize there’s a spiritual dimension to every activity under heaven. To live today like this is indeed my Father's world.

 

 

4.  “Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in him.”

 

I rather enjoy I hurried lifestyle. I like packing the day full. There are simply too many opportunities to take advantage of. I only get to do this once, and I want to do it full bore for the glory of God.

 

I’m rather encouraged by Oswald’s admonition here. I hear him suggest that, by navigating appropriately, my hurried lifestyle need not disturb my relationship of abiding with Jesus.

 

I certainly don't hear Oswald suggesting that an unhurried lifestyle equates to abiding in Christ. I’m sure there are plenty of unhurried people who don't seek to live in union with Jesus.

 

Instead, I’m feeling the freedom to do me. I must not suggest or compel others to do the same, but I’m choosing to give today everything I’ve got, leave it all on the field when I climb into bed, and do the same tomorrow. And my intentions are to do it all for Jesus.

 

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for high speed, spirited, adventurous living, riding high in the saddle with You. I'm hanging on for dear life, and loving it. Hallelujah.


























































































































1.22.24

 

1. “Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? Instead, He says, ‘Look to Me, and be saved.’”

 

Oftentimes, instead of checking in with others, I anticipate them to hit me up if they have a question, a need, require clarification, etc.

 

I'm liable to do the same with God—to assume I'm good to go unless God says otherwise. Surely He’ll let me know if He needs anything from me.

 

But what if that’s not the way of God? What if I hear from God to the extent I seek after God? Perhaps God doesn’t waste His breath, but speaks as we give Him opportunity and permission.

 

After all, God is a Gentleman.

 

Lord Jesus, I come to You this morning offering you my heart and my ears. Please speak Your heart to mine. “I desire to do your will” (Psalm 40:8).

 

 

2. “The greatest difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and His blessings are what make it so difficult.”

 

We all agree, we are most likely to look to God when we have needs, while taking His blessings for granted. That certainly seems upside down, backwards and self-centered. Lord, have mercy.

 

Concentration on God is certainly a challenge. Even during our quiet times, the garbage truck rumbles by, the neighbor’s dog barks, the thermostat clicks on. And immediately our concentration is broken.

 

On the other hand, we can be so engaged in a book, movie, repair project, recipe, etc., that we are oblivious of all externals. Apparently we do have the capacity for concentration.

 

Now, if we could only direct that concentration to God more deliberately.

 

Lord Jesus, please forgive us for half-hearted glances in Your direction. Please forgive us for attempting to meet a quota with our quiet time. Please deepen our love for You that we might be enthralled and captivated. May we offer You the same concentration You offer us.

 

 

3. “We have a mental image of what a Christian should be, and we look at this image in other Christians rather than focusing on God.”

 

I must be careful not to compare my God-walk with yours. After all, neither of us knows what's going on in one another’s heart.

 

I often think of this passage: “When we compare ourselves with others, and measure ourselves by others, we are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).

 

I will do well to take my eyes off you and place them on Jesus. I can't do you; I can only do me. To be attentive and responsive to God is to be authentic and real in His presence. And I can't do that if I'm trying to portray some ideal image.

 

After all, I'm certainly not fooling God.

 

Lord Jesus, here I am, uniquely me, offering myself to You, to the extent I’m able, by Your grace. I give myself to You for Your unique purposes for me. Please help me focus on You rather than on a preconceived notion of who You want me to be.

 

 

4. “Our difficulties, trials and worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God.”

 

I know full-well this is true. I've experienced it time and again. Yet I consistently find myself tangled in my troubles rather than looking to Jesus.

 

“Wake yourself up and look to God.” No one in the world can do this for me. Dear friends, thank you for your intercession on my behalf, but please pray that I might take myself by the scruff of the neck and look to God in my times of need.

 

“No matter how many things seem to be pressing in on you, be determined to push them aside and look to Him.” This is the all-pervasive challenge in looking to Jesus. We’re pressed on every side, internally and externally. We tell ourselves, “I can’t look to Jesus right now. There are too many clouds for me to deal with.”

 

When will we learn that it’s Jesus Who clears the clouds?

 


Lord Jesus, thank You for heat-sinking my fears, concerns and anxieties. Thank You for the way Your real Presence vanquishes slings and arrows. We look to You and receive Your peace—right now.


























































































































1.21.24

 

1. “Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be?”

 

I remember, like it was yesterday, when I met Denise. A friend introduced us because she thought we were perfect for one another. Denise and I were curious, hopeful and apprehensive. But as soon as I laid eyes on her, had conversation with her and prayed with her, I couldn’t help but take the next steps.

 

And the rest is history.

 

I'm very aware today that I must continue to take next steps with Denise. I’m committed to her, and she to me, but I can't ask her to live today on the affection I showed her at the beginning. Our ongoing love must be met with fresh expressions of love and affection every single day.

 

Surely the same is true in my ongoing and eternal relationship with Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, I remember well my early encounters with You, including my enthusiasm and joy. I pray that would never leave me. I want to pursue You now as I pursued You then. Thank You for our perpetual seeking after and chasing one another. May I grow to love You more and more in every season of my life.

 

 

2. “Jesus Christ has needs which we can meet.”

 

I certainly know plenty of Reformed purists that surely cannot tolerate such a statement. Their view of the Sovereignty of God is such that, if God had any need, He wouldn't be Sovereign, eternal and infinite.

 

Yet surely there is something I can give my God. Not that God has need of anything: “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” (Psalm 50:12)

 

But He doesn't have my love and devotion unless I give it to Him. If He were to demand it, it would not be willful. If it were forced, it would not be heartfelt.

 

Can He continue to exist without it? Of course. Surely God lives without the affections of many. But surely it grieves His heart.

 

Therefore, I have opportunity every day to give God something He hopes for—my love and devotion. It's an unimaginable opportunity for which I am eternally grateful and determined to offer.

 

Lord Jesus, Your love and affections know no bounds. Thank You for demonstrating time and again. By Your grace, may I reciprocate more and more.

 

 

3. “Am I so in love with Jesus that I take no thought for where He might lead me?”

 

Goodness, that's quite the meditation.

 

With that question, I recognize the foolishness and short-sightedness of immediately answering in the affirmative.

 

I’m very aware that I have not been called to some of the things God has asked of saints throughout history. When I consider what Biblical and historical figures have done in response to God's calling, I recognize how little God has asked of me. And I recall some of my struggles to follow His lead in menial and trivial matters.

 

Lord, have mercy.

 

Jesus, may my love for You increase more and more, as You call me farther, higher and deeper.




 1.20.24

 

1. “Being born again by the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, and as surprising as God Himself.”

 

I love this language. It puts the emphasis on God, not me. I have very little to do with it. God draws me, wins my heart, rebirths me, fills me and sustains me. Praise Him.

 

There's no question Who’s working inside. It certainly isn’t me.

 

And, as Oswald suggests, speaking about being born again defies the human tongue. Furthermore, my experience is unique to me, which makes it even more difficult to describe to others.

 

Yet it’s a glorious and undeniable mystery in which we walk daily, with constant anticipation of God's work in our life.

 

And as God works in His shrouded, mysterious ways, life is full of delightful God-surprises. God’s ways are rarely what we might imagine, but they’re always accompanied by His signature, supernatural grace. What a Mighty God we serve!

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for this adventurous, joyful, sometimes arduous, but always life-giving union with You by Your Spirit. You make our life full. Thank You for Your amazing goodness.

 

 

2. “We don't know where being born again begins—it is hidden away in the depths of our soul.”

 

I can point to the season in my life when I was born again. I was brought from utter darkness into His marvelous light.

