We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.
Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. Christ is for everyone. Look at the wise men and the shepherds and compare them.
The wise men were the highest of the high. The shepherds were very low, but yet they all came to Jesus. Those two groups show the spectrum of those who come to Christ today.
Pastor Greg Laurie points out the good news of great joy. Christmas is for everyone, and everyone needs Jesus. Men, women, boys, and girls, everybody needs Jesus. If you ask retailers, the message of Christmas is shop, shop, shop. If you ask credit card companies, the message of Christmas is charge, charge, charge. If you ask a student of the Bible, the message of Christmas is God is with us.
Jesus came not only to be born in a manger, but to give His life on a cross for our sins. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie focuses on that message that changes lives and saves lives. It's good news of great joy. Don't be afraid. Do those words sound familiar?
They were given 2,000 years ago to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. And by the way, my text that I'm going to be looking at in a few moments is Luke chapter 2. But how relevant are those words for us today? Don't be afraid. People are so afraid right now. But here is the message of Christmas.
Don't be afraid. Because we are told that God would send His Son, and He would call His name Immanuel. And what does that mean? It means God is with us. And I want you to know, wherever you are right now, God is with you. And God can come and live inside of you and be your Savior and your Lord.
And I'll tell you how that can happen in just a few moments. Now let me read to you from Luke chapter 2, verse 8. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them, and they were terrified. The angel reassured them, saying, Fear not, or don't be afraid. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people, the Savior. Yes, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David.
And you'll recognize Him by this sign. You'll find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Suddenly the angel was joined by a vast host of others, the armies of heaven praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men, with whom God is well pleased. When the angels had returned from heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let's go to Bethlehem.
Let's see this thing that has happened. And they hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph, and there was the baby lying in a manger. Let's come back to these shepherds of Israel. They were living in frightening times. Everyone was afraid.
Why? They were under the thumb of Rome. Let me say it another way. They were under the iron fist of Rome.
Rome had established what was known as Pax Romana under the rulership of Augustus Caesar, which had conquered most of the civilized world at that point. So many Jewish people were wondering, Will the Romans ever leave our land again? Will we ever be free again?
Will the Messiah ever come? And suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, but right on schedule, appear these angels with this message, Don't be afraid. Fear not is the message. And also, we have a message of great joy. Fear not and have joy. So that's really a big part of the Christmas message is that you can get rid of your fear and replace it with joy.
The condition of joy is to let go of your fear. Because God had come to the earth, born as a baby in Bethlehem, in a small town called Bethlehem, on a silent night. This is the most significant event in human history, and by and large, most people missed it altogether. Starting with Rome, this is an event that would shake the planet. We would mark human time based on the birth of Christ, and yet most people in Rome didn't even see the significance of it.
As far as Rome went, as far as Caesar went, this is just another person to tax. Jerusalem missed this announcement as well. Jerusalem was sort of like the New York or the LA of their time. What would they care about some birth happening in Bethlehem?
Bethlehem was not held in high regard. I remember years ago, I was preaching in central California, and we had some people come and visit us from Buttonwillow. Buttonwillow. There is born unto you this day in the city of Buttonwillow.
Who cares about what happens in Buttonwillow, someone might say. Or I remember I was driving through North Carolina, and I saw a city called Mocksville. I thought, man, if I should have been born in any city, it should have been Mocksville.
It wasn't Mocksville, it wasn't Buttonwillow. It was Bethlehem, but this little obscure city will play a key role in God's plan. In fact, Micah says, you Bethlehem, though you be little among the thousands of Judah.
In other words, you're a small town no one really knows much about. Though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth one whose origins have been from everlasting. And Bethlehem itself misses significance of this event. The reason people went to Bethlehem, or any city, is they would go to the home place of their family. And because Mary and Joseph were both descendants of David, they went to the hometown of David, the second king of Israel. But Mary was just another pregnant woman in Bethlehem that night. There were other women probably ready to give birth.
