Motivating Grace

We can only truly love God when we first understand his grace for us.


Good morning.  David Sorn. Pastor of Renovation Church.  
One quick announcement before we get started:  Our Sunday Night House Group is at 3:00 today instead of 6:30.  
Continuing our “Radical Grace” series today.  
It’s been really good so far to just really focus on this idea of grace, “undeserved favor.”
As humans, we tend to just want to fix things.  How can I improve it, how can I make it better…
And churches can sometimes end up like that too…
Always talking about don’t do that, work on that, do that, improve that…
And sometimes we forget to sloooowww down a bit and remember God’s grace, “underserved favor.”       

This morning, I want to look at how grace is not only good for your heart (which is what we’ve been looking at), but how grace is the foundation for motivation in your spiritual life.  
Grace is the foundation for truly loving and serving God.  
You can’t really love Him and really serve Him until you understand grace.  Grace is the “great motivator” when it comes to loving God and loving people
I want to take a look at passage from the Gospel of Luke.
A passage about Jesus
(Luke 7:36-39) – NIV
36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
So we see this religious divide.  These Pharisees, who were the so-called religious ppl (knew the Bible, God’s laws, etc.), were so put-off by this sinful woman that they absolutely could not believe that Jesus (who they saw as a religious teacher) would let her anywhere near him
Because to them, God wouldn’t come near those “sinners” so why should they?  They will only bring them down or corrupt them. In fact, they should separate .. and condemn so those sinners learn a lesson
Well, JC takes a different approach.  He still wants people to change. To be like Him, but his approach is different.  
He’s constantly accused of “hanging out w/ sinners” and loving them and showing them grace
What a terrible thing to be accused of, right?  
And this is a message for another day, but I’m pretty convinced that American Christians look a lot more like the Pharisees than Jesus in this instance…
We do a whole lot of separating and isolating our children and ourselves rather than engaging and loving
Just sayin…  Let’s move on

(Luke 7:40-50) - NIV
40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
     "Tell me, teacher," he said.
41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
     "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
I want you to do a thinking exercise with me.  
Think of the worst politician you know.  (actually think of one)
Think of the worst celebrity role model you know
Think of someone you actually know (old friend, co-worker) who’s really living a negative/wild lifestyle
Now…image all  4 of you on a plane…Jesus shows up…WHAT WOULD HAPPEN??
Intellectually, you might be able to tell me what would happen.
“Jesus loves everyone”
But unfortunately, the way that most Christians think and actually live their lives…looks a little bit more like this:   (Play act the four different scenarios)
This IS NOT the Jesus we see in the Bible.  
He is so loving and so embracing of “notorious sinners,” and yet we do nothing more than usually hide from them and throw stones from afar
And the usual application to this talk is that Jesus loves even people who we think are so sinful, and so should we.  Which is very true.
HOWEVER, I want to take this in a different direction, and I believe that this text in particular is actually saying, that it’s not only that we wrongfully think that Jesus hates sinners, it’s that we ALSO think that He loves us so much more than “sinners"
And that that’s a major side of it that we’re often blind to
Listen.  He loves you. He’s proud of you.  You come to church. You pray. He loves you, He loves you, He loves you.  Yeah, he does. But there’s a trap there. And here it is…
What if I asked you to rate yourself on how Godly of a lifestyle you have:  0 to 10? What would you say?
Here’s what most people say:  Well, I mean, I’m not Hitler, I’m not Osama Bin Laden (ok what would you rate them…well…IDK  .001? And we would rate other Celebrities, Sinful acquaintances, and others in that .001 range.  
Well what about you???   Well, maybe a 4/10?
Here’s the problem, we are ignorantly blinded by our own humanity:
Because we are not God, we can’t step outside of humanity and give ourselves a fair rating from an unbiased approach.
We’re like a sewer rat who says to his friend the sewer rat, “I think I’m one of God’s best looking creatures.  From what I’ve seen down here, I’m at least a 9/10.”
We don’t have God’s perspective.  
We don’t understand just how unbelievably perfect and HOLY He is, and HOW DRASTICALLY FAR SHORT we fall from that.  
It’s not that Osama bin Laden, and the celebrities that you are thinking of aren’t a .001 / 10, no they are.  It’s that you are too. And at best, .002 / 10.
And here’s the real connection.  If you think you’re a 6/10, a 4/10 Christian, your ability to serve and love God is severely limited.  
Because…you’re not accepting the full scope of his grace.  
That’s what Jesus’ parable was saying!  Who will love more, the one forgiven the debt of $8,000 or $80,000?  
You’ve fooled yourself into thinking that He only forgave you $8,000!!!
Because you’re good and you don’t do that and you don’t…
Well of course you’re gonna be apathetic and lazy about your faith!
You’ve convinced yourself that He didn’t even forgive you that much in the first place.  
Heard someone say his at HGs this week and I thought it was good:  People are always going around saying, “I don’t have that much of a testimony.  I was always a good kid…I’ve always been a pretty good Christian….” Wait, what???   Excuse me?!?
Do you understand what you’re saying?????
You’re saying, “Well, God didn’t have to forgive me as much, it’s not like I was like some of those other people who…”
As soon as you trick yourself into thinking God only forgave you $8,000 instead of $80,000, you’ve labeled yourself a “little sinner,” which is EXACTLY what the Pharisee does in the Bible!!
(Luke 7:47) - NIV
47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
But here’s the brilliance of that proverb…NO ONE HAS BEEN FORGIVEN LITTLE!
Jesus died on the cross just the same for each and every one of us
We’re all .001’s.  We’re all SO FAR SHORT of living up to his holy standard, and yet he forgives us anyway.  
And if you catch yourself saying, “I don’t have much of a testimony, I’ve always kind of been a good Christian…” you’ve got some MAJOR pride issues to deal with.  

