Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

To Be or Not to Be

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To Be or Not to Be

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To Be or Not to Be

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What do you want to be? How can we follow and become like Christ? What does God instruct us to be?

Transcript


The title of the sermon today is To Be or Not Be. In Shakespeare’s tragic play, Hamlet, the opening lines of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy read:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep

Hamlet is faced with a deadly dilemma of taking a stand against the evil king and risk death or to just let things slide and deal with the consequences, that’s the backdrop of the question to be or not to be. The verb “to be” has to do with existence, a state of being. Hamlet winds up killing the king and himself, a rather tragic course to take. So this afternoon I want to examine this question to be or not to be. And the more you try to forget this question the more you will remember it. I challenge you to forget to be or not to be.

On January 6 this year, my mother died on a Friday afternoon. On Sunday, January the 8th and tomorrow is Mother’s Day and it will be exactly thirteen weeks since she died, we buried her on January the 8th. So Mother’s Day this year will be a bit different for me. She had fallen and broken her leg; she got up in the night to use the bathroom. She’s 87, the leg she broke, she had had four hip replacements in and also she had broken the femur on that leg about four years ago and it was greatly weakened, so when she got up what happened is the leg just snapped above the knee and she fell over. And within a day or so I was over there by her side and everything seemed fine, but within another day she had pneumonia and she was fighting for her life.

Pneumonia is somewhat analogous to drowning as you struggle for breath; however, there is a significant difference between pneumonia and drowning and pneumonia often times you drown several times before you finally go under and die, and so it was with her. My mother was not God’s church, she was a woman of deep spiritual convictions, and hopefully, we will see her in the second resurrection. And of course one of the reasons why I want to be is to see my family, many loved-ones and relatives, my wife and children and grandchildren, friends and all the brethren in the kingdom of God. And so the question of to be or not to be is of vital importance.

As she fought for her life that week as we were there by her side, my brother and I and my wife and his wife from time to time, as she struggled for her life, I suppose I that I made just about every appeal that one can make in prayer. At one time she was having an attack and I laid my hands on her and I began to pray as if I was anointing someone in our fellowship, and she did come out of that particular bought. So over and over during that week I thought on the question, to be or not to be?

You realize that the person lying there struggling for air is not just the physical body, but there is an animating spirit that we call the spirit in man that gives breath, life, mind and personality, and when that breath of life, that animating spirit is gone, all that is left is flesh. Let’s turn to John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×
. One of the great memory versus of the Bible and if you haven’t memorized this verse, that will be your first assignment today. Memorize John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×
.

John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×
. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

Being consists far more than just the physical elements that make up the flesh. God created us in his own image. That includes the ability to think, to reason, to hope, to dream, to speak, communicate, show emotion and project our personality, but we know that being in the eternal sense is not inherent within human beings. We know that apart from God we cannot and will not live eternally. So let’s consider more deeply the question of to be or not to be.

One of the first questions that we usually ask when we’re growing, and I know I’ve asked it a lot of times to children, and I remember being asked this myself growing. Well what do you want to be when you grow up? And the question of what you want to be when you’re a child is usually asked in terms of an occupation and children usually answer in terms of what their parents or what they have been exposed to through books, friends, the media. And very rarely do youngsters under the age of ten say I want to be a person of character and integrity. Or I want to be a person who makes the world a better place. I want to be a person who serves others. And I don’t recall anyone saying that they wanted to be a Christian.

It’s usually in the mid-teens or later before the question changes from what do you want to be when you grow up to what do you want to do with your life? There are probably people sitting here this afternoon of every age, including some over the age of sixty, seventy and maybe even eighty, who are asking themselves what do I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve asked the question several times in the past few years. What do I really want to do with the rest of my life? What kind of footprints in the sand do I want to leave?

