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Resilient Faith | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 19, 2023 3:00 am

Resilient Faith | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 19, 2023 3:00 am

Do you struggle with contentment? In this valuable message, Pastor Jonathan Laurie points to biblical figures who’ve “been there, done that” and have some wisdom to share! 

Notes:

“The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” ―Charles Spurgeon

Psalm 12:6

Read: Philippians 4:1–13

“Resilient Faith”

Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4

Proverbs 29:11

Philippians 4:19

As Christians, our job is to have the right perspective and rejoice not in what you don’t have, but in what you do have.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give it to God.

Philippians 4:6–7

The word for anxious can also be translated as “care” or “concerned.”

God’s Plan.

Philippians 4:19

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” —Jim Carrey

“When the child of God is in the will of God, all of the universe works for him; but when the child of God is out of the will of God, everything works against him.” —Warren Wiersbe

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Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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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. Why don't we open up with a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, that is our heart to give you a hallelujah. That's all we can give you. There's nothing we can do to say thank you enough for the gift that you have given to us. Lord, you have given us our lives. You've given us life and life more abundantly. And Lord, you've given us the hope of heaven, the forgiveness of our sins. Lord, we are thankful for that. And as we get older and we grow in our faith, I think we just realize this that much more, that this really is a gift. It's not of our own doing.

It's not anything that we could manufacture or make happen. God, you sent your son down from heaven to give his life on our behalf. We thank you, Lord, for that. And we praise you because of that. In Jesus' name we pray together. Everybody says amen.

Amen. Good to see you all. You can have a seat. Hey, welcome to our friends joining us from the Riverside campus right now as well as those joining online.

Can we say hello to everybody being with us? We are one church, multiple locations. We have a number of locations. We have one in Riverside here in Orange County and we have one on the island of Maui. And so if you ever get over there, go check us out.

Go visit. Fun time. Hey, today we want to make sure we honor and recognize all of you veterans that are here today. Yesterday was Veterans Day. Thank you for your service.

Thank you for what you've done for us. It's been said that freedom is not free. It is paid for with the blood of men and women who have laid their lives down for our country. We know that we celebrate Memorial Day for them in particular, but thank you who have put on the uniform and been willing to sacrifice your time and energy and resources to serve this amazing country.

We also know that our spiritual liberation was not free. It was paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ. Amen. And so we thank those who lay their lives down for us. We thank those who put their lives on the line and serve our country so selflessly and the families of those as well who have made that sacrifice. We know growing up in a military family can have its own challenges.

It can be hard. And so thank you on behalf of this church. We honor our veterans and our law enforcement and those who serve our community. So thank you very much. Well, this week is our official, well, I guess last week, excuse me. Last week was our very last week in our series, the Book of Joshua, Living in the Land of Promises.

This was a really fun series. I'm sorry to have it end. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Joshua.

Everybody say aww. Yeah, yeah. So we're going to be moving on to some good stuff though, some exciting messages in the future. But as we wrapped up this series, Joshua, Living in the Land of Promises, you know, these are stories in the Bible that we were covering that are amazing. Some of the best stories ever told. And they're stories that are known beyond the walls of the church. They're stories that are known beyond the walls of the church, the amazing things that God did through the Hebrew people coming into the promised land, the walls of Jericho coming down because of the stomping feet and the horns and all of that. And so these things have entered into culture. People know these stories, but more than anything, these stories, they offer us insight for living. They show us how to live our lives. They're more than just an Aesop's fairy tale, which tells a nice story and has a moral at the end. Remember Aesop's fairy tales? Maybe you watched Rocky and Bullwinkle and they had the little sideshow.

I just dated myself. But these are stories that offer us insight for living. And as you look at the stories of the Bible, you begin to see yourself in these stories.

Have you seen that? As you look at the Bible and you see the patterns and the things that the Hebrew people do and the things that take place, you see yourself in the stories. Newsflash, we're the same people today that they were 3000 years ago, still struggle with the same things, still have the same desires, etc. But as you look at the Bible, truly, it is the greatest love story that has ever been written in between the pages of this Bible, this book here today that all of us have access to. Thank you very much for the Bible, Lord, that we have this amazing gift that we have an actual physical Bible we can have or we have one on our phone or you can access it on your computer. But in between the pages of this book lies the greatest love story that's ever been told.

Yes, a love story even greater than Travis and Courtney, a love story that's even greater than Taylor and Kelsey, a love story that's even greater than Romeo and Juliet. There have been more songs written about this love story, more works of art done because of this love story, more letters and sermons written because of this love story than any other love story since the beginning of time. Billy Graham put it well.

