Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

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Resolutions

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This series makes up today's Revive Our Hearts Weekend program:

Resolutions for a New Year

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Dannah Gresh: Jonathan Edwards would say that our New Year's resolutions need to be centered on bringing God glory.

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, but what tends to the glory of God.

Dannah: Was that as convicting for you as it was for me? Today we’ll talk about setting resolutions. 

Welcome to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh. Well, we made it to the beginning of January 2022! Whew!

Maybe you spent all last week perfecting your list for New Year’s resolutions. I don’t do a ton of resolute list-making. There’s just one thing I usually focus on resetting, but it’s a big one. More on that later! But lots of us are setting goals this week.

Last year, the magazine Better Homes and Gardens listed off the top resolutions for 2021. Here are a few things that made the top of our list in the United States of America: 

  • cooking one new thing each week 
  • reading more
  • eating veggies regularly
  • drinking enough water
  • volunteering
  • taking more walks
  • making the bed every morning, 

Now, maybe you’re just not thinking through what you should do yet, or maybe you’re the person who ignores it altogether, cause those resolutions just don’t seem to stick for you. I get it, and I’m not judging at all. But let’s consider if there’s maybe one thing that should get some attention.

A few years back Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth spent some time at the beginning of a new year talking us through what kinds of things we should be resolved in, things like: be intentional in our lives. Intentional, after all, that is what Jonathan Edwards did. Edwards was a preacher, thinker and author in the eighteenth century. One of the things he was known for was once writing a list of resolutions—seventy to be exact. Whoa! And he did this, wrote this list of seventy resolutions, when he was a teenager. And this list guided his way of pursuing Christlikeness for years to come.

Let’s listen to Nancy and a fictional Jonathan Edwards, together they’ll work through a few of his resolutions. Resolutions that might be helpful for us today as we strive to become more Christlike.

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved: Never to give over, or in the least to slacken in my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: As you read his resolutions, you see that he had one supreme purpose. He was going to live purposefully. He identified what was his purpose in life. The thing that comes shining through as a thread in these resolutions is that he realized that he existed for the glory of God. This was what moved him and motivated him and drove him even as a young man.

Let me read to you a couple of those resolutions. He said,

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved: Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, but what tends to the glory of God.

Resolved: That I will do whatsoever I think will be most to the glory of God.

Resolved: To do so whatever difficulties I meet with, no matter how many or how great those difficulties.

Nancy: He said that no matter what happens in my life, no matter how hard it is, I want to live my life for the glory of God. Isn't that what the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, do everything to the glory of God."

Edwards' biographer made some on these resolutions. On this point he said that "Edwards had an earnest concern for the glory of God. The grand object for which he desired to live, both upon earth and heaven. And object compared to which all other things seemed in his view but triffles." Nothing else seemed important to him next to this matter of living and dying for the glory of God.

He said that "if this were attained either in life or death, on earth or in heaven, his life brought glory to God, then all his desires were satisfied. But if this was lost or imperfectly gained, if he failed through his life to bring glory to God, then his soul was filled with anguish."

You say, “How does this live out—this matter of living to the glory of God?” Well, some of his resolutions show the very practical way that he envisioned living life for the glory of God. For example, in his use of time, he said, “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it or use it or maximize it in the most profitable way I possibly can.”

He realized that one day in eternity he would be giving an account to God for how he used his time here on earth, and he wanted to be able to look back and to say, “God, I have glorified You with what I did with the moments You gave me here on earth.”

He wanted to live wholeheartedly. He knew this would bring glory to God, so there’s a sense of earnestness that comes through in these resolutions. He said,

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved: To live with all my might while I do live.

Nancy: Can you imagine most eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds that you know thinking that way? Can you imagine most of us thinking that way? Once we settle the issue of why we’re living, all of life takes on a different perspective. Once we settle the issue that:

  • It’s not about me.
  • It’s not about my convenience.
  • It’s not about my comfort.
  • It’s not about my happiness.
  • It’s not about who likes me, who accepts me.
  • It’s not about, “Am I fulfilled in what I’m doing here in life?”
  • It is all that matters is that God is glorified, that He is pleased with my life.

