AW Tozer Daily Devotional

Tozer Devotional

Collective Writings from the Books of A.W. Tozer

In one place our Lord speaks of moral conduct, and says in effect, "Go out into the world and live lives so pure and good that your fellow men cannot but see; and when they see they will glorify God who has given such moral power unto men." In the other He says, "Do not make a show of your kind acts. When you help your neighbor, when you minister to the poor, be sure your motive is right. See that your motive is to glorify God and not to earn a cheap reputation as a philanthropist or a heavy giver. Seek not to be known for your generosity, for there lies a snare, and you must by all means avoid it." From the Scriptures quoted and from countless others we gather truths which may be condensed into this admonition: "Live a pure, righteous life and do not hide it from the world. As much as lies in you, do good to all men, but do it unobtrusively so as not to draw attention to yourself nor bring embarrassment to the one you help." Unquestionably we are here to do good, but good that is done ostentatiously destroys itself in the doing. Kind acts are fragile things and must be handled carefully if they are not to become unkind and actually injure the one for whom they are performed.
Posted: May 21, 2018, 1:00 pm
In searching the Holy Scriptures two facts need to be faced squarely: One is that in the body of revealed truth there are no real contradictions; the other, that contradictions do sometimes appear to be present. To admit contradictions is to deny the infallibility of the Word; to deny that they seem to be there is to be unrealistic and put ourselves at the mercy of our enemies. In our Lord’s teachings concerning good works, for instance, it is easy to find apparent inconsistencies. In Matthew 5:16 He says plainly, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven." The words "that they may see" can only mean that it is His purpose to exhibit the righteous lives of His people before the unrighteous world, and the words "and praise your Father in heaven" tell us why He wants thus to exhibit them. It is that He may provide an example of godliness which will exercise strong moral influence upon persons who would otherwise not be affected. That much is easy. The apparent contradiction comes further on when He says, "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (Matthew 6:1, 3). Here our Lord appears, but only appears, to cancel out His instructions given a few moments before. Bluntly, it would seem that in one place He says "Let" and in the other "Let not." Christ being the incarnation of truth cannot utter contradictions. There must be an explanation which will preserve the organic unity of His teachings and reconcile the two passages. I believe there is.
Posted: May 20, 2018, 1:00 pm
In the sixth chapter of his Galatian epistle Paul settled forever the scope of our Christian responsibility: "Therefore as, we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers" (Galatians 6:10). This is in harmony with the truth found in the widely known story of the Good Samaritan, where it is established that our "neighbor" is anyone who needs us, whether or not he is of our kin or nationality. I do not see how we can escape the force of this double witness; and to tell the truth, I do not believe any honest person can. That we should do good in Christ’s name no one can deny. How to do it without letting our right hand know what our left hand is doing (Matthew 6:3) is an art not many have managed to learn.
Posted: May 19, 2018, 1:00 pm
The test of good works, which Paul laid down for the women, applies as well to men. In a passage obviously addressed to men the apostle exhorts that they

Command those who are rich in the present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share (6:17–18). Some Christians feel little or no sympathy for those outside the fold. Let it be suggested that help be granted to some unfortunate human and the question is instantly asked, "Is he a Christian?" or "Is he worthy of our assistance?" This attitude is wrong for a number of reasons and altogether beneath those who call themselves by the sacred name of Christ. If we are to help only the worthy, who then can qualify? The Christian can hide his goods away with a pure conscience, safe in the knowledge that he would help the poor if he could find any worthy of it. The moth and rust would qualify, to be sure, and they will get them at last; in the meantime the happy believer can sing hymns and distribute tracts while the poor ask for bread and there is none and little children cry themselves to sleep at night with no one to comfort them.
Posted: May 18, 2018, 1:00 pm
A second work the Christian is called upon to do is that of setting a holy example before an unholy world.

"You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14a, 16).

