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 greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. We're surrounded each and every day by temptations, but Pastor Greg Laurie says we can decide if they influence our thoughts and actions. You are the air traffic controller of your mind.
You decide what plane's gonna land, right? This is coming in, that isn't coming in. That's why we're told over in 2 Corinthians 10, take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.
Because here's the thing, if you give the devil an inch, he will take a mile. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again you hear when the angels are singing.
This is the day, the day when life begins. If we sow a thought, we'll reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.
We need to give some thought to our thoughts. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie continues our studies in the book of Nehemiah. It describes a great undertaking, how the workers were under great pressure, they faced great opposition, and we'll glean some great lessons on how they responded. Our study today is titled, Don't Give Up.
This is the day, the day when life begins. Well we all know what it's like to start a project and not finish it. Like cleaning out the garage, right? I need to organize my garage so badly. It's just a mess. And you know when you look at it you go, where do I start? And then I go into other people's garages and they're just perfect.
Everything's organized. I love that. But some things we start and we don't complete those things. But in other areas of life it becomes more significant. Sometimes we start something like a marriage and it gets hard. And marriages do get hard, don't they? And they give up. Or they start a ministry. Or they plant a church and it's not as easy as they hoped it would be. So they give up. Or they start a career and it didn't go as they had hoped.
Or they want to go to school and they don't complete it. And so the list goes on. And sadly there are even people that make a profession of faith but then turn away later. You know the apostle Paul had this happen with a guy named Demas. Demas is mentioned two times in Paul's epistles. I mean how cool would it be to be mentioned by name in a writing of Scripture.
Demas made it into the list two times. The first time is over in Philemon chapter 1 verse 23. Paul writes, Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, who are my fellow laborers.
I mean if I was one of those guys I'd drop that in every conversation. Hi my name is Aristarchus. Maybe you've heard of me from the book of Philemon.
That's me. Demas made it twice. But the problem is the second mention was not as good as the first. Because later there in 2 Timothy 4, which would be Paul's final epistle, Paul said, Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world and has departed for Thessalonica. Basically Paul is saying, remember that Demas guy? Yeah well he bailed on me. And he has even walked away from the faith loving this present world more than he loves the Lord.
Not a good way to be remembered. He didn't finish what he had begun. Well we are looking at the book of Nehemiah in this series that we are calling The Rebuilt Life. And we are looking at how the people of Israel returned from their captivity in Babylon and built up the walls of Jerusalem. That were lying in charred rubble. Here in chapter 6 the task is finally finished. You see God had a work He wanted to do and He found a leader in Nehemiah.
Listen to this. Sometimes God calls people to lead who don't necessarily want to lead. Not every leader wanted to be a leader. God called Gideon to be a leader of Israel. And he was hiding from his enemy when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, Hey Gideon you mighty man of courage.
The reality is he was about as uncourageous as he could be in that moment cowering in fear because of his enemy the Midianites. But the Lord was calling him into service and immediately Gideon protested, Lord you don't want me. I am the least of my father's house. Another way to say that would be I am the runt and the litter.
Don't bother with me. My brothers didn't do a much better job. No God wanted Gideon. Sometimes the reason the Lord chooses those people that don't want to be leaders is because they will become the best leaders. Because they will not have self-confidence.
They will have God confidence because they know they can't do it on their own. When the Lord called Moses. Moses was reluctant. He said, Lord I have a speech impediment.
Get somebody else to do this. And listen to this. Not only is it true that sometimes God calls people to be leaders that don't necessarily want to be leaders. But sometimes God doesn't call people who do want to be leaders. Maybe it's because they wanted too much.
Maybe it's because they wanted for the wrong reason. Simon tried to buy the power of God to do miracles. Now listen. It is a great privilege to be a leader. And there is great joy in being able to perhaps see things change or influence things or accomplish something of value. But it can also be a serious pain to be a leader. It's not for the faint of heart.
There's a price that you will pay. Because if you're a leader wherever you might lead you're going to be misunderstood. Misrepresented. Mocked.
Criticized. And sometimes there'll even be threats on your life. So it comes down to this. Don't try to be a leader if God hasn't called you to be one. But if he has called you to lead by all means do so. But there's a responsibility that goes with it.
