River Church NOLA
Jan 10, Good Change
  • God So Loved
  • Counting On God
  • Great Are You Lord
  • We are beginning a new series titled, I’ll do it tomorrow. For the next four weeks we will discuss change, why we need to change and some of the difficulties with change.
    Change is not something we like to go through. However some things need to change…
    bell bottoms
    Platform shoes
    Leisure suits
    Everything has a time and season. Some seasons need to go and stay gone. I used to love winter… but after the last few days, I am starting to look forward to spring.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 NLT
    1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
    One thing we know is that change is the thing that is consistent in life. Everything changes. Some changes are positive like the Saints winning the Super Bowl, a promotion at work, the first warm day after winter, or down here, the first cool day of fall. Other changes can be painful or negative: the loss of a marriage, unexpectedly being let go from your job, Accidents… COVID.
    All of these changes can bring happiness, sadness, joy and fear in our lives.
    I have said this over and over again, that God loves you just like you are… right where you are and in whatever situation you find yourself. BUT, God loves you too much to leave you there.
    Philippians 2:13 NLT
    13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
    God is working in you to change you so that you will make a difference in your world.

    The Christian life is one of Change

    I believe that one of the changes God wants to see in us, is that he wants to see us growing in our faith so that we can impact those around us. We can’t do that if we remain baby Christians, or if we just come to gain a head knowledge of the Bible. Babies are cute when they do silly things… 40 year olds are not God wants you and I to grow so that we can make a difference.
    We are called to make a difference in our families… our culture… in our world for Jesus. After all, we would all agree that the world doesn’t seem to be going in a good direction.
    It is easy for the world to mold us into its image. There is a lot of pressure to conform to many of the immoral ideas of the culture today. Social media shames people who disagree with the immorality fo the day. Or they cut you off from their platforms. TV adds make the culture look fun and inviting.
    If we conform to Culture’s pull, we will base our lives on culture which changes all the time. We are to build our lives on something that will not change.
    Matthew 7:24–27 NLT
    24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
    Building life on what the culture dictates will end up in misery, depression, despair, anxiety and destruction of our lives and witness. Also,
    If we allow the world to conform us into its image, how can we impact the world for Jesus?
    How can we impact the world, the culture for Jesus? We have to do something uncomfortable for most of us… we have to change.
    Most of us don’t like change, but what is change? What kind of change are we talking about when we discuss change in the context of our Christian Walk.

    Change means to make different

    If we talk and act like everyone else, or like we did before we chose to give our lives to Christ, we are no different than anyone else and that will not attract people to Jesus.
    I want us to look at three areas we need to change as we grow in Christ.

    1. To impact our culture, we have to change the way we think

    1 Peter 2:11 NLT
    11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
    Warn = urge or pleading with…
    First Peter says that we are temporary residents here… our home is in heaven… not this world. Since we are temporary residents, we need to not get so engrossed in the worldly desires as Peter calls it.

    We have to change what we think is important

    The things of this world are secondary to following Christ. This world and all the stuff and things we accomplish in it will pass away, but our relationship with Chirst last forever.
    While it’s a long way back now, Katrina changed the way a lot of us see our stuff. When you see the life-long accumulation of someones life on the curb of a street over and over again, you want to go home and get rid of some stuff.
    Since Jesus calls us to be different from the world, it begins with our minds… look
    Romans 12:2 NLT
    2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
    Paul tells us not to copy the world… or as some translations say, not to be conformed to the world. How do we do that? How can we avoid copying the behavior and customs of our culture?

    Transformation comes as we change the way we think

    The way we allow ourselves to be transformed is by changing the way we think… about everything. God, our sin, work, relationships…
    We allow our thoughts to become more and more like the thoughts of Jesus.
    2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT
    5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
    Taking our thoughts captive and making them obey Jesus is vital. It takes prayer, reading and studying the WOG, practice and perseverances.... most of all, it takes the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
    Peter said to “keep away from worldly pleasures” which means we do not allow them into our minds or our lives. When we catch them trying to creep in, we put them out.
    I have had kids, and some adults, ask if a particular action was a sin.... then they would get closer to the sin and ask … what about this????
    Peter was telling us to keep away from those things… not see how close we can get. Our goal should be to stay as far away from temptation and sin as we can. One of the main focuses of this instruction was to stay away from sexual sin of all types, but it has been expanded to mean all types of evil pleasures our culture calls us towards. If you play with fire, you will eventually get burned.
    We we become a Christian, we are given a New Nature, but the old one doesn’t go away. A battle begins in our spirts and our minds. The old against the new. Here is what our old nature is up to and brings…
    Galatians 5:19–21 NLT
    19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
    We cannot allow anything into our thoughts that motivates us to sinful behavior or that allows the temptation to remain in our thoughts… if you think about something long enough, you will eventually act on it.
    We can’t always control whether those thoughts pop into our minds, but we can control whether or not we allow them to remain in our minds.
    Growing in Christ is a battle against Satan who wants to kill you, destroy you and steal your life from you. A big part of that battle is in your minds. The desires of our old nature will lead us to destruction and death.
    our old nature will cause us to fall into sin
    our old nature will cause us to have angry outbursts...
    our old natures will cause us to fight and quarrel with others… too much of that in our culture.
    our old nature will cause us to put hings on social media we should not...
    our old nature causes us to lie, steal and cheat...
    our old nature causes us to medicate ourselves with substances both legal and illegal
    We are to change the way we think about worldly desires because they fight agains our new life with Christ and they will destroy our lives… marriages, relationships with kids, job, careers, businesses… credibility…
    Satan will constantly try to use our desires to get us to act them out, while the Spirit of God calls us to resist and get away from those temptations. Dont’ think the devil is not actively trying to mess you up.
    The next area we need to change is found in …
    1 Peter 2:12 NLT
    12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

