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1 Peter 1:13 Sermon Notes

Thoughts have consequences.

We have discussed this at length the past couple of years…because so much of the NT, the Bible overall…focuses us on this reality.

Eve’s choice, and then Adam’s choice…were tied to wrong ideas in their minds.

In addition to Scripture…all of world history, and our very lives…reveal this as well.

People do what makes sense to them…when what makes sense to them is not true, then the consequences of seeking to live out that untruth is devastating.

Sometimes those consequences come quickly, often they show up over years or even generations.

The most important thing for us to pay attention to is what we are paying attention to.

Humanly speaking, what you choose to let your mind focus on is the most important factor in how your life will go.

We have been given the power, the freedom, to decide what thoughts we allow to nest in our minds.

*I’ve seen a person believe a thought…that led to a downward relational spiral, ending in divorce and great sorrow for all concerned.

*The thought was not true (this is the right path for me, I will be happy, this is “my truth”…different ways of describing the untrue thought)…then consequences of believing the untrue thought continue to echo through the lives of their children…it may echo for generations.

*In regards to the now common, “my truth” idea…this is an incoherent statement and an unlivable approach to life.

There are “my feelings” but there is only “the truth.”…sometimes they match, sometimes they do not.

More on this next week.

If we surrender to the truth of God, and attempt to adjust our lives to “the truth” then we position ourselves to thrive in the world as it actually is.

Last week a friend told me how by reframing his thoughts…by thinking true things about his life, in line with the reality of God, as opposed to things he was thinking/feeling that were not true…it impacted both his actions at work and his ability to experience job satisfaction emotionally about his work.

We tend to think that we are helpless victims of our thoughts…or we tend to trust whatever thoughts we currently hold.

The first makes us passive…but we are not victims of our thoughts…we decide what we think consistently about.

The second makes us foolish…we must not trust every thought that enters our heads…not everything we think is true.

Thoughts can make us feel grateful or ungrateful, content or discontent, loving or spiteful, hopeful or hopeless…in all of our situations.

You might say…”It is my circumstances not my thoughts that matter most in how my life goes.”

Paul wrote…

“In everything, give thanks, this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Many circumstances are out of your control…your thoughts are in your control.

This is important, because in all circumstances, the fact is, God is in control…and, so giving thanks in those circumstances…helps to aligns our thinking with the world as it actually is.

To complain, and to become bitter in certain circumstances (as if God is not good, or not at work in all things)…is to move further away from actual reality.

Your internal thought world is NOT more important than the reality of the external world.

That is the great fallacy of postmodern or relativistic thought…MY truth is equal to THE truth.

Reality is as God has made it and as God sees it…we must align ourselves internally to match external reality..

For instance…It doesn’t matter what you think or feel on the inside in regard to who or what you are…God has made you, in reality, either a man or woman.

There will only be great sorrow…for those who try to make external reality conform to their own wrong thinking.

*Sadly, people are experiencing enormous suffering because they have been told that reality will conform to their demands…it will not.

We must consistently align our thinking with reality as God has made.

I can choose, if I decide to, to be grateful for my job, family, health, life…such as they are.

I can choose to hold loving thoughts…about others consistently before my mind…even though they are not in every way “lovable” no one is.

I can focus on the sunny side of a loved one’s personality…or the shadow side…it’s my choice as to what thoughts I will let shape me.

What I choose to think about in regard to them…will determine how it goes in my relationship with them…at least to a degree, they of course have a say in the matter.

We can, and we must hold the truth consistently in our minds…if we hope to thrive as God’s sons and daughters.

1 Peter 1:13

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Therefore: refers to the great salvation realities Peter gave us in the first 12 verses of this letter.

So, therefore…since the gospel is true…prepare your minds for action, control your thoughts, set your hope right where it ought to be.

Preparing your minds for action is literally “Gird up the loins.”

It’s an old phrase that makes no sense in our time…without context.

Let’s image Peter sitting at a wooden table writing this letter.

He was wearing a long robe that was customary at the time.

Suddenly, his goat, he named him affectionately after his friend James, sitting in the open doorway gets up and runs away…blasted goat.

Peter has to quickly pull his robe between his legs, wrap it around his waist and tuck it in.

