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A New Kind of Family | Learning From God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 15, 2024 3:00 am

A New Kind of Family | Learning From God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 15, 2024 3:00 am

When we finish praying the sinner’s prayer, and become a child of God, it would be great if all our questions are immediately answered, all our doubts are suddenly dispelled and the gaps in our understanding are instantly filled in. But coming to know God and His plan for our lives is part of the privilege and challenge of living the Christian life. And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how we should feel free to approach God for help in sharpening our understanding and deepening our faith.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. It's okay for you to say to the Lord, make yourself real to me. Help me with my doubts.

Help me with my questions. I certainly did that when I was a brand new believer. And you know what? He did, and He'll do the same for you. When we finish praying the sinner's prayer and become a child of God, it would be great if all our questions are immediately answered, all our doubts are suddenly dispelled, and the gaps in our understanding are instantly filled in. But coming to know God and His plan for our lives is part of the privilege and challenge of living the Christian life. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how we should feel free to approach God for help in sharpening our understanding and deepening our faith. We're back in our series in the Gospel of Mark, which we're calling The Gospel for Busy People.

And the title of my message is A New Kind of Family. Jesus now establishes His new family of disciples. So we're gonna read a list of the men that He used to change the world. Some are familiar names, others not as familiar.

And they could not be more different from one another. We read about them in Mark chapter three, verse 16. So right at the top of the list, a very familiar name, Simon Peter. Apart from Jesus Himself, no other name is mentioned in the New Testament more than Simon Peter. He was a central figure of Jesus' three years of ministry and also for the first three years of the early church. And Jesus spent more time with Peter than anybody else. Another thing I would point out, no other person speaks as often or is spoken to as often as Simon Peter. I might also add no other disciple is reproved and corrected as often as Simon Peter. Flawed character, yes, but he was faithful to the end. Oh sure, he denied the Lord, but he was there with Jesus in the last hours of His earthly ministry along with the Apostle John.

And though he had his lapse and his setback, he also had his mega comeback when Jesus recommissioned him again. Yeah, he was part of God's family. And then we have Andrew, the brother of Peter.

They couldn't be any more different. If Peter was like your loud uncle at the family reunion, Andrew's like the quiet cousin. While Peter's talking, Andrew's clearing the table and working behind the scenes. In fact, it was actually Andrew who brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus. In John 141 we read, the first thing Andrew did after he realized that Jesus was the Messiah was he brought his brother, Peter, and he said to him, we found the Messiah and he brought him to Jesus. And that's what Andrew was always doing, bringing people to Jesus.

And what a great thing to be known for, bringing people to Jesus. So we've got Peter, the loud one. We've got Andrew, the quiet one. And now we have James and John, the fiery ones. If Peter's like your loud uncle and Andrew's your quiet cousin, these are the brothers who were always arguing.

You know, they're at the family reunion. And they turn everything into a big debate. And they get very upset about things.

These are the kind of people that when they post on social media, it's all in caps, right? They're always fired up about something. And that is a good description of James and John. They're described as the sons of thunder for good reason. They had fiery temperaments. On one occasion, the disciples went into a village of Samaria and the people were not responsive.

They were not hospitable. So James and John come to Jesus and they said, Lord, shall we call fire down from heaven on these people like Elijah did? Jesus was like, wait, what?

Call fire down from heaven? And then he had to remind them what his mission was. He says, guys, you don't know what kind of spiritual the son of man did not come to destroy people. He came to save them. So he's saying, guys, I didn't come to toast people. I came to forgive people.

Capisce, I mean, give me a break. But these guys were very full of fire and passion. And so they were upset that people were not responsive to what Jesus had to say. They can also be very insensitive because Jesus talked about his impending crucifixion with them on one occasion. And he says the son of man is going to be betrayed and he's going to be condemned to death and they will flog him and kill him. And three days later, he'll rise again. I mean, imagine hearing Jesus say that.

That's heavy stuff. You would just sit in stunned silence. You wouldn't know what to say.

Well, not the sons of thunder. They had plenty to say because then they blurt out, well, we were wondering if you would do whatever we want you to do. Wait, what? Jesus just got done saying that he's going to die? And they say, oh, yeah, interesting.

What can you do for us? And that would be like somebody saying to you, well, I just found out I'm very sick and I'm dying and I only have a few weeks to live. And then you respond, yeah, so what are you going to do with that car you just bought?

Could I have it? So the conversation continues on. We want you to do whatever we ask you to do. So Jesus says, OK, I'll bite.

Well, what do you want me to do? We would like to sit on your right and left hand in glory. Well, they should be thankful Jesus did not answer that prayer, because what happened shortly after this? Jesus went and was crucified. And who was on his right and left hand? Two criminals who were crucified next to him. See, if he would have answered their prayer, they would have been the ones on the crosses on each side of Jesus.

