Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 13

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.

Jeremiah 13

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 13.] 

     When a man is afraid of God the only right thing for him to do is to run straight to God and not wait to dress himself. The further we get away from God the more we want to dress ourselves up in prayer, etc., but if we fly, just as we are, God will take us and remove the unclean thing. … 

     Spiritually when an individual builds his confidence on anything less than God inevitably there will be a perishing of the ground of confidence. … Beware of building your faith on your experience of God’s grace instead of on God Who makes the experience possible. … 

     Never succumb to believing in an inevitable fate, but fly to God, then you will never know the darkness or the judgments on sin (cf. John 3:19). Judgment comes because of conscious rejection or a conscious neglect. If we see and do not obey, there will be the wandering in the shadows, by God’s decree. There is always a way back to God, and that is to fly as you are, not as you want to be. …  

     Never trust innocence of outlook in yourself or in other people when the statements of God’s Word are directly opposite (see Mark 7:21 and Jeremiah 17:19). … It is difficult when convicted to turn to Jesus Christ; we turn to vowing; but unless we turn to Jesus in obedience and let His life enter in, it is hopeless, for we build again on the same old foundation.

From Notes On Jeremiah

When the Holy Spirit convicts us, our natural human tendency is to (a) justify, (b) make excuses, (c) vow that we will never do that again, (d) ask a friend to help hold us accountable to better behavior, or (e) try to cover up with a lot of religious activity. 

What God wants instead is for us to run to Him. Just as we are. No pretenses. No excuses. No delay. He alone has the healing and restoration we desperately need. 

Grudges Can Block God’s Blessings

In Psalm 7, some guy named Cush is giving David trouble. How much trouble? David felt like Cush was a lion about to rip him apart! 

We would naturally expect David to cry out for God’s help from this tormentor (which he does in the opening verses), but then what David does next is quite unexpected—he asks to God to search his heart to see if he might be the cause for Cush’s attack: 

  • Have I done something wrong?
  • Is there guilt on my hands?
  • Have I done such an evil to cause him to attack? 
  • Have I somehow robbed Cush of something? 

This introspection in God’s presence was apparently a regular habit for David. He made this a regular habit when the heat was on, and also when he was at peace (see Psalm 139:23-24). 

Not only did David want to make sure his hands were clean, but he also wanted to make sure he wasn’t carrying a grudge against Cush. A grudge is a feeling of anger or resentment toward someone who has wronged us. But the most devastating thing about a grudge is that it takes our eyes off God and places them on our tormentor. 

In other words, as long as we hold a grudge, we continue to give our tormentor power over our lives. 

So after asking those introspective questions, David writes Selah. One definition of this word—which is probably quite appropriate here—is pause, and calmly think of that. 

After this Selah pause of introspection in God’s presence, David must have felt clear of any guilt (because we don’t see him repenting, as is his habit), but we also see him being very careful of not holding on to a grudge against Cush. 

David then begins to affirm in the remaining verses that God is more than capable of handling evil people and keeping the righteous protected. David determines that he will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Most High (v. 17). 

Here’s an important thing for anyone who has been injured by someone else to remember—

By holding on to a grudge, you’re holding yourself in bondage! 

How can your hands be free to receive God’s blessings if your hands are full of the grudges you are holding? 

Learn from David’s Selah these two lessons when someone torments you: 

  1. Ask God: am I to blame? If so, repent. If not, ask question 2.
  2. Ask God: am I holding on to a grudge? If so, let it go so your hands are free to receive God’s blessings! 

Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at the Selahs in the Psalms. 

What If I Sin?

I have been trumpeting this truth: God is for you! He’s not looking for opportunities to blast you, but to bless you. God wants you to know that you have found His favor. 

But what happens if we sin? Do we lose God’s favor? In a word—NO! 

Here’s what happens instead: God becomes our Prodigal Father. 

Let me show you from both the Old Testament and the New Testament what I mean, but first, let’s define prodigal: it means recklessly extravagant or lavishly abundant. This is always how God treats His children. 

In Isaiah 59, the prophet reminds us that nothing about God’s strength or ability to respond to our pleas has been diminished. Instead: your sins have separated you from your God—we can leave God, but He never leaves us! 

Isaiah catalogs all our sins that have become a quicksand trap for us. God looks to see who can help us, and finding no one, here’s what He does: so His own arm worked salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him. 

God did what was underserved. God did what no one else could do: HE HIMSELF BECAME OUR SALVATION! 

If ever there was a definition of recklessly extravagant, lavishly abundant love… this is it!! 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story that people often call the story of the prodigal son, but it’s really the father who is prodigal. The son squanders all his father’s blessings on wild living and finds himself bankrupt, starving, and completely disgraced. But the moment the son came to his senses and began to move toward his father by confessing his sin, his prodigal father ran to him! 

Jesus tells us this father was overflowing with compassion. There wasn’t anything his son could have done to diminish the father’s love, nor was there anything the son could have done to make his father love him more. The father was all-loving all the time. He was recklessly extravagant and lavishly abundant in his love. 

The father RAN to his son and covered his son’s disheveled, stinking rags with his royal robe. 

This is exactly what Isaiah said God would do for us…

  • instead of ashes, we get a crown 
  • instead of rags of mourning, we get an anointing of gladness
  • instead of a spirit of despair, we get a garment of praise
  • instead of shame, we get a double portion of God’s riches
  • instead of disgrace, we get God’s inheritance

How does all this happen? Our Prodigal Father abundantly, lavishly “clothes me with garments of salvation and arrays me in a robe of righteousness”!!

Don’t ever buy into satan’s lies that God loves you less, or that you’ve used up your changes, or that your sins are too many or too big. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). 

