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Follow Me!

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 4, 2020 3:00 am

Follow Me!

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 4, 2020 3:00 am

Diving into the Gospel of Mark, Pastor Greg Laurie reveals how men of opposing beliefs and lifestyles ended up banded together under the same cause: the kingdom of God. "Follow Me!” from Mark 1 is the latest message in our series, The Gospel for Busy People.

Notes

Many do not really understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Read: Mark 1:16–20

Jesus now begins to put His team together.

They were quite ordinary, hopelessly human, and remarkably unremarkable.

Simon and Andrew had been disciples of John the Baptist.

James and John, the Sons of Thunder are also called.

Mark’s details indicate the testimony of an eyewitness, probably Peter.

All of these men were doing something when Jesus called them.

If you want to be used by God, get busy doing something for the Lord!

Do what you can where you can do it.

If you want to be used by God, be faithful with what is before you now. 

The disciples were seeing the power of Jesus over demons and sickness; soon they would see He even had power over death itself.

 We need to bring Jesus home.

Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost.

Read: Mark 2:1–5

We need to work together if we want to bring our friends to Jesus.

We are so much stronger together as a church.

One prays, another shares, God does the work.

Jesus immediately got to the heart of the problem . . . the man’s sin.

“‘I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.’ Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’”

“‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” —John 5:17–18

Read: Mark 2:13–15

Levi (or Matthew) collected taxes for Rome.

Matthew was a man who knew God’s Word and turned against it.

The faith that cannot be tested is the faith that cannot be trusted.

“As He walked along, He saw Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth.”

In Greek, the phrase Follow Me means, “to walk the same road.”

In other words, Jesus is saying, “I command you to follow Me each and every day.”

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh.” —Romans 13:14

Make Jesus part of every decision.

“So Levi got up and followed Him.” —Matthew 9:9

Matthew knew the cost of following Jesus and willingly paid it.

The Bible says, “Jesus was a friend of sinners.”

Jesus built bridges to nonbelievers instead of burning them.

Are you a follower of Jesus?

Scriptures Referenced

Luke 16:10

Mark 1:31

Mark 1:32–34

1 Corinthians 3:6–7

Mark 2:10–11

Mark 2:14

Mark 2:15

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

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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website, harvest.org.

So thanks for joining me for this podcast. The title of my message is Follow Me. Follow Me. Those are the words of Jesus to all people today. So I start with a question.

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Do you understand what that means? Now, we know the word follower. It's used in a lot of ways. One way it's used is in social media. For instance, if you're on Twitter, you have followers. If you're on Facebook, you have friends. Someone summed up the different social media platforms this way. If you're on Instagram, you're effectively saying, my life's a party.

If you're on Snapchat, you're saying, my life is a quirky TV show. If you're on Facebook, you're saying, my life is great. And if you're on Twitter, you're saying, we're all gonna die.

I mean, really. People are very negative on Twitter. A lot of critical, harsh tweets that people shoot at each other.

People like to attack one another on Twitter. And of course, then you have all of the people that follow you and maybe they retweet you. I checked this out because I was curious about who had the top accounts on Twitter. It seems to me the person with the most followers right now would be former President Barack Obama, followed by Justin Bieber.

Then comes Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and finally, President Trump. What an eclectic collection of people are dominating Twitter right now. Now, Jesus never did tweet, did he?

Though he could have. The Beatitudes, those would be great tweets, wouldn't they? Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the peacemakers, so they should be called the children of God. Perfect tweets.

No, Jesus did not tweet, but he did have his followers. And they were pretty eclectic, too. He had some fishermen, he had a tax collector, and he had a zealot. Now, we have to understand what these terms mean.

We understand a fisherman. But what is a tax collector and what is a zealot? A zealot is someone who is dedicated to the violent overthrow of Rome.

We might actually call them a terrorist today. A tax collector was someone who was colluding with Rome. Rome was the occupying power there in Israel at that particular time. So here we have a man, a Jewish man in particular, Matthew, that we'll talk about later, who was in collusion with Rome and how we have another man named Simon who was dedicated to the violent overthrow of Rome. It would be like having different parts of your family voting for different candidates.