So as you sit here this afternoon regardless of your age ask yourself the question what do I want to do with the rest of my life? What do I want to become? What do I want to be? And if you should cease to be in the flesh, what would be the main thing that you would want people to remember about you? On the morning that it became clear, that Friday morning January the 6th, that my mother was going to die, my brother and I had come, we had been called out early in the morning, somewhere around 4:00-5:00, and we rushed down to the hospital. Then we finally went down to the cafeteria and as we sat there having breakfast, my brother looked at me and said, Donald do you think you’ll be able to speak at mother’s funeral? And I replied, I don’t know we will arrange the schedule so that if I can’t we’ll just proceed to the graveside.

It turned out that both of his sons, my nephews, they’re young men, they’re both doctors, medical doctors and my brother and I were able to speak after the baptist minister spoke briefly. And the baptist minister is aware to some degree of my beliefs and so on, so I thought he did a good job, and among the topics I read and commented on was Proverbs 31, the virtuous woman. So what will they read about you and me when that time comes? Who do you want to be? Is it to be like Christ? Let’s go now to I Peter 2:21, a great anchor scripture, another scripture that should be committed to memory. I guess we could also title this sermon the memory scripture sermon.

I Peter 2:21. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”

So Christ is to be our measure, he is to be the one that we strive to be like. So what did Christ tell his parents at the age of twelve concerning what he wanted to be and what he wanted to do? Let’s go to Luke 2. You know the story of how Joseph and Mary along with family that Jesus had gone to the Feast, and they were returning and they missed Jesus, couldn’t find him, so they rushed back to Jerusalem to look for him and they found him. Luke 2:42 Luke 2:42And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
American King James Version×
, we get the verse that he was twelve years old. They went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the Feast.

Luke 2:46-48 Luke 2:46-48 [46] And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. [47] And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. [48] And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said to him, Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing.
American King James Version×
. “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?”

In other words, we were worried to death; we were worried sick. We didn’t know if you were dead or alive.

Verse 48-49. “…thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

Jesus said at the age of twelve…

Verse 49. “…I must be about my Father’s business.”

And remember he set us an example that we should follow in his steps. Now does this mean that a youngster has to be all religious and go around quoting scripture? No, but it means according to what I can discern from the Bible that by the age of twelve one should begin to deeply consider what they’re going to be, and I assumed that you did, I know that by the age of twelve I was beginning to fairly well try to map out my life and what I wanted to be.

I believe that we need to and must teach responsibility and accountability to our youngsters at an early age, and I believe that we have made progress in this in recent years and coming more to an understanding of our youngsters can be called right now and they sit with access to the wonderful words of truth. Let’s go to Ecclesiastes 12:1 Ecclesiastes 12:1Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them;
American King James Version×
and this tremendous statement that is made here, an admonition, exhortation. It should be viewed as encouragement.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Ecclesiastes 12:1Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them;
American King James Version×
. “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”

So the admonition is very strong to remember our creator, and I know that we have made progress in the church with our youth education, and I hope that we make a lot more progress, of course, we cannot leave it to the church. It begins in the home of teaching a child and giving them the vision. What do you want to be? Christ said at the age of twelve, don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business? Now in Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 12:13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
American King James Version×
, the last two verses here, showing the accountability part.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 12:13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
American King James Version×
. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

The teaching of accountability and responsibility must begin in the home, must be reinforced over and over in the home. In the Jewish culture, when a youngster reaches his or her thirteenth birthday, certain ceremonies are held that mark the passage from childhood to adulthood. This passage from childhood to adulthood has to do with being well schooled in the Torah, the law and the responsibilities of living according to the law of God. Many of the church denominations have a systematic program in which they train their youth, and they don’t leave it to chance what their youth are going to be.

Cultures and religions that are successful in retaining their youth and transmitting their values to the next generation do not leave it to chance, they don’t just leave it to the child to focus on and hope that time and chance will serve them well. They have a plan. They don’t wait for a youngster to experience an on the road to Damascus calling. They realize that whether or not this child is called is to a large degree up to them. So youngsters must be clearly taught what they will become, what they can become, what they will be in life depends largely on how they set their sails. One must not wait for a mystical, magical calling from somewhere out of the heavenlies in charting their course for what they want to be.

