Ministry, leadership, discipleship, the local church and the deep riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Today, share Matthew 14 with someone. Lord, help me speak Your truth even when it might mean my head on a platter (14:4-8). Give me compassion for the lost even in the midst of my own grief (14:14) so that I bring them to You to be satisfied (14:18). Make me trust You to walk where I have no ability to walk (14:29). Keep my eyes on You (14:30). Thank You for reaching out to save me when I get distracted (14:31). Let my life declare my worship of You, declaring that You are who You claim to be (14:33).
Today, share with someone what God shows you in Matthew 13. Lord, give me ears that hear You, eyes that see You, and a heart that understands You (13:15-16). Don't let me be too hard for Your Word to sink in (13:19), or too shallow for Your Word to remain in me (13:20), or so in love with the world that Your Word has no room to grow in me (13:22). Make me rich, deep soil that Your Word takes root in and produces fruit (13:23). You are worth the loss of everything to me (13:44-45). Let me share today very aware that a day is coming when the lost will have no more opportunity to choose You and Your kingdom (13:49).
Today's mind-changing text is Matthew 12. Lord, teach me to show mercy in applying Your Law and help me know that my religious sacrifices don't make me righteous, only Christ's sacrifice does (12:7). Help me know what it means to work "with" You and to be a gatherer (12:30). Does what I say reveal my heart to be good or evil (12:33-37)? Cause me to trust You without needing proof (12:38-39). Identify me as part of Your be family by enabling me to do nothing but the Father's will (12:50).
Today's mind-transforming text is Matthew 11. Lord, correct any misunderstandings I have about what it means for You to be my Savior (11:16-18). Let my life express wisdom by showing accurately what it means for You to be my savior, king, and righteousness (11:19). Thank You for showing Your thoughts and will in Jesus (11:27). Thank you for giving me rest for my soul, not having to worry about whether I am in Your favor or under Your wrath (11:28-29). Hook me up to work along side of You knowing You will lead gently and will help me plow Your field, plant Your seed, and harvest Your fruit (11:29-30).
Today's mind transforming text is Matthew 10. Lord, when You send me out to give evidence of the power of Your kingdom, show me: where to go (10:5-6), what to say (10:7), what to do (10:8), and how to rely exclusively on You (10:10). Let my words be the exact Words of Your Spirit (10:20). Cause me to endure all who hate me for loving You (10:22). Convince my heart that You are worth fearing, people are not (10:28). Make my life and words force people to choose what they will be loyal to (10:34-35). Help my life find worth in declaring Your worth (10:37-38).
Today read matthew 9 to help you think more like Jesus. Lord, thank You for having the authority to forgive my rebellion (9:6). Help me also recognize Your authority to lead me as Matthew did (9:9). Keep me trusting You when the world doubts You and laughs at me for trusting You (9:24). Help me share as persistently as those who had been healed of blindness (9:31). Let me feel Your compassion for the crowds who don't know Your salvation or leadership (9:36). Send out workers to harvest those ready to trust You even if it means I am one You want to send out (9:38).
Today's life altering text is Matthew 8. Lord, make my transformed life a "testimony" of Your will to the particular people who need to see it (8:4). Build my faith to be like the centurion's faith (8:10). Don't let me fail to serve You now that You have healed my twisted heart (8:15). Give me the courage to follow You even if it means no comforts, security, or family (8:19-22). In my storms, help me trust You (8:26). Transform me so radically that it draws people to meet You (8:33-34).
The belief that Christ causes true believers to endure in trusting and walking in Christ is soundly biblical. This truth, however, is often misapplied. For too many Baptists, this belief produces a false sense of security and even a license to sin. This truth mixed with our sinful inclinations produces a dangerous pride.
Paul tells us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12); to “test” ourselves to “see if we are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5); and to “evaluate” ourselves (Rom. 12:3). The writer of Hebrews warns us to “pay attention to what we have heard so we won’t drift away” (Heb. 2:1) and that “we have become Christ’s companions if we hold firmly until the end what we had at the start” (Heb. 3:14). Nowhere does the Bible allow us to be complacent in Christ.
