Thursdays With Oswald—His!

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.

His!

     “They were Yours; You gave them to Me” (John 17:6). It is this aspect of a disciple’s life that is frequently forgotten. We are apt to think of ourselves as our own, of the work as our work. A great point in spiritual nobility has been reached when we can really say, “I am not my own.” … The Son of God is the Highest of all, yet the characteristic of His life was obedience. We have to learn that God is not meant for us, it is we who are meant for God. … “Do you not know…you are not your own” [1 Corinthians 6:19]. 

     His! Does that apply to us? Have we realize that our body is not our own, but His—“the temple of the Holy Ghost”! Have we realized that our hearts and affections are not our own, but His? If so, we shall be careful over inordinate affection. Have we realized that all the ambitions of life are His? We are out for one thing only, for Jesus Christ’s enterprises. …  

     “Since you have kept My command to endure patiently” [Revelation 3:10]. This is not the patience of pessimism, nor of exhaustion, but the patience of joyfulness because God reigns. It may be illustrated by likening the saint to a bow and arrow in the hand of God. God is aiming at His mark, He stretches and strains until the saint says—“I cannot stand anymore,” but God does not heed. He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly, and the arrow reaches His mark. … 

     It takes the endurance which comes from a vision of God to go on without seeing results. We are not here for successful service, but to be faithful. Had Jesus any results? Before we go into work for Him we must learn that the disciple is not above his master. We cannot be discouraged if we belong to Him, for it was said of Him—“He shall not fail nor be discouraged” [Isaiah 42:4]. Discouragement is “disenchanted egotism.” “Things are not happening the way I expected they would, therefore I am going to give it all up.” To talk like that is a sure sign that we are not possessed by love for Him, but only by love for ourselves. Discouragement always comes when we insist on having our own way. 

From So Send I You

Can Jesus say of you that you are His? Are you trying to make your own way, or are you simply following Jesus? Are you letting God stretch you until He is ready to release you, or are you becoming exhausted and discouraged in the waiting? Is your love for Jesus absolute, or does it come with conditions?

3 Manger Lessons

Only Luke uses the Greek word for manger in all of the New Testament, with three of those instances being closely linked with the story of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-16).

Luke is a prolific writer, but also a very specific writer. Luke uses more unique Greek words in his two books of the Bible than any other New Testament author. Because Luke is so precise, we need to pause to ask: what message was Luke trying to highlight in the fact that Jesus was born in a manger.

Here are three manger lessons…

  1. The manger shows us God’s PLAN.

The birthplace of Jesus was predicted 700 years before He was born (Micah 5:2). God moved the heart of the most powerful man in the world (Caesar Augustus) to issue a decree that would bring a nearly unknown Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, and cause them to cross paths with a bunch of unnamed shepherds.

  1. The manger shows us God’s PRIORITY.

Jesus was not born to a handsome family (Isaiah 53:2), nor was He born to an influential family (Philippians 2:7). If He had been born to the high and mighty class, He would not only be unmoved by the desperate conditions of the least and the lost, but He would also be inaccessible to them.

Think about this—Who would you be more likely to have access to: a King or a peasant? Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:25-28).

  1. The manger shows us God’s PLEASURE.

God is pleased to deliver His good news to the disempowered, the downcast, the over-burdened, the desperate (Luke 2:14; Matthew 11:25-26). And what is this good news? The good news is that Jesus came to make it possible for us to be linked with Him forever! (see Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus was born in a manger to show us that (1) God’s plans always prevail; (2) His priority is to rescue those who are unable to rescue themselves; and (3) He has immense pleasure to yoking us to Him forever and ever! 

May this good news of Christ in manger bring you joy this Christmas season!

We also looked at some other powerful Advent stories in our Carols Of Christmas series. You can read about the lessons from O Come Emmanuel and Silent Night! Holy Night!

Silent Night? Holy Night!

A little boy wanted to do something special for his family, so he thought he would do something he had seen his mother do dozens of times: bake a cake. Quickly he looked through a cookbook and got to work.

Dad was the first one to come home and heard an unusual clatter in the kitchen. Peeking around the corner he saw his son wearing his wife’s apron, slightly dusted in flour, and vigorously stirring a big bowl of batter.

“What are you doing, son” Dad asked.

Without looking up from his work the boy proudly answered, “I’m making a cake, Dad!”

Dad looked around the kitchen and saw all the proper ingredients out, so he was somewhat assured when he asked, “So how’s it going?”

The little boy paused and looked up at him, “Pretty good I think. I’m just having a little trouble with the ‘tbls” and ‘tsps.’”

