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What I Would Tell My Younger Self | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 29, 2021 3:00 am

What I Would Tell My Younger Self | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 29, 2021 3:00 am

When trials, anxieties, and tough decisions loom large, sometimes it’s best to hear from a voice of experience. In this Sunday podcast, Pastor Greg Laurie directs a special word of encouragement to young people: God has a plan for your life. 

Notes

Whatever you’re going through, it’s going to be OK. 

What you go through isn’t meant to destroy you but to develop you.

“We comfort with the same comfort we are comforted with.” —2 Corinthians 1:4

You are loved and wanted by more people than you could ever imagine.

God’s plan and purpose for you is good!

Put God first in your life.

Read the Bible every day.

“Study to show yourself approved unto God.” —2 Timothy 2:15

Success or failure in the Christian life is determined by how much of the Bible you get into your life on a daily basis and how obedient you are to it.

Stop worrying and start praying.

Worry can ruin your day, your week, and even your life if you let it.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Give your worries to Jesus Christ.

God is in control of your life.

Have an attitude of gratitude.

Job thanked God, despite his difficulties.

Live with honesty and integrity.

Character over charisma.

“If I take care of my character, God will take care of my reputation.” —D. L. Moody

Marry the right person.

Find someone Godlier than you.

Wedlock should be a padlock.

Eight words you should say to your spouse every day:

“I’m sorry,” “please forgive me,” and “I love you.”

 Tell those you love that you love them.

Keep short accounts and forgive.

Forgiveness is not about absolving the perpetrator; it’s about healing the victim.

“Forgiveness isn’t giving in to another person; it’s getting free of that person.” —Frederic Luskin, Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project

Be a nice person.

Be an encourager, not a discourager; lift people up, don’t beat them down!

Have fun.

Be a generous person.

Three things we can give to God: Time, talent, and treasure.

Take care of your health.

Make the right choices.

You make your choices, and then your choices make you.

Tell others about Jesus, and then disciple them.

Spend time with older Godly people.

Finish your race well.

“Hold the course!” —Pastor Chuck Smith

Come to or come back to Jesus right now.

Scripture Referenced

Jeremiah 29:11

Matthew 6:33

Philippians 4:6–7

1 Peter 5:7

Psalm 101:2

Ephesians 4:32

Ephesians 4:31

1 Timothy 4:8

2 Timothy 2:2

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Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.

If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. Hey, if you have a Bible, why don't you grab it and turn to 2 Timothy chapter 4, and the title of this special message is, What I Would Tell My Younger Self. What would I say to a young Greg as an older Greg?

What advice would I give myself? What things would I tell young Greg to avoid? What things would I tell young Greg to do?

Well, there's the obvious answers. I would tell young Greg, brush your teeth every day, boy, because you do not want to have to spend as much time at the dentist as older Greg has. Of course, I would tell younger Greg, wear sunscreen. I was a blonde kid out at the beach a lot.

I don't think I hardly ever wore sunscreen, and I've had more than one trip to the dermatologist, so I'd certainly give that advice. Maybe I would say to a young Greg, you know when Star Wars comes out and all those figures are in the original packaging? Don't open those, save those, because you'll be able to sell those for a lot of money later. I think that's true of original Barbie dolls in their packaging. I just read the other day that an original copy of the Legend of Zelda video game sold for, get this, $411,000.

So I guess I would say, young Greg, go find a few copies of the Legend of Zelda, because they'll be worth half a million one day, but don't take it out of the original packaging. Now these are silly things, things that don't matter all that much. But I want to talk about things that really do matter, what I would say to a younger me, and in effect, what I'm saying to young people right now. Let me give you a little bit of advice. Maybe you don't have a mom and a dad that are doing this for you, or a grandfather. Let me be your dad for a few minutes, or your grandfather, and say things to you that you need said to you as a younger person.

This first one may be surprising, but I'm going to start with this. Whatever you're going through, it's going to be okay. Whatever you're going through, it's going to be okay. I know when you're young, and you're experiencing things for the first time, life can seem kind of scary. You're wondering about what you're going to do with your life. Where you're going to go, who you're going to marry, what career path you're going to choose, and then maybe something bad happens to you. You have a huge setback. You break up with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, and it almost seems like your world has just ended. Listen, it's going to be okay.

You're going to get through this. I look at photos of my younger self. By the way, I just rediscovered these really old photos of me as a little boy.

