Saturday, April 21, 2018

Living In Victory, Week 5 - Humbled to Love

We’re always improving things around here. Trying to make things run more efficiently, and maximizing the work we can do. About a year ago, one of our people donated a small sound board to replace the one in the fellowship hall, that has been slowly going down hill. It’s not big, but it’s good for what we need it to be. But there’s a problem. The sound cabinet we have over there isn’t designed for that particular type of sound board and so we don’t have the adequate room for it. 
So, instead of breaking a part the cabinet in there, I decided to just build a new one. So on Tuesday, that’s what I worked on, and my son Israel helped me. And when I say helped me, you know what I mean. He got me tools, held some pieces of wood, and picked up the scraps. While we were out working on this project, he got bored and began to work on his own. He put some blocks and wood together to make a “door stop.” He took some of the wood I was working with and made himself a “tool bench.” And one of his “jobs,” I don’t know what he was doing, but it almost caused me to fall on my face, by creating a tripping hazard.
At the end of the day when we called it quits, he proudly told his mother that we built a cabinet. If we’re talking percentage wise, he probably accounted for 2% of the work. But to him, it was an immense contribution.
Now even though he didn’t do a lot, I realized that my willingness to allow him to participate in the project, gave him a sense of accomplishment. And it reminded me of what we’re going to be talking about today, as we finish up our sermon series on Living in Victory.

In the first week of this series we talked about how Jesus won victory for us through suffering. Now suffering is not usually looked to as a way to victory. But every meaningful victory is won through suffering. Participation trophies are nice to fill up a mantle, but only those trophies that were won through adversity mean anything. Jesus won the victory for us, on a level of adversity that none of us will probably ever experience.
In the second week, we talked about how Jesus reversed the mockery of the cross. The cross was seen as one of the biggest signs of contempt for a person. And for hundreds of years prior to Jesus, the cross was a sign of disgrace. But because of Jesus, it has become a symbol of God’s grace. Jesus reversed the mockery of the cross to show us his victory, and now the cross reminds us of what only God could accomplish.
The following week after that, we talked about how victory is given to us through Jesus, but we must always remember that Jesus won it. We talked about how we need to rely on Jesus continually because we are not powerful enough to have victory over sin. It is Jesus who has defeated sin, and if we want that to become the reality in our daily lives, we must learn the mantra of “I am a sinner, and I need Jesus to live through me.” When we live our lives with this at the forefront of our minds, then daily victory begins to happen more and more.
Finally, last week we talked about how we were going to put a little concrete to this entire series. And to do that we were going to divide it into two parts: the inside and the outside. Last week we talked about how to begin to live in victory in the inside of our heart and mind, we needed to take the first step of humility. We needed to move past our own wants and desires, and give them up. We needed to move past our own thoughts, and feelings and give them up. We needed to come to a place where we are no longer living for ourselves, but for the God who has saved us through the victory on the cross. Only when our first step in victory is humility, can we begin to live victorious in our daily lives.

Today we’re going to finish up this series and talk about the outside. What are some things we need to do on the outside, to live in victory every day? As we have been doing for the last few weeks, we are going to return to the book of Romans, and we’re going to pick up where we left off with last week. We’re going to go to the book of Romans, chapter 12, starting in verse 9. 
Now, as you open to Romans 12 verse 9, we’re going to be moving through several chapters today. The reason for this, is because Paul gives us an umbrella idea of what we need to do on the outside, and then unpacks that idea through chapter 15. Now we’re not going to read every verse, but instead, we’re going to hit the major points.
So let’s dive into Romans chapter 12, starting in verse 9.

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

In these opening verses Paul is connecting the inner humility that he talked about in verse 3-8 last week, to the outward action of love. This shouldn’t be a surprise if we have read anything of the Gospels, or have sat in a church for more than a Sunday. Like we talked about last week, love is the core of God’s commands to us. I shared with you Mark 12, 29-31 last week. “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

This is why we talk about how the vision that God has given us here at the Alliance Church starts with love. We experience God’s love and we are motivated by that love to the rest of the vision. Love is both what we receive from God, through his victory on the cross, and what we are to then share with the people around us.

