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First Peter 1 13-16

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          It was a special gift for Joey. His dad gave him his own Bible. Joey’s dad explained that this was the Holy Bible and not like any other book. In it were written the very words of God. Needless to say, Joey was excited. He had waited years for this very day. He had it all planned out how he would take care of his Bible. He would put a cover on it to protect it and had a special place next to his bed where he would keep it.

          The next Sunday at church Joey grinned from ear to ear as he carried his new Bible to church. He wanted everyone to see the gift his dad gave him, and everyone saw just how happy Joey was with his new Bible.  They knew he treasured the gift.  It was obvious to all.

          I think all special gifts we receive are like Joey’s Bible. We take extra special care of them. Peter has just finished telling us of the special gift of salvation that God has given us through the new birth in Jesus Christ. He knows that those who are truly saved will want to know how they can take care of sure a special gift.  So he takes the next few verses to tell us how to take care of this special gift.

          Peter gives us five ways to take care of this special gift of salvation of your soul. Let me state here, if Christ is not your Savior this sermon will not help you. You must first receive the special gift of salvation before you can take care of it. 

          So what does Peter tell us in how to take care of the great gift of salvation we have received in Christ.

1.  Prepare your minds for action.

The gift of salvation of your soul needs proper care and your mind is the place to begin. The literal translation of this is “gather up/gird the loose ends of your minds.” In other words, don’t let your mind run into areas it should never go, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Focus your mind using God’s Word as your standard not the world or it’s wisdom. 

          To do this requires preparation on your part. One of the easiest things to remember in reference to your mind is the phrase, “Garbage in-- garbage out.” What you fill your mind with will be what comes out. Picture your mind like a mixing bowl.  What you put in it will affect what comes out. 

          The books you read, the TV/movies you watched, the music, it all goes in. All are taken into your mind and prepare you for action. This is nothing new. Our society, with its immorality, flows directly from garbage in – garbage out.

          Peter wants you to be prepared to act for Christ, to wrap up the loose ends of your mind, to bring every thought captive to Christ.  What this takes is discipline as a competitor in the Olympics.  They know the goal and they set their minds on that goal.  Anything that will hamper there reaching that goal is removed from their life.  We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus.  To take care of this special gift of salvation we must prepare our minds for action.

2.  Be self-controlled.

You cannot do this without first having prepared minds. An

alcoholic, drug addict or glutton are all examples of someone out of control. Something in this world has a controlling factor over them. “I just have to have it.”

If a smoker who uses two packs a day gives up the habit at age 35 and lives a normal life span they will have saved over $61,000, plus a goodly portion of their health. That offer is too good to pass up!  But if you have ever smoked you will find out how little self control you have when you try.

Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands—Self control is then to eat just one of the pieces.

Someone who is saved by the grace of God knows the blessing of the gift.  And that gift of grace affects our lives.  Titus 2:11-14  We must say no to the cravings of the world with all its lusts.  We must take care of the gift.  We must look to God for the strength to be self controlled. 

          3.  The third area of care is to set your hope fully on what lies ahead.  Why does Peter use the term “grace?” Why not salvation, or inheritance, or blessing, or glory? Because for the believer, grace is the sum total of all the blessings of God. Every single blessing is a gift of God’s grace. None of heaven’s benefits are earned or deserved; all are a gift of His grace.

You can see how this too relates to the mind. This aspect is your outlook. You are looking forward to heaven, to Christ’s return, and yet in the here and now you are to live as if Christ will come at any moment.  You also know that God is in control so you are not affected by the fears of this world.  All too many Christians are negatively affected by this world.  This should not be!

          We have assured victory in Christ. Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords. When you lose sight of the Lord’s return, you lose sight of your goal. Any runner knows that if you don’t look at the finish line, you have no idea where to run. The narrow path can only be run with our eyes on the hope of Christ and his return.

          Billy Graham put it this way, “A compass is narrow-minded-it always points to the magnetic north. It seems that is a very narrow view, but a compass is not broad-minded. If it were, all the ships at sea and all the planes in the air would be in danger. We must discipline ourselves, personally, to fight any deviation from the course Jesus set for us. We cannot be tolerant of any other course. To deviate is to sin.”

4.  Do not conform to the evil desires.

The two best explanations of this are 1 Jn. 2:15-17; Gal. 5:19-21.

The argument is simple – obedient children obey their parents. When Joey received that Bible he would have done just about anything his Dad asked because of how much he was thrilled with the gift.  God has given you the gift of grace.  When that is received by faith you want to obey Him. True salvation always results in obedience, not perfection but obedience.  It is the demonstration of one who loves God.

          Why do some children obey their parents and others do not? I believe the answer is two-fold. Children who obey their parents do so for one of two reasons/or both: they respect/love their parents and/or fear the repercussions of their disobedience.

          You can tell how much respect and love a person has for Christ, the giver of the gift of Grace, by the way they live.  1 John 3:10 

5.      Be holy in all you do.

This is as easy to understand as the last – just take the example of a goblet in the temple.  It was like many others except it was set apart from the rest and declared holy.  That meant it now had a new purpose, it was for the Lord’s use. So to we who have been called by His grace have been set apart for God’s use.  We are to be different.  Holy on our part is dedicated to God.  That alone makes us different.  When we are dedicated to God what we do with our lives is out of service to God.

          In all you do, Peter says to be holy.

          Remember the boy at the beginning of the sermon, Joey, who received the Bible as a gift. He covered it to protect it. He had a special place for it separate from the other books and Joey read it and used it at church, at home, and with friends.

          Your life saved by grace is a gift from God.  Prepare your mind for action, be self-controlled, look to Christ, don’t conform to evil and be holy in all you do. Take care of the gift of eternal life God has promised to you.  READ 2 Cor. 7:1

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