O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire Thee with our whole heart; that, so desiring, we may seek, and seeking find Thee; and so finding Thee may love Thee; and in loving Thee, may hate those sins from which Thou hast redeemed us.
God thirsts to be thirsted after.
It may well be that [we are] denied triumph after triumph because we will not bring to Christ what we have and what we are. If, just as we are, we would lay ourselves on the altar of service of Jesus Christ, there is no saying what Christ could do with us and through us. We may be sorry and embarrassed that we have not more to bring – and rightly so, but that is not reason for failing or refusing to bring what we have and what we are. Little is always much in the hands of Christ.
Nothing else but the habitual and predominant devotion and dedication of soul, and body, and life, and all that we have to God; and esteeming and loving, and serving, and seeking Him, before all the pleasures and prosperity of the flesh.
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 139.
Be much alone with God. Do not put Him off with a quarter of an hour morning and evening. Take time to get thoroughly acquainted. Talk everything over with Him. Pour out every thought, feeling, wish, plan, and doubt to Him. He wants converse with His creatures. Shall His creatures not want converse with Him? He wants, not merely to be on “good terms” with you, if one may use man’s phrase, but to be intimate. Shall you decline the intimacy and be satisfied with mere acquaintance? What! Intimate with the world, with friends, with neighbors, but not with God? That would look ill indeed. Folly, to prefer the clay to the potter, the marble to the sculptor, this little earth and its lesser creatures to the mighty Maker of the universe, the great “All and in all!”
We can build Godlike character only upon the foundation of a whole-hearted devotion to God. God must be the very focal point of our lives if we wish to have godly character and conduct. This point cannot be overemphasized. Too many of us focus on the outward structure of character and conduct without taking the time to build the inward foundation of devotion to God. This often results in a cold morality or legalism, or even worse, self-righteousness and spiritual pride… Godly character flows out of devotion to God and practically confirms the reality of that devotion.
The Practice of Godliness, NavPress, 1996, p. 54, 55, 56, www.navpress.com. Used by Permission. Get this book!
So often we try to develop Christian character and conduct without taking the time to develop God-centered devotion. We try to please God without taking the time to walk with Him and develop a relationship with Him. This is impossible to do.
The Practice of Godliness, NavPress, 1996, p. 14, www.navpress.com. Used by Permission.
For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by His fatherly care, that He is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond Him — they will never yield Him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in Him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to Him.
Prayer is the acid test of devotion.
You see, if we hold back one tiny speck, we are not yielded. There are no degrees of “yieldedness.” It is all or nothing. If we say that we are yielded in every single area of our life, but are holding back in one tiny area, then we are not yielded. A burnt offering is totally burnt. You do not get a leg to keep for yourself. If we hold back one tiny speck from the Lord, we have not put our all on the altar! Others may never know, but God does. We may LOOK quite spiritual, but if we are holding back “just a little,” we are not yielded. When we put self on the altar, we are reckoning self to be dead – not sick, or lame, or almost dead, but DEAD! Death knows no degrees. We are to put our ALL on the altar.
On January 12, 1723, I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to be himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed to take God 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: engaging to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil, to the end of my life.
I have this day solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed when I was received into the communion of the church. 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 myself, I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me; neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members: no right to this tongue, these hands, nor feet: no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell or taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained anything as my own. I have been to God this morning, and told Him that I gave myself wholly to Him. I have given every power to Him; so that for the future I will challenge no right in myself, in any respect.
“Extractions from his Private Diary,” Jonathan Edwards: A Profile, Hill and Wang, 1969, p. 12-13.
Our obligation to love, honor and obey any being is in direct proportion to that being’s loveliness, honorableness and authority. Since God is of infinite loveliness, infinite honor and infinite authority our obligation to Him is infinite.
God, I pray Thee, light thee idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like You, Lord Jesus.
[Sarah Edwards] did not permit this soul communion to interfere with her daily duties and tasks, but somewhere in her busy schedule there was always time for a quiet walk with God. The children early learned to respect their father’s study hours, but they also recognized these times which were necessary for their mother, these moments when she needed to be alone to lose herself in God. They sensed their mother was Martha; but also she was Mary who sat at the feet of her Lord.
