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Hope for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones: Hope that Comes from God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 28, 2021 3:00 am

Hope for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones: Hope that Comes from God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 28, 2021 3:00 am

The old pop song by Bill Withers called “Lean on Me” talked about the value of leaning on a friend when we’re weak. Today, we’ll see that’s God’s message to us. When our lives have been shredded by circumstances beyond our control – or even circumstances brought on by our own mistakes – God is our refuge. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out, after his son suddenly went to heaven, God’s compassion was reconfirmed – and he shares that reassurance today.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

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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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The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. To find out how to know God personally, go to knowgod.org. K-N-O-W, knowgod.org. Hey, would you do me a favor? Share this message with someone who needs to hear it.

It's been said that men can live 40 days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air, and about one second without hope. So what is my hope in? My hope is in God. Coming up today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out when we place our hope in our God, His hopes for us begin to take shape. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord.

They're thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Oh, can you hear when the angels are singing? This is the day, the day when life begins. The old pop song by Bill Withers, called Lean On Me, talked about the value of leaning on a friend when we're weak. Today we'll see that's God's message to us. When our lives have been shredded by circumstances beyond our control, or even circumstances brought on by our own mistakes, God is our refuge. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out after his son suddenly went to heaven, God's compassion was reconfirmed.

And he shares that reassurance today. This is the day, the day when life begins. Understand what I am going to be sharing with you is not from an ivory tower of theory. This is from the valley of the shadow of death where I have personally found the hope promised to us in Scripture. That is where we are going to find the hope that we need. We are going to find it in God's Word. Listen to Psalm 119 verse 114.

You are my refuge and my shield. Your Word is my only source of hope. Romans 15 4 says, Such things were written in the Scripture long ago to teach us, and they give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises.

It has been said that men can live forty days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air, and about one second without hope. We all need hope in life to get through. But what does it mean to have hope? Is it just hope and hope? Oh I just know things will get better. Well wait. You don't know it because things could actually get worse.

Right? So what is my hope in? My hope is in God.

I have to look to Him. And here is what God says to us in one of my favorite verses. Jeremiah 29 11. The Lord says, I know the thoughts and I think toward you, says the Lord. Thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a what?

A hope. That is what God is saying to us. Now contextually that statement was given to the Israelites when they were in Babylonian captivity. Because of their penchant for idolatry the Lord banished them to the land of idolatry, Babylon, for seventy long years. They were no longer worshipping. They said they hung their harps on the willow tree. Which means that they sort of put the guitar away in the closet and unplugged the amps and there were no praise services happening.

Because they felt like God had forgotten about them and God had abandoned them. So with that backdrop the Lord says, hey everyone listen. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord. They are thoughts of peace. Not of evil to give you a future and a hope. God was saying to Israel, listen to me. Your days are not over.

I have a future for you. And God is saying the same to us. I love how the Lord says, I know the thoughts that I think toward you. It would have been enough if God would have said, I know the single thought I once had toward you for a fleeting moment. Wouldn't you be happy to know that God Almighty the Creator of the universe had a single thought about you?

I would. But that is not what the Lord says. He says, I know the thoughts, plural more than one, that I think, not just past tense but present tense, toward you. Thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future. So the thoughts of God are from what He has thought, what He is thinking, and what He still will think. They are good thoughts the Bible says in Psalm 45.

Many are your wonderful works which you have done and your thoughts toward us cannot be counted. And what does He mean when He says a future? It is going to be translated an expected end. Or another translation would say a ground of hope or things hoped for. In other words there will be an outcome. There will be completion in your life.

God will tie up the loose ends because as a Christian I am a work in progress. You know when a loved one leaves this world, especially when it is unexpected, it tears us up inside. Even when it is expected it is very hard to deal with. There is a deep sense of loss because there was a deep love. You know sometimes people will say, Well you shouldn't be crying. You shouldn't be mourning.

They are in heaven if they are a believer. But even the great apostle Paul talked about the deep sorrow he was feeling if a friend of his would die. In Philippians 2.25 he says, I thought I would send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, a faithful worker, a courageous soldier. He was your messenger to help me in my need. Now I am sending him home again for he has been longing to see you. And he was very distressed that you found out he was ill and he surely was ill. In fact he almost died but God had mercy on him.

Listen to this. Paul says, But also on me so I would not have such unbearable sorrow. This is Paul who has been to heaven and has come back again. This is Paul who had more faith than anyone you can imagine.