So how can we, as parents, help our teens to evaluate themselves honestly and accurately? The apostle John says that we know we have “come to know Him [Christ]” when we are “keeping His commands” (vs. 3), when we “keep His Word,” and when we "walk just as He walked” (vs. 5-6). To keep His commands is to love God above all and love others as God loves them.
When was the last time you helped your teen “test their faith” by helping them evaluate her love for God and for others? How is your teen loving the unlovable, her boyfriend, or his girlfriend? Is he loving the things of God more than the world? Are they loving their friends by helping them love God more? Your teen’s teachers test their learning. Her coaches test her athletic skills. Will you love your teen by helping him test his faith?
Today be shaped by Matthew 7. Lord, take every log from my eye so I can help my church family be more holy (7:3-5). Lead me to want to ask and ask for the very things that You want (7:7-9). Thank you for being the Giver of incredible gifts (7:10-11). Don't let me follow the crowd through the easy way that ends in destruction. Help me truly believe that real life will often be the difficult and lonely road (7:13-14). Produce good fruit in me (7:15-20). Don't allow me just to say You are my Lord, but drive me to follow you as my Lord today by doing Your will (7:21-23). Don't let me hear you and then disobey what I hear (7:26).
Today's life-changing text is Matt. 6. Our Father in heaven (6:9), make my walk with You real and consistent, not just for show (6:1-8). Help me show my friend's Your holiness (6:9). Rule me today (6:10). Don't let me think that my way will bring more fulfillment than Your way today (6:13). Help me forgive those who hurt me (6:14). Help me value what You value and be rich in things that last forever (6:19-21). Money and what it buys is not my master (6:24). Help me be content with Your provision, and help me chase after Your rule in my life, not all the stuff after which the world chases (6:25-34). Remind me that worry is worst when I am trusting you least (6:30-31).
Today's time aligning our lives up with God's ways is in Matt. 5:1-12. Lord, help me want to be with Your followers instead of just with the crowd (5:1-2). Remind me that: when I have nothing, I have heaven (5:3), when I grieve, You are my Comforter (5:4), power and control get me no more inheritance than what You give me (5:5), I will be most satisfied when i crave righteousness (5:6), I must show the mercy You've shown me (5:7), You won't accept being just one of the many things i love (5:8), my life must leave peace in its path, not destruction (5:9), it is better to suffer for doing what is right (5:10-11), and in all of life's situations, You command me to "be glad and rejoice" knowing my reward in heaven is awesome. . . it's You (5:12).
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Matthew 4. Lord, if it is Your will that i walk through the wilderness in hunger, protect me (4:1-2). Let me hunger for Your Word alone (4:4). Let me not assume Your protection when i insist on doing what I want (4:7). Let me value nothing more than You (4:10). Let those in darkness see Your light through me (4:16). Make my repentance clear (4:17). Don't let me be a fisher of men who catches no fish (4:19). Make me ready to leave all to follow You (4:22).
It seems that one of the hardest things to do and teach is to forgive. When a child or teen is offended, it is only natural for her to want justice. When our children are hurt, we might want justice even more because we want to protect our children from pain. I am still amazed, however, at the number of Christian parents who encourage an “eye for an eye” or a “punch for a punch” moral code.
While doing what we can to keep our children from being hurt, we must recognize that it is more important to teach them to forgive. 1 John 2:2 may not include the actual word “forgive,” but it makes the foundation for forgiveness profoundly clear. This verse says that Jesus is the “propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.”
So when your teens are hurt, take the opportunity to teach them forgiveness rather than to demand justice. Why? Because as the “propitiation” of the world, Jesus earned God’s good favor toward the hater, not just the one hated. In His death, justice was accomplished in that every sin committed by or against us was punished. When we teach our teens to get even, we are teaching them to live in a way that belittles what Christ did for the world.
Christ suffered so that the Father would look with favor at the one who hurt your child. Refusing to forgive says that Christ did not suffer enough to cover the sin that hurt your child. So protect your child. But when she is hurt, teach her that Jesus already took all the punishment that this particular offense deserves. The just sentence for this offense has already been served by Christ. All that is left to do is to offer the grace of forgiveness.