Then he hurries off after James.

Then he came back to his writing and sat down, starts to untie his robe and thinks…maybe I better leave it tied up, just in case I need to quickly spring to action again.

Then he goes back to writing…Humm, you know that works…Keep your thoughts always ready for action.

Gird up your minds.

Lace up the shoes of your mind…maybe would paint the picture for today.

Prepare your minds for action…what is the action we are to be mentally ready for?

Be ready to see where God is at work and to instantly join him there…ready for obedience, ready to respond to opportunity, ready to see the world through the lens of the gospel.

Lace up the shoes of your mind…and be sober minded.

Sober-minded is also translated “be self-controlled”. 

Being sober is used to both describe thinking and alcohol consumption in scripture.

We can get “drunk” with certain thoughts or with wine.

Paul said, “Don’t be drunk with wine, instead be filled with the Spirit.”

Kind of a strange either/or contrast until you think more carefully about.

A drunk person has surrendered control of self to the alcohol…they are under the influence of it…and bad things are bound to happen.

So, instead of surrendering control of self to a substance that will ruin you, surrender control to the Spirit of God…this control, being under His influence…will make you free.

Under the Spirit’s control doesn’t mean in some weird way…like living in a trance like state…but filled with the Spirit means ready, willing and able to obey Jesus.

So sober-minded or self-control here is about not allowing your thoughts to wander off…or perhaps not to become “drunk” with the thoughts of this world.

Not being controlled by the thinking that controls those who do not know God.

Even thoughts of good things can make us drunk if they fully capture our minds…careers, possessions, recreation, reputation…can become thoughts that fill and shape our minds away from God…we become drunk with these thoughts.

When even good or neutral things are what we give our most consistent attention to…

Then as we are drunk with them…they shape the direction of our lives…and that direction is away from God.

Instead, we are to “set our hope fully” on the grace to be given when Christ returns…be sober.

Sober is not somber…we are to experience joy not gloom..but joy comes, Peter has said already…through steadfast attention to Jesus.

We are to continually let our future hope shape our minds in the present.

How does this “process” of ordering our thoughts around our future hope shape our actual lives now?

Jesus said it shapes our life priorities according to the purposes of God.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:19-21

He is not forbidding his followers to have stuff…it is about not treasuring stuff.

So, treasures in heaven…is about a future focus in regard to our highest values and priorities…now.

Make sure as you live now, that you have a “heaven” focus on your mind.

John wrote that this future hope shapes our ethical lives.

Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:3

A future hope empowers a gospel lifestyle…changes how we live in terms of moral/ethical purity.

Look at what Paul wrote in Col.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (inaugurated eschatology)

Col 3:2-4

He then follows with lists of the kinds of things we are put to death or to cast away from our lives… sexual immorality, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, lies.

And then, he lists the things we are to cloth ourselves in or to live in.

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, forgiveness.

How does he begin this strategy of not living in destructive life choices…and of living in these beautiful behaviors and relationships?

“Set your minds on things above.”

Living flows from thinking.

Pay careful attention to what you are paying attention to.

The preaching of the gospel is foundational in all good thinking.

Look ahead to 1 Peter 1:25

 “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. “And this is the word that was preached to you. “

God’s word stands forever…and this word, Peter says, that was preached to them…is the gospel.

The Bible shapes human existence around the gospel of Jesus.

We must begin with the gospel to shape our own thinking…not with our experiences or feelings or our own thoughts, or current trends.

This is not simplistic…this is simply the truth.

The importance of our thinking for the outcomes of our lives…is one reason why certain technology…which can be so helpful…is so potentially disastrous.

We think of technology as only electronics.

But any application of knowledge to a practical purpose could be technology…

A wheel, the printing press.

But certain technology…like what you find in a smart phone is more dangerous and devastating for humans than other kinds of technology…because it can so powerfully grab, control, and shape our thinking.

Like the old saying, “whoever frames the argument, wins the argument.”

“Whatever shapes our thoughts, wins our lives.

Books have been written on the impact of this technology on our minds and lives…so I won’t belabor the point.

We simply must consistently and proactively choose what we give attention to in our minds.

We must order our thinking around the revealed truth of God…then we are able to order our lives around the truth of God.

