This week's 'thought' comes to you from A. W. Tozer's, "The Pursuit of God." It has long been a favorite of mine and one I encourage new Christians to read and keep on their bookshelf for future reference or to share with others. The first time I read it (back in 1984) I underlined sections on nearly every page, and was brought to tears by the prayer for greater grace which concludes the first chapter.
I agree wholeheartedly with one man who wrote in his review: "This book was one of the most fruitful and refreshing school assignments I've ever received... Every sentence drips with wisdom that has been soaked in much prayer. He writes beautifully and poetically, yet it is not the outer beauty of the writing that captures a person in this book, it is the passionate heart-filled exhortations which overflow with love for Jesus that make one desire to pursue God after reading this book..." And one other person aptly noted: "What he wrote in 1957 applies just as much today as it did then, and will probably be applicable until Jesus returns."
This week's thought has to do with, "The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing." Enjoy.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
"Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of creation these are simply 'things.' They were made for man's use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.
But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul. Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.
This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. The pronouns 'my' and 'mine' look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes on theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God's gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution...
The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. These are the 'poor in spirit.' They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem. That is what the word 'poor' as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. 'Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'...
There can be no doubt that the possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the life of a Christian. Because it is natural, it is rarely recognized for the evil it is. But its out-workings are tragic. We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety. This is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends. But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed...
Prayer: Father, I want to know you, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from you the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root out from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that you may enter and dwell there without rival. Then shall you make the place of your feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for you yourself will be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus name. Amen."
For anyone struggling with why their Christian life doesn't seem to be on the level spoken of in Scripture, or seen in the lives of the devout men and women down through the ages, Tozer's book is helpful guide. Yet be prepared to have your life challenged as well as encouraged -- Tozer is not into fluff. He isn't concerned with self-esteem or prosperity or formulas for getting the things you want. His goal is to help you find God...period. That's why he wrote the book, and should you desire that, his book does deliver.
In His Service, Pastor Jeff