The elderly John refers to his spiritual children in 2:1 as “My little children.” He then identifies the goal for which he writes, “so that they won’t sin.” Let’s not misunderstand what sin is. John is not merely desiring to produce nice, good spiritual children. Instead, he is wants them to depend wholly on Christ.
The heart of sin is deeper than being a mean, immoral person. The heart of sin is being one’s own master. Neil Anderson said that “the essence of temptation is the invitation to live independently of God.” So, teaching our teens not to sin is the same as teaching them to submit to the rule of Christ in every aspect of their lives and to walk by the Spirit’s leading. How then does John teach his spiritual children not to sin?
First, John warns his children by reminding them that one cannot walk in sin and claim to have fellowship with Christ (vs. 6-7). John establishes sin as the opposite of walking with Christ. Do we teach our teens how Christ walks? We must show our teens how to think, want, and walk in Christ’s footsteps by word and action.
Second, our teens must recognize that they are innately sinful (v. 8). Denial of our twisted nature denies the reason that Christ came, died, and was resurrected. Steve Jobs’ (the brain behind the iMac, iPhone, iPod, etc.) denied that his cancer would be fatal. As a result, his cancer took over his body and he died. The denial of sin prevents its healing by Christ. As parents, do we clearly show that we are dead in sin apart from Christ living in us? If we constantly tell our teens how good they are, will they have any sense of need for Christ’s help and healing? The cure only helps those who know they are sick. Teach your teen to be desperate for the healing of the Righteous One, our Advocate.
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Matthew 3. Lord, let others see your clear rule in me. Turn me 180 degrees from the path of sin (3:2). Let me not be an obstacle to jesus' path (3:3). Don't let clothes or food be my priorities (3:4). Make me love others enough to tell them of the coming wrath (3:7). Help my life bear fruit that matches my claim to have repented (3:8). Not bearing fruit is serious because it could mean I am not Yours (3:10). Thank you that by faith, I can share in the delight that you have in Your Son (3:17).
Today we begin the book of Matthew. Read 1:1-1:25. Father, thank you that Your salvation in Jesus is a matter of historical record (1:1). Thank You that You use doubters (Abraham), adulterers (Judah), prostitutes (Rahab), foreigners (Ruth), and murderers (David) to bring the Savior to this world (1:16). Use me too to share Jesus with the world. Thank you that Your control over history is perfect (1:17). Thank You that Mary chose to keep herself pure so that we would know w/o a doubt that Jesus is YOUR Son (1:18-25). Help me live worthy of Your gift of Jesus (1:21).
Today's time (last day in Nehemiah) is in chapter 13. My God, help me take Your word seriously (v. 1). Thank you for turning my curse due to sin into a blessing through Jesus (v. 2). Thank You for choosing me by grace to share in the fellowship of Your people by faith (v. 3). Let me not use Your temple (my body) for just worldly stuff when it's made to be used for holy stuff (v. 4-9). Use me to keep holy what You have declared holy (v. 19-22). Remind me that my most intimate relationships must be with those who will not pull me away from You (v. 23-29).
The apostle John warns his spiritual children of two common spiritual deceptions. The first occurs in verses 5-7. It is the belief that we can have fellowship with God and continue to live as our own masters.
John begins by affirming that God is light and in Him there is no darkness. God is perfectly holy. There is no evil in Him. If we claim to have fellowship with God, but continue to walk in sin, we are lying to everyone.
Not having fellowship with God means we do not have the mind of God. Without thinking like Him, we will not want what He wants. Without His wants, we will not do His works. Fellowship with God will produce wants and works of light. Our teens must not believe that they can be in fellowship with God apart from having His thoughts, wants, and works.
This truth must shape why and how parents discipline. The goal when correcting a teen’s sinful behavior must be to help the teen think more like Christ. The method of correction must reflect God’s method. Correction should be approached with a “gentle spirit” (Gal. 6:1) and done in kindness (Rom. 2:4). This does not mean that it will never be painful, but that it will produce the fruit of peace and righteousness (Heb. 12:11). What evidence of light is there in your teen’s life and in your correction? We cannot afford to maintain the naïve hope that our teens will walk righteously apart from having the thoughts and wants of Christ.
