Loving God with your mind

You are a product of your thinking

The Story of Ted Bundy- Credit to ATI (All that is interesting)

During the spring and summer of 1974, police in the Pacific Northwest were in a panic. Young women at colleges across Washington and Oregon were disappearing at an alarming rate, and law enforcement had few leads as to who was behind it.

In just six months, six women had been abducted. Panic in the area reached a fever pitch when Janice Ann Ott and Denise Marie Naslund disappeared in broad daylight from a crowded beach at Lake Sammamish State Park…….. he didn’t fit the profile.

He was convicted of kidnapping and assault and sent to prison while police attempted to build a murder case against him. Just before his execution, he said this-

“I’ve lived in prison a long time now. I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography.

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Our thinking impacts our actions. Maybe we aren’t as bad as Ted Bundy. Maybe you haven’t committed the heinous crimes Ted Bundy has committed. But we can learn some important principles.

What are you doing to your mind?

I’ve heard stories of men spending countless hours on video games every single day. Call of duty, counter-strike, etc. Scrolling through Instagram every day because they are bored, trying to stimulate the senses and entertain themselves.

According to a Nielsen Company Audience report, the average American spends 10 hours a day on screen time which includes smart phones, computers, video games, radios, tablets, and tvs.

Our minds are being heavily influenced. If we aren’t careful, our thoughts will be fortified and our actions influenced. But as Christians we are called to much more. We are called to give our whole selves to God which includes our Heart, soul, and mind.

Matthew 22:37-

And He said to him, “You Shall Love The Lord Your God with all your Heart and with all your Soul and with all Your Mind.

Our thought life is of the utmost importance. We are commanded to Love our God with a pure mind and be transformed by it.

Romans 12:2- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Paul is saying here that in light of our justification, and in light of our union with Christ, we should be transformed and be renewed because we are a new creation. New Creatures have new minds and new desires for the glory of Christ. We worship Christ and give glory to Him.

The Implication-

As believers, we should be aware of how our minds are being impacted every day. Patterns become habits which become our character and who we are. Ultimately, what we fill our minds with is a matter of worship, allegiance, and obedience. If we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, we should take it seriously.

Meditation as a pattern

The bible talks about meditation is Psalm:1 and Psalm:119. The Psalmist meditates on his law day and night. Biblically speaking, meditation is the bridge between head knowledge and true obedience. It is the man who develops a pattern of meditation that obeys enabled by the Spirit.

Conclusion

We are one step away from sin. Thoughts start out small. We make excuses, say it’s not that bad until sinful thought patterns are fully formed and influence our actions. Lets pay attention to our thoughts and what we worship. Our thoughts are part of our obedience to Him who created us so that we can glorify Him with everything that we do. But there is hope. We have been radically transformed and are being directed to conformity with Christ every day. As our thoughts conform to Christ, we will see our speech more edifying, actions more loving, and a humility form in us in accordance with our nature. Loving God with our mind is not optional. It’s a basic Characteristic of a Christian that provides a catalyst for loving God and people externally while we love God internally in our mind. It’s like 2 sides of the same coin. Loving God with our minds will result in Loving God and others externally with our actions. Lets be people that don’t fill our minds with ungodly forms of media of every kind but with the truth of scripture that loves God and others as it’s primary goal on this Earth. The results will be amazing.

“The Word of God does not only permit but also commands us to love and embrace Christ with the sweetest, dearest affections that nature can possibly stir up in our minds, heart and soul.” – William Pinke,

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

August 14, 1281 C.E. Kublai Khan, Emperor of Japan rules the vast Mongol Empire- The largest empire at the time which extends 9 million square miles; the largest contiguous empire in world history. For reference, the United states is 3.8 million square miles. But Kublai Khan wanted more. He wasn’t satisfied. Khan’s Empire stretched from the Black Sea all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Khan’s army is massive- invading with 4,400 ships coming off the coasts of China and Korea. Japan didn’t stand a chance. They were helpless, on their way to destruction. Miraculously, on August 14, a typhoon wiped out the Mongol invasion and Japan thrives till this day.

Just like the miraculous typhoon in feudal Japan’s history, God’s love saves us. It isn’t anything we asked for. It comes to us. We were on our way to destruction and eternal death. Japan would have been wiped out from existence forever. But, in God’s great mercy, he provided a way out. We were certainly on our way to destruction but the figurative typhoon of Jesus and His death on the cross saved us from hell and provided salvation. 

