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?

Can A Christian Lose Their Salvation?

As a part of our annual Q Series, this was a question that was turned in: Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?

Check out the video below…

Some of the Scriptures I reference in this answer:

For other Q&As from this series, check out discussions here and here.

Encouragement For The Parent Of A Prodigal

There is perhaps nothing more heart wrenching for a Christian parent than to see their son or daughter living a life differently than how they were raised.

One biblical promise these parents can claim in prayer is—Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

But perhaps an historical example might be helpful as well—

AugustineHe was born in 354 in a North African town set among the woods near the Mediterranean. His father was a pagan, but his mother, Monica, was of devout Christian stock. 

Augustine was an undisciplined child, idle and truant despite frequent beatings. He loved sports and pranks and soon discovered a host of adolescent pleasures. … Augustine was also brilliant, and he soon moved to Carthage to further both his studies and his fun. Monica warned him against fornication, but ‘I ran headlong with blindness.’ 

At about 18 he found himself the father of a son. At the same time he joined a cult. Years passed, and Monica, praying ceaselessly, heard that Augustine was planning to leave Africa for Rome. She begged him not to go. When he refused, she determined to go with him. Using deception, he left her praying in a chapel and sailed without her; but she took a later boat and intercepted him. They traveled to Milan where she persuaded him to listen to the great Bishop Ambrose. The bishop’s razor-sharp sermons penetrated Augustine’s head, if not yet his heart. Monica continued praying, confiding her struggles to Ambrose. He told her not to worry: ‘It isn’t possible for the son of such prayers to be lost.’ 

One day as Augustine sat in a friend’s garden he heard a child singing, ‘Take up and read!’ He opened the Bible near him and read from Romans 13: ‘Don’t go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent.… Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear.’ By the time he finished the sentence, he later said, he was converted. On the eve of Easter, April 24, 387, Augustine and his son Adeodatus were baptized by Ambrose as Monica watched. Her lifetime of prayer was answered, and a church father was born.

Years later as Augustine shared about his conversion in his book Confessions, he wrote out this prayer to God: “My mother, Your faithful servant, wept to You for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than others shed for the bodily death of a son. You heard her.

So, Christian Mom and Dad, don’t EVER stop praying for your wayward child! God hears those prayers, and is moving on behalf of your child.

Encouragement For The Parent Of A Prodigal

Jim Daly“Do you have a loved one who’s lost their way in life? Whatever you do, don’t give up on them. Take a lesson from the Judean date palm tree. You never know when a seed may take root and bloom.

“In the mid-1960s, an archaeological dig in Israel revealed a cache of date palm seeds nearly 2,000 years old. Having lain dormant for two millennia in such an arid climate, most experts logically assumed the seeds were dead and, other than their historic value, useless. But then faculty at a Jerusalem university were given a few of the seeds to conduct scientific experiments. To everyone’s surprise, the seeds germinated soon after being planted. In fact, within a few years, the date palm tree they produced was thriving and stood nearly eight feet tall.

“It’s a powerful reminder for families with a loved one who’s gone astray. When someone’s life seems barren and directionless, it can feel as if their circumstances will never improve. But our lives are often like that desert seed that blossomed into a beautiful tree against all expectations. Even when it seems like nothing is happening, you never know what potential God may already be stirring inside someone’s heart.” —Jim Daly

4 Blessings From Trusting God + 1 Curse For Not

Choose lifeWhen you have a decision to make, isn’t it nice when you know the outcome of each option ahead of time? I mean, it makes it way easier to decide when you know what you’re going to get with each decision.

Like just before the Israelites head into the Promised Land, God says, “You can choose Me and have a whole lot of blessings, or you can choose another god and miss out on all My blessings” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

Easy choice, right?

I think the songwriter of Psalm 125 had that Deuteronomy passage in mind when he wrote his song of ascent. Basically, he says, you can trust God (v. 1) or you can walk on crooked paths (v. 5). What does it mean to trust God? Literally it means to have a confident expectation that He is Who He says He is, and He does what He says He’s going to do.

To help make the decision easier, the songwriter lists four blessings that come when we trust God—

  1. We become as secure and unshakeable as Heaven is (v. 1).
  2. We experience God’s “surroundedness” over, around, above and beneath us (v. 2).
  3. We escape evil’s clutches (v. 3).
  4. We experience God doing good for us (v. 4).

Of course, we can also choose not to trust God. We can try another path on our own. The curse for doing that is pretty sad—God will allow those who aren’t responsive to His voice to walk away from Him (v. 5).

Just like the story of the prodigal son (in Luke 15), the Father will allow you to walk away, but He will continue to long after you. And hopefully like that wayward son you will “come to your senses” and return to your Father. When you do, He will run to you, wrap you in His love, restore you to His family, and allow you to experience all of His blessings again!

The choice is up to you. I pray you will choose life and blessing and surroundedness, and God’s goodness toward you.

