In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young speaks the following words (partly based on Matthew 1:23 and Psalm 37:4) to the reader, in the way she sensed Jesus speaking to her about her focus:
Let Me be your positive Focus. When you look to Me, knowing Me as God with you, you experience Joy. This is according to my ancient design, when I first crafted man. Modern man seeks his positive focus elsewhere: in sports, sensations, acquiring new possessions. Advertising capitalizes on the longing of people for a positive focus in their lives. I planted that longing in human souls, knowing that only I could fully satisfy it. Delight yourself in Me; let Me become the Desire of your heart (p. 45).
Is Jesus the “positive Focus” of your heart or has something else become your dominant focus? What would it look like for you to have Jesus as the central focus and “desire of your heart”?
by Jon Bloom | July 19, 2013
Over the years, as I’ve prayed for my own heart, I’ve accumulated seven “D’s” that I have found helpful. Maybe you’ll find them helpful as well.
With seven you can use them a number of ways. You might choose one “D” per day. Or you could choose one “D” as a theme for a week and pray through these every seven weeks. You’ll also note that I have a verse for each prayer. But over time as you pray more verses will come to mind and you might find it helpful to collect them so they are right at hand as the Spirit leads.
I begin each prayer with the phrase “whatever it takes, Lord” because the Bible teaches us to be bold and wholehearted in our praying, not reticent. I also use the phrase because it tests my heart. How much do I want God and all he promises to be for me in Jesus? Do I really want true joy enough to ask for my Father’s loving discipline to wean me from joy-stealing sin? And how much do I trust him? Do I really believe that he will only give me what is good when I ask in faith (Luke 11:11–13)? “Whatever it takes” prayers help me press toward and express childlike trust in the Father.
Delight: Whatever it takes, Lord, give me delight in you as the greatest treasure of my heart.
Desires: Whatever it takes, Lord, align the desires of my heart with yours.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9–10)
Dependence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my awareness of my dependence on you in everything so that I will live continually by faith.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Discernment: Whatever it takes, Lord, teach me to discern good from evil through the rigorous exercise of constant practice.
“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
Desperation: Whatever it takes, Lord, keep me desperate for you because I tend to wander when I stop feeling my need for you.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)
Discipline: Whatever it takes, Lord, discipline me for my good that I may share your holiness and bear the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
“He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10–11)
Diligence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my resolve to do your will with all diligence.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16)
These are just suggestions. The Lord may lead you to pray in other ways. But however he teaches us, whatever means we find helpful, may God cause us all to grow in faith until we pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and never lose heart (Luke 18:1).
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
(Ezekiel 11:19-20 ESV)
Sin has the amazing ability to slowly harden the heart. It isn’t like liquid nitrogen which will instantly freeze and harden an object. Sin is more like a winter night hovering just at the freezing point that gradually hardens the heart. It starts as a few icy spots on the surface perimeter and slowly creeps across the surface in a thin film. At the same time its numbing affect reaches deeper and its hold becomes stronger and more difficult to break. Eventually the heart is completely hardened.
For this reason the Bible warns us to be on guard against being “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
Author C.J. Mahaney writes about the hardening effect of sin in his book Humility about the especially dangerous sin of pride:
Sin always has a destructive effect, but often that effect isn’t immediately obvious. Over a period of time, however, where sin is indulged, there’ll be a hardening effect on the soul of a genuinely converted Christian.
To differing degrees we’re all familiar with this hardening effect. Perhaps you gradually find yourself less affected by corporate worship in your local church. Or you’ve recently noticed that your appetite for Holy Scripture has diminished. You may be less sensitive to sin, or your confession of sin is less frequent and lacks sorrow.
The ultimate effect from such hardening by sin is that grace, for the Christian, is no longer amazing. That’s why we need to stay close to the doctrine of sin – because it helps us see the presence of pride and protects us from those hardening effects…and it’s sufficiently potent to put pride to death in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit…
[Remember] that study alone isn’t sufficient. Along with increased knowledge there must also be grace-motivated application of truth and grace-empowered obedience to truth. Only then will we experience Christ’s liberating power from the sin of pride (pp 93-94).