Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

Between Sundays

For four weeks now at Calvary, we have been in a mini-series about temptation, testing, and sin. This is the nitty-gritty of the Christian life. And if the emails and conversations are any indication (and, or course, they are), we really need this. We need to remind and educate ourselves on the terrifying nature, reality, and consequences of falling prey to the temptations of the Devil and spiraling into the slaughter of sin. But we must also be careful to recognize that we do not face this adversary alone. Even though we have betrayed him countless times, God does not leave us stranded and deserted to face the Enemy of our souls.

The Christian life on earth is a conflict with sin. And therein is the dreadfulness of our situation on earth displayed. But we are not left to fight the battle alone. The Christian life is a conflict of God - not of us - with sin. And therein is the joy and glory of our situation on earth manifested. As sinners we are in a terrible plight. As the servants of God, fighting His battle, we are in a glorious case. [Faith and Life (London, 1916), 202, B.B. Warfield]

I am working hard, doing my best, in these sermons to make them concrete. To provide very specific ways we may join with God in the battle against our sin. That we may put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). This last Sunday the weapon of war was to cultivate a superior affection for Jesus, over and against our affections for sin. Maybe you were there and heard the message. Maybe you've been wondering how to do that.

One of the chief ways for you to see sin as God sees it, to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to drain the life out of sin, to see and fellowship with our Lord Jesus, to weaken the power of sin and strengthen your love for Jesus, is to...

pray.

Friends, we must talk with Jesus about these things. And as we do, be clear on this - the process of draining the life from sin and strengthening our love for Jesus will not be accomplished quickly. It will take time. It will take days. It may take months. Wait patiently.

Maybe you are not sure how to pray. Did you know that one of the best ways to grow in your prayers is to pray with others? We all need models.

So I am going to close this article with a wonderful model of a prayer to Jesus. A prayer about the full extent of the love of Jesus for you, even as you struggle with temptations, testings, and sin. Print it out, and have someone pray it aloud with you. And may your love for Jesus be fanned into flame in the days ahead.

See you Sunday.

Having loved his own who were in the world, 
he [Jesus] loved them to the end—
he showed them the full extent of his love.

 John 13:1 
     Dear Lord Jesus, this story always grabs my heart, but today it’s rekindling awe. It’s the night of your betrayal—the night you would be denied and abandoned, not just by Peter, but by all of your handpicked disciples. You knew their betrayal was looming, and yet you persisted in disrobing yourself, bending low, and washing the dirty feet of these broken, bungling men.
     The beauty and truth revealed in this scene is what keeps me sane—gospel sane. It anchors me when I lose my moorings, centers me when I feel crazy, quiets me when I’m restless, reels my heart in when I am in a wandering mode.
     The staggering thing is, this is exactly how you love each of your followers, all of your disciples, your whole bride. You’ve made us your own. You bought us with the very price of your blood. We were redeemed from sin and death and placed into your righteousness and embrace. Absolutely nothing can separate us from your love.
     While we’re in this world, you’re constantly loving us, without any regrets or reservations. You’re loving us when we’re alive to your presence and affections; you’re loving us when it feels like you’re ignoring our prayers, indifferent to our pain, or displeased with our lives. In fact, whether we perceive it or not, the most constant reality in our lives is not death and taxes, but your loving kindness.
     Lord Jesus, it’s the last line in this little verse that does me in and does me so good. As with the men in the upper room, so with us in any of a number of rooms right now: you remain committed to showing us the full extent of your love—its height, depth, width, and breadth. This turns our gaze to your cross, for it’s in your death, Jesus, that we realize that there’s no greater love to be found anywhere. On the cross, you laid down your life for others: for the rebel other, the foolish other, the sinful other—for me.
     Though you died for a huge pan-national bride, I declare today that the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20). This isn’t narcissism; it is necessity. It’s not selfish; it’s sacred. It’s not Western individualism; it’s deeply personal.
   I’m once again in awe, Jesus. Intensify my awe even more in response to your august love on this mid-August day. So very Amen I pray, in your truly astonishing name.
(a prayer prayed by Scotty Smith)

Let Grace Be Grace - Wild And Free

And That Is All I Need

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