This Week’s Sermon By Dennis Davidson; God’s Hidden Treasure

This Day's Thought

 

God‘s Hidden Treasure

By Dennis Davidson

Colossians 2:1-2:5

A British TREASURE HUNTER discovered a huge stash of Roman coins buried in a field in southwest England. Using a metal detector, Dave Crisp located a large pot holding 52,000 coins. These ancient silver and bronze coins dated from the third century AD weigh more than 350 pounds. They were valued at $5 million.

While Crisp’s treasure may cause us to dream about somehow finding similar riches, we as Christians should be on a different kind of treasure hunt. What we seek does not consist of silver and gold. Rather our quest is to gather the precious gems or wealth that comes from a full knowledge of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2-3).

The Bible is God’s Word to the world. It is God’s treasure chest. If we are to find God’s treasure we must find Jesus. The surest place to find Jesus is in the Bible. As we get to know Jesus we discover the hidden treasure of God. If we truly are to get to know Jesus we must be immersed in His Word, and be led His Spirit.

God’s truths must be sought earnestly with all the attention of someone seeking hidden treasure. The psalmist said, “I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure” (Ps. 119:162). Are you eager to discover the treasures of truth stored in God’s Word? Then lets start digging into the treasure chest of God’s eternal Word!

Our text contains a warning against the subtle mixing of Christian thought with the false philosophies of the world. Knowledge is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational for the Christian life.
I. GOD’S MYSTERY, 1-2.
II. GOD’S TREASURE, 3.
III. GOD’S STABILIZING, 4-5.
We Christians are the channel through which the presence and power of the indwelling Christ flows into the life of others and into the world. This happens in two ways: through our prayers and our presence. Verse 1 elaborates the importance of intercessor prayer. “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,”
The Greek word translated “conflict” or struggle in verse 1 is agôna, from which we get our word “agony”(struggling; 1:29; 4:12). It denotes strenuous activity, here indicating deep and earnest intercession. The spiritual powers that Paul wrestled to keep the work from defeat were real and resolved therefore he had to come against them with the power of prayer. He was strenuously exerting himself in prolonged, penetrating intercession and attentive receptive listening for God’s answer concerning what he should be praying.

Paul’s labor of love was not limited to those he personally knew; it extended to those who had not met him personally. He might be confined in a roman prison, but his love and prayers were not confide in a small, selfish, dark heart.
In verse 2 we have the stated purpose of Paul’s intercession. He agonize in prayer that the church would be knit together in their love for Jesus Christ and each other. “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the riches that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,”
Though Paul could not be with them he could still minister to them by prayer and by the written word. He prays that the Colossians will be “encouraged,” that they will be “knit together in love,” that they will experience the “assurance of understanding.” Who needs our intercession to these ends?

Love is what united this congregation. It was what encouraged them to oppose those leading them astray. This unifying love for Christ gave them confidence and strength of conviction that yielded a fuller understanding of the truth. Do you realize that there is no full knowledge apart from commitment to Christ? Complete understanding results from complete yielding.

Understanding or insight (syneseôs) refers to applying biblical principles to everyday life. Only Christians can live a life based on true understanding because “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14). Because “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” (Rom. 8:5), they are “darkened in their understanding” (Eph. 4:18).

When the believer begins to live in light of spiritual truth, it becomes truly understood and leads to assurance of his or her faith. Here the New Testament concludes that knowing the truth and acting on it leads to full assurance of understanding.

[People often express doubts about their salvation, even though they have been to church regularly. Their primary problem is not a lack of knowledge, but a failure to apply the truths they know. Truth that finds solid footing in a strong heart and works itself out to fellow believers in love results in deep conviction. That is the basis for assurance. [MacArthur, NT Com. Colossians. 90.]]

This rich understanding is Christ centered. For Christ, is the mystery of God, who reveals God to man (John 1:18; Heb. 1:2-3). Knowledge is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational for the Christian life. And true insight into God’s ways enables believers to know (epignôsin) Christ fully.

