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Classic Crusade: Greg Laurie on the Prodigal Son

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
July 17, 2021 3:00 am

Classic Crusade: Greg Laurie on the Prodigal Son

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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July 17, 2021 3:00 am

Today, we look back almost 20 years at a message from Pastor Greg Laurie given at the SoCal Harvest event at Angel Stadium (formerly Edison Field) of Anaheim. Pastor Greg speaks powerfully from Luke 15 on the story of the prodigal son. 

In this message, you’ll find answers to the major questions of life. What are you on this Earth for? What are you here for? And how can you be a happy person?

No matter what kind of home you might have come from, Pastor Greg underscores the possibility of hope. He says, “Even if your parents has let you down, even if your earthly father has left you down, you have a heavenly Father who loves you and will never let you down.” 

To learn more about coming into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, just go here. 

This message was originally given on July 13, 2002. 


SoCal Harvest is back! If you’re in the Southern California area, join us at Angel Stadium of Anaheim for one night only, October 3, for a powerful crusade. Learn more at

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

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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 so thanks for joining me for this podcast. Let me ask you a few question questions that we all will get around to asking eventually. What is the meaning of life. Why am I here on this earth why and why exist what's going to happen after my God, maybe you don't like the course that your life is taken lately.

Maybe you're just not having fun of those parties anymore.

When you go down to the bar for happy hour. Will it just isn't happy anymore.

Is it maybe there's an emptiness inside of you that you begun to notice and you can figure out what the problem is you that I just need more drug I need more booze. I need more sex anymore stop that'll do it with the more stuff you take in the more empty.

But then again maybe you were chargeable like you never got the drugs or rock all or stuff like that and you've always thought of you made a certain amount of money you would be happy if you drove a certain car if you lived in a certain house or something else happened that would make you happy but maybe you can reach those goals.

Maybe you even surpass them, but there is still this emptiness inside of you. Why is that no one less than Madonna was quoted as recently saying quote I think a few years ago. I wasn't sure what I was on this earth for.

I was mostly concerned with getting things for myself or close more money, more popularity and more boyfriend. I wasn't really thinking. I was just doing Madonna says.

Then I woke up and said one of my on this earth for.

That's a good question. What are you on this earth for what you here for, and how can you be a happy person. I want to read to you a story from the Bible that many of you have heard some of you are getting. For the first time in your life.

It's a story about a young boy who ran away from his father realize how life was without a spotter empty would be rather and returned back home again and it's a story that Jesus told the illustrate what our life is like when we put God out of it. This story is commonly known as the parable of the prodigal son. It's found in Luke chapter 15. Let me read it to you now.

Jesus said a certain manner to son the younger said to his father. I want my share of the estate now instead of waiting for you to die so his father agreed to divide his welcome on this on a few days later, the young son packed all of his belongings and took a trip to a distant land and wasted all of his money on while living about this time the money ran out a great famine swept over the land and he began to start to persuade a local farmer to help him feed his pigs and the boy became so hungry that even the food he was feeding the pigs starting to look good to get but then he came do is send and he said you know Italy's men who work for my father have food on their table and here I am dying of hunger to go home and I want to say father I've sinned against heaven and against you. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Just take me on as a hired person, so he returned home to his father while he was still a great distance away, his father saw him coming filled with love and compassion. He ran to a son he embraced him and he kissed him that son said father I have sin against heaven and against you, and I no longer worthy to be called your son.

The father said quick bring out the fatted calf and the finest robe in the house and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet for my son was lost but now he is found, and so the party began. I love that story Jesus told it to show us what God is like, you might even say that this story is a snapshot of God, not the image. A lot of people have of God. They see them as a perpetually ticked off supreme being who is just out to reign in your parade and make your life miserable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The picture that Jesus gives us of God and the only accurate one. I might add is of a loving heavenly father who is saddened and heartbroken when we push them out of our lives and who anxiously await as the story begins, we read of this young boy just decided he wanted to leave all knowing what they wanted to leave home were not sold.

Sounds like he had a pretty good situation here.

