Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Before we get started this morning, I want to tell you about something really exciting that’s happening this week that I want you to be a part of.
On Wednesday, we are going to be baptizing a whole bunch of people at the Edgett’s house at 7:30
And you need to be there.
Because Baptisms are the best thing ever to watch!
And some of you need to be there because you need to get baptized!
If I can, let me issue a strong challenge from God’s Word this morning.
Lots of times in the upper Midwest, we let the traditions we grew up influence our depiction of what Baptism is rather than what the Bible actually says about.
The Bible tells us that baptism is simply an outward symbol of what has happened on the inside of your life when you accept Christ.
The Bible describes it as a symbol of what Jesus’ death did on Easter weekend
We die (to our old life), are buried (under water), wiped clean (by the water, our sins are left behind (under water), and we are resurrected (come up from the water) as clean and sinless.
Now, baptism doesn’t do that. Your faith in Jesus does that. But it’s an awesome symbol of what God has done in your life.
And baptism is something that happens after belief.
We see plenty of examples of this in the Bible.
After a jailer puts his faith in Christ in Acts 16, he is baptized
After an Ethiopian Eunuch puts his faith in Christ in Acts 8, He is baptized
We don’t always do such a great job of it here in the northern united states, but baptism is something that typically followed belief pretty quickly…
And if it’s already been a year for you…or 3 years or 20 years…it’s still worth doing.
And we do it because for one, Jesus commanded it
(Matthew 28:18-20) - NIV
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
It’s an integral part of being a follower of Jesus
Secondly because Jesus himself was baptized…setting the example for us.
And thirdly because it’s an outward witness to the world of what God’s doing in your heart.
And Baptism is something we’re commanded to do AFTER we believe
This is really difficult for many of us in our culture, and something I had to really wrestle with personally in my life
Like many people in the upper Midwest, I grew up in a tradition where I was baptized as a baby.
But I had to do the tough wrestling because nowhere in Scripture are babies ever baptized.
It’s a tradition some churches developed outside of Scripture over time.
Babies are sometimes dedicated to God in the Bible. But not baptized.
Baptism is something entirely different. Baptism is something that we’re commanded to do as youth or adults after we’ve made our own personal belief.
And if you’ve never been baptized as an adult, after YOU made the choice to follow Jesus, I want challenge you to think about getting baptized this week.
It’s such an incredible experience.
Take the step forward of obedience and experience the joy of baptism this week!
We’ll give more details in announcements. And there’s plenty more we could say about it. If you have questions, feel free to ask me.
All right, let’s get started with the message this morning
BATTLING IN THE MOMENT
We are finishing a series this morning called “Mind Control.”
The basic concept is that our mind is the battleground for how well we will follow Jesus.
And spiritual formation, growing in your faith, is the process of exchanging bad ideas, thoughts, and systems for Holy ideas, thoughts and systems.
2 weeks ago, when we were last in this series, we were talking about how to deal with the all the negative and sinful thoughts in your head
We said, that although we often pretend to be amazing Christians on the outside, often our minds are forbidden playgrounds of lust, bitterness, jealousy, hate…you name it.
And we talked about 3 steps you could take to better control some of those sinful thoughts from dominating your life.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5) – NIV
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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.
Here were the 3 steps:
#1: We start by taking the thoughts captive.
#2: We surrender those thoughts in prayer to God
#3: We replace those thoughts with truth.
So, let’s say you’re struggling with some really negative thoughts about yourself.
“I’m such a failure. There’s not much of a point to my life. Nobody cares, etc. etc.”
#1: Take it captive!
Stop it. Police your mind. Box it up and hand it over to Jesus.
#2: Surrender it to God.
You can’t do this by yourself and in your own will-power!
Pray and ask God, “God, I need your help right now. I’m really struggling with these thoughts. Take them away from me.
#3: Replace them with truth:
“God, these aren’t true. (Because they’re not) You love me. You think the world of me. You sent your son for me. You have a purpose and a plan for me.”
That’s a basic 3-step process to better mind-control, and you can use that with anything!
And my prayer is that this is a huge help to you as it is to me.
But as we look to today’s topic of focusing your mind more on Jesus, we’ve got some initial problems we’ve got to deal with.
And the first problem is: I think that most of us aren’t even in the game for the control of our minds.
We’re not even in the fight.
But you’ve gotta be in the fight!
Your sinful nature is trying to lead you away from God.
The devil is doing push-ups in the other room for control of your mind while most of us do nothing
Get in the game. Get in the fight. Ask God to fight with you!
And when you get the desire to start battling back for Godly control of your mind, don’t make the second biggest mistake (the 1st mistake being not even fighting)…but the 2nd biggest mistake is to fight on your own!
But God can help you with your thoughts. He can help you in the moment. Let HIM help you fight! Stop trying to do it all by yourself. You can’t beat sin with your own will-power.
