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From Various Servants of God

Don’t Let Me Live Wrong by A.W. Tozer

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. –2 Timothy 4:7-8

For years I have made a practice of writing many of my earnest prayers to God in a little book–a book now well worn. I still turn often to the petitions I recorded in that book. I remind God often of what my prayers have been. One prayer in the book–and God knows it well by this time, for I pray it often–goes like this: Oh God, Let me die rather than to go on day by day living wrong. I do not want to become a careless, fleshly old man. I want to be right so that I can die right. Lord, I do not want my life to be extended if it would mean that I should cease to live right and fail in my mission to glorify You all of my days!

As you will recall from Second Kings 20, the Lord gave Hezekiah a 15-year extension of life. Restored to health and vigor, Hezekiah disgraced himself and dishonored God before he died and was buried. I would not want an extra 15 years in which to backslide and dishonor my Lord. I would rather go home right now than to live on–if living on was to be a waste of God’s time and my own! Jesus Is Victor!  “Please, Father, help me to finish well. Amen.” 

A Birth From Above by A.W. Tozer

This may sound like heresy in some quarters, but I have come to this conclusion-that there are far too many among us who have thought that they accepted Christ, but nothing has come of it within their own lives and desires and habits! This kind of philosophy in soul-winning-the idea that it is “the easiest thing in the world to accept Jesus”-permits the man or woman to accept Christ by an impulse of the mind or of the emotions. It allows us to gulp twice and sense an emotional feeling that has come over us, and then say, “I have accepted Christ.” These are spiritual matters about which we must be legitimately honest and in which we must seek the discernment of the Holy Spirit. These are things about which we cannot afford to be wrong; to be wrong is still to be lost and far from God. Let us never forget that the Word of God stresses the importance of conviction and concern and repentance when it comes to conversion, spiritual regeneration, being born from above by the Spirit of God!

Pray Till We Pray by A.W. Tozer

Dr. Moody Stuart, a great praying man of a past generation, once drew up a set of rules to guide him in his prayers. Among these rules is this one: “Pray till you pray.” The difference between praying till you quit and praying till you pray is illustrated by the American evangelist John Wesley Lee. He often likened a eason of prayer to a church service, and insisted that many of us close the meeting before the service is over. He confessed that once he arose too soon from a prayer session and started down the street to take care of some pressing business. He had only gone a short distance when an inner voice reproached him. “Son,” the voice seemed to say, “did you not pronounce the benediction before the meeting was ended?” He understood, and at once hurried back to the place of prayer where he tarried till the burden lifted and the blessing came down.

The habit of breaking off our prayers before we have truly prayed is as common as it is unfortunate. Often the last ten minutes may mean more to us than the first half hour, because we must spend a long time getting into the proper mood to pray effectively. We may need to struggle with our thoughts to draw them in from where they have been scattered through the multitude of distractions that result from the task of living in a disordered world. Here, as elsewhere in spiritual matters, we must be sure to distinguish the ideal from the real. Ideally we should be living moment-by-moment in a state of such perfect union with God that no special preparation is necessary. But actually there are few who can honestly say that this is their experience. Candor will compel most of us to admit that we often experience a struggle before we can escape from the emotional alienation and sense of unreality that sometimes settle over us as a sort of prevailing mood.

Whatever a dreamy idealism may say, we are forced to deal with things down on the level of practical reality. If when we come to prayer our hearts feel dull and unspiritual, we should not try to argue ourselves out of it. Rather, we should admit it frankly and pray our way through. Some Christians smile at the thought of “praying through,” but something of the same idea is found in the writings of practically every great praying saint from Daniel to the present day. We cannot afford to stop praying till we have actually prayed.

A Different Man in the Pulpit by A.W. Tozer

You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe…. –1 Thessalonians 2:10 

I am afraid of the pastor that is another man when he enters the pulpit from what he was before. Reverend, you should never think a thought or do a deed or be caught in any situation that you couldn’t carry into the pulpit with you without embarrassment. You should never have to be a different man or get a new voice and a new sense of solemnity when you enter the pulpit. You should be able to enter the pulpit with the same spirit and the same sense of reverence that you had just before when you were talking to someone about the common affairs of life. Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church, “Lord, help me to be a man of impeccable integrity. Give me the grace to be the same man, whether in the pulpit, in a board meeting, caught in rush hour traffic, or at dinner with my wife. Amen.” 

