Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

Welcome once again to this Blog on A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God (Click on the Links on the Side Panel to find the Previous Blogs)
In order to understand the Lesson  in this Chapter and learn for it, we need to probe and understand two things:
  1. What does it mean to deny self and take up the cross and follow Jesus?
  2. What doe it mean to wrestle: with the Lord (and with our enemies)?
Armed with the proper perspective of what these two disciplines entail, we would begin to really understanding  about "The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing." Without this background, we would be at a loss. Let's begin with some questions.  
  • How is it possible to possess nothing and yet be blessed, in a world that is consumed by materialism, where our every waking moments appear to be preoccupied with the pursuit and acquisition of things; where we are so consumer-oriented; where our identity is entirely wrapped up in: What we do? What we own? Where we live? Who our friends are? What we drive? etc.
  • What does it mean? 
  • What are the Scriptural foundations for it? 
  • What are the benefits and blessings of it?
  • What is the secret?  How does one do it?
  • What, or who are illustrations of it?
  • How is it facilitated?
  • What are impediments to it?
  • Is it something that happens instantly, or is it a process?
  • Is everyone called to this, or just for an elite few?
  • Is it meant to be taken literally, or is it a figurative expression? 
  • Is it a paradox?  Is it a a hyperbole?
  • Does it have to do with one's orientation and priority?
Scriptures: (Relevant Scriptures and related ideas, concepts and principles)
  • Loving God vs. Loving the world (1Jn 2:15-17)
  • Do not be conformed to this world - "Don't let it presses you into its mold" (Rom 12:2)
  • Seek the things that are above (Col 3:1ff)
  • Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33)
  • Discipleship - denying self, taking up one's cross and following Jesus (Lu 14:27)

Read & Meditate on the following Scriptures: (Journal and be ready to share in the Comments. Share your best ideas and what was most helpful to you.)
  • Gen 22:1-19; Heb 11:17-19
  • Php 3:7-11
  • Lu 22:39-46; Matt 26:36-46
Questions for Reflection on the Life of Abraham Relative to the Sacrificing of Isaac: 
  •  As you read the story of Abraham, how easy, or how difficult do think it was for him to make the decisions he did, concerning the sacrificing of Isaac? (Note the time in his life when this was happening.)
  • Are sacrifices ever easy?
  • Were there struggles? If yes, what do you think we're some of them? (We are of like passion - 2Cor 10:13)
  • Abraham's struggles are not specifically mentioned.  From meditating on the story and other examples of wrestling with the Lord (and other struggles, in general), what do you thing were some of Abraham's agonies of the soul?
  • How does what he went through relates to and illustrate the path of "cross bearing"? 

 Additional Questions and Meditation, looking at two issues:
  1. What does it mean to be a disciple? particularly "taking up one's cross and follow Jesus".
  2. What is the theology of wrestling with God or on a broader level, what does "wrestling" pay in the life of the "saint"?
 Denying one's self and taking up one's cross and following Jesus
  • What does it mean to deny self and take up one's cross and follow Jesus?
  • Does the Lord still require this of us or this was only for the early disciples?

Wrestling with The Lord:

Who are some of the people who wrestled with God and what was the outcome?  Here are some of the best examples: 
  1. Abraham – Gen 22:1-19
  2. Jacob – Gen 32:22-32
  3. Jesus – Lu 22:39-46
  4. Paul – 2Cor 12:7-10
  5. Epaphras- Col 4:12-13
As you read and meditate on each of the above, note who was wrestling, what was at stake and what were the end results. These would be good lessons for us. As we go through difficult times, we should remember that the Lord is with us and for us, not against us.

Here are some Questions for you to help you process the above:
  • What was their spiritual state: obedience/disobedience and commitment/non-commitment?
  • What was at stake?
  • What did they do?
  • What did it cost?
  • What were the results? 
  The Saint (true believers) does not only wrestle with the Lord, but we wrestle with our enemies:
  1. The flesh (Rom 7:21-25)
  2. The Devil  (Eph 6:10-20; 2Cor 10:3-6)
It is helpful to remember that all wrestling or struggles are not the same, but that they often point towards similar ends. Submission = character development – particular crucifying the flesh.
  • Struggling with sin and struggling with the Lord are not the same.
  • The Lord wrestles with us not to overpower us, but to empower us.
When wrestling, the potentials for injuries is ever present. When we wrestle with the Lord, the injuries are not scars as much as they are stars. They are badges for having wrestled with God and prevailed as Jacob did. How does one wrestle with the omnipotent God and prevail?