He said it this way. The Bible is God's love letter to us telling us not only that he loves us, but showing us what he has done to demonstrate his love. It also tells us how we should live because God knows what is best for us and he wants us to experience it. Never forget the Bible is God's word given to us so we can know and follow him. This is a beautiful love story, but this is not just a nice story, a nice fairytale that can make us feel good with, like I said, some morals at the end like an Aesop's fable. No, it is a book that you can base your life on and you can put your trust in.

Did you know that? You can trust this book. Let me give you a few reasons why you can trust this book. Number one, historical and scientific accuracy. This book is historically accurate. The Bible is not primarily a book of history. It is not primarily a book on science, but what science and history does record, it does so with 100% accuracy.

It's amazing. When you look at things like Pontius Pilate, skeptics believe that Pontius Pilate was a person that was completely imagined and made up in the Bible so that they could just have a person to pin the crucifixion on. There was no record of Pontius Pilate, this governor of Judea.

Pretty important role. All the records they have found in Rome, there's nothing recorded of a guy named Pontius Pilate. So, of course, skeptics took this as an opportunity to take shots at the Bible and say, see, it's a manufactured process, it's a book that is incredible, and so why should we believe it? Well, then came 1961 and some archeologists discovered something that we now know as the Pilate Stone. Yes, there is a stone that has Pontius Pilate's name on it, says that he is the governor of Judea, dated all the way back before the time, or rather at the time of Christ lining up with it.

So there you go. The Bible is a book that is historically accurate. The Bible is also scientifically accurate.

Again, we see in the pages of the Bible, the Lord says to Abraham and makes this covenant with him. He says to him, I will increase your descendants to be more than the sands and all the beaches and all the sea and more than the stars in the sky. Okay, more numerable, more innumerable, yeah, innumerable, that's a hard word to say, than the stars in the sky. Okay, now obviously God is speaking poetically here, but scholars and skeptics argued that why does the Bible say that there are innumerable stars in the sky? Because we can count them with our eyes right here. This is obviously before the invention of the telescope, and so they're able to say, look, there's about, you know, 4,000, one, two, three, four, and there's some we can't count.

That's around 4,000 to 5,000. That's what they guessed. Well, as time went on and the Hubble telescope was invented and modern telescopes were invented and better technology, we now see that there are trillions of galaxies, each one of them containing billions of stars inside. Therefore, the stars are innumerable. The Bible is correct once again. It's amazing.

It's amazing. We also know that the Bible is trustworthy because of something called manuscript evidence. I don't know if you've heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but people have liked to argue that the Bible is not reliable because it's been passed down from generation to generation. Stories have been exaggerated. It's like a game of telephone.

You ever play that game in school? You start with one thing and then it makes its way down and it's like something completely different than when it started off as. Okay, the Bible is historically accurate and we can look back at the Dead Sea Scrolls and see that this copy of the book of Isaiah found recently in the 1940s, which was actually written in pen, put on paper about 500 years before the birth of Christ, lines up with perfect accuracy to the copies of Isaiah that we have today. 99 point something percent accuracy. Minor little dot here, little paragraph change there.

Nothing structurally is different to this book, so we can trust the Bible because of scientific accuracy, historical accuracy, manuscript evidence. And then there's the personal revelation. How about this? How many people here have had their lives changed by Jesus Christ? Raise your hand.

Okay, look around the room. There's some personal revelation accuracy for you. God has come into my life. He resensitized my conscience. There were things that I was doing that I knew was wrong. I distanced myself from God. I was walking away from Him and I was able to do things without feeling bad.

Why? Because I seared my conscience. And so now I put my faith in Christ and what does He do? He resensitizes my conscience.

Those things that I once was able to do so easily, I can now no longer do. God resensitized my conscience and I know that He has done that for so many of you here today. We also know that the Bible is trustworthy. It's not just a fairy tale. It's not just a book to make us feel good because the Bible is a book of prophecy. This is a book that dares not to just tell the future one or two or three or four times, but hundreds of times, thousands of times with 100% accuracy. We see things like this 70 weeks prophecy where the Lord spoke to Daniel and told him about the return to Israel from Babylonian captivity. And when the Messiah would come, they were able to nail it down and figure out this crazy equation where they can actually see the exact date that the people would enter hundreds of years before it ever took place. It is incredible. We see that God is trustworthy. We can trust His word. And now as we see what's going on in Israel, another fulfillment of prophecy that's taking place.

We believe the next event on the prophetic calendar here at Harvest is the rapture of the church and this all plays into prophecy. So it's crazy. It is insane. It is incredible.

It is remarkable. But today I don't want to just talk to you about prophecy. I don't want to just talk to you about apologetics and why you can trust the Bible.