In most of his letter Peter will give some specific “whats” of the Christian life.

He will write about personal ethics, dealing with people in authority over you, marriage relationships, suffering, church leaders and church relationships, and other important matters.

But before he gets to the “what” he lays the foundation of “why”.

He began his letter with the Big “Why”…the gospel.

  1. Praise God, in his mercy we have been given new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead…the big “why” for everything is the gospel.

Then, how do we keep this foundational “why” front and center?

  1. We must continually hold the truth of the gospel in the forefront of our minds.
  2. Then he will finally get to some practical “whats” of this life of faith.

But the big “why” is the all-important starting point…the gospel.

Those who choose to disbelief in God have no “big why” for their lives.

-There is no reason to have ethics, or purpose, or hope, or meaning for those who disbelieve in God.

*Not that they don’t have those things…but that they have no foundational reason to have them…if they do not believe in God, then they hold ideas of morality and purpose, irrationally.

Since the God of the Bible exists…non-believers cannot live consistently in reality as they perceive it to be.

It is simply not possible.

It is a matter of fact that God exists…and to try and live as if he does not, cannot work.

So, Peter says we must make sure our minds are continually focused on the reality of God as revealed in the gospel.

Because this is the starting point for living our lives in line with the reality of God as he has actually made the world.

Anything other than this, simply will not work…

Not that we can’t try to live otherwise, many do try to live outside the reality of the gospel…but in the end, it will not work…. because it is not true.

“Okay, I am board with this but how?”

“I know that in order to live with the Big Why in focus, I must continually set my mind on the gospel.”

But how do I do that?

How, in practical fashion…do I “keep my mind’s shoelaces tied and ready to go?”

How do I “Stay sober minded and not get drunk with the thoughts that are contrary to the truth of God?”

“How do I not just caught up with all the good thoughts that take up all my mind’s bandwidth.”

*I have kids, a yard, a job, a body that hurts sometimes, in laws

Am I supposed to go around thinking…”Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

What does this even mean?

Good question…because it means you are thinking about all this in terms of your actual life…not just some separate “churchy” life.

What it means is that in all your thoughts and in the  corresponding living that flows from those thoughts…there most a gospel foundation or filter.

There is filter or a mental guard…that doesn’t allow thoughts to remain and infect you that are destructive to the life God has for you.

Of course, you think about work, and children, and friends, and sickness, and school shootings, and car problems…but what is the framework by which you think these thoughts?

It is biblical, it is true…or it is it a framework that doesn’t hold anything up in the end?

Two things to consider in terms of how to do this biblical thinking framework.

  1. Need to have truth in your mind
  1. Need to train your mind with that truth.
  1. Have truth in your mind.

Have to have at least the raw materials of true and good thinking.  A basic gospel understanding.

-Doesn’t have to be super complex or technical, but it does need to be accurate and adequate.

-Knowing facts(truth) is not enough for a thriving life (you have to apply truth), but it is an essential starting point.

Look at some of what we can infer just from Peter’s first chapter.

  1. Truth about God: He exists. He is sovereign. He powerful. He is wise. He has spoken in his word.
  1. The truth about the Gospel. It is grace/mercy. It is transformational new birth, change over time and into eternity. It is the most precious thing in the world.
  1. Truth about our lives. There is purpose in everything including suffering. Our purpose is the glory of God revealed in obedience. This obedience is revealed in love for others.

At any rate, you don’t need to become a theologian…you just need to have true truth.

*You must start with the Bible for what you are to think, believe.

It doesn’t matter whether you can understand all of it or not…it only matters that you understand that the Bible, understood correctly, must be the origin of your thoughts.

Not that the Bible will tell you how to fix a broken computer, or whether to major in engineering or join the Army…but that it must be the place you go for the foundational questions.

-Who is God.

-What is true and good to give my life for.

-Who are we as humans

-What is our problem and what is the solution

-What happens when we die

-What is truth…what is right to believe

-What are to be my ethics…what is right to do

From these come tons of subsets of answers…they take some work, but the foundation is there.

-Gender, marriage, politics, technology, raising children, dealing with health issues, dealing with family, meaning, suffering.

Answers to these questions are not all easy to come by (some are or should be) but they are possible to discern from God’s revelation of himself in Scripture.