But Paul doesn't’ just say to love, but also what this can look like when we do it. Starting in verse 11, he says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
“14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
“17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
“21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Paul is showing that, the humility that we must step forward in on the inside, then shows itself on the outside by caring for people. 

And it’s after this that Paul starts to build on what it looks like to love with the starting point of humility.
In chapter 13 verse 1 Paul says, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Here is Paul’s first point, to love from a place of humility, means to act in submission. Submission is one of those hard words, especially in our society. We tend to have the mind of, “I am free and shouldn’t have to submit to anyone.” The misuse of the word, brings with it the idea that I should never be under someone’s boot. Submission goes against the very nature of humanity. But it’s in submission that love shines.
Paul says this of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians, “5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)”
Submission is extremely hard, it goes against the sin that battles inside of us, hence the reason Paul calls us to submit. If we are going to live in victory we must stop living in the ways that lead to defeat. And not submitting leads to defeat.

Let’s move on to Paul’s second point. In chapter 14 verse 1 Paul writes, “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”
We’ve talked about this before. There are so many things in Christianity that are based on our own personal relationship with God. What type of food I eat, what type of drinks I drink, what type of music I listen to, what type of clothing I wear, and the list goes on and on. And that is just the outside things. There are theological things as well, that fall into this category. Are you pre, mid, or post trib. Do you know what that means? Are you Arminiust  or Calvinist? Each one leads to different personal understandings of God, but none are as important as Jesus died for sinners, of which I am one (1 Tim. 1:15).
Paul goes on to say in chapter 14 verse 13, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
In other words, to love from a place of humility, means to not think we have all the answers. Instead we need to allow God to build his relationship with people, giving counsel and advice, only when it is sought after.

Finally, we can find Paul’s final point in chapter 15 verse 17, “17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum (ill-ear-i-come), I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”

This final one has been our overarching focus this past winter season. During this season we have been talking about the final aspect in the vision that God has given us. The Life aspect. To point people back to the life God has for them.
Paul is saying that to love from a place of humility, is to share what God has done in us with others.
This can be the hardest of the three points Paul has made. In submitting, yes it’s hard, but we pay takes, we listen to our bosses, we take out the trash. All things that can be hard, but we do them.
In not thinking we have all the answers, it can be hard, but we can shut our mouths when we think someone’s not doing the right things. 
But to share what God has done for us can be the most difficult, because we don’t want to come off as pushy, or preachy, or crazy. But to live in victory means to share that victory with other people. Have you ever heard of a people winning a war and never talking about it again?
And what happens when people stop talking about the victories in their life? The defeats then seem to hover over our heads and we lose sight of what has been won.
Here is a verse from 1 Corinthians 15:57 that all of us should memorize. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It should be what we think of when we wake, what we talk about in our day, and what we thank God for when we lay down to sleep.
God’s victory should always be on our mind and our lips.

We have spent the last five weeks talking about how to live in victory everyday. It’s starts with Jesus winning the victory. It moves to an inner humility of our mind and heart. And shows itself by loving the people around us.

My challenge for you this week is this, take the areas we talked about today: submission, non-judgement, or sharing. Bring them before God and say, which one have I not been loving in? Which one am I not living in victory?
Am I trying to get my own way in something? Then I need to submit.
Am I trying to make people conform to my way of thinking about God? Then I need to seek forgiveness and allow God to move.
Have I not shared my victory in Jesus with someone else? Then I need God to bring someone along to whom I can share with

If we want to live in victory everyday, it must start with Jesus who won it, it must humble us, and it must cause us to love. Let us be a humble people who love, as Jesus showed us to love on the cross. Let’s pray.

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