That may be true of some of your homes. It would be like getting a supporter of President Trump wearing a MAGA hat and a supporter of former Vice President Biden and saying, you guys work together. We know right now there's a lot of conflict and division.

We just had a presidential debate. We're all aware of it. But listen to this. We are Christians, and we are members of a different kingdom, and it's more important than even politics. And Jesus said this, by this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another.

Listen to this. Christians should be marked by love, not by always being right. And when I say by being right, I mean sometimes in their own mind.

If you find yourself shouting at people, and I just was shouting when I said that all over my volume, if you find yourself always uptight and angry and using your social media accounts to blast this group or blast that person, something's wrong. Remember, you need to be glorifying God with whatever platform he has given to you. We need to be characterized and identified by our love for God and our love for others. Well, let's look at Mark chapter one, verse 16, as we continue in our series, The Gospel for Busy People. One day, as Jesus was walking along the shore of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, follow me and I'll show you how to fish for people. By the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation, the King James translates that verse as follows, follow me and I'll make you a fisher of men. Mark goes on to say, and they left their nets at once and followed him. A little further up the shore, Jesus saw Zebedee's son, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired man.

So here's point number one. Jesus is putting his team together. Do you want to be on Jesus' team? He was going to choose 12 men in total, and they would be the most ordinary of all men. They weren't saints in the traditional use of the word. Now, technically they were saints, because a saint means a true believer.

So anyone who has put their faith in Christ is technically a saint, but in modern usage, a saint is some extraordinary holy person. So they weren't saints in that way, nor were they scholars, nor were they sages. They were hopelessly human. They were remarkably unremarkable, but they were available to the master's call. Now, Simon and Andrew had been disciples of John the Baptist.

Remember, we talked about him last time. He came before Christ, preparing the way, and he said to them as Jesus walked by, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. So they transferred their allegiance from John over to Jesus, but they still didn't fully understand who Jesus was or what he had come to do. James and John are also mentioned, and they're given this special title, The Sons of Thunder. I sort of see James and John as two outlaw bikers, you know, coming up and being called by Jesus to be a part of the team. Again, what an eclectic group of people.

But here's a point I want to bring to your attention. Note that all of these men were doing something when Jesus called them. Andrew was throwing a net into the water, along with Simon. James and John were in a boat repairing their nets, and we see the same elsewhere in scripture. People were busy when God called them. As an example, David, who would become the king of Israel, was watching over his flock when he was summoned by the prophet. Moses was watching over a flock when the Lord spoke to him through a burning bush.

Elisha was plowing in a field when he was called by Elijah to carry on the prophetic ministry, bringing me to point number two. If you want to be used by God, get busy doing something for the Lord. Just get busy with what is in front of you. Mend those nets. Cast those nets. Tend those sheep.

Plow those fields. Teach that Sunday school class. Go on that mission trip.

Share one on one. Give that tithe. Just get out and do something. Do what you can, where you can. One way to find out what you're called to do is maybe by discovering what you're not called to do. So when someone comes to me and says, Greg, I want to be used by the Lord, I always suggest to them that they go volunteer at their church. Go to your pastor. Say, Pastor, I want to be used by God, and I'll do whatever needs to be done.

Now, hold on. You may not get the job you wanted. You might end up doing some janitorial work or setting some chairs up or doing something menial like that. But that's probably because the pastor is wanting to see if you'll be faithful in the little things. I remember when I was a brand new Christian, and I went to Pastor Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I was 17 years old, and I said, Chuck, I want to serve the Lord.

I'll do whatever you guys want me to do. And they gave me different tasks, starting with janitorial, sweeping leaves, cleaning toilets, and I did it all. And I remember one day they gave me a special mission to go on for God. They said, we need a new doorknob for the church office door. So I went down to the local hardware store. I've never been a mechanical guy. If you want anything fixed, never call me. If you want it broken, call me.