 

But I didn’t have a lightning bolt experience. In fact, for an entire week, day-by-day at the foot of my bed, I ask Christ to come into my heart. I didn't realize He did so the first time I asked.

 

When I speak specifically of that season, I know there are those who cannot do the same. Perhaps they were raised in Christian faith. Theirs was a more gradual experience, perhaps over years, so subtle that they cannot name it and describe it.

 

To those for whom the latter has been their experience, please don't compare yours with mine. Embrace the fact that God has been investing and investing in you for years and years, through parents, family members, friends, pastors, youth leaders and more. And, today, you are as born again as I am if indeed you have invited and received Christ into your heart and life.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the mysterious way of Your Spirit. Please help us not compare our experience with others’. Thank You for being our personal Savior, uniquely engaging our heart as Your beloved children. We happily receive You today, Lord Jesus.

 

 

3. “The Holy Spirit provides a freshness all the time in thinking, talking and living.”

 

This has certainly been my experience. I have my moments of fatigue, mundane, aggravation and chaos. But, in the course of time, God steadies and restores my soul, and refreshes my heart and mind.

 

Often in those challenging moments, I can't imagine ever coming back into a clearing where I might breath the fresh oxygen of God once again, and be renewed in His strength, joy and nearness.

 

Yet, inevitably, as I cling to my God and He to me, He reestablishes my footing upon the Rock of Christ.

 

Over the years, I’ve learned that God’s freshness doesn't happen or return by accident. I can even prevent it by wallowing in my stuff, checking out, acting out, etc.

 

God’s freshness happens as I come to the well, thirsty and eager to receive.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for training me to realize “from whence cometh my help” (Psalm 121:1)  I’m in constant need of Your endless grace. By that grace, I choose to align myself with You once again today.

 

 

4. “Freshness is not the result of obedience, but comes from the Holy Spirit. Obedience simply keeps us ‘in the Light as He is in the light.’”

 

This makes sense to me. Obedience will often require—by God’s grace—my willpower, rigor, discipline add more. The act of obedience itself is the right thing to do, but is not the source of God's grace.

 

Instead, the Holy Spirit is the source of God's grace, and my obedience to the call of God puts me in a place where I can receive His grace.

 

I must not imagine that doing the right thing somehow and magically satisfies my soul. Sometimes it may do just the opposite—draining my resources and margin. But it aligns me with God, which permits the goodness and mercy of God to refresh my inward parts.

 

Holy Spirit, please strengthen me today to be obedient. May nothing keep me from greater union with You.

 

 

5. “Jealously guard your relationship with God.”

 

I don't have any worthwhile relationships that don’t require my constant attention. It's not a given. I get from them what I invest into them.

 

I can't imagine a more critical relationship to guard than my union with God. It may be invisible and unbeknownst to others, but it is the pinion of my life. I must tend to it with all my heart.

 

“Guard your heart, for from it flows the wellsprings of life “(Proverbs 4:23).

 

Lord Jesus, I recognize my union with You is job number one. Thank You for its fruitful yield of love, joy, purpose, meaning, rest and infinitely more. It's such a privilege to belong to You.

 

 

6. “Are you drawing your life from any source other than God Himself?”

 

Many people know I'm a guitar enthusiast. It's been a passion and pursuit since buying my first acoustic guitar at Western Auto in 4th grade.

 

I’m intimately acquainted with every guitar in my collection. They all inspire me differently. In my imagination, can feel them in my hand and hear them in my head. I know what they will do, what they bring out of me, what they permit me to do, etc.

 

I always say, “If I'm not playing guitar, I'd rather be.” That may sound very shallow to some, but the instrument is very near to my heart.

 

However, I have long recognized that they cannot supply what my heart ultimately longs for. Playing them, collecting them, customizing them, daydreaming about them, buying, swapping and selling them, etc., falls infinitely short of satisfying my soul. I can't imagine trying to fill my insatiable and intrinsic need for meaning, purpose, value and worth with any amount of inanimate objects. Lord, have mercy.

 

I know this, too:  One day, all of those instruments will be someone else's possession. May those folk enjoy them as I have.

 

And in the meantime, I will revel being the blood-bought possession of my Heavenly Father, and relish His life-giving presence and love. Nothing can compare.

 

And just to think—it will last forever.  Hallelujah!

 

Father, thank You for Your endless source of life and abundance. I joyfully receive from You today.


























































































































1.19.24

 

1. “When God gives vision, our duty is to be still and listen. Never try to help God fulfill His Word.”

 

When I get a nudge from God, I must be careful not ignore it. I must also be careful not to assume I know where God’s nudge is headed. When I do the latter, I’m liable to improvise and may find myself on a course that isn’t of God's design.

 

Which means, I can err both in disobedience and in presuming. Instead, I must be attentive and wait on God.

 

Perhaps I'm waiting for clarification. That was surely the case for Mary, the mother of Jesus, when Gabreil appeared to her: “But how shall these things be?” (Luke 1:34).  She wasn’t refusing; she was getting her head around God’s call.

 

Furthermore, sometimes I must wait until my will catches up with God's will. There are times it will require hours, days or months as God shapes my heart to conform with His heart. It's God’s gracious way of helping me want to do what He’s is calling me to do.

 

It’s the wonder of waiting.

 

Lord Jesus, please forgive me when I'm in too much of a hurry to listen, or when I try to rush You along. Please help me wait until I’m on Your wavelength.

 

 

2. “Listening to so-called ‘good advice.’”

 

God is certainly a big fan of wisdom and prudence. We have the entire Book of Proverbs to demonstrate.

 

But we can also be wooed by “good advice.” We may even go looking for it.

 

Not that we don't benefit from wise counsel, but we may in actuality be seeking advice from a friend in hopes of finding an alternative to a hard thing God is asking of us.

 

We’re crafty that way.

 

Lord Jesus, please forgive me when I settle for good advice rather than Your advice.

 

 

3. “All Abraham’s self-sufficiency was destroyed. He was being disciplined so He would know God is real.”

 

It's painful to come to the end of ourselves. It's humbling to realize we are finite. But in those moments, we come to realize how real God is.

 

Self-sufficiency is certainly a good thing. We need to be responsible, self-reliant and a self-starter. But those things can fool us into thinking we have no need of God.

 

Thank God for those moments when we become convinced.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for circumstances in which I recognize my finitude, and realize just how many things in my life are far above my pay grade. I’m so grateful to discover again and again just how truly big, real and amazing You are.

 

 

4. “Nothing other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.”

 

For me, sometimes the truth of this statement doesn’t happen in the moment. There are things you can say and do that can shake me to my core, cut me to my quick and send me into a tailspin.

 

Perhaps it's my insecurities. But perhaps it's because I care too much about your perception of me.

 

Yet, in time, as I bear these things before Jesus, He settles my soul and helps me stand once again. In fellowship with my Heavenly Father, I find myself reestablished and restored.

 

Lord Jesus, Thank You for the stability You offer my soul, even in my anxiety over others—including those I love.




1.18.24

 

1. “We’re expecting Jesus to quench our thirst when we should be satisfying Him.”

 

We must be honest when we read Oswald. We mustn’t misconstrue what he says when we actually know what he means.

 

Oswald is not suggesting Jesus doesn't satisfy the thirsting of our soul: “Jesus said, ‘Come to Me all who are thirsty, and I will give them drink’” (John 7:37).

 

Instead, Oswald is challenging us to make it our ambition, not to only be served by Jesus, but to serve Him. To acknowledge that we exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa.

 

Furthermore, we discover that pleasing Jesus becomes life's greatest pleasure. That's the beauty of love: “It's better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

 

Lord Jesus, How satisfying to You is my heart and life? It grieves me that this may not be my principal concern. Change my heart, O God.

