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Thread: "My Utmost for His Highest". . . . . Oswald Chambers

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    July 9th

    The great probing

    "Ye cannot serve the Lord." Joshua 24:19.


    Have you the slightest reliance on any thing other than God? Is there a remnant of reliance left on any natural virtue, any set of circumstances? Are you relying on yourself in any particular in this new proposition which God has put before you? That is what the probing means. It is quite true to say—‘I cannot live a holy life’; but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. “Ye cannot serve the Lord God”—but you can put yourself in the place where God’s Almighty power will work through you. Are you sufficiently right with God to expect Him to manifest His wonderful life in you?

    “Nay, but we will serve the Lord.” It is not an impulse, but a deliberate commitment. You say—‘But God can never have called me to this, I am too unworthy, it can’t mean me.’ It does mean you, and the weaker and feebler you are, the better. The one who has something to trust in is the last one to come anywhere near saying—‘I will serve the Lord.’

    We say—‘If I really could believe!’ The point is—If I really will believe. No wonder Jesus Christ lays such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” If we really believed that God meant what He said—what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 10th

    The spiritual sluggard

    "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together." Hebrews 10:24–25.


    We are all capable of being spiritual sluggards; we do not want to mix with the rough and tumble of life as it is, our one object is to secure retirement. The note struck in Hebrews 10 is that of provoking one another and of keeping together—both of which require initiative, the initiative of Christ-realization, not of self-realization. To live a remote, retired, secluded life is the antipodes of spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.

    The test of our spirituality comes when we come up against injustice and meanness and ingratitude and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritual sluggards. We want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of retirement. We utilize God for the sake of getting peace and joy, that is, we do not want to realize Jesus Christ, but only our enjoyment of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things are effects and we try to make them causes.

    “I think it meet,” said Peter, “… to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” It is a most disturbing thing to be smitten in the ribs by some provoker of God, by someone who is full of spiritual activity. Active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work may be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. The danger of spiritual sluggishness is that we do not wish to be stirred up, all we want to hear about is spiritual retirement. Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement—“Go tell My brethren …”

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 11th

    The spiritual saint

    "That I may know Him". Phil. 3:10.


    The initiative of the saint is not towards self-realization, but towards knowing Jesus Christ. The spiritual saint never believes circumstances to be haphazard, or thinks of his life as secular and sacred; he sees everything he is dumped down in as the means of securing the knowledge of Jesus Christ. There is a reckless abandonment about him. The Holy Spirit is determined that we shall realize Jesus Christ in every domain of life, and He will bring us back to the same point again and again until we do. Self-realization leads to the enthronement of work; whereas the saint enthrones Jesus Christ in his work. Whether it be eating or drinking or washing disciples’ feet, whatever it is, we have to take the initiative of realizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized His relationship to the Father even in the most menial work. “Jesus knowing … that He was come from God, and went to God; … took a towel, … and began to wash the disciples feet.”

    The aim of the spiritual saint is “that I may know Him.” Do I know Him where I am to-day? If not, I am failing Him. I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus. In Christian work the initiative is too often the realization that something has to be done and I must do it. That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint, his aim is to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 12th

    The spiritual society

    "Till we all come … unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ". Eph. 4:13.


    Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption. The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization. The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ’s plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose—that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.

    Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only? The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ—“That I may know Him.“To fulfil God’s design means entire abandonment to him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.

    ‘My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
    Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.’

    Am I measuring my life by this standard or by anything less?

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 13th

    The price of vision

    "In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord." Isaiah 6:1.


    Our soul’s history with God is frequently the history of the “passing of the hero.” Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died—I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or—I saw the Lord?

    My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. Before I can say “I saw also the Lord,” there must be something corresponding to God in my character. Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God, I see along the line of my prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and an internal purification.

    It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. “In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee.”
    Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 14th

    The account with persecution

    "But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Matthew 5:39, etc.