And to a large degree you, the parent, will determine the set of the sails, and no matter how hard the wind blows in whatever direction to a large degree we can have our children chart their course.

One of the most notable publications that the church ever published is The Seven Laws of Success by Mr. Herbert Armstrong. I want to read these seven laws of success at the present time, just briefly.

1. Fix the right goal

2. Education

3. Good health

4. Drive

5. Resourcefulness

6. Perseverance

7. Close contact with God

It’s very important to fix the right goal, to set that sail in the right direction. Before anything can become real in the world the seed must be planted from which it is to grow. What do you want? Begin today to plant the seeds of those conditions and things you want to harvest tomorrow.

There have been many great leaders in the course of human history, have come on the scene, and they have created a vision. Jesus Christ being the greatest one of all, who came on the scene and he created a vision and he helped us to set our priorities.

Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Christ also states…

John 14:12 John 14:12Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father.
American King James Version×
. “…greater works than these shall he do…”

How many of us really believe that? Christ stated, this is John 14, I’m not turning there…

Verse 12. “…greater works than these shall he do…”

You know there is not that much difference in human beings. Some are a little more intelligent than others when it comes to an IQ test. Some are a bit stronger, some are a little more gifted and talented one way or another than others, but there are a lot of world leaders, educators, doctors, lawyers, nurses, sports figures, authors, media personalities, political leaders, religious leaders who do not have any more ability than you do. I know I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the great and near great of the world. So I know there’s not that much difference in human beings. To a large degree it depends upon self—will, upon inspiration. It depends on how you set your sail. It depends on what your goals are; it depends on whether or not you’re willing to pay the price. The point is that I’m making here that I know from personal experience that most people are only limited by self—imposed limitations that are often times a result of preconditioned notions about life.

I want to read here about limitations. I don’t know who wrote this.

Did you know that people who raise elephants hold them when they’re little by driving a stake in the ground ten to fifteen feet deep and chain the elephant’s leg to the stake. For a long time the baby elephant tries to pull free and then he learns that he cannot. After the elephant grows older and stronger and more capable of pulling the stake out of the ground, they only drive the stake six inches into the ground and he never tries to pull free. His past conditioning has taught him he cannot, so he doesn’t try. There have been elephants who have burned to death when they were only held by a stake driven six inches into the ground.

What limitations have you placed on yourself? Now to show you the conditioning process, as soon as Mr. Levy, Dr. Levy, completed the opening prayer, I dutifully sat down along with some others. That shows you what conditioning and just what you’re used to and what you’re conditioned to do. I sat down just right on queue and realized I had to get up again.

The greatest limitation that has been imposed on this generation or any generation is the tyranny of the peer group. The tyranny of the peer group is not new, it is as old as human kind. It’s been said in the human kind’s behavior throughout the history bears this out that the greatest fear of human beings is social ostracismÑthat is to be a social outcast, not accepted by the peer group. And in today’s parlance, to be called a nerd. So one of the first to be’s in any age that often times has to be overcome is to be accepted by the peer group, and of course, we see all of the negative behaviors that are around us today. The awful tragedies that have happened in the prison camp there in Iraq, the behavior of some of our young men and women, and why they did it, who knows. I don’t know if they’ll ever sort that out, but I suspect that a lot of it had to do with this sort of getting caught up with the emotion and going along with the crowd at the time and not realizing the implications, such implications world wide and what it could do, not to just their reputation, but to our nation and for that matter the whole world.

Researchers now say that the number one socializing force in a child’s life is the mother followed by closely in the second position by the peer group and then media and toward the end of the list fathers. I think fathers rank about eighth or ninth. Well regardless of your age, choose your peer group carefully for it is through that group you’re known. If you would turn to Revelation 12:4 Revelation 12:4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
American King James Version×
we can see the powerful influence that negative leadership can have even on those who were created spirit beings. And when Satan began to set his mind and affection and attention on exhaulting himself and beginning to, his rebellion and his, evidently he must have begun to try to create a case against God himself and telling the other angels that he should be exhaulted.