First of all, it was an influence on they had servants, he probably got more close more food than he would ever want, but you probably had responsibilities that went along with it is is also a loving home because when he comes back again. The father kisses him over and over again.

So this kid seem to have a good stable home life. A lot of kids run away from home because the review of their neglected or the parents of split up in their dissolution read a statistic the other day that said in 1960 the total number of children living in fatherless homes was fewer than 8 million today. That total is risen to nearly 24 million meaning that nearly 4/10 children in America are being raised in homes without their fathers and students get to be 6/10 and many of the studies that have been done at all of the social ills are facing today. Come back to this simple fact these kids come from a broken home.

It's a number one reason that kids get into drugs. The number one reason kids get into drinking the number one reason girls get pregnant outside of weblog.

The number one reason young boys join gangs and you could go on and on dad's not home there left to themselves, they don't have any direction. Maybe you come from a broken home.

Maybe your parents let you down. You look to them as an example. Then they broke apart, and you feel that your snowmelt responsible for.

You've just been sort of set adrift. I certainly felt that way.

I came from a broken home many times over an alcoholic home. As a young kid I never really had any adult role models that I had all that much admiration for, and so I realize that I had to start thinking and fending for myself, my little journey took me in good drinking and partying and doing drugs and it wasn't long before I discovered that was a dead-end street people told me when I use drugs they would become more aware they were right in one sense I use drugs and I became more aware about empty and miserable. I was maybe that's where your journey is let you deny you've seen the emptiness of life you're searching you're looking for someone I want you to know, even if your parents have let you down.

Even if your earthly father has let you down. You are the heavenly father loves you and will never let you down. I think this boy probably felt that the old man was keeping him from the good life you know I am just so sick of dad and all of his stinking rules and regulations and standards in I don't want to live that way. I want to go out and really live large. I want to go out and experience everything this world has to offer. I'm tired of school. I'm tired of work.

I'm tired of responsibilities and I don't care bothers my father so he goes up to his mother's is that I'm tired of waiting for you to kick the bucket okay I will wait for your dad to get my inheritance. I want you to give it to me right now in this of course was a great inconvenience for his father but that you didn't care how his father felt about it.

I want to go out and see for myself and maybe you feel that way you know these adults, I don't know what they're talking about. I'm in a go live life phenomena see all that this world has to offer and if you notice it always seems like it's gonna get better.

Just a little bit later you know when you're young kid well when I'm a teenager. That's what I'm going to be happy. That's when life is really going to be good.

Then you become a teenager is a well when I get my drivers license. That's what I'm going to be happy then you get your drivers license. Okay I'm so sick of driving my mom's lame are what I get my own set a wheel and I really think about. I'm talking custom wheels stereo system, Lord, I want to do everything to this vehicle. Supercharge the engine betterment to be happy to get that well soon as I graduate from high school that'll make me happy then to get out of high school a lot.

I need to get my degree from college and I'll be happy to get out of college.

Well what I'm financially independent. That will do it.

Then I'll be happy okay you reach that goal will I need to find my soulmate and I know what I find him or her that I'm gonna really be fulfilled and happy and you find that person you marry them, and after some years passed by.

You say I like needed and use only now the old ones not working out to get the Boers and you find another soulmate. Or maybe it's kids that we need that we had kids that we would be happy and you have kids now we could get rid of these kids that would do it is that I know that when the kids are grown there. God and were in retirement and if I could just get this really cool wheelchair with custom wheels and all supercharge the engine get the picture. It just goes on and on and it's always just beyond your reach. When John B Rockefeller was the richest man in the world.

Someone out of the question. How much money was in the his answer was just a little bit more.

