(Audio Transcription Below)
July 2024 is the Summer Olympics. You are all going to watch some part – track and field, basketball, rowing, swimming. Right now, the athletes who plan to compete in these games are on a training schedule which will land them in the best shape of their lives so they can compete for a gold medal. The Olympics start on July 26, last time we met it was 10 months away, today it’s 9 1/2 months away. Time is moving along quickly.
Challenge Yourself: What two or three events do you want to be in peak shape for? Spiritual, Relational, Financial, Physical?
Accountability: Write it down and share it with someone. Share it with me if you like and I will check-in and see your progress.
Core Training: Think of Run to Win as our training guide for the year – 17 core exercises to keep yourself, your soul, in shape so you might run to win.
So often we think of our biggest problems as coming from the outside, yet the beginning of real change starts by addressing what’s inside our minds.
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. Romans 12:1-2
In the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul unloads a mountain range of information. Now in chapter 12, he shifts to the process of transformation. New information is only part of the equation of change. There is a next step after new information, which is implementing the new information. We must take out/put off the old information and learn to put on the new information into our lives.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” In Greek, the word conform usually deals with fashion. What’s in fashion or popular, either clothing or thinking, is what you put on. “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In Greek, the word transformed is metamorphosis – think caterpillar to butterfly.
In 1 Peter 1:13-14, you’ll notice the Apostle Peter uses the same pattern as the Apostle Paul. In 1 Peter 1:1-12, Peter reminds his reader of critical information, but then Peter shifts to the process of transformation in verse 13.
Therefore, prepare 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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. 1 Peter 1:13-14
Just like Paul, Peter says “do not be conformed,” but instead “prepare your minds.” It’s a different word, but the same idea. Your mind thought one way, now it needs to be prepared or transformed into a new way of thinking.
Immediately upon hatching, the caterpillar begins consuming, or you might say “taking in information.” It’s hunger is so voracious, it will consume as much as 100 times its body weight in a single day. After three weeks of binge eating, the caterpillar will move to the underside of a leaf, hang upside down, and form a protective shell called a chyrsalis. While in the chyrsalis, a previously dormant cell in the caterpillar called the imaginal cell begins to activate. When the imaginal cell first activates, the immune system of the caterpillar does not recognize it so it immediately fights to get rid of it. The imaginal cell multiplies quickly and eventually replaces the old cells and becomes the genetic future of the caterpillar. You might say the new mindset of the caterpillar to turn into a butterfly was at first rejected, but it continues to fight and eventually takes over and transformation occurs. It’s the exact process Paul and Peter talk about.
Principles for Transforming Your Mind: 1 Peter 1:13-14
Preparing Your Mind
This theme is perfect for our Olympic training theme – it means to be ready to run, to spring into action. You never know when you will be called on to act, so be ready! Two ways to be prepared are:
- Guard your mind from garbage. You’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” In II Corinthians 10:5, Paul says “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” These are fighting words: demolish things that set themselves against God, take captive every thought. You must be watchmen which stand guard over what comes into your mind from the outside. As Proverbs 15:14 puts it, “A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash.” What are you feeding your mind? What makes up your mental diet? Movies, the internet, social media, books, your phone? My guess is that many need to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone.
- Replace Trash with Truth. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Renew means “to renovate.” When you renovate something, it’s out with the old and in with the new.
Philippians 4:6-8 gives us two ways to guard our minds from garbage: Prayer and Pondering
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:6-8
Be Sober Minded
Rick Warren says “don’t believe everything you think.” God says it this way in Isaiah 55:8, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts.” Do you know what that means in the original Hebrew? It means, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts.” So frequently we naturally feel if we think something, it must be true. Yet the Bible is clear that because of sin, we are all fighting against a form of mental illness. The Bible uses at least a dozen different phrases for the condition of our minds under sin. Our minds are:
- confused (Deuteronomy 28:20)
- anxious, closed (Job 17:3-4)
- evil, restless (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23)
- rash, deluded (Leviticus 5:4; Isaiah 32:4)
- troubled mind (2 Kings 6:11)
- depraved mind (1 Timothy 6:5)
- dull mind (2 Corinthians 3:14)
- blinded mind (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- corrupt mind (2 Timothy 3:8)
Our minds are broken by sin. We have an amazing ability to lie to ourselves. We tell ourselves that things aren’t as bad as they really are. We tell ourselves that things are better than they really are. We tell ourselves that we’re doing okay when we’re not doing okay. We’re telling ourselves it’s no big deal when it is a big deal. We must remind ourselves not to believe everything we think.
In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter circles back to the word sober-minded. “Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We are frequently devoured by our own poor judgements, our faulty thinking.
Set Your Hope
The Greek literally says, “to the end, hope.” In other words, put all your hope in what’s at the end. Yes, you are aware of what’s happening right now. Perhaps you are happy or unhappy about current circumstances, but your hope is at the end. Your hope is fully resting in the reality that eternal grace is coming toward you like a freight train.
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3-4
What is your hope set on? Do you have an unwavering gaze on Jesus or do your current passions overwhelm you? In John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is a young man at the very beginning of his long and difficult journey to heaven when he is taken aside by a wise counselor. The counselor takes Christian to a room where two children are seated – Passion and Patience. Christian asks the counselor, “Why is Passion so restless?” Counselor says, “Because his governor wants him to wait for the best things, but Passion wants all of his best things now.” Then someone came to Passion and poured out at his feet a bag of treasures, which he quickly gathered into his arms with great joy, laughing loudly at Patience. But soon, he wasted everything he had and was left with nothing but an empty bag.
“Now I see,” said Christian. “Patience has better wisdom, he waits for the best things.” “Yes,” said the Counselor, “but the present things are so close to our fleshly appetites and eternal things so far from our souls, we are apt to yield to our desires rather than wait for the satisfaction of the eternal.”
- Preparing your mind: What garbage needs to be removed from your mind? What are you mentally consuming that needs to be removed? What’s your strategy for prayer and pondering? Do you have one?
- Be sober-minded: Are you sober-minded about your own thoughts? Can you recall a time when you were devoured by your own poor judgement? When you were sure you were right, but now you know your thinking was faulty?
- Set your hope: What is your hope set on? How do you know? How often do your current passions overwhelm the reality of “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you”?
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