I believe they were taken when I was living in New Jersey. I was around six or seven years old. I look at this little guy, and knowing now what I know now, I know that little guy is going to go through a lot of suffering. His mother would effectively abandon him. He would never have a father growing up. He would be passed around from aunts and uncles. He would spend a considerable period of time in military school. Life would not make sense to him. Sometimes he would be up all night wondering when his mother was going to come home, and she wouldn't come home. He'd have to get himself ready for school and take a lot of responsibility on as a little kid, but here's what I would say. God has his hand on you.

God is going to watch over you. I mentioned I was passed around to family members, and I did spend a bit of time with my grandparents. That was probably one of the most stable times in my life because they functioned as parents, but they were parents from another century. They were quite old when I was living with them, and they believed in old-fashioned values, but fortunately, they believed in old-fashioned food, too, because this is the kind of food I ate before I moved in with my grandparents. They're called TV dinners. By the way, even though these photos don't make the food look all that good, the food actually looked much worse than this, and it didn't taste very good either. By the way, we didn't put these in microwaves.

Those didn't exist yet, and so we would heat these up in the oven. This food, I'm just telling you, was not good, so I went from that kind of food to living with my grandmother, who made everything from scratch, starting with fried chicken, and by the way, when we had fried chicken, we didn't just go to the market and buy chicken like normal people. My grandfather would kill a live chicken, cut its head off. I remember as a little kid watching him do it one time. He took the chicken. He put it on a tree stump.

He took out the hatchet, or the ax, I should say. Boom, off comes the head, and the body's running around, spreading out blood, and as I recall, it started running toward me, and I'm thinking, how does the chicken body know where to go? I felt like the little chicken head laying there was saying, go straight, turn right, turn right, whatever. It traumatized me.

I still break out in a cold sweat when I go buy Chick-fil-A. Not really, but fresh chicken, mashed potatoes made from scratch, black-eyed peas, so many incredible things she would make every night, but her crowning achievement was her biscuit. This was a biscuit unlike any other I've had any place, so it was good, it was stable, and I remember we would sit in the front room of my grandparents' house. They each had sort of a La-Z-Boy type chair, and I'd sit in a little stool in the middle, and I remember we watched this guy on television. I would later discover this man's name is Billy Graham, and how was I to know as a little boy that I would one day meet him and actually become friends with him? My grandparents also had a little painting of the face of Jesus over the furnace.

It was a floor furnace, and I remember I would look at that picture of Jesus for hours thinking about him. There was something about him that interested me. How was I to know that I would come into a relationship with him?

He would change my life forever, so despite the hardship I went through as a little boy, I was able to react to it in a different way because at the age of 17, I put my faith in Jesus Christ. Listen to this. You don't decide what hand you will be dealt in life. Some of you are in a stable home with mom and dad raising you in a wonderful way. Some of you are from a broken home. In fact, probably more of you are from a broken home, and you are facing an uncertain future. You don't get to pick what hand is dealt to you in life, but you decide how you will react to it.

Here's the thing you discover in time. No matter how bad your upbringing is or how bad the experiences are that you go through, your pain can be effectively turned to gain. God can take your setbacks and turn them into setups. Your tests can become a testimony because what you have gone through was not designed to destroy you, but to develop you, to develop you so you'll be a different person. I've been able to take the pain of my past and use it as a tool to help people who are going through similar pain.

The apostle Paul speaks about comforting with the comfort that we ourselves have been comforted with. So maybe a young person is watching this right now, and you're filled with anxiety and stress. I read just the other day that the majority of Gen Z has high levels of anxiety and stress.

Let me say something to my younger viewers right now. I know it's harder for you than it was for us when we were growing up. I know older people will say things like, you know, when I was a child, it was so much harder. No, it's harder for you guys. One of the reasons it's harder is many of you are coming from broken homes. Another reason it's harder is because everything has been escalated. In my day, I might get beat up at school. In your day, you might get shot in school.

The drugs are much more serious and much harder, and of course, you have social media that amplifies everything and has changed things dramatically. I also read that Generation Z are afraid of the future, and one-third of this generation struggle with suicidal thoughts. Am I talking to somebody right now who has contemplated suicide?

Maybe you've even attempted to take your own life. I want you to know something. I want you to know that you are loved. I want you to know that you are wanted. I want you to know you're loved by more people than you could ever imagine, and I also want you to know that God has a special plan for your life. You matter.

We need you. Don't contemplate ending your life. I don't know what trajectory your life is going in right now. I don't know what bad decisions maybe you've made at this moment, but it's never too late to change, and it's not just changing the way you feel.