Benefits & Blessings of Wrestling: 

When we wrestle with Him:

  • We hear His voice
  • We see His face
  • We learn His will - We learn its not always about us.
  •  He provides for us.
  • He changes us – He defines and refines us - Character, destiny
  • He renews His promises, expands them or makes new ones.
 ·         When we wrestle with the Adversary, we do it in His strength with the accoutrements that He provides.

Some Lessons from the Life of Abraham:

  • To pursue God, we need to possess both hunger and humility. 
  • Faith does not make things easy, but it does make them more believable and bearable.
  • Abraham is the picture and pattern of a surrendered life. Cf. Gen 22:1-19
  • Abraham is living proof that God will often test us in the areas of our deepest affection (Gen 22:2).
  • The problem was not so much with the boy as it was with Abraham. Hence, the test was not for Isaac but for Abraham. Isaac was not the problem, but was the source of the solution. The problem was in Abraham’s heart.
  • You yourself have been placed on the altar. You have denied yourself and have taken up your cross and are following.
  • Wrestling with the world, the flesh and the devil and have overcome.  Wrestling with God and have been overcome. This is victory. Victory over self, sin, Satan and the system of this world.
  • Abraham is the paragon of the pursuit of God.  He followed him, not knowing where he was going. (Heb 11:17)
  • You can forsake God and following after things and still not having anything. or you can forsake self and  the world to follow God and you will get the world thrown in. He has given us all we need for life and godliness (2Pet 1:3). C.S. Lewis — "Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth 'thrown in': aim at Earth and you will get neither."
  • When we substitute the gift for the giver, the temporal for the eternal and the physical for the spiritual it is always a bad bargain.
  • Victory through surrender. The cross is an instrument of death. What we surrender from is the enemy, not who we surrender to.
  • Some things must be faced and done alone. Others may support and encourage, but the intentionality, the initiative and the intensity must be yours. Cannot be done by proxy. Cannot be delegated (What are some of these things?)
  • What do you have to renounce or surrender to be free?
  • To give up things for Christ is to lose nothing.
  • The Cross of Christ brought redemption. Our cross brings submission and sanctification, which prepares us for service here and the hereafter.
  • When the “tyrant” self is on the cross, we can no longer be tyrannized by things. Things will lose their grip on us.
  • Does God reign supremely in your Heart? Is there something that has taken the place of God there? What does God need to remove from the shrine of your heart that He may reign there supremely?
  • You cannot enjoy intimacy with God if there is someone or something else between you and God. He will not tolerate it and we should not entertain the thought of it.
  • What might God do with you and for you because of the depth of your obedience to Him?
  • Abraham was given the highest title that heaven can confer on any mortal: “The Friend of God.” Not quite the same as “a friend”. This title is the ensign of intimacy.
  • Abraham was willing to give his only son. What else could he have withheld from God? Abraham was never more like God that at this juncture of his life. God did thousands of years later what He stopped Abraham from doing. He gave His only son, the Son whom He loved. If He did that unreservedly, what could He possibly withhold from you? (Rom 8:32).
  • If you chose to follow God (or Jesus) you will be tested soon enough. Cf. Jesus out of the water of His baptism into the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11); the disciples after the day of Pentecost, were persecuted (Acts 3-5). Paul after he accepted Jesus as the Messiah was immediately persecuted in Damascus. The persecutor became the persecuted almost in an instance (Acts 9). Are you ready for it?
  • Intimacy and adversity are often inextricably bound up in each other.
  • God dwelling in our hearts without rivals is the essence and beginning of revival.
  • Discipleship is not exclusively a New Testament concept or requirement. It is and always has been and always will be the divine standard. It is not an option. We don’t get extra points for being a disciple. We have been called to be disciples. If we are not disciples, the question is, “have we really been called? (Matt 7: 21-24)). The will of the Father is unconditional discipleship (Lu 14:25-35, esp. vs. 26, 27, 33). He does not give us fire insurance”. He calls us to die so that we night have life, eternal life, which is the best fire insurance there is and more than that.
  • “Hold things lightly, so that the Lord does not have to pry them out of your hands. That is less painful.” ~ Corrie ten Boom
  • Hold God closely, but hold things loosely.  
  • This is the secret of "Blessedness of Possessing Nothing!"


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