How to obey God when you do NOT feel like it . . .

obedience1 Peter  1:13-16 — 13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a]

Today I am going to focus on the “want to . . .”

I.             KNOW YOUR FACTS ABOUT GOD

  • Regardless of how I feel or act—what are the unchanging facts about God?
  • You can’t always trust your feelings, because feelings have nothing to do with the facts of God’s Word.
  • GOD’S WORD SAYS IT, I BELIEVE IT, THAT SETTLES IT.  WRONG!

A)      GOD’S ACTIONS FIRST—v13

Then comes the main verb, and for the first time in this letter its an imperative. It’s a command: “Hope fully.” Or: “Fix your hope completely.

Finally, Peter tells us what the object of the hope is–what we are hoping in, namely, the grace of God.

Let’s sum it up:

Verse 1: since God has chosen you,

Verse 3: since God has caused you to be born again to a living hope,

Verse 4: since God is keeping an inheritance for you imperishable, undefiled and unfading,

Verse 5: since God is protecting you through faith so that you won’t lose that inheritance,

Verses 6-7: since God is refining your faith by fire so that it will receive praise and glory and honor,

Verse 8: since you are swimming with the strokes of love and faith and joy in Christ,

Verses 10-13: since prophets and angels are on tiptoe to see all that God’s grace is going to do in your life,

Therefore, hope fully in this grace.

HOPE—what we can base our actions upon.

God’s GRACE is sufficient for me.    God is at work whether we feel like it or not.

GOD IS AT WORK IN YOUR LIFE EVEN WHILE YOU REBEL.

The verse that says, “You shall be holy,” is often interpreted as a threat (i.e. “You shall be holy—or else!”), but in reality it is a promise: “You shall be holy—because God will make you holy.” Paul said in the book of Philippians,

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

Ephesians 2:10—For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God’s work in our lives can be painful, but his ultimate goal is to transform us into something better.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.

But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.

You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage, but he is building up a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (book III, chapter 12); submitted by Andy Scarcliffe, Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Scripture also says “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13)  So even if you feel like your faith is fading, God remains faithful toward you. His commitment to you never changes.

God is at work whether we feel like it or not. 

B)  OUR RESPONSE IS SECOND.

And the first command is HOPE IN GRACE. “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

HOPE—what we can base our OBEDIENCE upon

Christianity is, first, God graciously, freely acting to save his people; and, second, man hoping fully in that grace. That’s the essence of Christianity.

“Hope in God,” is the very heart of what God commands and delights in.

Psalm 147:10-11,  His delight is not in the strength of the horse, Nor his pleasure in the legs of a man; The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, In those who hope in his steadfast love.”

  1. BE MENTALLY FOCUSED ON WHAT IS NEXT

Obedience begins in your mind, and there are three elements of holiness that we are going to examine today. First of all…

1. Prepare.

(v. 13) Therefore, prepare your minds for action…

The King James Version renders this, “Gird up the loins of your mind.” This was a meaningful metaphor for first century believers. In New Testament days men wore long robes which were quite a hindrance whenever a man needed to move quickly. Men also would wear a belt around their waist, so that when the occasion called for strenuous action, they would shorten the robe by pulling it up in the belt, giving them the freedom to run, fight, or whatever they needed to do. This was called “girding your loins.”

When Peter says gird up the loins of your mind, he’s saying “Prepare yourself for strenuous mental activity. Your mind has become a battlefield; get ready to fight.”

That’s what our minds are running for. But what are they running in? What are they active in? What is the mind to be doing so actively that it produces hope?

The answer is TRUTH. Hope happens when our minds are girded up with truth, and active in truth.

I say this for two reasons. One comes from the next verse (which we’ll look at next week): “Do not be conformed to your former lusts which were yours in ignorance.” The reason we were once led along by all kinds of lusts instead of being led by hope in grace is because our minds were “in ignorance.” So if we want to hope to flourish in our hearts, we must gird up the loins of our minds with truth in stead of ignorance.

CHARLES SPURGEON—There is nothing that Satan can do for his evil cause that he does not do.  We may be half-hearted, but he never is.  He is the very image of ceaseless industry and untiring earnestness.  He will do all that can be done in the time of his permitted rage.  We may be sure that he will never lose a day.

2. Separate.

Peter says “prepare your minds,” then goes on to say,

(v. 13) …be self-controlled…

The King James Version reads, “Be sober.” The Greek word translated sober can have two meanings, just like the English word. It can mean “not intoxicated,” and it can mean “clear-headed.” Peter is saying that if you are going to live a holy life, you have to keep your head on straight. The point is: know what numbs your mind to God and avoid it. Stay sober for the sake of full and passionate hope in God’s grace.

Since 9/11 our nation has been on high alert. Although for several years nothing as catastrophic has happened in this country since that day, terrorists have struck elsewhere. On March 11, 2004, terrorists exploded 10 bombs in Madrid, Spain, killing almost 200, wounding another 1,800.

Two months later there was a scare in Philadelphia. It was May 5th, and a conductor for Pennsylvania’s transit authority discovered something frightening on the tracks near Philly’s massive 30th street station. It was an electronic transmitter, planted alongside the tracks in the commuter rail yard. Agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI soon swarmed the scene. Investigators discovered that the mysterious gadget was in fact a motion detector designed to send a signal to a nearby receiver. Tension mounted.

Finally, a train mechanic stepped forward and admitted installing the transmitter. Was he a terrorist, or a disgruntled employee looking for revenge? No, the mechanic worked the graveyard shift and had installed the motion detector to sound an alarm in his work area whenever his supervisor was approaching. That way he could safely take a nap; if the alarm went off, he could get up and look busy when the boss showed up.

Jere Downs, “Device Found by Tracks,” Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/states/pennsylvania

3. Concentrate.

This kind of concentration should characterize our approach to living. Peter said,

(v. 13) …fix your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when He is revealed.

Erik Weihenmayer is blind, yet on May 25, 2001 (Nepal time), he reached the peak of Mt. Everest. Suffering from a degenerative eye disease, he lost his sight when he was 13, but that didn’t stop him. On a mountain where 90 percent of climbers never make it to the top—and 165 have died trying since 1953—Erik succeeded, in large measure because he listened well.

He listened to the little bell tied to the back of the climber in front of him, so he would know what direction to go.

He listened to the voice of teammates who would shout back to him, “Death fall two feet to your right!” so he would know what direction not to go.

He listened to the sound of his pick jabbing the ice, so he would know whether the ice was safe to cross.

When we take a perilous journey, listening well can make all the difference.

Bill White, Paramount, California; source: Time (6-18-01)

The great concern of God in this passage of his word is that we not be moderate in HOPING.

CONCLUSION

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