You need to change the way you think. Christ can change the course of your life. Listen, just as surely as there is a God in heaven who loves you, there is a devil that's headed to hell who hates you, and Jesus summed up the contrast when he said in John 10, the thief, speaking of Satan, comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But in contrast, Jesus said, but I have come that you might have life, and that more abundantly. So there's your choice, life in a relationship with God, death outside of a relationship with God. Don't let the devil whisper in your ear that you should take your life.

The Bible says he's a liar, and he's a father of lies. Sometimes people are apprehensive about giving their life to Jesus because they think, well, it's going to be misery in rules and regulations. Au contraire. That's French for snails with garlic.

No, that's escargot. To the contrary, God's plan for you is better than your plans for yourself. God himself says in Jeremiah 29, 11, I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Let me just stop right here and ask this question. Would you like to fill that hole inside of your heart? Would you like to have all of your sins forgiven? Would you like to have a fresh start right here, right now?

Here's what you need to do. You need to realize that God loved you so much. He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you 2,000 years ago. If you will turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus, Christ will come into your life, and he can change the course of your life, not to mention your eternal destination from hell to heaven. If you would like Jesus Christ to come into your life, if you would like him to forgive you of your sin, why don't we just stop for a moment, and why don't you just pray this prayer with me? Just pray, Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I know you are the savior, and I need you in my life. Forgive me of all of my sin. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

All right, so back to our message. Things I would say to my younger self. Number one, it's going to be okay. Whatever you're going through, you're going to get through it.

Number two, what would I say to my younger self? Put God first in your life. Put God first in your life. This, of course, starts with asking Christ to come into your life, but then it means following him. Jesus summed it up this way in Matthew 633. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Now, what was he talking about when he said all these things?

Jesus said, don't be like the nonbelievers. All they think about is what they're going to wear, what they're going to drink, what they're going to eat. But I say to you, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these things will be added to you. And we're obsessed with all those things.

What we'll eat, what we'll drink, what we'll wear, where we'll go, what we'll drive, where we will work, where we will live. These are not bad things, by the way, to think about. But Jesus is saying, don't make those the focus of your life. Put God first in your life. Seek first the kingdom of God.

What does that mean? The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of Christ in your life. See, one day we'll go to heaven and enter into the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God will come to earth. But also, when the Bible tells us to seek it first, it means just put Jesus first. Think about God's will when you make those decisions. Don't put money first. Don't put career first. Don't put politics first. Don't even put ministry first.

Put Jesus first, and he will take care of you in life. There was a young Solomon ascending to the throne. His father David had died. And the Lord comes to Solomon and says, Solomon, ask me for whatever you want, and I will give it to you. Imagine for a moment if God came to you and said, ask what you want and I'll give it to you.

What would you ask for? Solomon said, Lord, I pray for wisdom, wisdom to lead your people. The Lord, in effect, said, because you didn't pray for stuff, you didn't pray for possessions, you didn't pray for great wealth or honor, I'm gonna give you the wisdom you asked for and all these other things as well. It's a perfect illustration of why putting God first is the right thing to do.

That doesn't mean that God's gonna make everybody incredibly wealthy, but what it does mean is God, the Bible says, will supply all of your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus. So put God first in your life. What is the will of God, you might ask, about this thing I'm about to do? How do you know the will of God? Answer, by reading the word of God.

He'll reveal his will to you in scripture. Understand this, why are you in this earth? And this answers a big question, the question of why am I here, what is the meaning of my life? Here's the answer, the meaning of your life, you are here to bring glory to God, not to bring glory to yourself. Isaiah 43, seven, God says, everyone who was called by my name whom I created for my glory, that's why you're here. So know this, God wants to speak to you, God wants to fill you with this Holy Spirit each and every day, put God first in your life, and the rest will be blessed. Here's point number three.

What would I say to my younger self? I would say, young Greg, read the Bible every day. And I pretty much followed that advice, thankfully.

And I hope many of you are following it as well. Because sometimes I think Christians, as they grow in their faith, think, well I don't need to read the Bible as much as I used to. No, listen, you need to read the Bible every single day.

You should start the day with it, you should end the day with it. And someone, it says, happy is the man, or the woman, who doesn't walk in the counsel of the ungodly or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. Listen, his delight is in the word of the Lord and in it does he meditate day and night. Then it goes on to say, he'll be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. His leaf shall not wither and whatsoever he does shall prosper.

Happy is that man. You wanna be a happy man, you wanna be a happy woman, read the word of God. It says meditate in it. In Eastern meditation, one seeks to empty their mind. In Biblical meditation, one fills their mind with the word of God. This is how you're going to grow spiritually. This is how you will be able to resist temptation. We're told in the Psalms, how shall a young man cleanse his way?

