Saturday, July 25, 2015, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Sing of His Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1:13-25 (NASB). Prepare Your Minds (vv. 13a) Therefore, prepare your minds for action… Because Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from slavery to sin, and to free us to walk daily in his righteousness, we should prepare our minds for action. How do we do that? For one, we examine all the things we are taking into our minds daily against the Word of God, and we ask the Lord to show us where what we are taking into our minds is contrary to his Word, his will and his ways. Why must we do this? – Because we can’t prepare our minds for action if we are filling them with nonsense, junk and that which is opposed to God and his Word. In other words, if we are spending our evenings or weekends watching TV, movies, playing video games, surfing the internet aimlessly, reading novels, watching news shows, hanging out on social media sites, or if we are just in general filling our minds with clutter, and what is useless, and what has no eternal value, or what is truly sinful, then our minds are too occupied with all this junk, so there is no time or room left for God. Do you know that one of Satan’s greatest weapons against us is distraction? Look at our society here in America. Most homes have a TV. Many of them have wide-screen TVs which have become the prominent fixture in many living rooms, around which everything else in the room is focused. After TVs, came around-the-clock TV, cable and satellite TV, and Netflix, which provided all sorts of movies and shows to watch 24/7. Also then came personal (portable) computers which give us private internet access in our homes. And, then came tablets and smart phones, which gave us private internet access in our pockets or in the privacy of our cars and bedrooms, with no accountability and such ease of access. Through all of these mediums we are continually connected with the world, or we most certainly can be. If we are not careful, all these things of the world can begin to rule our lives and to crowd out God entirely. Some of these things may not be sinful in themselves, but they have the potential of becoming our idols, i.e. that to which we give most of our free time, affection and attention. Or, they can certainly be easy access to a whole world of evil at our fingertips, and in the privacy of our own homes, and may present us with much temptation to sin against God. As well, most of what is on TV these days, even the commercials, is filled with sensuality, sexual situations, idolatry, adultery, and that which glorifies what is sinful, i.e. such as murder, lying, cheating, stealing, etc. A sad reality is that many Christians are allowing themselves to be daily entertained by this filth, too. So, if we are going to prepare our minds for action, we need to remove from our lives all hindrances to our walks of faith and all that contradicts what the Bible teaches us to set our minds on and to do. We have to get radical about God, about sin and about obedience. We can’t have one foot in the world and the other in our relationships with Jesus Christ. Be Holy (vv. 13b-16) …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.” Instead of filling our minds with junk, worldly distractions and/or what is clearly sinful, i.e. all these many intoxicating influences via all these various worldly mediums, we need to be sober-minded. We need to fix our hope and thoughts on Jesus and our eternal salvation. We need to be sensible, rational, spiritually alert, and self-controlled. We have to be students of the Word of God, spending time daily in prayer, listening to God speak his words to our heart, and we have to be obedient to what his word teaches us. Then we will be able to discern what is not of God, what pure junk is, and what is deception and manipulation of truth. One of the reasons many Christians are not discerning is because they are filling their minds with so much which is worldly, and they are investing little time in their relationships with Jesus Christ and their walks of faith, holiness and purity. We are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, yet this worldly church of today is telling their adherents to immerse themselves in today’s culture, and they are promoting this through the use of worldly and even sinful means and methods in order to attract the world to the “church.” How can we reach this sinful world for Jesus Christ if we are no different from the world? Being holy means set apart from (unlike) the world because we are becoming like Christ. We are not supposed to be one with the world in order to win the world. We are supposed to come out from the world and be separate, not that we remove ourselves from the people of this world, but that we cease to participate in what is trash and what is sinful, and we choose to walk in the ways of the Lord instead. Conduct Yourselves in Fear (vv. 17-21) 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. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. What does it mean to conduct our lives in fear? This fear is not anxiety or worry, but it is showing respect, honor, and value for God/Jesus, and for what our Lord did for us in giving his life up for us to deliver us out of slavery to sin. To me, when people teach that salvation is nothing more than an escape from hell and a free ticket into heaven, and that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience, and no surrender to God’s will – then that is not conducting our lives in the fear of the Lord. To me it is a slap in God’s face to believe that God would save us and not require holy living out of us. The mere fact that they insist that repentance, obedience and surrender to God are not required of them speaks volumes about how they view God and his grace to us. Yet, his grace is not a free license to continue in sin. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us. When we live the life Jesus died for, daily forsaking sin and walking in his righteousness, then we are conducting our lives in the fear (honor and respect) of our Lord God. Love One Another (vv. 22-25) Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, and we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives in him, we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, so that the presence of God now dwells within us. We are Christ’s body, his church, and our mission is to continue the work he began when he walked the face of this earth, i.e. to be Jesus to the world, and to be his hands and feet in loving people with God’s love. God’s love, though, is not the same as human love. His love does what is best for people, not necessarily what they want or desire. His love is pure, honest, and sincere, and cares about people’s legitimate needs. God is not interested in making people feel good about their fleshly lives. He does not tell lies or try to deceive or manipulate just so we will like him and think he is a swell guy. Although he certainly heals, delivers and gives us his grace, he does so because he wants us free of bondage to sin, and free to walk in his holiness. So, he will tell us the truth about sin, deception, and false teaching, etc., and he will call us to repentance and obedience, because he died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. He died to set us free! We are all going to die one day. Our flesh bodies will be put to death, but our spirits will live on, either in eternal torment in hell fire, or in heaven with God. Because Jesus Christ has given us new birth (new lives) via his death and resurrection, and God now lives within us, if we truly love others with God’s love, we will want to see people truly saved so that they would have the same hope as what we have received. It is not loving to tell them lies, though. If we tell them that God requires nothing of them in the way of turning from sin and turning to walk in obedience to Christ, then we have doomed them to hell. It might make them feel good, because we didn’t offend them with the gospel, but one day they will have to stand before God, as we all will, and if they did not repent and follow our Lord in obedience, then they don’t have the hope of eternal life, and we will have facilitated them in following a false gospel and a false Christ all the way to hell. So, God’s love cares enough about people to tell them the truth, and to give them the only true hope there is of a life free from slavery to sin, so that we can be free to walk in Christ’s righteousness. And, that is how we need to love others, too. I Sing of His Mercy / An Original Work Based off Psalm 32 / April 10, 2014 Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven By the blood of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does Not count against them; freedom found. When, in silence, I did not confess My sin to You; had no strength. Then I owned up to my sin and You forgave and cleansed me within. Therefore let the godly pray to You; Draw near to You; grace they’ll find. They will not be o’ertaken by afflictions, But in Christ peace abounds. Lord, You are my hiding place. I find my refuge in You secure. You protect me from all evil. You give songs of vict’ry in You. Lord, You teach me to walk in Your ways; Counsel me in love, I know. Help me to not be stubborn and Unwilling to follow in Your truth. Thank You for Your love and mercy. I put my trust in You always. I rejoice in my Lord and I sing of Him throughout all my days.