Prepare for Action

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 9:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Born Again (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

What does it mean to be born again? First, we are born physically of a mother, and then, because of God’s grace to us, and by faith in Jesus Christ, we are born of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord. One is a physical birth. The other is a spiritual birth. So, how are we born again?

Well, first of all Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) had to die on a cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He put our sins to death on that cross. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, when we believe in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and Christ now lives in us.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

So, we rejoice in our salvation and in the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, our hope is not just that one day we will be with our Lord forever, but our hope is in the freedom he has given us to walk (conduct our lives) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Our hope is that we have a Savior, who is our Lord, but who is also our friend, confidant, counselor, guide, helper, strength, healer, comforter, encourager, and teacher, etc. Our hope is that we are in a personal and intimate relationship with our God, which gives us not only future hope, but present and living hope day by day, which is what keeps us going when times get tough.

Our hope, too, is that God created us for a purpose, and he has given meaning to our lives, and purpose and direction, and that even our trials are part of his plan for our lives in order to purify us, to make us holy, and to prepare us for his service. Also, our trials are for the purpose to test our faith, to make it stronger and more resilient. When we suffer, it is for our good, to make us more like Jesus, and to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We, too, learn patience and perseverance through difficult times. And, we grow closer to our Lord, mature in our faith, and increase in our seriousness of our walk of faith, when we respond to our trials with grace, with trust in our Lord, and with submission to his perfect will for our lives.

Prepare Minds (vv. 13-16)

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.”

In our minds we store memories, good and bad. In our minds we think, we believe, we discern, make decisions, and react to our circumstances. In our minds we entertain sinful thoughts or we dwell on heavenly things. Part of God’s saving grace to us is in the renewing of our minds, in the healing of past hurts, and in transforming how we believe and perceive things. Yet, we have a responsibility regarding our minds, in the renewing process, and that is in the putting off of the old, and the putting on of the new; in thinking about things which are pure, right, true, and beneficial, rather than thinking hateful thoughts or impure thoughts.

We also have a responsibility for what we take into our minds, to make sure that we are not feeding our minds with what is garbage, or what is immoral, wicked, and ungodly, etc. If we take garbage into our minds, that is what is going to come out in our words and actions and attitudes. If we entertain our minds with the sinful acts of others, this is what our minds will dwell on, and often our actions and words will follow suit. So, if we are going to prepare our minds for action, we need to keep our minds pure and focused on Jesus Christ and on the truths of his Word. And, we need to take God’s Word seriously and apply its truths to our daily lives.

Conduct Yourselves (vv. 17-19)

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

What does it mean to conduct ourselves in fear? I believe this is speaking here of the fear of the Lord, which is reverence, respect, honor, value, esteem, adoration, worship, obedience and submission to our Lord. Our conduct is the way in which we live, i.e. our daily practice. This is how we should live, day in and day out. Conducting ourselves in fear is also living on this earth as though we truly do not belong here, as though this world and all its stuff is really not our home, but with an eternal focus in mind. We are not here to build kingdoms on this earth, but to help, to work to advance God’s heavenly kingdom while we still live here. We are not here, in other words, to live to please and entertain ourselves, but we are here to give glory to God in all that we do and say and think and are.

It also means that we live holy lives, pleasing to God. Being holy means we are separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. We should no longer be conformed to the ways (patterns, attitudes, values) of this world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. Our new lives should not look like our old lives, and only slightly cleaned up to be more presentable. Our new lives should be radically different from our old lives, because we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness.

Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be
Norman J. Clayton

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way…

The Same Purpose

Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 11:03 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 4:1-11 (NASB).

Arm Yourselves (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died to put sin to death. In fact, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He didn’t die just to forgive us our sins, and to free us from condemnation, and to promise us heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we put our (God-given) faith in him, to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

So, we are to arm (equip and ready) ourselves with the same purpose (objective) as Christ, which is that we should cease from living in sin, i.e. that we should no longer live our lives for our human and fleshly lusts, but that we should live our lives for the will of God, holy and pleasing to God. This is why he died, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). When we believe in Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, he doesn’t just forgive us our sins, but he eradicates sin from our lives. In other words, he delivers us out of slavery to sin so that we might become bondservants of his righteousness. No longer should we live like we did before we came to Christ, but now we should live to God. Sin should no longer have mastery over our lives, because Jesus set us free!

So, how do we arm (equip and ready) ourselves with the same purpose as Christ? Well, we have to begin with the right foundation. The commission Jesus gave to Paul to preach the gospel describes for us the essence of the gospel message. He told him that he was to open blinded eyes, and to turn them from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God so they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Ac. 26:16-18).

And, then we need to die daily to sin and self, and by the Spirit be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, putting off what we know is wrong and putting on what we know is right. And, we have to conduct our lives according to the Spirit (in the power of the Spirit) and no longer according to our sinful flesh (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4). In other words, we have to get serious and radical about sin and about obedience to our Lord. We can’t toy with sin, or test fate, or take sin too casually, or excuse it away, or use God’s grace as free license to keep sinning. We have to cut out of our lives whatever hinders our walks of faith and whatever leads us into sin, and we have lay aside (renounce) the sins which so easily entangle us so we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us by God (Heb. 12:1).

They Malign You (vv. 3-6)

For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

When we get serious about God, and about sin, and about obedience, and we no longer do the fleshly things we did before, but now our goal is to live for our Lord, to please him in all ways, we are bound to face both rejection and ridicule for our step of faith. Some of our friends, acquaintances, family members, co-workers and fellow Christians might even try to shame us or pressure us into doing some of the things we did before. They might, as well, try to convince us that making Christ truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives is not normal and that we need to join in with them in some of their revelry so we don’t stand out, and so we don’t seem odd or peculiar. To them, a life controlled by the Spirit of God, and not by the flesh, is just too weird. They think we need to be more fleshly and worldly in order to be considered sane. They think we need to be more fun and less serious, as though life is to be about self-pleasure, games and parties. It isn’t!

Keep Fervent (vv. 7-11)

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We need to remember why we were put on this earth, and why God called us, and to what he has called us, too. We aren’t here to make people like us, and to do what other humans do so no one will think we are strange. We are here to give honor, glory and praise to God, and to give him our worship, our submission, and our obedience. We were called to holiness and righteousness, not to self-pleasure and a life given over to entertaining ourselves. We are to live in the fear (respect, reverence, honor) of God, i.e. to take him and his Word seriously by doing what he/it says. And, we are to remember that he redeemed us (bought us back for God) with his blood, and our lives are no longer our own, so we are to honor God with our lives.

We are to love one another and forgive one another, for Christ forgave us. We are to love as Jesus loved us and gave his life up for us. This is God-like (agape) love which prefers what God prefers, and that thinks about what is in other people’s best interest. It does not placate or excuse away sin, though. It confronts willful and unrepentant sin in hopes that the wanderer will come to his (or her) senses and will turn from his sin and follow our Lord in obedience. And, its goal is to restore such a one to fellowship with God and to see him be renewed in his faith and in his commitment to Christ. Then, we are to use our spiritual gifts to encourage, strengthen, urge, inspire, teach, and counsel one another in the Lord so that we can all be built up in our faith and in our walks with Christ, and come to maturity. And, all this is for the praise, honor and glory of God, who saved us from our sins.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!