Answer, by listening to what the word of God says. So you need to read the Bible every day because scripture says study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Listen to this, success or failure in the Christian life depends on how much of the Bible you get into your life on a regular basis and how obedient you are to it.

I'm gonna repeat that. Success or failure in the Christian life depends on how much of the word of God you get into your life on a regular basis and how obedient you are to it. So read the word, treasure the word, memorize the word.

I've never met a strong Christian who is not full of scripture. Here's the fourth thing I would say to a younger me. Stop worrying and start praying. I know we all have things we worry about in life but I'm reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians four when he says, don't worry about anything, pray about everything, tell God what you need, thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace which exceeds anything we can understand.

His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus. Worry, worry can ruin your day, it can ruin your week, it can ruin your month. Actually worry can effectively ruin your life. The word worry comes from a root word that means to choke or to strangle. A number of years ago my grandkids would like to come up and choke me from behind. They thought that was very cute and fun and it was okay.

They were very small, they weren't hurting me and so they would come over and say, Papa, can we choke you? Well as they've gotten older, if I let them do that now, I might die. So we can't play that game anymore but that's what worry does, it chokes you out. Listen to this, when you worry about the future, you cripple yourself in the present. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. I mean even when things are going well, oh it's a good day, nothing's going wrong and then you start worrying, what's gonna go wrong? Something's gonna go wrong?

I just know it, what's that all about? That cannot be helpful. Jesus said this, today's trouble is enough for today. Don't worry about tomorrow.

Just take each day and take that worry and turn it into prayer. I would compare this to a natural reflex and a conditioned reflex. To learn how to turn worry into prayer is a conditioned reflex. Let me explain, natural reflex. You don't have to teach this. If even a little child touches a hot stove, they pull their hand back, right?

Because they know that's hot, they know they should not touch that, that's a natural reflex. But then there's a conditioned reflex. This is something I'm taught to do. I have a granddaughter named Allie, she has swim meets on Saturdays and before the meet begins, they have someone sing the national anthem. What does everyone do?

We stand, we put our hand over our heart in respect for our nation, which is represented by our flag that we look toward. That is a conditioned reflex. I would not have done that naturally. Someone had to teach me to do that. Same thing with driving. You know when you first learn to drive, remember? I have a granddaughter that's just learning how to drive, so I let her drive the other day and I was next to her, and she had to think about everything.

Oh, what do I do now? Turn your turning signal on. Oh, and parking, that's a situation, isn't it?

Trying to figure that out. So you have to consciously think about everything you're doing. And if you're in a stick shift car, manual transition, okay, I gotta push in the clutch, I have it in gear, I slowly release the clutch, then I hit the accelerator. A lot of things to remember, but after a while, you don't think about it anymore. You drive, you eat burritos, you do your taxes, but you do all kinds of things when you're driving because you've turned that into a conditioned reaction, a conditioned way to respond to what you're facing. So now in the same way, worry hits, anxiety hits, panic hits right away, pray.

Oh, I'm scared, let's pray. Just let's pray, stop everything you're doing and commit it to the Lord. In 1 Peter 5, we read these words, give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you.

And by the way, in the original language, that signifies a definite act of our will where we choose to stop worrying and let God assume the responsibility for our welfare. Billy Graham was interviewed, and he was asked the question, if he had his life to live over, what would he do differently? Billy's response was, quote, I would study more, I would pray more, I would travel less, take less speaking engagements. If I had it to do all over again, Billy said, I would spend more time in meditation and prayer just telling the Lord how much I love and adore Him and looking forward to the time where I will spend with Him for all eternity. Well, Billy's in that time now.

Billy's in heaven. But I love how he said, if I had life to do over, he doesn't say I'd speak more, I'd do more, he says I'd pray more. And I would spend more time in God's presence. I think that's really good advice. Remember this, God is in control of your life. There are no accidents in the life of a Christian, only providence.

We don't believe in fate, we believe in faith. Here's another thing an older Greg would say to a younger Greg, advice I would give to anyone, young people, but older people as well. Have an attitude of gratitude. Have an attitude of gratitude. Back to the verse I quoted in Philippians 4. Thank God for all He has done.

Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. Listen, there are things in life that happen to us that make no sense, inexplicable things. Yes, it is true, bad things happen to good people. Sometimes bad things even happen to godly people.

Take Job as an example. This was a godly man. This man was so godly, the Lord was bragging on him in heaven. But the Lord allowed a series of calamities to befall His servant. And Job lost pretty much everything. He lost members of his family. He lost his possessions.