The last time I went to the doctor’s office, I noticed how old and stodgy they all were dressed. Nearly all of them wore ties and I didn’t see any of them without coats. The nurses and receptionists all looked relaxed and comfy in their cartoon character scrubs. But the doctors were dressed… professionally.
A few months ago, my wife and I decided to take advantage of the low interest rates and refinance our home. The mortgage specialist from the bank was impeccably dressed. He was well-groomed, wearing both a sport coat and a tie. Even the tellers were dressed… professionally.
Back when I had time to do the research and no children in college, I found investing our extra money to be stimulating and fun. Now that we need that money for little things like food, gas and tuition, we decided my hobby was best left to people who actually knew what they were doing. So we went to a place that specializes in investments. The investment broker we visited was an older gentleman, well-coiffed and dressed to the nines. His cologne and cufflinks only accentuated the fact that he was dressed… professionally.
I realize the way people dress has nothing to do with their actual qualifications. A white coat does nothing more for my healthcare than cufflinks do for my money. But for some reason, we instinctively associate a person’s dress with their professionalism and competence. In other words, most of us probably wouldn’t entrust our life’s savings to a man sporting a faux-hawk and a soul patch. Graphic T-shirts and checkered Vans are authoritative for a good latte—not necessarily a gallbladder laparoscopy.
Since there is such a natural tendency to associate professionalism, competence and aptitude with the way a person is dressed, why do so many people feel they have to dress like a hipster before they can preach the Word? When people desire the answers to eternal questions, are they more inclined to trust a person dressed like someone who occupies Wall Street or who actually works there?
Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not saying that everyone who preaches and teaches the Bible should dress like Al Mohler. How preachers dress is largely cultural. While I am not saying that preachers and Bible teachers have to live in a coat and tie and wear wing-tipped footie PJs, neither do they have to don a hipster costume to try and become relevant. People are looking more for competence than relevance.
The whole world is relevant—people don’t need any more relevance. Instead, they need someone who will competently show them the Gospel. People need someone who can transcend relevance and lead them to Christ—the One who can save them from their futally relevant existence.
Bankers, brokers, doctors and a host of other professionals realize they don't have to be hip to be heard. Why do so many preachers and teachers of God’s Word fail to realize that?
Today's time hearing from God is in Nehemiah 12. Lord, thank You for showing us that You know the names of the average Joe people whom You use in Your plan; use me (v. 1-26). Shape me so others can rightly refer to me as a "man of God" (v. 24). Give me a heart to celebrate what You accomplish through me (v. 27) and purify me (v. 30). Give me great joy today from serving You and let the nations hear my joy in You (v. 43).
He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!
(Habakkuk 3:17-19, HCSB)
That is the text I preached this past Sunday. Actually, that’s the text I started from—I preached the whole book of Habakkuk. I suppose it would have been more upbeat to preach a message of success and prosperity for the New Year, but that wasn’t what the Lord intended. Instead, it was a message of perseverance and endurance.
None of us knows what awaits us in the coming year—just like this time last year, none of us knew what 2011 had in store for us. Yes, there were wonderful things that happened. But there were very difficult things that happened as well. I know many people had to endure unimaginable things in 2011.
The fact is, many of us will have to endure unimaginable things this coming year. Maybe you will. Maybe I will. Habakkuk realized there might not be any enjoyable delicacies (figs) in the coming year. There might not be any dietary staples (grapes). There might not even be any necessities (olives). He said he might not even have any way to produce food for himself or his family (fields). Things might get so bad that he wouldn’t have any clothes, money or way to make a living (sheep and cattle).
However you might look at it, Habakkuk was allowing for the possibility of a rough year ahead. But what did he predetermine his response was going to be? No matter if the absolute worst year imaginable happened, he was going to praise the Lord. The only way he was going to be able to do that was because he heard the Lord when He reminded him that He is in control (Habakkuk 2:20).
