Hey, everybody. You're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at gregg.harvest.org. Again, it's gregg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. We're more connected than we've ever been in human history. And at the same time, we're more disconnected. So we need to put the phones down and talk together and pray together and work together because we're all part of the body of Christ. We're all part of the family of God. We're all part of the church. In the book of Acts, we read that the believers were all in one accord, in one accord.
No, not in a Honda. They were unified. They were in agreement. They were in harmony. They were a team. Are we today?
Pastor Greg Laurie addresses that issue here on A New Beginning. We're looking at a fine example of teamwork recounted for us in the book of Nehemiah. They had a great task to be done. They faced great opposition, but they dedicated their great efforts to a great God.
This is the day, the day when life begins. You know, we were just a bunch of crazy kids when this church started. We really had no idea what we were doing. But we loved the Lord and we wanted to see what God would do. We were in the middle of what was the last great American spiritual awakening called the Jesus movement.
It was around 1972. One of the epicenters of this movement was down in Costa Mesa at Calvary Chapel with Pastor Chuck Smith. So some folks in Riverside over at All Saints Episcopal Church went down to Calvary and said, Could you send up someone up here to preach?
We want to have some Jesus movement in the Inland Empire. So a group of pastors at church there went and I was just hanging around the office sort of an intern, which means that you work but you don't get paid. So I just hung around and I would take whatever they didn't want to do.
So after a while, nobody else wanted to drive to Riverside. They said, Greg, why don't you do it? So I did it and I kept at it and it began to grow. And pretty soon I could see this little Bible study of young people was turning into a church. And I hardly felt qualified to be a pastor of a church. I became a Christian when I was 17. I started preaching when I was 19. And I started pastoring effectively at 20 or 21. And so I am thinking there is no way I can be the pastor. I look for someone else to take this role.
No one would. And so I just accepted the fact this was what the Lord had for me. And we outgrew that church. We moved over to a Baptist church that is now our Sunday school building. And we outgrew that building, put in a balcony. And then there was this big giant decomposed granite pit where you guys at Harvest Riverside are sitting in right now. And we took the biggest step of faith ever.
We built a building. And back then it cost us one million dollars. Now one million dollars is a lot of money. But back then it was really a lot of money.
Like a lot. And we took this huge step of faith way outside of our comfort zone. And I remember people said this isn't going to work.
It is not going to succeed. And as we put those walls up there was opposition. I think you know where I am going with this right?
Because we are talking about building walls in the book of Nehemiah. And so here is the takeaway truth from it. Don't listen to your critics. Listen to God. And do what the Lord leads you to do. Here in the book of Nehemiah we will learn a little bit about that in the message today.
How to do what God has called us to do. Because when you put up walls you are going to face opposition. When Nehemiah went about the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem he faced severe opposition.
So here now is Nehemiah getting his battle plan together. We see three vital principles in play here. If you are taking notes here they are investigation, cooperation, and determination. Investigation.
First he checked out the problem. Ok. Here is how big the city is. Here is what it is going to take. Here is how many people I am going to need to get the job done. Ok.
I have investigated it. Now cooperation. Let's put the team together.
Let's get the right people in the right places and tell them what their job is. Finally determination. We are not going to be deterred.
Defeat is not an option. And that brings me to my next point. We need to find our place in the work that God is doing. Let's read a few verses. Nehemiah 3. This is a little bit like the credits at the end of the film.
You know unless you were in the film you don't care. But they are rolling. And these matter to God.
And they should matter to us. Verse 1. Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priest started to rebuild at the sheep gate. They dedicated it instead of its doors building the wall as far as the tower of the hundred which they dedicated and the tower of Hananel. Two people from the town of Jericho worked next to them and beyond them was Zechar son of Imri. The fish gate was built by the sons of Hanessa. And then they laid the beam set up its doors and installed its bolts and bars and Miramoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakaz repaired the next section of wall. Beside them were Meshulam son of Berakiah and grandson of Meshach Isabel and Zadok of Bana. The phrase next to him and after him are mentioned 28 times in the chapter.
What does that mean? They worked together. The same is true of the church. If we want to get something done we do it together. One person put it this way. Quote. Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Thinking together is unity. Working together is success. End quote. You will see this phrase used over and over. Next to him.
After him. Everyone had a role to play. In short they were communicating. You know it is a funny thing with all this technology we have today. We are more connected than we have ever been in human history.
And at the same time we are more disconnected than any other time as well. I read the other day that millennials would rather text someone than talk to them. I would rather text you.
I don't want to look at you in the face. Just text you. Emoji. Emoji. Emoji.