That's why all the inns were full. But as everyone would soon discover, this wasn't just any woman. This is the woman that God handpicked to be the mother of the Messiah. It's been said, history would swing on the hinge of the door of a stable in Bethlehem. So this was big news in heaven, and really no news at all on earth. Here's another thing that's a big deal in heaven. Whenever a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible says, actually Christ himself said, there is joy in heaven over one sinner that comes to repentance. So every time someone says yes to Jesus, there's a party in heaven.
Now we might dismiss it and say, well, what do I care? Someone got religion. Oh no, they didn't get religion. They found Christ. And that's a big deal in heaven. And that brings up a really important point here in Luke chapter two, verse 10. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
Listen to this. Christmas is for everyone. Let me say it another one. Jesus Christ is for everyone. Now later in the narrative, the wise men appear. Now I know this is going to upset some people, but the wise men were not present at the birth of Jesus. We read about them in the Gospel of Matthew. And we read that they came to see the child, not the newborn baby Jesus. And secondly, we read that they came to a house, not a manger. So it's possible that the wise men came maybe two years later. So if your nativity set has the shepherds and the wise men, you may want to take the wise men out and bring them back two weeks later. It doesn't matter.
But the point of it is simply this. Look at the wise men and the shepherds and compare them. The wise men were the highest of the high. They were people from a foreign country. They're called the magi.
We get our word magician from it. They were skilled in astronomy and astrology. And they were special counselors to the king. So they were men of great importance.
They were very high. The shepherds were very low. The wise men were very wealthy. The shepherds were dirt poor. The wise men were educated. The shepherds were uneducated, illiterate. But yet they all came to Jesus.
And here's the point. Christ is for everyone. Christmas is for everyone. And everyone needs Jesus. Rich people need Jesus. Poor people need Jesus. Middle income people need Jesus. Business executives need Jesus. Blue collar workers need Jesus.
Men, women, boys, and girls. Everybody needs Jesus. I love what it says here in verse 10. Don't be afraid. I bring you good news and great joy for all people. It's for you.
You could just as easily say I bring great joy to Greg. Or put your name in there as well. You know it's a funny thing. People have asked me over the years, did someone tell you personal information about me because I felt in your message you were talking directly to me and in fact you said things that nobody else knows. Did my wife talk to you? And so here's my answer.
Yes. Your wives have all talked to me and I know all about you. And I'm going to reveal things now right here. No I'm kidding.
I don't have any of that information. I think it's just the Lord speaking to people. It's funny. Years ago I was giving a message and I came to the point where I was inviting people to believe in Jesus Christ and I said this. I said friend have you asked Jesus to come into your life. Well as it turns out there was a guy in attendance whose name was friend and he thought I was speaking directly to him and he ended up believing in Jesus after that message and he's still walking with the Lord today. So hey friend God may be speaking to you right now. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment right after a quick look at the way a new beginning touches the lives of listeners.
Dear Greg Laurie, I'm 10 years old and I've been a Christian since I was age three or four. My family started listening to you as COVID hit last year. I really like your services and hope that when Jesus comes back that I can take my favorite cats with me.
I watched a rush of hope and loved it. I also love seeing your Bradley Brown and watch you on Harvest at Home. I hope you will preach on Matthew 4 1 through 11 as it's my favorite story. Love you lots. Wow she that's a great little letter isn't it? 10 years old she wants to take her cat to heaven. I don't know what I can say about that but I'll tell you this much I'm so glad that she's watching and it's getting through to her that she left a rush of hope. I'm always thrilled when I get a letter from a kid. I have to tell you I have a soft spot in my heart for little ones. I love to engage them because you know you never know that might sow a little seed in their heart that will break ground later but we love children and we're so thankful children are watching our ministry that we put out there online and on radio and if you're a little kid and you're listening right now I'm so thankful you're listening and I know a lot of times you tell me you love the jokes so the jokes are going to keep coming kids and keep listening. You know these daily studies connect with people of all ages and connect with people all over the world and it's only possible through the partnership of our listeners. Thank you for your support of A New Beginning and you can send a generous year-end gift today by going to harvest.org and now Pastor Greg continues his holiday message called Don't Be Afraid.