I want to talk to you actually about the topic of contentment. C. H. Burgeon said this about the Bible. The word of God is like a lion. You don't have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose and the lion will defend itself. So we don't need to spend all our time on apologetics. Yes, the Bible is a defendable book.

But you know what? It is more about that. It is more important to just talk about the book than it is to read the book and let it speak to us in our lives.

So yes, this is going to be a message about contentment. And my message title is resilient faith in Philippians chapter 4. As we read the Bible, you begin to see a pattern emerge.

There's a pattern that emerges and you see it from the very beginning in Genesis. You see that the people of God call upon Him. They put their faith in Him.

They walk with Him. They have fellowship with Him. God blesses them. They flourish. They're obedient to Him and they see God do amazing things like drop manna from heaven, conquer their enemies on their behalf, send rain when there's dry spells.

He is able to do all these amazing miracles. And as they get comfortable, as they enjoy these blessings, they get comfortable. They become complacent. They become discontent. And they turn away from the God of the Bible. And they turn away from Him and turn to instead idolatry and self-worship. They turn to the things that make them feel good. Oh yeah, well God's great and I love Him and yeah, He freed us from captivity and yeah, He did all these things. But what's He done for me lately? You know what looks really good?

Let's go worship that pagan idol over there. So they do these things that seem completely contrary but really we see ourselves in these stories as you dig into them. So they become comfortable. They become complacent. They turn away from God, turn to idolatry and worshiping these false deities.

What happens then? They become oppressed by their sins. They become oppressed by their captors who are the proprietors of these false gods and ultimately they reap what they sow. Then they begin to call out to God for deliverance and then the whole process begins itself over again, right?

God help us, deliver us, save us, okay. And then, oh thank you Lord, you're so great, we want to follow you, they're obedient, they're walking with Him. And then what happens? They get comfortable.

They get comfortable. They turn away from God. They turn to the deities. They become oppressed.

They call out to God for deliverance and the process is over and over and over again. We see it time and time again. Does this sound familiar? Am I speaking to somebody here today? Just myself I guess. It would appear that the people 3,000 years ago faced the same struggle and temptation that we do today.

Who'd have thought? Today we think that we are so sophisticated and refined compared to people 3,000 years ago. But as you read the stories, you find yourself looking in a mirror. You find yourself looking at yourself. Psalm 12, 6 says, the words of the Lord are pure, like silver tried in a furnace of the earth, purified seven times. So my goal with this message today is that as we talk about contentment, contentment in America, contentment in this amazing place.

We live Southern California and we are living in the lap of luxury here in Orange County and in Riverside in Southern California. Contentment is a hard thing to wrestle with sometimes, right. It's easy to look at and see what others have and to desire what they have and become discontent with what you have. And so my goal with this message today is that you would be convicted, that you would be convinced and ultimately you would become consecrated to the Lord. You would be set apart for Him and you would follow Him fully and wholly. So let's read together in Philippians chapter 4 starting in verse 1. These are the words of the Apostle Paul. He says this, Therefore my beloved and my longed for brethren, my joy and my crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Now I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labor with me in the gospel, with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always.

Again I will say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, verse 8, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. These things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the Lord and the God of peace will be with you. But I rejoice in the Lord greatly now that at last your care for me has flourished again. Though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity, verse 11, not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound everywhere and in all things I have learned to be both full and hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Let's pause there. Heavenly Father, as we look at these words now, we are so thankful that we have them with accuracy, that we can read them and they can speak to us where we are at. Lord, you tell us that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. And so, Lord, we need to have our motives revealed to us. We pray, Father, that you would show us exactly what your plan is for us. Father, help us to be content. Help us to be thankful for the things we have.

It's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and the distraction of the new thing and the new gadget and the new car and what's happening on social media. But, Lord, our contentment, we want it to be found in you because you give us the things that matter the most and we're thankful to you for those. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. Okay, so we are talking about a resilient faith. That's my message title today, a resilient faith in Philippians chapter 4. Verse 12, I think, really summarizes what we're going to be talking about today.

Look back at it with me. Paul says, I know how to be abased, which is basically saying I know how to have nothing. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound.

Everywhere and in all things I have learned to be both full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer in need. Now, these words from the Apostle Paul carry such weight because he did not write them from some ivory tower of theory or from some mansion on the coast. No, Paul wrote these words, this book of Philippians, while he was in a prison cell awaiting death.