He lost his health. And we read that Job gave thanks to God, not for what was happening, but despite what was happening, Job gave thanks to the Lord. And so we should have an attitude of gratitude. We say, Lord, I don't know why this is happening, but I am rejoicing that you're still on the throne and I'm gonna give thanks to you because you are good and you are in control of my life. So spend less time complaining and spend more time rejoicing.

You'll feel better if you do. Here's another piece of advice an older me would give to a younger me or that I would give to any person, especially a young person. Live with honesty and integrity. Live with honesty and integrity. What is integrity?

Integrity is what you are in the dark when nobody is watching you. And I bring this up because, you know, there are people in life that cheat and they lie and they steal and they cut corners and they seem to get away with it. And they say, well, why shouldn't I do that? Why should I play by the rules? They don't play by the rules. And look, they got that job because they lied on their resume.

Or they got that job to build that building even though they cut corners and didn't pull the proper permits. Or look, that person cheated on their spouse and they got away with it and I've been faithful to my spouse and why shouldn't I do what they do? Because in the end, all these people are gonna reap what they sow. The Bible says don't be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that will he also reap. Listen, the longer I live, the more impressed I am with character over charisma. I've seen a lot of preachers with dynamic personalities flame out because they did not seek to maintain honesty and integrity. Psalm 101 verse two says, I'm careful to live a blameless life.

I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. Then Psalm 119 one says, Joyful people are people of integrity. The great evangelist D.O. Moody once said, If I take care of my character, God will take care of my reputation. In the Bible we read of Daniel, a man of integrity, a man who did the right thing.

In fact, one time he was arrested for it. Because he prayed after the king had signed a decree that no one could pray to any god except him. Well, Daniel prayed anyway. And his enemies came and had him arrested and thrown into a lion's den.

Pretty bleak scenario. But how did that story end? Oh, the very men that lied about Daniel ended up being eaten by the lions. And Daniel lived to pray another day. Same thing is true of Joseph. His story is in the book of Genesis. This is a young man who lived with honesty and integrity.

And though he was falsely accused of raping the wife of Potiphar, he was vindicated in the end. And you will be too. Here's point number seven. What an older Greg would say to a younger Greg. Marry the right person. So this is the young lady I married. Catherine Martin was her name. Here's a picture of her.

Also, just another piece of advice. I would say, kind of going back to the beginning of the message, I would say to a younger Greg, don't wear that ugly tuxedo on your wedding day. Look at how Cathy looks. She looks classic. She was 18 years old. I was 21 years old.

And man, that is the worst looking tux of all time. Marry the right person. Listen, if you're single, I believe God has a person picked out for you. In fact, you can start praying for your spouse right now. Even though you don't know them. Maybe you do know them.

Who knows? But you can start praying for them now. But when you're looking at potential candidates of who to spend the rest of your life with, looking at who could be the potential mother or father of your children, who could be the grandparent of your grandchildren start here, look for a godly person. Find someone that's even more godly than you. Don't find some person who's not a Christian and marry them. The Bible says don't be unequally yoked together with non-believers. What fellowship does light have with darkness?

Don't do that. Listen, honestly, marriage is challenging enough. Don't marry a non-believer on top of it.

You need someone you can pray together with and commit things to the Lord with and look to God for the strength. Marriage can be challenging in life. But once you make this commitment, it should be a lifelong commitment.

Wedlock should be a padlock, and I mean that in the best way. And if you're unwilling to do this, if you want to just experiment with it and get married and maybe get divorced if it doesn't work out, do us all a favor and stay single. But rather, think about this, pray about this, and take your time. The Bible says love is patient. Some people want to rush into marriage. Oh, we have to get married immediately. No, get to know one another. The Bible says many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.

If your love for that man or that woman is a real love, it will stand the test of time. I heard this great advice that was given to me by a friend of mine named Cliff Barrows. He said there are eight words you should be willing to say to your spouse every day, eight words. Here they are. Say, I'm sorry, please forgive me, and I love you. I'm sorry, please forgive me, and I love you. And I would add these words as well. It was my fault.

You have to mean the words when you say them. I'm sorry, please forgive me, I love you, and it was my fault. Here's what the Bible says. Wives are to respect their husbands. Husbands are to love their wife. Love their wife as Christ loves the church. Make the right decision and marry the right person.

Here's point number eight. What an older Greg would say to a younger Greg, tell those you love that you love them. Tell the people you love that you love them.

Don't wait. Don't say, well, they know. I'm sure they know, but it never hurts to have someone say, I love you.