And yet Paul himself is saying, If Epaphroditus had died I don't know if I could have borne it. You see. And that is how it can be. You wonder, Can I bear this? Can I get through this? When you lose someone you think, Can I survive this?

And people will say, You know what? Don't cry. Get over it. But I want to say something to you that knows someone that is mourning. The Bible says there is a time to weep and there is a time to mourn. And don't ever tell a person who has lost someone to get over it or to stop crying.

Who are you to say such a thing? Be patient with people who are mourning. But now let me say a word to you who are mourning the loss of someone. You need perspective. You need perspective. Psalm 42 the psalmist writes, Day and night I have only had tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, Where is this God of yours?

My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be. I walked among crowds of worshipers leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks. It was the sound of a great celebration. But then he corrects himself. And he says, Why am I discouraged?

Why am I so sad? I will put my hope in God and will praise Him again my Savior and my God. I know what the psalmist means when he says, I have only had tears for food. When you have a breakfast, lunch, and dinner of tears. And you lose your appetite. And you cry constantly. You know my wife said she had only seen me cry maybe two or three times in our life together. And after the Lord took Christopher I cried every day for hours.

And in deep crying. And so I understand what he is talking about here. But there would be times where I would sort of go into like a black hole. Here is what happens. You are just going about your life and something triggers a memory. And so many things can do it.

It is ridiculous. And you remember this time you were together. And then your first instinct is to call them or talk to them and you realize they are gone. And then you say, they are gone. They are gone. I will never see them on this earth again. And then you say, I will never see them again.

And why did this happen to me? And all these things go through your mind. I am just being honest with you.

You think preachers don't think these things. I am still just a guy. Ok. All these thoughts go through my mind. So here is what I do. I say, Greg you listen to me now. I start preaching to myself. Someone watching would think I am a lunatic. And maybe I am. But I am a hopeful lunatic.

I will say, Greg you listen to me. The Bible says you will see your son again. And he is in heaven. And the Bible says that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. And he that believes in him will not die.

And Greg. And I will remind myself of the promises of God. I will quote them out loud to myself. And you know what. It just sort of lifts me up from this pit I found myself in. And we need to do this.

That is what the psalmist is doing. Hey man. All I do is cry day and night.

Why does this happen to me? I remember the good old days. And then he says, hey hope thou in God. What are you doing?

And he corrects his thinking. Grief is a lot like wiping out on a wave. How many of you surf? Raise your hand up. We don't have a lot of surfers here at Harvest. Ok. Let me restate the question. How many of you have ever been out in the ocean and you got caught in a set of waves and got pounded in white water?

Raise your hand. There we are. See that is more like me. I would like to say yes I am a great surfer but I am more like the guy floundering in white water. I went out surfing with Raul Reese a while back and Raul tells everyone how much he surfs. And as I recall we didn't do a lot of wave catching.

We did more floundering in white water the two of us together. But it sounds good when we say we are surfers right. But anyway what you want to avoid is getting caught in this impact zone. So when you are out surfing or body surfing or boogie boarding or whatever you are doing you see a set of waves coming in. You have to do the very thing you don't want to do which is go toward the wave right. You want to run to the shore but you don't want to do that. So you go toward the wave. You swim. Try to go under the wave or over the top of the wave but you are paddling out and the wave picks you up and the worst way to go is backwards which I have done. And then you get so discombobulated you don't know which way is up and more than one person is drowned because they went the wrong direction. They went down when they should have gone up. They take water into their lungs.

They go unconscious. So here is what you need to remember. If you are out surfing and you have your surf board or your boogie board and you have a leash on attached to your ankle grab your leash and pull on it and go in the direction of the leash. Why?

Because it is attached to your board and your board is buoyant and will be on the surface so even if it goes against the logic in the moment follow your leash to the top. Right. Well that is very helpful. I just wanted to give you that little tip. Anyway so let's go.

No. It is a good tip though. Here is the analogy. The Word of God is like that leash that we pull on and it takes us to the surface where we can get proper perspective on what is really happening because our emotions like white water will get the best of us and we will be overwhelmed but we hope in God and we believe the Word of God and it corrects us. And then we might get caught in another wave and then another.

But we keep hoping again and again and again. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We love to hear stories of how lives have been changed through Pastor Greg's radio teaching from God's Word. Pastor Greg has been instrumental in my walk with the Lord. I came to Christ 11 years ago after having been an addict for 17 years. I just started hearing him on the radio.

My mom used to leave it on that station so that maybe I would hear something. Well what I heard back then is still helping me today along with all the things I have heard in between in every way, in every part of my life. He has helped me and I am so grateful. Thank you Pastor Greg.