He was ultimately going to be executed for a crime he was not even guilty of. It's in this book that Paul says things like, he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it and to live as Christ and to die as gain. And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Some of the greatest verses in all of the Bible were written while he was in chains. As bold as Paul was during his life, this letter, which scholars believe was his very last, he was bold. He was faithful and he displayed a faith that was absolutely resilient. There's three things I see here that Paul highlights for us on how to have a resilient faith and I want to point them out to you.

A faith that finds joy outside of circumstance. The first thing he tells us to do, number one, is rejoice. He tells us to rejoice. Verse four of Philippians chapter four, he says, rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice. Now, as we're talking about contentment and discontentment, this one might seem a little counterintuitive to go and do while you're experiencing discontentment is to go and rejoice. Jonathan, I'm telling you I'm discontent and you're telling me to rejoice.

Now, it's true. It does seem a little counterintuitive, but isn't that often the way we solve life's problems? That relationship that you don't want to work on, you just want to ignore over and over. And the last thing you want to do is have a conversation with that person. That's the very thing you need to go and do. You need to go talk to that person.

You need to figure out this issue and you need to resolve it. I wake up in the morning sometimes and I check the surf line cameras and I'm looking at it and it looks terrible or just not good enough for me to get out of bed and go and surf. And so I put it off and then I'm like, I should have just gone. It was fun.

It looked totally good. The very thing that I don't want to go and do, I need to go and do because no matter what, I end up having a good time. I end up feeling better as a result. For you Seinfeld fans out there, you might remember the episode where George is sitting at the cafe with Jerry and he starts telling Jerry how he's going to do everything the opposite because he always fails and makes things terrible. So he's going to do everything that he thinks he should do.

He's going to do the opposite. And so there's an example right there where he's sitting at the table. A beautiful girl looks over at him, sitting at the bar, eating a hamburger. And Jerry says, George, that girl just looked over at you. And George says, Jerry, please. Women like that don't talk to men like me, OK? And he says, yeah, but I thought you said you were going to do the opposite. He said, you know what? You're right. And so George walks over to her and he says, hi, I'm George Costanza.

I live with my parents and I'm currently unemployed. How are you? And she says, hello, it's nice to meet you. That's kind of like what we need to do. We need to do the opposite of what we think. We need to go and do the things that we don't want to do.

We need to do them. So when you're feeling discontent, rejoice, rejoice. See, just as we need to discipline our minds and our bodies, the spiritual life is also a muscle we must work out. Now, rejoicing doesn't mean that when you climb into your 30-year-old Honda Civic and you sit in two hours of traffic on the 91 freeway, that you need to have the rejoicing emotion like you just won the lottery.

No. See, the Bible, it actually puts very little emphasis on emotion. It puts very little emphasis and significance on your emotions. As humans, though, I think that's like one of the primary ways we make decisions, right? Based on our instinct, based on how we feel. Oh, my gut, instinct, a.k.a. my feelings, it's through our emotions. Well, the Bible time and time and time again tells us that our emotions are not trustworthy. Do not trust them. They will lead you into disaster. Proverbs 29, 11 says, a fool vents all his feelings but a wise man holds them back. Some of you need to take note of that. A fool vents all his feelings but a wise man holds them back. It's easy to feel discontent when you notice your coworker got a nice new raise and they're driving a fancy new car or your next-door neighbor just got that remodel done that you've been wanting to do or your friend is posting all those pictures of their vacation on social media and you're like, man, I really want to do that.

That would be so nice. How is she able to afford all of that? Tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt is the answer to that. And now that we have these phones, you can feel discontent 24-7. All you got to do is pull out your phone and look at this little glowing rectangle and take a quick scroll on Instagram and you'll find that you have nothing of the things you actually want and your life is miserable in comparison. It's easy to feel discontent, especially when you are looking at all the things you don't have. When you're focusing on all the things you don't have, you are subconsciously telling yourself that you need this to be happy.

We've all experienced it, whether you're living in the lap of luxury or you're living paycheck to paycheck. The apostle Paul, again, addresses this issue. He tells us, my God will supply all of your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Everything we actually need, God will provide for us. Everything we need, God will provide for us. We can rejoice because God will give us exactly what we need and it's our job, it's our responsibility to rest in that promise.

And that requires some discipline. We have to rest in that promise. It's easy to look around. It's easy to get distracted. It's easy to focus on the things we don't have. But when we see and we believe that God has given us everything we need, pause for a moment.

What are the things that matter the most to me? Has God not given them to you? And you need to rest in that and thank the Lord for them.

We can rejoice because, yes, God will give us exactly what we need. And we see, it's funny, again, one of these patterns, the Hebrew people, when they were brought out of slavery, they were brought out of Egypt and they were in the wilderness and God had parted the Red Sea and he had conquered the Egyptians on their behalf. He brought them out of captivity. These people were horrible oppressors. They murdered their firstborn children. They put them in chains. They whipped them. They beat them. They treated them more poorly than some people treat their animals.