A Good Husbandman by A.W. Tozer

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. –John 17:24 

I believe that a pastor who is content with a vineyard that is not at its best is not a good husbandman. It is my prayer that we may be a healthy and fruitful vineyard and that we may be an honor to the Well Beloved, Jesus Christ the Lord, that He might go before the Father and say, “These are mine for whom I pray, and they have heard the Word and have believed on Me.” I pray that we might fit into the high priestly prayer of John 17, that we would be a church after Christ’s own heart so that in us He might see the travail of His soul and be satisfied. The church should be a healthy, fruitful vineyard that will bring honor to Christ, a church after Christ’s own heart where He can look at the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Rut, Rot or Revival: “Lord, I long that Jesus Christ might indeed be satisfied with my own life and the lives of those whom He has called me to lead. Help me to be a faithful husbandman in whatever vineyard You place me. Amen.” 

A Commitment to Holiness by Chuck Smith

There are guidelines and principles that we can establish in our lives that will keep us from the edge. A  king named Asa in 2 Chronicles had a tremendous encounter in experiencing the delivering power of God and the victory that God had wrought for them. Coming back flushed with the victory, the prophet came out to meet them and said unto the king, “The Lord is with you while you will be with Him” (2 Chronicles 15:2). And yes, the Lord is with us. We have just seen God work. Oh, it is glorious to have the Lord with us. And if you seek Him He will be found of you. We sought the Lord and He gave us victory. Glory to God! You are flushed with God’s working. But then the prophet went on to say, “But if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). Maybe Asa was thinking, “Oh well, yes, of course. Thanks but why would I forsake God after what God has done? Are you kidding? No way! I appreciate the warning, but surely it is not necessary. Read More

 

 

Building The Church God’s Way by Chuck Smith

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6 –  We are of the belief that if the Lord doesn’t build the house, they labor in vain who build it, so all of our hype and pressure aren’t really going to do the job. We simply trust in the work of the Holy Spirit, and of Jesus Christ who is building His church as He said He would. Read More

If we have complete confidence that it’s His church, that He’s going to build it, and that He’s going to do His job, then all I have to do is be faithful. I simply need to watch His work, and then the pressure isn’t on me. I don’t get all hyped or pressured because the work of God isn’t my responsibility. It’s not my church. It’s His church. I believe that it’s very important to remember this, because if you try to carry the load and bear the burden, you’ll find that it’s too great for you. You’ll find yourself under pressure to create schemes and hypes, and then you begin to push and manipulate people. 

Back in 1969, we purchased an acre and a half of land just a block from our current site, on the corner of Sunflower and Greenville. There was an old country school there. We dismantled it and used the materials to build our little chapel. Because we used the existing materials, we were able to build the chapel for $40,000.00, including the pews. After two years the chapel was totally inadequate. We were into triple services, setting up five hundred chairs in the patio, and people were parking all the way up past the Los Angeles Times building up to the freeway on Fairview. So we knew that we had to do something.

At that time, the parcel of property that Calvary Chapel occupies today came up for sale. One of the fellows in the church was a Realtor. He had put together a group that bought this 11-acre property, planning to turn it for a profit. They were speculating on it and had several deals pending, but the city of Santa Ana rejected all of the proposed uses. They had a balloon payment of $350,000.00 coming due on the property and weren’t in a position to pay it. They had actually stopped making the monthly interest payments to the lady who owned the property, and finally lost it.

The Realtor who was involved in our fellowship came to me and suggested that the church obtain the property. My response was, “Well, what in the world will we ever do with eleven acres?” He suggested that we could always sell off half of it. Then another fellow in the church came to me and said he was certain we could get the land for $300,000.00. I said, “Ridiculous! There’s no way she’d sell it for $300,000.00 because she just foreclosed on a note for $350,000.00. Why would she sell it to us for $300,000.00?” Then he said, “Well, I happen to know a few things about the lady’s situation. She had been paying the taxes with the interest payments that these guys were giving her. Because they hadn’t made any payments, she didn’t really have the money to pay the taxes. She’s close to eighty, she needs the cash, and I think that if we made a $300,000.00 cash offer, she would take it.”