When all were in their places Father said grace and, excusing himself, left the family to retire to his study. He frequently spent thirteen hours a day studying. He managed this amazing amount of time by husbanding every hour of the day. He usually arose at four in the morning, indulging himself in the later rising time of five in the winter. In this way he was far along in his studies while the household slept. He preferred to eat alone, usually certain foods which he had by experimentation discovered kept his mind and body most sprightly. This morning he did not eat the rich menu which Venus set before the rest of the household, the home-cured bacon and the delicious hot breads. But at the end of the meal, he rejoined his family for morning devotions.
[Jonathan Edwards wrote of Sarah], “They say there is a young lady in (New Haven) who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him… she has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in their affection… you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful… She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind…. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.”
Am I robbing God of time? How easy to do, and how impossible to repay! We have lost the sacred art of spending time with God, and nothing else can ever take its place. No repentance however deep, no restitution however costly, no sorrow however complete, can do away with the necessity for a daily time of sacred quiet, alone with God.
The height of devotion is reached when reverence and contemplation produce passionate worship, which in turn breaks forth in thanksgiving and praise in word and song.
Disciplines of a Godly Man, Crossway Books, 1991, p. 90. Get this book!
If you stop and ask yourself why you are not so devoted as the (early) Christians, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.
He therefore is the devout man who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life parts of piety by doing everything in the name of God and under such rules as are conformable to His glory."
For my part, my soul is like a hungry and thirsty child; and I need His love and consolation for my refreshment. I am a wandering and lost sheep; and I need Him as a good and faithful shepherd. My soul is like a frightened dove pursued by the hawk; and I need His wounds for a refuge. I am a feeble vine; and I need His cross to lay hold of, and to wind myself about. I am a sinner, and I need His righteousness. I am naked and bare; and I need His holiness and innocence for a covering. I am ignorant, and I need His teaching; simple and foolish, and I need the guidance of His Holy Spirit. In no situation, and at no time, can I do without Him. Do I pray? He must prompt, and intercede for me. Am I arraigned by Satan at the divine tribunal. He must be my Advocate. Am I in affliction? He must be my Helper. Am I persecuted by the world? He must defend me. When I am forsaken, He must be my support; when I am dying, my life; when moldering in the grave, my Resurrection. Well, then, I will rather part with all the world, and all that it contains, than with Thee, my Savior.
What you are when you are alone with God, that you are – and nothing more. You may make a great show of love and faith in church, singing like Pavarotti or attracting the masses to your profound Sunday school lectures. But if there is no private communion between you and Jesus – frequent and deep communion – then your religion is worthless.
The Enemy Within, P&R Publishing, 1998, 119. Get this book!
We cannot give God anything; for everything is already His, and all we have comes from Him. We can only give Him praise, thanks, and honor.
No one can sum up all God is able to accomplish through one solitary life, wholly yielded, adjusted, and obedient to Him.
Devotion signifies a life given, or devoted to God. He therefore is the devout (godly) man, who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life, parts of piety (godliness), by doing everything in the name of God, and under such rules as are conformable to His Glory.
I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack, please. I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please (Wilbur Reese).
The world has yet to see what God can do through a man wholly consecrated to Him (Henry Varley).
Day by day, dear Lord, of Thee three things I pray: To see Thee more clearly, To love Thee more dearly, To follow Thee more nearly (Richard of Chichester).
Quoted in: Sinclair Ferguson, A Heart for God, 1987, p. xi, by permission Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA.
Nothing less than a living sacrifice is demanded. Not a loan, but a gift; not a compromise, but a sacrifice; not our poorest, but our best. Not a dead but a living offering. Each drop of our blood, each ounce of our energy, each throb of our heart, we must offer to God.
Quoted by Curtis C. Thomas, Practical Wisdom for Pastors, Crossway Books, 2001, p. 133. Used by Permission.
