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Luke 16:24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

When we think of the story of the rich man and Lazarus, we tend to focus on the stark contrast between the two men; Lazarus being poor, and the man being rich.  Lazarus goes into the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man is in hell.  Sometimes, however, we can be so busy focusing on one aspect of the story that we miss an even more profound teaching by our Lord Jesus.
Notice, in this passage, that the rich man calls up to Abraham, and asks Abraham to have pity on him. There would be nothing too unusual about that, since in the story he is in torment and is asking Abraham for relief.  It is what he says next, however, that is so striking: “send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”  Let’s consider this for a moment.  The rich man is asking Abraham to have pity upon him, but then he asks Abraham to “send Lazarus.”  It is as if the rich man sees Lazarus as nothing more than a poor servant!  And this brings us to an important principle:

Whatever mindset you leave this life with, is the mindset you will have in the life to come.  

Let that sink in for a moment.  If you have a selfish mindset in this life, that is the mindset you will take in the life to come.  If you have a prideful mindset, that is the mindset you will take in the life to come.  If you are filled with hatred, hatred you will carry into the life to come.  Contrast the story of the rich man and Lazarus to the story of the thief on the cross.  Notice what he says to the Lord Jesus before he dies:
Luke 23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Notice his mindset.  This man recognized he deserved his punishment, but in humility appealed to the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus showed him mercy.

What is your state of mind right now?  None of us knows how many days we have left remaining in this life.  There is an urgency to change your mindset now, while you have the opportunity.  This is truly what it means to repent – to change your mindset.  If you are selfish, now is the time to become selfless.  If you are harboring unforgiveness, now is the time to forgive.  Are you greedy?  Begin giving today.  In other words, change your mindset TODAY.  

 

roachesRom. 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Have you ever rented an apartment where you discovered you had unwanted roommates?  I did.  I remember in college I rented an efficiency for the first time.  My sister helped me to move in, and when she opened the cabinet beneath the sink, she exclaimed “I see you have friends living with you.”
Being quite naive at the time, I asked her what she meant.  She then showed me the dead roach.  Needless to say, my stay there was filled with insecticides, traps, and bombs.  But no matter how hard I tried to eradicate my efficiency of those creatures, they would always seem to return.
They were everywhere!
I was reminded of this experience as I read the above passage.  There is an unwanted housemate in each of us.  Paul said that in our body, which is a temple of the Lord, sin resides.  That unwanted housemate has taken up residence in our minds.  At times, it seems that when I rid my mind of one of those insects, another six or seven seem to appear!  Even when I set off a bomb to kill them all, they seem to reappear with a vengeance.   The truth is, we will be warring against this unwanted housemate for the remainder of our lives.  We must awaken each morning prepared to fight against this housemate throughout the day, for he will appear in many ways to distract us, to discourage us, to defeat us.  We must also recognize that we are not in this battle alone; indeed, we are individual members of a mighty army.  We must be sure to equip ourselves with not only the armor to protect us, but the weapons that we are to use to defeat this enemy.  This fight must be part of our daily regimen.  We must become aware of its devices.  We are now soldiers in an army that must be prepared to fight 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Every time we evict that unwanted roommate from our premises, he is searching the premises looking for a way back in.  May we endeavor to be diligent in our fight to keep our temple clean.

thoughts-have-power_p1622004Phil. 4:Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. (Amplified version)

What do you think about on a daily basis?  What preoccupies your mind?  For many people, today is the first day of a work week.  Their thought may be “oh boy, the start of another week.”  Others may be thinking about bills that have to be paid.  Perhaps you are focused on a big event, such as a wedding or a graduation.  Still others may be thinking about the controversy surrounding this year’s Presidential election.  The real questions, however, are what guides or influences your thoughts?  What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Paul sets a standard for what should be the essence of our thinking.  “But, it isn’t practical to believe that I can think about these things all the time.  I have to live in the real world.”  How can I be a light in a dark world, if my thinking is like the world?  How am I going to be different if my thinking, my acting, and my doing is the same as everyone else in the world?  Are we not called to be a peculiar people?  If we think about these things continually, eventually these thoughts will influence our actions.  This type of thinking is the result of a renewed mind.

Last week, we saw the video of the backwards bike.  The instructor informed us that it took him many hours to learn how to ride the bike, because his mind and his thinking had become rigid from being so accustomed to riding a traditional bike.  He had to unlearn how to ride the traditional bike, then train his mind to ride the backwards bike.  It is the same in the kingdom of God.  We have to unlearn how we did things in the world, and train our minds to do things the kingdom way.  Learning to think this way takes hours of work, accompanied by the actual practice of doing things according to the new way of thinking.

How do you begin?  You begin in prayer.  “Ask, and it shall be given.”  Ultimately, our thinking should have its roots in the one foundation that cannot be shaken, and that is the kingdom of God.  Like the leaven in the parable spoken by Jesus Christ, thinking about this kingdom continually will eventually permeate every area of your life.  This thinking will change the way you look at your job, your finances, your relationships, your health, and every other area of your life that you allow to be influenced by this way of thinking.  When do you begin?  Begin this new way of thinking today.

renewing the midRomans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Carol received a call from her doctor.  He needed her to come in to discuss the results of her exam.  She was nervous; normally, the doctor would simply call and inform her that her exam results were fine.  So quite naturally, she was anxious as she walked into the doctor’s office.  All kinds of thoughts raced through her head.  Her doctor sat close to her.  “Carol, I called you in because I wanted to let you know the results of your exam indicate that you have cancer.  The good news is, we caught it early, and we can treat it, but this will require a change in your lifestyle.”  Carol was stunned.  At that moment, however, she determined that she wanted to live as long as she could.  She made up in her mind that moment that her lifestyle was going to change – everything from her diet and exercise to her thought life.

In the above story, Carol had a life altering event.  This is what is to happen to us when we receive the kingdom of God – the gospel interrupts our lives and becomes a life altering event.  The kingdom of God is not simply knowledge that we carry with us as we continue on with our lives as we please; rather, it is life altering news that causes us to make up in our minds at that moment that our individual lives are going to be completely changed.  The gospel is a clarion call that we hear that compels us to drop our self-willed lifestyle and obey the command of Christ – “follow me.”  Our minds become renewed as we obey our Lord on a daily basis.  It is this daily seeking of the kingdom of God that becomes an urgency in our lives.  But we cannot be transformed if we stubbornly try to remain conformed to the things of this world. We must have the courage to lose our conformity if we truly desire to be transformed.