Sanctification starts with God’s love. This is the most miraculous part of sanctification. We were dead in our sins. But God, in his great mercy, saved us from our sins and brought us to life. Sanctification isn’t possible without God’s love. God’s love initiates sanctification and is monogerstic. Everything else stems and draws from God’s great love.. These are all great things. But they all draw from the cistern of God’s great love. God provided an everlasting cistern that we can draw from on a daily basis. He provided fresh water every day that never runs out. Conforming to Christ is drawing from the cisterns of fresh water, never being thirsty again. This is true sanctification- realizing who we were in sin, knowing that God provided a redeemer through his great love, and drawing from the everlasting cistern of Christ and what He has done. Sanctification is God working through us as we draw from the everlasting Cistern that never runs out. God’s cistern always satisfies, sanctifies, and propels us to live for His Kingdom.  God’s love makes possible the fruits of the Spirit, our desire for repentance, faith, hope, desire to be in the Word, affection for Christ, purpose, fellowship, prayer, and worship.

God’s love initiates Salvation 

God’s love initiates salvation. John 3:16 says that “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Going on, John continues by saying that God first loved us- “we love, because He first loved us.” God first loved us by sending his Son to die for our sins on the cross. We were predestined according to his love- “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4). God, in his great love and mercy, provided a way out for sinners to be reconciled to a Holy God. The Bible is about reconciling the fallen nature of Humanity to a Holy God. And this is the greatest love story ever told. Paradise was lost when Adam sinned and took a bite of the apple. However, very early on, God provided a way out. Genesis 3:15 says that “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” God will be victorious over Satan and the world system in the end. When God, in his great love, changes a believer’s heart, a radical transformation occurs. Paul states that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” He is our God and we are His people. The Prophet Ezekiel prophesied of God’s great love to remove our heart of stone and create a heart of flesh-”Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26). Our relationship with God was broken. But we have moved from being in Adam to in Christ- (For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous.” (Romans 5:19.) And this is the start of the greatest love story ever told. Our progressive sanctification starts with our positional sanctification in Christ and God’s great love that makes new desires and obedience possible because we have a new heart that desires to follow him and his precepts. The story continues.

God’s Love results in Christ in Us.

We just took a look at how God’s great love makes salvation possible. God’s great love makes progressive sanctification possible because without justification, there are no new desires or no new heart. We would still be in our sins pursuing the World, the flesh, and the devil. What is sanctification? Sanctification, is being set apart for holiness. We are continually trying to conform to Christ by his grace. Christ is in us as a result of God’s great love. Paul states in Galatians that “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Paul is stating here that Christ is in Him as a result of His great love. His desires have been radically changed. He is being controlled by Christ and lives for Him. 

Going on, we are in Christ Jesus who is sanctification. Paul states in Corinthians that “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that , just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Christ is our sanctification.” It is Christ who prays in his High Priestly prayer- “For their sake I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” Christ is our sanctification and is interceding for us to the Father on our behalf!

        God’s love results in Obedience

Because God loved us, we desire to obey Him. John states that “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” Our desire to love God is from a fear of God that is reverential. We are so thankful for what He has done and want to live lives conformed to His will and His purposes. 

              God’s Love results in Faith working through love

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. Because of God’s love, he predestined us for good works- “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) The spirit is in us and results in the fruit of the spirit- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22).

          God’s love results in Faith and Repentance

 In addition, our fruit bears repentance- “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Mark 1:15- “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Faith and repentance are of the same coin. If one has faith, the believer will repent. True repentance produces genuine change but worldly repentance results in being sorry for being caught. Paul talks about the difference in 2 Corinthians 7:10- “For godly sorrow produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world brings about death.”

God’s love results in being in the Word

Once saved, a child of God desires to be in the Word of God. One mark of a disciple is being in the Word and pursuing the Word. John exclaims this clearly by saying- “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples.” (John 8:31). God’s Word is sanctifying and produces repentance, conforming to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist in Psalm 119 exclaims- “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to your word.” The fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom and delighting in the Word of God. The Psalmist also starts off the book by stating a connection between the way of the Righteous and the law of God- “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of Yahweh, and in His law he meditates day and nights. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruits in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm:1-Psalm:3). Delighting in the law of the lord has a sanctifying effect in which the blessed man does not walk in the way of sinners. In addition, Paul points out the importance of the mind in Romans- “For even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans: 1:21). The unbeliever’s sin was propelled by a futile mind. As believers, we need to be transformed by the Word and the renewing of our minds. Paul goes on to say- “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may approve what the will of God is, that which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans:12:1-2). Our minds are vital to sanctification and being transformed by the Word of God. We seek her as silver. Peter states that “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Clearly, there is a profound connection between the Word, having full knowledge of Him, and godliness. 