The Bible say that we find our completeness in Christ. If you possess Him, then you are completed or fulfilled by being possessed by Him. Having Him, you have all you need. We are called upon to appropriate God’s fullness for ourselves by yielding ourselves to the indwelling Christ.
II. GOD’S TREASURE, 3.
The supreme reality of God is revealed in Jesus Christ in whom are all the treasures of existence both now and eternal. Verse 3 is the bottom line. “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
True treasure, eternal treasure, is found only in Christ. The word “treasure” is the Greek word “thesauros,” from which we get our word thesaurus which refers to a treasury of words. In the original the word referred to a treasure chest or storehouse where a great treasure was kept.

Spiritual truth is often hidden. The treasure of the kingdom is unrecognized, unknown, and walked over by millions of people. People can be standing close to it and not know it’s there. While those who follow Christ know how valuable a relationship with Him is, most of the world has no clue. The bulk of unbelievers are caught up in other pursuits, oblivious to the true treasure that could be theirs. If you’re serious about spiritual matters, you must be willing to go below the surface.

I want to help you to discover the treasure that you have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many years ago, the SPANISH ARMADA was sailing off the coast of Florida. A hurricane struck, and those ships that were laden with millions of dollars in gold and silver ingots went to the bottom, in shallow water. People knew the treasure had been lost, but they didn’t know where the ships had gone down. One ship went down near Vero Beach, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Many have been in that water there by the Sebastian Inlet. Many have been in that water, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, spear fishing right around that area but didn’t come up with any millions. They didn’t come up with any silver or any gold. Many ships have been there in shallow water. Fisherman, doubtless, fished over that spot. They would hang a hook, perhaps, on a lump of gold, and curse their luck, because they had hung a hook down beneath the water on something they could not see.

Then one day, some explorers decided, “The ship must be here.” They went out, and they made the surveys; they tested, and they went under. And, there it was, in shallow water-so shallow that any of us who could swim normally could have gone to the bottom. They brought up millions of dollars. There it was, but they didn’t know it was there.

I believe that many of us are yet to discover the full treasure we have in Jesus Christ. Oh, dear friend, in Him-in Jesus Christ-“are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Think of that-all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And it’s all in Jesus. [Illustration by Adrian Rodgers]

For in Him are hidden (Col. 1:26) all the treasures of wisdom (sophia, 1:9) and knowledge. Knowledge is the apprehension of truth; wisdom is its application to life. Knowledge is the data of truth, whereas wisdom is the ability to apply what truth has been learned. Both are found in Christ (Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 12:8) [whose wisdom is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:21-25), but who is the power of God by which a believer receives “righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30)].

Now, how can those treasures be yours? Neither knowledge or wisdom is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the foundation for the Christian life is where knowledge and wisdom begin.

All wisdom, all knowledge is in-not from-Jesus. Whoever desires wisdom to navigate life successfully must come to the realization that there is nothing more, nothing less, nothing else than Jesus. All treasures of wisdom are in Him.

[It is vitally important to understand Christ’s deity. No person can be a Christian at all without this true knowledge of Jesus Christ as the incarnate God. Yet so many Christians who affirm the deity of Christ live as if He were not the One in whom all spiritual sufficiency resides.

Jesus is the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He alone is sufficient. [Hidden is from apokruphos, from which we get our English word apocrypha. It was used by the false leaders to refer to the writings containing their secret knowledge. But] there is no hidden spiritual knowledge needed for salvation and sanctification outside of Christ. These treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ are hidden from all but maturing Christians.]

[Because Christ is sufficient, there is no need for the writings of any cult, philosophy, or psychology to supplement the Bible. He is the source of all true spiritual knowledge. That knowledge is also crucial to assurance because doubts about Christ’s sufficiency bring doubts about His ability to do what He promised.]
The story is told that one day WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST was looking through a book of famous artwork when a painting caught his eye. “I want this painting for my collection,” he said to his aides. But after making some inquiries, they reported that they were unable to locate the particular work.
“If you value your jobs,” Hearst said, “do whatever it takes to find that treasure, and secure it for me immediately.”

