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?

Thursdays With Oswald—The Hardy Annuals

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.

The Hardy Annuals

     By “hardy annuals” I mean the healthy-minded sinners. … How are we to get these irreligious people who are quite happy and healthy-minded to the place where they want Jesus? … 

     I want us to look at three types of pagans—Gallio, Herod and Pilate. …. 

     “And Gallio cared for none of those things” [Acts 18:12-15]. He said in effect, “I have nothing whatever to do with your religious quarrels, I am not here to decide questions of your law for you.” The opponents of Christianity are not weak, they are opponents who are able to ignore us; so the first thing to do is to examine and see what kind of Gospel we are preaching. … Have I a pet doctrine I am lifting up? If I have, then these healthy-minded folk will simply heap ridicule on me; but immediately I preach Christ, something happens—the Spirit of God begins to work where I cannot. …

     Herod is a rare type of pagan, he is obscene; he was bad, unmentionably bad, and you will find that when he saw Jesus Christ face to face he was not the slightest bit troubled. Why? He had heard the voice of God before through John the Baptist, and he had ordered that voice to be silent [Mark 6:17-18]. Herod is the presentation of the awful possibility of a fixed character, absolutely fixed in immorality. Jesus Christ did not awaken one tremor of conscience in him….  Did you ever notice what is recorded? “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad” [Luke 23:8-9]—why? For the same reason that people go to a picture show, they want to see things. We read that Herod questioned Jesus in many words; “but He answered him nothing.” … 

     Pilate represents the type of pagan who always seeks his own interests; that type is known to us all today. People belong to certain churches because it is better for their business; or they shift their membership to other churches because it is more convenient for business. A once-born man, who acts from this point of view is an opportunist. “If it is Jesus Christ’s Gospel that is in the ascendancy, then I will use it to serve my own ends.” You have to bring that man face to face with Christ, not with your experience, but with Jesus Christ Himself. … 

     Rely on the Holy Ghost as the most practical Being you ever knew, and live among the facts of God’s Word and among human facts, and people will recognize Jesus Christ through you. … The next time you come across a ‘hardy annual,’ see that you lay hold of God for that one until Jesus Christ is presented by the power of the Holy Ghost, and then you will see the altered face, the altered attitude, and the altered life. 

From Workmen Of God

Well said!

For Crying Out Loud!

There’s a time when David was fainting and had no one to help him—my spirit was overwhelmed and fainted, throwing all its weight on me. I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me (Psalm 142:3-4).

Here’s the backdrop to this prayer. King Saul has tried to kill David twice, not including the time Saul sent assassins to David’s house to kill him there. Even Jonathan, Saul’s son, was embarrassed and grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

David runs away from Saul so quickly that he doesn’t take any food or even a weapon. He literally only has the clothes on his back and the sandals on his feet. He’s able to get some day-old bread from Ahimelech the priest, and he also takes Goliath’s sword from the temple.

David is clearly not thinking clearly. He is wearing Goliath’s sword on his side. Remember that David killed Goliath. Goliath is from Gath. And where does David run? To Gath!! He has to pretend he’s gone insane in order to escape from Gath, and he flees to the cave of Adullam.

It’s here that he prays an intense prayer. How intense? David literally shouts this prayer. He uses phrases like:

    • I cry aloud to the Lord
    • I lift up a thundering voice to God to plead for mercy
    • I let my complaint gush out in front of God, not holding anything back
    • He cries to God, “You are all I really want in life” and “You’re my last chance, my only hope for life”
    • After he did all that, he still says, “God, listen to my even louder cry!

Just how desperate is your situation? Just how heavy is your burden? Have you come to the realization that God is your ONLY help? Then, like David, cry out louder and louder to Him until He answers you!

A blind man got the attention of Jesus by yelling at the top of his lungs, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!!” Jesus said that this man’s faith healed him. What was the demonstration of his faith? It was the persistent calling out to the only One who could help him.

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus says this: So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for His chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t He stick up for them? I assure you, He will. He will not drag His feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when He returns? (Luke 18:7-8).

Once again Jesus links a continual cry for help to the definition of persistent faith. 

So I’ll ask again: just how desperate are you for God to answer you? If you will cry out loud to Him, God will see your persistent faith and will step in and work for you.

Please join me on Sunday as we continue to learn more lessons from David’s prayers.

Thursdays With Oswald—Thawing Those ‘Frozen’ Toward God

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.

Thawing Those ‘Frozen’ Toward God

     The “lost” from the Bible standpoint are not doomed. The lost, Jesus Christ is seeking for… To Jesus Christ, all men are lost, and the worker who is going to work for the cure of souls must have the same outlook. …  

     In Luke 19 we find a specimen of a lost man. “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Notice the setting of this statement. Zacchaeus was a chief publican and as such he would be possessed of many ill-gotten gains; he was a man of wealth and position, a dishonorable man, but perfectly content with his dishonor. … This man Zacchaeus was frozen towards God, his conscience did not bother him, he was “lost,” quite contented, quite happy, and quite curious. When Jesus Christ came his way, the man’s nature unfroze, something began to work at once. … 

     Look what happened to Zacchaeus—“Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possession to the poor; and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’” Who had been talking to him about his doings? Not a soul. Jesus had never said a word about his evil doings. What awakened him? What suddenly made him know where he was? The presence of Jesus! 

     Wherever a worker for God goes, the same thing will happen if the Spirit of God is getting His way through that man or woman. … The Holy Spirit’s presence through you has brought the atmosphere that Jesus Christ’s presence always brought, and has thawed the ice around their mind in their conscience and they are beginning to be convicted. … 

     Oh, do let us get back to this tremendous confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ’s power! Back to reliance on the Holy Spirit, and to remembering that Jesus came to seek the lost. 

From Workmen Of God

Is this an amazing thought?!

If Christians will just approach their “frozen” friends and loved ones with the knowledge that Jesus Christ loves them and wants to save them—and with the expectation that Jesus can save them—then the Holy Spirit can work through our presence to begin the thaw around their heart.

“Oh, do let us get back to this tremendous confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ’s power! Back to reliance on the Holy Spirit, and to remembering that Jesus came to seek the lost.” Amen!

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!

Thursdays With Oswald—All Christians Are Missionaries

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.

All Christians Are Missionaries 

     It is easy to forget that the first duty of the missionary is not to uplift the heathen, not to heal the sick, not to civilize savage races, because all that sounds so rational and so human, and it is easy to arouse interest in it and get funds for it. The primary duty of the missionary is to preach “repentance and remission of sins…in His name” [Luke 24:47]. … 

     The key to the missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus as the propitiation for our sins. A missionary is one who is soaked in the revelation that Jesus Christ is “the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, also for the sins of the whole world” [1 John 2:2]. The key to the missionary message is not the kindness of Jesus; not His going about doing good; not His revealing of the Fatherhood of God; but the remissionary aspect of His life and death. This aspect alone has a limitless significance. …  

     Worship is the love offering of our keen sense of the worth-ship of God. … To worship God truly is to become a missionary, because our worship is a testimony to Him. It is presenting back to God the best He has given us, publicly not privately. 

From So Send I You

Everyone who has made Jesus their Lord and Savior is commissioned to be a missionary: to go tell others about the life-changing work Christ did for you.

Are you thrilled with God’s mercy toward you? Are you overwhelmed with gratitude that Jesus took your place on the Cross? Are you filled with joy at the righteousness with which Jesus has clothed you?

If so, then tell the world! Let your worship show your sense of the worth-ship of God. Sure, you can do this privately, but be sure you do it publicly as well. That is what missionaries do!

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.

%d bloggers like this: