Thursdays With Oswald—An Aroma From God’s Garden

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

An Aroma From God’s Garden

     [Oswald Chambers is speaking about how the prodigal son returned home.] 

     Did the father send any message to the far country after the younger boy? There is no record of any message being sent. What did the younger boy have to do? He had to do exactly what is recorded in Hosea long before that picture was painted by Our Lord—he had to return. Drawn by God? It does not say so. Read the fourteenth chapter of Hosea: “I will heal their backsliding” [Hosea 14:4]; but the backslider has to get up first, leave the pigs and what pigs eat, and go back to where he came from. Help granted him? None whatever. Messages from the home country? Not one. Tender touches of God’s grace on his life? No. Can you picture that prodigal son returning, a degraded, sunken, sin-stained man, going back in all the cruel, bald daylight? Oh, it is a hard way to go back out of the backslider’s hell; a hard, hard way! Every step of it is cruel, every moment is torture. But what happened? Before that younger son had gotten very far, the father saw him “and ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him”!

     Worker for God among backslidden souls, remember God’s way, put the sting, if you can, into the backslider’s soul that he may get up and come back to God, and what has he to do? Take with him words and say, “Forgive all my sins and receive me graciously” [Hosea 14:2]. Did the prodigal son take with him words? He did, he rehearsed them over and over again where he was amongst the pigs—“I will say to my father this and that,” he had it all by heart. Does Hosea say the same? He does: “My sins have been my downfall” [Hosea 14:1]. … 

     I just said now that no message was sent to the far country; God sends none, but, worker for God, will you be a message from the Father? Will you so bathe your life in the atmosphere of prayer that when you come in contact with a backslidden soul, it will awaken a remembrance of the Father, awaken a remembrance of what that soul once was? Will you let your life be like a bunch of flowers from the Father’s home garden, just awakening for one moment a remembrance of what life once was, and then pass on, and pray and watch, and you will be mightily rewarded by God when you see that poor backslidden soul get up and go back to God, taking with him words and saying, “My sins have been my downfall.” 

From Workmen Of God

What about you, my friend? Do you love the prodigals enough to be the Father’s message from home to them?

An Ordinary Simple Christian

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.” —C.S. Lewis

Just A Whisper

God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in His thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with His clouds. He created the horizon when He separated the waters; He set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at His rebuke. By His power the sea grew calm. By His skill He crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and His power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that He does, merely a whisper of His power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of His power? (Job 26:7-14)

Take a look at the majesty of creation. Look at the vastness of space. Marvel at the pounding surf of the oceans. Tremble at the earthquake, the hurricane, the volcano.

Then look through a microscope and see the perfection at the smallest scale. Smell the fragrances, thrill at the beauty. Job reminds us, “These are just the beginning of all that God does, merely a whisper of His power.”

Are things troubling you? They don’t even begin to touch the power of God! No matter what you are facing, God’s power is infinitely stronger. Hide yourself in Him. Cling to His love. Rest in His strength.

Fear not, for far greater is your Father in Heaven than anything troubling you!

Man—The Dwelling Place Of God (book review)

It’s an awesome thing to ponder that Almighty God wants to live and commune with you and me! I can think of no better person to illuminate this amazing thought than the prophetic voice of A.W. Tozer in his book Man—The Dwelling Place Of God.

Although this book is 50 years old, the message still rings true for this generation. Tozer points out that God wants to dwell with man, to reveal Himself to us in powerful and personal ways, but this comes at a price. That price is not trying to control God, but letting Him be in charge.

The book is made up of 39 chapters, the majority of which are fairly short and can be read in just a few minutes. But the application of the truths in these short chapters will be something that you will need to ponder for quite awhile. God is Lord and Master; He is not a genie in a bottle that grants us our wishes if we rub the bottle the right way. God has laid out for us how He will bless us in His Word and, Tozer says, it’s time for us to take God’s Word more seriously.

Tozer makes it clear that we cannot live however we want to live and then ask God to bless our life with His presence. Instead, God has already shown us in His Word, in the life of His Son Jesus, and in the ongoing witness of the Holy Spirit the kind of life He longs to bless. It’s now up to us to place our lives in that place where God’s blessings and presence will flow.

A.W. Tozer speaks with the authority of a prophet of God, and for those who are willing to listen and apply his words, God’s presence and blessing can be expected.

God Isn’t Trying To Cast People Into Hell

“God isn’t trying to cast people into hell; He’s trying to bring them into heaven. He wants people to be with Him and to have everything His sons and daughters should have. So it’s odd to focus on the question of whether people need to hear the name Jesus to go to heaven, as if knowing Him in this life were an annoyance people would prefer to avoid.