God’s Love propels a new hope that results  in Obedience

God’s love gives us much hope in this life because we can look forward to the great day of Bema seat judgments. A day when we will receive rewards and give them back to Christ. Paul explains this great day in Corinthians- “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  The day is coming and the world will be burned up culminating in a New Heaven and a New Earth- “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense hear, and the earth and its works will be found out. Since all these things are to be destroyed  in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens burning will be destroyed, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for New Heavens and a New Earth, in which righteousness dwells. Our everlasting hope propels obedience for the future. We can look forward to that day and be prepared in this life. Nothing that happens in this life can take away our sure hope of being with Christ one day!

God’s love results in assurance of Salvation, obedience, and fruitfulness

If we are truly pursuing righteousness and the Word, we will be fruitful for the Kingdom of God. God’s love enables us to be fruitful for His Kingdom. Peter talks about this is 1 Peter:5- “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these things are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the full knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For in whom these things are not present, that one is blind, being nearsighted, having forgotten the purification from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and choosing sure; for in doing these things, you will never stumble. Going on, it is the Holy Spirit that ensures we are children of God. Paul states in Romans that “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, also heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:17). 

        God’s love results in the outworking of our faith

The outworking of our faith won’t happen unless we proactively pursue Godly disciplines. God gives us the grace to obey and enables us. Obeying is a synergistic work. Paul states this clearly in Philippians- “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Sanctification is ultimately a synergistic work. The believer is 100% responsible to put in effort but he is also 100% dependent upon God’s grace. This is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. As believers, we are called to work but can only do so by his grace. Faith works through love and God loves. We love because God is love and it is a communicable attribute that we can emulate to represent Him, His Kingdom, and His Glory. 

  God’s love results in us loving- He is love

God’s love results in positional sanctification and makes progressive sanctification possible. God is love. The Apostle John states this clearly by saying that- “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Fellowship and loving other is part of sanctification. Relationships can be used as a catalyst for transforming our lives. As believers, we are to build each other up and use our gifts for the maturity of the saints. Paul mentions this in Ephesians- “And He Himself gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians:4)  In addition, Paul is clear in Corinthians that “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians:15). In order to continually be sanctified in Christ, we need to be building each other up into maturity of Christ that stems from the love God first had for us. We love because he first loved us.

Faith, love, and the task set before us

Sources: Ligonier.org, https://www.focusonthefamily.com, Macarthur Hebrews Commentary

Run For Your Life

Hebrews 12:1-2 wrong

1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Lay Aside every weight

4 Laps. 1 Race. 1 chance to go to the CIF southern section. I vividly remember that day. A few years of intense training. The race was the 1600m district Final. The best 7 runners in 5 high schools for the mile race; slightly less than a mile which is 1607m. The gun went off. Top 3 runners make it. Lap after lap went by fast. Last 100m- I can see the finish line. It looks like I’m going to make it. 50m- I get passed but am still making it in 3rd place. At the line- confusion. The race was so close I had to lean my chest forward to increase my chances of placing; that’s how they measure it; by the chest. Miraculously, I was passed at the line and lost by one tenth of a second. 4th place. So close, but no cigar.

I write this not because I want to tell you about my race but because I think it’s a good way of thinking how we should run the race of faith. MacArthur points out that there are those who haven’t entered; unbelievers that need to get into the race. What a blessing it can be to evangelize and take people with us on this race of faith! It takes love. It takes care. Ultimately, it takes God to give them grace through faith to believe. We can love others by encouraging people to race the race with us. Sometimes that requires running at their pace so they can catch up. But it’s worth it because true love understands and slows down so others can get to where you are. I’m not saying pursue Christ less, but I am saying doing the basics with someone can be a blessing to someone who doesn’t know much at all.