I'll help you with that. And I looked at all these doorknobs in different sizes. I literally prayed, God, help me find the right doorknob.

And I chose one and took it back, and it was the wrong size. So I failed in my mission, but it was little things. But I thought, well, maybe God wants me to be in a worship team. So I joined this worship group, and I was doing percussion. I was playing a conga drum or something like that.

And I remember standing up there in front of the people, and of course, I couldn't really keep the rhythm very well. And I discovered this is not what I'm called to do. Sometimes you find out what you are called to do by first finding out what you're not called to do.

But here's the key. Whatever you do it, the Bible says, do it with all of your heart as unto the Lord, and be faithful in the little things, bringing me to my next point. If you want to be used by God, be faithful in what is before you now. Jesus says in Luke 16, 10, unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.

So be faithful in those little things. As we make our way through Mark chapter 1, after this, Jesus goes into a synagogue, and he encounters a demon-possessed man. Jesus casts the demon out of the man, and the people are astonished. It's interesting, the phrase that Jesus used to the demon was, be quiet, or literally, be muzzled. By the way, that's the same phrase he used when he rebuked the storm.

Remember that story? He went up and said to the storm, be still. It's that same phrase, be muzzled, because he was saying to the devil, stop. The devil's sort of like a crazy dog ready to bite. Be muzzled. Stop.

Be still. So the disciples are beginning to discover the power that Jesus has. He has power over demons. And in time, they're going to see that he had power over sickness, and even power over death itself. But the most important thing that Jesus had power over was sin. He and he alone could forgive sin, because he would soon discover. So yes, he was God. But he was God walking in a human body of flesh and blood.

And he grew tired, and he was hungry, and experienced all of those things that we experience physically. So the next movement in the story is Jesus needed some food and some rest, so they take him home to the house of Simon Peter, bringing us to this next point, which is we need to bring Jesus home, because that's what they did. Bring him home. Don't leave Jesus at the church on Sunday morning. Take Jesus home with you. Hey, take Jesus to work with you. Take Jesus wherever you go.

And by that, I mean invite him to be a part of every aspect of your life. What a privilege for Peter to come home and say to his wife, I have a special guest, dear Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Well, as it turns out, Peter's mother-in-law was very ill. Apparently, she lived with Peter and his wife. As Peter was married, which is an important note, isn't it? She was very sick, and they told Jesus she needed to be touched, and so Jesus heals her in Mark 1-31, saying he took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. Well, news travels fast. All of the disciples shot out a quick tweet, and there were even some posts on Instagram.

Not really, but it sounds like it, because in moments, literally the whole city is there at the door. Mark 1-32, that evening after sunset, the people brought to Jesus. All the sick and demon-possessed, the whole town gathered at the door. That brings us now to Mark chapter 2, and Jesus is going to show the primary reason he came.

Not just to cast out demons, not just to heal the sick, not even to raise the dead. He was coming to forgive sins, and there's nothing more important than having your sin forgiven. As I say this, am I speaking to somebody right now who is not sure if their sin is forgiven? You're haunted by things you've done in your past.

It keeps you up at night. You've tried to self-medicate, as they say, with alcohol or drugs, and numb yourself to the pain of what you've done and the harm and the pain you've brought into other people's lives. I want you to know God can forgive your sin, and I'm going to tell you how in a few moments. Now let's go over to Mark chapter 2, verse 1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home.

Soon the house where he was staying was packed with visitors, and there was no more room even outside the door. While he was preaching the word, four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof right above his head, and they lowered the man on this mat right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, My child, your sins are forgiven, bringing me to my next point. We need to work together if we want to bring our friends to Jesus. Four guys, they want to get their friend to Jesus.

He needs a physical touch. They can't get in the house. It's packed, wall-to-wall people, so they lower him through the roof. Now this is kind of hard for us to understand in the 21st century, but in the 1st century, the roofs were flat. There would be an outside staircase leading to the roof. Sometimes people would sit up on the roof like a little patio garden of sorts. So they get up on the roof, and they start digging through it, digging through the straw.

