Training Your Mind
Training your mind involves, reading, persuading others, doctrine: what you really believe. Exhortation means how we communicate to others. Your beliefs effect your behavior.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? That little greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your good friend, Bob Cook. And you and I are together again for a few precious moments around the Word of God. I love that, don’t you? It’s one of the nicest things God’s done for me through the years, is to give me the privilege of just being with you my beloved friend, and share the Word of God with you.
Well, we were walking about in this matter of explaining what it means to be an example to other believers. “Be thou an example for the believers,” he said, “in word,” – that’s what you say; “in conversation,” – that’s an old English word meaning ‘lifestyle’, ‘in your lifestyle’; “in the quality of Calvary love in your life; in faith,” – that’s the quality of, of risking everything on God; “in spirit,” – that’s the atmosphere of your life, pervaded hopefully by the Holy Spirit of God; “and in purity,” – that’s the word that we were talking about the last time we got together.
To be pure does not mean in our context that you are ascendancy perfect – I don’t think we achieve that until we get to glory and we see Him. “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,” the Bible says. But you can know that you love God, you can know that your heart is right with Him at any given moment. And if you’re conscious of having gotten out of line, you can run to the mercy seat and find forgiveness and cleansing. All you have to do is to agree with God who already knows that you’ve made a mistake.
And so, the word ‘confess’ in the Greek New Testament actually means ‘to say the same thing’, ‘to agree’. So he says, “If we agree with God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God will do the cleansing if you will run to Him as soon as you are aware of the fact that you’ve stepped out of line somewhere or other. And God will keep you clean and shining that way. “Kept by the power of God.” That’s, that’s involved then in being an example.
I want to go just a step further however, in this same passage if I may, where he said, “Give attendance to reading exhortation and doctrine, and neglect not the gift that is in thee. And meditate upon these things and give thyself wholly to them. Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine.” There are 2-3 things there I want to stop upon if I may. He said, “You ought to be an example in the way you train your mind.” Now many people stop thinking after they finish their formal schooling – whether it be high school or college or a graduate degree or whatever. And after that’s over they figure, “Well now I’ve got, I’ve got my, my diploma; I’ve paid my dues,” you might say. “And so now I don’t have to think anymore.”
And from that time on they proceed slowly to die mentally. You can find folk everywhere to whom this has happened. And it’s a tragic thing it seems to me. But then there are others who keep on growing. And the way to keep on growing mentally is exactly what Paul said here: Reading – that has to do with, with bringing things into the computer of your mind; Exhortation – the outward persuasion I suppose. Persuasion, in other words, lovingly helping other people to ascertain and to do the will of God. It has the idea of comfort in it as well; Lovingly helping other people to do the Word of God; and then doctrine – that has to do with lining up the things for which you’d be willing to be shot dead at 5 o’clock tomorrow morning.
I often said that to the students at the college during those 23 years when I served as president. I would speak with them at Chapel every now and then. And I would sometimes say, “Listen, you ought to make a list of the things for which you’re willing to die. Sit down and, and head the list ‘Things for which I would be willing to be shot dead at 5 o’clock tomorrow morning’. And then put down that list. You’ll find it’s very short. And if you think about it very long, it’ll get shorter. But when you’ve, when you’ve finished it, you will have the basis not only for being willing to die, but you will also have the basis for a very effective, meaningful life, see?
And so he says, “Doctrine..” What is it you really believe? Because, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Now, read all that you can. I tell people, “You ought to read a book a week aside from any assigned reading, or from aside as well from your thorough study and meditation upon the Word of God.” Now some of you of course are limited. I, I know of at least one right this minute, who can’t read any longer – but used to. Well, you’ll have to get some cassettes that you can play that, that will do the reading for you and you can listen. They’ve got a lot of them available.
But there needs to come an input, an input into your mind regularly so that you grow mentally. This is an exciting decade in which to live – the last decade of the century. Many of us have lived long enough to see the development of aviation, and the automobile, and electronics of all kinds with radio and television. I can remember back in the early 1920’s, building a little radio receiver myself – a crystal set with a galena crystal as the, as the source of, of cumulating those radio waves. And I had an antenna wire stretched around the living room to, to bring in the radio waves.