    These verses reveal the humiliation of being a Christian. Naturally, if a man does not hit back, it is because he is a coward; but spiritually if a man does not hit back, it is a manifestation of the Son of God in him. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but make it an occasion to exhibit the Son of God. You cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus; it is either there or it is not. To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

    The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not—Do your duty, but—Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says if we are His disciples, we shall always do these things. There will be no spirit of—‘Oh well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood.’ Every time I insist upon my rights, I hurt the Son of God; whereas I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I take the blow myself. That is the meaning of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honour that is at stake in his life, not his own honour.

    Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself. We are always looking for justice; the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is—Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 15th

    The point of spiritual honour

    "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians." Romans 1:14


    Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of his indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent himself to express it. The great inspiration in Paul’s life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor. Do I feel that sense of indebtedness to Christ in regard to every unsaved soul? The spiritual honour of my life as a saint is to fulfil my debt to Christ in relation to them. Every bit of my life that is of value I owe to the Redemption of Jesus Christ; am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His Redemption into actual manifestation in other lives? I can only do it as the Spirit of God works in me this sense of indebtedness. I am not to be a superior person amongst men, but a bondslave of the Lord Jesus. “Ye are not your own.” Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ. He says—‘I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus; I am free to be an absolute slave only.’ That is the characteristic of the life when once this point of spiritual honour is realized. Quit praying about yourself and be spent for others as the bondslave of Jesus. That is the meaning of being made broken bread and poured-out wine in reality.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 16th

    The notion of divine control

    "How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? Matthew 7:11.
    "

    Jesus is laying down rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit. By the simple argument of these verses He urges us to keep our minds filled with the notion of God’s control behind everything, which means that the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

    Notion your mind with the idea that God is there. If once the mind is notioned along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember—Why, my Father knows all about it! It is not an effort, it comes naturally when perplexities press. Before, you used to go to this person and that, but now the notion of the Divine control is forming so powerfully in you that you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit, and it works on this principle—God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry?

    There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it shall be given you.”

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 17th

    The miracle of belief

    "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words." 1 Cor. 2:1–5 .


    Paul was a scholar and an orator of the first rank; he is not speaking out of abject humility, but saying that he would veil the power of God if, when he preached the gospel, he impressed people with his “excellency of speech.” Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the efficacy of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of the Redemption comes through the preaching of the Gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher. The real fasting of the preacher is not from food, but rather from eloquence, from impressiveness and exquisite diction, from everything that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God—“as though God did beseech you by us.” He is there to present the Gospel of God, not human ideals. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get anywhere near Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

    “I, if I be lifted up …, will draw all men unto Me.”

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 18th

    The mystery of believing

    "And he said, Who art Thou, Lord?" Acts 9:5.


    By the miracle of Redemption Saul of Tarsus was turned in one second from a strong-willed, intense Pharisee into a humble, devoted slave of the Lord Jesus.

    There is nothing miraculous about the things we can explain. We command what we are able to explain, consequently it is natural to seek to explain. It is not natural to obey; nor is it necessarily sinful to disobey. There is no moral virtue in obedience unless there is a recognition of a higher authority in the one who dictates. It is possibly an emancipation to the other person if he does not obey. If one man says to another—‘You must,’ and ‘You shall,’ he breaks the human spirit and unfits it for God. A man is a slave for obeying unless behind his obedience there is a recognition of a holy God. Many a soul begins to come to God when he flings off being religious, because there is only one Master of the human heart, and that is not religion but Jesus Christ. But woe be to me if when I see Him I say—‘I will not.’ He will never insist that I do, but I have begun to sign the death-warrant of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say—‘I will not,’ He will never insist; but I am backing away from the re-creating power of His Redemption. It is a matter of indifference to God’s grace how abominable I am if I come to the light; but woe be to me if I refuse the light (see John 3:19–21 ).

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 19th

    Mastery over the believer

    "Ye call Me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am." John 13:13.


    Our Lord never insists on having authority; He never says—‘Thou shalt.’ He leaves us perfectly free—so free that we can spit in His face, as men did; so free that we can put Him to death, as men did; and He will never say a word. But when His life has been created in me by His Redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a moral domination—“Thou art worthy …” It is only the unworthy in me that refuses to bow down to the worthy. If when I meet a man who is more holy than myself, I do not recognize his worthiness and obey what comes through him, it is a revelation of the unworthy in me. God educates us by means of people who are little better than we are, not intellectually, but ‘holily,’ until we get under the domination of the Lord Himself, and then the whole attitude of the life is one of obedience to Him.