Three and a half months later, the aides returned to Hearst. “Did you find the treasure?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied. “After much searching and painstaking research, we found it.”
“Did you purchase it?” he asked.
“No.”
“Why not?” Hearst asked.
“Because we found it in your warehouse.”

If you have Christ you already have all the wisdom and knowledge you will ever need to live life successfully. For it’s all in Christ. When you got Him, you got it all. So stop searching the world for what you already have in Christ.
Most of the problems we face and about which we pray for other are related to a lack of understanding of Christ -what He did, what it means for us, and what is available to us through Him. Everything you need or should want are offered to us in Christ. They are in Christ, but they are hidden in Christ from the eyes of natural man. Do you see them? Or are they and their eternal worth hidden from you?

[The treasures of truth in God’s Word are best mined with the spade of meditation. If we read the Word of God hurriedly or carelessly, we will miss its deep insights.]
III. GOD’S STABILIZING, 4-5.
Verse 4 is a warning against the subtle mixing of Christian thought with the false philosophies of the world. “I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.
Only this full knowledge and wisdom of Christ can keep a believer from being deceived by fine-sounding arguments [pithanologia, occurring only here in NT, is lit. “persuasive speech” that uses plausible but false arguments]. Truth and persuasion do not always correlate. Error can persuade, and truth can be uncompelling at times. It all depends on whether one has the full truth and a complete commitment to it. [Walvoord, John; Zuck, Roy; The Bible Knowledge Commentary.Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, S. 676]

Why is this understanding so important? Because it is the only way to keep from being sucked into “enticing words,” cults, and other dead-end pursuits of pseudo-spirituality. That’s what was happening in Colosse. People were coming on the scene, saying, “What Paul is preaching is fine, but there’s much more.”

“No,” Paul says. “Be steadfast in your pursue of Christ. All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.”

Karl Valletin of Munich, Germany, was a master among that rare group of PERFORMING ARTISTS we call clowns. The scene for which he is best remembered took place on a darkened stage illumined only by a solitary circle of light thrown by a street lamp. Valletin, with long-drawn face and deeply worried expression, walks around and around this circle of light, desperately looking for something. A policeman enters the scene and asks, “What have you lost?” “The key to my house,” replies the clown. The policeman then joins the search, but they find nothing. After a while the policeman inquires, “Are you sure that you lost it here?” “No,” says the clown, pointing to a dark corner of the stage, “over there.” “Then why on earth are you looking for it here?” asks the policeman. The reply, “There is no light over there.”

Valletin’s performance is a picture of the snare in which we become entangled. We go to whatever promise of light is available. Not unlike the Colossians, we respond to explanations that appeal to rational thought, to offers of insight that put us and our efforts in the center, to any philosophy that puts us at the center of the mystery. So Paul warned: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (v. 8).

Our present generation is inundated, especially through the persuasive medium of television, with offers to fill our emptiness-from toothpaste and deodorants to where we live and what cars to drive. All of this media manipulation is an expression of overarching philosophies that attempt to offer us meaning. One is hedonism-anything that feels good must be good, so “if it feels good do it.” It is seen in the self-realization philosophy which says that “I am number one,” and in the philosophy of materialism that reduces us to consumers and producers or what we are is what we acquire, and our worth is in our productivity. Then there is astrology, scientific determinism, situational ethics, multiculturalism, values education, moral relativism [voided moral boundaries], escapism, and it goes on and on.

There is no need to look beyond Christ. There is no purpose in pursuing other systems of thought. There is no eternal value in fine sounding arguments and the reasonings of man. There is no value in initiations, secret rites, and mysteries. In Christ is all God’s wisdom and knowledge.