Finishing life to the glory of Christ means resolutely resisting the typical American dream of retirement. It means being so satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Christ that we are set free from the cravings that create so much emptiness and uselessness in retirement. Instead, knowing that we have an infinitely satisfying and everlasting inheritance in God just over the horizon of life makes us zealous in our few remaining years here to spend ourselves in the sacrifices of love, not the accumulation of comforts.
Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ, Crossway Books, 2008, p. 6.
If God would grant us the vision, the word “sacrifice” would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short; we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ. May God help us to judge ourselves by the eternities that separate the Aucas from a comprehension of Christmas, and Him, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor so that we might, through His poverty, be made rich. Lord God, speak to my own heart and give me to know Thy holy will and the joy of walking in it. Amen.
Salvation is not a decision; rather it’s a faith commitment to follow Jesus.
We do not segment our lives, giving some time to God, some to our business or schooling, while keeping parts to ourselves. The idea is to give all of our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and for the honor and glory of God. That is what the Christian life is all about.
I wish that saints would cling to Christ half as earnestly as sinners cling to the devil. If we were as willing to suffer for God as some are willing to suffer for their lusts, what perseverance and zeal would be seen on all sides!
Nearness to God brings likeness to God. The more you see God the more of God will be seen in you.
We want personal consecration. I have heard that word pronounced purse and all consecration, a most excellent pronunciation. He who loves Jesus consecrates to Him all that he has, and feels it a delight that he may lay anything at the feet of Him who laid down his life for us.
Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.
Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt. Send me where Thou wilt, and work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.
The idea of being on fire for Christ will strike some people as dangerous emotionalism. “Surely,” they will say, “We are not meant to go to extremes? You are not asking us to become hot-gospel fanatics?” Well, wait a minute. It depends what you mean. If by “fanaticism” you really mean “wholeheartedness,” then Christianity is a fanatical religion and every Christian should be a fanatic. But fanaticism is not wholeheartedness, nor is wholeheartedness fanaticism. Fanaticism is an unreasoning and unintelligent wholeheartedness. It is the running away of the heart with the head. At the end of a statement prepared for a conference on science, philosophy and religion at Princeton University in 1940 came these words: “Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action; but reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.” What Jesus Christ desires and deserves is the reflection which leads to commitment and the commitment which is born of reflection. This is the meaning of wholeheartedness, of being aflame for God.
Do not have your concert first and tune your instruments afterward. Begin the day with God.
My son, say thou thus in everything: “Lord, if this be pleasing unto Thee, let it be so. Lord, if it be to Thy honor, in Thy name let this be done. Lord, if Thou seest it good, and allowest it to be profitable for me, then grant unto me that I may use this to Thine honor. But if Thou knowest it will be harmful unto me, and no profit to the health of my soul, take away any such desire from me.”
He who has God and everything else does not have more than He who has God alone.
I am a disciple of the Messiah. I will not let up, look back or slow down. My past is redeemed, my future is secure. I am done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, mundane talking, chincy giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised or rewarded. My face is set; my goal is sure. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few. My God is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, delayed or deluded. I will not flinch in the face of adversity, not negotiate at the table of the enemy or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I am a disciple of the Messiah. I must go until He comes, speak of all I know of Him and work until He stops me. And when He comes for His own, by the grace of God, He will have no problem recognizing me, because my colors are clear.
I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for You or laid aside for You, exalted for You or brought low for You; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
[His] heart is ever lifted up to God at all times and in all places. In this he is never hindered, much less interrupted, by any person or thing. In retirement or company, in leisure, business, or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord. Whether he lie down or rise up, God is in all his thoughts; he walks with God continually, having the loving eye of his mind still fixed upon Him, and everywhere “seeing him that is invisible.”
Oh that God would give me the thing which I long for! That before I go hence and am no more seen, I may see a people wholly devoted to God, crucified to the world, and the world crucified to them. A people truly given up to God in body, soul and substance! How cheerfully would I then say, ‘Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.’
The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration. A saint is not a man without faults, but a man who has given himself without reserve to God.
[A true heart is] a heart which expresses completely the devotion of the whole person to God. There is not divided allegiance, no reserve of feeling.