Because scripture tells us, be not many teachers knowing they will receive the greater judgment. Now people have asked me, Greg what's it like to stand in a stadium and preach to 40,000 people or 100,000 people? Is it the ultimate ego trip? You might be surprised by my answer.
No. In fact maybe it's the opposite of that. Because here's how I see it. I step up on a stage and I am representing God Almighty. And I'm going to be held accountable for everything that I said. So I take that very seriously. I take that very seriously.
Because I want to make sure I'm saying the right thing and saying it in the right way. And most importantly that it's biblical and honoring to the Lord. But it's something that God must call a person to. Well it's hard to be a leader. And Nehemiah knew all about it.
I mean listen. He left the cushiest job ever to do something that was very difficult. He went from the palace to the worksite. He went from royalty to rubble. I mean his job was to eat everything the king ate.
And to live in the very lap of luxury without the pressure of being the king. And now he feels led by the Lord to go help his fellow Jews rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah wasn't a construction guy. He wasn't a guy that was normally out there in the worksite. But maybe he was now a hard hat with well a soft heart. He wanted to do something for the Lord.
So he left his comfort zone to obey the Lord. And now he's finished the task. Maybe one of the most difficult tasks in human history. He's pulled it off. And it's been done in 52 days. How did he do it?
Simple answer. He kept his eye on the ball. He kept his eye on the ball. In the first five chapters of Nehemiah we find opposition directed toward the people. But now in chapter 6 it's getting personal. The opposition is directed specifically toward Nehemiah himself. We know in war enemy troops are often told to shoot the commanding officers.
We know in football that the objective is to sack the quarterback. So the devil often sets his sights on the leaders. And in the church the devil will set his sight on the pastors and the other leaders. That's why we need to pray for them.
Let me ask you honestly. Do you ever pray for me? I need your prayers.
You don't realize how much I need your prayers. So we need to remember to pray for anyone in a position of leadership. And Nehemiah was incredibly focused on his goal.
He was not going to let hell or high water stop him. Again as I said he kept his eye on the ball. Certain sports require that. Like golf. Which I have never really understood.
I mean I understand it. I have tried to play it. I am so bad at it. I went out with a friend who is a very good golfer. He was trying to teach me how to do a proper golf swing. And I would miss the ball completely.
It is so embarrassing. I talked to someone the other day who has been golfing for years. I said, how long would it take for me to become competent enough at golfing where maybe I wouldn't embarrass myself out on the course. He said, I don't know.
Three or four years. I was like, forget it. And then baseball. You have got to keep your eye on the ball. That is very important and that is exactly what Nehemiah did. And that is true in life too. You know in marriage you have got to keep your eye on the ball.
What does that mean? It means constantly be doing things to strengthen your marriage. Don't be merely reactive. Be proactive. Be the best husband you can be. Be the best wife you can be.
Stoke the flames of your romance. Don't just neglect it. It is true also in ministry.
If God has called you to ministry keep your eye on the ball. Don't phone it in. Don't rest on your laurels.
Don't go into cruise control. Be proactive. Looking for ways to even be more effective at what you do. I want you to know we take that very seriously here and we are always trying to be the most effective we can be in this church. And this is true of so many things in life. It is even true of the Christian life.
The moment you take your eye off the ball and you just sort of kick back a little bit can be the setup for a fall. Be constantly moving forward and growing and learning and becoming more like Jesus. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's a joy to hear when these studies have touched lives. Listen to these comments from one of our listeners. Pastor Greg, I remember the very first time I heard your voice and I knew I would have to listen more.
It was about five years ago and I was driving in my car. A snippet of one of your sermons came on between songs on a Christian station and I've been a fan ever since. I really like your jokes too.
Sometimes corny but always funny. You make me a better Christian and I thank you for that. I need all the encouragement I can get to walk the straight and narrow.
I appreciate you my brother in Christ. If you have a story to share why not call us and give us all the details. Here's the number 1-866-871-1144.