“It’s just the opposite. Knowing Jesus and knowing all about Him are meant to be monumental blessings in this life. So we should be tripping over ourselves to get to know Him rather than trying to figure out ways people might get to heaven without Him. Peoples lives here and now will be infinitely better if they know Jesus and the freedom He wants them to have.” —Eric Metaxas, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About God

9 More Quotes From “The Christian In Complete Armour”

William Gurnall penned wise words for Christian warriors nearly 400 years ago, but their timelessness is still evident today. Check out a few more quotes from The Christian In Complete Armour

“The devil cannot think of anything he had rather glory in than to wound God’s name with His own sword. He coaxes man to sin and then brags that God made him do it. … Instead of letting satan wrest Scripture from us by his wily stratagems, let us be excited to bless God for the sword He has furnished us out of His grace.”

“The Sword of the Spirit in another person’s hand will not defend you.”

“God calls all mankind—some by the voice of natural conscience and others by the loud shout of His Word—to join Him ‘against the mighty’ (Judges 5:23). He does this not because He needs our help but because He prefers to reward obedience rather than to punish rebellion.”

“‘The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good’ (Proverbs 15:3). He sees when you close your closet door to pray in secret and rewards your sincerity; but He also sees when the door is closed for you to sin in secret—and He will not fail to reward your hypocrisy.”

“When the Spirit convicts you of sin, satan will try to convince you, ‘It is such a little one—spare it.’ Or he will bribe the soul with a vow of secrecy: ‘You can keep me and your good reputation, too. I will not be seen in your company to shame you among your neighbors. You may shut me up in the attic of your heart, out of sight, if only you will let me now and then have the wild embraces of your thoughts and affections in secret.’”

“The Christian ought to rely on divine strength because this plan results in the greatest advancement of God’s own glory (Ephesians 1:4, 12). If God had given you a lifetime supply of His grace to begin with and left you to handle your own account, you would have thought Him generous indeed. But He is magnified even more by the open account He sets up in your name. Now you must acknowledge not only that your strength comes from God in the first place, but that you are continually in debt for every withdrawal of strength you make throughout your Christian course.”

“Here is a word for Christians. Knowing your strength lies wholly in God and not in yourself, remain humble—even when God is blessing and using you most. Remember, when you have your best suit on, who made it and who paid for it! God’s favor is neither the work of your hands nor the price of your own worth. How can you boast of what you did not buy? If you embezzle God’s strength and credit it to your own account, He will soon call an audit and will take back what was His all along.”

“As an earthly parent you rejoice to see your own good qualities reproduced in your children. God, the perfect Parent, longs to see His attributes reflected in His saints. It is this image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons. When God defends you, He also defends Himself. Now knowing that the quarrel is God’s, surely He will not have you go forth to war at your own expense!”

“Your Heavenly Father is so eager to care for you, that while you are timidly asking for a nibble of peace and joy, He is longing for you to open your mouth wide so He can fill it. The more often you ask, the better; and the more you ask for, the more He welcomes you.”

You can read my full review of William Gurnall’s book by clicking here. I have shared other quotes from The Christian In Complete Armour here and here.

What If We Had Higher Expectations?

Humans are hardwired by God to be in relationship with Him and with others.

  1. God is a Triune God so each part of the Godhead is in relationship with the other parts—John tells us in his epistle that God is love, meaning there is both a Lover and a Beloved.
  2. We are created in God’s image—we are made to love and be loved.
  3. God affirmed our need for relationships with others—see Genesis 2:18.
  4. Relationships with others give us a return on investment, help in trouble, encouragement in dark times, and protection from attack—see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
  5. Christians being in healthy relationships with others is a testimony to just how powerful God’s love is.

Sadly, Brennan Manning pointed out that Christians “have come a long sad journey from the first century, when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, ‘See how these Christians love one another!’”

When I read this, I don’t want to throw in the towel, but I want to reclaim this awe and wonder! 

One of the things that will quickly kill relationships is having low expectations for the other person or for the relationship itself. This can be counteracted by having higher expectations for other people and for our relationships with them.

John Maxwell noted, “People rise or fall to meet our level of expectations for them. If you express skepticism and doubt in others, they’ll return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they’ll wear themselves out trying to do their best.”

Consider the high expectations that God had for a relationship with us. If He had low expectations, one of the best-known verses in the Bible would be, “God thought a few people in the world had something worth saving, so He sent a handful of angels to tell us His story.”

Instead, the verse tells us: God so loved the entire world that He sent the very best that He had—He sent His One and Only Son!

  • Jesus died for us when we were unworthy of His love
  • Jesus gave us all His authority to represent Him in the world
  • Jesus empowered us with His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses
  • Jesus told us that our love for others would be a blazing sign to that we were His

Since God has this high expectation for us … what would happen if we had the same high expectations for everyone with whom we came into contact? What would happen if we believed the best for everybody, and then gave all that we could to bring the best out of them? I think that once again people would exclaim with awe and wonder,

“See how these Christians love one another!”

We will be talking more about Relationship Builders & Killers this Sunday and I would love if you could join me!

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