Most likely, we all know people who have that special discernment into what is really happening within our culture, in the lives of people, and inside the church. Not only are they able to understand spiritual happenings, but they are also gifted in expressing their thought so those enlightened by the Holy Spirit can grasp God in His fullest.
Recently, I have been reading several books by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963). Tozer was a self-taught theologian, pastor, and writer whose influential words still linger in the hearts of his readers even after his death. Two of his more than 40 books are considered modern-day classics: The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God.
I rank Tozer’s writings among those of other great Christian theologians or apologists such as Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, J.I. Packer, Warren Wiersbe, Ravi Zacharias, and E.M. Bounds. These men seem to have a grasp on the surrendered and deeper life Christians should be experiencing. It is that life where, after salvation, we grow, we depend, we surrender (or strive wholeheartedly) to live our lives in the presence of God.
Sons of Issachar
The men mentioned above and others like them remind me of the sons of Issachar mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:32. King Saul was now dead, and David was crowned King of Israel. During this period, great wisdom and discernment were needed to understand what was going on and what to do during this transition time. Being very analytical and perceptive, the sons of Issachar were aware of what was occurring and what should be done; their discernment far exceeded that of the average person. They skillfully knew how to express their sentiments so others could take hold of them and grasp the gravity of the situation.
And of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command. (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Don’t you just love it when you are in a meeting and someone knows how to get to the real issues at hand? I experienced this first-hand as I served as a jury foreman a few years ago in a very intense five-week trial. We were into the third day of deliberations with the jury split 6-6 on a verdict. I was flummoxed as to how to proceed with my 11 jury partners when one of the men in the group stood up, went to a drawing board, and mapped out the entire plan and overview of what we needed to do to resolve our divisiveness. What a relief!
The sons of Issachar operated in the same way. Their awareness of their culture was uncanny.
Because of that, I want to share some of the dynamic quotations I encountered when recently reading my seven-volume marathon of Tozer’s books. Hopefully, these will resonate a powerful drawing and passion for you to live a holy and surrendered life to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Due to time and space, I am sharing quotes from only four of my most recently read Tozer books. But the other ones are so worthwhile, I would be remiss if I did not mention the titles to you—The Knowledge of the Holy, The Pursuit of God, and How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience by A.W. Tozer
One important point many fail to understand is that the Bible was never meant to replace God; rather, it was meant to lead us into the heart of God. Too many Christians stop with the text and never go on to experience the presence of God.
I refuse to be discouraged about anything, but it gives me a heavy heart to walk among Christians who have wandered for 40 long years in the wilderness, not going back to sin but not going on into the holy life.
The closer you are to God, the more tender your conscience is before the Lord, and the more severe your trial and temptation may be.
Most Christians are satisfied living their entire lives as common Christians. They never experience the richness of what it truly means to be a Christian. Without a deep insatiable hunger for the things of God, there is nothing within them prodding them to go forward to perfection. The condition of today’s Christian Church is the result of too many common Christians in leadership roles. Once again, we need a great move of the Holy Spirit to break out of the spiritual rut and press on to spiritual perfection. That move needs to start with individual Christians who are willing to give all to God and live the crucified life.
Never defame a fellow Christian. By this, I mean never believe evil about him or speak any evil report about him.
Pray. “Oh Lord, set in motion a chain of circumstances that will bring me to the place where I can sincerely say, ‘Be thou exalted above the heavens.’”
Obedience is a primary component of the Christian life . . . True obedience is the refusal to compromise in any regard or relationship with God, regardless of the consequences . . . If you believe in God as millions of Americans do today and do not make Him the number one exclusive priority in your life, the devil has no issue with you . . . We do not have to understand what is happening to obey God. We do not need to know the outcome to obey God. As a matter of faith and trust, we obey God simply because He is God.
The Dangers of a Shallow Life: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy by A.W. Tozer
The people impressed by the converted celebrity are carnal Christians, and only until a bigger celebrity comes along. Where is that generation that fell on their knees before God with broken hearts for the world around them? Where are those men who gave up everything to reach the world of unsaved men and women?
It is possible to be crammed with religious news and filled with religious shoptalk and yet not have the spiritual discernment to know what it means. If there is anything, I have asked God for, it is spiritual discernment. It makes you just about as popular as a hawk in a henhouse or a skunk at a picnic. You are not popular at all, and you will never be popular because nobody wants to be awakened.