And meanwhile, here's Jesus inside the house speaking to his audience, listening to his every word. All of a sudden, a little dirt clod falls to the ground. A couple more fall.

Some straw comes down. A shaft of light breaks through. Another shaft of light comes through. And suddenly, this man is on this mat with four guys with ropes, letting him down. He may be swinging back and forth a little bit, and he's put right in front of Jesus.

Maybe the guy laying there went, hey. And Jesus said, my child, your sins are forgiven you. But I love the fact that these guys work together. They cooperate. And if we want to see people come to Jesus, we need to work with fellow believers.

Because we need to join our efforts together, and we'll get a lot more done. We are much stronger together than we are alone. You remember that story in Acts chapter 12, when Peter was arrested for preaching the gospel. And we read in Acts 12, one constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. They prayed. There's power when we pray together. Jesus says, if any two of you will agree together, touching anything in prayer, it will be done of your Father in heaven.

The Bible also says, if two or more of you will gather together, Christ will be there in the midst. So we need to pray together. I already talked a little bit about my trip to Washington, D.C., watching 100,000 people pray.

It was so amazing. And I just thought, this could be a moment that we can mark in American history when God's people prayed and things started to change. Let's keep praying for our nation and praying together. My next point is, one prays, another shares, but God does the work. You know, when a person comes to Christ, it's a chain of events that connect together, resulting in a conversion. Maybe it's a seed sown in a heart during childhood.

Maybe that seed is watered a little bit later. Maybe they encounter a Christian they don't even know who says or does something that makes an impression on them. Then finally, someone takes the time to share the gospel. We're all part of a chain that God orchestrated to bring someone to the Lord. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3, verse 6, I planted, Apollos watered. Apollos was another preacher. But God gave the increase.

So neither he who plants is anything, nor he that waters. It's God that gives the increase. And notice that Jesus immediately got to the heart of this man's problem.

Because the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. This man needed his sin forgiven. It was even more important than being healed of his paralysis. K. Menninger, a famous psychologist, said if he could convince patients in his psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75% would walk out the next day.

Think of that. And Jesus can forgive sins. Now, they react properly. They say, wait, what do you mean your sins are forgiven you? And they ask the question, who can forgive sins but God alone?

And the answer is, no one. Some people would say, you know, Jesus never claimed to be God. His followers came up with that later.

That is not true. Jesus did claim to be God on multiple occasions, and this is one of them. If Jesus were not God, he would have said something along the lines of, that's a good point, I'm not God. But no, he forgave that man's sins. In fact, in Mark 2 10, he says, I'll prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. And Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, stand up, pick up your mat, and go home. That was a clear claim to deity. Jesus was God. We don't want to miss that very important point.

Now we shift gears to a final movement in our story. Go to Mark chapter 2 to verse 13. Then Jesus went out to the lake shore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax collector's booth. Jesus said to him, follow me and be my disciple.

And Levi got up and followed him. Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. Levi, also known as Matthew, I already mentioned him, collected taxes for Rome. Again, Rome was an occupying force.

They're forcing their will upon the people of Israel. So Levi or Matthew, for some reason, we don't know, decided to work for the enemy. He would be thought of as a traitor, like a Benedict Arnold, a turncoat, even a backslider.

How dare you work for these horrible people who are oppressing us and collect taxes for them? There was some good money in it, but I don't know if that's what motivated Matthew to work for Rome. But it's interesting that he seemed to have gone out of his way to offend his fellow Jews. And also, he would have been familiar with Jesus, because Jesus was doing his ministry right around that region, being a tax collector.

Matthew would sit at his table. He was aware of what was going on around him. And we also know that he was a great student of Scripture, because he began to piece things together. We know he was a great student of Scripture, because when we read his Gospel, it is filled with Old Testament prophecies. There's 99 Old Testament references in his Gospel, showing how Jesus was the Messiah. So this is a man who knew the Word of God, but had chosen to rebel against it.