Now listen to this. These shepherds had a choice as to what to do. Look at verse 15. It says when the angels returned to heaven the shepherd said to each other let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that happened. See they had a choice. No question they had this mind-blowing experience of the radiant light and the angelic chorus saying glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among men with whom God is well pleased and they could have said let's just hang out here and soak it in or they might have said well we can't go there we're not dressed appropriately and nobody wants shepherds around. No they said let's go quickly and let's see this thing for ourselves. You know a lot of times we miss out on what God wants to do in our life because we don't respond appropriately.
They ran to the stable and we read in Luke chapter 2 verse 17 and seeing him the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child and all who heard the shepherd's story were astonished but Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often but the shepherds went back to their flocks glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen as it was told to them by the angel. Listen you have the same message. You need to share this message too especially in this Christmas season. Listen friend we all know people who are really hurting this Christmas. Some have lost their jobs. Some are sick. Some have a loved one that is sick. Some are very depressed.
As you know alcohol use, drug use is up dramatically. Calls to help lines or hot lines with people who are having suicidal thoughts are through the ceiling and we need to tell people a Savior has been born. We need to tell people there's hope. We need to tell people to not be afraid and share this message just as the shepherds shared it. You know the Lord sent a star to the wise men.
You know shepherds these are Jewish men. God spoke to them through angels. The wise men I already mentioned to you the magi, the stargazers, the astronomer, astrologers. The Lord came to them in a way they would understand and he sends a star. Some believe it was the kind of glory of God in the sky.
We don't know but the star led them to where Jesus was. How easily the wise men could have said oh man that's that's a long journey. You know from their location to where Jesus was was around a 400 mile journey. Now that would be a long journey today.
Think about it in the first century. If you did it on camel it would take you two to three weeks. If you did it on foot it would take much longer. They could have said that's too much work. That's too difficult a journey. No they found their way and they were rewarded.
Here's my point. Sometimes people will say well you know it's very hard to find Jesus Christ. It's very hard to come into this relationship with God. Let me give you a different view on that because sometimes people will say you know I'm in the process of converting.
Listen you're either converted or you're not converted. Conversion doesn't take years. It doesn't take months. It doesn't take days.
It doesn't even take hours. It can happen just like that in your life. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ and if you really want to know him listen to this. He will reveal himself to you. The Lord says in scripture for those that seek me they will find me if they search with all of their heart.
I'm wondering if you will come to the one who was born in that manger so many years ago and believe in him. You know Christmas is a time of gift giving. I'm sure a lot of you are getting your gifts online right now.
That's where most people are doing their shopping and you're thinking of people you may have forgotten. And so we think of giving the appropriate gift to another person. We know that the wise men brought their unusual gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But I want you to think about the birth of Jesus as a time of a gift exchange. You trade your fear and worry for his peace and joy. You trade your sorrow for his joy. You trade your wrong for his right. You trade effectively hell for heaven. You might say well Greg I'm still afraid. Oh why should I not be afraid?
Let's go back to that message. We have a savior. God would save them. See they were hoping that someone would overthrow Rome. They were hoping for a militant messiah to free them from their captivity. But Jesus was not coming to overthrow Rome.
He was coming to die for the sins of the world. God would give them what they really needed. There are a lot of people right now who are very depressed. They're depressed because of the political season we're in. They're depressed because they put too much hope in politics and politicians.
Politics will not give us the ultimate answer. The reason I don't have to be afraid is because Christ has come. Christ has been born. Christ has walked this earth. Christ has died on the cross and he's risen again from the dead.
And you can come into a relationship as well. So as I said in that message some time ago friend you can believe in Jesus and it can happen for you right now. I doubt a star led you to this program or an angel but here you are and I want you to know that what you do in the next few moments could result in a headline in heaven. And by that I mean if you choose to believe in Jesus Christ and ask him to forgive you of your sins there'll be a shout of joy and glory. As Jesus said there's joy in heaven over one sinner that comes to repentance. Let's remind ourselves of why Jesus came. Why was he born in that manger so we could have a holiday where we would exchange gifts and have parties and you know shop till we drop.
No no. He came to this earth to live a perfect life then to die a perfect death then to go to the cross and die for our sins and rise again from the dead three days later. And now he offers to you the ultimate gift the gift of eternal life and if you will believe in him you can be forgiven. Are you afraid right now?