That's how it's always going to be when you leave God out of the picture you're in a vicious cycle of seeking, but never satisfying. Why, because no matter how much money you make. No matter how many people you know, the measures you've experienced it will never be on the because you were created or something more. You were created to know the God who made you and he is a plan for your line. Don't you believe it when people tell you the answer is within you must just find yourself gonna forget that because the more you get to know yourself, the more depressed, you're going to be the answer is not within Fred according to the Bible. The problem was within because the Bible tells us that we are both saying that our heart is in rebellion against God and nobody had to teach you how to send now did they know how to teach me. It came naturally, we all do. And so this was this boy. He thinks I'm in the garden final for myself, live it up anyways did everything he had on while living. I know when that kid came in the town with money come out of his pocket a lot of best friends. A buddy which is going where you going, what's goes in your money, but as soon as is money ran out. His friends ran out with 10 story I heard of two guys around camping in the woods were getting up early in the morning and having their 1st cup of coffee they heard a rustling in the trees and look in their coming toward them. He was a very large grizzly bear with a hungry look in his face. One of the guys began to quickly pull on his running shoes and his buddy said to you don't think you can outrun that grizzly do you. He says no I don't need outrun the grizzly. All I need to do is outrun you. That's all a lot of so-called friends are when trouble comes in they run out to consider this. You want to find out who your real friends are denying.

Make a commitment to Jesus Christ and you will know real fast. I say that because when I made a commitment to Christ. My friends thought I lost my mind and you know what I found a lot of those people were my friends at all. I know what is sent you on your rebellion against God. Maybe you were raised in a Christian home. Maybe you were taught the Bible from your you, but something happened that turned you off. I mentioned parents splitting. Maybe it was a minister or a priest or someone else who misrepresented God to you and you said that said, there are a bunch of ponies very much a hypocrite throughout the baby with the bathwater and I just publicly tonight. Apologize for all the hypocrites in the church.

I'm sorry we don't live as we always should live. Maybe we Christians ought to have a sign hanging around our neck that says, under construction because we have a long ways to go but having said that, can I also point out to you that you need to understand that the excuse of too many hypocrites in the church will not hold water on Judgment Day because I know a lot of people hide behind a wheedled regional not a Christian. Too many hypocrites in the church. Okay, I'll grant you that there are some hypocrites in the church but you know what there's a lot of people that live godly lives to a lot more than those that are hypocritical that you never hear their story.

You know you won't read the story of some of the live a godly life you'll read about someone that messes up will be on the front page of the newspaper and yes, that happens but I'm telling you there a lot of people to walk closely with God.

But this is my point. When you stand before God Almighty one day you will Fred you will and yes you the question, what did you do with my son, Jesus Christ. You think you're going to build a Satan will acute that's a good question.

Okay, there were like really a lot of hypocrites in the church had okay nevermind no I'm sorry that will hold water because you know it's an excuse and you're hiding behind.

Maybe some of you knew the Lord at one time and your fellow. I have gone back into sin in your trap right now in your miserable.

The Bible says in Proverbs 14, the backslider will be repaid for all their way. The Bible says in second Peter 220 when people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about Jesus Christ and get tangled up with sin and become its slave again.

There were some of them before.

Maybe that's happening you you were living in a certain way before your Christian made a commitment to Christ have gone back into the old life again worse off than you were in the very beginning. This is what the Bible says will happen. That's what you need to come back to the Lord again. I mean, have you seen how miserable life is yet without God. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired yet look at the prodigal.

One day he's living with his dad in the home with love and affection in the next day he's taken his inheritance.

He's blown it on prostitutes and everything else and he's feeling a bunch of stupid pigs.

Many so hungry he's ready to eat the food. The pigs are really that send for you. It promises fun, but it will bring misery and promises success, but it will bring failure to promises life, but it will bring death know that the story says he finally came to his senses, and I think that such a great description because sin is like a form of insanity. People do the wackiest things under the influence of sin, the make the most idiotic decision because they're not thinking clearly within one day they just come to themselves, they just realized this is it. Maybe this is happened for some of you maybe it happened earlier tonight.

Maybe it's happening right now you're saying I get it again. Jesus Christ is the one that I need Jesus Christ to died on the cross and rose again from the dead wants to come in the my life and he wants to forgive me of my sin. I need to get right with God.

That's right. You're almost there. There's another step you need to take. First, you have to realize you're responsible for what you've done because this young boy said I would just go back and save my dead father. I no longer worthy to be called your son.