But there was something that Jesus said and did in this moment when he said to Matthew, Follow me that softened this heart that had grown so hard. Why do people turn from God? Why do people turn from the church?

It's an interesting question. Maybe because a tragedy happened. I've heard people say, Well, this tragedy happened. I lost a loved one, or something horrible happened to me, and I've lost my faith. I don't have faith anymore. Well, you might be surprised to hear me say this, but maybe it's good you lost that faith.

Because a faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted, and that's not a real faith. But some people turn away from God because they say, Well, I saw hypocrisy. That person was not a good representative of Jesus Christ. Well, look, I know there are hypocrites in the church. I often say the church is filled with hypocrites, but there's always room for one more. I'm kidding, but seriously, we're all going to fall short.

We're all going to mess up. But here's what I want to say to you. That excuse, and that's all it is, an excuse, will not hold water on Judgment Day. When you stand before God Almighty, and he asked you what you did with this son, Jesus Christ, and you say, Well, I didn't accept him because they were hypocrites, you think that's going to help you? Jesus never said, Follow my people.

He said, Follow me. Put your eyes on Christ. That's exactly what Matthew did. Now, he watched Jesus. Clearly, he admired Jesus. He would love to have been one of the followers of Jesus, but he would never think of being so presumptuous and going up to Christ and saying, I don't know if you need a tax collector in your crew, but I would love to join because he would be sure that Jesus would say, Sorry, I'm not that desperate. Hit the road, Jack. Don't come back.

No more, no more. But no, he was shocked when Jesus came to him and called him. Look at verse 14 of Mark 2.

As Jesus walked along, he saw Levi's City. The word that is used here for saw is very suggestive. It means literally to gaze intently upon, to stare or to fix one's eyes constantly on an object. Have you ever had someone stare at you just staring, almost looking right through you? So here's Matthew sitting at his tax booth. Most people, when they walk by, would avert their gaze. They don't want to make eye contact with them or they would clairate him. And here comes Jesus from a distance. Jesus is looking at him. Jesus doesn't break eye contact with them. Jesus comes right up to him, looking at him, staring intently. And then he says those two words that reverberate to the soul of Matthew. And those words were follow me.

Wow. Jesus is calling me. Jesus wants a person like me, a traitor, a turncoat, a backslider, a failure.

Yes. And it's interesting because this phrase, follow me, can be translated walk the same road. It would be almost as though Jesus said, walk with me. Come with me. Don't just stand behind me and follow.

No, let's walk life's road together. And by the way, that word is in the imperative mode, meaning it's not just an invitation. It's also a command.

It's also in the present tense, meaning you started and you continue in it habitually. In other words, Jesus is saying, allow me to loosely paraphrase Matthew. I want you to follow me each and every day.

And guess what? He says the same to you and to me. Not just follow me once and then you're good. No, follow me each and every day. Paul the Apostle writes in the book of Romans 13, he says, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for your flesh.

The J.B. Phillips translation translates as follows. Let us be Christ's men from head to foot and give no chance for the flesh to have its fling. So the verbiage that Paul is using in put on the Lord Jesus is like putting on clothes. You know, like I like to wear jeans.

I don't know about you. Most of the time I'm wearing jeans and maybe a T-shirt or a comfortable shirt. I don't like to wear shirts that are stiff or too heavy. And the idea of clothing is clothing moves where you move. And so what the Bible is saying when it says put on the Lord Jesus Christ is make Christ a part of your life each and every day, wherever you go.

Put on Jesus. Also this phrase follow me could be translated follow with me. Follow with me, which speaks of companionship, relationship, and friendship. So it's not just follow me.

Just do it if you want to or not. No, follow with me. Let's enter into friendship.

Let's enter into relationship together. Yes, I want obedience from you, the Lord is saying, but I also want your companionship. Effectively Jesus is saying, Matthew, I don't want you to just be one of my disciples.

I want you to be one of my friends. And did you know Jesus offers that same invitation to you? We often view God as harsh and austere and angry.