I said, “That sounds great, but where in the world will we get $300,000.00 cash?” He replied, “If we can buy it for $300,000.00 then you can borrow half that amount from the savings and loan. They’ll loan fifty percent on property, we have $110,000.00 in the bank, and I’ll loan the $90,000.00 interest free, for a year.” So I said, “Well, she’ll never take it.” Then he said, “Will you give me the permission to offer it to her in the name of the church?” “Sure,” I replied. A short time later he called me up and said, “Well, Chuck, she’s accepted.” My first thought was, “Well, great! But what do I do now?”

At that time Fairview Street had just been completed through to Sunflower. I used to drive up to the comer of Fairview and Sunflower on my way from the other chapel. As I waited for the green arrow to turn left, I’d look over at this big huge field, and begin to panic. I thought, “You know, God has been good to us. We’ve paid off all of the debts, and we don’t owe anything. We have $60,000.00 in the bank, we’re running a surplus, and things are going so well. What am I doing to this flock of people, putting them into debt along with the potential of having to build on this? What am I doing? Where is my head?”

I would go into a cold sweat trying to figure the thing out. Then the Lord would speak to my heart and say, “Whose church is it?” I’d answer, “Well, it’s your church.” Then He’d reply, “Well, then, why are you worrying about bankruptcy?” I thought, “Why am I? I’m not the one going bankrupt. The Lord will be the One bankrupt, so why should I worry? Then He would say, “Who created the problem?” And I’d answer, “You did. You’re the One that’s brought all the people. You created this problem of needing more space.” So He assured me that it was His church and His problem. He created the situation. Then I would get relief, until the next time I pulled up to the corner and looked at the property. I’m sort of hardheaded, so this was a process that continued for a period of time.

Realizing that our fellowship was His church relieved me from the burden. I didn’t have to carry the load myself, and I could stay relaxed. It was His church so He would take care of it. Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18). He didn’t say, “Upon this rock you will build my church.” We need to realize that it’s His church and He’s the One who said He would build it. When Jesus asked Peter the question, “Lovest thou me?” (John 21:16), Peter answered, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee”. Jesus then didn’t say, “Go out and build my church.” He said, “Feed my sheep” – that is, “tend them and take care of them.” It’s His job to add to the church, His job to build the church. My job is just to love the sheep, take care of them, watch over them, feed them, tend them, and trust the Lord to build the church and add those that should be saved.

We’ve discovered that whenever you strive to gain, you must then strive to maintain what you’ve gained. If you really pushed and pressured to gain it, you have the pressure to keep it going. Maintenance is tough if it’s a man-made, man-built program.

A long time ago, I was in a denomination and was under pressure to build the church. I was using every kind of device suggested and offered. There were church growth programs and various kinds of contests. I tried them all in an effort to build the church. I discovered firsthand that when you strive to gain, then you must strive to maintain. When you don’t strive to gain, you don’t have to strive to maintain. If it’s the Lord’s work, if He’s done it, and He’s added, then you don’t have to strive to keep the thing going. It’s that striving to maintain that creates ministerial burnout. It’s the thing that’ll kill you. It’s the thing that’ll run you into the ground. It’s the thing that will lead you into all kinds of aberrant practices. Because you’ve striven to gain this crowd, you’ve now got a crowd that you must strive to hold, and that can be really tough.

Throughout the country we see many large churches that have resulted from tremendous growth programs. But you have to keep that program going. You have to keep it oiled and greased and moving, or the thing begins to fall. Then, all of the striving and all of the hype that it takes to maintain the program will absolutely kill you. There are a lot of super churches today, but there are also a lot of tired leaders, because of their striving to maintain what they’ve built.

Striving to gain doesn’t just mean buying into the latest church growth program to come down the line. It can also happen in a hyped-up spiritual environment, where church growth is created by spiritual and emotional excitement and the hyping of the gifts of the Spirit. Again you’ve got a very difficult kind of situation, because if you use this spiritual hype to attract and draw your crowd, you’ve started down a one-way street that only gets more difficult as you go. You see, if you appeal to people through the supernatural and spectacular, and if that’s your big forte, then you have to continue to get other, more exotic spiritual experiences to hold the crowd that you have drawn through these kinds of phenomena.

There is something about our human nature that, no matter how appealing or exotic an experience might be, we soon tire of it and want something else – a new twist, a new angle, a new attraction to power. It seems like it takes more and more power to maintain the same level of excitement and thrill.

