New Testament passage for Thursday, November 29, 2012: II Peter 3:1-18
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder). II Peter 3:1 (NKJV)
Memory loss and memory problems is a facinating topic. Most doctors and psychologists list six to seven common memory problems. They range from transience (this means "use it or lose it"; unused facts tend to be forgotten) to absent-mindedness (failure to pay attention usually due to distraction) to blocking (subconcious decisions to submerge some things).
This can be a distressing and maddening problem. It can lead to missed opportunities and embarrassing moments. Memory issues are important to us and affect major parts of our lives. This is not just a part of getting older. We even call them "senior moments." It affects all people of all ages.
But the Bible takes us further. From a spiritual perspective we really have only two memory problems. We don't remember the things we SHOULD remember, and we DO remember the things that we should forget and put behind us. We tend to forget the good and remember the bad.
Back in I Peter 1:19, the apostle speaks to us about PROBLEM #1. He warns us about forgetting how we have been "cleansed from our former sins" (I Peter 1:9). When we do that, he says we will stumble through life. We forget the good things God has done for us. We forget our heritage. We forget our identity in Christ. It's like walking blindfolded. This is a major problem all followers of Jesus must deal with. We tend to forget God's Word, and in so doing, we lose direction.
Paul talks about PROBLEM #2 in Philippians 3:13 when he says, "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead." There are things in our past that need to be buried. We should stop dragging them into the great future God has for us. In this sense, our memory can be a huge obstacle to going forward. Our past traps us and seeks to distort any chance of a better tomorrow.
Peter says that one of the purposes of these two letters (I Peter and II Peter) is to help us with our memory problems. He wants to do this in a particular way. He says that he wants to "stir up your pure minds." That is an interesting wrinkle. He speaks to us of a "pure mind." What does that mean? It seems logical that if you have a "pure mind" perhaps you also have an "evil mind." This memory challenge may really be a matter of which mind you stir up!
Maybe it is not a matter of the actually memories of your past that are the problem. It is a matter of which mind gets stirred up. The same events can have totally different meaning based on how they are viewed. We all have made mistakes. We all have regrets. But, we also agree that we should learn from these past experiences. Even the worst events can become building blocks to a wonderful future if we will let God use them -- let God redeem them -- let God speak to us out of them.
In the final analysis, our memory problems are really mind problems. We need to forget the devil's interpretation of our past, but we need to remember God's statements and God's actions. We need to not dwell on how we have failed, but instead meditate on how God redeems. We need to see God's hand more than we see the devil's attacks. We need to allow Him to show us how He has been with us all the way.
This battle between your redeemed "pure mind" and your defeated "evil mind" is an important topic. It bears our daily consideration because it involves the very meaning and direction of our lives. That's why Peter wanted to encourage you today. He wants to stir up your pure mind by reminding you that Jesus is still on the throne. Your past is forgiven. Your future is in God's hands. Our faithful God is painting a masterpiece. It is called "YOUR LIFE."