God bless you. We are so glad to hear that this program is changing lives. And if you have a story to tell, I hope you will contact us today. Tell us your story by calling 866-871-1144.

That's 866-871-1144. Well today Pastor Greg is presenting his most requested message of the past year called Hope for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones. Get a copy of it at harvest.org. Well let's look now at our text John chapter 11. This is a story of people who had lost hope. It is a story of the death of a loved one, a man named Lazarus, and how his sisters Mary and Martha reacted. It is also a story of how Jesus reacts to such circumstances and how God can be glorified in such situations.

But it is a hopeful message. We see how the Lord deals with these people and how He deals with us. Before we read these verses let's just point out that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were a tight knit family. They were three siblings that loved each other. And they had a great home.

Everyone knew Martha was a killer chef. And Jesus loved to come visit. Showing up with a bunch of His friends. Hey we are here. I brought 12 friends.

Is that ok? And Martha who was so hospitable would always make up a fantastic meal for the Lord. These guys Mary, Martha, and Lazarus could legitimately say that Jesus of Nazareth was their personal friend because He frequented their home which was within striking distance from Jerusalem there in Bethany.

So now tragedy comes even to their home. And Lazarus is very very ill. That is where the story starts. John 11 verse 1. Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany. The town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sister sent to him saying, Lord behold he whom you love is sick. So what do we learn from this story?

Number one. Life is filled with pain, sorrow, and the death of loved ones. Again life is filled with pain, sorrow, and the death of loved ones.

I don't know why but some of us may think we are going to get a pass. We are going to somehow make it through life unscathed. Never having a major tragedy. Never having any kind of illness.

Never losing a loved one. It is just all going to be great. But then when it comes our way we are shocked. Don't be shocked. Peter said in 1 Peter 4.12, Beloved do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing were happening to you.

Don't be surprised. Like why is this happening? What do you mean why is it happening?

It happens to everyone. Jesus said, in this world you will have tribulation. So it is going to come your way. It is going to knock at your door. It will probably start with your grandparents dying. And then your parents. And eventually it could be your spouse. It might be a child. It could be a close friend that will remind you of your mortality.

But when it is someone close to you like a spouse or a child or a brother as it was for Mary and Martha it is a whole different thing. So that is number one. Life is filled with pain, sorrow, and the death of loved ones.

Number two. God loves us. God loves us. Don't rush over that and don't misunderstand it. Let it sink in. God loves you. Listen to this. Whatever He does or allows to happen in your life as His child is motivated by His everlasting love for you.

Let me repeat that. Whatever He does or allows to happen in your life as His child is motivated by His everlasting love for you. God says in His Word, I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you. He loves you and He loved them. I want you to notice what they said in verse 3.

Lord the one whom you love is sick. They knew Jesus loved them. And by the way this word that is used here for the one you love is from the Greek word phileo. And phileo means brother love. Now that is where Philadelphia got their name. The city of brotherly love.

Phileo. Lord your friend that you love like a brother is sick. That was the word that they sent to Jesus. You know and that is the perfect thing to do when crisis hits. When you are in trouble bring it to Jesus. When the Israelites were criticizing and turning against Moses we read in Exodus 15.25, He cried unto the Lord. When you are criticized unfairly take it to the Lord. When Hezekiah received a threatening letter we read that he spread it out before the Lord.

Have you ever received a letter threatening you? When John the Baptist was beheaded the disciples went and told Jesus. Matthew 14.12 says. So that is what we need to do when trouble comes. We need to go and tell Jesus.

Now I want you to notice the basis for their appeal. They didn't say, Hey Lord you owe us man. We fed you all the time and you and your friends crashed at our house.

How about showing a little love here and healing your body. They didn't say anything like that. Hey Mary could have said, Who was there at your feet anointing them?

That was me right? Martha could have said, Hey who makes your favorite meatloaf? They didn't do any of that. They just said, Lord the one that you love is sick. Verse 3. They didn't even say, Lord we love you so much so do this for us. They did a baser appeal on their love for God but rather on His love for them.

That is just what we should do because guess what? My love. Your love. It is fickle.

It fluctuates. God's love for me is consistent and never changing. Lord the one that you love is sick and the time to act is now. And Jesus would act in His time and in His way. Look at verse 4 and 5. When Jesus heard that He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Therefore when He heard that He was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. What? He did what? It seems like we would have read that when Jesus heard this because He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He found the fastest horse and ran full speed to get to His sick friend.