    If Our Lord insisted upon obedience He would become a taskmaster, and He would cease to have any authority. He never insists on obedience, but when we do see Him we obey Him instantly. He is easily Lord, and we live in adoration of Him from morning till night. The revelation of my growth in grace is the way in which I look upon obedience. We have to rescue the word ‘obedience’ from the mire. Obedience is only possible between equals. It is the relationship between father and son, not between master and servant. “I and My Father are one.”“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” The Son’s obedience was as Redeemer, because He was Son, not in order to be Son.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 20th

    Dependent on God’s presence

    "They that wait upon the Lord … shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31.


    There is no thrill in walking; it is the test of all the stable qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest reach possible for strength. The word “walk” is used in the Bible to express the character—“John looking on Jesus as He walked, said, Behold the Lamb of God!” There is never anything abstract in the Bible, it is always vivid and real. God does not say—‘Be spiritual,’ but—“Walk before Me.”

    When we are in an unhealthy state physically or emotionally, we always want thrills. In the physical domain this will lead to counterfeiting the Holy Ghost; in the emotional life it leads to inordinate affection and the destruction of morality; and in the spiritual domain if we insist on getting thrills, on mounting up with wings, it will end in the destruction of spirituality.

    The reality of God’s presence is not dependent on any place, but only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us. Our problems come when we refuse to bank on the reality of His presence. The experience the Psalmist speaks of—“Therefore will we not fear, though …”—will be ours when once we are based on Reality; not the consciousness of God’s presence but the reality of it—‘Why, He has been here all the time.’

    At critical moments it is necessary to ask guidance, but it ought to be unnecessary to be saying always—‘Oh Lord, direct me here, and there.’ Of course He will! If our commonsense decisions are not God’s order, He will press through them and check; then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 21st

    The gateway to the kingdom

    "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Matthew 5:3.


    Beware of placing Our Lord as a Teacher first. If Jesus Christ is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize me by erecting a standard I cannot attain. What is the use of presenting me with an ideal I cannot possibly come near? I am happier without knowing it. What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be—to be pure in heart, to do more than my duty, to be perfectly devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as Saviour before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.

    The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man—the very thing Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. ‘Blessed are the paupers in spirit,’ that is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility—‘I cannot begin to do it.’ Then Jesus says—‘Blessed are you.’ That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor! The knowledge of our own poverty brings us on to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 22nd

    Sanctification

    "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." 1 Thess. 4:3.


    The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Many of us spend so much time in the place of death that we get sepulchral. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. “If any man come to Me, and hate not … his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

    The Spirit of God in the process of sanctification will strip me until I am nothing but ‘myself,’ that is the place of death. Am I willing to be ‘myself,’ and nothing more—no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest, simply ready for death? That is the condition of sanctification. No wonder Jesus said: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus on this point. ‘But it is so stern,’ we say; ‘He cannot wish me to do that.’ Our Lord is stern; and He does wish me to do that.

    Am I willing to reduce myself simply to ‘me,’ determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with everything but God.

    When I pray—‘Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,’ He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me.

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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    July 23rd

    Sanctification

    "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us … sanctification." 1 Cor. 1:30.


    The Life Side. The mystery of sanctification is that the perfections of Jesus Christ are imparted to me, not gradually, but instantly when by faith I enter into the realization that Jesus Christ is made unto me sanctification. Sanctification does not mean anything less than the holiness of Jesus being made mine manifestly.

    The one marvellous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest themselves in my mortal flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you.” It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification, and imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God’s grace. Am I willing for God to make sanctification as real in me as it is in His word?

    Sanctification means the impartation of the holy qualities of Jesus Christ. It is His patience, His love, His holiness, His faith, His purity, His godliness, that is manifested in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him, and He manifests it in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation. Imitation is on a different line. In Jesus Christ is the perfection of everything, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfections of Jesus are at my disposal, and slowly and surely I begin to live a life of ineffable order and sanity and holiness “Kept by the power of God.”

    Oswald Chambers
    "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

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