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7 insights from Oswald Chambers at Thanksgiving


Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) was a Scottish Evangelical Bible teacher and military chaplain who penned, “My Utmost For His Highest,” which is the most popular Christian devotional ever written. “Even as a teenager, Chambers was noted for his deep spirituality, and he participated in the evangelization of poor occupants of local lodging houses.” God gave this devout believer in Jesus tremendous wisdom and discernment regarding various aspects of the Christian life. 

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect upon seven insights the Holy Spirit gave to this humble servant of the Lord:

1. “All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.”

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Would your family and friends describe you as a worrywart? When Jesus becomes your best friend, you experience the genuine contentment that the Lord brings into every heart that finds its rest in Christ alone. 

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

If you have been calculating without God, isn’t it time to redo the math? God is so much larger than whatever problems you are currently facing.

Scripture instructs God’s people: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

2. “God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.”

Do you find yourself regularly criticizing others? If you choose to begin praying for those you typically criticize, it will make a huge difference in your attitude and will greatly increase your level of joy.

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1).

3. “We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.”

Do you view God merely as a “blessing-machine” and a means to an end? You will never grow closer to Christ until you long for God Himself more than you desire His blessings. It has been said, “Prayer changes things.” More importantly, “Prayer changes us.” 

4. “If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others.”

Perhaps your current situation feels like a waste of time. Don’t believe it for a second. If you are a child of God, then trust the Lord to work out His plan for your life in His perfect time, and especially when things seem to be getting bogged down. We must often remind ourselves: I am God’s servant; not His advisor. 

God will use your challenging circumstances and the people around you to mold you into a vessel for His glory and His purposes.

5. “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

The Puritan preacher John Bunyan said, “‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs 9:10). They that lack the beginning have neither middle nor end.” Therefore, a deep reverence for God is essential. “The fear of the Lord leads to life. Then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23).

6. “The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey.”

Whenever we obey, the things of God become much clearer to us. Whenever we disobey, we stumble around in spiritual confusion and apathy. You see, it is not only sinful behavior that darkens the heart and mind, but also the intention to sin. Evil motives are often as lethal to man’s spiritual life as evil actions.

7. “The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it costs God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged in a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.”

This is why it is actually quite easy to be saved, redeemed, born again, justified and forgiven. Spiritual conversion occurs on the front end of a person’s relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Simply turn away from sin as you come to the Redeemer who gave His life on the cross for your eternal salvation. 

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). 

Have you received Jesus as your Savior? If not, I highly encourage you to do so today. You won’t regret it. And then fill your mind with Scripture every day and worship weekly with other believers. 

By applying these seven insights from Oswald Chambers in your daily life, you will continue to grow in wisdom and spiritual maturity as a follower of Christ.

After all, “Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it” (Proverbs 16:22).

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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