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Obedience

"[Obedience] is the submissive performance of the will of God for the glory of God.  It holds the will of God as a pattern and a rule, as shown by the words of Christ which both describe our observance (Mt. 6:10) and explain his own (Mt. 26:39, 42)."

"The principle efficient cause of [obedience] as an inner, abiding principle is indirectly faith and directly sanctifying grace."

"Our [obedience] is nothing else than gratitude owed to God, and is rightly explained by theologians under that title."

"The law of God …does not have the justifying power it had in the original state of integrity nor the condemning power it had in the state of sin.  But it does have the force and vigor of a directing power; and it also retains a certain force of condemnation, for it reproves and condemns sin in the faithful (although it cannot wholly condemn the faithful themselves because they are not under the law but under grace.)"

Source: William Ames The Marrow of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), 219-221.

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In our best duties we have defilement, Isa. 64:6. Self, unbelief, form, drop themselves into all that we do. We may be ashamed of our choicest performances. God hath promised that the saints’ good works shall follow them. Truly, were they to be measured by the rule as they come from us, and weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it might be well for us that they might be buried for ever. But the Lord Christ first, as our high priest, bears the iniquity, the guilt, and provocation, which in severe justice doth attend them, Exod. 28:38; and not only so, but he washes away all their filth and defilements.

source: John Owen, Of Communion with God

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Contentment is a disposition of the heart that freely and joyfully submits to God’s will, whatever that will may be. (p.28)

Contentment and idolatry don’t mix well. Putting off idolatrous is the first step toward contentment. It’s impossible to be content in God and worship something other than God at the same time. It just can’t happen. And so the first step in finding joy is to kill the things that are killing you. It’s never easy and is usually excruciating. But the sweet fruit of contentment can only blossom after you have ripped out the weeds. (p.44)

You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.            source: Augustine’s Confessions

In the gospel we have full, free, open access to God. This isn’t “come once a year, kill a lamb, and hope you don’t die” access to God. We don’t need to whip ourselves into a twirling religious frenzy or to light sticks of incense. There’s no need to walk ten miles with broken glass in our shoes or wash ourselves clean in a sacred river. We can come into the presence of God at all times and at all places.

This is the greatest benefit of the gospel. Forgiveness of sins, a new heart, and eternal life are only a means to this magnificent end. Jesus Christ ushers us into the presence of God, and it’s in the presence of God that we find our soul’s deepest satisfaction. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

A speedboat, job promotion, or beautiful, loving spouse who likes long walks on the beach can’t bring fullness of joy. Eternal pleasures can’t be purchased with a platinum credit card. Full, overflowing, eternal joy and pleasure are found only in the presence of God, and in the gospel we have access to his joyful presence. …

If we want contentment we need to spend time, much time, lingering in the presence of God. We need to go to the place where contentment is found, to regularly drink from the fountain of joy. We need to let our eyes pour over the pages of sacred Scripture and to listen closely as God speaks to our hearts. … If we’re not consistently spending time in the presence of God, we won’t be content. Period. (pp.65-66)

When we complain, we’re loudly saying that the blessings of the gospel aren’t enough. We’re saying that the death of Christ isn’t enough.  We’re saying that eternal fellowship with God, purchased at great cost to God, isn’t enough to satisfy our souls. … The only way to cut the nerve of complaining is to regularly and actively remember and savor and apply the gospel. (p.72)

Contentment happens when I realize that I have so much more than I deserve. (p.112)

Contentment happens when, through faith, you see the treasure waiting for you. (p.126)

Your futile house projects are a reminder that you’re not home yet. Your constant battle with depression is a reminder that soon the gloom will lift. You’re frustration with your job is a reminder that soon you’ll be able to enjoy work as you were always meant to do. … We can be content now because we know that very soon all our longings will be satisfied. (pp.137-138)

 

Source: Stephen Altrogge, The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence (Crossway, 2011)

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If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.

source: George D. Watson, an early 20th century Wesleyan minister.

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The way we dress as Christians should not scream: "Sex!" or "Pride!" or "Wealth!", but rather testify to purity, humility and moderation.

source: Lenora Hammond

http://www.christianaction.org.za/articles_ca/2004-3-ModestyTheUndressingOfOurYouth.htm

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