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Posts Tagged ‘Oswald Chambers’

I’m not sure which is harder, contemplating this scripture from the book of Mark or reading Oswald Chambers’ entry for March 12.

labyrinthAfter calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. [Mark 5:34-35, CEB]

Chambers wrote: Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ”

Sometimes “taking up our cross” is couched in testing language. Test God, give this up or let go of that, and yTower of Babelou’ll see, God will bless you. Or, and I’m sure I’m not alone, there’s a lot of “gimme prayers,” even ones are cloaked in the name of empathy: “Oh Lord, heal so and so, I love them so much.” It’s as though our love or our prayers might just do the trick and turn God’s heart. Or even worse, those times we have called on God exchange our lives for someone else’s, as though that kind of martyrdom would make a difference; after all, we would only inflict loss and pain on those around us.

I am thoroughly self-centric. I confess it amidst great embarrassment. Just by writing, I have to admit to a certain audaciousness. I have done the very thing Oswald speaks of: flashing God’s power in my life. [Look what God did for little old me.]

egoPerhaps it’s a little of Eckart Tolle coming through, his view of the ego and its battle with Spirit/Now/Presence, however it would be best to express it in his terms. But the point is the same: the “I” in us continually seeks to find the center of our universe. That “I” says, “How does this affect me? What happens to me? What about me? What about what’s best for me?” (Effie sings in Dream Girls)

pelican sacrificeTruly losing oneself happens without fanfare. As soon as I say, oh I have given up all for Christ and carry His cross, well, quite honestly, I’ve just “found” myself wearing different stripes. Nothing has really changed.

No. Losing oneself slips in unnoticed.

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askgodIn the same way, you have sorrow now; but I will see you again, and you will be overjoyed. No one takes away your joy. In that day, you won’t ask me anything. I assure you that the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Up to now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive so that your joy will be complete. [John 16:22-24, CEB]

Won’t ask, ask, not asked, ask. What a strange passage with its combination of not asking and asking. Here’s my simple take on this: in the day of Christ’s return, we will not need to ask (we will get it), but until then, we can, not only ask, but ask with the name of Jesus as our co-requestor. Before Jesus, humans could not invoke His name or His consciousness, but now, we can.

I have had an additional bit of a revelation through the writings of Oswald Chambers on this matter.

We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. . . . To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature. –Oswald Chambers [My Utmost for His Highest, Aug 28 entry]

In the days of “blab it and grab it” teachings, this selected verse in John was often used to encourage people to pray, in faith, for anything, including a new car, a job, a mate, etc. All was possible, as long as we believed and prayed this scripture. But now I see, most clearly, what is offered–a life within, one completely surrounded by the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus through the Holy Spirit (for it was the Spirit that given to us at His resurrection). How different the ask becomes then. What would God withhold? Nothing.

  • Create in me a clean heart, O God. [Psalm 51:10]
  • Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. [Psalm 4:1]
  • Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. [Psalm 86:11]
  • Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. [Psalm 119:34]
  • Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. [Psalm 30:2]

All for the asking.

To participate in an ongoing 2015 Lenten devotional, download the PDF here.

 

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