 

 

2. “Live a life of pure, uncompromising and unrestrained devotion to Jesus.”

 

I love the word “devotion.” For instance, we're reading Oswald Chambers’ daily “devotional” right now.

 

Devotion speaks of heartfelt, loyal and faithful givenness to another soul. Surely we’re devoted to our families and friends, etc., and demonstrate our devotion with care, concern self-giving and more.

 

Does my relationship with Jesus reflect devotion? Do I think of it in that manner? Do I simply believe, or have I given myself to Jesus for His pleasure and purposes?

 

Perhaps we need to ask Him.

 

Lord Jesus, I wonder how You would describe my devotion towards You. I wonder if I'm convincing You. I certainly want to, by Your grace.

 

 

3. “The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him.”

 

Once again, we must give Oswald an honest read, and give our heart an honest examination.

 

Oswald isn’t minimizing our service to God. In the last several days, he has been affirming our service along the lines of our daily and natural expressions to the call of God.

 

Here Oswald is challenging the motivation behind our serving. We can be of the mind that, in response to the call of God, any old service will do. In other words, we may well substitute service of our own choosing in place of serving as God may call.

 

Or, we may convince ourselves that our serving somehow wins God's favor—tit-for-tat, so to speak. Instead, we must realize we already have God's favor in Christ.

 

I must be careful not equate my church going, my service to neighbor and community, my charitable acts and more, as devotion to Jesus. I can do these things without a wit of devotion, just as many unbelievers do. I may even convince myself that these things constitute my devotion.

 

But devotion is fully known in the interior, not the external—by our motivations for our actions. Service can become a substitute for devotion—or even a counterfeit.

 

As always, Oswald is calling us to examine our hearts.

 

Lord Jesus, may nothing, not even my attempt at good works, compete with my heart-felt devotion for You. Instead, may my external actions be motivated by my internal love for You.


























































































































1.17.24

 

1. “The call of God is not a call to serve him in any particular way.”

 

Again, we’re liable to associate “the call of God” with God asking us to do a particular thing. But Oswald has already suggested that the call of God is simply the beckoning of God's nature to the seed of His nature sown in us.

 

Certainly, God will lead us to do/say this/that, or make this/that decision, etc. But, sensing God call in our soul comes with the thrill of realizing the God of the universe is personally reaching out to us.

 

It spurs us to respond with gratitude in all we do every day—the way we conduct ourselves, speak to others, perform our tasks, pursue our dreams, etc. Every moment is the opportunity to express our love and appreciation for our incredible God.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for your call. “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight” (Psalm 19:14).  It’s the desire of my heart to bless You in return.

 

 

2. “God's call is an expression of His nature; serving Him is an expression of my nature.”

 

My granddaughter proudly made me a Christmas card this year. She couldn't wait to give it to me.

 

There's a great affinity between the two of us. We both sense it. Our hearts are knit together. And our inclination is to use our natural abilities to express our love.

 

“Serving is the overflow which pours from a life filled with love and devotion.” Our intention is not to gain the other’s affection, but to give ours.

 

And so it goes as we sense God's call and respond with our thoughts, words and deeds. We’re loving our God with all our faculties.

 

Lord Jesus, it's our heart's desire to show You the extent of our love, just as You did for us. Not because we have to, but because we get to.

 

 

3. “Paul stated the call of his natural life: ‘God revealed His Son in me that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.’”

 

God did not have to persuade Paul to preach. When God revealed Himself to Paul, Paul erupted in proclaiming Christ to others.

 

Of course there are times when God must urge us out of our comfort zones. But the call of God also gives us permission and purpose in expressing Christ with those things for which we are most passionate.

 

For instance, I am by nature some sort of musician. I'm not your everyday musician, and my musical expression does not have wide appeal. But, it finds traction and becomes an avenue of expressing my heart for My Savior. The call of God legitimizes my unorthodox vehicle for blessing my God and King.

 

What's yours?

 

Lord Jesus, receive our praise and adoration as we unleash our souls.


























































































































1.16.24

 

1. “The call of God.”

 

In our vernacular, we often think “the call of God” means God intends for us to do a thing. Or perhaps it’s a vocational calling to ministry or mission work.

 

Oswald seems to be speaking of something far different. It's the beckoning of God to the human soul, reaching to us, expecting us to sense and respond. “God said to Adam, ‘Adam, where are you?’” (Genisis 3:9).

 

It may have nothing to do with God asking us to do something, but instead, God is anticipating us to acknowledge and turn toward Him.

 

It's us reckoning with the intangible and inexplicable nudge on our soul, and beginning to associate it with God laying claim upon our lives.

 

No wonder we’re liable to question and ignore it.

 

Heavenly Father, we cannot deny sensing Your calling, nor can we deny often dismissing it or explaining it away because it may not suit us. Have mercy, Lord. Instead, may it thrill our soul that You are personally engaging with us.

 

 

2. “God's call is the expression of his nature, and we can only recognize it if that same nature is in us.”

 

We think too highly of ourselves to believe we can detect the frequencies of God with our human senses and instrumentation. If we think this way of ourselves, it’s due to our impoverished vision of the grandeur and nature of God.

 

We recognize God's beckoning in our soul and spirit—those detection devices God has graciously planted deep within our human nature.

 

And we become further capable of detecting God’s nudges as we trust Christ and receive His Spirit, by Whom God is nurturing His nature within us.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the seed You've sown in us. May the Gift of Your nature begin to overwhelm our natural nature.

 

 

3. “When God's voice speaks directly to us, it is useless to seek another person's opinion of it.”

 

This is the trouble with trying to explain and describe the voice of God in our soul. It's far too squishy and subjective. We cannot prove it, nor can we deny it.

 

You and I may have conversations about what God has spoken to our hearts. But I cannot convince you that God is nudging you or me. Only God can do that.

 

Indeed, let's help one another discern, test and try the spirits, and respond with wisdom. But God generally does not speak to me for you. He is quite capable of speaking to each of us directly.

 

Holy Spirit, we know Your voice better than we're willing to admit. Please help us not put words in Your mouth, nor make amendments or excuses. Instead, please increase our faith and our willingness to respond.

 

 

4. “The call of God does not take into consideration my personal desires and temperament.”

 

We all have our druthers based on our preferences. What if God's call does not reflect those things?

 

“As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits, and think about what I am suited for, I will never hear the call of God.”

 

We are so used to taking aptitude tests as we consider careers, temperament sorters to discover our personality, and spiritual gift surveys to determine what we might be suited for.

 

Yet the call of God doesn't seem concerned with such matters. It's because God knows us better than we know ourselves. “God gives us the desires of our hearts” (Psalm 37:4), and oftentimes He’s doing so long before we ourselves know what those desires might be.

 

Holy Spirit, please forgive us for dismissing Your call because it seems outside our natural purview. Please remind us that, “We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13).

 



1.15.24

 

1. “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

 

It's quite possible we are not familiar with the “doctrine of sanctification.” It refers to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit “conforming us to the image of God’s Son” (Romans 8:29). God begins this process as we trust and receive Christ.

 

For the rest of forever, God refines His children, shaping and transforming our hearts and minds. It's a supernatural work of God's grace.

 

Oswald says, “Once we realize this is God's will, we will enter into the process of sanctification as a natural response.” That is, we must participate with God in this process. We must give Him access to our inward parts, and respond as He challenges the old and brings forth the new.

 

This is the “white funeral” Oswald speaks of. We willingly place our soul in God's hands for the purpose of sanctification. As we do, God “resurrects us into the life of Jesus Christ” and proceeds with His mighty, sanctifying work.