866-871-1144. Well today Pastor Greg is presenting a message called Don't Give Up. The full study is available at Harvest.org. Let's look at our text now. It's Nehemiah 6. We're going to read two verses. And that brings me to my first point before we read. Point number one if you're taking notes. Don't get sidetracked. Stay focused. Again don't get sidetracked.
Stay focused. Nehemiah 6 verse 1. Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of the enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall, and no gaps remained, though we had not yet set up the doors and the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But I realized they were plotting to harm me. We'll stop there. So the job is almost done but not quite. The doors have not yet been hung. Man if you don't have the doors hung I don't care about how beautiful your walls are.
The person can walk right in. Right? Get those doors hung. Don't stop now. We have some bunnies in our garage. They belong to our grandchildren. There's two of them now.
One is Cotton. That's the mother. And then her little baby bunny Chubby Cutie. I didn't name him.
One of the grandkids did. Funny though Kathy calls me that as well. Chubby Cutie. But she doesn't usually use cutie. It's just the chubby.
But anyway I digress. So the other day I went in the garage and Chubby Cutie and Cotton are loose. They've made a jailbreak. They're hopping around. I'm trying to catch them you know. And I told you my garage is messy so I'm having to maneuver around things. And my little grandson Christopher just grabbed a little Chubby Cutie.
Well done. And so we put him in the cage and we secured the little door. You have to keep the door shut. Well you have sort of a door in your life. And if you leave that door open bad things can come in. You need to start by guarding your mind. You are the air traffic controller of your mind. You decide what plane is going to land.
Right? You decide what thought is going to take residence in your mind. Because all kinds of thoughts come to us all of the time. Often they're horrible thoughts. Bad thoughts. Good thoughts. Wonderful thoughts. So you decide this is coming in.
That isn't coming in. That's why we're told over in 2 Corinthians 10, take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Because here's the thing.
If you give the devil an inch he will take a mile. So you have to guard these things. Keep that gate shut. Also guard your mouth before you blurt out something. So often we say something or tweet something or post something or whatever it is. And then once it's out we're thinking, oh should I have said that?
Here's what Psalm 141 3 says. Set a guard over my mouth Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips. I've told you before you might apply the acronym think before you speak.
Think. T-H-I-N-K. T stands for is it truthful. Before you say it ask yourself the question, is what I'm about to say truthful? H is it helpful? I mean maybe it's truthful but is it helpful?
I is it inspiring? How about this one? N is it necessary? I mean maybe it's truthful but is it really necessary? Does it need to be said? K is it kind?
Could it hurt someone badly if I said it? Think. Truthful. Helpful. Inspiring. Necessary. Kind.
You might be saying Greg if I apply that principle I would say basically nothing. Amen. So be it. So these enemies of Nehemiah say they just wanted to meet with him in the valley of Ono. Come down to the valley of Ono. Listen. You need to say no to Ono.
Otherwise you're going to be saying oh no. You know the devil is not stupid. He's wicked. He's depraved. He's evil. But he ain't dumb.
Okay. And he knows if he comes to you with this game plan up front most people would never go for it. He's not going to come up to some guy or girl and say hey you happily married person I'm thinking I'd like to just wreck your life and I would like to destroy your marriage.
So how about if you commit adultery and betray your spouse and then you know you'll get a divorce it'll be really messy and then your children won't be estranged from you lose their respect maybe for the rest of your life and destroy your Christian testimony. I'm thinking we should do this together. What do you say? There might be some moron out there like okay you know. Generally we would say no to that hopefully.
So the devil instead comes and says hey come on down to the plain of Ono. Let's just talk a little bit. Check this out. Check out a little porn. It won't hurt you besides everybody watches it.
It's okay. Just check it out. Hey have this little flirtatious conversation with a member of the opposite sex.
It'll be fun. You get you to sort of take a little free sample. I went to Krispy Kreme donuts the other day. It's been a long time and I have to say they're still good. That's beauty.
That is beauty on display. To see freshly made hot glazed donuts coming down that little conveyor belt thingy and then I got some cold milk to wash them down with and you know I'll tell you what they are so good going down aren't they. And you know what they do. You walk in they go would you like a free sample and you're like yes I would.
