Thursdays With Oswald—The Love Behind The Warning

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 Love Behind The Warning

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” —Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14) 

     Always distinguish between warning and threatening. God never threatens; the devil never warns. A warning is a great arresting statement of God’s, inspired by His love and patience. …

     It is the great patience of God that gives the warning, “The way of transgressors is hard.” Go behind that statement in your imagination and see the love of God. God is amazingly tender, but the way of transgressors cannot be made easy. God has made it difficult to go wrong, especially for His children. … 

     If Jesus came to be a teacher only, He had better have stayed away. What is the use of teaching a human being to be what no human being can be—to be continually self-effaced, to do more than his duty, to be completely disinterested, to be perfectly devoted to God? If all Jesus came to do was to teach men to be that, He is the greatest taunter that ever presented any ideal to the human race. But Jesus Christ came primarily and fundamentally to regenerate man. He came to put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and immediately that is given to a man, the teaching of Jesus begins to be possible. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s apathy. If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t care what road we attempted to take. But He does love us, so He tells us the one and only way to get to Him: Jesus Christ is THE way. 

Chambers is exactly right when He says that Jesus was not just a great Teacher. If that’s all that Jesus came to do, we would be miserable people because we could never walk the narrow road that He taught. But Jesus came to enable and empower us to walk that road. He came to purchase our atonement (our “at-onement” with Him) so that we could live out all that He taught. 

Jesus is a Teacher, but He is also the Enabler that makes it possible for us to obey His teaching. For that, we should be eternally grateful! 

You Are God’s Lavish Gift To Others

GratefulI have noticed a couple of things about thank-full people (people who are full of thanks). In a single word the difference is ABUNDANCE.

  • Thank-full people have an abundance mentality—they believe there’s plenty for everyone; that God’s grace overflows and is boundless.
  • Thank-full people want others to find this abundant life too. As Charles Spurgeon prayed, “I would then that the quickening Spirit would come down upon me, and upon you, upon every one of us in abundance, to create men valiant for truth and mighty for the Lord.”

This abundance mentality is what Paul is referring to when he writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). Both words dwell and richly convey someone who is so saturated in the abundance of God, that they cannot help wanting to share it with everyone!

So how do Christians lavish their thank-fullness and peace-fullness on others? The rest of that verse in Colossians tells us:

  1. We teach.
  2. We admonish with all wisdom.
  3. We sing.

Teaching others is always rooted in love, and is for the benefit of the other person (Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29).

Wisdom is the Greek word sophia. It means heavenly insight that is extremely practical. That’s what we need when we admonish those we love. This word means to warn people if they are on a wrong path. We love them enough to speak a loving word of warning (Proverbs 27:5-6).

And we sing out of our abundant overflow. The word of Christ dwells in us so richly that it literally bursts out of us in song! Have you ever been around someone so full of God’s presence that their words almost seem to be a song?

But don’t miss out on this. The lavish gift God wants to pour out on people is YOU! Notice how many times the pronoun you is used in Colossians 3:15-17. YOU are God’s gift to your family, your friends, your co-workers, your community!

Don’t rob others of this amazing gift by becoming ungrateful.

Grateful is graceful. 
Graceful is thankful. 
Thankful is worshipful.
Worshipful is God-full.

“The essence of Christianity is that we give the Son of God a chance to live and move and have His being in us, and the meaning of all spiritual growth is that He has an increasing opportunity to manifest Himself in our mortal flesh.” —Oswald Chambers

What will you do to remain thank-full, and remain God’s lavish gift to others?

Part three of our 3-part series on gratitude is coming up this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I would be so thank-full to have you come join us!

No Kindas

no kindasAmaziah could have been one of Judah’s great kings. His father had cleaned up the Temple and had begun a revival of worship of God. When he came to the throne, Amaziah quickly led his army to an impressive victory over the Edomites.

That’s when things started to unravel.

Actually, things were beginning to come apart right from the start of Amaziah’s reign, but no one seemed to notice.

We get the clues in the language the biblical writers use. Amaziah frequently had a “but” or a “however” attached to what he did. Notice—

  • Amaziah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, BUT not as his father David had done” (2 Kings 14:3).
  • He worshiped God “HOWEVER the high places [of pagan worship] were not removed” (14:4).
  • He rallied his fighting men for battle BUT “he also hired a hundred thousand [mercenary] fighting men from Israel” (2 Chronicles 25:6).
  • Amaziah led his army to victory over the Edomites with God’s help BUT “he brought back the gods of the people of [Edom] … bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them” (25:14).
  • The king of Israel warned Amaziah not to attack Israel “HOWEVER Amaziah would not listen” (25:20).

Not only did these BUTS and HOWEVERS take Amaziah farther away from God, they took him farther away from his people too: “From the time Amaziah turned away from following the Lord, they conspired against him in Jerusalem (25:27).

There is no “kinda” following God. It’s all-in or nothing. My heart is either fully devoted to God with no BUTS or HOWEVERS, or am I moving away from God and from others around me.

It should be a huge warning sign when I hear myself say “but” or “however” in regard to anything involved with following my God.

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