Revelation 12:4 Revelation 12:4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
American King James Version×
. “And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon standeth before the woman that is about to be delivered, that when she is delivered he may devour her child.”

So we here what that kind of leadership can do, in the peer group can do. The pre—flood world followed the way of Cane, and the way of Cane led to God seeing that the wickedness of man, this is Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
American King James Version×
, was continually on evil and he had to destroy that pre—flood world. The peer group and the man born blind from birth illustrates how much power the peer group can have on people. Notice in John 9:21 John 9:21But by what means he now sees, we know not; or who has opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
American King James Version×
, we’re toward the end of the account of the man born blind from birth and Jesus healed him and instead of the religious leaders of that day rejoicing in that, they were very critical and wanted to kill Jesus Christ. And of course his parents were happy about it I’m quite sure, but notice what happens in John 9:19 John 9:19And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who you say was born blind? how then does he now see?
American King James Version×
.

John 9:19 John 9:19And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who you say was born blind? how then does he now see?
American King James Version×
—22. “And asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see? His parents answered and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but how he now seeth, we know not; or who opened his eyes, we know not: ask him; he is of age; he shall speak for himself. These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”

So we see that negative pressure can have a tremendous influence on human beings. There was a group of people when Jesus Christ was being tried before Pilate and Pilate turns and asks, whom shall I release unto Barabbas or this man? And they cried out Barabbas. Christ’s own peer group, his inner circle, the twelve apostles, all fled the night he was tried. In fact, one of them betrayed him. The person who is true to his or convictions takes actions because it is right. No force or power other than God can dissuade him. So what do you choose to be? Do you choose to be like Jesus Christ?

So let’s repeat the seven laws of success once again, and once again we want to ask the question, to be or not to be?

1. Fix the right goal

2. Education

3. Good health

4. Drive

5. Resourcefulness

6. Perseverance

7. Close contact with God

Now I want to focus on number 7, close contact with God. To be or not to be? Let’s frame this famous quote now in biblical terms. Let’s go to Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×
. Way before Shakespeare penned his words, if Shakespeare did write it, there’s controversy over whether he wrote it or someone else, but before Shakespeare penned his famous words in Hamlet this, of course, was in the Bible.

Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×
. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death…”

That’s another way of saying to be or not to be. Do you want to live or do you want to die? Do you want to be? I know a lot of you who are sitting here this afternoon are as old as I am or older and probably your parents have crossed over the bar, as Tennyson calls it.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning…
When I put out to sea

And he talks about crossing over the bar, that is to die. But burning within the hearts and minds of most humans is a hope of eternal life. And God says…

Verse 19. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death…”

To be or not to be.

Verse 19-20. “…the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life…”

You cannot be in the eternal sense apart from God. He is your life.

Verse 20. “…and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which Jehovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

When it comes to answering the question to be or not to be in the ultimate sense verse 20 makes it clear that without God you won’t be because he is your life. Regardless of what you do and accomplish in this life, if you don’t have God and Christ in you, you will not be. That is you will not exist after this short life in the flesh. If you would, turn to Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×
, see this very clearly that the ultimate power of life and death is in the hands of God.

Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×
. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul…” The life essence, the life potential is really what soul is… “…but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul…” that is life potential because without God if a man die without God he won’t live again who “…is able to destroy soul and body in hell.”

You know I believe it’s almost impossible to conceive of not existing. Can you conceive of yourself not existing? Think about it for a minute. It’s hard to do. You know as I walked in the hospital room there and I saw my mother lying there dead and that animating spirit and everything was gone, there was a body still there. It was hard for me to conceive of her not existing, and it’s hard for me to conceive of myself not existing because I believe, I have this hope, which we’re going to talk a little more about, that we will live again. You know as Job said…

Job 14:14 Job 14:14If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
American King James Version×
. “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait…”

And you’ll have the desire, the work of your hands, so it’s very difficult to conceive of not existing. Even those who contemplate death, I believe even the atheists, do the atheists really believe that when they die, they will cease to exist.

