Friday, October 28, 2011

Minds Prepared for Action

{1 Peter 1:13-16; NASB}
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;  because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

One of the obstacles that I am facing right now in my obedient walk with God are unhealthy thoughts and attitudes.  I feel like I am on the cusp of the next thing God has called me to do, but I am distracted from doing it, not by outside forces, but by the workings of my mind.  These distractions take the form of dwelling on past failures, doubts about my ability and God's call on my life, and retreating into procrastination to avoid the hard work breaking through.

Peter tells us that the first step in obedience happens before the task is set before us for we are to prepare our minds for action.  One of the exercises some top athletes will use before the big game is imagining what the game will be like and thinking through how they should respond if a certain situation arises in the course of the action.  Not only do these athletes use their imagination, but they will also use their knowledge and they will learn the play book, the signals that come in from the sidelines, and the terminology the team uses so they can know precisely what they are expected to do.

Let us pause for a moment and ponder what implications that has for us as we follow after Jesus. First, we need to think about how we will respond in certain situations.  Imagine the difficulty you would have to respond in obedience to Jesus' command to sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and come follow Him.  By imagining such scenarios it makes it easier for us to respond in obedience when similar situations come our way.  Second, we need to spend time using our knowledge to learn what God's Word says about who we are, what we are to do, and the means that we have at our disposal to make those to things a reality in our lives.

If we are to avoid the former lusts, the way of the flesh that guided our way of living before Jesus, then it is absolutely essential that we start with our minds.  Peter says that we lived that way because of ignorance.  We didn't know the will of God, we didn't know the weakness of our flesh, we didn't know the promise of life and new creation that is available in Christ Jesus, and we didn't know the great of the Holy Spirit who works with us to transform into the image bearers that God created us to be. To live in ignorance is to live below the wonderful life that God makes available to us in Christ Jesus.

How do we do this?  I think it begins with surrendering our lives daily to God.  The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:1 and 2:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (ESV).​
We come to God and offer our lives, each day, as a living sacrifice to Him.  It is no longer our life that we live, but it is His life.  As we surrender our lives we ask God to show us His will and to transform our minds.  Ultimately we need to remember that we don't have what it takes to bring about this transformation on our own, we need God's help to make it possible.  This falls into line with what Paul prayed for the Colossians:
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10; ESV).
Pray that God will fill you with the knowledge of His will and with spiritual wisdom and understanding, that is the only way it will be made real in our lives.  Third, is we need to dedicate our selves to doing what God has called us to do.  This of course ties in with the first point of surrender, but it is one thing to say the words, and it is another thing to obey.  James writes:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if ​anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (James 1:22-25; ESV).​
If we are not committed to doing God's will, then we when push comes to shove we won't do it, instead we will do whatever is easiest to do.  In the process we will miss out on the blessings God wants us to experience in life, blessings that can we can use to bless those around us.

To be obedient children we must first prepare our minds for action.  Don't neglect this, for it will enable you to do what God has planned for you to do.

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