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Sunday Message: The Best Choice

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 3, 2021 3:00 am

Sunday Message: The Best Choice

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 3, 2021 3:00 am

This is the time of year when we evaluate our lives in light of decisions we’ve made. And in this Sunday morning episode, Pastor Greg Laurie reminds us that each and every day we confront one all-important choice. Get perspective on your priorities as we glean from one woman’s extravagant gift to Jesus in a message titled, “The Best Choice.” 

It's the latest message in The Gospel for Busy People from Mark 14.

Notes

Wherever Jesus went, people would throng him.

The same people that made Jesus popular soon turned on Him.

Every time we read of Mary, she is at the feet of Jesus.

Mary chose what was better—and we all have that choice each and every day.

When you choose what is better, you make the best choice.

Mary understood that Jesus had come to die on the cross.

Read: Mark 14:1–9

Mary breaks open this box of very expensive perfume.

This was an act of complete devotion and abandon!

What is the most valuable physical possession you own? Would you be willing to give it to Jesus?

This was never about stuff; it was about his heart.

Can people tell you have been with Jesus?

What was it that brought this love and sacrifice from Mary? It was Jesus Himself!

Mary had a perception no one else seemed to have.

Not everyone appreciated Mary’s generosity and sacrifice.

“Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief.” —John 12:6

The ones who often complain the most are the ones who do the least.

Judas Iscariot did not care for the poor; all he cared about was himself.

Jesus commends Mary as an example to us.

Mary did what she could because she understood that Jesus would do what He did.

Mary did what she could . . . we must do what we can.

You can’t do everything, but you can do something.

One day, it will be our last day.

“The meaning of life is a life with meaning . . . in Christ.” —Jim

Scripture

Matthew 13:2

Luke 12:1

Acts 4:13

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Everybody Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Grigori podcast and my objective is to deliver hopefully compelling practical insights and 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.

Let's grab our Bibles and turn to Mark chapter 14 were back in our series in the Gospel of Mark, which were wrapping up. We only have a few more weeks to go in there going to start a special series on the book of Revelation with the title of my message for you right now is the best choice. Well, 20, 20 is finally in the rearview mirror and what a year it was a year of a pandemic.

A year of shutdowns a year of quarantine a year of protests and riots. A year of political upheaval 2020 seem to bring out the best and the worst in people.

Don't you think as the opening statement of the book, a tale of two cities says it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. That's 2020. In a nutshell. But let's not also forget the God work powerfully in 2020, as we already pointed out, we saw our greatest year ever in evangelism with professions of faith and people coming to Christ is like Romans 828 was played out in real time right before our eyes despite the pandemic in the quarantine and all the rest, God caused all things to work together for good to those of us who love him well as you come to the end of one year and now the beginning of another.

This is a good time to reflect look back you will think about some things we wish we would've done maybe we have regrets about things that we did do, but it's a good time to reflect. I'm reminded of a statement that Billy Graham made not long before he went to be with the Lord. He was asked the question if he had any regrets in life and a response.

Billy Graham said." I would study more, I would pray more, I would travel less and it would take less speaking engagements. I do too many of them in too many places around the world. Billy says that I had it to do all over again and spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I adore him and how much I'm looking forward to the time were going to spend together in eternity."

Billy is with the Lord now spending that time with them in eternity. But here before us in Mark chapter 14 is a story of a woman who did what Billy Graham wish he had done more of.

She spent a lot of time telling the Lord how much she loved and adored him and then she did something very special to Jesus and by the way she did something that was largely missed by the other disciples. But Jesus singles the story out in the Bible. He wants us to know this story in particular. And I find that fascinating because you read in Mark chapter 14 verse nine Jesus speaking he says assuredly, I say, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world with this woman is done will be told as a memorial to her while okay we better pay attention. What exactly did this woman do before I tell you what that is. Let's pick up where we last left off in the gospel of Mark, Jesus is headed to the cross is plainly declared that to his disciples that a place called Caesarea Philippi, he told them he was going to be betrayed he was going to be crucified, and he would rise again on the third day in this king is bad news to his voice because his popularity was at its total peak in the name of Jesus was on everyone's lips. He was trending on social media will he would've been that this happened today Mark Matthew chapter 12 verse 12 said large crowds gathered to him. He got into a boat and the whole crowd was standing on the beach and in Luke 12 one says thousands of people and Gathered together and they were stepping on one another so everybody wanted to get close to Jesus. And so he was very popular but ironically the same people that were expressing their interest in him would soon turn against him when he made his way to the cross.

