Monday, September 3, 2012

Exercising the Mind

1Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

  Most believers have a desire to know God more as they go through life and different trials………and THROUGH those trials the Lord draws us closer to him.  The hearts and minds of believers are not always yielded and pleased with what the Lord does in our lives, so whether we like it or not, the Lord draws his children closer to him.  There are multiple ways to get to know God, we can do what we want and just wait until the Lord intervenes in our lives and in most cases, he makes us miserable, but if we want to KNOW God better, one thing we need to do is exercise the minds that Christ has given us.

The word “Know” in Greek has the idea of being sure or to understand something.   

Know- eido (i'-do)
to know: - be aware, behold, can (+ not tell), consider, (have) known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand.

Whether we realize it or not we have the mind of Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 2:16, however once we “know” it, are we willing to exercise it?  God gave us all the capabilities to understand what he has written in his word for us to know at that time, but too often, at least for me, I don’t think I can understand a certain passage, so I stay away from reading it.  First, I think we need to believe what God has said in 1 John.

1John 5:20  “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

 HOW do we exercise the mind. Well, in my experience, there are 3 key ways to exercising the mind. 

1. Reading
2. Prayer
3. Fellowship with God and with other Believers

These 3 steps are not in any particular order, but these are just 3 main items that I’ve noticed in my own life that have been a really big help.

The first step is to read the scriptures.  By reading the Word of God and getting acquainted with it, God opens up our understanding.

2Timothy 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

In this verse, we are told to “Consider” what the Lord says. The Greek word for “consider” actually means to exercise the mind or to heed to.
            We usually think of the word “consider” to mean to think of briefly or to just glance over or to mull it over for a little while.  In order to exercise the mind, I think we should try to make time to read and that’s not easy. Before I started to come back to SBC, I had a desire to start reading the Word of God.  I went to a park once a week or so and read a little.  The first book that I started to read was the book of Proverbs. 

Proverbs 1:4 “To give subtilty(wisdom, discretion) to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

Solomon tells us here that he wrote the book of Proverbs, to give wisdom.

2Timothy 3:15 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 

Here we’re told that the Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise.  When we read the scriptures, they are able to give us wisdom and make us wise because God is the author and the Lord is able to illumine our minds if he so chooses.

2Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

Paul writes to the Ephesians that they should read to understand.

Ephesians 3:4 “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.”

Listen to this statement in Colossians:
      Col 2:2 “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Col 2:3 “In whom (Christ) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Now that we understand a little bit more about the benefits of reading God’s word, we need to make sacrifices and it’s not easy.  Sometimes we don’t want to set aside a time to read, because it requires work on our part.  Maybe if we want to read more, we could make a schedule.  We could shut off the TV from say 6pm –6:30 and use that time to read.  Sometimes people like to start the day by reading so maybe we could try to get up a half hour earlier everyday or some people already read books, so maybe the time that they usually are reading books, could be spent reading the Word of God.  Maybe we could just start by reading one verse at a time and then just think about that verse and try to understand it. 

The next step that is important is to be in constant prayer, prayer about reading, prayer about struggles that we go through, prayer about a big change that we’re going through.
The first verse that comes to mind is:

1Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

In this verse, we are told to constantly be praying about anything that comes to mind.  Most importantly, I feel, that when we read the Holy scriptures, we should PRAY about what we read that God would open our understanding to what he has written for us. When we do this, God will open our understanding, every time, and in my experience, He always reveals something different, even when reading the same passage.
One verse that Paul writes to the believers in Colosse (which is also to us) is Colossian 1:9.

            Colossians 1:9 “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;”

            In this verse, Paul writes to the church there and tells them that he is always PRAYING for them…to what….that they might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual UNDERSTANDING.  

One of the main ways to be filled with the knowledge of Christ is to…….READ the scriptures to know what he has written for us to learn and understand and when we don’t understand something we read, we should PRAY about it.  We, in and of ourselves aren’t able to understand some of the things that God has written, but when we sincerely desire to KNOW God and READ his word and PRAY that God would grant us the understanding, with that mindset, he will reveal to us what he will and draw us closer to him in the process, which is the point of getting to know God.