In accord with this Paul exhorted his friend Timothy, "set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). The third responsibility the Christian has toward his fellow believer and toward the world is to do, in the language of another, "all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can." The Scriptures present a charming picture of the ideal woman, and one feature present is the practice of good works. Lemuel’s description of a virtuous woman in the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs shows us one who is not only morally pure, but hard working and industrious too, and along with her housewifely activities she manages also to do many good works for others: "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy" (Proverbs 31:20). Paul required that the women believers in the early Church "dress modestly" with modest apparel and good deeds (1 Timothy 2:9–10). Before an elderly woman could be "put on the list of widows" (obviously received into the first Christian home for the aged), it had to be shown not only that she had professed to be a Christian but that she was "and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds" (5:10).
Posted: May 17, 2018, 1:00 pm
From the Bible and from the example of Christ it is clear that Christians are here on earth to do good. One passage tells us that Christ "went about doing good, and healing all who were under the power of the devil; because God was with him" (Acts 10:38). In addition to His healing ministry and His work of instructing in the truth, He engaged in another kind of activity which the Spirit calls simply "doing good." "As he is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17b, KJV). We who call ourselves by His name are under obligation to imitate Him in His deeds of kindness. In current Christian teaching it is usually assumed that the works we are called to do are miracles. It is a lot easier to apply every passage that speaks of good works to something big and dramatic than to accept it as meaning some plain, humble task of mercy such as clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. We of the evangelical fold are much more easily persuaded to pray all night for God to do a miracle than to put on our work clothes and help a neighbor. Without doubt there are activities that take precedence over works of charity. One is the work of witnessing to the grace and power of God as expressed through Jesus Christ. This is set forth in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witnesses."
Posted: May 16, 2018, 1:00 pm
Every man has some contribution to make to your life if you know how to receive it; certain men will astonish you with their ability to answer your unexpressed question and tell you what is in your heart. But never attach yourself to any man as a parasite. Adopt no man as a guru. Apart from the inspired writers of Holy Scriptures no man is worthy of such confidence. The sweetest saint can be mistaken. I repeat, never let any man become necessary to you. Christ alone is necessary. Apart from Him we are completely wretched; without Him we cannot live and dare not die. Our need of Him is real and vital and will outlast time and go on into eternity. That deep and desperate need is met by Christ so completely that when we have Him we need no one else. We may receive help from our fellow Christians as they from us, but our need for them is relative and fleeting. Let anyone become spiritually indispensable to us and we have deserted the Rock to build on shifting sand. It requires deep consecration, I admit, and complete detachment from earthly interests to reach such a place of independence. And it is only after we become completely dependent upon God that we can walk without leaning on men. It takes much prayer and quiet contemplation to maintain the nice balance that will permit us to receive help from our fellow Christians and at the same time be sweetly independent of them. But we should not despair; it is not beyond the possibilities of grace. Not even for such weak Christians as we are.
Posted: May 15, 2018, 1:00 pm
Elisha followed Elijah till he had learned from him all the old man could teach him; then God took Elijah away and the young man was on his own. The finest compliment to Elijah's ability as a spiritual teacher was paid by none less than the Lord Himself when He took the teacher to heaven and left the disciple to carry on without him. The old man of God had done his work well and the younger man needed him no more. This kind of thing has been repeated innumerable times down the centuries; the teacher makes himself unnecessary and passes on and the disciple stands upright and begins to walk with no one to lean on. This is as it should be, for the teacher cannot stay always. Time carries him away and the cause of truth must be served by those whom he has taught and inspired while he walked among them. Has he failed to teach well or has the disciple failed to learn, the work of God will falter and halt and the world be poorer as a consequence. To the one who is advanced enough to hear it I would say, never let anyone become necessary to you. Be meek enough to learn from the lowly and wise enough to learn from the enlightened. Be quick to profit by the experiences of others and stay alert to the voice of wisdom from whatever direction it may sound. As the bee soars for nectar where the blossoms are thickest, so you must search for spiritual nectar where it is most likely to be found, which is among those Christians who are the most consecrated, the most prayerful and the most experienced.