Even his own handpicked disciples did not fully understand what he was about to do. He had come to die on the cross we celebrated Christmas recently and reminded you that the incarnation was so there would be the atonement, the birth of Jesus was so there would be the death of Jesus. This was always the plan from the very beginning.

And even though he spoke about it in great detail. This disciples listed with one exception, and it wasn't John known for his spiritual perception, it wasn't Peter James Matthew or Andrew affect this person that caught it. This person that seemed to understand what none of the others understood was not one of the disciples, it wasn't John normally known for spiritual perception, it wasn't Peter normally known for his outspokenness it was and then drew it was a Matthew. It wasn't one of the apostles. It wasn't a man. It was a woman and she was not one of the apostles, but she understood what Jesus had come to do in her name was Mary. Now there's a lot of Mary's in the Bible so sometimes we get confused. First of all there's Mary the mother of Jesus.

Then there's Mary Magdalene and then there is Mary and Martha. Okay so this is Mary of Mary and Martha think it's worth noting that every time we read of Mary.

She is sitting at the feet of Jesus. Maybe that's why she had this great insight. We remember one occasion when Jesus came over to her home where she lived with her sister Martha and her brother Lazarus and of Martha went into the kitchen to make a great feast for Jesus and Mary was just sitting at his feet and this frustrated Martha because it's a lot of work to prepare a meal and she comes out demanding that Mary join her in the kitchen and Jesus made an amazing statement to Martha he said Martha Martha you're worried and upset about many things but one thing is needed.

Mary has chosen what is better and want not be taken from her think about that Mary chose what is better, we have that same choice in this coming year.

Doug will love this choice given to us. Thousands and thousands of times to do the right thing to not do the wrong thing we can be like a manic Martha is flitting here and there going about our business or we can be like Mary and take the time to sit at his feet and hear what he has. To say and when you choose what is better, as Jesus said Mary did your making the best choice and that's where she discovered this essential truth, Mary realized Jesus was coming to die on the cross. I know it seems obvious to us now, but no one else got this. She knew he was coming to die on the cross and she also understood that's where he was now headed as she thought I'd got to do something profound. I have to do something significant that will show my thankfulness to him. I love for him. My devotion to him so she brings this great gift and Jesus said this will now be a memorial to her wherever the gospel is preached to others, a lot of controversy among some about monuments in America today what statues should be up what statues should be taken down. Will this is a monument that should never be removed to give the heart behind that give to Jesus in this special moment, so what exactly did Mary do what was this profound tip that so move Jesus. He wanted to memorialize it. Let's read about it now Mark chapter 14 starting the verse one, another Passover in the festival of unleavened bread were only two days away and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him, but not during the festival. They said for the people they riot while he was in Bethany a reclining at the table in the home of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those who were present said oh, this is worth more than a year's wages. Why this waste of perfume.

This could have been sold and the money could have been given to the poor, and he rebuked her parsley look of the response of Jesus. He said leave her alone.

Why are you bothering her. The poor you always have with you. You can help them any time you want but you don't always have me with you. She did what she could. She poured perfume in my body beforehand in preparation for my burial in ICD wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world what she has done will be told in memory of her not to stop and think about this. This is a meal.

This is a dinner and what a collection of people.

We've got the Lord himself there but you know who else was there.

Lazarus. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, who had just been raised from the dead that I would've wanted as Lazarus.

If you question so what would happen. What was a like to die and go to the other side and what did you see their incredible so they're all gathered around probably talking the Lazarus a lot of questions for Jesus.

He had just delivered what we called the all of the discourse recorded in Matthew 24 and basically that's where Jesus talked about the end times and they probably had more questions about the wooded you mean when you said the abomination of desolation to explain this.

Aldo was so this was quite the night that they were having together but everything was sort of coming to a head in the life and ministry of Jesus, and now Mary, watching all of this is so move. She knows what Jesus is about to do so. She does this, verse three, a woman came with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume and broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head, though this probably was a family heirloom as it's been pointed out, it was worth a year's wages so it was worth thousands and thousands of dollars under normal circumstances. Just a few drops of from a bottle like this would be sufficient. She pours a whole bottle on him and then wipes his feet with her hair the whole room would've been filled with this fragrance know I would've been there I would've smelled a thing. The reason for that is, as you know I got COBIT 19 and my strength came back rather quickly and everything is good, but I've lost my sense of taste and smell. I still don't have it to this day I hope we get back in this coming year, but I would've smelled a thing.