*So… again, point #1 in how do we keep truth front and center in our minds…we have to have truth there to start with.

*The goal of knowing truth is to live truth…to be able to love God and others

-This kind of life is for the good of others, for our great joy, and for God’s greater glory.

*So, give up on trying to look smart or not trying to look dumb (this is sideways energy)…who cares if you can win an argument or if lose one on Scripture.

*who cares if you know the latest cool Christian trend(or secular trend(…know the truth in order to live in it.

The Bible is in fact the word of God.

Not everyone will believe that, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is.

Now, relax, and just faithfully over time…get more and more truth into your mind.

Again, Peter didn’t just start with…”Yall do this!”

He began with “Yall, know and believe this!”

*Please don’t worry about what you think you do or don’t know…or what someone, somewhere said about this or that in Scripture.

Everyone has to trust someone as their final authority.

Trust that God is there, because he is.

Scripture says, everyone knows this as a fact…from creation and conscience…though some willfully deny this knowledge.

Trust that God has spoken, because he has.

Scripture is God’s specific revelation of himself to us…it is trustworthy and if you will give effort to understand it and obey it…it will prove to be true in your life.

You can doubt all this…that is your choice.

Or you can choose to doubt your doubts…also your choice.

Everyone is limited in knowledge and power and wisdom…everyone lives by faith.

They choose what they will believe, and they choose what they will doubt.

God is alive and he has spoken…in creation, conscience, and his word.

Put truth in your mind.

2.Train your mind with that truth.

 Prepare your minds for action…set your hope fully on the gospel.

This is what the church does together.

We have daily devotions, small groups, worship services…we put out discussion guides…so we spend more than just Sunday mornings on the passage.

We get together for coffee or at the Y…we train for godliness in truth.

We now have an app…why do we have app?

Because everyone has one?  Nope

Because it is gee wheez cool to have one?  No

Because it can help us train in the truth…it is one more tool for the church.

This is just plain old training…nothing fancy about it.

Don’t look for…a magic bullet, something more spectacular than just showing up, and training…lace up the shoes of your mind.

Don’t be fooled…this is working?

What isn’t, training?

No, it won’t fix you…yes is changing you.

*Like saying, “I’m done sleeping, it doesn’t work.”

*”Why do you say that?”

*”Cause I just get tired again.”

Train…of course it works.

Here is the key fact for preparing your mind for action…

You do this by doing this.

I’m not trying to be a smart Alec.

What I mean is just start thinking about the things that you want to shape your mind and life…gospel truth.

When you find stinking thinking in your mind… learn to recognize it, toss it out, like garbage…and recover good thinking.

And one hint…any thought that makes you the center…is stinking thinking.

Gospel thinking is: Love God above all else, love others above self.

This is not about adding something to your life in terms of additional time or logistics…it is about doing what you are doing while intentionally choosing what you are thinking.

Training is about practice…it is not easy, but it is good, and it is possible.

I have been in situations many times…where gospel truth seemed far away or foggy (this was true yesterday to a smaller degree)

I have been in disorienting places in my life…hard to get my mind and emotions fixed on the gospel.

I have had to bring to mind the truth of God that I have already put in my mind.

I cry out to God for help.

I choose to see what I am currently seeing in front of me through the lens of the truth of God.

This  is Training for godliness…it’s work, effort. Spirit empowered, truth training.

All of Scripture…The OT key figures, the Psalms, John the Baptist in prison, Jesus in the Garden, the Letters…they show us that this training to see and live in the truth in our minds and lives is just that…training.

Don’t be dismayed that it takes work, effort…and that you will sometimes try and succeed, and sometimes try and fail…that is the nature of training.

God’s word is true…we are like fading grass…his word endures forever.

And this is the gospel, that has been preached to you.

You can live deciding…whether the gospel is fully true…but know that this is a decision.

It is the decision to live deciding.

I’m not saying there isn’t a legitimate time to investigate, or wonder, to doubt.

I’m simply saying that if at some point you don’t just decide to live decided…you will not experience the thriving life that is available to those who live by faith.

Without faith it is impossible to please God…because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

With what kind of reward?  They know and experience God…because experiencing God is the one true reward for the one who seeks God…who lives a decided life.