For those of you who have done any baking, you know that “tbls” are tablespoons and “tsps” are teaspoons. If you get those mixed up, the cake might not turn out very well. For instance, adding a teaspoon of baking powder when the recipe calls for a tablespoon might result in a flat cake. Or adding a tablespoon of salt when the recipe asks for a teaspoon might making a rather salty cake.

Abbreviations only work if everyone is on the same page with you. If they’re not, it could be rather unsavory or maybe even dangerous.

In 1816, Joseph Mohr penned the words to what some have called the best-known Christmas carol in the world: Silent Night! Holy Night!

I’m not really sure how “silent” the night Jesus was born really was: a village so filled with people that no bedrooms were available, a mother in labor, a crying newborn, animals in a stable disturbed by the mother and child, singing angels, and curious shepherds. But let’s leave that part alone for a while.

Although it may not have been a silent night, it most assuredly was a Holy Night! That full title gives us the full impact of what happened at Christ’s First Advent.

Holy means something unlike anything else; someone or something devoted to God; something divine; something with God’s fingerprints all of it. I see at least three divinely holy things in this carol.

  1. The virgin birth of Jesus. 

Not only was the birth of Jesus a fulfillment of prophesy (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:18-25), but it was also an indication of God’s miracle-working power. The fact the Luke gives so many specific details about that birth night (see Luke 2:1-2) also lets us know that this isn’t a “once upon a time” myth.

  1. The involvement of angels in the affairs of humans. 

Angels bring messages to key people before the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:11, 26; Matthew 1:20) and on the night of His birth (Luke 2:9-14). John also gives us a peek behind the scenes of the massive spiritual warfare taking place the night of Christ’s birth (see Revelation 12:1-5). Paul tells us that we, too, are involved in this spiritual battle, but that because of Christ’s Advent we’re more than conquerors through Jesus (Ephesians 6:12; Romans 8:37).

  1. The full deity and the full humanity of Jesus. 

Jesus was fully Man and fully God (see Philippians 2:5-7; Matthew 26:63-64; John 8:54-58). This is so important, because without this we would be lost. If Jesus wasn’t fully Man, He wouldn’t know how to help us; if He wasn’t fully God, He couldn’t help us.

So when you hear this carol playing, ask someone if they know the title. More than likely they will say, “Silent Night.” To which you can easily reply, “Actually it’s Silent Night! Holy Night! and I’d like to tell you three amazing, holy things that took place!”

Let’s never abbreviate away the miracles. It may or may not have been a Silent Night, but it most certainly was a Holy Night! These supernatural miracles surrounding Christ’s First Advent provided us freedom from sin, and a rock-solid hope of our eternal reward in Heaven at Christ’s Second Advent.

The Advent “Nicknames” Of Jesus

Most of us who have nicknames didn’t receive them at birth, but they were given to us later on. It might have been because of a memorable incident, or even a character trait that we are known for.

But think about Jesus. Even before His first Advent, He was given numerous “nicknames” or titles that foretold what He was going to do. In the Christmas carol “O Come O Come Emmanuel” four of Christ’s nicknames/titles are key for us today.

It’s so important for us to look back at these First Advent titles because they give us perspective for today and hope for Christ’s Second Advent.

Paul makes it clear that we are living in a time of both already and not yet. We have redemption (Ephesians 1:7), and we are waiting for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Jesus has already paid for our freedom (First Advent), but we are still awaiting the rewards that will come with His Second Advent.

O come, O come…

  1. …Emmanuel

Literally, this means “God is with His people.” The prophesy was originally given to the prophet Isaiah (see 7:14 and 8:6-10), but it was repeated when Jesus was born (Matthew 1:23). Only One Who was fully God and fully Man could pay the price for our ransom from sin.

  1. …Rod of Jesse 

David, the son of Jesse, prayed, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18). Yet God was going to continue to keep David’s family line alive (although at times it looked like the dead stump of a long-forgotten tree) to give a throne to Jesus as the King of kings that would once and for all crush satan’s tyranny.

  1. …Dayspring 

When I think of Dayspring, I think of light exploding immediately into the darkness (Isaiah 9:2 and Luke 1:77-78). Jesus Himself told us of His victory over the darkness: I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you] (John 16:33, AMP).

  1. …Key of David

Only Jesus holds the key to open wide our heavenly home (Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 1:8)!

What do you need? 

  • Ransom? Emmanuel paid it! 
  • Power to defeat satan? The Rod of Jesse gives it! 
  • Encouragement to press on? The Dayspring lavishes it! 
  • Assurance of your eternal home in Heaven? The Key of David opens it! 

All our longings—all our O come! O come!—are satisfied in Jesus. His First Advent is the already, and His Second Advent gives us hope for the not yet.

Check out some of the other Carols of Christmas we are looking at this year.