And it was horrible. And so they called out to God. God freed them. He brought them into the wilderness. He was providing for them, giving them manna from heaven. Then they said, we're sick of this manna. Give us meat. God gave them meat.

He allowed birds to fall from the sky so they could eat this. And yet they still grumbled and complained and were discontent. They said that they actually were longing to go back to Egypt because back in Egypt, at least they had onions and leeks and pots of meat. It's like, oh, yeah, they murdered my son, but at least I had meat. Wow, talking about missing the point, right?

Completely lacking perspective. As Christians, our job is to have the right perspective and rejoice not in what you don't have, but in what you do have. What has God done for you?

He has done everything. He came to give you life and life more abundantly. Is it not a blessing to be his child and to have things like the church and fellowship and community and friends and family? It could be that you're saying, well, I used to be a drug addict and, you know, I had that health scare a few years ago and, yeah, God delivered me from that. And, you know, yeah, God did save my family from that crazy disaster a few years back.

You know, I got divorced, but, you know, God brought me through that, and he's been taking care of me. And, you know, what I really want, though, is that new Tacoma. That's going to be the thing that makes me happy, you know?

It's got a four-cylinder now, smallest engine it's ever had, but I tell you what, it's got more torque. That's what's going to make me happy. No, I got news for you. That new car, that new thing isn't going to make you happy. Reflect on what God has done for you. Reflect on how he has answered your prayers. Don't just pray to God and say, thanks, God, see you next crisis. Make sure when he answers that prayer you come back to him and you thank him for it. Make a journal.

Write these things down. It's so important. And it could be you're saying to yourself, well, I actually have nothing to be thankful for. I don't have children. I don't have a husband. I don't have a wife. I don't have a job. I don't have a car. I don't have this.

I don't have that. Okay, you know what? For the point, you may be right. You may have nothing of those things that I just mentioned to be thankful for. Well, we are told in scripture that no matter what, we are still to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. You see, our joy is not based on circumstance, on what we have, on how we feel.

Our joy is based on where we stand positionally. We are accepted. We are a child of God. He has forgiven us of our sins. We have the hope of heaven.

Things may not be going your way. They might not be going your way, but God's will for you is still to rejoice and give thanks and everything. Listen, here's a great thing to be thankful to God for. God is in control.

That's the number one reason in my mind to give thanks. God's in control. He is at the helm.

He is on the throne. My Father in heaven who has better plans for me than I have for myself and cares for the things that matter to me has made a way for me to get to heaven, for me to see my friends and family again, and He's made a way for me to be forgiven of my sin. That is worth being thankful over. That is worth rejoicing over. Amen?

That brings us to number two. Give it to God. Give it to God.

Give what? Give your discontentment to God. Give your desires to God. Give your anxieties to God. We read in verse four, excuse me, verse six of Philippians 4, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. I love that.

The apostle Paul was some of the best words to ever be combined talking about God in the history of forever. What a legend. But look at what he's saying. Be anxious for nothing. Don't have anxiety. Be anxious for nothing. Be anxious for nothing. Sometimes that's a little bit easier said than done, right?

But he gives us a good formula for it right there. In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Not just, Lord, I'm dealing with this anxiety and just take it from me. Okay, that's fine. That's fine to offer up a prayer like that.

But if you've got the time, and all of us do, your screen time says so. Prayer and supplication. Supplication means begging. Earnestly asking God, God, you owe me nothing, but would you do this for me? With thanksgiving, Lord, you've done this for me. You've done this for me. You've done this for me. You have been so faithful to me. Let your requests be made known to God.

He gives us a great formula. But look at what he's saying. He's saying be anxious for nothing. And I found it really interesting that that word anxious, that word anxious right there in verse six can also be translated as care, as care or concern. So don't just give your anxieties. Don't just give your fears to God. Give him your cares, the things you care about. Give him your concerns. Give him all of these things. This means that it's not just your fears you need to give to God. Philippians 4 has been a stronghold, a go-to for those who are in uncertain times for thousands of years.

But the interpretation of that word opens it up to more than just those who are anxious at heart. Give him your cares. Give him the things you are concerned about. Give him the things you long for. Give him your goals. Give him your aspirations.

Give him the things that are causing you to be discontent. Lord, is this something that lines up with your will? You give them to God.

That's right. There were things that I wanted that I had to give up when I came to Christ. You see, I struggled with materialism and discontentment when I first came to the Lord. And for me, I found it was something that was getting in my way of really enjoying my relationship with God. I found myself getting distracted by whatever, the new car or the new toy or the new thing. And I was just, you know, I'm easily distracted. It's like a dog, you know, squirrel.