Then we can endure and bear up under circumstances and challenges that we might not otherwise be able to face if we know that, “My sole purpose for living is to bring glory to God.”

So Edwards resolved to live purposefully, to live an intentional life. As part of that, we then see that he resolved to live a growing life—not just to stay where he was spiritually, but to keep pressing on, to keep seeking new heights in his relationship with the Lord.

He knew that the study of the Scripture was an important part of living a growing life, and that that was how he would bring glory to God. So he said, “Resolved: To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently that I may find myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”

That reminds me of what Peter said in the end of his second epistle. He said, “Grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (3:18). And then the next line, “To Him be glory.” How do we bring God glory on this earth? By growing in our knowledge of Him, our understanding of His ways.

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved to strive every week to be brought higher spiritually and to a higher level of grace than I was the week before.”

Nancy: Now that’s a challenge to me. As I was reading his resolutions last night, I found myself wondering, “Am I further ahead spiritually this week than I was this time last week?” How about you? Have you grown in grace, in your knowledge of Christ, in your knowledge of His Word in the last week? Have you grown in the last month?

Think about where you were a year ago as you look back over this past year. Can you say, “I’ve grown spiritually. I know more of the heart and the ways of God. I’ve grown in grace. I’m not where I want to be. I’m not where, by God’s grace, I’m going to be. But by God’s grace, I’m further in my walk with Him and in my ability to glorify Him than I was this time last year.”

  • Do you love Him more?
  • Do you know Him more?
  • Are you pleasing Him more with your life?
  • Are you growing in your walk with God?

Have you settled the issue? Edwards did. He said that the purpose of my life is all that really matters.

I want to look at some of the other resolutions he made. I saw that it was very important to Jonathan Edwards to live and examined life.  Edwards purposed to live an examined life—an examined life, to keep bringing his life under the scrutiny of the Word and the Spirit of God. He didn’t want to take it for granted that everything was okay in his life. He purposed really to live an accountable life—to be accountable to God for where he was in his spiritual walk. Let me read to you some of the resolutions that show this purpose to live an examined life.

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved: To inquire every night as I’m going to bed wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself, and not just every night, but also at the end of every week, month, and year.

Nancy: He said, “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.” He said, “At the end of every day, it’s important to me to look back on the day and see if I have been temperate in my eating and drinking habits.”

You say, “Why should that be something that we should examine every night. I’m not sure I want to think about this before I go to bed every night.” But Edwards realized that if he was going to give glory to God, which was his supreme purpose in life, that it mattered that he would eat and drink to the glory of God. So he said, “Every night before I go to bed, I’m going to let God search my heart.”

Resolved: Constantly, with the utmost diligence and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest or a part in Christ or not, so that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.” What was Edwards saying? He said, “On a regular basis, constantly and diligently, I’m going to examine my heart to make sure that I am in Christ.”

We have a theology today in our country that pretty much says, “If you pray this prayer, you receive Christ. You’ve got eternal security; you will never be separated from Christ.” Then we kind of forget about the whole matter of our salvation. But the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “Examine yourselves" (11:27), not just once, but repeatedly, and make sure that you are in the faith.

Our churches are loaded with people who think they can live any way they want to live, giving in to their flesh, living in perpetual, habitual sin. But they are banking their eternal security on the fact that they prayed some prayer, or they walked some aisle, or they signed on some dotted line at some meeting, or that their mother told them that they prayed this prayer when they were four years old. But there is no evidence in their life that they are in Christ. Edwards said, “I’m going to perpetually, constantly, with great rigor and scrutiny examine myself and make sure that there is evidence that I am in Christ.”

In the early days of our nation’s history, in order to become a member of a church, you didn’t just walk forward and say, “I want to join this church.” You didn’t just go to a three-week class on church membership. You had to give, and this was written into many of our early church constitutions, you had to give what they called “credible evidence” of conversion. And Edwards was saying, “I’m not going to take for granted something as important as the eternal condition of my soul.

Now, this doesn’t mean that he lived in fear that he would be separated from Christ. But he said, “I want to regularly evaluate and make sure that there is evidence that Christ lives in me and that I belong to Him.” He purposed to live an examined life.

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved: Whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within . . .