So thank God for unanswered prayers. Right. So we've got the loud one. Simon Peter, we've got the quiet one. Andrew, we've got the fired up ones.

James and John, the sons of Thunder. Now we have the skeptical one. And that, of course, is Thomas. When you're at a family reunion, you know, everybody sees things a certain way. And Thomas is like that relative will say, well, I see it completely differently than the rest of you.

That's just his nature. He was a guy who thought for himself. Of course, we remember Thomas because he did miss the resurrected Christ after Jesus was crucified. He rose again and he appeared to the disciples in the upper room. And they told Thomas, hey, man, you should have been there last night. Guess who showed up?

Yahoo, Thomas says. Jesus. He appeared to us. All right.

Yeah. Thomas says, I believe that when I can put my hand in the prince of the nails and put my finger into his side. Well, the next time they got together for a meeting, Thomas was there.

And guess who shows up? Jesus. Well, Thomas, seeing the risen Christ, just said, my Lord and my God. And he believed on the spot.

So we call him Downing Thomas. I don't think he was a doubter. I think he was a skeptic.

And he wanted what everybody else had. He wanted to see and know for himself. And by the way, you don't have to live off somebody else's faith. It's OK for you to say to the Lord, make yourself real to me. Help me with my doubts.

Help me with my questions. I certainly did that when I was a brand new believer. I was filled with skepticism.

And I said to Jesus, if you're real, you're going to have to make yourself known to me because I have a hard time believing some of these things for myself. And you know what? He did. And he does. And he'll do the same for you.

Yeah. Thomas, if he didn't understand something, would talk about it out loud. One occasion in John Chapter 14, Jesus said, on my father's house are many mansions that were not so I would have told you I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself. And where you go, you know, and the way you know. I think all the disciples are probably nodding in unison and agreement. Yeah, that's deep.

That is really true. And it's Thomas who says, excuse me. I don't know if he raises his hand, but I have a question. Yes, Thomas. We don't know where you're going and we don't know the way.

I like that. He was honest. And what does Jesus say? He doesn't rebuke him. He says, I am the way, the truth and the life. And no man comes to the father but by me. Listen, skepticism is not a sign that a person is wrong.

It may be a sign that he is thinking. You may have children who are pushing back on the way you've raised them in your Christian home. They have their own questions.

Hey, Mom, how can I know the Bible is the word of God? Hey, Dad, I'm grappling with this question. You're thinking, oh, what have we done? We failed our kids. No, they're thinking for themselves.

They're like Thomas. So help them work through those things and help them develop their own faith. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's such a blessing to hear from listeners who take time to express their appreciation. Pastor Greg, I'm so thankful for your preaching. You're a light in a dark world and you were born to preach.

I listen to your messages all the time and love your down to earth style. You also explain the Bible in an easy to understand way. Thank you so much for your diligence and love for God. I appreciate how you speak the truth, never sugar coating the word.

Yet you have such a humble and sweetheart. Thanks for being an example of a real man of God. 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.

That's 866-871-1144. We've been considering a number of the Lord's disciples today as Pastor Greg presents his message called A New Kind of Family. Now, I wish I had time to go into all the others that are on our list, but there's one last name that I want to end with, and that would be Judas Iscariot. So Peter's like your loud uncle. Andrew's the working behind the scenes guy.

James and John are always fired up about something. Thomas is a skeptical one. Who's Judas? He's not the evil guy you may think. You know, when we see movies about Jesus or religious art depicting the disciples, you can always figure out who Judas is because he looks so treacherous. He's always hiding over in the shadows. If all the other disciples were wearing white robes, he's got a black robe, a black leather robe with a collar turned up, wearing sunglasses, right?

Not really, but you get the idea. Oh, that's Judas. That is not the way Judas appeared.

He appeared as the most virtuous of the lot. Judas is sort of like your self-righteous relative who's always moralizing, judging, and putting others down. And one day you find out he is the biggest hypocrite of them all. Judas is the literal definition of a hypocrite. Now I don't think we even know what the word hypocrite means.

We throw it around a lot. We say someone who claims to be a Christian and slips up, that's hypocrisy. That's not hypocrisy. That's humanity. Every one of us as followers of Jesus mess up. We make mistakes. We say the wrong thing. We do the wrong thing.

Hopefully we own it and admit it. That's not a hypocrite. A hypocrite literally defined as an actor. It's a performer.

It's a person who is pretending to be something they are not. And that was Judas. He appeared to be the most virtuous guy of all when in reality he was the most wicked.