Psalms 14:1 Psalms 14:1The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.
American King James Version×
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

You know I believe even those who commit suicide, I think suicide is one of the most selfish acts that people can commit because people become obsessed with themselves and think there’s no way out, and they take their life, but even there I just think that there’s burning within the hearts and minds of human beings this thing of being.

If you’re going to be in the eternal sense, that is if you want to exist forever, then you must become as God is through the process of conversion. God is looking for people who are convicted, committed, people who will act courageously in the critical, crucial times that we’re living in. He’s looking for people who will stand in the gap and discern between good and evil. He is looking for those who will choose the good and act courageously. See yourself for what you can become, not for what you are now. And I want to read this about willpower and inspiration. It’s one of the most to me stirring little pieces about this: “Lack of will power has caused more failure than lack of intelligence or ability.”

So many times you’ve heard of people who have a high IQ, but are kind of low on I will. You must have the will. It is not a wish just to win. It is an iron will to do, to accomplish, to succeed, regardless of the obstacles. An iron will will overcome frustration and disappointment. An iron will will know no defeat. You must have inspiration. Inspiration sees potential beyond the present. A man is inspired when he sees himself not as he is, but as what he can become.

Jesus did not concentrate on human weaknesses, but on overcoming our human weaknesses to become what God intended us to be. That’s inspiration. Inspiration enables us to overcome our weaknesses. Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals in the Olympics as a sprinter. She could not walk without braces until she was ten years old. She never ran until she was thirteen. Inspiration enabled her to overcome her weakness. Shelly Mann had polio and at five could hardly move a muscle. She went to the water to try to get a little strength in her feeble muscles. She considered it a major triumph when she was able to lift her arm above the water, yet she went on to win a gold medal in the Olympics as a swimmer.

Walt Davis had polio so badly that at the age of nine he could not move a muscle in his entire body. He became an Olympic gold medallist in the high jump; he once jumped seven feet in a track meet. That is what the will to do, can do. All things are possible to him who really believes and trusts in God. You decide whether to believe or not. Will you be inspired, will you see yourselves not as you are, but what you can become. God is in the business of helping us to become as he is.

Now let’s go to I Corinthians 13 and nowhere that I know of in the Bible is this point of God is more interested in what we are becoming than what we’re doing. God is more interested in what we’re becoming than our job is. God is more interested in what we’re becoming than what our profession is or what kind of social status or anything else like that that we have. I Corinthians 13 is an inset chapter. Paul speaking about spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12 and then he says but I show you a far more excellent way, far surpassing. This is the more excellent way. The Corinthians were all jealous and hung up on spiritual gifts.

I Corinthians 13:1. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity…”

The Greek word is agape, it’s spiritual love. Now let me by extension extend that a bit.

I John 4:8 John 4:8(For his disciples were gone away to the city to buy meat.)
American King James Version×
, I John 4:16 John 4:16Jesus said to her, Go, call your husband, and come here.
American King James Version×
, says…

“God is love.”

So if God is love what I want to do is become as he is and so I don’t think you’re doing violence to the scripture if you say, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and am not becoming as God is, so you have not charity, and God is love, that is his state of being. That is one of the essential characteristics of God. God is love.

Verse 1-3. “…and have not charity…” if I’m not becoming as God is “…I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not…” becoming as God is “…I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and…” am not becoming as God is, God is love “…have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

So I think this comes alive a lot more when you word it in terms as becoming as God is because God is love. And we can do all these things, but if we’re not in a state of becoming, being as he is, then it says it profits me nothing. Then it goes on to describe the various characteristics of charity.

