River Church NOLA
April 18 Love Reigns over your Present
- This Is Amazing Grace
- One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)
- Welcome, River Church Church. We are so glad you have chosen to worship with us today. We believe God has you here for a reason, and we pray that you experience him in a fresh and new way today. We are in the middle of a sermon series called “Love Reigns”.We began this series called Love Reigns on Easter, when we discovered that though Jesus was mocked by being called King of the Jews, the clearest proof of his authority was not in avoiding the cross, but in defeating the cross and resurrecting from the dead.Last week we were encouraged to know that when we are united with Christ through faith in Him, we become a new creation. Our past no longer defines us when we allow Jesus to help us put off the old, change the way we think and then put on the new.When we place our trust in Jesus, we experience a transformation that makes us newWe have to put off the old and put on the newPattern yourself after God, not the world.Jesus took our sinfulness and gave us his righteousnessToday we continue this series by taking a look at how love reigns over our present. God’s great mercy became a transforming reality through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This mercy is a result of God’s love for us, and this love invites us to live differently in the present.We are to be living sacrifices that no longer conform to the patterns of this culture.The world around us is deceptive, selfish, angry, and foolish and these cannot be the patterns we live by today. Instead, we must renew the way we think, and in doing so, we will discover God’s will for us in the present. This is not easy however because a living sacrifice is always tempted to crawl back off the altar.The decisions you and I make today will determine who we will be tomorrow and in the future. But God’s mercy gives us the chance to die to ourselves and come alive in Jesus Christ. We want each of you to discover the patterns in your life that are destructive and replace them with a better way of living.Simon SaysHow many of you remember Simon Says? Let me refresh your memory. When I say “Simon Says”, you respond by doing that thing. If I give you and instruction without saying Simon Says, then you should not to do it. Let’s give it a try.Simon Says – clap your hands. Simon says – stop.Simon Says – blink your eyes. Simon says – stop.Simon Says – stomp your feet. Simon says – stop.Simon Says – look up and down. Stop.Oh no. Some of you stopped, and I did not say Simon Says… You remember now right?“Simon says” was a test of your willingness to listen to instruction or to decide to ignore instruction. It’s a test because we have all been given a will of our own and our will consists of our convictions and desires.Every single day, we make thousands of decisions. Some little… some large. We are always having to weigh out options and choose what we think is the best. Sometimes our decisions are influenced by things that we are told to do. We often find ourselves being obedient to voices around us that do not have our best interests in mind. Unfortunately we have become too accustomed to this during COVID.However,God’s love gives us another option...God’s love gives us another option, to listen to HimThat is to listen for his voice to listen to in order to make the best decision possible right now, today.1. Your choices show who reigns in your lifeThe things we do or don’t do show who we are listening to. I can say all day long that I believe, but if iot doesn’t show up in my actions… it’s no good. Our lives are mostly made up of the decision we make, and that can be a painful litmus test to where our allegiance is.Who we are today is a collection of past decisions… both good and bad. If we look back on those decisions, who would we see was in charge? How many of those past decisions was a result of obedience to God? How may were a result of our sinful desires or the voice of our culture?Paul has a lot to say about living lives under the influence of God instead of the influence of the world. He focuses on this because as believers ...because as followers of Jesus, we need to let God’s love reign in our lives and rule over our decisions.1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.Paul is trying to get us to see life through Biblical eyes. He wants us to see things in view of God’s mercy.We need to look at life through the lens of God’s MercyThat’s the lens. This can change our lives. How many of us walk around grumbling and complaining over about our present situation? All of us. So we try to live life our way and not God’s. We try to control things and do things to please ourselves. Paul wants us to see things differently… through the lens of God’s Mercy.He offers us a FRESH START through repentance because of his mercy. He loves us un-conditionally. This alone can change our present by helping us to move our focus from what we want to have done for us, to the things that God has already done.When we turn our attention to the mercy of God, then we are compelled to live our lives as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God.A sacrifice involved taking the life of an animal, whether goat, sheep, bird, etc., and that animal’s blood would atone for the sins of the people. That life would cover the life of the one performing the sacrifice. It involved death but it offered life. This is why Jesus’ death was considered the ultimate sacrifice for all humanity.So why is Paul looking at us as living sacrifices?16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.It was not about the sacrifice itself; it was about the heart behind the sacrifice. The true sacrifice of a follower of Jesus is a contrite heart and an obedient spirit. That is what God is looking for now since Jesus has paid it all by his blood on the cross.Paul calls us to be living sacrifices. That is actually more difficult than a dead one. A dead sacrifice does not have a choice in the matter. It has to stay on the altar. But a living sacrifice can crawl back off whenever it wants to. Paul says in view of God’s mercy be a living sacrifice. Live a life, right now in the present, under the rule and reign of love and be repentant and obedient to God.Paul goes on in the passage from Romans to give us the ultimate outcome of living the sacrificial life.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.The world around us has patterns that lead to a broken life.The world is marked by patterns of greed, selfishness, pride, envy, and gossip. These patterns are easy to fall into and can be difficult to transform. They are called patterns because they are routine and often done mindlessly, but also because these patterns can be identified and changed.2. Changing your patterns will change your life. (Rom 12:2)Patterns can be identified.Show numbers 1,2,3,4… A, B, C, D, ...1, 2, 3, 4 ?Red White and ?A, B, ?Once you know the pattern what happens next should become obvious to us. The same can be true in our lives as well. If we pay attention to our patterns, we can begin to anticipate or understand what comes next. Then, we can change them.To identify patterns, sometimes we have to change our perspective. Maybe this is the reason that Paul tells us to see life in view of God’s mercy.When we understand God’s love and mercy for us, we find the reason to transform our lives and renew our minds.So maybe you have developed a pattern of talking down to yourself whenever you make a mistake. It always leads to feeling depressed and anxious. Break the pattern. Don’t conform to it any longer.Maybe you notice the pattern of telling lies to people around you. It always leads to more lies and a deceptive lifestyle. Do not conform to it any longer.Maybe you have seen a pattern of laziness in your life. It has produced a spirit of apathy toward your work, family, and dreams. In view of God’s mercy, do not continue that pattern. Break it and experience a new life3. Trade your will for God’s WillThe ultimate outcome of a sacrificial life and a renewed mind is the ability to distinguish the will of God for your present life. How many of us have struggled with what decision to make today about something? Most of us, or at least many of us, want to do what God wants us to do when it comes to our work, our serving others, loving our family, or investing our energy and resources. Paul says the best way to know God’s will is by trading our will in and creating better patterns for our lives.What if you were to trade in the time and energy that you used to spend on the old patterns in your life and created new patterns with better outcomes? Under the reign of love and mercy in your life, spend time in prayer, read scripture, serve others, and listen to the voice of God.God promises to lead us and show us his will for our lives when we submit to his leadership in our lives.5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.When we trust in the Lord and question our understanding, we will begin to see the straight paths God has laid before us. This trust that the author speaks of is a trust that God’s love is always seeking the best for us. We can rely on that love and obey God because of it.Being a parent is not always fun and games as many of you know. Kids have a will of their own and as they grow older it gets stronger. The don’t like to be told no when their will comes into conflict with your will. The hardest thing you have to do is to convince them that they can trust you because you love them… that when you say know it’s because you love them, and see down the road further than they do with their experience.Trust is a hard thing to teach and even harder thing to learn. But if we are going to live the full life God has for us, we must trust his love for us and let that love reign in our lives and over our present.Prayer TimeSalvationSermon - I want to ask you to offer up to God the old patterns that you have noticed in your life. I want to invite you then to receive better patterns into your life and trust God’s love to lead you forward.
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