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I am like James and John.

Lord, I size up other people

in terms of what they can do for me;

how they can further my program,

feed my ego,

satisfy my needs,

give me strategic advantage.

I exploit people,

ostensibly for your sake,

but really for my own.

Lord, I turn to you

to get the inside track

and obtain special favors,

your direction for my schemes,

your power for my projects,

your sanction for my ambitions,

your blank check for whatever I want.

I am like James and John.

–Robert Raines as found in Kent Hughes’  Mark : Jesus, servant and savior. Preaching the Word

What a powerful statement by Jonathan Edwards! This journal entry reflects the truth of Romans 12:1-2!

I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, this affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members–no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste.

I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing as my own. . . .  I have given every power to him; so that, for the future, I’ll challenge no right in myself, no respect whatsoever. I have expressly promised him, and I do now promise Almighty God, that by his grace I will not. I have this morning told him that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law, for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life; and that I did believe in Jesus Christ, and did receive him as a Prince and Savior; and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the gospel, however hazardous and difficult the confession and practice of it may be; and that I did receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all his motions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me.

This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own. I shall not act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him my whole and entire business.”

– Jonathan Edwards, January 12, 1723.

“The biblical story lifts up before us a vision of God as our Lover. The gospel . . . sounds the voice of our Husband who has proven his love for us and who calls for our undivided love in return. The gospel reveals that, as we look out into the universe, ultimate reality is not cold, dark, blank space; ultimate reality is romance. There is a God above with love in his eyes for us and infinite joy to offer us, and he has set himself upon winning our hearts for himelf alone. The gospel tells the story of God’s pursuing, faithful, wounded, angry, overruling, transforming, triumphant love. And it calls us to answer him with a love which cleanses our lives of all spiritual whoredom.”

–Ray Ortlund, God’s Unfaithful Wife: A Biblical Theology of Spiritual Adultery, p. 173

Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “ ‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever.” (Jeremiah 3:12, ESV)

Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” (Jeremiah 3:14, ESV)

“Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to you, for you are the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 3:22, ESV)

“Are you in depths and doubts, staggering and uncertain, not knowing what is your condition, nor whether you have any interest in the forgiveness that is of God? Are you tossed up and down between hopes and fears, and want peace, consolation and establishment? Why lie you upon your faces? Get up: watch, pray, fast, meditate, offer violence to your lusts and corruptions; fear not, startle not at their crying to be spared; press unto the throne of grace by prayer, supplications, importunities, restless requests— this is the way to take the kingdom of God. These are not peace, are not assurance, but they are part of the means God hath appointed for the attainment of them.”

John Owen, Exposition on Psalm 130

In other words,

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10, ESV)

Puritan pastor Thomas Brooks reminds us “A lazy Christian shall always want [lack] four things: viz., comfort, content, confidence, and assurance. God hath made a separation between joy and idleness, between assurance and laziness; and, therefore, it is impossible for thee to bring these together that God hath put so far asunder.”

“Thy sad distance from God is the secret of thy soul’s leanness. The withering of the spirit of prayer has withered thy grace, and with it all spiritual enjoyment of the means. . . . All backsliding has its commencement in the declension of prayer.”—Octavius Winslow

From a song I heard yesterday at church entitled “Nothing Less”

Though thousands fall around us we’ve nothing to fear
We have a refuge through the trouble and through tears
Our God rules over all the terror of the night
He is our shield when arrows fly

We will say of you, oh Lord
When it seems there’s nothing left
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
You’ve been our strong and steady
Rock and nothing less
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness

Read the whole text here and listen to it as well.

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