A case in point: my boating experience began years ago with a little 12-footer and a Johnson 25hp engine. That was exciting. We learned to ski. Someone had to sit out on the end of the hull to keep the nose down to get the skier up, but we learned to ski with it. It was wonderful for the first summer. During the winter we bought a Javelin hull, fiber glassed it, and fixed it up. It was a 14-footer with a great hull! But then the little Johnson 25hp wouldn’t do for the Javelin hull, so we got a Mercury 55E, and that was much better. Nobody had to get out on the front to get the skier up. That was great! But, by the end of the summer there were boats passing us, so we traded in the Mercury 55E for a Mercury 75E. But then the 14-foot Javelin hull wasn’t quite nice enough for the Mercury 75E. I thought, “Well, outboards are o.k., but you really need to go to an inboard motor,” so we got a Chevy 354. When do you stop? Fortunately, I did stop, but there’s always something more. It was just a little bit bigger, a little bit nicer.

It’s the same with the attraction generated by spiritual hype. You can only hear so many “Thus saith the Lord’s” before they don’t have the same impact or rush anymore. So you have to keep doing something new, something different. You’ll ultimately get to the place where you’re laughing uncontrollably or barking like a dog or roaring like a lion. Look how some churches have gone from one bizarre practice to another, to another, and to another. It’s an insatiable kind of thing. You run out of the legitimate, and you begin to revert to the illegitimate. You have to keep fanning that lust for novel, bizarre, and different kinds of experiences that will continue to give the same kind of a spiritual rush that people have come to desire and long for.

Calvary Chapels are minus the hype. We’re not into the carnal pursuit of new programs or spiritual hype to try to appeal to people. It’s the Word of God that we trust in, that we teach, that we rely on. It’s the foundation upon which we are built. It’s inexhaustible. There’s no burnout with it. It just keeps going on and on and on.

For this reason, we have a relaxed, casual style that’s reflected in our ministry. It’s His church so we don’t have to sweat it. We’re not really into seminars on how to build a church, how to create a user-friendly church, or how to develop a five-year plan. Who knows if we’ll even be here five years from now! Let’s minister for today!

I was asked to speak at a leadership seminar in Phoenix to a group of social strategists who study various social trends and develop plans for the church as we enter the new millennium. Some pretty prominent fellows were on this panel discussing strategies. “How are we going to meet the needs for the future and develop the appropriate church strategies?”

Well, I upset the moderator because I said, “I have this philosophy, ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.’ God continues to bless the teaching of His Word, the church continues to grow, the Lord continues to add daily, and He honors His Word like He said He would. I’m satisfied that as long as God is blessing the Word, I will keep teaching the Word. Why should I change? Why should I try to remodel it when it’s still working? If the day should come when it doesn’t work anymore, then the Word of God has failed, so why even teach it?”

Of course, the moderator became very upset with that, and the rest of the day we were trading barbs back and forth. Interestingly enough, I’ve never been asked to speak again at those wonderful conferences.

I find that by the time I get through with the Old Testament, I am hungry and ready to get into the New Testament. By the time I am finished with the New Testament it’s exciting to get back to Genesis in the Old Testament. It keeps building every time you go through it. You gain and learn so much more. You’ve been enriched, and so have the people. It never gets old. It never gets stale. It never gets to the place where you have to find some new kind of gimmick or angle or experience. It’s just the Word of God, which is alive and powerful and ministers to the spirit of people.

 

 To Whom Much Is Given, Much is Required by Chuck Smith

God’s choice of the nation of Israel. “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth.” God created man that He might have a meaningful loving relationship with him. He created man a threefold being, spirit, mind, and body. Man was a spirit, living in a body, possessing a consciousness.The relationship with God would be a spiritual relationship, so that as man walked in the spirit, he would be conscious of God and could commune with Him. For the relationship to be meaningful, man had to be created with the capacity of choice. Else he would be as a automated robot.For choice to be valid, there must be something to choose, hence the tree in the midst of the garden. Read More

 

The choice to be truly valid, the alternate must be very attractive and desirable to man. God warned Adam of the dire consequences of eating of the tree in the midst of the Garden. He said that in the day he ate of it, he would surely die. I believe that in the fruit of that tree, there were those elements that would enter into the genetic code of man’s cells that would begin the break down of the cells or the aging process. It was destructive to man’s body, as all sin is destructive. In time, through the coaxing of Satan, Eve ate of the tree and offered the fruit to Adam also, who also ate of it. In that moment, the essential part of man’s nature died. His spirit, that part of his being that connected him with God was dead. Fellowship with God was broken.