It's like that's what happens to me. And so I just prayed to the Lord and I said, God, I don't want this. I don't want this thing.

It's distracting and everything I want, you have. You have all the things that I want the most, especially at that time. It was right when my brother had been killed in a car accident 15 years ago. And I wanted the hope that I'd see him again. I wanted peace. I wanted to have a relationship with God. And I found myself, after a little while, just kind of getting distracted, going back to old patterns. And it was like, Lord, I don't want this.

And so I called on him and I asked him and I prayed. And I said, Lord, this is something that's hindering me. I don't want it anymore. And I can tell you today that I do not have interest in those things like I once did. I don't. God delivered me from those things.

Now, don't get me wrong. I always want a new surfboard. I always want a new camera. I always want a new car or a new pair of fins or a new lens for my camera or whatever, the new computer. I always want that stuff, but it doesn't possess me like it once did.

He can do that for you today. Give your cares to God. Give your concerns to God.

Give your desires to God. See what he does with them. A lot of you know that my family has some of the weirdest pets of all time. We have very strange, eclectic pets.

We have, I had to make a list. We had a lizard. One of our lizards died earlier this week. Pray for us.

Rest in peace, Krusty. We have a praying mantis. We have two ant farms. We have a Hermann's tortoise. We have a box turtle. We have a spider, which has about 50 baby spiders with it right now.

We're putting in little containers and trying to raise them. And then we have two rats. We have two rats. We have Louie, who is actually destined to be food for our pet snake. Okay? I know.

It's brutal. So we buy this little rat, and we try and feed it to the snake named Inky. And Inky didn't eat the mouse, didn't eat the rat. It was too big for him. And so we put it back in the paper bag, and I told my son, CRISPR, do not tell your sister about this rat. It will become a pet. Well, he didn't do his job very well because by the time I came home later that day, that rat was in a cage.

It was decorated. He had a name. He had a future.

He had an identity. This is like a gospel message for this rat saved from the clutches of this snake. And so we've got all these pets. Well, recently that snake, excuse me, that rat that my daughter tried to save ended up in the garage in its cage because she just wanted to put the rats. We have another rat that we got as a companion to the first rat.

And so they live in a cage together, and she put them in the garage. Now, the other night, Thursday night at 947, the rat escaped from the cage. He got out into the garage, and I saw on the camera what I think was him leaving the garage. Now, this is disputed by my wife and I, but I think that he left the neighborhood. I think he left the garage because I saw him, I think, on camera. Allie, when she woke up that next morning and found out that this rat was missing, she was devastated, just heartbroken.

She's crying. Here's a picture of the rat. No, that's me. There we go. Look at this little rat. Come on. You can't say that's not cute.

His little t-shirt. And so we looked for this rat everywhere. And I'm like, OK, this neighborhood is not a safe neighborhood for rodents, right? There's cats everywhere. There's coyotes. There's squirrels. Yeah, we have skunks. If you have remedies on how to get rid of skunks in your neighborhood, please tell my neighbors.

We have all kinds of creatures that are not friendly to rats. And so we walked around the neighborhood multiple times. We prayed throughout the day. Allie was in tears. Shoot, I was in tears. I felt so sad, this little rat. I liked this little pet. They're good pets.

They're actually really social and friendly. And this rat, my daughter will call it by his name. It will come to her. She can call this rat by its name and it will come to her. So that's the relationship that she has. So we didn't find the rat.

We couldn't find him. And now 24 hours have passed. And she asked, Dad, can we take another drive in the car? And I said, sure thing. So I humor her. We're driving down the street with a flashlight sticking out of the car. I'm like, people are going to think we're burglars looking for a house to case. And nothing, nothing.

And so we go to bed that night. And she's just, she's fearful. She's concerned. And again, we just prayed, you know, Lord, you care about the things we care about. And we're asking you, would you help us out? We're asking you, would you help us to just find this rat? Now, I know that this in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big issue, but it's a big deal to Allie. And so it was a big deal to me as her dad. And so we prayed and we even bought some harmless, those little harmless rat traps that they capture the rats, put two of those things out, put his favorite cheese in there, woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night to check on the camera to see if he came into it.

Nothing. And so we woke up the next morning and he's not there. Now Allie's really devastated. And she's just crying her eyes out and she just feels responsible. And it's her fault for putting the rats in the garage.