In verse 5 Paul rejoices that the believers are standing firm in their faith in Christ. “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.”
Even though Paul was absent from the Colossians, he delighted in how orderly (1 Cor. 14:40) and how firm (steadfast, solid, stable) was their faith in Christ. Like a well disciplined band of soldiers they were growing strong and wise in their faith. They did so through an unshaken reliance on Christ.

Deception has always been part of MILITARY STRATEGY. The British put it to good use during World War II in North Africa against German forces led by General Erwin Rommel.

The Brits constructed pasteboard look-a-likes of tanks and airplanes to deceive the Germans. From the air this fake equipment looked real enough to fool reconnaissance personnel, and it could he easily moved.
Satan, whom Jesus referred to as “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 16:11), is a master deceiver. He was the driving force behind the false leaders who were trying to persuade the Colossians to accept deception as truth.
Followers of Christ today are in a similar battle. How do we defend ourselves against deceivers? Paul used military terms in his comments to the Colossians that can help us to know what to do. First, he commended them for their “good order” which refers to being battle-ready, disciplined soldiers. Second, he spoke of the “steadfastness” of their faith in Christ, which refers to as having a solid front. They had an unshaken commitment to their Lord and to advancing His kingdom.

Don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies. Know the truth of God’s Word, and be battle ready through a disciplined life and an unswerving commitment to Jesus Christ. God’s truth is the best protection against Satan’s lies.
[Ever try to lose weight or get in better shape? Dumb question. Most guys want a fitter physique. Many of us have even purchased some sort of workout equipment. Sales for the home fitness industry totaled $4.3 billion in 2008. But now most of those treadmills and weight machines gather dust.

While a majority of guys fail, some accomplish their goal of body transformation. Their not-so-secret tip for success: Get a workout partner-somebody committed to giving encouragement and getting stronger together.

The same principle works in building spiritual muscle. Many men want to become more Christlike. We join a church but slip into the service on Sunday morning and slip out when it’s over. We don’t connect and don’t experience significant life change. What we need is a spiritual workout partner. Even better might be a group of Christians with similar goals and interests. Paul writes in Colossians 2:2, “I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding.” Believers have always grown stronger in small groups. Small groups provide a place to firm up our faith where we can question, share struggles, build friendships, and help each other through life’s journey.]
CONCLUSION
In this section Paul contends that the mystery of life is in a person, not in philosophy. His argument is against all those who would “deceive you with persuasive words” (v. 4). The mystery of life is in the person of Jesus Christ. True treasure, eternal treasure, is found only in Christ.

The story is told that in the days of the ROMAN EMPIRE, a certain wealthy senator became estranged from his son. When he died unexpectedly, his will was opened. “Because my son does not appreciate what I’ve done, I leave all of my worldly possessions to my loyal slave, Marcellus,” the will read. “However, because I am a man of grace, I bequeath to my son one of my possessions of his choosing.”

“Sorry,” said the testator to the son. “You can only take one of your dad’s possessions. Which will it be?”
“I take Marcellus,” said the son.

Brilliant! That’s the idea. When you take Jesus Christ, you get all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. When you open your heart to Him, you find everything you need. It’s all in Him.

Why don’t you wise up today and take Jesus to be your only and all-sufficient Lord and Savior?

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – “Brain Washing” In The Best Possible Way!

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration
Brain Washing” In The Best Possible Way!

The Conclusion of Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder

 

Romans Cover…….

 

Special note:  Today’s the last day of this seriesRomans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind.  But that doesn’t mean it has to be over!  You can now order all 40 lessons from this series in a beautiful paperback book that you can use to review what you’ve learned or to share it with others.  Copies are available simply for a donation of any size to our ministry this month.

 

Also, I’d like to invite you to a special night of “Praise and Feasting” here at Clover Ranch this weekend!  See the two P.S.’s at the end of today’s message for details.  Now here’s the conclusion of our study together…

 

…….

 

My son came home from Bible college a few weeks ago and said some people in his town think that all the kids who go to his school are brainwashed.  My son said, “They’re right!  We are!”