In this coming year, God is still on His throne. Nothing will happen in 2012 that will surprise Him or make Him have to scramble to have to try and fix things. When, through the finished work of Christ on the cross, you trust God (Habakkuk 2:4b; Romans 1:16-17), He has promised that He’s going to work it all together for good (Romans 8:28), and He will give you the strength you need to be able to praise Him through it—no matter what happens to you.
Even though it wasn’t a New Year cheerleader, pep-rally type sermon, it preached well. The Spirit attended the preaching of His Word and people responded well. But there is an inherent danger in preaching the Word. Many times, God finds a way to verify the message through the life of the messenger. Late Sunday afternoon, with tear-filled eyes, my wife looked up at me and said, “Well, that didn’t take long.”
Even before the service that morning, I received word that a dear friend had passed away on Saturday. His memorial service was to be Monday afternoon, which meant a 1200 mile turnaround for me over the next few days. It would be difficult to see the grieving family, but they are wonderful, have a loving church family and have the assurance of their loved one’s presence with the Lord.
The real message verification would come later in the afternoon as we found out that my father-in-law’s liver disease has progressed to the point that he will probably not make it through the next several days. Over Christmas, what he thought was a stomach virus turned out to be rapid degeneration of his liver. As he is not eligible to receive a liver transplant, he has basically been told that there is nothing they can do except “make him comfortable.” Morphine is comfortable for no one.
To say the least, days 1-4 of 2012 have not been the most enjoyable start to the New Year. But they have served to confirm the message I preached on Sunday. “The Lord is in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence.” Nothing surprises Him. Nothing makes Him have to scramble for a new plan. My all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving God is completely and totally in control, and is working it all together for my good and His glory. Because of that, I will triumph in Him. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. He is my strength.
Today we're going to add a new feature to Deep Riches Blog. There are far too many good blog articles for most people to keep up with, even with Google Reader and all the other RSS readers that are out there. I keep up with several blogs, so rather than keep all the good stuff to myself, I will periodically post a list of links to the most intriguing articles I've been reading.
Just because I post a link doesn't mean that I endorse everything the author is saying--but for some reason the article intrigues me and I trust it will intrigue you. By no means am I being original in this idea. The best examples are Tim Challies' A La Carte, and Trevin Wax's Worth a Look. Both of those are posted daily. I will not attain such regularity--once or twice a week will be the best that I can hope for. I will try to not duplicate their excellent efforts and I will draw from both the "big names" and the lesser-known writers. With that being said, here are some links that are worth a Double-Take:
9Marks eJournal: Don't Be Too Cool for Sunday School
For years, all of the really smart people have been telling the rest of us that Sunday School is "sooo last century." Ed Stetzer uses the occasion of the latest 9 Marks eJournal to aggregate several web articles that tell a different story. Excellent discussion material for those of us who love Sunday School.
Every person who has ever sat with a friend or family member and failed to share the Gospel because they were "uncomfortable" needs to read this post by Tim Challies.
Can She Ever Run Again?
With news today that Cooperative Program giving is 7% behind last year's pace, this is a very timely article by Micah Fries
With the current state of many local churches, some people are opting out of corporate worship altogether and "just" following Jesus. What does it mean to be "just" a follower of Jesus?
How to Stone People Without the Inconvenience of Picking Up Rocks
In the Southern Baptist circles in which I travel, church discipline is one of the least practiced and most misunderstood aspects of the local church. Byron Yawn makes a great argument that church discipline is a necessary part of what makes for a loving community.
Living in "Idiotville"
Cal Thomas talks about Daniel J. Flynn's book "Blue Collar Intellectuals"--a sad commentary on the state of the mind in America today.
Lane Corley sets zero as his most challenging numerical goal for 2012.
Today's time being reshaped by the Word is in Nehemiah 11. Lord, make me so willing to do Your kingdom work that I volunteer for the work instead of having to be asked (11:1-2). Make me willing to leave what is familiar to be used by You (11:3).
Today, let Nehemiah 10 transform your thinking, wanting, and doing. Loving God, I put my name on the list of those who "make a firm promise" to obey You (v. 1-29). Let my faith in You make me different than the lost around me (v. 30). I commit not to treat as common/average that which You have called holy (v. 31). I will sacrifice to keep the temple (my body) holy (v. 32). Make me faithful to do my part in Your work (v. 34-37). I commit to offer at least a tithe to You (v. 38) since all I have is from You.