I've sinned against heaven and against you see that's what you gotta say. And a lot of times we don't want to say this will say well I don't know that I soon died. I made certain things I love and now in Washington, what, when something wrong is done. They won't say I made a mistake. They won't even say a bad thing was done though just say mistakes were made classic mistakes were made.

We don't know who made the somewhere someone on this earth made a mistake the mistakes were made. No listen, if you want to get right with God you up to say three things I have seen stop blaming your parents. Stop blaming your environment. Stop blaming other people were so prone to do this if we have trouble at all with my parents trouble at school. In support of my teachers trouble a word.

The problem is my boss. You've got to just say you know what the problem is with me. I'm a sinner and I need help I need God's forgiveness and I need to call out to him.

That's hard to do.

I remember years ago I was surfing down a big groan of each, and so II said came in and I was paddling out to you. No one. Big waves calm, you have to go toward the waves and go under them. It's like battle went under came up. Another way was coming, little brother went under Pat a little bit more.

By the time I was done I was about halfway to Catalina okay and I was tired and I felt like I could actually drown. It was a pretty good swimmer, but I thought I'm in serious trouble. I could see a lifeguard on the shore. Some of my friends were there and I had a choice call for help to get the lifeguard to come to be, or drown in a seriously considered drowning because I didn't want to call for a lifeguard to save me. I was too embarrassed is not stupid or what will I eventually got my way back in. Fortunately, but some of us are like that. You were basically so far out more so in need of God were so do I think people on their deathbed there. Seconds away from eternity, you'll see them come to Jesus. I will do what no I think what is wrong with you what you holding out for is that the way you feel right now you have to humble yourself and say God help me, I've sinned. I'm sorry for what I've done that with this boy needed to do and suddenly it dawns on him life in his father's house was great. Suddenly, he realizes that everything he needed in life was found in his father's house in Aiken Donahue tonight. It's not these Christians that are crazy.

It's been me. They're the ones who are right and I need to get right with God. You can tonight see here's the thing you've been running from the very God who has what you're looking for. I heard a story about a lawyer who is trying to deliver an important paper to a man who was determined to avoid him at all costs. See this guy thought that the lawyer was going to deliver some kind of a subpoena, so he took great ways the dogs this guy. Anyone did this successfully for months, which led to the year. Every time he saw the lawyer always found the back door always managed to other databases he got to give me a subpoena 14 years past. This man got cancer was in the hospital with only days to live in one of his final days who gets rolled into the room but the lawyer who had been pursuing yet is been said you know what, go ahead and serve your subpoena. I don't care anymore doesn't even matter I'm going to die. The lawyer said subpoena. I have an article of paper here that tells you that you inherited $45 million and I was trying to give it to we are with God on mobility God be unlucky to become one of those born again, would you run and from what you think God wants to do. He wants to forgive you. Wants to show you was love. He wants to give to you the meaning of life, but you gotta go back home again. Would you like to come to God. Would you like to be forgiven of your sin. Would you like to know that when you die you will go to heaven is, it will greatly ask you this if I become a Christian, will I have to give up anything. The answer is yes you will let me say that what you give up, replaced by something better.

Let me illustrate, let's say that you are at home and he got a knock on the door and he went up to your door. Listen, it's Jesus, I stand at the door knocking up you'll hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in no what Jesus knocking at your door. Jesus Christ is in Jesus of the Bible at my front door. Yes, open the door.

All commits will come on annual areas. Jesus I can't believe you would come to my door. This is so cool, and more. Jesus you don't mind if I call your first name.

Come on in it so exciting to have you here will. It's good to be here. I feel like I should offer you something me are you hungry Jesus, as we I am okay here sit down and I'll get you some in the kitchen you run to the kitchen where my getting gifted Jesus to Eli. He's hungry and opened up the ridge.

Okay unlucky to give him a beer.

That's not a good choice.

Let's say you doubles cake know he went back like a goal.