 

Their brains are washed in the best possible way, washed by God Himself, cleansed by His Holy Spirit, and renewed to look more and more like the mind of Christ every day.

 

As we wrap up this study of Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, I wanted to give you some final thoughts on how to keep your “brain washed” in the best possible way, too.

 

First, I want to encourage you to keep reading the Word of God.

 

My wife has been going through chemotherapy the last few months and spending a lot of time reading and memorizing God’s Word.  Once in awhile she’ll read a newspaper or magazine article about cancer and its devastating effects.  It always reminds her how much more hope and joy she has whenever she reads the Bible!  So she picks up her Bible again and starts reading it instead.  We could all do more of that!

 

As God said to the Israelites:

 

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

 

Some people might think that reading the Bible all the time is like burying your head in the sand and ignoring the problems in your life.  But there’s a difference between burying your head in the sand and burying your head in God’s Word!  Sand leads to suffocation and death, whereas the Bible leads to fresh air and life!

 

If you want to keep your mind as fresh and clean as possible, keep reading God’s Word as much as possible, every day, many times a day.  A pastor was once asked which version of the Bible was the best.  His answer?  “The one you read the most.”  Amen!

 

Second, I want to encourage you to keep surrounding yourself with other Christ-minded believers so they can “re-mind” you of God’s Word, too.

 

I know that there may be times when you may not feel like going to church.  I know that you may not feel like going to Bible studies and getting to know complete strangers.  I know that once you’ve gotten to know those complete strangers, they may do things that annoy you, or irritate you, or make you wonder why you ever bothered going at all.

 

But for all the potential pitfalls of interacting with others, there’s nothing more powerful than having a Christian brother or sister encourage you in your faith and life.

 

As the writer of Ecclesiastes said:

 

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

 

Renewing your mind is hard work, but God doesn’t want you to do it alone.  He wants you to rely on Him, and He wants you to rely on His people, the body of Christ, who all share the same head, Jesus Christ.

 

We got a package in the mail last week that made us cry.  It came from a church we used to attend about 20 years ago.  In the package were a stack of cards from the church members and a check from the church.  We were so overwhelmed by this expression of love and care that we couldn’t even open the stack of cards.

 

When we finally did open them, our tears began to flow again-tears of joy and thankfulness for their thoughts and prayers for us during this time in our lives.  It was such a reminder to us of how the body of Christ works to lift us up in our time of need.

 

While it can be hard at times to invest your time in getting to know other Christ-minded believers, it’s an investment that will pay dividends for you and for them for years to come… for all eternity, in fact!

 

So first, if you want to keep renewing your mind, keep reading God’s Word.  Second, keep surrounding yourself with other Christ-minded believers so they can remind you of God’s Word, too.  And third, always remember that God LOVES you, He is FOR you, and He can work ALL THINGS for good in your life!

 

When I started writing this study almost a year ago, I had no idea what the year might hold.  I had no idea how my life was about to change as my wife was diagnosed with cancer.  Yet, as I’ve been rereading the whole book of Romans again this week, and rereading each of my messages from this past year, I’ve been reminded again just how much God loves me, is for me, and can work all things for good in my life, too.

 

And I’m positive that God loves you, is for you, and can work all things for good in your life.  How can I be so sure?  You don’t take my word for it!  You can take His!  Here are just a few reminders again of what Paul said in his letter to the Romans:

 

“But God demonstrates HIS OWN LOVE FOR US in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:3).

 

“If God is FOR us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b).

 

“And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

If you’ve read with me this far, I’m sure that you love God and are called according to His purpose, too, so these words apply to you just as much as they applied to the Romans to whom Paul was writing!  Let God’s Word sink deep into your mind today.  Let Him speak words of love, words of support, and words of encouragement to you every day.

 

If you need a good “brain washing,” I’d encourage you to take some time to read and reread the whole book of Romans again (then take some more time to read and reread the whole Bible again!)  There’s nothing better to help you renew your mind than to wash it with the Word of God.  Surround yourself with other Christ-minded believers who can speak God’s Word into your life as well.  And always remember that God LOVES you, is FOR you, and can work ALL THINGS for your good.