Here are some steps for becoming as God is. First of all surrender and submit yourself to him and serve him with all your heart. If you look at Proverbs 3 for just a moment. Proverbs what do surrender and submit to him have to do with, how do we put it in practical terms?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Proverbs 3:5-6 [5] Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
American King James Version×
. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Surrender, submit to God and serve him with your whole heart. Another thing you must do in becoming as God is is to gird up the loins of your mind. If you would go to I Peter 1:13. We want to be in a state of becoming, of being. The ultimate goal is to be as God is, to be or not be. Without God we won’t be.

I Peter 1:13.”Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

What does it mean to gird up the loins of your mind? The word “gird” (Greek: anazonnumi) in the metaphorical sense, and it used here in the metaphorical sense, it’s a metaphor derived from the practice of the Orientals who in order to be unimpeded in their movements were accustomed when starting a journey or engaging any work to binding their long flowing garments close around their bodies and fasten them with a leather belt. So they would not have any distraction, it wouldn’t get caught or hung on anything. It would not impede their work or their journey.

And the word “mind” in the Greek is dianoia. Dianoia means the mind is a faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring, a way of thinking and feeling. To gird up the loins of your mind. So how do you really bind and gird up the loins of your mind? Well one way that Peter gives us is in II Peter 3:18.

II Peter 3:18. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

In order to grow in the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we have to renew the inward man on a continual basis. I think the Bible study, the Bible reading program that has been launched has helped quite a bit as a motivator that in recent times I hear a lot of people say that it’s motivated them spurred them to really study and to get their noses back in the Bible.

Remember the John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×
. You’ve already memorized it, now you can quote it. Christ said…

John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×
. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

So obviously, to me, you can’t grow in grace and knowledge if you’re really not hiding the word of God in your heart.

II Peter 3:18. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”

Now quickly turn to Psalm 119. One of the best places that you can go to gird up the loins of your mind, to help you to become as Christ is is Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is loaded with imperative statements in which the psalmist is asking God to make him do certain things, but here I want to focus on verses 9-11.

Psalms 119:9-11 Psalms 119:9-11 [9] Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to your word. [10] With my whole heart have I sought you: O let me not wander from your commandments. [11] Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
American King James Version×
. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.”

So you see, don’t let me go astray. Don’t let me wander from your commandments.

Verse 11-12. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

And throughout this psalm you will see these words in which the psalmist is in essence saying just make me do it.

Verse 17. “Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live…” that I might be “…and keep thy word.

Verse 25. “My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.”

Verse 29. “Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.”

Look at verse 35.

Verse 35-37. “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes…”

So you go through this whole psalm and you see all those imperative statements where David is crying out to God, I think David is the psalmist here, in asking God to incline him, make him and that will really help to gird up the loins of your mind. Now turn to Psalm 77. Another way that you gird up the loins of your mind is to get the focus off yourself. Remember we want to be as God is. Christ said at the age of twelve, I must be about my Father’s business. Now in this life and especially the period of time that we live in, there are so many trials, troubles, difficulties and I don’t know of any person really in the church that I know very well that hasn’t been tried and tested so very, very much and in so many, many ways in recent times. And at times it seems our problems are so waited that we can’t do anything. Let’s notice here how the psalmist here addresses this.

Psalms 77:1 Psalms 77:1I cried to God with my voice, even to God with my voice; and he gave ear to me.
American King James Version×
. “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.”

God, as we say, hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s still where he’s always been. He is longsuffering, merciful, not willing that any should perish. He’s filled with forgiveness and when we lift up our voice, he can hear us, that we’ll repent of our sins. You know it says in Isaiah that your sins have separated you from me, so of course one of the things you do in approaching is make sure that you are reconciled to him and your neighbor.

Verse 2. “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not…”

Now this sore running in the night, the position of prayer in the Old Testament was with the hands lifted up and if you just get in that position and you hold your hands up for a long period of time, you’ll find it’s quite difficult to do.