Nancy: . . . when my conscience is troubling me, even just a little bit, or I am aware of the least irregularity without, I see something in my actions, my external behavior, that isn’t consistent with the Word and the ways of God, what will I do?

Jonathan Edwards: I will subject myself to the strictest examination. 

I’m not going to let it go. I’m going to stop and say, "What’s the issue here? What is God trying to say to me? What is the need in my life?" I’m not just going to live this life that just exists, but I’m going to deal with the issues that God brings to my attention.

We do this physically. When we get symptoms of maybe a stomach problem or a head cold or we have physical symptoms, immediately we say, “What’s wrong?” And, “What can I do to fix this? What can I do to get at the root that is causing this symptom in my life?” But in our spiritual life, so many of us just ignore the symptoms. We just let them go. We overlook them. And Edwards says, “No. I’m not going to overlook these symptoms. I’m going to go back and say, ‘What do I need to deal with?’”

We do this in so many areas of our lives. There’s not a day that goes by that you and I don’t look in the mirror. I mean, we do. We want to know, “How do we look?” I do something—I don’t know if this is a good habit or not, but perhaps many of you can relate. I step on the scales every day. We get regular physical checkups, as we’ve already said. We get regular dental checkups—I have a dental appointment next week. In Michigan where I live, every four years you have to take a driver’s test, a written test to renew your driver’s license. The State of Michigan says you have to live an examined life. You don’t have to do that here? Maybe I’ll move.

I regularly reconcile my checkbook. I take my bank statement and put it up next to my checkbook. I want to see how I’m doing financially. I want to see that the money I think is in the bank actually is in the bank. So we take stock of how we’re doing financially, and in so many areas of our lives.

Edwards said, “That’s the kind of life I want to live spiritually." So daily, weekly, monthly, every year, I’m going to stop and look in the mirror, get on the scales, pull out the checkbook, and say, "Oh, God, search my heart. Try me. Know me. See if there be any wicked way in me.”

Jonathan Edwards: Being conscious that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly plead with Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these resolutions so far as they are agreeable to His will.

Listen to the entire episode, "Taking Aim." This program comes from the series, "Resolutions for a New Year."

Dannah: When we read Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions we see a man that lived a life on purpose. He was intentional with everything He did—especially his relationship with God. Edwards longed to live a growing life, an examined one. 

I’ve got to ask you: are you growing? Are you living an examined life? Nancy has compiled a thought-provoking pamphlet based on Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions, and we have that in our online store. You can find it when you go to ReviveOurHearts.com/weekend and click on today’s episode: "Resolutions."

You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh.

We are spending time today with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and she’s telling us how we can go about growing in our relationship with God. She is sharing Jonathan Edwards' resolutions that he wrote when he was just a teen. 

I think this next point that Nancy makes is so important, so maybe take a note or type it in your phone. You might want to come back to it later. Here’s Nancy again.

Nancy: Edwards purposed to live a holy life. He wanted to live a life that was not only positionally holy, knowing that when he came to faith in Christ that he’d been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, but also that he was practically living out that holiness that God had put within him. He wanted to know that it was being worked out in his daily life, and he purposed to live a life of practical personal holiness. This comes out in a number of his resolutions.

He said, for example, “Resolved: In narrations," that is, when I’m speaking, when I’m telling stories. "Resolved: Never to speak anything but the pure and simple truth.” It mattered to him that in his speech, in his words, that what he said in everything would be true.

The Lord has really challenged my own life and has made me increasingly sensitive to the truthfulness of every word that I speak. Those of you who know me well know that I frequently find myself having to back up and restate something that I just said. It's not always because I intended to say something that wasn’t true, but sometimes as the words come out of your mouth, you realize, “That’s not quite how it happened. That’s not quite how it was.”

The Lord has challenged me to purpose to speak the truth to every person in every situation, no matter what the cost. And when I don’t, to go back and restate it, to make it right.

Why is that important? Because God is truth, and if we want to be like Him, then there must be in us no shadow of turning, no variation, no hypocrisy—just purely speaking the truth. That was a matter of practical holiness for Jonathan Edwards.