 

Why would we give ourselves over for such a thing? Because everything God does is good, kind, loving and beautiful. We’re permitting Him to make of us what He has always envisioned.

 

Holy Spirit, have at it. By Your grace, sanctify us wholly. Thank You.

 

 

2. “It does not happen by striving, but by yielding.”

 

Are we striving in our walk with Jesus?

 

There certainly is striving: “Our flesh is contrary to God's Spirit; They are in conflict with each other period” (Galatians 5:17). We are forever learning to yield the Holy Spirit.

 

And we will certainly strive against temptation.  Jesus sweat blood as He resisted (Luke 22:44).

 

But, in Christ, we are learning that we need not strive for God's attention, approval, forgiveness, grace, mercy, healing, restoration, provision or love. I have all those things because I have placed my hope and trust in Christ. I can cease my striving to merit from God, because Jesus merited for me.

 

Welcome to peaceful yielding.

 

Thank you, Jesus. We rest in Your righteousness and Your unfailing love and mercy.

 

3. “You cannot attend your own ‘white funeral’ in a mood of excitement.”

 

I like elation and mountain top experiences as much as anyone else. They are moments of fresh wind and fresh fire for our soul.

 

However, elation does not catalyze dying to ourselves that Christ might live through us. That comes in those face-to-face moments with Jesus, when we see in His eyes His beauty and majesty, and recognize our unseemliness.

 

It’s in those moments we’re able to release our lives into His loving hands.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for bringing us to that place. May we respond with trembling trust.


























































































































1.14.24


1. “Isaiah was in the presence of God and overheard God's call.”

 

What are the musings and murmurings of God? Am I interested enough to listen in on the conversations in heaven?

 

I don't have to. Doing so will probably only complicate my life.

 

But, how can I not? Because the Kingdom of God is that the center everything that exists. Why would I not offer my attention to the Pinion upon which our lives and our world revolve?

 

Aren't we at least curious?

 

A penny for Your thoughts, Lord Jesus. What's on Your mind today? I offer You my attentiveness.

 

 

2. “Whether I hear God or not depends on the condition of my ears.”

 

I've come to believe God doesn't waste his breath. If we're not willing, God doesn't speak.

 

But, “you will find me if you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). This is the crux of the God walk. Is God my aim? Or only what God might do for me?

 

We must, through daily development, increase our prowess at playing piano, playing tennis, learning our craft, etc. In the same way, it's in the Inns and outs of our daily lives that we condition our ears to listen for, here and respond to the still, small voice of the holy spirit.

 

Lord Jesus, please continue conditioning my heart that I might condition my ears to here.

 

 

3. “God doesn't single out someone and say, ‘Now, you go.’”

 

Surely this is not true in the literal sense. We see throughout the Scriptures God calling people and saying, “Now, you go.” He called Noah to build the ark; Abraham to head to the land of Canaan; God called the prophets to speak to kings; Jesus called the disciples to follow Him; God called Paul to Macedonia, etc.

 

Surely what Oswald is getting at here is, God calls us ALL to go. God calls us to leave our way and go His way. To loose our hands from lesser things and embrace His Kingdom. To go from a life of self-centeredness to a life of Christ-centeredness.

 

It's amazing that there are souls who say no to the high calling of God in Christ. Unfortunately and undoubtedly, I am among them. God, have mercy.

 

Father, here I am. By your grace, I will go out. Thank You for the opportunity to go with You and for You.

 

 

4. “God will not force us or plead with us. Jesus calls without irresistible pressure from the outside, only the quiet, passionate insistence of the Holy Spirit.”

 

I always say, “We know the voice of God better than we’re willing to admit.” It's on us to respond.

 

I've also found, although God never pressures me, His quiet persuasion can seem like the weight of heaven and earth on my heart. I can run, but I can't hide. And I will forever live with regret if I say no.

 

Lord, have mercy.

 

Holy Spirit, thank You for Your way. I know you mean for my best. Please forgive me when I don't respond. Thank You for continuing to ring my bell.


























































































































1.13.24

 

1. “God’s solitude with us.”

 

Yesterday, Oswald wrote of our deliberate times of solitude with Jesus. May they be often and sweet.

 

Today, Oswald speaks of God's solitude with us. That is, when God gains our full attention as a need develops in our life that is beyond our pay grade. In those moments, when we face obstacles that humble us to our core, God has our undivided attention.

 

I don't believe Oswald is suggesting God foists those circumstances upon us. Perhaps they are simply the outcome of living in a messy world. But they may well be the outcome of our disobedience, willfully ignoring God, poor decision making, lusts, etc.

 

In those moments, God can speak to the depths of our soul. It's when we're not distracted by other matters that God can convince us of His love, care, compassion, provision, good intentions, wisdom and more. And we find in those moments, “when we are weak, we are strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10), because we are fully given to Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for those times when You get me alone. I regret that at times it takes such powerful external forces before I lift my eyes to You. Mercy. Thank You that You never let me go. Thank You that you’re intentions are to redeem and restore. I trust You, my Lord.

 

 

2.  “The disciples constantly asked Jesus questions, but they didn't understand until after they received the Holy Spirit.”

 

Oswald quotes John 14:26, “The Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

 

I overestimate my intellect if I believe I can discover, perceive and understand the things of God without God’s help. They are of another order altogether. They are beyond my natural abilities to comprehend:

 

“The person without the Spirit cannot perceive the things of God; they are foolishness to him because they must be spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

 

If I am to comprehend the things of God, I must get on God's line. I must develop the knack of connecting with God by His Spirit in my spirit. It's rather difficult to explain and takes time to figure out. But, in time, we find this the most trustworthy way of knowing.

 

Is there room for my brain? Indeed: “For we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). And, “God says, ‘Come, let us reason together’” (Isaiah 1:18). For heaven’s sake (literally), God gave us our minds. Of course they are of use. But they are of greatest use when they are synchronized with the One Who created our mind in the first place.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of your Holy Spirit, and thank You for opening our minds to the realm of Your Spirit. Please increase our understanding in matters pertaining to Your Kingdom. We want to know You more and more.

 

 

3.  “We think we understand another person's struggle until God reveals the same shortcomings in our lives.”

 

It's easy to look at a soul whose struggles and prescribe a fix. Aren't we always trying to “fix” others? Lord, have mercy.

 

If it were as easy as that, we would “fix” the stuff in our lives. We are well aware of our impatience, impertinence, stubbornness, meanness, self-centeredness, ego, lusts, insecurities and more. “Take the plank out of your own eye before you attempt to remove the speck from your friend's eye” (Matthew 7:5).

 

When we're dealing with the internal struggles in the human soul, and certainly in our own soul, it becomes abundantly clear that we need help from beyond ourselves. Like one who wrestles in quicksand, we need to a Rescuer.

 

Lord Jesus, please attend to our shortcomings, and forgive us for being so concerned about others’ shortcomings. Thank You for helping us see our undeniable need for You.

 

4.  “There are vast areas of stubbornness and ignorance the Holy Spirit has to reveal in each of us.”

 

Most of us would confess our stubbornness and ignorance. We know and recognize this stuff is in us.

 

Yet it's another matter to let God deal with that stuff. We would rather walk unchanged, making excuses for ourselves because of our natural inclinations and dispositions.

 

But Jesus came to heal us of those things. God's healing of our broken nature is His blessing to us, and it will benefit everyone who comes in contact with us.

 

Admitting is only the first step. Receiving God's sanctification will be a continuing pursuit for the rest of our existence.