Nothing can be further from the truth. God is loving. God is compassionate.

God is caring and he wants to enter into a friendship with you. You can bear your heart to him. You can tell your secrets to him. He will bear his heart to you. He will reveal his secrets also to you.

Jesus said in John 15, 15, No longer do I call you servants, for a servant doesn't know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, because whatever I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you. Yes, follow me. Follow with me. Start and finish. Don't just do it at the beginning of your life. Do it through your life right to the end. I love how the apostle Paul wrote, I finished my race with joy. Keep following Jesus each and every day.

And look what happened. Verse 9 of Mark 2. Levi, or Matthew, got up and followed him.

I'm in. He had thought about this for a while. He never thought he would be called by Jesus, but the moment Jesus said, Follow me, Matthew said, Yes, sir, I'm on board, let's go.

Where do you want to go? I love that. There's a little detail that is left out here in the gospel of Mark, and as a matter of fact, Matthew doesn't mention in his gospel either, but it's an important thing for us to know. Luke fills us in, and he tells us, Matthew left all, rose up, and followed him.

You have to understand, tax collector, that's a pretty sweet business. He was making good money, because a tax collector not only collected taxes for Rome, he also collected extra money for himself, so he was leaving an affluent, luxurious lifestyle, and all the friends that went with it, but he could have cared less. And I think it's interesting that in his own gospel, he doesn't mention what he gave up for Jesus, but it is mentioned to us by Luke. I think of all the disciples, Matthew materially, at least, gave up more. I mean, yes, Peter, James, and John gave up their nets and their fishing business, but hey, this guy gave up a lucrative career and gave up everything to follow Jesus. He may have lost a career, but he gained a destiny. He lost his material possessions, but he gained a spiritual fortune. He lost his temporary security, but he gained eternal life, and he also lost his emptiness and loneliness and found fulfillment and companionship. He gave up all that the world has to offer, and he found Jesus.

I love the final movement of this story in verse 15. Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. So he invited Jesus over to his home with all of his weird friends. He had some pretty unsavory people he hung out with, fellow tax collectors, birds of a feather flocked together, other people that were known for wickedness, and Jesus, seemingly with great comfort, walks right into this setting. Don't forget Jesus was called the friend of sinners. By the way, that wasn't a compliment.

That was a criticism, but I think it is a compliment. When a godly person can be someone that a non-believer is drawn to, Jesus didn't lower his standards to walk in this room. He was building a bridge instead of burning one, and he was accessible to them, and we see this in other passages of scripture as well. Look at Jesus in John 4 with the woman at the well, a woman who had been married and divorced five times and was living with some dude, and Jesus engages her in a conversation about the thirst deep in her soul. Look at Jesus with another tax collector named Zacchaeus, who was a little guy who scurried up a tree and saw Jesus passing through, and Jesus suddenly stops and looks up at Zacchaeus and says, come on down. I'm coming over to your house today, and what happened was Zacchaeus put his faith in Jesus and was transformed. Look at Jesus with the woman caught in the act of adultery, caught in the actual sin, and they throw her in front of Christ, and he looks at her and says, let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone.

The Bible says they left from the oldest to the youngest. Jesus looks at her and says, woman, and it's interesting. The phrase that is used there for woman means lady or ma'am, so it's not just girl. It's like ma'am, lady. Where are your accusers? I don't think she had been called lady or ma'am for her entire life, but he didn't just see her for what she was.

He saw her for what she would become. Ma'am, lady, where are your accusers? She says, I have none, Lord.

He says, neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more. That's Jesus entering into people's lives, not condemning them, but getting to the heart of their problem, which is their sin, which he alone can forgive. I love the fact that Matthew invited him over to his house right after he believed. I love the zeal of a new believer. New believers are the best at evangelism. Question, why is it that those who know the most do the least, and those that know the least do the most?

Let me explain. Those that know the least do the most. The brand new believer with a thimble full of theological knowledge is immediately out there sharing the gospel, trying to bring people to Christ because they're so close to what God has done in their life.