 

As I said at the beginning of this study, one of the most powerful forces in the world in an idea.  Revolutions of all kinds have been sparked by mere ideas and even the smallest ideas can grow to either define… or destroy you.  That’s why it’s so important to make sure your ideas are in line with God’s ideas.

 

As Paul encouraged the Romans, let me encourage you:

 

“Do not conform any longer 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” (Romans 12:2).

 

Will you pray with me?

 

Father, thank You for speaking to us through this amazing book called Romans.  Thank You for Paul’s faithfulness to write down what he learned from You so he could share it with others.  Help us to be faithful with what we’ve learned so we can apply it to our own lives and to help others apply it to theirs as well.  Wash our minds, cleanse our hearts, and fill us with Your peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Romans CoverP.S. I hope you’ve enjoyed studying the book of Romans with me through these messages this past year.  If you’d like to get a copy of all 40 of these messages (38 lessons plus the introduction and conclusion), I’ve put them all in an 8×10 paperback book that you can get through our ministry simply for a donation of any size.  Reading and rereading these lessons can be a great way to renew your mind, as each lesson points you back to the Word of God.  Each lesson also comes with a set of “Questions for Reflection” that you can use  renew your mind, or to go through them with a small group to help others renew their minds, too.  As I’ve been rereading these messages myself as I’ve been putting together this book, I’ve been amazed how each lesson continues to speak to me again and again as I’m now going through a whole new set of circumstances in my life.  The As Hebrews 4:12 says, the Word of God really is “living and active,” and God can use it to speak to us in fresh ways every time we read it.  To make a donation to our ministry and get a copy of the book as our way of saying thanks, just click the link below.

Make A Donation and Get A Book! 

P.P.S.  I’d also like to invite you to a special night of “Praise and Feasting” here at Clover Ranch this coming Friday, June 1st at 6 pm Central Time.  Ever since our day of “Prayer and Fasting” for Lana and her health, we’ve wanted to have a night of “Praise and Feasting,” to celebrate all that God is doing in our lives.  There’s no charge, and all you have to do is bring yourself, a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on, and a dish to pass (if you’d like to add it to our feast!)  We’ll be spending our time in praise and worship and encouraging one another in our faith.  There are hotels nearby if you’re coming from out of town.  We’d love to see you if you can make it!  Just send me an email at eric@theranch.org and I’d be glad to send you more details and directions.

 

Questions for Reflection
1. Read  Romans 12:1-2.  The term “brainwashing” is often used in a negative way, referring to someone who has been convinced of something that is untrue.  But in light of today’s study, how can “washing your brain” with God’s Word work in your favor?
2. Who are some people in your life who are so filled with God’s Word that it seems to flow out of them whenever they speak?  What could you do to spend more time learning from and growing together with them?
3. Read Romans 8:28-39.  What verses from this passage stick out in your mind that are particularly helpful to you in your life right now?
4. Skim through the book of Romans again, or take an hour or so to read the whole book again.  Write down any words or phrases that God may be wanting to speak to you.  Hold onto those words and let God use them in the days ahead to continually renew your mind.

 

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This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Being Transformed – Part 2

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration
Being Transformed – Part 2

Lesson 27 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind

By Eric Elder

 

Last week we looked at three ways to renew your mind by taking control of the amount and types of media that you consume, from TV and movies to books, magazines, newspapers and blogs. This week, we’re going to look at three more ways to renew your mind and all three have to do with increasing how much you consume of something else in your life: God’s Word, the Bible.

For if I had to give you just one idea for how to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” that far surpasses any other, it would be this: to get as much of God’s Word into your mind as you can, as often as you can, and with as much understanding as you can.
When you do this, your mind will be renewed and your life will be transformed, just as the apostle Paul encouraged the Romans to do in his day when he said:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).
So today, I’d like to give you three ways to get more of God’s Word into your mind: 1) read God‘s Word, 2) memorize God’s Word, and 3) study God’s Word.