They can't read your mind. Don't say it, because there's gonna come a moment when you're gonna have a last conversation with someone you love. You may not realize it was your last conversation. That's why it's a good thing to end your conversation with I love you. When the Lord called our son Christopher home 13 years ago, I know that he knew that I loved him, though I missed him desperately, though we were devastated by this horrific event. We always told him we loved him, and that's a very important thing to do. Don't wait to their funeral.

They won't hear what happens at their funeral. Oh, I'll bring flowers in. Oh, bring your flowers now. Stop what you're doing. Think about people you love, your parents, your children, your siblings, someone that's meant a lot to you. Send them a text. Send them an email. Even better, write it on a card. You know why it's cool to write it on a card?

Because they can keep it, and they can pull it out. Just say, I just wanted to take a moment to say I appreciate you, and I love you. Thank you for all that you've done for me. Number nine, keep short accounts and forgive. Listen to this. People are gonna disappoint you in life. Even people you love, they're gonna let you down. They're gonna say something that hurts you.

Something's gonna happen. You'll feel that you've been betrayed. Maybe you have been betrayed. Maybe you just think you've been betrayed, but whatever it is, you're gonna face hurt and pain in life.

Here's what you don't wanna do. Harbor grudges against people, because that can hurt you. Recent studies suggest that those that do not forgive are more likely to experience high blood pressure, bouts of depression, and problems with anger, stress, and anxiety. See, so when I forgive someone, I'm not letting them off the hook.

I'm avoiding a lot of misery in my own life. Forgiveness is not about absolving the perpetrator. It's about healing the victim. There's a man who directs a Stanford forgiveness project, and he said, quote, forgiveness isn't giving in to the other person. It's getting free of the other person. As I've said before, when you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free yourself.

Don't live in a prison that you've put yourself in of anger and bitterness and resentment and have it actually ruin your life. Ephesians 4.30 says, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God through Christ has forgiven you. Coming back to Joseph. After horrible things were done to him, his brothers betrayed him. They sold him as a slave for Pete's sake. And in the moment when he could have had them all summarily executed, he instead forgave them.

And he said, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. Forgive. Point number 10.

Be a nice person. You know, if you disagree with someone, fine, but don't be obnoxious about it. They have a new word now for people that rant, and this is usually reserved for the women.

They probably should come up with one for guys as well. But you'll see these little videos that will pop up, and they'll call them Karen. I don't know how this started. If it started with a woman named Karen, and I'm sorry if your name is Karen, but someone will say, oh, they were like Karen.

And you have a video that someone probably shot on their cell phone of some woman ranting about something, whatever it is, and they're getting all upset, and they're screaming and yelling. Don't be that person ever. You're a child of God. Be known for your generosity. Be known for your love, your compassion, not for your anger.

Ephesians 4 31 says, don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so your words may be an encouragement to those that hear them. Be known as an encourager, not a discourager. Be known as a person that builds people up, not as a person who tears people down. And that brings me to my next point.

This one's very practical, and you might be surprised by it. You ready for it? This is a deep theological insight about life. What would an older Greg say to a younger Greg? Have fun.

Yes, you heard me right. Have fun. Some of the simplest joys of life are before you every single day. Savor the sunset. Enjoy the meal. Linger with family and friends. Don't be in such a rush to the next thing.

Live in the moment. And I think one way to do this is put the cell phones away. Word of advice, when you sit down for a meal, don't take cell phones to the table. If you have the little watch that gets the alerts, maybe take the watch off too. And just have a conversation with the people around you. On more than one occasion I've been with people and everyone's on their cell phone, and I'll text them, be here now. Let's put these phones away and let's have a conversation with each other.

Here's what I've found. The greatest joys in life will come from your relationship with God and with others. But sometimes we're always thinking about what's going to come. Oh, when this comes I'm gonna be so happy.

When this happens it'll be so great. Wait, what about the moment right now? I've found the greatest moments of life are often the in between ones. Let me use Christmas as an example. We get so psyched about Christmas, don't we? I can hardly wait to Christmas. I can hardly wait to open my presents.

Or I can hardly wait until the people I bought presents for open them. And it's all about that moment and you miss the in between moments. Let me use Disneyland as an illustration. I haven't been back there for a while, but you know it's so exciting when you pull into the parking lot at Disneyland. It's so thrilling when you actually walk into the park and oh, it's so great, I'm so glad to be here. But after three or four hours you're kind of looking forward to leaving, right? We get so psyched about the event we miss the things that happened before the event and after the event. So savor those in between moments.

Try to laugh more. Paul the apostle said, rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. So where was Paul when he wrote that? Oh, he's laying on some beach, sipping an iced tea, soaking up some rays. No, no, no. He was in prison.