But Judas is very critical maybe has little calculator out. He knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. He calculated and said this is a waste and it it did seem like a waste, but it actually wasn't a waste of all you can be various prices for perfume today I read that one of the most expensive perfume that you can buy is called Clive Christian number one Imperial Majesty mow my that's a very impressive title is meant it's a combination of mandarin orange, Indian jasmine, white peach, lemon and more. And it cost you $200,000 a bottle all the way they deliver it in a Bentley.

So that's a lot of money spent on perfume, but it even gets crazier the most expensive perfume you can buy today is called here you go, sucker. I made that up.

It's actually called Sean who I don't even know if I'm from out pronouncing that right and frankly I don't even care. But this comes in a crystal bottle are covered in diamonds, pearls and gold. How much is it because are you ready for this $1,295,000. Then again you can go over to Amazon and order some GGE's for around $22 high karate for $56 or old spice for about $13 and there's proof, don't forget that.

But in of the idea here is, is not how much this cost. It's how much it cost her the cost her a lot. She was giving the most precious thing she owned the Jesus. What is the most precious thing that you all. What is more valuable to you than anything else.

Now question. Would you be willing to give that to Jesus. That's what this is all about. We remember the story of the young man we call the rich young ruler came to Jesus and his supercold tricked out chariot lowered drinking a latte. Probably not, but he comes up to Jesus and he says good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life. Jesus reminds him some of the commandments in this rich young you own eyes, says well all these. I've kept from my youth up and Jesus probably laughed out loud. The Bible doesn't say, but no one skip the commandments from his youth up and here's what I find fascinating. After this brash and arrogant young man said he had kept the commandments we read this statement Jesus looked at the man and fed genuine love for him. And then Jesus made this statement. There's one thing you haven't done: sell your possessions and give the money to the poor meal of treasure in heaven.

Then come and follow me listen to that and then the man's face spell anyone anyway said because he had great wealth understand this was never about the man stop.

Jesus didn't want to stop. Jesus saw that in the heart of this young man, those things were more important to him than anything else including God.

He says you there's one thing you need to do. See that young ruler miss the one thing and he walked away said he wasn't willing to let it go, but Mary she got that one thing one thing is essential. Jesus said of Mary, and she has chosen it will. Judas did not get it. And so he criticized Judas is typical of so many people today like dutiful Pharisees. They want to give the bare minimum to God still lamely ask questions like, can you do this and still technically go to a head up to heaven until I get away with this and still call myself a Christian those of the wrong questions will will give our leftovers to God.

If you will will pray briefly if we think of it will read the Bible.

If we can make time in our busy schedules for it and and then what's even worse is we will criticize others that are more committed to the Lord and we are. Maybe that's one of the reasons why the early church change their world. Maybe that's why the early church turned their world upside down because they had a sense of abandoned God would tell Philip go to the desert any way, in obedience to the Lord God will tell Peter Godwin told Peter reach out to take a memo they had in Poland was feeding he would do it. They took risks that they left their comfort zone. Why because the Scripture says they had been with Jesus.

Ask for 13 says the members of the Council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John because they were ordinary men, they had no special training but they recognize them as men who had been with Jesus. Can someone tell you been with Jesus. Can they see it reflected in your life. Does the fragrance of your life filled the room as it did with Mary and her give to the Lord. It's a wonderful thing when people see that and ask us why we are the way that we are. They want to know more about us and then we can share the gospel. Now again I want to emphasize Mary did not have the same privileges as a disciple.

They spent pretty much every waking hour in the presence of Jesus. For some three years she was with him sporadically, but she was going to take advantage of this opportunity. She's going to listen to him. She's gonna learn from him and she's going to bring a great gift to him because she could see the lines. Ed seen this space and read or write the problems reflected in his eyes, and she understood he had said what he meant and he meant what he said he was going to die on the cross and that broke her heart so she was going to bring her tribute to Jesus. Now she would not wait until he was gone and I want to remind you right now, there might be someone that you know and love and I want to ask you once last time you told him you love the will all see something nice at their funeral service will they will be around to hear that. Will they, so bring your flowers now. If there's someone you love and appreciate. Tell them now. If you have regrets about something you did this year deal with that now and make the appropriate changes there someone you need to forgive. Do it now and why should you forgive someone you say will be no deserve my forgiveness, my responses do you deserve to be forgiven by God answer is no. So the Bible says forgive as God in Christ is forgiven.