 

Lord Jesus, please continue Your supernatural healing and transformation on the inside. I recognize my shortcomings, and recognize You as only One Who can change me.


























































































































1.12.24

 

1. “Our solitude with Jesus”

 

I may have the wrong idea about my alone time with Jesus. I may consider it a favor to God, offering Him my attention in prayer or Scripture, and God favoring me in return. I may view it as my time to receive God's grace, strength and encouragement. Perhaps it's simply my duty

 

Oswald suggests my solitude with Jesus is my willingness to let Jesus run His filter through my system, placing His finger on things that impede my God-walk and exhuming them. My solitude with Jesus is part of His refining process.

 

“God requires us to examine our souls.” We're not great at self-reflection. Most likely it's because we don't like what we see. Perhaps that's why we're not always eager to be alone with Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, may I be more and more willing to submit myself to Your process of sanctification. May my eagerness to be conformed to Your image outweigh my hesitancy.

 

 

2. “It takes God all of time and eternity to make us conform to his purpose.”

 

This statement fuels my imagination. I imagine God to be so infinitely expansive that we will plumb His depths for eternity.

 

We will not arrive on the scene in Heaven knowing everything there is to know. If that were the case, our God would be far too small.

 

Instead, forever and forever we will continue to discover and discover the colossal never-ending-ness of our God and Creator. And it will be our pure joy to endlessly pursue Him.

 

Lord Jesus, You captivate us. You’re more intriguing, fascinating and thrilling than anything else this life or eternity offers. Please continue to change and conform us to Your purposes, now and forever.

 

 

3. “How many of us have learned to look inwardly with courage?”

 

I always know God has touched a soul when they recognize their depravity and unworthiness. “Oh, I'm so unworthy.”

 

But Oswald suggests that's only the beginning. We cannot remain there. Of course we are unworthy. “We will understand that this goes without saying.”

 

That is, we can't simply and continually say, “I'm not perfect, but this is just the way that I am.” Because, although Jesus finds us in our wretchedness, He doesn't intend for us to stay there. His process of sanctification begins, and He fully intends for us to participate in it. Ours is a no excuse God-walk. We don't get to blame our fallen human nature, because we are also a new creation, filled with the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, which empowers us to receive His healing work, and walk in obedience and victory.

 

God’s intention is to conform me to the image of Jesus, He intends for me to fully give myself to the process.

 

Lord Jesus, I recognize my utter need for what only You can do. By Your grace, may I participate with You in addressing Your ongoing heart change in me. I desire your truth in my inward parts.

 

 

4. “God will allow us to experience heartbreak or the disappointment we feel when our intellectual pride is wounded.”

 

This is surely the spirit of our age. We are so confident of our intellectual prowess. We're smarter and more knowledgeable than any generation to have lived on Planet Earth. Surely our understanding knows no bounds.

 

Except when it comes to our God and Savior. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8). What kind of teeny-tiny God would we be serving if we could fully comprehend Him and His ways?

 

“There is no greater pain than a wound inflicted upon our intellectual pride.” But God must do so to expand our understanding of His Self-revelation. And as He does, we are humbled, because we realize what we are discovering is not of our own doing. The God of the universe is opening our eyes, heart and mind.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your kindness in wounding our intellectual pride. You are breaking us out of our mortal box and enlarging our soul. Please reveal Yourself to us more and more.


























































































































1.11.24

 

1. “If we obey God, it's going to cost other people.”

 

Today is an example one of Oswald’s paradoxical devotions.

 

How does my obedience cost others? Here's how I hear it:

 

When we ask something of someone, or invite them, or make them an offer, if their response is, “I'll pray about it,” that can be off-putting to us. We think to ourselves, “how can you object to this thing that I have asked? I have good intentions towards you and it will be a blessing to you.” We might even assume their need to “pray about it” is a thinly veiled unwillingness to commit, apathy, excuse making, undervaluing us, etc.

 

My mother-in-law reads along on our “My Utmost” thread. Her response to the people in her circles is consistently the phrase, “Lord willing.” For example, “Will you come for Christmas?” Her response, “Lord willing.” What could be her objection to coming for Christmas?

 

She means it Precisely what she said. In essence, “If it's good with God, it's good with me.” It can sound very noncommittal or even dismissive. One might reply under their breath, “What are we, chopped liver?”

 

It's because she is yielding herself to Jesus, then yielding herself to us. The Apostle Paul did the same thing. Once, when he was determined to obey God and go to Jerusalem, even knowing it would lead to his arrest and demise, his comrades tried and tried to talk some sense into him. Finally they concluded, “When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “’he Lord’s will be done’ (Acts 21:14).

 

Indeed, our obedience to Jesus can cost other people.

 

Lord Jesus, please help us give ourselves foremost to You, then to others. Not as an excuse to have our way, but with a guileless heart wanting Your way.

 

 

2. “If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything—it is a delight.”

 

But our obedience to God WILL cost us. It cost Jesus His life. He even sweat blood in the garden begging that God's cup would be taken from Him.

 

At the same time, Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.” That is, out of love for Jesus, we will do what Jesus asks, and it becomes our love gift to Him.

 

In the Psalms it says, “I delight to do your will” (Psalm 40:8). That is, You’re will, O God, is my heart's desire. It pleases me to please You, even if it costs me.

 

There are plenty of things we do for our loved ones that we are not doing for our own pleasure. But, even when it costs us, their delight and benefit is our chief concern. As such, we are delighted.

 

In the end, even when it costs us, may that cost become trivial in the light of our love and delight for Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the privilege of serving You. We delight to do Your will. May our obedience declare our love for You.

 

 

3.  “Others will ridicule us as if to say, ‘You call this Christianity?’”

 

To many, Christianity is merely believing in Jesus. Perhaps it also entails attempting to be good, kind and nice.

 

However, if our God-walk is a model of self-effacing obedience to Jesus, attempting to always respond to the nudges and promptings of His Spirit, a willingness to deny ourselves and turn away from lesser things, etc., we may experience ridicule from others who are disturbed by the notion of our being so given to Jesus.

 

It certainly is convicting when others are willing to sacrifice more for Jesus than we are. Or to do things out of obedience for God that we may well refuse to do. Or simply won't shut up about Jesus. If this is not also our way, we can become critical of such a person.

 

Perhaps, instead, we might choose to make it our life-goal to become more like them.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the example of those whose God-walk is beyond mine. Thank You for men and women who cause me to self-examine my own faith, purity and obedience. Please forgive me when I criticize them to justify my way.

 

 

4. “Our pride entrenches itself and we say, ‘I will never accept anything from anyone.’”

 

I can become pridefully independent in my God walk. I can determine that God will be my sufficiency and I have no need for others.

 

Oswald quotes Luke 8:3, “The women following Jesus provided for Him out of their own means.” Not only did Jesus submit Himself to the Father, but He placed himself in the hands of others. They were God's means. Receiving from them was not a lack of faith but was God's way.

 

Similarly, I am the product of countless Christ-followers who have been kind to me, put their arms around me, poured into me, prayed for me, encouraged me, corrected me, challenged me and infinitely more. I am not a self-made man. I am the product of God's ongoing work, and God's ongoing work will forever include the people around me.

 

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for spiritual pride. Thank You for Your humble and wise way of forming me through the imperfect saints in my life. May I be among those whom You use to form others.

 

 

5. “Be aware of the inclination to dictate to God what consequences you will allow as a condition of your obedience.”

 

Ouch.

 

We pride ourselves in our reasoning and understanding. We are confident in our perspective. We will even argue and debate about it.

 

God forbid we do the same with God. When God's Word or the promptings of his Holy Spirit are inconvenient or seem to be nonsensical, our acute reasoning skills can be very persuasive. We can talk ourselves into or out of anything.