And so you would, you would scratch that little galena crystal with the what they called the cat’s whisker – there was a tiny little copper wire that had been wound around in a spring fashion so that it, it had a little tension and it would rest lightly upon the crystal. And when you found the right spot, it would bring in the, the broadcast. And it think the first broadcast I heard was the, was the, was the broadcast of a national convention of the Democrats, I believe it was, in those 1920 days. (Laughs)
Now that’s changed a little since then. I’ve, I’ve built some radio sets as, as, as… This is entirely apart from the sermon. And if it annoys you, I’m sorry. But I was going to tell you, on into my student days while I was still at the Moody Bible Institute, I would build radio sets for the fellows. I would go down on South Wabash where there were electronics stores, and I would buy the parts; you know, tubes and condensers and, and transformers, and all of that. And the base on which you, you put all of these parts. And then a panel.
And I’d put that together and I’d sell that to them and make a dollar or two to keep body and soul together. Well I can’t do that anymore. You have all of this, this complicated electronic gear in even the smallest radio – I wouldn’t know where to start. We’ve lived long enough to see the development of tremendous things in this century. Now then, what? He says, “Give attendance to reading.” Keep up with things. Life doesn’t have to take you by surprise, beloved. You can know what’s going on; and you can discern – according to our Lord Jesus – the signs of the times.
He says, “You know enough to say when the sun goes down red that it’s going to be a good day tomorrow. But if it rises red, you know that it’s going to be stormy. You know about that! “Why can’t you discern,” said he, “the signs of the times?” The blessed, indwelling Holy Spirit will guide you as you study your Bible, and as you keep alert and feed information into the computer of your mind. The Spirit of God will guide you, keep up reading.
And now then, we’re talking about being an example. You see, if you let your mind get indolent and slothful and inactive, you’re saying to other people who watch you, “It doesn’t matter to think.” That’s what you’re saying. You don’t want to be that kind of an example. He said, “Give attendance to reading.” And then he said, “Keep on sharpening your communicative skills.” Exhortation, I said, is a word that has in it the idea of comfort and love and persuasion – all wrapped together; your skills at communicating with people.
Some of you have growing children and teenagers in your home. And sometimes it does seem as though they don’t even listen to you. Make a little study of each of them and find out where the, what we call the ‘hot button’ is. What is it that triggers their interest? What is it that will demonstrate to them that you really are interested in them. Many a child goes through these tender years of childhood and adolescence feeling bitter needlessly. It develops a bitter feeling that, that parents really don’t understand and don’t want to listen.
I’ve heard that complaint hundreds of times from, from teenage young people in connection with my work with them. “Oh my dad doesn’t care; he’s too busy,” you know. “Yeah, mom doesn’t understand me….” I say, “Have you told your parents?” “I couldn’t tell them. Why, they don’t understand me.” See, that’s the attitude that you meet with. Now, give a little prayer and study to this matter of communicating. You’re an example. Learn to be a communicator because you will transmit something of that skill to other people who watch you, and are modeling their lives after you.
Then doctrine means, “You be sure what you really believe. Because what you really believe, affects your life. What you really believe, affects your life. I sometimes use the illustration of the person in jail. You come to visit him and you say, “I’m sorry, what happened to you?” Oh he gives you this dreadful tale of a gruesome unhappy childhood, and a father who abused him, and a mother who didn’t care about him and kicked him out; and that’s why he’s here. Well you take pity on him, and you intercede with the judge, and you get him out on either parole or released to your care – whatever it may be.
But to your dismay, before long he’s back in jail again. Now what happened? You say, “Why do you do this? You were a burglar before, and now you keep on burgling. Why do you do this?” Well the answer obviously is he never changed his doctrine. His doctrine – that is what he really believes – his doctrine is, “If I want it, I go get it; no matter to whom it may belong.” See, that’s his doctrine. So he says, “Give attention to what you really believe because that is what people imitate in your life.” You want to be an example? Keep your mind alert. Sharpen your communicative skills.
And be sure to monitor what you really believe. And that is a little painful sometimes when we get right down to cases and we talk with God concerning ourselves. And maybe for the first time you admit the truth about yourself on some levels of thought. And you say, “Well God, I’ve never admitted this before but I guess I have to tell you that this, and this, and this is true about me.” And so when you level with God there, you give Him a chance to do something in your life. As long as you keep things from God, you don’t keep Him from knowing, but you effectively close the door of your life to Him so that He doesn’t work in your life.
“While I kept silence, even my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long,” said the psalmist. “But then I acknowledged my transgression, and Thou forgavest the inequity of my sin.” God does something when you agree with Him. Good idea? Well time is gone, and I need to wind this up. Be sure that you’re a good example to others.
Dear Father today, make us good examples to other people who are watching us, to see what God is doing in our lives. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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