You see, forgiving a person is in letting them off the hook.

It's a way for you to get free of your bitterness is the one that's been hurt more by your lack of forgiveness is not the person that hurts you. It's you, as I've said so many times when you forgive a person you set a prisoner free yourself and so this woman said I'm going to do it now listen we have a new year with new opportunities before us. Let's seize the moment carpe diem is the expression now is the time to share the gospel with the person now is the time to make that change in your life that there is as read the beginning of a new year. That's exactly what Mary did. But of course Judas thought it was a waste and he criticized her for it. But then John gives us an interesting little detail about Judas. He said Judas did not say this because he cared about the poor.

He said this because he was a thief. Basically, Judas was hanging on the money for the disciples and he was pocketing it and so this had nothing to do with this concern for the poor and that reminds me of a very important point about critical people sometimes the people that complain the most. Actually do the very least, and sometimes the people were aiming accusations and you are revealing something about themselves that thing they're accusing you of is actually what they are personally guilty of after all, it was Judas who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. So careful if you're always harping on a certain sin over and over again. You may be telling us more about yourself than you want to reveal and so things are not always as they seem from the outside. Judas look thrifty and careful and spiritual but in the woman looked frivolous and wasteful and silly, but the very opposite was true.

Judas was evil and greedy and wicked and she was thoughtful and godly and committed. So things are not always as they appear.

You know we always think Judas would have been the easiest guide to identify in all the other disciples were white robes, and he wore a black robe, a black leather over the color turned upright. No course not. If I Judas was such a good actor such an effective speaker that when Jesus said one of you is going to betray me. No one suspected Judas.

You would've thought that some of what is said I bet it's Matthew used to work for Rome it said Ms. and it no they citizen me. No one thought you this. If he was as obvious as people thought he might've been they would've all pointed in unison. It's it it's Judas visited the guy who wears a black robe know. No one suspected Judas because he was such a good actor but he was a liar and it's interesting because Judas accused her of being wasteful yet Jesus would say of Judas. She was the son of waste.

Jesus called Judas, the son of perdition, which means the son of waste. He was the very thing he accused her of being. Now Jesus commends her as an example to us a good verse eight she has done what she could.

She is combo hope for him and to anoint my body for burial. She did what she could because she understood that he would do what he did in the same way. The more we discover about what Jesus has done for us will cause us to want to do more for him. The Bible says we love him because he first loved us. She saw this love that was driving him. She saw this concern for her and the others in all of humanity. And so she wanted to do something for him to show her love and I think sometimes will look at people who offer something to the Lord and some might criticize him for it.

For instance, a young person may give of a promising career to go into the ministry and some people like to, this'll say what a waste. You could have gone out and had a great career made a lot of money. That's oasis is no wasted all I'm reminded of young lady I just met.

Her name is Tiffany and she works with the World Health Organization and the United Nations over in Yemen and there reaching out to the poor people that are living there and die and so Tiffany has been able to show God's love to these people and be a great witness. In fact, she watches Harvest at Home. That's were she gets her her teaching being so far away from the United States and some it's over, that's a waste of a life. That's a waste of a life as far as I'm concerned, that's an investment of a life you might give up certain pleasures and activities that other people are engaged in Babel is a man what a waste if you miss a big party. Are you sure the benefits and what you went to church again. Seriously, what a waste really slid since run the clock out and come to the end of our life He held up laid out for you and all that played out or me.

I just read a very interesting study that was done that showed people who go to church on a regular basis and that basis and have faith in God, live longer, healthier lives. So there's even a practical aspect to it all know if I've given up any pleasure that's no sacrifice compared to what God is given up for me. It said that Moses chose to give up the pleasures of Egypt and the pleasures of sin for a season to pursue God's will for his life and whatever you give up will be more than made up to you as a follower of Jesus Christ. Or maybe you will avoid the temptation to go astray. You're faithful to your wife for a lifetime. He was all men come on, you missed out you could've had an affair here and there only a let's just look at the wreckage of divorce and the impact it has on you and on your children and even on your grandchildren and we'll see who made the right choice. It's not a waste. Nothing is a waste of its done for the glory of God.