Another matter of practical holiness that was important to him, was honoring the Lord's day. For him it was about living out the holiness that God had put within him. He said, which to most will sound very old-fashioned today, but I'm going to quote it anyway because it shows us the heart of believers who have lived in past generations. He said, "Resolved: Never to utter anything that is sportive or a matter of laughter on a Lord's day." Now, that sounds way far out to our modern ears.

But what was he saying? The Lord's day has been set apart for and consecrated for holy purposes. He said, "I'm going to consecrate myself and set apart that day for the Lord. It may sound like he was a man that lived in a straight jacket. "We can never laugh on Sunday!?" I think Edwards is referring to frivolity, to idle conversation, to things that don't matter, to wasting away the moments of the Lord's day, living the Lord's day for our own pleasure rather than for God's pleasure. When we live the Lord's day for His pleasure, we find that we really are refreshed and renewed, and the purpose of the Lord's day is fulfilled in our lives. To Edwards this was a matter of personal, practical holiness to set apart the Lord's day.

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved: Never to do anything of which I so much as question the lawfulness.”

Nancy: What’s he saying there? “If I have any question in my heart about whether what I’m about to do is acceptable to God and His Word, then I’m not going to do it. If there’s any doubt in my heart that this is biblically acceptable, that it’s lawful according to the Word of God, then I don’t want to do it.”

So many of us today try and see how close we can get to sin without getting caught up in it. “How far can I go before it’s sin? Is this okay? Is this okay?”

I wish we would today have the heart of some of our forebearers spiritually, men like Jonathan Edwards, who would say, “I don’t want to get as close to sin as I can. I don’t want to know how far I can go towards sin. I want to know how far I can stay away from it. I want to know how close I can get to that which is pure and holy and good and above reproach.”

Paul tells us in Romans whatever is not of faith is sin. If there’s doubt in your heart that God is giving freedom in His Word, then Edwards is saying, “Why do it?”

Edwards’ biographer, commenting on these resolutions, spoke about his passion for purity. He said, “The man who could thus write—who could write these kinds of resolutions—was not one who could easily trifle with sin, or who could enter any of its paths without the immediate reproofs of an offended conscience." He had a sensitive conscience. I tell you—that’s what I want.

I think that’s what many of you want. I want a conscience that is touch-sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that God doesn’t have to shout to get my attention, that just the slightest prompting and whispering of His Holy Spirit through His Word and through my conscience becomes something that I quickly say, “Yes, Lord.”

Jonathan Edwards: I frequently hear people in old age say how they would live if they lived lives over again. Resolved: to live as I would wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

Listen to the entire episode, "Taking Aim." This program comes from the series, "Resolutions for a New Year."

Dannah: Oh Lord Jesus, help us to become women who intentionally grow our relationships with You. Help us to live lives of holiness, to live a life sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and to repent of the sin in our lives. Help us not drift through 2022 but to live this year with purpose, with intention. In the mighty name of Jesus we ask this, amen.

Well friend, do you want to be intentional in your spiritual growth, why not set a goal of being in the Word each day? You remember how I mentioned earlier that I don’t get into writing lists of resolutions, but there’s one exception? Well, it’s this: every January I resolve to be a woman of the Word! I examine and where and when needed, I push the reset button on my daily habit of feasting on God’s truth! I invite you to do the same with me this month!

In fact, Revive Our Hearts wants to help you make a habit of being in God’s Word by using Nancy’s A Place of Quiet Rest Journal. There are suggested Scripture readings to guide your time in the Word. This would make a great tool to help you restart your discipline of being in God’s Word this every day this year. In fact, I’d sure like to send you a copy.

For the gift of any amount this month we’ll send you this gift. It’s the A Place of Quiet Rest Journal. Just call 1–800–569–5959, or go to ReviveOurHearts.com/weekend and click on today’s episode. It’s called “Resolutions.” 

Next week, we’re gonna talk through how to be intentional (there’s that word again!) as we grow our relationship with God. I’m a little excited, because we’ll be hear a small bit from my new podcast for tweens and their moms. It’s called True Girl.

Thanks for listening today. Thanks to our team: Phil Krause, Dylan Weibel, Rebekah Krause, Justin Converse, Michelle Hill, and for Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh

Revive Our Hearts is calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.