Posted: May 14, 2018, 1:00 pm
Every believer has had or will sometime have the experience of leaning hard on the example of someone wiser and more spiritual than himself and looking to him for counsel and guidance in the Christian life. This is good and scriptural and not to be condemned. Happy is the newborn babe in Christ who can find a pure and holy soul whom he can take as a model and from whom he can learn the ways of the kingdom. Such a one can act as a mentor to save the young Christian from many mistakes and pitfalls into which he otherwise might fall. Much is said about this in the Scriptures and many examples are found there. Joshua had his Moses, Elisha had his Elijah and Timothy his Paul. It speaks well of the humility of the younger men that they were willing to learn and of the patience of the older ones that they were willing to teach. Had Moses, for instance, withdrawn his company and refused to be bothered with the young Joshua the history of Israel would have been different, as it would have been also if Joshua had been too proud and self-assured to sit at the feet of Moses. The master-disciple relationship is normal and wholesome up to a given point; after that it becomes harmful both to the master and to the disciple. A tiny babe at the breast is a beautiful and natural thing to see, but a four-year-old child that has not been weaned is doing injury to itself physically and psychologically. Such an abnormality would reflect on the child's intelligence and on the competence and wisdom of the mother.
Posted: May 13, 2018, 1:00 pm
In olden days they crowned the king and tied a cap and bell on the court fool; today we crown the fool and tie a tin can on the king. The court fool, as every reader of history knows, was a professional jester or comedian retained at court to provide the king some comic relief from the serious and sometimes dangerous business of ruling the country. This ancient jester, or fool, occupied a unique position which he won by his quick wit and his talent for amusing people. He was loved for his ability to convulse a dignified assembly with his sidesplitting humor, sometimes aimed at one of the great men present or even at the king himself, though it was a bit risky to make the king the butt of a joke, for the jester never knew whether his majesty would accept it good-naturedly and laugh with the rest or have him whipped and thrown into prison for his impertinence. At best he was treated with the affection shown to a house pet; at worst he was kicked and cuffed about, either because his wit was too pointed or because he couldn’t think of anything funny when his royal boss called for it. Seeing that we humans were once created in the image of God and that we have by our sin fallen into a state of spiritual blindness and mortality, I would rather be a serious-minded dolt concerned about eternal life than to be an overpaid jester with nothing better to do than to make men laugh and forget that they must die and come to judgment.
Posted: May 12, 2018, 1:00 pm
During the centuries since Pentecost the path of true Christianity has paralleled pretty closely the path Jesus walked when He was here on earth: it was to be rejected by the great and accepted by the lowly. The institutionalized church has certainly not been poor, nor has she lacked for great and mighty men to swell her membership. But this great church has had no power. Almost always the approval of God has rested upon small and marginal groups whose members were scorned while they lived and managed to gain acceptance only after they had been safely dead several score years. Today we evangelicals are showing signs that we are becoming too rich and too prominent for our own good. With a curious disregard for the lessons of history we are busy fighting for recognition by the world and acceptance by society. And we are winning both. The great and the mighty are now looking our way. The world seems about to come over and join us. Of course we must make some concessions, but these have almost all been made already except for a bit of compromising here and there on such matters as verbal inspiration, special creation, separation and religious tolerance. Evangelical Christianity is fast becoming the religion of the bourgeoisie. The well-to-do, the upper middle classes, the politically prominent, the celebrities are accepting our religion by the thousands and parking their expensive cars outside our church doors, to the uncontrollable glee of our religious leaders who seem completely blind to the fact that the vast majority of these new patrons of the Lord of glory have not altered their moral habits in the slightest nor given any evidence of true conversion that would have been accepted by the saintly fathers who built the churches. Yes, history is a great teacher, but she cannot teach those who do not want to learn. And apparently we do not.
Posted: May 11, 2018, 1:00 pm