And it was just so hard. Well, a couple hours later, my son Christopher came in and told me that his praying mantis died. Now, this is not really a big thing. It's a bug, you know, so we're not super bummed, but just the lizard, the rat, the praying mantis, I promise we're good pet owners. We take care of our pets. But he comes in, he tells me that his mantis died. It's just like, man, thing after thing. And so, you know, he's bummed. And so he goes out into the backyard and he's just kind of walking around. And Christopher goes into the garage and he looks and next to the cage where Louie had been living inside of up to that point, he sees Louie, the rat. He came back missing for 36 hours. The prodigal rat came back. And so he grabs it and he brings it into the house and he's shouting at the top of his lungs and everybody's like hugging.

And we're so excited to find this little $3 rat that was supposed to be snake food. And I know this is a long way to make the point, but we have to give our cares to God. We have to give our concerns to him. These things that we can't handle, these things we struggle with, these things that bring anxiety and discontentment and fear, we need to give them to the Lord. When we found the rat, I told Allie, I said, Allie, we need to pray and thank God because you were like multiple times, I just miss Louie. I just want Louie.

She's so sad. You know, you remember how it was and you lost your first pet, your dog died or something like that. And so we prayed and Allie immediately, this is the first thing that came out of her mouth. God, this was impossible without you.

There's no way he could have come back except you brought him back. And I just remembered in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. You've got to give it to God.

Big or small, saying thank you or being afraid for something, asking God to give you something positive, asking God to take something negative out of your life, an illness, whatever it might be, give those things to God. Now, you might be asking yourself, Jonathan, where does ambition line up in all of this? Because I work very hard. I set goals for myself and I desire to hit those goals. I'm a goal-driven person. That's a good thing. That is absolutely a good thing.

And so where does it line up with all of this? Ambition is good. Goals are important.

Hitting certain marks is a great thing to set for yourself. But at the very inception of any new endeavor or decision you are making, the best thing you can do is give those aspirations, give those goals, give those ambitions to God. God, this is my heart's desire.

This is what I want. But God, I desire you above all those things. Father, would you guide me and would you refine my desires to be in line with you? I promise you, that's a prayer that God will answer. Now, you might think, well, that's a surefire way to get God to not answer the prayer I want him to. But friend, prayer is not convincing God to do what we want him to. Prayer is not aligning God's will with our will. Prayer is aligning our will with God's will. Nevertheless, Jesus said, not my will be done, but your will be done. That brings us to point number three, God's plan. God's plan.

Philippians 4 19 says, my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. You know, we think that so often we know what's gonna make us happy. We know, oh, if I just get this thing, right, it's gonna be great. And that's what I've always wanted. And this is the house I've always wanted to live in. This is the vacation I've always wanted to go on. And if I could just get that same photo, you know, at that one scenic spot, if I could just go and get that car and have, you know, that certain model, if I could get married to that girl or if I could marry that guy or have this number of kids or have this type of life, then I'll be happy, I'll be satisfied. So often we are incredibly wrong, right?

Completely wrong. You get that thing and you're like, huh? This is it? I was talking to my son yesterday about this. I said, Christopher, what's the fastest you've ever become just like over something? Like you really wanted it.

You really, really thought you wanted, but then once you got it, you were just over it. And he's like, without even skipping a beat, 30 minutes. It's like, yeah, that's about right, 30 minutes. It's like, oh, I'm gonna get this thing.

It's so great. It's gonna make me happy. You're over it.

You completely move on. Jim Carrey said it well. He said, I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer. It's true. You don't have to be a bazillionaire. You don't have to have a trillion dollars to figure this out. You just have to look at the pages of the Bible. We see it time and time again. The desires of our heart will lead us astray.

The things that God has are the things that will truly fulfill us and give us contentment. As I've gotten older, I've found that my taste in food has changed. I used to be terrified as a kid of onions and mushrooms and avocado and just like herbs and just like I didn't want anything in my food. I wanted everything plain. I didn't even like cheese on my hamburger. I would eat a plain hamburger, bread and meat, and that was it. I was happy with that. I would eat just a loaf of French bread, and I was totally content. That was like a luxury.

Loved that. But as I've gotten older, certain junk foods don't do it for me anymore like they used to, and now I like all those things that I used to hate, onions and garlic and avocado and shallots and all that kind of stuff. My taste in clothes has changed. My preference for music has evolved. Everything changes as you ensure. You found that to be true?

