Summary: To claim the promises of God we must have the proper mindset.
“It’s All in the Mind”
When expectations are high it’s tough to wait. An Olympic athlete trains and prepares for years – then the Olympics are canceled due to political unrest. An elderly retired couple has saved for a lifetime in order to return for a once-in-a-lifetime visit to their native land – then one of them gets ill and the trip is postponed. A young navy bride is at the airport awaiting the arrival of her husband who’s coming home from the war – she receives a message that he has been detained and may not be coming. And most of us have some personal account of a period of frustrating waiting.
Imagine, then, the Israelites; 40 years of living and wandering in the wilderness – on the brink of but never entering the Promised Land; 40 years of frustrated waiting. Then God spoke: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. ... No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. ...you will be prosperous and successful.” The Israelites’ future was now! All they needed to do was believe and act accordingly.
And that’s the way it is with God’s promises. For what fulfillment have you been waiting? For what promise do you long? I want you to know this morning that TO CLAIM THE PROMISES OF GOD WE MUST HAVE THE PROPER MINDSET. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
The first element of a proper mindset, according to Romans 12:2, concerns our FRAME OF MIND: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...” From what perspective do you see things? Perspective makes a difference. Do you see a glass half empty or half full? As Einstein said to his secretary, “2 hours with a beautiful woman is like 2 minutes; 2 minutes on a hot stove is like 2 hours.” Perspective makes a difference. Saul’s soldiers thought Goliath was too big to kill; David thought he was too big to miss! It’s perspective. An American writer put it, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” So through what glasses do you see? THE GLASSES THROUGH WHICH WE SEE DETERMINE WHAT WE SEE.
The book of Romans clarifies this concept. In Romans 1:28 we read, “...since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind... they have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity.” Paul knows that each of us has a bent of mind, inclinations, a perspective from which we see. We have a mindset through which we think. In Ephesians 2:2 (NLT) he wrote, “You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” There is a world order; it began in Genesis 4 when Cain went out of the presence of God to build a city, a city without godly principles. In Romans 12 – “Do not be conformed” – Paul is stating that we are not to allow our minds, and our lives, to be fashioned by, schemed together with the mindset of this world. We are not to be influenced by the world’s perspective of mind, not to look through these worldly glasses, which led to the crucifixion of Christ. The late theologian and Pastor John Stott wrote, “We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgment instead. If we come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunderclap of God's, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behaviour.” (1)