When I was a kid, and I’m embarrassed to say this out loud, my dad used to watch WWF wrestling. AKA fake wrestling. Or soap operas for men.
And I’m even more embarrassed to say this out loud, when I was like 6 or 7, I kind of like watching it with him.
And my favorite part was the tag-team wrestling matches.
Whenever you felt like you were getting beat up and losing, you could reach over to the corner and tag in your partner.
I think this is a good illustration of our mind control topic.
We are just getting beat up in our mind with thoughts of anger, and apathy, and cravings for everything but God…
And while we’re getting beat up, God is sitting there…in our corner…saying, “Tag me in! Tag me in! Let me help you fight!”
So let Him in. Surrender to Him. Let His power help you.
And when you’re attacked in your mind with these thoughts: Lust, thinking about how much you hate your co-worker, thinking about how you can’t be happy without a new house or car, thinking about another person too much…
When you’re attacked, have a game-plan.
It’s like…say you’re training to be a boxer, or maybe even a UFC fighter.
You have to know the moves to use when a your opponent comes at you with a certain punch combo, and pins you to the ground in a certain hold.
You’ve got to know the way out, and activate it.
You can’t just say… “Meh, we’ll just get in the Octagon and I’ll figure it out.”
No, these guys know, if they put me in the “arm bar,” here’s how I’m getting out…
And you’ve gotta know, when the devil comes at you with the “lust hold” or the “resentment hold,” here’s how you’re getting out!
So if he comes at you, with those thoughts of how your mom is probably one of the worst mom’s in the history of mom’s…not even sure she deserves the title of mom…she drives me insane..she’s never proud of me…she’s ……..
What are you going to do?!?!
Most of us…not in the game.
We just sit there and let sin bounce around beating the crap out of us and our minds.
But get in the game here!
Take it captive. Surrender. Then…beat it back with truth!
How are you getting out this thing??!?
What’s your game plan?
One of the best things you can do is beat it back with what the Bible calls the “Sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6)
That’s the Bible. The Word of God.
And then fight back with his truth.
Beat back those thoughts with the Sword of the Spirit along with God.
Say, “I’m not gonna let those negative thoughts about my mom dominate my mind.”
“God, you tell us that you are the ‘Father to even the Fatherless’ in your word. And even if my mom wasn’t really there, you’re there for me. Thank you!”
“God, you said on the cross, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ God, I know my mom doesn’t know you, and she doesn’t have your truth. Help me to forgive like you forgive!”
See, your knowledge of Scripture will somewhat determine your ability to fight back.
The Bible itself even says that:
(Psalm 119:11) – NIV
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Get in the Word. Learn God’s word. It’s key to your life.
I would even challenge you to start memorizing more Scripture.
So you can pull it out when you need to!
Maybe even a verse a week. Even a verse a month would be great.
What if you had 12 verses memorized a year from now?! That’s still better than zero right?
But what would I memorize?!?
Pick out some favorite verses as you read. Highlight as you read. Ask a friend…It doesn’t matter. Google “Bible Verses to Memorize” …just try something J
That’s battling in the moment.
But we’ve also got to get stronger during the off-times.
Just merely KNOWING the path to beat a certain move and having the KNOWLEDGE of how to get out of there, doesn’t mean you will.
To use the fighting analogy again, (because the battle for control of your mind is a fight…make no mistake), in the times between fights, fighters need to be training! Getting stronger!
You aren’t going to be any good if you learned the knowledge of how to get out of every hold, but you don’t actually get stronger in the months in between.
And yes, you can know that when those thoughts of bitterness come, Take it captive, Surrender, and Replace it with a new thought…
But if you’re not actually making your mind stronger…filling it with more of God’s truth in the meantime, you’re not going to do any better when the fight actually comes to you.
This could be an over-simplification…but there are two parts to the battle:
1) What you do when battle begins. “Whoa! Here comes that thought…what are you gonna do?”
That’s where we apply the 3-step process: Take it captive, surrender, replace it with truth.
But the second part of winning the battle for your mind, is what I would call off-season training.
It’s strengthening your mind with the truth of Jesus Christ in the “off-season”
IN the times when you’re not currently being assaulted
See, the more your mind has already been changed, and strengthened with God’s truth, the less likely you are to fall for the hooks of temptation.
This is a key part of growing as a disciple. Look at this key verse
(Romans 12:2) – NIV
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The Bible tell us in 1 Corinthians 2, that as we grow, we can develop the “mind of Christ.”
Not that we are exactly like Him, but he can spiritually develop us to think more like Him.
THE THINK-LOVE CYCLE
And He can grow our minds and thus change our actions this way.
It’s like this: The more you THINK about God, The more you’ll love God, and the more you love God, the more you can Live for GOd, and the More you live for GOd, the more you glorify God with your life, and the more He can change the world through you!!
But where does it all start?
Again, it starts in the mind!
The power of thought is amazing!