That's with this woman did she keep her very best. It was a very opposite of a waste, or you may decide to simply look for yourself and do whatever you want to do with your life and one day God will say what a waste. What you care about them OCP neither people or the opinion of God Almighty give your most precious things of the Lord. My son Jonathan was in Peru a while ago with his wife Britney. We worked on some projects with compassion international a great organization impacting people around the world, but especially children helping the lift people out of poverty and the share the gospel with these folks and so Jonathan went to a village in Peru. He took a backpack full of toys and other things in and they were hanging out with this little family and there's a little boy named Anthony, and Jonathan was playing soccer with the little guy. There was just graded as Jonathan was leaving getting ready to get into his cab little Anthony Randy Hammon and hugged him and then presented Jonathan with a little gift. It was like this little piggy bank of a little dog and obviously this is a very precious object to this little boy. He had very little and he gave his very best to Jonathan and I just thought that's a perfect picture of what were talking about here giving are very best to God. He deserves nothing less.

So let's all ask ourselves what the most precious thing to us. Little Anthony got that little piggy bank and gave it to my son. What is the most precious thing you can give did Jesus let me give you an idea of what it might be. Yes, that your resources yes it's your time, but overall it's your life. Present your future to the Lord, I'm speaking to someone right now is very young in their thinking about their future. Can I tell you the best thing you can do with your future is choose to follow Jesus Christ. That is the best choice. The best choices I made in my life. Number one I gave my life to Jesus Christ at the age of 17 and number two I married a young girl named Kathy and we've been married now for 47 years. Those are choices I've never regretted. You will never regret choosing to follow Jesus Christ ensures why choices matter, you make your choices then your choices make you so make that choice now and then choose to dedicate your life to the Lord. I pretty much dedicated all of my life to Jesus. I was around 50 years ago and I didn't have a lot to offer Christ at the age of 17 I was a confused kid I got into drugs and made some bad decisions and I sit here I am Jesus, and actually said to God of your real, make yourself real to me and he did and he does whatever good has come out of my life. My ministry is been God seeking very little and multiplying that sort of like a little boy with the loaves and fishes that came to Jesus and Jesus took that loaf or that little bit of bread and those fishes and he distributed it insert like a guy came with. Here's my little crackers in my sardines of Jesus as I can work with that and he touched so many lives and you need to come I need to come we all need to come and offer our life to the Lord, especially as this new year is upon us and you will never regret that decision because one day will be her last day a couple of days ago I made a phone call amending Jim who was in the hospital. Jim tragically is dying of cancer. But as we talked. He told me he came to Christ, hearing me preach in 2011 and then he made the statement, Greg.

I'm not afraid I'm ready to see the Lord. I was so moved by that and then Jim made this statement to me. He said the meaning of life is a life with meaning in Christ of the men you are so right.

Yet such clarity. Only a Christian can look death in the face and say I am not afraid that I reminded Jim of the statement of the apostle Paul when he said to live is Christ and the die is gain. It doesn't mean that the Christian is a death wish. What it means is that we don't have to be afraid to die anymore because Jesus died on the cross for our sin and rose again from the dead. This gives us hope for the afterlife and ask you right now. Do you have this hope for the afterlife. Could you look death score in the face of like Jim say I'm not afraid to die. You can see that if you put your faith in Jesus. For that you haven't. I can't think of anything more terrifying than death, but death is coming to all of us, as it has been said, the statistics on death are quite impressive. One out of every one persons will die only those who are prepared to die are really ready to live. Are you prepared to die.

Are you ready to meet the Lord listen if you want to go to heaven if you want to know that your sin is forgiven. You can ask Christ to come in your life and everything can change for you. So no moment I'm gonna pray a prayer, and ask any of you that are watching right now were not sure of Jesus is living in your life. You're not certain that your sin is forgiven. You don't have the confidence that you go to heaven when you die, I want you to pray this prayer with me. You could print out loud if you like you can pray silently but you pray this prayer and mean it and God will hear you. So if you want Christ to come of your life. Pray this prayer right now is 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 ask you to come into my life right now and forgive me of all of my sin. I want to see you in heaven. One day, thank you for hearing this prayer in answering this prayer in Jesus name I pray, amen. Everybody Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast and the 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 know God.org that's key NOW GLD.org


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