Are you filled with anxiety right now with all the uncertainty in our world? Here's the message of the first Christmas. Don't be afraid and instead you can have great joy. In a moment I'm going to extend an invitation for you to put your faith in Jesus Christ to forgive you of all of your sin. If you need Christ in your life if you're not sure if your life is right with God. If you don't have this certainty that you'll go to heaven when you die please respond to this invitation that I will extend now as we pray. Let's pray. Father I pray you'll speak to every person wherever they are and show them their need for Jesus.
Show them they need to believe in you now. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Listen to this. If you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. If you want to be forgiven of your sin.
If you want to know that when you die you will go to heaven. I want you to pray this prayer that I'm going to lead you in right here right now. Again as I pray you pray this prayer.
Just pray these words. Lord Jesus I know I'm a sinner but I know that you're the savior who was born in that manger. Who died on the cross.
Who rose again from the dead three days later. Now come into my life. I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my savior and lord. As my God and friend.
Amen. So such an important prayer with those making a decision for the Lord today. No better time than Christmas to get things right with the Lord. And as you've listened to a new beginning today if you've prayed along with Pastor Greg Laurie we want to be the first to welcome you into the family of God. And second let us help you get started off right. We want to send you our New Believers Growth Packet.
It'll help answer some questions you might have and lay a foundation for your faith. And we'll send it free of charge. Just ask for the New Believers Growth Packet as you write a new beginning. Box 4000 Riverside California 92514. Or call us at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime.
Again that's 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to harvest.org and click the words know God. Well Pastor Greg as many of our listeners know our mission here at Harvest Ministries is to make disciples.
We reach out as far as we can with the gospel and then we help new believers get started in their walk with the Lord. That's right. And now we're making available the TV series called The Chosen. It's a great series.
Yes. How can this resource help those who are new to the faith? Well I think it it strengthens us in what we believe. These are true stories that are in the Bible. They're the greatest stories ever told.
But when they're dramatized when you see them in cinematic form they can come to life for you in a way that maybe they didn't come to life for you reading them from the page. Of course I encourage everyone to read the Bible. But I appreciate any tool that is out there that will reinforce the great stories of scripture. And I can't think of anyone who's done a better job of this than Dallas Jenkins who is the producer and director of this new series on the life of Christ called The Chosen. It is a monstrous success.
Millions and millions of people have watched it and are watching it. And I'm very excited to announce that we are offering this month, the month of December, the month when we celebrate the birth of Jesus season one of The Chosen. You're going to want to sit down and watch this with your family.
And let me add this. What a great way to start an evangelistic conversation. Invite somebody over and have them watch an episode of The Chosen with you and then afterwards talk about Jesus. You'll find this is a very engaging series. It's something that's going to actually be a blessing to you and I have to say it's very entertaining as well. So order your copy of The Chosen.
I will send it to you for your gift of any size. Let me encourage you to be generous because we will take the resources that you send, the money you send, and use it to expand this ministry to reach more people. Look, I've dedicated my life to teaching the Bible, to telling people about Jesus.
So this is a great resource to reinforce that. Help us to continue to bring the message of the gospel to our generation. So whatever you send will be put to good use and we'll rush you your copy of season one of The Chosen.
Yeah, that's right. And your investment helps us reach literally all over the planet. In fact, we received this note.
It said, I'm 16 years old from the United Kingdom. I've been listening to the New Beginning podcast for the past seven years since I was nine. I'm so thankful for the content you put online. You've been a blessing to my friends and family. Well, you know, it's only through the investments of listeners that we can reach out like that. If you've been a partner with us, thank you so much.
And if you can partner with us right now, we hope you'll ask for a copy of season one of The Chosen. You can donate securely online at harvest.org or write A New Beginning, box 4000, Riverside, California 92514. Or call us anytime around the clock at 1-800-821-3300.
That's 1-800-821-3300. Well, next time, Pastor Greg takes us to a familiar verse in the Old Testament that reveals some dimensions of the character of Christ and how He meets us at our every point of need. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a harvest partner at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-06 13:28:09 / 2023-07-06 13:37:58 / 10