Here's a perfect example. All the disciples were gathered together for a meal. And we read how Mary began to wipe the feet of Jesus with some very expensive perfume and the fragrance filled the air. So this perfume that she wiped his feet with because she was given an insight into the fact that Christ was going to go suffer and die on the cross. She wanted to do something extravagant.

Something next level. Something to demonstrate to Jesus how much she loved him. So this was probably a family heirloom worth thousands and thousands of dollars. So she's anointing the feet of Jesus with this beautiful fragrant perfume. And Judas says that perfume is worth a small fortune.

It could have been sold in the money given to the poor. The other disciples probably nodded in unison and said, you know, that's true Judas. And Mary, I don't know if that was a good stewardship to waste that perfume in the feet of Jesus. But then we're given this little detail in the Gospel of John in John 12 six. Judas said that not because he cared for the poor. He said it because he was a thief and he was in charge of the disciples funds and he took some for his own use.

Wow. So at the moment he appeared to be the most virtuous. He was actually the most wicked. And it's this greed for money that destroyed the life of Judas Iscariot. Let's not forget he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. And how did he betray Christ? With a handshake? With a pat on the back?

Oh no, you know the answer. He betrayed him with a kiss. He told the religious rulers, the one that I kiss, he's the one you're looking for. So there in the Garden of Gethsemane, here's Jesus and Judas approaches him and kisses him. And in the original language, it's implied he kissed him over and over again, not just a peck on the cheek. He kissed him like, oh, I love you so much, Jesus. But he was just identifying Christ so he could be arrested. He was the worst kind of hypocrite out there.

But you want to know something amazing? He could have been forgiven. Jesus knew Judas would betray him. Jesus knew Judas would abandon him. But Jesus offered to Judas an opportunity to repent. When the disciples gathered together in the upper room for what would become last supper, we read that Jesus washed the disciples' feet.

Now that doesn't make a lot of sense to us. But back in these days when you would go visit a person's house, the servant in the home would wash your feet. So Jesus was taking the role of a servant. He washed their feet. And he came to the feet of Judas Iscariot and washed them. If I was Jesus, I would not have washed the feet of Judas. I would have broken the feet of Judas.

But the Lord even washed his feet. And then he identified Judas as the betrayer. And then he said to Judas, whatever you do, go and do it quickly. And we read that Satan filled the heart of Judas. So he was not some helpless pawn.

No. He made a deliberate decision to betray Jesus. But even there in the Garden of Gethsemane, as Judas approached, we read Jesus said to him, friend, why have you come? If Judas had repented of his sin, Jesus would have forgiven him even there. But he was never part of God's family. He could have been.

But he was a wicked man. Listen, we can all be a part of God's family. You say, how do you do that? Well, you're born into the family of God. Oh, you're saying you have to be raised in a Christian home?

No, not at all. You need to be born again into the family of God. Jesus said you must be born again. So when you turn from your sin and you ask God to forgive you, you become a part of God's family. The Bible says for as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God.

So you can be in this incredible family of God no matter what you've done. Maybe you relate to one of the people I've talked about in this message. Maybe you're like Simon Peter and you walk with the Lord for a time, but you messed up and you failed and you sinned. And in the case of Peter, he denied three times that he knew Jesus, but he was forgiven. Or maybe you're like Thomas. You believe, but you've had your doubts.

So or you're like some of the others who have had setbacks. But Jesus loved every one of these men. He loved every one of these women that followed him and he loves you. And if you're part of his family, he wants to maintain fellowship with you. You know, when we're sinning against God, we don't break off relationship. We break off fellowship.

You're still in the family. You're just not communicating. And it's because we've broken communication down by our sin. But the Bible says that we'll confess our sin. He's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And communication can be restored. Maybe I'm talking to somebody right now that wants to join God's family. Somebody right now that maybe doesn't have a family to speak of. Now I mentioned that we all have a family. I had a pretty dysfunctional family growing up. My mother was married and divorced seven times and was a raging alcoholic.

I had a very unstable upbringing. But when I became a Christian, I joined God's family. And suddenly I found brothers and sisters I did not know that I had that were fellow believers in Jesus Christ. And God can do the same for you. Last weekend for Harvest at Home, someone watched the service and they wrote me this little note.

And I'm reading it now. She says, I just watched your message on Harvest and it brought me tears of joy. I needed to hear what you said. You answered all of my questions and it brought me so much peace because I prayed that prayer. And I'm looking forward to heaven when that day comes.

