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Posts Tagged ‘A. W. Tozer’

Sky sunset

 

Think of the last time you …

… gazed in wonder at a blazing sunset,

…marveled at the heavenly aroma of lilacs or orange blossoms, or

…listened to a melody that brought tears to your eyes.

 

God has equipped us with amazing physical senses, enabling us to experience and enjoy the display of his creative genius.

But physical manifestations are not his only outlet of expression.  God also revels in displaying his fullness in our hearts.  The question is:  how do we become aware of such revelations in the abstract realm of our spirits?

A.W. Tozer presents a possibility in his classic, The Pursuit of God.  He suggests we use the senses of our hearts.

The Bible gives us glimpses of how these internal senses might work.

 

1.  TASTE

David urges us to “taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).  That verse reminds me of a father urging his child to try a bite of some new food.  “Try it—you’ll like it!” he says.

 

 

As Christians, we can “try” God—offer him a prayer, believe in a promise, trust in his love and care.  He will not ignore such efforts!  When we come near to God, he will come near to us (James 4:7).

 

2.  SMELL

Although Psalm 45 was written as a wedding song, perhaps for King Solomon, it also has prophetic qualities, looking forward to the day when Christ and his bride, the church, will be united forever.  Verse 8 mentions the groom’s fragrant robes:

“All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia,” says the psalmist.

 

 

Think of a favorite candle with a delightful aroma.  Do you light it and then leave it?  No, more than likely you place that candle in close proximity, so you can breathe in deeply the lovely fragrance and relish the pleasure.

We can draw near to God and relish the pleasure of his presence—the fragrance of his peace, joy, and comfort.

 

3.  HEARING

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

 

 

His voice represents wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and security.  Our primary source for those benefits?  The Bible.  But God also speaks to his children in other ways:  through creation, other people, events, even inner impressions.

Times of stillness are necessary.  If every moment is filled with chatter, we will not be able to hear God.

 

4.  TOUCH

Talk to those who have sought God during a crisis and without exception they will attest to sensing God’s presence with them.  For me, it’s like a holy heart-hug, infusing me with peace of mind and strength of heart.  Not that I am impervious to hurt or discouragement, but the touch of God provides respite and hope.

How?  Through praise and worship, especially as I meditate in the psalms.

 

 

5.  SIGHT

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

The verb tense used here is called “future continuous.”  The verse could read:  “They shall be continually seeing God for themselves.”

I’m reminded of a time Steve and I visited friends at their new home.  We turned off a familiar busy street and were almost immediately surrounded by tall trees.  The homes were set back from the road, barely visible.  The neighborhood was like a little piece of country set down in the middle of our metropolis.

 

 

“Who knew this area even existed?” I said to Steve.  He agreed.

We had both passed that street numerous times, but never saw it.

Isn’t that how it is with God?  We’re so busy, dashing from one task to the next, we never see God at work around us.  We aren’t looking for him so we miss him.

But!  When we are attentive for evidence of God’s presence and power, we will see him!

 

“When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward 

becomes fixed within us,

we shall be ushered onto

a new level of spiritual life.”

– A.W. Tozer

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, loving Father, that you do expand my understanding as I seek to know you more and strive to comprehend more fully the greatness of your glory.  Teach me to use the five senses of my heart to accomplish those goals.  With great anticipation, I look forward to the new levels of spiritual life to which you will guide me!    

 

(Photo credits:  www.flickr.com (2); www.roshchodeshnewmoon; http://www.canva.com http://www.pixabay.com; www.healycabins.com.)

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OK, I might as well admit it. I’m getting old. The debut of Mustangs and the Beatles, cassette tapes and word processors, microwaves and cell phones, have all happened in my lifetime. I have the wrinkles to prove it.

Ford Mustang

But let me tell you: there are advantages to getting older.

• The longer I live, the thicker the lenses become on my rose-colored glasses.
• The collection of memories to enjoy has grown large, and more precious.
• I appreciate other old people, especially saints who have stayed the course.  They demonstrate grace and integrity that have developed over time, through an ever-growing relationship with God.
• History takes on greater significance, and heroes of the faith from centuries past pique my interest.
A. W. Tozer

Today’s example of just such a saint is A.W. Tozer. Born in a small farming community of western Pennsylvania in 1897, he and his five siblings grew up in poverty, his formal education ending after eighth grade.

Then it happened.  At age seventeen, on his way home from work at a tire company, A.W. heard a street preacher say, “If you don’t know how to be saved…just call on God.” A.W. did, and his life took a new path.

Five years later Tozer accepted an offer to pastor a church. For the next forty-four years, he served God in the ministry, pastoring several different churches. His longest pastorate was in Chicago, where his reputation grew as a wise and godly man. He became well-known throughout the city.

As his sphere of influence increased, Tozer was invited to teach the  Bible on radio, and he wrote dozens of books which are read to this day. Some are considered classics.

How is it possible that a boy born into poverty, with no more than an eighth grade education could achieve such wisdom, such prominence, and such literary excellence? Yes, God gifted him, but Tozer made the effort to educate himself over years of diligent study.

And he prayed. Continually. Tozer asked God to:

• increase his desire for more of Him
• to give him spiritual understanding
• to purify his heart
• to make him passionate for holiness

They say he read on his knees, asking God to enlighten his understanding.

Yet this giant of Christendom, called a twentieth-century prophet even in his lifetime, also prayed with great honesty and humility:

“I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me
thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God. I want to want Thee; I
long to be filled with longing. I thirst to be made more thirsty still”
(The Pursuit of God, 1949).

Tozer’s life-choices backed up his words. He and his wife, Ada, lived simply, avoiding the materialism that consumes many Americans. They never owned a car, using public transportation instead. Even before becoming a well-known author, Tozer gave away much of his royalties to help those in need.

Cover of "The Pursuit of God"

Allow me to share a few examples of Tozer’s wisdom, God-given, but which became magnified through his. These all come from The Pursuit of God.

• The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.

• God formed us for His pleasure…He meant us to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile.

• God says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.

• When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward becomes fixed within us, we shall be ushered onto a new level of spiritual life.

• Not perfection, but holy intention [makes] the difference.

One of my favorite Tozer-quotes points out the fascinating dichotomy of the Christian life:

“A real Christian is an odd number. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is pooorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge>”

I like being “an odd number” for God. I love the way A.W. Tozer renders it.

Thank you, Father, for giving us powerful examples like A.W. Tozer—who show us the way to humility, integrity, and faithfulness. May we embrace the wisdom they share and absorb the passion they emanate. May we also live up to the potential you’ve planted within each of us and manifest Your glory to those around us.

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