Right? And so sometimes we don't talk to each other at all. In fact this has created a lot of stress in our culture. I read that this generation alive today is the most stressed out generation in American history.
College students have the anxiety level of psychiatric patients in World War II. Ok. So we need to put the phones down and talk together and pray together and work together because we are all part of the body of Christ. We are all part of the family of God. We are all part of the church.
And listen to this. God has given to every Christian gifts from the Spirit. How many of you know what your spiritual gift or gifts are? Raise your hand if you know what they are. Ok. How many of you don't know what your spiritual gifts are? How many of you have no clue what I am even talking about right now?
Ok. That's alright. Now here are some gifts that God has given. These are gifts sent from heaven to us. Spiritual gifts. These are not necessarily talents.
We have natural abilities and talents that we are born with. These are gifts that are supernaturally given to us from God. And a list is found over in Romans 12. I am reading now from the New Living Translation.
Verse 6. In God's grace God has given us different gifts to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy.
To prophesy means that God gives me a supernatural word from heaven for someone else. If He has given you that ability speak out with as much faith as the Lord has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well.
If you are a teacher, teach them well. If your gift is encouraging others, well be encouraging. If it is giving then give generously.
If God has given you leadership ability then take that responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness, do it gladly. There is a spiritual gift of encouraging others. I know people with this gift. Some I think may believe there is a spiritual gift of discouraging others. That gift does not exist. I believe the Lord has given me the spiritual gift of criticism. No that is not a gift.
It is not a gift at all. So we want to be encouraging. We want to find those gifts that God has given.
So what this means is when we come together we do things as a family. For instance when we worship. Worship is something we should do corporately. Everyone should worship. And when I say worship I mean engage. I mean don't stand there with your hands in your pockets staring at your shoes.
Don't be looking at your Instagram account or talking with a neighbor. Be worshiping the Lord. Singing out to the Lord. You say, well Greg I don't have a good voice. Well that doesn't stop a lot of people. I know that. And besides the Bible says make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
So if it is just a noise that is good. It is ok. The Bible says because your loving kindness is better than life I will lift up my hands unto your name. When is the last time you lifted your hands up to the Lord? Well I don't feel like it.
Who cares if you feel like it? It is an act of surrender. You know a lot of times when we just do what we should do the emotions will catch up.
But if you wait for everything to be prompted by how you feel or your emotion then you won't do a lot of things. Job worshiped the Lord after he heard the worst news imaginable. The death of his children. But see that is what is called a sacrifice. A praise. When we worship we should all sing.
Listen. When we give we should all give. When an offering is received we should all participate. Now some might do it electronically. Actually that is how my wife and I do it. It is a great way.
Very efficient. But to bring something because 2 Corinthians 9 says Each one of you must give as he has decided in his heart not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. So some would say well you know I can't give cheerfully so I won't give at all.
You kind of missed the point. This verse is not talking about if you should give. It is talking about how much you should give. And if you are not cheerful about your giving ask God to change your heart.
Because it is a blessing to give to the work of the Lord. Everyone should give something. Some can give more.
Some can give less. But everyone should participate. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there is nothing like hearing the word of God and worshipping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well today Pastor Greg is talking about the gifts God gives us. And how they help us function together as members of one body.
The body of Christ. It is part of today's message called Wall Builders. I remember when I was in military school as a kid. Which I hated by the way. We wore uniforms to school. I lived on base. That is what we called it.
In a barracks with other kids. And we had mandatory chapel every Sunday. And I remember that they would give us money to give in the offering. And they gave me ten cents.
That is what they gave us every Sunday. Well we had a little place to buy candy there called The Canteen. And I remember I figured out this thing where I could buy five pieces of grape licorice and five pixie sticks. Do you remember what pixie sticks are? Do they still make pixie sticks? Are they still out there?
Ok. Well a lot of you seem to know a lot about them. Now I am going to have people bring pixie sticks to me. Thank you.
No thanks. Because I have mentioned oh I like Krispy Kreme donuts. So someone gave me a gift certificate the other day.
Thank you whoever you are. Like fifty dollars at Krispy Kreme donuts. It is like thank you but if I use that I will be so obese. So I used it for my granddaughter's birthday party. I hope that was ok and hooked up all the kids with sugary donuts from Krispy Kreme.
But anyway. So I figured I could stretch my budget. If I had been off the top of the grape licorice and poured in grape pixie sticks. And I even thought as a little kid one day I am going to market this.