First, I want to encourage you to read God’s Word, and read it often.

Whether you read just one verse a day, one chapter a day, or ten chapters a day, if you keep filling your mind with God’s Word, you’ll find that your mind is renewed on a regular basis.
If you want to live the life that God wants you to live, then you’ll need more than just physical food to keep you going. As Jesus said:
“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
God wants you to have spiritual food as much as physical food, and a steady diet of it. The good news is that if you’re on a diet of God’s Word, there’s no limit to how much you can eat! You can feast on God’s Word as much as you want, as often as you want! You can never have too much of God’s Word!
Yet some people are famished in their spiritual lives because it’s been so long since they’ve had any spiritual sustenance at all. Don’t let this happen to you! If you don’t have a copy of God’s Word in a language that’s easy for you to read and digest, then I’d encourage you to get one soon. There are also many websites that contain the entire Bible online for free. The website I use most often is called “The Bible Gateway,” which contains the entire Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages.
I’d also encourage you to have a plan in mind for how you want to read the Bible, whether you start at the beginning and read the whole thing from cover to cover, or whether you pick a plan that includes selected readings from various books of the Bible. One website that has several plans for reading the Bible is called YouVersion. If you go to their home page, you’ll find a variety of reading plans to fit your interest. You can print them off and check them yourself, or have the system highlight a passage or send it to you by email each day.
I’ve done many plans over the years, both online and on paper, and I’ve liked each of them for different reasons. My first time through, I just read my Bible straight through in a year, reading 3-4 chapters a day, starting with Genesis and finishing with Revelation. At other times, I’ve alternated my readings between chapters in the Old and New Testaments, plus a reading from the Psalms or Proverbs every day. And at other times, I’ve taken my time and read as thoroughly as possible, taking three years to read through the entire thing.
Currently, I’m going through a plan that my daughter tried last year and loved which takes you through the entire Bible in 90 days, called a B90X. Since it takes a person reading an average speed about 90 hours to read through the entire Bible, this plans takes about an hour a day for 90 days. If you read half an hour a day, it’ll take about 6 months; 15 minutes a day, and it’ll take about a year. I’m actually doing this 90 day plan by listening to the Bible for an hour each day on on my phone, using an app from the YouVersion website. While I’m not able to get through a full hour every day, I’m hopeful that at least I’ll finish sometime this year if I just keep going!
But whatever way you do it, just be sure to do it. Read God’s Word over and over, and you’ll find yourself transforming as you do.
Second, I want to encourage you to memorize God’s Word. 
Don’t think that you can’t memorize it, because you can! Here’s a surprisingly easy way to memorize even whole chapters at a time. If you’ll read the same passage of the Bible out loud every day for thirty days, you’ll be surprised to find out that you’ve actually memorized it by the end of the month, if not before, without even trying to memorize it.
My wife has done this with our kids, for instance, reading Psalm 139 to them every day, sometimes once or twice or three times a day. Amazingly, the kids all knew the whole chapter word for word within just two weeks, and all they did was listen to it being read to them. And of course, my wife was able to pick it up at the same time, too.