Today we shape our thinking to be like God's from Nehemiah 9. My God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who keeps His promise and always acts in love (9:32), let me be broken over my rebellions (9:1). Help me to spend much time in Your Word, prayer, and worship (9:3). Make my speech to show Your greatness (9:5). Lead me today clearly (9:12). Don't allow me to be stiff-necked (9:16). Thank You for being quick to forgive and so patient with me (9:17). Don't let me become so content in Your gifts that I forget You (9:25-26). Send suffering into my life to turn me from sin (9:27). Help me be convinced that my ways are wrong and Your way is right (9:33). Please make me stable in obeying You.
How many parents think that parenting is an absolute joy? Contrast that number with how many parents would settle for even a little joy. The Apostle John has just told his spiritual children that he tells them all about his firsthand knowledge of Christ so that they can think, want, and work along with him, and with God (ie, have fellowship).
What reason would you give for wanting your teen to think, want, and work like Christ, with you? Would you want it for your teen’s peace, purpose, or holiness? In verse four, John revealed his unexpected motive for wanting them to have fellowship with him and with God. John helped them have fellowship with him and with God so that his own “joy may be complete.”
Although John gave many reasons later on in his message (2:12-13; 5:13), the first reason he gave was that he wanted his own joy to be perfected. This reason implied that when his children were not thinking, wanting, and working in unison (fellowship) with him, his joy was incomplete. We all live for joy. We make decisions according to what we think will make us the happiest. John tells us clearly that, as parents, our joy will be lacking if we do not do everything we can to help our teens think, want, and work like Christ, with us. Are you lacking joy in your parenting? Are you working to make your joy full in a worldly way, or after John’s example?
If God is all powerful,there can only be one God since there cannot be two "most powerful" beings. Any religion that affirms multiple gods really views their gods as less than what what God is by definition, all-powerful. I choose the God who does not have to share His power with another. Why choose a lesser power or risk choosing a God who might have the potential of being defeated?
The famous athiest, Bertrand Russell, wrote in his "Why I am not a Christian," that all religions cannot be true since they affirm different things. Since two opposing truths cant both be true, there must be only one true religion and all others must be false. Christianity says that there is only one true religion. Any religion that affirms many possible true religions must be wrong.
Christianity is different from all other world religions in that all other religions require the individual to be saved by his/her own good works. In Christianity, one is saved by Christ's righteousness given as a gift when one chooses to rely on His gift by faith. If there can be only one true religion, and since all other religions are "saved by works" religions, the one that is distinct, Christianity, must be the true one.
One of the most common concerns of parents is that their teens seem to be on an entirely different page than that of the parents. Some of this problem can be attributed to the generation gap. But Christ intended the church to be many generations in a single unified body. So the generation gap, by itself, cannot be an insurmountable obstacle to fellowship.
In 1 John 1:3, the aged apostle John told his spiritual children in the church all he knew of Christ “so that” they might have fellowship with him (John). The “so that” clause identifies the very source of his connection with them. What was the source? First, John had fellowship with the Father and the Son. John’s way of thinking, wanting, and living was in line with God’s. Fellowship IS this unity of mind, heart, and life.
Second, John declared to his spiritual children everything that he knew as a result of his fellowship with the Father and the Son. He declared and lived-out God’s mind and heart so that he might have enduring fellowship with his children.
So why is there such a disconnect (lack of fellowship) between parents and teens? John’s fellowship with His children was based on the unchanging reality of Christ. Parents try desperately to foster a connection with their teens based on so many temporary realities like sports, school, teen romance, driving, teen’s emotions, parents’ emotions, successes, etc.
Until parents have fellowship with God (thinking, wanting, and living in Him) and until teens see this fellowship clearly, teens will either be ignorant of it or find it unbelievable. When parents ways become God’s ways, teens are more likely to understand God’s ways, find them credible, and parents will share the most intimate of connections with their teens. . .the growth toward godliness, and God doesn’t change. While this parent/teen fellowship is not automatic, there is no hope for it apart from an ever-growing unity with God made clear to our teens.