Traditionally Christianity has been the religion of the common people. Whenever the upper classes have adopted it in numbers, it has died. Respectability has almost always proved fatal to it. The reasons back of this are two, one human and the other divine. The second reason Christianity tends to decline as its devotees move up the social scale is that God will not respect persons nor share His glory with another. Paul sets this forth plainly enough in his First Corinthians epistle: For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:25–29). When God sent His Son to redeem mankind He sent Him to the home of a working man and He grew up to be what we now call a peasant. When He presented Himself to Israel and launched into His earthly ministry, He was rejected by the respectable religionists and had to look for followers almost exclusively from among the poor, plain people. When the Spirit came and the church was founded, its first members were the socially unacceptable. For generations the church drew her numbers from among the lower classes, individual exceptions occurring now and again, of which Saul of Tarsus was the most noteworthy.
Posted: May 10, 2018, 1:00 pm
Traditionally Christianity has been the religion of the common people. Whenever the upper classes have adopted it in numbers, it has died. Respectability has almost always proved fatal to it. The reasons back of this are two, one human and the other divine. Schleiermacher has pointed out that at the bottom of all religion there lies a feeling of dependence, a sense of creature helplessness. The simple man who lives close to the earth lives also close to death and knows that he must look for help beyond himself; he knows that there is but a step between him and catastrophe. As he rises in the social and economic scale, he surrounds himself with more and more protective devices and pushes danger (so he thinks) farther and farther from him. Self-confidence displaces the feeling of dependence he once knew and God becomes less necessary to him. Should he stop to think this through he would know better than to place his confidence in things and people; but so badly are we injured by our moral fall that we are capable of deceiving ourselves completely and, if conditions favor it, to keep up the deception for a lifetime. Along with the feeling of security that wealth and position bring comes an arrogant pride that shuts tightly the door of the heart to the waiting Savior. Our Very Important Man may indeed honor a church by joining it, but there is no life in his act. His religion is external and his faith nominal. Conscious respectability has destroyed him.
Posted: May 9, 2018, 1:00 pm
The history of churches and denominations follows pretty closely a rather uniform pattern: It is to begin in poverty and power; get established to a degree that removes all hazard and gives financial security, become accepted by society, outgrow the need for divine intervention; keep Christ as a figurehead, ignore His Lordship and carry on after the traditions of the elders; offer the clergy a reward for staying in line in the form of an old age pension; put enough persons in places of power who profit financially by the prosperity of the group. After that it's requiescat in pace [a prayer for the peaceful repose of a dead person], and the tragic thing about it all is that no one knows he is dead. No church or denomination need go that way if the members detect the trend before it is too late. But I wonder. So bound are we to the treasurer's report that we habitually forget who we are and what we are called to do. Anyone can do the possible; add a bit of courage and zeal and some may do the phenomenal; only Christians are obliged to do the impossible. If we could rise in faith like Samson and break the ropes that bind us we might see again that a church’s outgo can be greater than its income, as much greater as God is greater than circumstances. We might have demonstrated before our eyes how God works wonders when His people leave a margin for miracles.
Posted: May 8, 2018, 1:00 pm
It is a well-known fact that authority requires money to maintain itself in power, and it is not otherwise when that authority is ecclesiastical. The economic squeeze is not unknown in religious circles and has always been the devil's own device whether used by a church board to bring a bold pastor to time or by denominational leaders to force a local church into line. Such abuses are possible only because we have allowed ourselves to get entangled in unscriptural methods of church financing. The point I am trying to make here is that while money has a proper place in the total life of the church militant, the tendency is to attach to it an importance that is far greater than is biblically sound or morally right. The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum. And the same is true of schools, Bible conferences and missionary societies. It is particularly regrettable that the activities of churches and societies must be cut back to agree with actual or anticipated income. Think back to the roots of this practice and you will see that it makes the power of the Spirit of God depend upon the state of the national economy or the varying wage levels in different localities. Should the members of a local church withhold their tithes and offerings that church will accomplish less statistically, it is true, but always its accomplishments will depend upon its spiritual condition and not upon its treasury. The treasury will be full if the people are holy; or if the people are generous but poor, then the Holy Spirit will give them fruit out of all proportion to their financial report. The fruit of the church agrees with its basic spirituality, never upon the state of its exchequer.
Posted: May 7, 2018, 1:00 pm

Comments

comments

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Fresh Faith, Hope and Passion