    2. To impact our culture, we have to change our behaviors

    Peter instructs us to live properly among our unbelieving neighbors. IOW, they should be able to tell that we are Christians. They should see something different in our words and our actions.
    Changing our behaviors is difficult. The problem we most often encounter is that we try to change our behavior without the commitment to Christ and allowing him to help us change the way we think and act. Changing behavior with out the power of the Holy Spirit is like trying to manually override auto pilot on a plane… you may turn it but it will go back to what was programed. Without the power of the Holy Spirit in you, your auto pilot is set on what your old nature… your flesh wants. Gal 5:19
    Too often, we focus on outside change instead of inside change. True Change comes from the inside … out.
    Jesus always compared the Pharisees to white washed tombs because they focused on the outside behavior with no inside change of their hearts and minds.
    Matthew 23:27 NLT
    27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.
    Peter said to live properly or good lives … lives filled with good deeds. Our behavior should show that we are Christians… that we are different from the rest of the world.
    The word for living properly or honorable means good, but also means winsome or attractive. What he is sayin here is that our lives should attract people to Jesus. When people look at our lives, they should want what we have… and that’s Jesus.

    Three Reasons to change our behavior

    1. We are strangers and aliens here on earth.

    Our home is in heaven… not here.

    2. The desires of our old nature will destroy our lives if we let them

    3. We are to be a positive influence on the world around us.

    Matthew 5:13–16 NLT
    13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
    I am to be the salt of the earth
    I am to be the light of the world
    Our behavior should always lead people to a relationship with Jesus.
    If we act and react the same way those who follow the culture do, we will not reflect the God we serve. Being like everyone else we will not attract people to faith in Christ.
    When I met Jon Elder, I saw something in him that I wanted… it came from his relationship with Jesus
    The early church faced a lot of rumors concerning their behavior… they were accused of cannibalism because of the Lord’s Supper. The emperor Nero was able to use this rumor when he made Christians scapegoats as he tried to shift blame to them for the burning of Rome.
    Today, Christians are accused of all sorts of things from not caring about people to Bible Thumpers to … right wing extremist… to haters of women… to racists… to white supremest. Just a note… Jesus nor his early followers were caucasian.
    Peter is telling us and I am telling you today that the World will not understand us. They will think things about us that are not true… just look at some of the comments below any Christian Leaders Social media post. They will not understand why we go to church each week, why we give money, time, etc.
    Listen to me…

    The best way to change their minds is by maintaining excellent behavior

    Or as the NLT says, proper behavior filled with good deeds.

    3. When we change our thinking and change our behavior we can change their world

    When the world sees that we are not hypocrites, they will stop calling us ones. When they see the church actually caring for them, they will say we are not just about the money. When they see the church helping families adopt babies they fight to keep from being aborted, they will see our motives are moral… not political. When they see us feeding the needy, they will know we care. When they see us going into the prisons, they will know we are not out just to build up our own churches… When we stop condemning people doing horrible things, and listen and love them, it will change them…
    Carol Everett - abortionist who spoke with a pastor about some of her personal problems. He did not jump on her for being an abortionist, but helped her and she gave her live to Christ, closed her clinics and now speaks out against abortion.

    Real faith exhibited in our culture will win a lot of hearts.

    People want to believe, they just need to see it in us first. Our actions far outweigh false views and accusations. Instead of believing the rumors, those without Jesus will see your conduct and will then see your true heart.
    Here is how it can work.
    Lost people are slandering Christians.
    The good behavior of Christians has and will prove these accusations wrong.
    The good lives of the Christians would convict the lost of their sins and make them ashamed of their accusations.
    Finally, lost people will come to faith in Jesus Christ and would then glorify the Lord because of your good behavior.
    Always remember,

    They way we think and the way we act will impact the World

    We can either sit back and let those whom we love continue to be miserable, or we can say, 2021 is the year, I am going to change the way I think, the way I act and I am going to be a positive witness for Jesus to my friends, my family and my co-workers.
    As we grow in our faith, we will impact others and they will come to faith in Christ.
      • Ecclesiastes 3:1–8ASV

      • Philippians 2:13ASV

      • Matthew 7:24–27ASV

      • 1 Peter 2:11ASV

      • Romans 12:2ASV

      • 2 Corinthians 10:5ASV

      • Galatians 5:19–21ASV

      • 1 Peter 2:12ASV

      • Matthew 23:27ASV

      • Matthew 5:13–16ASV

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