 

It's a whole other matter to give God our unconditional “yes” and permit Him to call the shots—whatever the consequences. Sometimes it takes a great deal of confidence in the goodness and wisdom of God to obey.

 

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for my conditional obedience—when it suits me, when it's convenient, when it aligns with my druthers, etc. It grieves me to think of what I might miss out on because I think I know better than You do.

 

























































































































1.10.24

 

May God give us ears to hear and hearts to discern as we consider this critical doctrinal and spiritual issue today.

 

1. “The only sign that a person is saved is that they have received something from Jesus Christ.”

 

This is powerful.

 

It reminds me of the story of John Wesley's Aldersgate experience. He believed in Jesus, studying the Scriptures and even coming to America as a missionary. But he was defeated at every turn, and returned to England with his tail between his legs. Upon returning to London, he visited a mission on Aldersgate Street. There, in an exposition of the Book of Romans regarding justification by faith, John Wesley “felt his heart strangely warmed, and I felt that I, even I, had been forgiven.”

 

It was at that moment that John Wesley received something from Jesus Christ, namely, forgiveness of sin. From that moment on he could tell everyone he met that he had been forgiven. It was the thing out of his mouth, followed by, “and this is how you can receive forgiveness, too.”

 

Receiving from Jesus changed everything.

 

Lord Jesus, I believe with all my heart that I have received from You Your true, whole, complete and unambiguous forgiveness of sin, and furthermore have received Your righteousness which You merited With Your living and made available to me by Your death and Resurrection. Thank You for such an unimaginably great and costly gift. I happily, and with great humility and gratitude, receive Your grace again and again. Hallelujah!

 

 

2. “Conversion is not regeneration.”

 

Some might accuse Oswald of splitting hairs here. But his definitions are very helpful.

 

“I send you to open their eyes.” We cannot save, but we can help people with a “conversion” in their thinking. We are guilty of sin before God, and there's nothing we can do about it. This is a new way of thinking, and the Holy Spirit helps us in this process. He “convicts” us of our sin, which must then be followed up by faith in Christ that we might be regenerated—which is the experience of being born again.

 

I am becoming increasingly aware that those who have truly had an experience of Jesus Christ are not only convinced that they are sinful, but they are also convinced that they have been forgiven. It’s not philosophical—they truly recognize Christ has lifted their sin from them.  They sense in their soul they are “new creations” in Christ.

 

May this be our experience  and testimony as well.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for opening our eyes to our grave personal sin, and our paramount need for Your grace and forgiveness. May we not be converted in mind only, but also be thoroughly cleansed and made new by Your Spirit.

 

 

3. “In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up their right to themselves to Jesus.”

 

This is such a helpful way to understand The sanctification process. “Have you been sanctified?” The question is asking, “is the Holy Spirit continuing his work in you?” And this continued work is marked by a growing and deliberate allegiance to Jesus and of giving of myself to his will and way.

 

Do I belong more and more to Jesus, and less and less to me?




1.9.24

 

1. “My soul has horizons farther, darkness deeper, peaks higher, and depths greater than anything in nature.”

 

This is incredibly profound.  These are indeed the implications of Psalm 139. There are certainly corridors within me that I cannot seem to get to. I cannot seemed to release some memories from the past. I cannot always find the levers that activate my willpower. I can't always love on demand, etc.

 

Thank God, the Holy Spirit can and does. These are “the deep recesses of our being” in which the Holy Spirit specializes. “My God, search me.”

 

My experience is, simply being with God in private and ongoing fellowship, study, prayer and worship, is like soaking in a warm bath. The Spirit is coursing through my system, even unbeknownst to me. He is cleansing, refining, purifying and transforming. The end result is a deep and abiding peace that I have not obtained in my own strength.

 

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for a peace and wellbeing that passes all understanding. Hallelujah.

 


2. “Do we believe that God can fortify and protect our thought process far beyond where we can go?”

 

What does it mean to fortify and protect our thought process?

 

For me, “fortifying,” is the Holy Spirit’s ability to help me “think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).

 

And, “protecting” is similar. The Holy Spirit is helping me “cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

The Holy Spirit helps me use my mind in the way it was intended.

 

Holy Spirit, thank You for redeeming my mind. Thank You for “the Mind of Christ,” helping me, by my transformed spirit and Yours, to direct my mind aright.


 

3.  “The same spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirit.”

 

This line of thought has been incredibly helpful to me over the years. Christ, One with the Father, required daily and hour by hour replenishing of soul, mind and spirit. Up early in the morning and late at night in prayer and fellowship with His Heavenly Father, feeding on the Holy Spirit, nurturing His inner life.

 

If that is true of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, how much truer is it of me, a sinful mortal, weak and beggarly, corrupt of heart and impoverished of spirit? I, too, must haul myself before the Father that the Holy Spirit might feed the life of my spirit, too.

 

Holy Spirit, I recognize my need for Your nourishment. I come to You to be fed, refueled and conformed to the image of the Son of God. I receive Your grace. Thank You.


 

4. “No longer condemned in God's sight.”

 

If I sense that I stand condemned in God's sight, it's surely the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Who wishes me to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, or the wicked one, who is “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10), attempting to convince me that the blood of Jesus Christ is not sufficient to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

 

Likewise, if I don’t sense that I stand uncondemned in God's sight, I am either deceived—trusting in my self-righteousness—or truly forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Indeed, the Holy Spirit works in both of these scenarios. He alone convicts, while the wicked one, other people and even my own mind condemns me. And, He alone affirms my cleansing and adoption: “God's Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).

 

Thank God for both.

 

Holy Spirit, thank You for Your great work in my spirit, convicting, cleansing and convincing me along the way. Please continue bringing about Your perfect work.




1.8.24

 

1. “This event is a picture of the mistake we make in thinking that the ultimate God wants of us is the sacrifice of death.”

 

This is so incredibly profound. Oswald’s putting his finger on some misdirected notion in our hearts, that God is ultimately interested in our sacrifice and death. What a morbid picture of our God!

 

To think God enjoys or is appeased by our suffering speaks volumes of our misunderstanding and faulty imagination of Who God is. Surely the wicked one has planted such a connotation in our hearts and in our culture.

 

Lord God, please forgive us of ascribing this characteristic to You. “You take no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33: 11 ). Please refine of this than every other false notion of Who You are. May see more and more clearly every day.


 

2. “I am willing to be identified with Your death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.”

 

What a powerful distinction. “He’s the God of the living, not the God of the dead” (Matthew 22:32).

 

If left to my own devices, I will assume God would render me lifeless, stripped bare of all desires, ambitions and loves. Instead, God wills that I release all those things to Him, that He might sanctify them and use them for His glory. I am designed that Christ might live through me for the purposes of God. To this end we seek to be identified with the self-denial and self-giving of our Lord Jesus Christ in order that God's will might be done in and through us.

 

May it be so, O Lord.

 

Lord Jesus, here is my dying to my independence, and offering You my growing allegiance. May You become more and more my singular passion and pursuit. Have Your way in me, that You might accomplish Your Sovereign purposes through me. May it be my highest aspiration, honor and joy.


3. “God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but for the sake of the only thing worth having: Life with Himself.”

 

I'm picturing myself so full of lesser things that I have crowded out the best thing—fellowship with my God. “Loosen the bands that hold back our lives.” That is, let go of clutching corn husks that we might have more of God Himself.

 

What a bargain. Praise.

 

Lord Jesus, what must go that I might have more of You? I ask in fear and trepidation, knowing my predilection for the things of this world. By Your grace, please help me loosen my grasp that I might more fully embrace You.




1.7.24


1. “The last person we get intimate with is Jesus.”