They realize that he forgave them. They want others to know, but then there are believers who've known the Lord for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years or longer who can't even remember the last time they engaged in a conversation about Jesus. Ah, the zeal, the excitement, the passion of the new believer.

It's sad when we lose that zeal, isn't it? Let me conclude by re-asking a question I started this message with, which is, are you a follower of Jesus? Now, you might have initially said, yes, I am, but now as you've discovered what it means to follow him, maybe you're rethinking it. Again, what does it mean? It means to follow him each and every day. It means to obey him. It means to complete what you've started.

Are you following him, or are you a fair weather follower or following from a distance? I want you to know no matter what your state is right now, God can forgive you and give you a second chance. Maybe I'm talking to somebody right now who's been hurt in life. A tragedy has befallen you, and you don't know why this has happened, and you're mad at God. Why did you do this to me?

Well, I can't answer that question, but I can tell you this. God loves you, and even your tragedy can in some way ultimately be worked together for good if you love him. Hey, if that thing will bring you to Christ, that is something that God has used. God has used to get your attention, but here's the reality. Sometimes we go out and make a lot of bad decisions, and then we get mad at God because of what happens.

Oh, you go out, and you're unfaithful to your wife, and your marriage falls apart. I'm mad at God. Why are you mad at God?

Be mad at you, man. You did it. God gave you a free will, but listen, even though you've messed up, he can turn your mess into a message.

He can turn things around. If you'll come to him and say, Lord, I failed, I'm sorry. Are you running from God like Matthew was?

If you will call out to him right now, he will forgive you. Just as surely as Jesus looked at Matthew and said, follow me, Jesus is saying the same to you right now wherever you are. He wants relationship with you. He wants friendship with you.

He wants to walk with you through life so you'll never be alone again, but he can't force his way into your life. Matthew had a choice. Jesus said, follow me. Matthew could have said, no way. I'm not going anywhere.

I have a pretty nice life here, making a lot of money. I don't want to follow you, and he could have done that, but he said, follow me, and Matthew bolted, bolted from the table. Okay, where are we going? Let's go.

Not a moment's hesitation. I hope that you will follow Jesus, and if you've not done that yet, I'd like to give you an opportunity to do so. Jesus had a goal, and he had a purpose. Jesus said, the Son of Man, speaking of himself, has come to seek and save that which was lost. In other words, Jesus came to this earth with the express purpose of going to the cross and dying for the sin of the world. Yes, he healed the sick. Yes, he cleansed the lepers. Yes, he raised the dead. Yes, he cast demons out of people, but his ultimate purpose was to die for our sin and then to rise again from the dead, and if we'll turn from our sin and put our faith in him, we can be forgiven. We can hear Jesus say, son, daughter, your sins are forgiven.

Can you imagine? That can happen for you right now. The Bible says that we will confess our sin. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. What does it mean to confess your sin? It just means to acknowledge you're responsible. It means to realize that you've done this and you need to get right with God.

It means to agree with God that sin is bad and destructive. Stop making excuses for it. Stop blaming people and other things.

Just take responsibility. Say, God, I'm a sinner, and I ask you to forgive me. If you would like to do that, I'd like to lead you in a prayer. So by the time this prayer is done, you can have the confidence that your sin is forgiven.

You can have the confidence that you are a child of God, and you can have the confidence that you will go to heaven when you die. If you don't know that, pray with me right now, and let's get this settled, and you'll be so glad you did as you begin to follow Jesus Christ. If you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want him to cleanse you of your sin, if you want to go to heaven when you die, I want you to pray this prayer after me. In fact, you could even pray it out loud if you like. Let's pray together. 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. I turn from that sin now, and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer, and answering this prayer. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast, and to learn more about Harvest Ministries, please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to harvest.org. And by the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God, go to knowgod.org. That's K-N-O-W-G-O-D.org. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-24 16:34:00 / 2024-02-24 16:49:11 / 15

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