Thursday, 1 January 2009

Standing at the Dawn of 2009 : A Meditation

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action. Be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:13

The cross of Christ brings Christians many wonderful benefits in this life: forgiveness, a clear conscience, reconciliation with others healing from physical and emotional brokenness, protection from demonic forces, power to liberate others from bondage to darkness, but these are not its greatest benefits. The greatest benefit of the cross is future-centred and future-driven and it is good news for those who love it because it tells the Christian of his destiny, which is to be finally, fully and forever united with Christ in the next life.  

The Christian lives for the day when he will be united to Jesus, when faith gives way to sight. The forgiveness that God offers through the cross is wonderful not so much because it helps him to be happy and do his job and love people well in this life, (although it does do that!!) but more importantly because it opens up the way for him to know the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit in this world and then to be united with them in the next, where he will gaze upon the beauty of God, forever.

So then at the beginning of 2009:
1. Prepare your mind for action.
2. Be self-controlled.

The literal translation of “Prepare your minds for action” is “Gird up the loins of your mind.” The image Peter is using here is of an average person taking up the flowing garments that they used to wear in those days, picking them all up and tucking them into the belt so that they could run without fear of tripping themselves up and without hindering the extended movement of the legs that running requires. If Peter lived in the 21st century, he might have said something like, “Take off the slippers of your mind and put on the mental equivalent of trainers.” In other words prepare for a change of pace.  Slippers are for lounging around.  Trainers are for action.  Once you were ignorant about the future, but now you aren’t.  No more excuses!  Get stuck in!


Cultivate a Godly imagination.
God didn’t give us an imagination so that we could waste away our days imagining scoring the winning goal at the next world cup, or walking down the aisle in some amazing dress or what life would be like if we earned £10,000 per week. 

He gave us an imagination so that with the help of the Bible and the Spirit we can, in faith, imagine, however imperfectly, what it will like when we finally meet Jesus and are united to him.  Jesus himself exemplified this principle, the Bible says of him in Heb 12:2 that knowing (imagining) the thrill he would get out of honouring God the Father, He went to the cross and in so doing opened up a way of salvation for the whole world. Jesus knew what it was to have a pure and healthy imagination and he made that imagination serve his obedience to his Heavenly Father. Does your imagination mostly lead you to dissatisfaction with God and disobedience or to hope in God and obedience?

When was the last time you thought about what you will say to Jesus when you are giving your account to him?  When you and God look back together on this day, what will you tell him about how you have lived it? What about the week just gone? What about tomorrow?  Or the year ahead?  Are you like the wise man, facing up to your future, or like the fool, running away from it?  Imagining what it will be like to meet Jesus will either drive you mad or drive you to prayer and action.  Most people ignore it and hope it will go away, but it won't.  Which will it be for you?

Through godly self-control, let your destiny (as informed by the bible) define your daily routine and not vice versa.

We are hope machines. We are constantly hoping:
:: I hope I’ll pick up a bargain in town.
:: I hope I get that career break.
:: I hope my team win today.
:: I hope there’s something good on TV tonight.
:: I hope my kids turn out good.

None of these things are wrong in themselves, but we must ensure that what we hope for is worthy of our time and not allow an abundance of good small things to deflect us from the great big thing, which is hoping in God.  Many Christians have been neutralised in their effectiveness, not because they have had some high profile moral failure, but because they get sidetracked into lesser causes.

The greatest thing is to live in the shadow of the cross and the light of Jesus return, for however long he gives us breath!

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