And so this is my suggestion to all of you today. If you struggle with always wanting the latest and greatest thing, if you struggle with wanting that car or that trip or feeling insufficient or incomplete because you don't have a spouse or you don't have kids or you didn't achieve that goal you set out for so long ago and now the years have passed and you're left with an apparent failure, just like you change your preference in food and other things, change your understanding of success and satisfaction. To not align with the goals set by your family and your younger self through the power of the Holy Spirit, bring your desires into submission and into alignment with the plans God has for you. As you follow God's plan for your life, you will find yourself becoming more content, more satisfied and happier than you have ever been when you are more in line with God's plan for your life. As I look in the areas of my own life and I see the things I'm called to do, loving my wife, discipling my children, learning from my parents, ministering to the people inside and outside of the church, preparing for the future, giving to the Lord and discovering new areas that I can give to the Lord, I find that I am satisfied, I am content and these are the things that bring me the most joy. Warren Wiersbe said, when the child of God is in the will of God, all of the universe works for him. But when the child of God is out of the will of God, everything works against him.

Is there any reason today that you have not surrendered your life, you have not surrendered your desires, you have not surrendered your plans to God? I don't know what your ultimate goal is or was, but as humans, it tends to shift from thing to thing, especially when we finally realize it and we think, oh, that wasn't it. Maybe it's this other thing. We often realize that wasn't it either and we keep going and going and going and then you see this pattern emerging.

Okay, there's something wrong here. It doesn't deliver that ultimate thrill. It doesn't deliver that mountaintop experience. In fact, you feel emptier now than when you first started off. I can tell you this today with absolute certainty, a relationship with Jesus Christ will never let you down.

It'll never let you down. Making him the Lord of your life and serving his will and his glory is the best thing you can do with your life. It could be that your life parallels that of the Hebrew people and you've turned away from God and you've pursued idols, you've made in your own image, you're looking to outside experiences and outside possessions to give you that thrill you were missing only to find yourself back in Egypt, back in bondage and slavery to sin. So today I would like to extend to you an invitation for you to give your life to Christ and find the contentment you've been looking for all along.

Or it could be that you need to make a rededication. As I mentioned, you were walking with the Lord but you've turned back to those old things and you find yourself in bondage once again and you want to call out to the Lord, you can do that as well. Don't walk out of here today without getting right with God and ultimately finding that contentment that you were longing for. Be obedient to the Lord and you will find all the desires of your life granted to you.

It's amazing and you will do that. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love for us. We thank you for these patterns we see in scripture and how we find ourselves inside of them, Lord. How convicting it is when we see our story being told in the pages of the Bible thousands of years before we even lived it.

Lord, as you have demonstrated to us time and time again, your steadfast love, your forgiveness, this amazing love letter to us from you found in the pages of the Bible. God, we're in awe. We didn't do anything to deserve this. We have sinned against you. We have broken your laws.

We have broken our side of the covenant, the agreement. Lord, there's been spiritual infidelity. Lord, you tell us and the Hebrew people that we're fornicators spiritually and that we're adulterers at heart. Lord, this is not what we want. We agree with scripture when we say that it is not inside of us. We want you and we don't want these things, Lord.

We do the things we don't want to do and we don't do the things we want to do. And so, Lord, we call out to you and we ask for forgiveness and we ask for reconciliation and, Lord, we ask for your blessing on our lives once again. And, Lord, while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying here together, I know there may be some who haven't yet put their faith in you, who haven't called out to you and haven't experienced just how good it is to walk with you.

Lord, I pray that you would convict and convince them of their sin and they would see their need for you now. And while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying together, is there anybody here that would say, that's me, I've tasted and seen that this world is not all it's cracked up to be and it has not satisfied me, it has not given me the thrill that I thought that it would and I want to call out to God. I want to know that my sins are forgiven.

I want that burden of guilt and shame removed from me. If that's your desire, wherever you are today, would you just raise your hand up and I want to pray for you. Wherever you are, raise your hand up.

Here in Orange County, in the sanctuary, outside in the cafe area, Riverside Campus, if you're watching, you raise your hand up as well. God bless you. God bless you guys. Anybody else, raise your hand up. God bless you.

Awesome. You're saying yes to God. You're saying yes, I want to come to a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Wherever you are, just raise your hand up and we'll pray together. God bless you in the back there, here in the front. God bless you. Anybody else, raise it up high where I can see it.

Awesome. Lord, thank you for those that raised their hands and we pray that they would follow you and put their trust in you and walk with you. For those of you that raised your hand, just pray this prayer out loud after me.

This is you talking to God, your Father in Heaven who loves you and wants to hear from you. Pray this now. Dear God, I know I'm a sinner, but I know Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and I turn from that sin now from this moment forward. I make you the Lord of my life and I set my desires and my goals and my ambitions at the feet of Jesus.

Lord, would you direct me and guide me? In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Amen. God bless you guys.

Amazing. 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 / 2023-11-19 04:26:32 / 2023-11-19 04:48:30 / 22

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