Mom, Your Prayers ARE Making A Difference

Mother's loveOne day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Momma, why are some of your hairs white?” Spotting a teachable moment, her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for while and then asked, “Momma, how come all of grandma’s hairs are white?”

Mom, you have earned every one of those gray hairs or wrinkles through your loving care for us!

Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life. (Proverbs 16:3)

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. (Proverbs 20:29)

Mom, your love for us can be summed up in one verse—Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

And the Apostle Paul’s words to a young preacher are just as true for Moms as they were for Timothy: Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Don’t give up, Mom! You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

What has God promised you about your family? Has He said your whole family will call on Jesus as their Savior? Then persevere in that. Has He said that your prodigal child will come home? Then persevere in that. Despite the odds, despite the obstacles, despite the setbacks, keep on loving them and praying for them. It IS making a difference!

Here’s an encouraging biblical example of a little-known Mom’s prayerful influence on a son that is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ…

Keep persevering in prayer, Mom. Your prayers ARE making a difference!

8 Quotes From “Light & Truth—Acts and the Larger Epistles”

Light & Truth [Acts]Horatius Bonar had great insight into the application of Scriptures. Check out my review of this commentary from Dr. Bonar by clicking here. Below are a few quotes that caught my attention. The reference in brackets after the quote is the biblical passage on which Bonar is commenting.

“Our Bible is of God; yet it is also of man. It is both divine and human. It comes to us from God’s Spirit; it comes also from man’s spirit. It is written in the language of the earth, yet its words are the words of him ‘Who speaketh it from heaven.’ Natural, yet supernatural; simple, yet profound; undogmatical, yet authoritative; very like a common book, yet very unlike also; dealing often with seeming incredibilities and contradictions, yet never assuming any need for apology, or explanation, or retraction; a book for humanity at large, yet minutely special in its fitnesses for every case of every soul; throughout its pages, from first to last, one unchanging estimate of sin as an infinite evil, get always bringing out God’s gracious mind toward the sinner, even in his condemnation of the guilt; such is the great Book with which man has to do, which man has to study, out of which man has to gather wisdom for eternity.” [Acts 1:1

“One of the great characteristics of the whole interval between Christ’s first and second coming is the world’s rage, secret and open, against the Father and the Son. … It is very useless anger. It accomplishes nothing. It is like an angry child striking a huge rock with its fist. It is the mere display of impotent hatred, or the temporary gratification of their dislike of God, and their rejection of His purpose regarding His Son. … It calls light darkness, and darkness light; good evil, and evil good; but the light and the darkness, the good and evil, still remain as they were. All the enlightenment of the age, all the appliances of modern progress, are impotent against God and His Christ, against His truth, and His church, and His Word.” [Acts 4:25]

“This is one of the many repetitions of the Pentecostal scene which occurred in early days. Most unscriptural is the statement of some that the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost was a thing done once for all, not to be repeated, and that we are not to pray for or expect such things again. The whole of the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ is a direct refutation of this piece of human fancy. Wherever the apostles went there was a repetition of Pentecost, whether at Jerusalem, or Samaria, or Antioch, or Corinth. Every conversion is the repetition of Pentecost; it is doing the same thing for an individual soul as was done for three thousand then, by a similar process, and by the same power—the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is the heritage of the church. The Old Testament saints possessed Him; and still more the New. This is our heritage, the heritage of every believing man.” [Acts 11:15

“Beware of seeking anything less than the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Our whole life is to be a reception of the Spirit. He is to be continually coming down on us, and filling us. Let us open our mouth wide that He may fill it. Let us beware of anything that would present itself as a substitute for the living Spirit. Many such things may we expect in these last days from satan as an angel of light.” [Acts 11:15]

“We are tempted in our day to be ashamed of the gospel. It is thought to be bare, unintellectual, almost childish by many. Hence, they would overlay it with argument and eloquence, to make it more respectable and more attractive. Every such attempt to add to it is being ashamed of it.” [Romans 1:16

“We must have a righteousness, else we cannot stand before God; we cannot have merely a religion.” [Romans 4:6-8]

“The prodigal did not work for the ‘best robe,’ but got it all ready-made from his father’s hands; Joseph did not work for his coat of many colors, but received it as the gift of his father’s love; Adam did not work for the skins with which the Lord God clothed him: so it is with the sinner in his approach to God, and in God’s approaches to him. ‘Righteousness without works’ is given him; nay, put upon him as a raiment, a divine raiment, to fit him for drawing near to God.” [Romans 4:6-8

“When the night is darkest, and the stars are hidden, and the clouds are black, then we think most of the clear fair day, and long for its dawn. When the storm is roughest, with the waves and wind roaring around the laboring vessel, then we are troubled, and look eagerly out for the glad and sunny calm. When winter binds the earth in its chain of frost, and wraps it in snow and ice, then we begin to ask for spring, with its flowers, and songs, and verdure. So with the saint, as represented by the apostle here. This is night, and storm, and winter to him; he is ever thinking of the day, and the calm, and the spring.” [Romans 8:19-23]

More quotes are here.

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