If you are bored with spiritual conversation (I am not talking about religious chitchat that would bore anybody), something has gone wrong inside of your heart. The best thing to do is admit it and acknowledge it before God.
A person’s choices distinguish him as either wise or foolish. The wise man knows he must give an account of the deeds done in the body, but the fool does not. In the Bible, the word “fool” is not describing a man of mental deficiency. A fool is a man who acts without regard to consequences.
The best thing to do is to keep your eyes on Jesus and let Him take care of the devil.
If God has called you, He is not withdrawing the call because of some questions you could not answer.
Suppose you pray for something and do not get it, and it is obvious that you are not going to get it. Do not let that finish you off. Maybe you are not living right; maybe you are praying selfishly; maybe you have misunderstood the will of God. Go to the Scriptures, search it out, get right with God, give God a chance at you, then try it again and press on. Finally, the Lord will either tell you to hold on or that you are praying for the wrong thing and to pray for this thing and He will give it to you; or else He will give you what you prayed for the first time. But do not stay defeated.
A Cloud by Day, A Fire by Night: Finding and Following God’s Will for You by A.W. Tozer
Rarely do we see many steps ahead of us. We need to walk entirely by faith. But like God did for Israel, He prepares us for one step at a time.
By trusting God whether we understand His plan or not, we are placing ourselves in the path where He can lead us to where He wants us to be.
From my point of view, many gospel Christians today accept the importance of getting people saved out of Egypt. That is the real focus for them. And it is true—God saves us from our past sins, from our worst habits, and above all else, He is to save us from hell. Coming to Christ means that. And people think, Now I do not have to worry about those things. I am not going to hell when I die. I will go zooming off into heaven. Now I can just enjoy life because I know where I am going when I die. However, almost nothing is said about what we are saved unto. Yes, we know what we are saved from, and we can glory in that, but that needs to be a temporary glory. We need to know what we have been saved unto.
We do not need to figure out our own road map or how we are going to go or what we are going to do. We need to be careful that we stay in His presence, and this is the work of faith.
Knowing what my weakness is enables me to turn that section of my life over to God.
Serve God. Not the church.
There is no premature death in the will of God. A man will live if God has work for him to do and as long as that man is really committed to that work. When my work is done and I have completed it as God wants me to, then my life is over.
This message is missing for the most part today. Too many people view Christianity as an insurance policy so that when they die, they can go to heaven. They do not see it as a road map leading them into the heart of God.
The deeper Christian life goes forward as God directs and leads us, and we depend upon God to deal with our enemies.
No obstacle surprises God: He knows what is ahead and knows how to prepare us, and we need to go forward in His power and trust His wisdom. Many times, we try to do it in our own strength and power, but it never works that way.
Delighting in God [Follow-Up to the Knowledge of the Holy] by A.W. Tozer
Whenever you find a man of God, you will also find an overwhelming passion for God that is almost beyond control. Not a curiosity about God, but a deep passion to experience God in all His fullness. To know God is the one passion that dries [drives] a man into the very heart of God.
What I see lacking today is this desire to know God on a personal basis. Other things crowd this relationship out until it is barely recognized in the church today.
The great secret of the Christian life is to begin experiencing God as He desires me to experience Him. God’s greatest delight is to bring me into His presence.
Our trouble is, we hear sermon after sermon and do not get anywhere . . . This is happening because we have a lack of desire. We have not the desire we ought to have, and God’s people are not hungry and thirsty anymore.
As you have read through these quotes, you may have gathered that Tozer spoke what he was discerning in his heart after being in the presence of God. Many people called his works too negative. He recognized that, but it did not stop him from sharing his perceptions about God and the culture around him. I guess you would say he operated like a 20th century son of Issachar!
My prayer for you triple-fold. It is:
- To read your Bible expecting to experience the presence of God,
- To pray and meditate reaching the holy presence of God, and
- To surrender your life to a deeper—a much deeper—walk with Him.
So, give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? (1 Kings 3:9)
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” (Luke 10:23-24)
Oh Lord, the world is full of so much information, please teach me to know what is true and what is false. Give me the desire to ground myself in Your holy Word—every day. Let Your words soak into my mind. Guide all my thoughts and decisions. Allow the Holy Spirit to give me discernment so I can always be an honorable servant obedient to You.
Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member; BibleGateway Blogger, Member; SBC, Church Member
Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible.
Edited by E. Johnson
Photo Credit: Canva/Fernanda Latronic