This is going to be my career. Well anyway I had my ten cents given to me for the offering. And I thought I could use this for pixie sticks and grape licorice. And I kept it. And I bought all that candy.
And I remember I kind of got sick to my stomach and I felt guilty. Because even as a little kid knowing nothing about Jesus. Knowing nothing about the Bible. I understood that ten cents was God's money that was given to me. And I took God's money. Listen your income that is given to you by God. What we do is we give straight ten percent to the Lord.
Then we pray about what offerings to give on top of that. I am not saying this to boast. I am just obeying God. That is all.
And I will tell you what. He has blessed us and He will bless you if you do the same. We should all worship and we should all give. Everyone has a role to play. But. Listen to this. Not everyone worked on the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah.
Look at Nehemiah 3.5. Next to them were the Techoites who made repairs. But their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of the Lord. So the Techoites did the job. But their nobles, those in authority over them, didn't do it. Some people want to share in the victory but not in the battle. Now three thousand years later we know who did the work and who did not.
But there will always be slackers. There are two kinds of people that come to church. There are participators and spectators. I wonder which one you are today.
Let me identify them. Participators come and engage in worship. They listen carefully to the message. They give in the offering. They serve faithfully.
They find and use their spiritual gifts. Spectators. They come expecting everyone to wait on them. Sometimes they come late.
Sometimes they leave early. You say, well how do I know which one I am? If you have been irritated by what I have said for the last eight minutes you are a spectator. If what I have just said bothered you.
Got under your skin a little bit you are a spectator. If you have been challenged by it and can add an amen to it you are a participator. You decide if you are a servant or a slacker. So we have to find our place and get in there and do the job God has called us to do.
Because we are one of those two. Here is another way to put it. Are you a wall builder or a wall breaker? Are you a faith maker or are you a faith breaker? See either you are building the wall up or you are neglecting your part of the wall. Either you are serving the Lord or walking with the Lord or you aren't.
And it comes down to us as individuals as a part of the church. Now in contrast to those guys who were slackers here is a guy who really did his job well. Look at Nehemiah 3.20. Zealously. He didn't just do his work. He did it zealously.
That could be translated to burn or to glow. He did it with passion. So which one are you? Are you like Baruch or are you like one of the nobles? Do you serve or do you expect to be served? Are you a servant or are you a slacker?
Alright let's pull the camera back now from this story of walls being rebuilt and look at a bigger picture. Because we are talking about Nehemiah who lived in the lap of luxury. Who had a maid in the shade.
Dream job. Who walked away from all of that influence and luxury and comfort to go and work hard and suffer with his people to get the job done. But before he did that he saw the situation in Jerusalem and he wept over it.
Who does that remind us of? Jesus who was in the glory of heaven at the Father's right hand. Left heaven and came to this earth and was born as a helpless little baby in a manger in Bethlehem. And there he walked in our shoes and he lived our life and he breathed our air and knew what it was like to face the challenges of humanity. But then he went to the cross and died for our sins and rose again from the dead. And what did Jesus do before he died outside of the walls of Jerusalem? He wept for Jerusalem just like Nehemiah. He wept and he said, Oh Jerusalem Jerusalem you that kill the prophets how often I would have gathered you together as a hen gathers her chicks.
Now that is interesting. Normally in Scripture God is presented in a male form. A father in heaven. But in this particular instance he uses a maternal term.
I would gather you together as a hen. A mother hen gathers her chicks. Now you all know how much a mother loves her children. And if you try to come between a mom and her children that may be your last day on this earth right. Because of that protective nature of a mom. That maternal instinct. And God is saying, That is how I feel church you.
I am like a hen wanting to gather her chicks but you wouldn't listen to me. But he went through with it. He died for our sins on the cross. Despite the jeering crowd.
Despite the mockery and the opposition. He died there because he knew there was no other way we could be made right with God. And the same Jesus who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead is with us here right now. And he wants to come into your life. You are saying, Well I don't know Greg this is my first time at church and I don't even know what you are talking about.
All this stuff about being in the body of Christ and gifts and giving and worship. Yeah you know what this is called a family. You walked in on a family discussion. You ever do that when you are a kid.
Go over to your friends house. Whole family is around the table. We are having a family discussion. I am out of here.
No but listen to this. This is a flawed family. Often a dysfunctional family. But this is God's forever family. And it is the best family going. And God wants you in the family. You say, But Greg there is weird people in the church. I know that. Did it ever occur to you that you are one of the weird people in the church. I know I am.
But we like to put the fun and dysfunctional. Ok so here is what it comes down to. The only way you can become part of the family of God is by becoming a son or a daughter of God.