Thank you for sharing that today. Praise Jesus. She says, when I prayed that prayer, what prayer? The same prayer that I'm going to lead you in right now. A prayer where you will say to God, you're sorry for your sin and you want Christ to come into your life and you want to become a part of God's family. If you don't know right now that your sin is forgiven, if you don't know with certainty right now that you'll go to heaven when you die, if you're not sure if you're in the family of God, you can join our family right here, right now, wherever you are. And I'll lead you in a simple prayer.

I've mentioned multiple times that Jesus went to that cross and died for our sin. Three days later, he rose again from the dead and now he stands at the door of your life and he knocks. And he says, if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in. So listen, if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you want to join God's forever family or if you failed and you want to recommit your life to the Lord, I'll lead you in a simple prayer similar to the prayer that this young lady prayed with me last weekend.

And this can be a transforming moment in your life where Christ comes to live inside of you. If you want Christ to come into your life and you want him to forgive you of your sin, pray this prayer after me. In fact, you could pray it out loud right now if you like. Just pray these words.

Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Now I put my faith in you and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer with those making a change today in their relationship with the Lord. And if you've just joined Pastor Greg in prayer and have asked Jesus to be your savior, we'd like to offer some help free of charge. Let us send you Pastor Greg's popular New Believer's Bible.

It's an easy-to-understand translation with plenty of helps for those who are new to the faith, including big questions. Pastor Greg addresses those difficult issues that may have crossed your mind. Ask for the New Believer's Bible when you call 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Well, it's a real privilege to have author Lee Strobel with us today. He's the New York Times bestselling author, former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. You may know him as the author of The Case for Christ.

And we're making available his brand new book, a powerful book called Is God Real? Pastor Greg? So Lee, let's say that you've raised your child in the way of the Lord. Maybe they've even gone to a Christian school. And they're in the youth group.

And they're just a great Christian kid. But one day they come home with questions like, how can I believe the Bible is true? Or other questions, should we freak out? How should a Christian parent react to that?

And how should we answer these questions? Yeah, I think, number one, don't freak out. Expect it to happen. And you know what? Be thankful that they're willing to engage with you with these questions.

When you talk about it, it loses a lot of its power over you. And so I would say, one of the things that Leslie and I did as new Christians, and we both came to faith, we already had two kids, but we made the decision up front. We said, let's make a safe place every night where our kids can ask whatever question comes into their mind about God. And so it was right before they go to bed, and they knew that if they had a question that came up, if they had a doubt, if they had a concern, if they had something they heard that they don't know how to process, this was the time that mom and dad would sit with them and do their best to kind of give them some guidance. And I think if we have young kids, that's a great thing to do. Create a safe place where it's okay to ask questions.

I love that. But if our older kids come home, they've got doubts, they've got questions, yes, number one, don't freak out. Number two, continue to pray for them. But number three, engage with them.

And one of the things I encourage them to say is, I understand you've got some questions. Why don't you distill them down? Write them down. What are the top three questions that you're wrestling with?

Because often it's just this amorphous, I heard something from a professor and now I've got some doubts. Pin it down. What are the three questions that are really troubling you? Because once you pin them down, there are so many great resources these days out there to help you find good, solid answers.

And you know what? Sometimes it takes time. So be patient. Keep praying for them.

Keep looking for opportunities to open the discussion. Maybe give them a copy of Is God Real? because it really presents the case. And it also deals with the two biggest objections to Christianity that people are apt to raise, which is number one, if God is real, why is there suffering in the world? And number two, if God is real, why does He seem so hidden?

Those are the two biggest objections among young people and I interviewed scholars on these topics and I think they've given fantastic responses that I would encourage anybody with questions in those areas to read. And speaking of this book that Lee just mentioned, Is God Real?, we would like to send you your own copy of it so you can start reading it immediately. It'll help you answer the questions of your little ones.

It'll help answer your own questions as well. So order your copy of Is God Real? by author Lee Strobel and we'll send it to you this month for your gift of any size. And we encourage you to be generous because whatever you send, we'll use that to continue to bring this radio broadcast to people that need to hear the Word of God. So get your copy right now of Is God Real?

by Lee Strobel. Yeah, we have a copy waiting for you, so get in touch right away. And thanks so much for your generosity. It's your prayers and your support that allow us to be here each day with these insights from God's Word. We're completely listener supported.

So let us thank you tangibly with this new book, Is God Real? You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or just go online to Harvest.org. Hey everybody, I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Sunday at Harvest.org and on our brand new app, Harvest Plus, which is available on your mobile TV devices. Download it now and you can watch Harvest at Home with Christians from around the world as we worship together and study God's Word.

So again, join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org or on Harvest Plus. Well next time, more from Pastor Greg's series in the Gospel of Mark called The Gospel for Busy People. We'll discuss what Pastor Greg calls the golden key to spiritual growth. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Craig Lauren. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at Harvest.org.
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