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Nurturing Affections By T. M. Moore (Keep Your Heart)

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Nurturing Affections By T. M. Moore (Keep Your Heart) Empty Nurturing Affections By T. M. Moore (Keep Your Heart)

Post  Admin on Sun 06 Mar 2011, 12:00 pm

Nurturing Affections

By T. M. Moore|Published Date: March 05, 2011

Keep Your Heart (6)

…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with
our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed
with pure water.
--Hebrews 10:22

As we look to the Word of God to instruct our minds in the beautiful
things of God and His will, we will be in a position to begin nurturing
our hearts consistently with the kind of holy affections that are the
fruit of a true and vibrant faith. Jonathan Edwards has some very good
suggestions about how we may do this. He writes, "If true religion
lies much in the affections, we may infer, that such means are to be
desired, as have much tendency to move the affections." By
"move" here he means to engage them, get them properly focused,
and begin to nurture them to a growing vigor or fervor. To what means
shall we turn?

First, Edwards says we must turn to prayer. Here's what he says:
"…in the duty of prayer; it is manifest, we are not appointed, in
this duty, to declare God's perfections, his majesty, holiness,
goodness, and all-sufficiency; our own meanness, emptiness, dependence,
and unworthiness, our wants and desires, in order to inform God of these
things, or to incline his heart, and prevail with him to be willing to
show us mercy; but rather suitably to affect our own hearts with the
things we express, and so to prepare us to receive the blessings we
ask."

Now let's not miss this. Edwards is not saying we shouldn't
exalt God in prayer, humble ourselves before Him, and lay our requests
at His feet. He's saying we should do this, but not to inform or
persuadeGod as much as to affect our own hearts with God's greatness
and our utter and complete dependence on Him. Prayer is a context, in
other words, for talking with God so that the way God sees things –
Himself, our lives, our needs, and so forth – becomes the way we see
them as well. Thus we may nurture godly affections.

Second, Edwards recommends singing as an aid to nurturing godly
affections. He writes, "No other reason can be assigned, why we
should express ourselves in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with
music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things
have a tendency to move our affections." He's right, of course.
We all understand the power of music to engage and move our affections.
So why don't we sing any more than we do? Scripture offers many
instances of commands to sing to the Lord, but not a single one merely
to listen to Christian music. Perhaps we have our priorities mixed up?

Third, Edwards says that the sacraments of the Church should be a
resource to move our affections. Such "sensible representations"
of the work of Christ as we encounter in baptism and the Lord's
Supper are designed to affect our hearts and not just engage our bodies
in rote activities. The better we prepare for the sacraments and apply
our hearts and minds to participating in them, the more they will help
us grow.

Edwards also mentions the role of preaching in shaping our affections:
"God hath appointed a particular and lively application of his word,
in the preaching of it, as a fit means to affect sinners with the
importance of religion, their own misery, the necessity of a remedy, and
the glory and sufficiency of a remedy provided; to stir up the pure
minds of the saints, quicken their affections by often bringing the
great things of religion to their remembrance, and setting them in their
proper colours…" If you're not getting preaching that
accomplishes all that, go talk to your preacher.

Finally, Edwards insists that affections must be nurtured through
practice, what he calls "a spirit of earnestness in the Christian
work and course." We have to apply ourselves in daily life to
suppress and overcome affections that distract us from our walk with the
Lord and to implant those that do. Only daily practice, walking in
obedience to the Lord, will bring together all these other means to help
us grow in godly affections as we should.
Download the series, "Keep Your Heart." Click here:
VP Affections.
http://www.colsoncenter.org/images/content/wilberforce/ViewPoint_Studie\s/VP%20Affections. pdf>

For the full text of Edwards' great work, order the book, Religious
Affections http://www.colsoncenterstore.org/product.asp?sku=0851514855
from our online store. Or read the article, "God-Entranced
Worldview," by Charles Colson.
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