Christians are running the race, but at different paces. There is a wide spectrum of Christians who compete with intensity and those who are merely jogging. So it goes with running cross country and track. The guys that didn’t care were on the team but didn’t really seem to care about doing well; they ended up kind of coasting through the year with no progress. And then there were those on the team who I looked up to. The runners who would run even on the weekends because they wanted to do well. Running is agonizing. Interestingly, the Greek word is the passage for race is agon from which we get agony. The race set before us is going to be tough. It’ll require discipline, perseverance, tenacity, and commitment. But ultimately, to run well, you need love. The love that is mentioned as the first of the fruits in Galatians:5. The love that is greater than faith and hope in 1 Corinthians 13:13. “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It’s the love quoted from Deuteronomy:6 in the shema that contains the Greatest commandments: Love your God and Love your neighbor. Are we running the race with an intensity that puts aside every weight (sin) and loves others that emulates the love of Christ who died for us? He died for sinners. People who had no hope, and no faith. In the same way, we can die to ourself and exhibit the agape sacrificial love that puts our desires last and other people’s needs first. It’s a love that can only come from God. God is love. The true test of a Christian is one who loves others.

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:4-6)

Race well. Strive well. Bring others with you. Run to win the Prize. Running well requires love. A sacrificial love that only God can implant in your heart. The gun has fired. We are rounding the corner and the finish line is in sight. Finish well by loving well in light of the hope set before us. See you at the finish line.

Loving Well II

Sources: Ligonier.org

truth-in-love

Love and Evil

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).

Rejoicing at wrongdoing

Rejoicing of other people’s sins

Nowadays we can be quick to point out other peoples faults and fail to look at the log in our own eye. We love to use our tongues as a fire for gossip that perpetuates the sins of others that assumes the motivations and hearts of others without clear evidence. The tongue is powerful. It has started wars and caused great strife. It also builds brothers and sisters up in Christ. It’s a double edged sword.

True love

True love thinks the best of others. Without clear evidence, only God know the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Note: This is different from seeing clear indications of sin.)

Accountability

What is accountability? Accountability helps those around us walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Ultimately, it’s walking in a manner worthy that loves God and loves other people. Usually, it’s our close friends that can help us keep us accountable along with the leadership and elders of the church. Accountability provides protection and requires humility to accept.

Loving through accountability

Sometimes people think accountability is unloving. That people should be able to go their own way and do whatever they want. Confronting sin is important and should be done in specific circumstances. Ideally, guys should holding guys accountable and girls holding girls accountable. Through accountability, we effectively love God more because we are taking off the weights of sin and putting on righteousness. We are living out our calling by mutual discipleship. Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens the face his neighbor,”

I hope that through an understanding of what God’s word calls us to do, I can rejoice with the truth, believe the best about people when there aren’t any clear indications of sin, and have an accountability to live out the calling. True joy comes from delighting in God and living out the will He has for us on our lives.

 

 

Loving Well

Christian Love.png

Sources: Ligonier.com

1 Corinthians: 13

Priority of Love

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).

Love is everything. Without love, we are nothing. Christians are defined by love. It is out of love that we are saved, for God loved us so much that he sent His son. Christ loved the Father to the point of death and obedience. He came here to do the Father’s will even when it cost him his life. Without love, we are nothing. In all aspects of life, in deed, conduct, speech, thoughts, we are to love others out of a thankfulness of the heart. Out of a new desire brought about by the love of the Father. When we learn to love well, we witness to the world of the message that has changed us. Everything flows from love including obedience and prayer. It is out of a love for God, love for people, and love of the Word that we grow in our spiritual walk. God is love, Christians love. When we love well, we live out our calling set before us.

1 Corinthians 13 Love

Selfless Love

“Love is patient and kind … it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1Cor. 13:4-5).

Four aspects of love stand out here. Love is:

Patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful.

  1. Is patient and kind

-True love is generous, thinking of others first. It’s sacrificially giving to others what we want to hold on to. How often do we tend to think of ourselves first and not the good of others?

2. Is not arrogant or rude

Love understands that all of our abilities come from God. We can love others by truly trying to understand someone’s perspective. Respecting others with our thoughts and conduct can go a long way. How quickly do we tend to want to cut people off because we have something more important to say? It’s a love of respect.

3. Does not insist on its own way

Love thinks of others first isn’t demanding in doing things one particular way. Love is open to communication and talking things through.

4. Is not irritable or resentful

Love is not emotionally out of control. A person who loves is able to control his emotions well.

Questions to think through:

How do we go from  selfishness to a selfless love?

Which of these areas am I doing well in and which can I work on?

Knowing how to love is helpful. A lot of times I feel like I just read the word love and not know how to start. I’m glad there is direction in this chapter on how to love well. Love is the essence of the Christian life and the virtue that propels us most toward Godliness.  We are God’s instruments that can be used for his purposes and his Glory. We effectively make deposits in people’s lives day in and day out because we love Him. To live well is to love well. Every day. Because without love we are nothing. But with love we are something. In the eyes of God.