And then it just like disappears. They're slightly smaller than a regular donut. I bought a dozen more. Now I didn't need a dozen more but I had three other people with me. But still you know I ate them and they're so great when you first eat them.
They're tasty and have a little gulp of milk. Have another one. Have another.
And then about 25 minutes later you start coming down from that sugar high. Oh man. Okay so the devil comes here. Here's a free sample.
Just just you know just a sample. You don't have to buy it. You don't have to go for it. And we try these things out.
So this is the devil's strategy. Come on. Just take a taste. Just take a look. Give it a go. Come down to the plane of Ono and let's talk together.
You can trust me. Listen. Don't have any conversations with the devil. Don't have any communication with Satan. The Bible says resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Nehemiah says I'm not coming down. Some great wisdom from today's study with Pastor Greg Laurie based in the book of Nehemiah. Pastor Greg will have more from this message as he continues here on New Beginning. Well Pastor Greg we're excited about your new book called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. Subtitled The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll. The title lists Jesus among some seemingly dissimilar names. You know Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Alice Cooper.
It's almost like a civil service exam. You know pick the one that doesn't belong. Yes. Well go to the Bible and look at Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus and Zacchaeus. Jesus and the woman at the well. Jesus and the woman caught in the act of adultery. It fits because my point is take these iconic people and I want to tell you about their spiritual journeys. That's a spiritual biography of rock and roll and it has some surprising revelations about maybe your favorite pop or rock star.
Things you did not know about them specifically in the area of their search for God. For instance take John Lennon. Of course we all remember his famous statement when he said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
Let me just address that for a moment. To a generation of people at that moment in time there was some truth to that and I would include myself as a young person because I knew nothing of Jesus but I knew everything about the Beatles and Lennon went on to try to explain it saying well if I would have said television is more popular than Jesus there wouldn't have been this controversy or uproar. But things changed in the life of John Lennon after he made that statement and we explore those things in the book. Now I'm not suggesting John Lennon was a Christian at the end of his life but I have to point this out. There is a moment in time when John Lennon made a profession of faith to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Not only that he recorded two gospel songs that you can find online if you search for them. Now it was not a long lasting thing but it was very big to him. He wrote about it extensively in his diary but then he seemed to fall away from that but in some ways toward the end of his life which was a very tragic end you see that he mentioned some of those things again.
So here's my point. John Lennon made a profession of faith earlier in his life. He was tragically gunned down in New York City by Mark David Chapman. He was conscious after he was shot. He was being driven to the hospital and the police officer driving him said do you know who you are and Lennon replied yes I do. If he was conscious and aware if John Lennon called out to Jesus Christ in the final moments of this life would his prayer have been heard?
The answer is yes. We think of the thief on the cross who said to Jesus Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom and Jesus said truly truly I say to you today you will be with me in paradise. I wrote this book to give encouragement and hope to people out there who will read it who have a loved one that is not a Christian. They don't seem like they would ever become a Christian. It might be your husband or wife or your mom or your dad or your son or your daughter or a co-worker or a friend and you will see in this book as you explore the lives of those who have been there done that bought the t-shirt and in many cases been the t-shirt that they climbed to the top of the mountain and there was nothing there. So should it surprise us that these people are searching for a deeper meaning in life?
You see when you are thinking if only I was rich if only I was famous if only I had a record or if only I filled a you know a stadium with a bunch of people chanting my name I would be happy. These people have experienced it. They know that's not the answer so many of them have gone on a deep search for God. So there's a lot here that may surprise you. Yeah that's right it's a fascinating read and we want to make it available to you to thank you for your partnership in this ministry. A New Beginning and Harvest Ministries are dedicated to helping people find the real answers to the big questions of life.
To look beyond the lures of this culture and this world and find what their soul is longing for and you know in the last couple of years more than 220,000 people have made professions of faith in Christ and if you can partner with us to reach even more we'd like to thank you by sending this new book Lennon, Dillon, Alice and Jesus. Just give us a call at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime. That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514.
Or go online to harvest.org. Well next time as Pastor Gray continues his study of the challenges Nehemiah faced personally, some good encouragement about protecting our godly character. 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.
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