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?

9 Quotes From “Your Joy Will Turn To Sorrow”

Your Sorrow Will Turn To JoyAlthough Your Joy Will Turn To Sorrow is intended to be read each morning and evening of Holy Week (check out my book review here), the content is so good that it will benefit you anytime you decide to read it! Here are some quotes that especially caught my attention.

“The only Savior who truly saves, only saves through suffering. The Cross was the only means of making us sinners right before a holy God. Our salvation was purchased with suffering, and it will be sealed and preserved with suffering (James 1:2-4), not comfort. We are promised comfort in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 1:4), but not the cheap, temporal imitation we’ve grown accustomed to in our modern world.” —Marshall Segal

“Jesus did not come to purchase the approval of others. No, He ‘was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces He was despised’ (Isaiah 53:3). Why? Because it is God’s approval we desperately need. And God’s approval doesn’t come by popular opinion, but by divine intervention—the substitution of His own Son in our place.” —Marshall Segal

“The irony of Mark 14 is that Judas could see the value of the ointment rolling down Jesus’ head, but he couldn’t see the value of Jesus. He was a pawnbroker with cataracts. That’s why he took such offense at the woman. The woman, on the other hand, could see both the value of the ointment and the value of Jesus. That’s why she broke the flask.” —Jonathan Bowers

“No one understands better than God how difficult it can be for a human to embrace the will of God. And no human has suffered more in embracing the will of God the Father than God the Son. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, whatever the cost, He is not calling us to do something He is either unwilling to do or is never done Himself.” —Jon Bloom

“So, now, we say with an entirely different meaning, let His blood be on us, not defiantly as the crowds that crucified Him, but desperately—with gratitude and hope and adoration—as those who depend wholly on His sacrifice. Jesus, let Your blood be on us. Let it cover us. Let the blood that flows from Your head, Your hands, Your feet wash over us and cleanse us from all our iniquity. We proclaim Jesus’ death. We rejoice in his death, not because we believe He was a fraud or a lunatic, but because it is by His death, by His wounds, by His blood that we are healed.” —Marshall Segal

“Jesus spoke of this joy as He faced the torture of Good Friday. He faced denial, faced betrayal, faced beatings, faced splinters and nails and spears—He could not stop talking about joy! Only joy would keep Him going. Joy was on His mind, joy was on His tongue, and joy was drawing Him, not away from suffering, but into it (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus went to the Cross for joy: to buy joy, create joy, and offer joy. As the world celebrated the savage killing of God, out of this sea of foaming rebel hostility emerged a blood-bought, inextinguishable joy.

“If the killing of the Author of life could not extinguish this joy Jesus speaks about, nothing can—and nothing ever will. No opposition from the world, no opposition to the gospel, and no cultural despising of Christ will overcome the resurrection joy of Jesus.” —Tony Reinke

“If Christ is still dead, death reigns, and all our joys our vain. So hoard every plastic Easter egg you find, because whatever you find inside is all the joy you have to grab. Or, as Paul says, ‘If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ (1 Corinthians 15:32). But if death is dead, and if the dead are raised—if Christ is risen from the dead!—brothers and sisters, let us feast and celebrate, for the daunting light of our inextinguishable and inexhaustible eternal pleasures have broken into the darkness, offering us a life of joy in Christ that cannot fade or rust or be stolen away!” —Tony Reinke

“Easter has now become our annual dress rehearsal for that great coming Day. When our perishable bodies will put on the imperishable. When the mortal finally puts on immortality. When we join in the triumph song with the prophets and the apostles, ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ (Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:55).” —David Mathis

“Indeed, even agony will turn to glory, but Easter doesn’t suppress our pain. It doesn’t minimize our loss. It bids our burdens stand as they are, in all their weight, with all their threats. And this risen Christ, with the brilliance of the indestructible life in His eyes, says, ‘These too I will claim in the victory. These too will serve your joy. These too, even these, I can make an occasion for rejoicing. I have overcome, and you will more than conquer.’ 