But despite the fact that he was in prison, writing to the believers in Philippi, he says rejoice in the Lord always. Lighten up. Don't take yourself so seriously. Criticize less.

Compliment more. Here's another one. Make the right choices. Do you have a choice each and every day to obey God or to disobey God? To do the right thing or to do the wrong thing? To pick up the Bible and read it or neglect the Bible?

To pray or to worry? These are your choices. Make the right choices.

Why? Because you make your choices and then your choices make you. And the end of your life is determined by the beginning of your life. The evening of your life is determined by the morning of your life. So if you're young, develop good habit patterns now. Start doing the right things now and that will pay great dividends later in life.

Number 15. Tell others about Jesus and then disciple them. This is called the Great Commission. Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and lo, I am with you even to the end of the age. Jesus is saying he will be with the person who does this in a special way. It means that we look for opportunities to initiate conversations about Christ. To the best of our ability, we seek to lead people to the Lord and then we disciple them.

You say what does that even mean? It means you take them under your wing and you help them get up on their feet spiritually. Here's why disciplining a new believer is important for the new believer as well as for the old believer. The older believer stabilizes the younger believer and the younger believer energizes the older believer. So you know when you've been going to church for 10, 15, 20 years, I don't know what you do after the service but maybe you start critiquing things. Did you see what she was wearing?

And oh man, can you believe how loud the music was? And that sermon seemed a little too long. You know, you kinda gripe and complain maybe. But let's say you have a brand new believer with you. They just accepted Christ two weeks ago.

They're in that bloom of first love. I guarantee you're not gonna be critiquing the sermon or critiquing the church because the new believer will say, you know, the pastor said this and I've never heard that before and so you'll find yourself elaborating on it. Do you understand how that's helping you as well as it's helping them? But see, a lot of us don't do this. You know, we're not sharing the truth. We're hoarding the truth.

And we just think about ourselves. But a true mark of spiritual maturity is when we get our eyes off of ourself and start thinking of others but then there's the joy of sharing because Jesus said it's more blessed to give than it is to receive. Share your faith. Seek to disciple others.

And here's another one. Spend time with older, godly people. Sometimes when you're young, you just wanna hang around young people. I remember when I was a brand new Christian, I was 17. I knew a lot of people my own age but I went out of my way to find older people to hang around.

You know why? I thought, what do these other young people know? I don't think they know much more than I know. So I met people that were older like Pastor Chuck Smith, his wife Kay Smith, an associate pastor there at the church.

He pastored Calvary Chapel named Pastor Romaine. I spent time talking to them. You know why? I didn't have a dad growing up. I didn't have a mom growing up. I needed an older person to help me figure life out, to give me some life hacks, if you will.

And they did that. They spent time with me. I didn't just listen to them speak. I had meals with them and did fun things with them. And got to see what a Christian looks like up close and personal, especially an older, more mature believer. A little bit later in my life, I became friends with a great British preacher, Alan Redpath, who wrote a lot of amazing commentaries. And of course, I became friends with Billy and Ruth Graham. Being with these godly people impacted me. Find godly people you can be with. So if you're an older believer, find a younger believer you can bring under your wing. If you're a younger believer, find an older believer you can learn from.

Paul says to Timothy, teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. See, we're in a race as Christians. And this race is the beginning, middle, and end. I expect that I'm toward the end of my race.

I'm certainly not at the beginning of it. And this is a relay race. And my job in this race is not to hold onto the baton forever, I have to hand it on to the next runner to carry it forward. We need to do the same. And we need to share these truths, if you're older, with younger people. God told Moses to teach these truths to his children when they sit down, when they lie down, when they walk, when they get up and they go to bed. In other words, just integrate this truth into the life of other people throughout life in general. Listen to this, world view for young people is formed between the ages of 18 months and the age of 13. Those are the most critical years to pour truth into the life of a younger person. Find a younger person and do that.

And if you're a younger person, get someone to help you with that. Here's my final point. Finish your race well. I mentioned we're in a race, the race of life. Paul says many people are in the race, run that you may win. We all want to run to win.

We all are running for the gold. You know, we want to do the best we can with the life that God has given us. And there will come a moment when we have our last meal and we give our last statement and then we're done.

We breathe our last breath. Hopefully we can say along with the apostle Paul, and this of course is found in 2 Timothy 4, I fought the good fight. I kept the faith. I finished the course.