Paul tells us that by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so that death passed unto all men for all sinned. With the spirit dead, man existed still in a twofold state of body and mind. The spirit being dead, he lost that beautiful consciousness of God, and his mind was filled primarily with the consciousness of his body needs. He is going to have to think of how to provide for his body needs, he will earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. God still loved man, and desired still for the fellowship that had been severed. So God began to put into place His plan of redemption of mankind, so that those who desired could have a way back to fellowship with God.
This plan involved sending His Son into the world to reveal the love of God to the world. God needed first a nation through which he might reveal His plan, and through which His son might be born. He needed a man to begin the nation, this man must possess a unique quality of faith and trust in God.

A man who would obey God without understanding the reasons for the commands. So God called Abraham to leave his country, family and friends, and strike out on a journey to a land that God would show him and would give to his descendants as an inheritance. Abraham’s faith was not perfect, he had lapses of faith, he at time had doubts, but overall, he believed God and his faith grew strong as he walked with God over the years. God honored his faith and blessed Abraham, and began to reveal His purposes to him. He told Abraham, that through his seed all the nations of the world would be blessed. God now has the family through which the Messiah will be brought into the world. Hence our text, “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth.”

Why would God choose the nation of Israel? In Deut. 14:2 God said, “For you are a holy people unto the Lord, thy God, and the Lord hath chosen you to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” But why? My little grand daughter got into that why mode the other day. “Gramps, why is the sky blue?” Because God made it blue. But why did He make it blue? Perhaps because blue is a beautiful and soothing color. Why is blue a soothing color? At this point I caught onto her game and decided to throw the ball back into her court, and I asked, Why do you ask me so many questions, and she answered, “Just because.” Why did God choose Israel? He said it was not because they more in number than any people. Again He said it was not because of their righteousness, or the uprightness of their heart. But because He loved them and to keep His oath He made to their fathers, Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. But why did God love them? Just because. God had chosen them to reveal His plan of redemption of the world through them, so that all men who desired might have fellowship with God. For true fellowship to be restored, man must again become a spiritual being. Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit, and in truth.” Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a man was born again, he could not enter the kingdom of heaven. He explained to Nicodemus that He was talking about a spiritual birth, he had had a physical birth, but it was necessary for him to have a spiritual birth. When Nicodemus asked how this might be accomplished Jesus answered, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”Fellowship with God, that is what it is all about, but to have fellowship there must be unity. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”

To walk in fellowship with God, you must be in agreement with God I must agree with the rules that God has set. It is not mine to set the terms of our relationship. I cannot strike a deal with God. “Now if you will do this, and this, and this for me, I will walk with you and serve you.” I am in no position to declare terms. I come to Him as a poor helpless sinner destined for destruction, begging for his mercy and grace to be extended toward me. He does not save me because of my promises of all thaI will do for Him. My promises, like Peter’s are worthless. When you come to Jesus Christ to receive Him as the Lord of your life, the very title of Lord signifies a submission of yourself to be His servant. He then declares of you, that He has chosen you above all the people of the earth, to reveal His plan of redemption through you to others. You have been chosen in Christ, to be the beneficiary of the grace of God throughout all eternity. And in the endless ages to come, God is going to be revealing to you the exceeding greatness of His love and mercy toward you in Christ Jesus. Being God’s chosen people brings a greater responsibility. God said to them, “Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquity.” We live by a higher standard. We will be judged by a highest standard. Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much is required.”Man will be held accountable for the amount of light he has received. Peter in his second letter declared, “It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” Jesus declared that the cities around Galilee would fare worse in the day of judgment than Nineveh, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and a greater than Jonah was here. That the judgment that would fall upon Sodom and Gomorrah would be less, because the had lesser light. Hebrews says, Of how much sorer punishment do you suppose a person will be found worthy of who has trodden under foot the Son of God and hath accounted the blood of His covenant an unholy thing and has done despite to the Spirit of grace. It is a fearful think to fall in the hands of a living God. 

 

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