Or we could read that Jesus just appeared there. Boom. Hello everyone. What is up?

How can I help? No. Because He loved them He delayed His arrival.

Interesting though. A different word is used here for love. Mary and Martha say the one you love.

Phileo. Brother love is sick. The word that is used here is the Greek word agape which speaks of God's all-consuming love. And Jesus because He loved Him in this way did not come when they wanted Him to come. Remember His delays are not necessarily His denials. Just as surely as God has His will He has His timing.

Ecclesiastes 3.11 says, God has made everything beautiful in His time. So here is what is really happening. Jesus is trying to help Mary and Martha to get the big picture. Guys I know it seems like I should come there right now but what I'm going to do is better than what you're asking me to do.

I'm going to go above and beyond your request. Pastor Greg Laurie with reassuring insights on the hope we can find in the Lord. And there's much more to come as Pastor Greg completes this study here on A New Beginning. If you'd like a CD of the full presentation though get in touch and mention the title of the study Hope for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones. It's our most requested message of the past year. Order online at harvest.org or call 1-800-821-3300.

We can take your call anytime 24-7 that's 1-800-821-3300. You know Pastor Greg a year ago when 2020 started we were all thinking oh brand new year rainbows and butterflies. And then it just seemed to turn to mushroom clouds and murder hornets. You know the year just disintegrated. Well as we start 2021 we do have hopes and dreams. In spite of last year's tumult we saw more than 140,000 people make professions of faith through this ministry. So we have even bigger plans for 2021.

Why don't you explain some of that to us? Well we had some pretty lofty plans for 2020. We came out and said we want to see 100,000 people come to Christ by the end of the year. This is before COVID and we had a number of ways we were hoping to do this including a giant crusade where we're doing it at a stadium in Los Angeles. A three night crusade at Angel Stadium. Plus a movie called Jesus Revolution which was going to be a feature film in the theaters. Well everything changed when COVID-19 showed up. Theaters shut down.

We couldn't do our live stadium events. So we pivoted online for our weekend program that we call Harvest at Home which is like church in your home. And through that and also our outreach film that we did called A Rush of Hope we saw well over 100,000 people make a profession of faith. So we not only met the goal that we set, we exceeded it. And I have to give God the glory.

And I think in this coming year we have a once in a lifetime opportunity. I think people are really searching right now. There's so much uncertainty in the air and people need answers and we have the answers folks. And those answers are found in the Bible.

And they're found in a relationship with God that takes place through Jesus Christ. We took 30 years of what we have learned in evangelistic crusades and built them into a movie. A movie that presents beautiful stories of lives that have been changed by the gospel and a concise straightforward message from the gospel telling people how to accept Christ and thousands have responded to that invitation.

Imagine you can now have this tool in your hand to play when you want to play it for whoever you want to play it for. And it's a DVD version of our film A Rush of Hope. And I want to get you a copy as quickly as possible.

And listen to this. I could charge you for it and say this is how much you have to pay. No, we're giving it to you for your gift of any size. Whatever you can send to support our ministry will be used to reach more people with the gospel. So I want to encourage you, order your copy of A Rush of Hope and close the gift, I hope it's a generous one, so we can see more people come to know Jesus Christ. I think you're going to love it. Oh yeah, absolutely.

And we hope you'll get in touch right away. And when you send that donation, we'd like to thank you with this new DVD of A Rush of Hope. Not only are we offering this on a DVD, but there's also a special digital download code we will provide for you.

What that means is you'll have the DVD to show to whoever you want to show it to, but you can download it to your phone, you can download it to your tablet device, or to your computer, and then watch it or show it whenever you want. Carry it around with you even. And you can have an evangelistic crusade in your pocket.

Yeah, there's really nothing else like it. And again, we'll send it your way to say thank you for your generous donation right now. And time is running out, we can only mention this a short time longer. So get in touch today at a new beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300 any time, 24 hours a day.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to Harvest.org. Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here, personally inviting you to join us for what we call Harvest at Home. It's a Bible study, it's a worship service, it's church in your home. Maybe you're not able to get out to your church right now. If so, join us for Harvest at Home.

People are listening in from around the world. Listen to this, we have seen thousands of people make a commitment to follow Christ. So join us this weekend for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well next time, Pastor Greg comes back to wrap up his message called Hope for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones. Hope you'll come back to join us next time here on A New Beginning with Pastor Greg Laurie. The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at Harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-30 13:07:20 / 2023-12-30 13:18:28 / 11

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