Verse 2. “…my soul refused to be comforted.”

Maybe God gave the answer.

Verse 3. “I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained…”

And in another place this same Hebrew word “complained” is translated “communed.” In other words, I communed and my spirit was overwhelmed. And what is this literally saying? It is saying I went over my problems. I got them all out, I laid them out. I’ve got all these problems. And when I look at all my problems, my spirit is overwhelmed. I just don’t know how I’m going to make it.

Verse 4-6. “Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune…”

It’s the same word that is translated in the old King James “complained” so I get out all my troubles again.

Verse 6. “I commune with mine own heart…” I go over my problems again “…and my spirit made diligent search.”

I just looked everywhere. These are all the things that I am facing and then the four great enemies of faith: anxious care, fear, doubt, human reason begin to flood in.

Verse 8—9. “Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?”

Have you ever been there? I’ve been there.

Verse 10. “And I said, This is my infirmity…”

What is his infirmity? His problem is his problem because of focus is so much now on himself and everything that’s happening to him, he cannot see God.

Verse 10-13. “And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?”

And then he begins to praise God. So he gets his eyes off himself, the focus is off himself and he begins to gird up the loins of his mind. He begins to tightly focus on God. Peter, the one who wrote gird up the loins of your mind, I call him the apostle of hope because you will find in I Peter quite often the word “hope.” Peter lived his life facing martyrdom. If you’ll go to John 21 to see here an example of a person who really girded up the loins of his mind, here in John 21 Jesus Christ has appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. The disciples had gone fishing, had returned and he begins to instruct them. Notice in John 21:20 John 21:20Then Peter, turning about, sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrays you?
American King James Version×
.

John 21:20-23 John 21:20-23 [20] Then Peter, turning about, sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrays you? [21] Peter seeing him said to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? [22] Jesus said to him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? follow you me. [23] Then went this saying abroad among the brothers, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not to him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you?
American King James Version×
. “Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved…” of course John “…which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”

Then we look at verse 18 what Christ had already said to Peter, so some thought that John would live ‘til Christ came again, but look <inaudible> about Peter.

Verse 18-19. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”

Peter lived this life knowing that he would not get out of this life through any other means but through martyrdom, in fact, crucifixion. Peter never succumbed to the focus just on himself; he never succumbed to just giving in to the four enemies of faith. He hid the word of God in his heart. He made the right choices on a daily basis. He continually renewed the inward man. He realized that God always has our best interest at heart. Let’s notice the first article of faith in the Bible, Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×
.

In teaching the Fundamentals of Theology class here at ABC and over the years, this is basically the starting point for the class because the class has to do with the study of God, the nature of God. The study of relationships and the Godhead. So how do you start? In Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×

Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×
. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is…” to be “…and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

See God is faithful. God who has promised, God who cannot lie has promised. God wants us to completely and totally trust in him just as the three Hebrew children did in Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego when they faced the fiery furnace. They were asked to bow down and worship the image, and they said, be it known to you, Oh King, we know that our God is able to deliver us and whether or not he will at this time we don’t know, but we know this, we’re not going to bow down and worship your image. And when Nebuchadnezzar looked in the fiery furnace those three were alive. A similar story with Daniel and the lion’s den.

And on this road to eternal life we want to be looking to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. If you’ll just forward here if you’re in Hebrews 11 to Hebrews 12.

Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
American King James Version×
. “Therefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…”

We have all the inspirational stories of the Bible. The great men and women who have gone before who had paid the price, who had decided to be.

Verse 1-2. “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And you know at the right hand of the throne of God as it says in Hebrews 7:25 Hebrews 7:25Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.
American King James Version×
that he ever lives to make intercession for us so that he is able to save them to the uttermost. So today I leave you with the question.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation

Hamlet chose the wrong path. Not only did he end the life of the person that he thought was his tormentor and perhaps he was, but he took his own life and he chose not to be at that time. Brethren, we must not take that course. We must choose life; we must choose to be.

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