Henceforth there is laid before me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me in that day and not to me only, but to all who love his appearing. You don't know when the end of your race will come. My son's race ended at 33. And we used to race on the beach, by the way, him and I. He was a great runner, Christopher. But somehow I could beat him for many years even though he was a good runner. He was a long distance runner. I was a sprinter. So I would challenge him to a race. I would always have the race favor me. I would pick a rock up the beach. I'll say, let's race to the rock. And Mark had said go.

Well, it would favor me because I'm a sprinter and I would always beat him. And one day we're walking along the beach. I said, let's race to that rock.

You ready? And off we go. And he not only beat me, he really beat me. And I think that he has gone to heaven before me. He beat me in the race. You think, well, I have a long ways to run this race and live this life. Maybe I'll get right with God when I'm in my 80s or 90s. No, your race may be coming to an end more quickly than you planned for. So always be able to say, I fought the good fight. I kept the faith.

I finished the course. Run this race well. Speaking of advice, I once was sitting with Pastor Chuck Smith and I asked him this question. Chuck, what would an older Chuck say to a younger Chuck?

What advice would you give yourself? And Chuck's response was simply, hold the course. I wasn't sure what that meant. I said, what do you mean hold the course? You mean like we're in the race of life and you just hang in there and keep running? He said, that's it. Hold the course. That's what he did, by the way. He held the course into his mid 80s before the Lord called him home. I say to you seasoned saints, you that have been walking with the Lord for some time, hold your course.

Keep running this race because you never know when the race will end. Earlier I mentioned that I was with Alice Cooper a little earlier this week and of course you probably know who Alice Cooper is. He's a famed rock star at one moment. He was the most famous and successful rock star in all of the world. His name he was given was Vincent Fournier and as a young man he got into a little rock band. They were called the Spiders and they later changed their name to Alice Cooper and of course he was known for spectacle and for almost being like a dark figure but in reality a lot of it was an act but in time Vincent Fournier started turning into the character Alice Cooper almost like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He started becoming this character and he was drinking, he became an alcoholic and then he became a drug addict but here's the amazing thing you may not know about Alice Cooper is he's a son of a pastor and he was running from God. He described himself to me in an interview I did with him as the prodigal running from God and he went so far that people thought he'll never get right with God.

This guy is so evil. He told me they were destroying copies of his record on the 700 Club but God wasn't done with Vincent. He wasn't done with Alice and he got hold of him. Alice was actually overdosing on cocaine. He had a rock of cocaine the size of a softball and he was hallucinating and he looked in the mirror and he saw what looked like blood coming out of his eyes and he cried out to God and he took that rock of cocaine and flushed it down the toilet and God heard his prayer and turned him around and he's been walking with the Lord clean and sober for many years now. The only addiction he seems to have today is an addiction to golf.

He loves to get out on the course. I think that's an acceptable addiction so to speak but the point is Alice speaks out about his faith in Jesus Christ right now reminding us that no one is beyond the reach of God. I've talked a lot about younger people. Let me talk to someone who is a little older. Maybe you've made some bad decisions. Maybe you've done some things and you would say it's too late for me.

It's never too late for you. God can turn your life around. God can forgive you of your sin. God can refresh you and replenish you and revive you but you must turn to him. Now earlier in the program I gave an opportunity for people to believe in Jesus Christ.

Let me do an invitation of a different kind right now. An invitation to prodigal sons and daughters out there who like Alice Cooper have been running from God but listen, God has not forgotten about you. God loves you and God will accept you and forgive you. We talk about the prodigal son. You remember that story in the Bible.

A boy runs away from his father, ruins his life, loses everything that he has, comes back in shame, returning to his father and Jesus who told the story of the father when he saw him at a distance ran to him, threw his arms around him and rejoiced and said this my son who is dead is alive again and he who was lost is found. You wonder how would God treat me if I returned to him? He would forgive you. Abraham Lincoln after the end of the Civil War was asked how they should treat the rebellious southerners and he said treat them as if they had never left. The idea is God will treat you as if you have never left, he'll forgive you because on the cross Jesus took your sin 2,000 years ago.

He paid it in full, it wasn't a partial payment, it was a complete payment and that's why he uttered the words it is finished, it is completed, it's done. You just need to come and say God forgive me. Are you a prodigal son or daughter? Have you been running from God? Maybe it's time to return to him. I'm gonna pray a simple prayer. If you would like to recommit your life to Jesus Christ, you can do it right here, right now, let's pray.

Pray these words, Lord Jesus, I have been a prodigal. I know it's right but I've been running from you but I'm so thankful you love me and you'll forgive me. Lord, I return to you now. I recommit my life to you now. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name I ask this, amen. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-12 13:18:51 / 2023-09-12 13:40:06 / 21

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