Thursdays With Oswald—Where Are Your Feet?

This 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.

Where Are Your Feet?

“Where did Jesus placed His feet? He placed them by the sick and the sorrowful, by the dead, by the bad, by the twisted and by the good. He placed His feet exactly where we have to place ours…, in the ordinary rough and tumble of human life as it is. ‘I will make the place of My feet glorious [Isaiah 60:13].’” 

From Run Today’s Race

Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:

  • All of Isaiah 60 is about God’s glory being revealed on earth through Jesus Christ. Am I letting Christ’s glory shine through my life?
  • Do I only look for “super-spiritual” moments, or am I aware that God can make wherever I place my feet a glorious place?
  • Am I willing to go wherever God needs me to go?

Thursdays With Oswald—Becoming Bread

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.

Becoming Bread

     It is the plough that prepares the ground for sowing the seed. The hard way through the field is the same soil as the good ground, but it is of no use for growing corn because it has never been ploughed. … 

     “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The way through the field which has been battered hard by men’s feet is an illustration of the human heart. The human heart should be the abode of God’s Holy Spirit, but it has been trampled hard by passions until God has no part in it, and the plough has to come into the desecrated place. … 

     Standing corn has to be cut down and go through the process of reaping, threshing, grinding, mixing and baking before it is good for food; and sanctified souls must be told that their only use is to be reaped for God and made into bread for others. It is time we got away from all our shallow thinking about sanctification. … 

     The sound of millstones is music in the ears of God. The worldling does not think it music, but the saint who is being made into bread knows that his Father knows best, and that He would never allow the suffering if He had not some purpose. … 

     “Be content, ye are His wheat growing in our Lord’s field. And if wheat, ye must go under our Lord’s threshing instrument, in His barn-floor, and through His sieve, and through His mill to be bruised, as the Prince of your salvation, Jesus, was (Isaiah 53:10), that ye may be found good bread in your Lord’s house” (Samuel Rutherford). … 

     When by the sanctifying power of the grace of God we have been made into bread, our lives are to be offered first of all to Jesus Christ. … The saints who satisfy the heart of Jesus make other saints strong and mature for God. 

From The Sacrament Of Saints

Do you want to be useful for God? Then you must let Him prepare you to be bread that He can use to nourish others. Chambers reminds us that this preparation process entails the painful processes of ploughing, reaping, threshing, grinding, mixing and baking. But God knows best! He only allows this pain so that He can use you to bless others.

Love Re-members

love-re-membersChristians often talk about God in terms of the “Trinity.” That is, the One True God revealed in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp, especially since the word Trinity doesn’t specifically appear in the Bible. But make no mistake, just because the word isn’t there doesn’t mean it’s not true. Consider…

  • God’s Three-in-One nature is first exhibited when man is created (Genesis 1:26).
  • When the prophesy is given about Jesus being born in human flesh, He is given all the titles of the three Persons of the Godhead (Isaiah 9:6).
  • At Christ’s baptism we see Jesus in human form, we see the Holy Spirit descending as a dove, and we hear the Father’s voice announcing His approval of His Son (Matthew 3:16-17).
  • Jesus Himself said He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to the Christians (John 14:16).
  • And just as Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His followers to baptize people into all three Persons of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19).

But I think the best expression of the Trinity is revealed in three simple words. John talks about how all three Persons of the Trinity are involved in the life of a Christian. And then he sums it all up in three words—

“GOD IS LOVE”

Each Person of the Godhead is encouraging and illuminating and pointing to the other Persons in the Trinity. Love is perpetually being received and given. We humans are created in God’s image … we are created to receive and to give God’s love. That’s why John tells us that we know and rely on the love God has for us (that’s the receiving part), and that whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (that’s the giving part).

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were dis-membered from God. As a result, every human in their natural state longs for connection with God and others, but feels separated, isolated, unloved, and even unlovable.

Love re-members! 

Jesus came to be broken and crushed and to feel the pain of separation from God. It was out of this brokenness that He could do the work of re-membering us to the fullness of the Trinity.

When Jesus shared His last supper with His disciples, He took bread (which is made from broken wheat kernels) and wine (which is made from crushed grapes). He told us as often as we eat the bread and drink the wine we are to remember how He was broken and crushed for us.

Remembering Christ’s work on the Cross re-members us to the fullness of the Trinity. 

Sin and satan want to keep us feeling separated, unloved, and unloveable. But when we were the least worthy of His love, God—Who IS love—was broken and crushed to re-member us to Him.

If you feel lonely, separated, isolated, unloved or unloveable, I urge you to remember what Jesus did for you. He loved you enough to be broken and crushed for your re-membering to all of God’s love.

Check out this video where I explain this amazing thought in more detail…

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