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Archive for August, 2011

Christians should not practice evil because it’s not proper for us as saints, and we know those who do are not, and will not be, part of God’s kingdom. This is the one-sentence summary of the sermon I was privileged to preach this morning on Ephesians 5:3-7.

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A mother had just made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, which she put in the cookie jar. She told her son that he couldn’t touch the cookies until dinner. A few minutes later, she heard the distinct sound of the cookie jar’s lid being opened. “Son, what are you doing?” she said. Her son, in the most sincere way he could, said, “My hand is in the cookie jar resisting temptation!”

That’s not the way to resist temptation, obviously. But how do we do it?

In Matthew 26:41, Jesus said to Peter, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The first way we resist temptation is to watch. We need to watch ourselves, our heart, our surroundings, our desires and passions, and our weaknesses. In other words, be observant and how you’re tempted and why. The second way we resist temptation is to pray. We ask God to show us what to watch for, and the ability to withstand any temptation that comes our way.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The third way to resist temptation is to trust God’s promise. We can count on the fact that God won’t allow us to undergo any temptation we can’t handle, and that He will provide us with a way out.

A hand in the cookie jar won’t help us resist temptation to sin, but watching, praying, and trusting God’s promise will.

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Called by Name

Edmund Clowney has important things to say to those in the ministry in his book Called to the Ministry. Good words that we pastors need to hear.

Salvation means that God writes his name on your head, your hand, your heart. He makes his name yours by making you his. His calling comes with power. Ezekiel saw the mass grave of the people of God. But the prophet was moved to cry, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!” – and there was resurrection before his eyes (Ezek. 37). God is not God of the dead but of the living; his name is life.

Christ’s call reached Zaccheus curiously perched in a sycamore tree: “Zaccheus, come down.” It reached Lazarus hopelessly sealed in a tomb: “Lazarus, come forth.”

Has that call reached you? There is no call to the ministry that is not first a call to Christ. You dare not life your hands to place God’s name in blessing on his people until you have first clasped them in penitent petition for his saving grace. Until you have done that the issue you face is not really your call to the ministry. It is your call to Christ.

Don’t seek the ministry to save your soul. The Lord commits the gospel to the keeping of those who have committed themselves to his keeping (II Tim. 1:12, 14). A man cannot earn his salvation by preaching that salvation cannot be earned. Claim Christ’s promise: “He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” He will receive you, and make his name yours forever.

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (II Tim. 1:9)

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