James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men Liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

This verse is such an encouragement when we get frustrated, not just in reading the Word, but also when we get frustrated in general.  A lot of times when I get frustrated or annoyed, I reject pausing for a moment to pray.  The times that I do pause for a moment to pray, those times of frustration seem to cease rather quickly.

So the first 2 points for exercising the mind is to READ and to PRAY.  I think that one word can describe these 2….and that is FELLOWSHIP which is also the third point that I feel is important in exercising the mind.  It might not seem like having fellowship exercises the mind, but I think that when we talk to others about things we have learned from God’s word, we’re exercising the mind.  I enjoy going to the evangelistic Bible studies and the college and career studies because the one thing that everyone likes to do is talk with each other.  In my experience, when I discuss things from the Bible with other believers, it’s an educational discussion.  Also, when we are having a simple discussion about something that we have learned from the Bible or what Sunday School was about or even about one verse, we’re thinking about Heavenly things and we’re told to think of Heavenly things.

            Colossians 3:2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
We’re also told numerous times in the Bible to fellowship with each other.

Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another to provoke(encourage) unto love and to good works:”
Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

There is another type of fellowship that we are given the privilege to enjoy, we can have fellowship with the living and true God.  We don’t have to go through a priest or anything like that. We can, just us and God, have fellowship and God wants us to have fellowship with him.
            I think that this verse says it very clearly.

1John 1:3 “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

When we have fellowship with other believers, we ALSO have fellowship with the Father.  I don’t know about you, but that’s hard for me to understand. Sometimes it’s hard for me to want to stay after a Bible study to stick around and talk, but then the Lord always seems to bring this verse to mind.  When I don’t feel like talking with others or I don’t really have anything to talk about, I simply pray and this verse refocuses my mind and makes me realize, that when I fellowship with other believers and discuss spiritual things, I am in fellowship with Christ.

Romans 7:25 “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

At the conclusion of the struggle of our 2 natures that Paul describes earlier on in this chapter, Paul is thankful that Christ has given him the intellect to know the differences among doing wrong and doing right.  If we read this chapter, I think most all of us would agree that we ALL have this same struggle.  The whole Christian life is a struggle and the Bible tells us that we are constantly wrestling with this struggle.

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The word “mind” here is the same Greek word that means intellect in the other passages we’ve looked at.  Paul writes in this verse that we need to let our minds be transformed by renewing our minds with the exercising of the intellect that God has granted us.  So how do WE renew our minds, you might ask.  Well, in my experience when we read God’s word, we need to realize and understand that the LORD illumines our minds and therefore we just need to let GOD reveal the scripture that HE would have us to understand as we read.  Up to this point in this study, we have discussed HOW we exercise the mind of Christ. Another interesting fact that I have learned while doing this study, is that the scriptures themselves ARE partly the mind of Christ.  Yes, God has granted us intellect so that we might learn and understand the things the Lord has written in his word.  In addition to that, the scriptures themselves were written under the inspiration and authority of Christ……HIS mind and intellect.  All these practices that have been discussed to exercise OUR minds, also work with this concept.  When we read God’s word, we are, in a sense, learning Christ’s mind. [The Bible]  Also, when we pray or fellowship with other believer’s, we are also using Christ’s mind.  This is AMAZING to even try to wrap our heads around, that God has granted us, fallen, sinful, humans the capacity to, not only read for ourselves the things that are from God’s mind, but also to get a very small glimpse into the way the Lord thinks and organizes HIS thoughts.  What a Blessing!! 

Now that we know a little more about how to yield our minds to Christ in order to have a deeper relationship with the Lord, there is only one more prerequisite before we can have this privilege.  We have to know, or understand, that Christ died for our sins as the only sacrifice God the Father accepted.  If we believe that and accept Christ as our personal savior, we have the awesome privilege to be in a right relationship to the Lord. 

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