Lose weight, get in shape, get organized, do a daily devotion, go to church more, read my Bible. Those are typical of the resolutions many Christians will make this New Year. I have heard many people opine on the futility of making New Year's resolutions, but I'm not so sure they are as useless as we might think. Jonathan Edwards certainly didn't think so. When he was just a young man, he committed to the following resolutions. Judging by the quality of his life and how he was (and is still being) used by the Lord, I would say he faithfully stuck to his committment. As we take the time to read his resolutions, maybe we need to consider that the inherent problem with resolutions is not in the making of them. Maybe the problem is with the quality of the resolutions we make. Maybe we need to quit worrying so much about the exercise bike and begin to focus on the Lord of all creation.
RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS
"Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week
1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
2. Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things.
3. Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it.
5. Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30.
9. Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, When I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, When I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.
12. Resolved, If I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, To be endeavouring to find out fit objects of liberality and charity.
14. Resolved, Never to do any thing out of revenge.
15. Resolved, Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
16. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonour, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
17. Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, To live so, at all times, as I think is best in my most devout frames, and when I have the clearest notions of the things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trump.
20. Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
22. Resolved, To endeavour to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigour, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
23. Resolved, Frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs, and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the fourth Resolution.
24. Resolved, Whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavour to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
25. Resolved, To examine carefully and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, To cast away such things as I find do abate my assurance.
27. Resolved, Never wilfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession which I cannot hope God will accept.
30. Resolved, To strive every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, Never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of christian honour, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said any thing against any one, to bring it to, and try it strictly by, the test of this Resolution.
32. Resolved, To be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Prov. 20:6. ‘A faithful man, who can find?’ may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, To do always what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
34. Resolved, In narrations, never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.
35. Resolved, Whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
36. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call to it. Dec. 19, 1722.
37. Resolved, To inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent,—what sin I have committed,—and wherein I have denied myself;—also, at the end of every week, month, and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.
38. Resolved, Never to utter any thing that is sportive, or matter of laughter, on a Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
39. Resolved, Never to do any thing, of which I so much question the lawfulness, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. Resolved, To inquire every night before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, To ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
42. Resolved, Frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism, which I solemnly renewed when I was received into the communion of the church, and which I have solemnly re-made this 12th day of January, 1723.
43. Resolved, Never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s; agreeably to what is to be found in Saturday, Jan. 12th. Jan. 12, 1723.
44. Resolved, That no other end but religion shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan. 12, 1723.
45. Resolved, Never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12 and 13, 1723.
46. Resolved, Never to allow the least measure of any fretting or uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved, to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye; and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, To endeavour, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving, and sincere, temper; and to do, at all times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at the end of every week, whether I have so done. Sabbath morning, May 5, 1723.
48. Resolved, Constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, That this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, That I will act so, as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51. Resolved, That I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
53. Resolved, To improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
54. Resolved, Whenever I hear anything spoken in commendation of any person, if I think it would be praise-worthy in me, that I will endeavour to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, To endeavour, to my utmost, so to act, as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
56. Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, When I fear misfortunes and adversity, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be just as Providence orders it. I will, as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.
58. Resolved, Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, When I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 11, and July 13.
60. Resolved, Whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723.
61. Resolved, That I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it—that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, &c. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
62. Resolved, Never to do any thing but my duty, and then, according to Eph. 6:6–8. to do it willingly and cheerfully, as unto the Lord, and not to man: knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord. June 25, and July 13, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, To act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14, and July 13, 1723.
64. Resolved, When I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered," of which the apostle speaks, and those "breathings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20. that I will promote them to the utmost of my power; and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavouring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and Aug. 10, 1723.
65. Resolved, Very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness of which I am capable, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him, all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance, according to Dr. Manton’s Sermon on the cxix Psalm. July 26, and Aug. 10, 1723.
66. Resolved, That I will endeavour always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking, in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them; and, what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, To confess frankly to myself, all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
69. Resolved, Always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.
70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723."