You might also want to try writing out a verse or two on a small card and carrying it with you wherever you go. Then you can pull out the card whenever you’re waiting in line, or taking a walk, or riding in a bus or train or car, reading it over and over until you’ve gotten it stored away in your mind. You’ll be amazed at how God can speak to you through through one or two verses even while you’re memorizing it, and how it will come back to your mind at a later time, when you particularly need it. Some people try to memorize the chapter and verse numbers along with the passages so they can easily find them later on, while other people just focus on the words themselves. Either way, the important thing is to “hide God’s Word in your heart,” as the Bible says:
“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
If you’d like a list of some great verses to memorize, I’ve posted a list on my website called “The Top 100 Verses in the Bible.” This is a list that you can read, print out, or write on note cards for yourself. It’s free, and you can get it by just clicking the link: Top 100 Verses
So my second recommendation is to memorize the Bible, so you can recall it to mind whenever it’s needed.
Third, I want to encourage you to study God’s Word. 
While you can get so much from reading the Bible just as it’s written, you can get even more out of it when you study it in-depth, whether on your own or in along with others.
Even some of the people mentioned in the Bible have found it useful to have others help explain to them what it means. When a man from Ethiopia was reading the book of Isaiah, Philip saw him and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man from Ethiopia replied:
“How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” (Acts 8:31).
So Philip stopped and explained the passage to the man. The man was so moved by what he learned, that he put his faith in Christ on the spot, and asked Philip to baptize him in some water nearby.
There’s a reason we have pastors and teachers, authors and speakers. They’ve often spent a fair amount of time studying the Bible themselves, plumbing it’s depths and testing it out in the face of the reality of life. By learning from their wisdom, you’ll be able to see some of the precious jewels that they’ve already discovered, and you’ll be better able to apply them to your life as well. Or, as Isaac Newton famously said:
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
When you take the time to learn from those who have gone before you, you can stand “on the shoulders of giants” too, seeing what they’ve seen and then going further yourself. I’d also recommend not just reading what others have said about the Bible, but talking to others, too. As God said to the Israelites when He gave them His commands:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
There’s so much to learn from others that I hope you’ll make use of the wealth of knowledge that is contained within the books and people around you. Spend some time at your local Christian bookstore, if you have one nearby, or browse for books that might be of interest on websites like http://www.christianbook.com. I’ve also written several devotional books to encourage people to read their Bibles, some of which include study questions at the end of each chapter that you can use for personal reflection or small group discussion, like the questions I’ve included at end of this message today.

If you’d like any of my books, you can get them anytime from InspiringBooks.com, or I’d be glad to send you a copy of one of my books directly for a donation of any size to our ministry. Just use the links at the end of this message to pick out one you’d like.

I believe that the Bible is so important to life that I’ve never written a single devotional without basing it on at least one, or usually several, passages of scripture from the Bible. I know that the most important things I could ever tell you are already contained in the words of the Bible. The rest of what I have to say simply highlights or underscores what I’ve already discovered in God’s Word.
In conclusion, I want to encourage you to read God’s Word, memorize God’s Word, and study God’s Word. 
When you do this, you’ll find that it’s the best possible way to renew your mind, to transform your life, and to discover God’s will for your life. As the Apostle Paul said:
“Do not conform any longer 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” (Romans 12:2).
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for giving us Your Word, and for those who have preserved it and translated it and helped us to understand it throughout the generations. Help us to read Your Word on a regular basis, to hide it in our heart when we can, and to study it alone and with others so we can learn as much as is humanly possible. Lord, help us to renew our minds and transform our lives as we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. As I mentioned above, I’d be glad to send you one of my devotional books to help you study the Bible on your own or with a small group. While you can order them anytime from http://www.inspiringbooks.com, I’d be glad to send you one directly for a donation of any size to our ministry. Just click the link below and you’ll be able to make a donation and pick a copy of any of my books as our way of saying thanks. Your gifts really do help us as we reach out to others all over the world, and we’re glad to send you a gift in return! Thanks so much!
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Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 12:1-2. What are some ways that reading the Bible has helped you to renew your mind? And in what ways has renewing your mind helped in transforming your life?
2. Have you ever read the entire Bible from cover to cover? If so, how has that helped you in your life? If not, in what ways do you think it might help you? Are there any goals you have in mind for reading God’s Word this year?
3. What advantage do you think there might be to memorizing verses or passages from the Bible, compared to just reading it? Would you like to try to memorizing some more passages of Scripture again this year? Remember, here’s a link to the Top 100 verses in the Bible if you’d like some ideas of where to start: Top 100 Verses
4. What value have you gotten from reading other books about the Bible? What value have you gotten from talking to others about the Bible? Are there any steps you’d like to take this year towards studying God’s Word more in depth, whether on your own or with others?

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