How does that happen. The Bible says for as many as received him he gave them the power to become children of God. How do you come into the family. Jesus said you must be born again. Just as you were born physically you must then be born spiritually by asking Christ to come into your life. And then you are in the family. A full fledged family member in good standing because of Jesus.
But you must ask him to forgive you and ask him to come into your life. And that can happen for you right now. If you have joined us today. You are watching. You are listening to this. And you don't know Jesus Christ in a personal way. You don't have the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die. But you want this relationship with God.
You want that second chance in life. You want to become part of God's family. I am going to pray right now and I am going to extend an invitation for any of you that want to put your faith in Christ.
Let's all bow our heads. And everybody pray please. Father I pray now for all of those that are here. Help them to see their need for you. Help them to come to you. Help them to believe in you. We pray that your Holy Spirit will convict and convince them of their need for Jesus now. In Jesus name I pray.
Amen. Lenin, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus. In your subtitle you call it The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll. It's full of stories of rock icons who saw meteoric success.
But then often soon after self-destructed. Let's talk to somebody who may be listening to us right now. Maybe a young person who really, really, really wants to be famous or wealthy or adored by a stadium full of exuberant fans. So many young people want to be a TikTok sensation or a YouTube influencer.
Drawing on the insight in this new book, what's your message to them? Well so many of these artists of days gone by that have become iconic didn't have social media in their day. But they had it all. They had massive success. Global fame.
You know they had private jets and Bentleys and mansions and yachts and you name it they had it. But they saw that wasn't the answer. And I think of stories I've read even recently of young influencers.
Young people who have had great success on social media platforms and have taken their own lives. And it just doesn't make any sense to us. But in a way it makes total sense because if you think that fame or having more followers or having more people know your name will make you happy. You're going to be very disappointed when you reach that pinnacle and find it is not the answer. So what I want to say to those folks is Christ is the answer. Now God may bless you with success.
God may bless you with fame. God may bless you with other things. But don't make that the sole purpose of living. Here's what the apostle Paul said. He said to live is Christ. For some people if they were honest they would say to live is possessions. Their motto would be he who dies with the most toys wins.
I would just add to that. He who dies with the most toys wins dot dot dot. Nothing. Another might say for me to live is success.
Well yes you can have success. But Jesus said what does it profit a man if he gains a whole world and loses his own soul. Somebody else might say I live for this other thing. Live for Christ. Put God first. Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.
In context he was talking about what you eat or what you drink or what you wear. God will take care of all of the needs of your life. But don't make those things the focus of your life.
Make Christ the focus of your life. And if you do you'll find the meaning of life. Yeah that's right.
That's good insight. And there's a lot more coming your way in Pastor Greg's brand new book called Lenin, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. So can we send a copy to you? It's our thank you gift for those who can partner with us right now. Your investment helps keep Pastor Greg's insights coming your way here on A New Beginning. And they help us reach out with the gospel through our large scale evangelistic outreaches such as Boise Harvest just a few weeks ago. So your investment is an investment in changed lives. Contact us today by calling 1-800-821-3300.
We can take your call anytime at 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. And then Pastor Greg just a moment ago you mentioned our need to come to Christ for forgiveness of sin. Yes. Maybe there's somebody listening who'd like to do that. They'd like to take that step. Okay.
Maybe you could help them with that right now. I'd be delighted to. Listen, if you would like to accept Jesus Christ into your life right now. And by that I mean if you would like your sin forgiven and have the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die. Would you pray this prayer with me? Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner. But I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin and rising again from the dead. I'm sorry for my sin, Lord, and I turn from it now and I put my faith in you to be my Savior, my Lord, my God, and my friend. Thank you for loving me and calling me and accepting me. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Listen, if you just prayed that prayer in a minute, I want you to know on the authority of God's word that Jesus Christ has just come to take residence in your heart. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. Listen, we want to send you some resources that will help you grow spiritually.
So here's Dave with some details. And let me say God bless you and welcome to the family of God. Yeah, those resources Pastor Greg mentioned are all included in something we call our New Believers Growth Packet.
It'll help you get started in living your life for the Lord. So can we send it to you? It's free of charge. Just ask for the New Believers Growth Packet. And you can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here 24-7 to speak with you.
Again, that's 1-800-821-3300. Or go to harvest.org and click the two words, Know God. Well next time, Pastor Greg helps us see how Nehemiah dealt with the opposition that faced his team of wall builders. We'll gain some practical insight on dealing with our own detractors as we endeavor to serve the Lord. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins 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
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