 

It's helpful for me to speak the Name of Jesus: “Jesus.” When I do, I know I'm speaking the Name of a Person, a Soul, an Individual.

 

It feels different then saying, “Jesus of Nazareth,” which is Who He is in human history. It feels different than saying, “Lord Jesus,” which names His authority over me. Or, “Christ,” which describes Him as the Promised One Who atones for my sin. Or, “Savior,” which is what He does for me daily and forever. Or, “King of Kings,” which describes His glorious position at the right hand of God.

 

When I speak the name, “Jesus,” I recognize the honor, joy and privilege in personally addressing the One Who said, at the empty tomb, “Mary.”

 

Thank You, Jesus, for being closer than a brother, for knowing me inside and out, and giving Yourself completely for me. Thank You for loving the way You do. May I fall ever-more in love with You in return.


 

2. “I have called you friends.”

 

Thank God, Jesus does more than “friend me,” i.e. social media. He calls me by name and offers me His friendship. He made the magnanimous step and became One among us. Not only does He know me, but He continues to identify with me in every aspect of my human experience. Wow.

 

It's one thing to call someone my friend. It's another thing when that Person calls me their friend. Hallelujah!

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your dear and kindred friendship. I feel it. I value it. It's such a gift to me. May my life and my love demonstrate faithful friendship in return.


 

3. Another famous Oswald-ism: “We receive His blessings and know His Word, but do we really know Him?”

 

Such a convicting statement. I’m more than content to receive His blessings, even complaining when I feel they're insufficient or tardy. And I’m drawn to His Word, because they speak of Gis great and precious promises toward me. I will even use His Word to presume and perhaps even demand His blessings.

 

Mercy.

 

But, if all of that was stripped away, would Jesus be enough? Would I know Him apart from His goodness towards me? Would I desire Him for Who He is, not just what He does For me?

 

Lord Jesus, please purify my heart towards you. Please cut through the trappings. May my heart’s desire be, “ that I might know You, and the power of Your Resurrection, and the fellowship of Your suffering, and become like You in Your death” (Philippians 3: 10). Please, Lord Jesus.


 

4. “The evidence of intimacy with Jesus is a life of strong, calm balance.”

 

I have known such souls. They are stalwart, unmovable and unflappable. They are consistent, level-headed and grounded. They weather storms as a matter of course. They never complain. They always have a word of praise for God, and a word of encouragement for others. They don't lick their wounds, but tend to the wounds of others. They are not self-assured, but have a deep and abiding confidence in the God Who rules and reigns, and exerts His Sovereignty in every and all situations.

 

Some of them or even reading this right now. Hallelujah.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for these people in my life. Thank You for their amazing demonstration of nearness to and confidence in our Heavenly Father.  I want to share in the same intimacy they demonstrate. May it be so, O Lord.




1.6.24

 

1.  “Whenever you receive a blessing from God, meditate before God and offer it back to Him as a deliberate act of worship.”

 

For me, this speaks to a growing acknowledgement that “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights” (James 1:17).

 

It's easy to be fooled into thinking I deserve the good things that come my way, that I’m worthy, that I earned them. There are many people, in many other circumstances, that work harder and are more deserving than I, yet do not have.

 

Holy Father, I hereby acknowledge Your good and perfect gifts, given by Your gracious and benevolent hand. You are consistently kind and generous to me. I hereby offer You my life and my holdings. Do with me and it as You choose, by Your grace. Thank You.


 

2.  “Give back spiritual blessings to God so He can make them blessings for others.”

 

I have discovered that the greatest joy of my walk with Jesus is sharing it with others. I can certainly keep it to myself, but the blessing seem to multiply as I testify of them and encourage others to discover them.

 

This holds true for the love, joy, peace, well-being, security and more that I enjoy on an ongoing basis in Christ. These are the gifts of God as I walk with Jesus. But, they become even more apparent and palpable as I begin to speak of them with others, encouraging others to receive the same. I have no way of giving these things to anyone else, but I can certainly help them know the Source.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the incredible mercy, grace and blessings I experience without end as I seek to serve you. I want the world to taste and experience these things, too. Thank You for the many opportunities You give me to share with others the incredible goodness of our God. Hallelujah.


 

3. “The lasting value of our public service for God is measured by the depth of the intimacy of our private times of fellowship and oneness with Him.”

 

This suggests that I am not nearly as useful to others until I have adequately resourced myself in fellowship with my Heavenly Father. This is certainly my experience. I am not the husband, father, friend or pastor I might be if I do not first attend to my God in private, personal intimacy.

 

My best is always better when I've been with God.

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the aroma of Christ upon our exchanges with others after we've been in Your presence. “For we are the aroma of Christ” (2 Cornithains 2:15). May I consistently do what is necessary to ensure this is so.


 

4. “Worship, waiting and working go together as one, as they were in the life of Jesus. It's a discipline that must be developed.”

 

For me, this speaks of continual communion with God. To be in constant worship—recognizing His hand in our lives, His beauty in creation, His love and glory in other human beings, etc. Simultaneously, we are waiting—looking for and anticipating God's work in the cracks and crevices of our lives, and developing the ability to see and perceive. All the while, we are seeking to work—obeying the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, every moment of every day.

 

Such is the life of Jesus.

 

I would never claim it is always true of me. But I can imagine it, want it, desire it, and am willing for Jesus to teach me how.

 

Lord Jesus, help me live like You live, in constant fellowship, anticipation and participation with our Heavenly Father. May it be the desire of my heart, just as it is for You.

 



1.5.24

 

1.  “Follow Me” vs. “Follow Me.”

 

I love the contrast here. The first invitation was made to a ruddy fisherman lad, eager for adventure and certain of his abilities. There was no mountain too high for him to climb. The second invitation came after great personal failure. It was at this point Peter became fully aware of his liabilities and of his need for something more than his willpower.

 

For me, it's liberating to come to this point—even if time and again. I am weak, feeble and reprobate. I am always a hairbreadth away from falling to temptation, making stupid decisions and shipwrecking my life, relationships and God-walk.  Many, many better men than I have done so.

 

Holy Spirit, how I need You. I ask for Your goodness, mercy, grace, strength, wisdom and fortitude today as I seek to maintain faithfulness with God, Denise, and all the other people in my life. You are my only hope.


 

2.  “Internal following” vs. “internal sacrifice and yielding.”

 

I think it's entirely possible to outwardly follow Jesus—morally, ethically, with compassion, sacrifice and self-denial. But it seems to me I can do all of that stuff with the wrong motivation. Perhaps it's to appear virtuous in the eyes of others. Perhaps it's to justify other things in my life I know our contrary. Or perhaps I’m seeking to win God's approval, favor or salvation.

 

Once again, Jesus wants my heart, because when He has my heart, He has everything. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Depending on your experience of Mark Jordan, you may consider me a fine man (or, you may find me otherwise.) But, truly, only God knows my heart. And it certainly is not always His.

 

Lord Jesus, I confess my wayward heart. Thank You for Your remarkable patience with me. Please continue to win my heart. I want to be wholly Yours.


 

3.  “The idea is that of invasion”

 

This is such a poignant statement. This does not conjure a quiet, soothing Holy Spirit (although He is.) This hints at a more violent entry, habitation and rule. Not that the Holy Spirit is violent or cruel, but why would not the presence of our Holy God within us not be startling and breathtaking?

 

I certainly know the feeling of being sideways with the Holy Spirit, opposing His leadership, ignoring His promptings. It's not a nuisance, but a betrayal. I am refusing the God Who made me, gave Himself entirely for me and only wants the very best for my life.

 

I also know the sense of the Holy Spirit coming over me to say or do a thing that is beyond me. It comes with great trepidation, fear and trembling. It's a knowing that I cannot dismiss or imagine away. I am limp as a dishrag until I speak or act. Mercy.