And this is what I would call the exponential cycle of “Think-Love”
Let me explain: For those of you that have been in love...think about when you first fell in love…maybe back to high school even…
When you’re falling hard for a person, what do you spend most of your time doing?
Thinking about them!
You think about them in the morning, during class, during lunch, during your ride home, during dinner, when you’re falling asleep.
They consume your thoughts.
But thinking…in an odd way…fosters love…and love…causes you to think… (It’s the “Think-Love” cycle)
Love causes you to think and thinking causes you to love…which causes you to think….which eventually then develops into action…
And pretty soon you’re doing all this crazy stuff and going on all these romantic dates and dancing on the clouds like a typical teenager in the love!
Not very different with God.
The same love affair can happen.
Guess where it starts???? No seriously, guess. Shout it out!
You learn about God…you think about Him, the more you think about Him, the more you love Him, the , and the more you love Him, the more you can Live for Him, and the More you live for Him, the more you glorify God wit your life, and the more He can change the world through you!!
You may say, that still sounds kind of weird. Just “THINK” about God…and all this stuff will happen.
But I’m not asking you to think about a high school crush or the latest idea.
I’m asking you to think about the creator of the universe!
If you think of God…study God…learn about God…set your mind on who God really is….You will be blown away by the most awe-inspiring, loving, brilliant, magnificent person ever…and it ABSOLUTELY WILL change you!
And THIS is why the Bible straight up calls us to dwell on God all the time.
(Colossians 3:1-2) – NIV
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
(Colossians 3:16) – NIV
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
HOW TO PUT ON THE MIND OF CHRIST
But…if you don’t know much about God yet, how can you think about Him, how can you “set your mind on things above,” if you don’t know the “things above?!?”
What are some practical examples on how you can actually focus your mind on Him, and get caught up in this “Think-Love” cycle??
Well…treat it like a relationship.
Start with just spending more time with Him.
It almost just seems too simple.
But if you spend time at the Feet of the Master…he will reach down, and change your heart.
Every minute you sit at his feet, is another minute He is doing spiritual surgery on your mind…making you more like Him
But some of us…we all too often just check out from God for weeks at a time, or even months at a time, and then we wonder why He feels so far away?
Well, it’s no different than choosing to not spend anything with your spouse or the person your dating for 3 months…
If you made the choice to not spending any time with them, would you then complain to them that it…”It just feels like you’re so distant from me!”
We’ve got to have enough MIND CONTROL to always keep Jesus on our mind.
Let your mind dwell on Him and his goodness.
Keep Jesus on your Mind.
Especially this summer.
Too many of us come back to church in the fall bruised and battered from a summer away from God
Keep close to Him.
The pull of this world, and sin, is enormous!
Without daily reminders from Jesus…you will find yourself irrationally drifting towards the sin and pain.
(Hebrews 2:1) – NIV
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
Keep careful attention. Keep Jesus on your mind.
If you need to take a summer course through Renovation just to keep up the weekly discipline of keeping God on your mind and in your heart…then do it.
Find practical ways to keep Him in your mind and heart.
Get to know Him. Spend time with Him.
Start with just spending 5 more minutes a day in prayer.
Start with making FOR sure you’re in the Bible…every day.
If you don’t know where to start, pick up a 100 chapters in 100 days plan at the table.
Or a Bible pyramid that tells you which books to read first.
Or a Bible under your chair. They’re for you to take.
Bring your mind to dwell on God.
As it’s been said by many, “Let the mind of the Master be the master of your mind”
It takes discipline…
All too often we get really frustrated that we have no mind control, but we never do anything to actually build it.
We never get the “Think-Love” cycle going.
It’s like being incredibly frustrated about being out of shape, but never working out.
Work your spiritual disciplines. Keep “Jesus on your Mind.”
What can you do to keep Jesus on your mind as often as possible?
The more you put Him on your mind, the more He will give you the mind of Christ, and the more you will live free of sin and in His victory, and in Joy, and in life.
Keep God on your mind:
Work on some Scripture memory verses
Listen to Christian music more
It’s a great way to just keep Jesus on your mind.
Read Christian books more
Go on a prayer retreat at Wilderness Fellowship (brochures on the table)
Listen to the Bible on your iPod or phone on your commute
Listen to podcasts of sermons while you drive.
Talk about Jesus with your friends.
If you don’t have people to talk to about God, again, get involved here. Sign-up for a summer course…meet people…and talk about Jesus.
The mind is a battleground, but it is a battle that Jesus can win!
Enter the battle. Take your thoughts captive. Surrender to God. Replace those lies with truth.
And do some off-season training!
We waste much of our time filling our minds with things that bring us down or benefit us nothing.
Spend your days filling your mind with God, and allow God to work hope, love, and change into your life.
It’s a battle…but the struggle to win back control of your mind for Jesus…is well worth fighting.
Get in the game for the battle of your mind…and find life!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.