But it’s not just the pride thing…it’s about loving and serving God
You ever look at those people who came to Jesus out of a background of drugs or the partying life-style or something crazy
And you ever notice how they seem to be SO in LOVE w/ God and they seem to do SO much for Him and serve Him so much??
Well, why is that?
Well, let’s look at the Bible
The “sinful woman” in the Bible did both of those, right?
She was totally loving God.  She was weeping at his feet she was so in love with Him!
What about the Pharisee?  
He seems pretty disengaged.  He’s more interested in making sure he’s shown to be more holy than everyone else than actually loving God who’s sitting in the room w/ Him
And not only was the woman totally loving God, but she was serving Him!
She washed his feet with her tears, poured perfume on Him…she served Him!
The Pharisee?  He didn’t even serve his guest with the customary gracious acts of hosting!
Well, Why?  Why the difference?
The Woman was able to LOVE and SERVE God MORE than the religious Pharisee because she understood how much grace she had been shown.  
And Grace is motivating.  It’s motivating grace.
And Grace (undeserved favor) begets love.  
Grace creates love.  
In other words, Your ability to love God is directly related to your willingness to accept the depth of his grace

And if you’re in this place right now where your faith is not so hot, or just so-so, start here.  
Start w/ that scene in the airplane.  Have you been thinking of yourself as a 4/10 Christian in a world sprinkled with .001’s?  
How much did Jesus really pay for on the cross?  How much has he really forgiven you?
And when you get a hold of that…that is motivating!
And I will say this again and again (and have already) in this grace series.  
The grace process done wrongly leads to condemnation.  
Don’t do that.  
Many people go… “Oh, I did that, and that, and I sinned against you here, and I fall so far short God!”  And then they stop right there…
And walk around absolutely soaked in religious shame
Don’t stop there.  Go there. Yeah, we did fall that short.  But, even though, we’ve lived .001/10 life, he still pursues us every day and came to the cross and died in our place because he loves us that much.  
And now, the Bible says, if we believe, we are white as snow in his eyes, sins are wiped clean, he looks down and see’s not even a blemish on our record.  
WOW!  He loves us that much?  To erase that much sin in our lives?!
And when you get it, that should be motivating!!  Life changing!
Just like it is for the drug-addict or the prostitute who realizes she’s forgiven!
If the grace of Jesus Christ on the cross isn’t motivating you to live a radical life for Him, I’m convinced that you don’t really understand grace.  
Even though you might think you do

So to those of you that have been stuck in the lukewarm stage of faith for quite some time…
Why you don’t try grace as your motivator?  
I’m sure by now that you’re sick of just “working harder” or “making yourself feel worse” or just “giving up.”
Try letting grace sink in
I challenge you to really, really think about the cross this week.  
Make a commitment to sit down and pray every day this week.  For five minutes.
And try to spend most of that time thinking about the cross.  
Maybe even picture yourself on the cross (ready to take the punishment), and Jesus saying, “I’m going to take your place.  I love you.”
And don’t stop until his words of “I forgive you.  I love you” really start to sink in.
Because if you let it start to sink in, this world better look out.  God’s going through you.
Let’s pray.  

You can look under your chair right now, and you should see a connection card and a pen.  Go ahead and pick those up.
One of the things we do every week at Renovation Church, is fill out these connection cards.
It’s a way for you to connect with us and for us to connect with you.  

In just a little bit, we are going to take an offering as well
A way for us to give back to a grace-giving God
If you’re a visitor, feel free to let the offering just pass you by
As the offering goes by, you can stick your connection card in there as well

This morning, we are also going to take communion as a body of believers.  
It’s a way for us to remember/reflect on the radical grace of Jesus Christ.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) –DON’T PUT ON SCREEN
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do.  But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.  
To 1) not do it in vain.  To only do it if we truly believe it  2) To examine ourselves, I always like to ask the intimidating question of myself at communion:  if He really gave everything…if his body was broken for me, am I give everything back?

In the back, 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice.  When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.  
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
And as we continue in worship and as you examine yourself, take some time…maybe to picture that scene on the cross…and start letting grace sink in.  
And when you’re ready, at any time during the next 3 songs (if you need to wait to the 3rd song), you can go back and take communion.  
If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so.  Perhaps pray with your spouse, fiancé, your family.
Communion is much more than a ritual at Renovation Church.  It’s a time to experience and worship Jesus Christ.
Let me pray for our offering and communion time.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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