“Easter is not an occasion to repress whatever ails you and put on a happy face. Rather, the joy of Easter speaks tenderly to the pains that plague you. Whatever loss you lament, whatever burden weighs you down, Easter says, ‘It will not always be this way for you. The new age has begun. Jesus has risen, and the Kingdom of the Messiah is here. He has conquered death and sin and hell. He is alive and on His throne. And He is putting your enemies, all your enemies, under His feet.’” —David Mathis

Links & Quotes

link quote

“What does ‘every need of yours’ mean in view of Philippians 4:19? It means ‘all that you need for God-glorifying contentment.’ Paul’s love for the Philippians flowed from his contentment in God, and his contentment flowed from his faith in the future grace of God’s infallible provision.” —John Piper

“Sometimes we get into the habit of shutting our eyes to difficulty; that will not do: faith is not a fool, faith does not shut her eyes to difficulty, and then run head-foremost against a brick wall—never. Faith sees the difficulty, surveys it all, and then she says, ‘By my God will I leap over a wall’; and over the wall she goes.” —Charles Spurgeon

Here is a good way to stop the spread of pornography, child exploitation, and the sex slave trade: Be aware of what companies are on the Dirty Dozen List (these are companies that profit off of porn).

In light of the recent Supreme Court decisions (and some more on the way), Rev. Tim Dilena has a dead-on-target word for our judges.

I love the infographics and study tips that The Overview Bible Project prepares. Here is the latest one on Hosea. Do yourself a favor: go to Overview and subscribe!

[VIDEO] John Piper reminds us of the importance of getting into our Bibles—

Inconceivable

InconceivableThe “therefores” in Scripture always intrigue me. They are a signal that there is a natural conclusion to the words that just came before the therefore, so it’s important to look at both sides.

The prophet Hosea opens his book with these words: “…the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2). The picture is painted of God’s people acting like a wife that has not only abandoned her husband, but turned to prostitution as well. So the list of things that follow God’s therefore are what we might expect—

  • I will block your path
  • I will take away My grain
  • I will take back My wool
  • I will expose your lewdness
  • I will stop your celebrations
  • I will ruin your vineyards
  • I will punish you (Hosea 2:6-13)

Then here is what I find almost inconceivable: the very next word of the very next verse is therefore again, and God says things that, in my mind, are completely unexpected—

  • I will allure you and speak tenderly to you
  • I will restore our marriage
  • I will remove your stains
  • I will obliterate the past
  • I will betroth you to Me forever
  • I will answer your prayers
  • I will restore your crops
  • I will establish you forever
  • I will cancel your divorce
  • I will call you Mine (2:14-23)

This kind of love is mind-blowingly incomprehensible to me. It is so unexpected, so lavish, so overwhelming! This is absolutely the last thing I would have expected God to say, and yet His love is furious and relentless and boundless!

How could I ever slight such a love?!

God’s Longing

God's LongingHere’s what God says about you and me: “I long to redeem them” (Hosea 7:13). The prophet Hosea has a front row seat, watching God pursue and woo His people, and Hosea records for us God’s longing passion.

The placement of God’s declaration—I long to redeem them—is a wonder to me. It’s right in the middle of a catalogue of His people’s sins. God says:

  • Your kings fall because they don’t call on Me (Hosea 7:7).
  • You don’t realize how weak and powerless you’ve become because you won’t pray to Me (7:9-10).
  • You try to rule yourselves without consulting Me (8:4).
  • You disregard My laws as if they were irrelevant (8:12).
  • You no longer pay attention to My prophets who are calling you back to Me (9:7).

And still in the midst of all this comes, “I long to redeem them.” Astounding!

God tells us what we need to do—

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. (10:12)

The alternative?

BUT you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors…you will be completely destroyed. (10:13-15)

What will you choose: To seek God OR to depend on your own strength?

God LONGS to redeem you, but you have to ask Him to do so.

Incapable Of Innocence

Incapable of innocenceThis is God’s description of ancient Israel, but it sounds a lot like modern-day America to me. God said they (we) have…

  • Broken My covenant
  • Revolted against My law
  • Rejected what is good
  • Appointed rulers without My consent
  • Made idols
  • Acted as if My laws don’t apply to you
  • Practiced a meaningless religion (see Hosea 8)

And then God asks them (us) this question—

How long will you be incapable of innocence?

God’s question triggers a bunch of additional questions…

  • What are we waiting for?
  • Why don’t we repent of our sins?
  • What’s keeping us from returning wholeheartedly to God?
  • How much longer will we remain incapable of innocence?
  • How much longer will we tempt God’s mercy?

I’m not waiting for them to change; I’ve got to change. I must recognize my sin, repent of my sin, and return wholeheartedly to God. What about you?

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