 

Holy Spirit, I have grown to both enjoy and fear Your powerful promptings, nudging, empowerings and manifestations when they come upon me. Please help me more readily ride Your wave and step out in faith, trust and obedience. Invade away, dear Friend. Do what You must to inhabit me entirely.

 



1.4.24

 

THE STORY OF THE "SIN BIKE."

 

1. “There are times when you can't understand why you cannot do what you want to do.”

 

Hanging in our garage with the other bicycles is the “sin bike.” Denise knows the story, our kids know it, and I know it—all too well.

 

I was in college, had sold my car, and needed a bike to get to school. It was the reasonable thing to do. I saved and saved and bought the bike, a Schwinn Super LeTour 12 speed—very impressive for its day. The day I picked it up from the shop, I strapped my Bible on the bike rack, road 5 miles out of town, and sat under a tree to be with God. But as I began to seek God, it was as if the sky had turned to brass. There was an unpassable gulf between me and my Heavenly Father. Because, I knew for weeks that God was saying “no” to the bike. I have no idea why and I will never know. What matters is, I knew that I knew, and I disobeyed. The purchase made all the sense in the world, and there was no reason not to. So I talked myself into it even though I knew otherwise. I ride that bike to this day, and every time I ride it, I remember.

 

I learned a great lesson that day. “There are times when you can't understand why you cannot do what you want to do.” It wasn't about the bike. It was about my willingness to submit to God's leadership and obey His promptings, even when i don't understand or want to. I had an opportunity to show God that he meant more than the bicycle, and I chose differently.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for that huge life-lesson. Help me be obedient to Your promptings today.

 




THAT FATEFUL DAY IN 1989.

 

2.  “At first you may see clearly what God's will is, something you feel is distinctly God's will for you. Wait on God's timing and He will do it without heartache or disappointment. If you act on the impulse, you will cause difficult situations to arise which will take years to untangle.”

 

I remember standing under a huge live oak tree on the Gulf of Mexico during a Mardi Gras outreach. God had clearly spoken to my heart: He was calling me to seminary and full-time ministry. I couldn’t have been more thrilled or elated.

 

I remember arriving home, rushing into the house and sharing the news with Denise. She broke down in tears—but not tears of joy as I had. She said, “If God has called you, He will call me, too—and He’s not calling.”

 

For three years this became the constant elephant in the room. We struggled to talk about it, and every time we did it led to great consternation. For the first time in our marriage, there was a sharp divide. Some believers told me to simply obey the calling and Denise would follow. But I knew in my soul, without her sensing that calling, it would all be for naught.

 

Three years later, when an unknown pastor called the house, invited me to be his full-time youth director and begin seminary, Denise and I prayed. And long before I got my head around leaving my engineering career and stepping out in faith, Denise said, “This is from God. Now the timing is right. Let’s go.” So we sold our home in the country—the very house Denise had hoped to live in since she was a girl—packed up four preschoolers, and headed to seminary.

 

I learned a great lesson in those days. God had given me a vision that required me to wait and watch as He worked. I'm so thankful I did.

 

Lord Jesus, please help us discern such things today. Please help us be content with Your timing as You bring about Your perfect will in our lives.


 

3.  “Natural devotion may attract us to Jesus, but it will never make us disciples.”

 

Lord Jesus, I can do lots of things with my willpower, in my own determination. But I cannot faithfully follow You. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit and the supernatural energy that permits me to die to myself, take up my cross and follow You. I call on that power today. Thank You.

 



1.3.24

 

1.  “Clouds and darkness surround him.”

 

Here we have classic Oswald Chambers. It's as if HE’S the one who's speaking in “clouds and darkness.” This is where I must become more familiar with Oswald to appreciate him, and more familiar with that of which he speaks in order to perceive. His musings are not for the carnal mind. Instead, they speak in a language akin to my growing relationship with Jesus. He challenges me to think and reckon on a spiritual plane. And that's why I love him.  😊


 

2.  “The teachings of Jesus” are anything but “simple.”

 

I'm thankful for the Christian heritage in our culture. It certainly has helped build the greatest nation in human history. However, our culture has also been influential in “Americanizing” the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus. If we're not careful, our understanding of Christ will come from the music, movies, morals, legislation and trappings of our culture. We rend to bend the Gospel too suit affirm our preferences. I agree with Oswald: When we truly read, wrestle with and work to follow the teachings of Jesus, He will always and continually challenge our heart, mind, worldview and behaviors.  Lord Jesus, please continue to do so.


 

3.  “Casual” religion and “excessive informality” in our approach to God. 

 

Goodness, we are certainly good at this. We often speak of and approach God with such familiarity, as if He's just like us, only bigger. We assume things of God. We converse of God in third person, like He's not in the room. If we're not careful, we simply accommodate God, putting up with His claims and commands, perhaps to appease and woo Him to do our bidding. All it would take is one glimpse of our Lord and Savior, high and lifted up, with His train filling the throne room, with the sound of trumpets and the ocean of heavenly beings on their faces before Him. We would surely adjust our casual and informal approach. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your grace when we trivialize Who You are and what You’ve done. Please open our eyes to Your glorious Majesty.

 

4.  “Jesus’ words become spirit and life when Jesus re-speaks them to us in our circumstances.”

 

This is the beauty of God's incredible Word, and of the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s gloriously personal. It speaks to our inward parts in the moment, in our context, wherever we may find ourselves. And in those moments we realize how near Jesus is and how well-acquainted He is with all our ways. Let's be people of God's Word, beloved. When He speaks directly to us, His Words fuel our souls. Lord Jesus, thank You for using words. Thank You for every one of them. They are music to our ears, even when they’re hard. Please give us ears to hear and a heart to respond.

 



1.2.24


1.  “Going out” is great language.

 

Still, small nudges that are inexplicable yet undeniable. I can't tell you about them because they seem nonsensical. I don't even understand them myself. But I know saying “yes” brings about the Great Adventure, the constant wonder of what God might be up to next. Lord Jesus, help me “go out” today.

 

2.  “Believe God is the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him.”

 

Surely this is the audacity of imagining God to be who He says He is. It surely brings about our anticipation of His intervention in our lives.  Lord Jesus, thank You for Who You are. Please help me recognize Your hand in my everyday life.

 

3.  “Think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is.”

 

I know how it feels when another person doesn’t trust my good intentions. It's hurtful. How often do I hurt God's heart with worry? I'm telling Him I don't trust Him. Have mercy, Lord Jesus. Help me live like You're real.

 

4.  All of the above is “building my confidence in God.” God is “revealing to me Who He is.” Surely God has purpose when He calls me to “go out.” But surely His purpose in calling me always brings about a personal experience of God, which expands my vision of His character and His ways. Lord Jesus, thank You for fleshing out my impoverished vision of Who You are with every act of my obedience.

 



1.1.24

 

1. Oswald comes out of the gate challenging the pudding out of us: 

 

“I am determined to be absolutely and entirely God’s and God’s alone.”  Quite the noble sentiment.  Lord, may it be my determination as well.

 

2. “God must providentially produce a crisis in our lives because we’re unresponsive to His gentler nudges.”

 

Goodness, Lord Jesus.  Please help me respond the first time you nudge.

 

3. “We must decide—for or against—and that moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives.” 

 

I recall these crossroads along the way.  They’re game-changers.  Lord Jesus, may I be found faithful at the next.

 

“To reach this level of determination is matter of the will, not of reasoning.”  Indeed, I can reason my way in or out of anything.  Have mercy, Lord Jesus.  Please help me gird up my will and follow You.