Join me this coming Sunday either in person or on Facebook Live as we learn more about God’s favor toward us. 

The Wonder Of God’s Forgiveness

King David was intimately confident that God would hear his prayers. No matter what—even if David had sinned.

The prophet Nathan confronted David after David had committed adultery with another man’s wife, gotten her pregnant, and then had her husband killed to try to cover up their affair. David assumed he had gotten away with it, but God sent Nathan to tell David that He knew all about it.

David immediately went to prayer.

His prayer is instructive for us when we sin too. David’s appeal to God for forgiveness is based solely on God’s ability and willingness to forgive, not on any merits David brings.

In this prayer, David presents a tally sheet. On his side of the ledger, he lists my transgressions, my iniquity, my sin, my bloodguilt. He sums it up with, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.

David also tallies up God’s side of the ledger: You are right, You are just, You are righteous.

We might be tricked into thinking that a Perfect Being like this wants nothing to do with a sinful creature like you and me. But this is completely wrong! David appeals to God’s unfailing love, and Your great compassion. He lists God’s desire to cleanse, wash, blot out sins, restore, and release from blood-guiltiness.

David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And immediately Nathan responded, “The Lord has taken away your sin.”

Sin is all on me! Restoration is all on God!

With this in mind, we learn that the mark of a maturing Christian is not one who never sins, but one who…

  1. …feels a broken heart because of their sin (see Psalm 51:10)
  2. …confesses my sin
  3. …confidently asks for His forgiveness
  4. …helps others who have sinned (v. 13)
  5. …continues to abide in Jesus (vv. 10-12)

God is quick to forgive. Are we equally as quick to ask for His forgiveness?

You can study more of the lessons from the prayers of David:

Charles Spurgeon Prays For Revival

These are from The Pastor In Prayer by Charles Spurgeon…

“Send us, Lord, a mighty ground-swell of intense desire for the glory of God, and may these Thy servants banded together in church fellowship recognize their sweet obligations to their dying Lord, and determine that the prayers of the church shall go up before Him like sweet perfume.”

“We have trusted Thee now for many years, and Thy faithfulness has never been under suspicion, nor Thy love a matter of question. We therefore leave every concern about our families or about ourselves, about our business, or about our souls, entirely with our God. … Still, Lord, we have a burden which we must now lay before Thee, and ask Thee to help us in it. We mourn over the condition of Thy church, for on every side as we look around we see men endeavoring to undermine the doctrines of the everlasting Gospel.”

“O Lord, the multitude delight in sin. Drunkenness defiles our city, and filthy words are heard on every side. Be not wroth with this nation, we beseech Thee. It has been entrusted with wondrous privileges. Forgive it and have mercy upon its aggravated sin. Lay not its heavy responsibilities to its charge, but let this nation be saved. We pray for it as we are in duty-bound to do, and as our love constrains us to do. Oh let the masses of the people yet come to seek after Christ, or by some means, by all means, by every means, may the ears of men be reached and then their hearts be touched. May they hear, that their souls may live; and may the Lord who in everlasting covenant sets forth His Son, glorify Him in the midst of the nations.”

“We ask Thee, O God, at this time to revive religion in our land. Oh that Thou wouldst be pleased to speak by the Holy Ghost that the gospel’s power may be known: there be many that run away from the truth; Lord, hold us fast to it, bind us to it. May there be a people found in this place, and throughout this land, that will abide by the doctrines of the gospel, come what may. May we not be ashamed to be old fashioned and to be thought fanatical. May we not wish to be thought cultured, nor aim to keep abreast of the times. May we be side by side, with Thee, O bleeding Savior; and be content to be rejected, be willing to take up unpopular truth, and to hold fast despised teachings of sacred writ even to the end. Oh make us faithful, faithful unto death.”

“We do repent of sin—give us a deeper repentance! May we have a horror of it, may we dread the very approach of it, may we chastely flee from it and resolve, with sacred jealousy, that our hearts shall be for the Lord alone.”

“We wish that we had greater power in private prayer, that we were oftener wrestling with the covenant angel. We would that the Word of God were more sweet to us, more intensely precious, that we had a deeper hunger and thirst after it.”

“God bless our country! May faith be multiplied in the land! Preserve our nation at this juncture. Guide, we pray Thee, the deliberations of councilors and princes. May peace be preserved, and at the same time may the great purposes of God with regard to the spread of liberty and of the gospel be subserved by every decree of the council. O God, we beseech Thee, ease the world of the sway of every evil principle. Let the day come when all classes of men shall study the interest of others as well as their own, when the various nations shall yield to the one scepter of Christ and like kindred tribes shall melt into one. Yea, hasten His coming and His reign when the shout shall go up to heaven that the ‘Lord God omnipotent reigneth.’”

“We specially pray for our country that God would bless it; and oh, that we might have a season of revival of pure and undefiled religion in the land. We perceive that Thou canst turn the hearts of the people, as the trees of the wood are moved in the wind. Oh that there might come a deep searching of heart, great thoughtfulness of the Scriptures, reverence of God and the principles of justice and peace and may this land make another stride in onward progress, and out of it may there be gathered a people whom Thou hast chosen, who shall show forth Thy praise.”

You can check out my review of The Pastor In Prayer by clicking here, and you can read some other quotes I shared from this book by clicking here.

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?

Love Is Really Love

Love is really love—when we are loving the unlovable.

Forgiveness is really forgiveness—when we are forgiving the unforgivable.

Repentance is really repentance—when we let our wrong loves be broken by the rightness of God’s unbreakable love.

Faith is really faith—when we believe God for the unbelievable.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Broken Way

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