What what you're all getting this piece of pizza read and you get a ready and you hear some noise in the front room some commotion sounds like things are breaking what is me what's going on you walk out and there's Jesus here is your front door open and he's picking up your furniture and throwing it out the door is me Jesus are you doing what you doing Jesus is on just making myself at all cleanouts. Jesus starts ripping down your wallpaper what Lord hello, I got out of the blue light special 15 years ago you ripping it down. He's written up that shy carpeting that you've had for years thrown out all your stuff pictures and depending on your walls out the door.

They go you think will you know so much of it told me this, they would've told me that Jesus was going to throw some stuff out, I would never let them in the first place and I don't know if I like what you're doing. Jesus the Lord says would you just sit over there for a moment and he lets out a loud whistle and a big moving van backs up into your driveway and emblazoned on the side of it are the words father and son moving company. Jesus is roller then boys beautiful brand-new carpet laid down on your floor. Hello, that's nice, very nice brand-new wall. Beautiful, handcrafted furniture, pictures that were so incredible like you've never seen before put up on your walls in the place of what you used to have.

And suddenly it dawns on you. The only reason the Lord wanted to get rid of the old stuff was to put something better in its place and that's what Jesus Christ wants to do for you tonight so Greg will I have to give up anything yeah you have to give up being lonely, being empty, being guilty and being of trade to die in its place. You have a friend that will never leave you will remove your guilt give you the hope of heaven, that's God's radiant deal and it's here for you right now. So the boy hits home. He's feeling so bad old man hi just the old man's going to just what I Got a look in his eyes. Slowly making his way home and he looks up and who does he see what his father coming toward him, not walking but running all about before you can even blink the father is there any throws his arms around his son and he kisses him over and over again.

I bet the boys stunk. You don't even hang around with Porky in the gang are knocking a smelter good to get to see the father running toward getting about 3 feet up while you're staring take a bath and then a hug.

Clean your close and that all except you would know the father except that the son as he was in the same way some people they go. I need to clean my life up and come to God I need to make certain changes in come to God. No friend listen you need to come to God, he will clean your life up, he will make the changes you need to come as you are because you can do it unique Godself. Maybe there's another reason the father ran to the son. Maybe it's because he knew that the people in that village that they lived and were about ready to kill his boy to this boy had drug the family name of the month you disgraced is friends in this village and they may have been picking up stones to kill him and execute them in the father realize I've got to get to my boy for his noggin See and when he threw his arms around his son, everyone stopped and dropped their stones because they wouldn't kill that father the same way God saw our situation how we sin how we've fallen short, and he sent his son Jesus Christ to the cross and I have to tell you he didn't stop at the last moment you put all of his judgment for all of the sins that we have ever committed upon Jesus as he hung there and bled and died for you and then rose again from the dead.

That's why Jesus died using he had to die because we had sinned and broken God's commandments. Jesus came to pay a debt he did not old because we owe a debt we cannot pay Jesus paid for it for you. He bought your salvation.

And now he offers it to you as a gift, and he says I love you and I'll forgive you and I'll throw my arms around you and all you need to do is come to be now and turn from that sin you want to do that and I can. You can find the meaning of life. You can find personal happiness. You can find that piece you been looking for, but you must come to Jesus Christ tonight is your night and immobile work in a prayer, to give you that opportunity. I want you to know wherever you're sitting in this great stadium. God sees you as an individual you're not just a face in the crowd to give the loves you is got your number. Bible says the very hairs of our header number on my case that's not a lot of work but some of you it is that he loves you and is ready to forgive you what you will come to him tonight were going to pray and I want to invite you to be forgiven of all of your sin and get right with God.

Okay, let's all pray everybody pray Lord we know there are people here tonight don't want to meet you people that want their sins forgiven. People that want to come to you and we ask Lord, that you would speak to their hearts. Help them to come to you this night. We pray in Jesus name, amen. Listen very carefully. Everyone that Jesus calls he calls openly and publicly.

That is why in a few moments when delirious begins this next song I would ask you don't want your sin forgiven you the want to get right with God you the want to find the meaning of life for you that want to come back to the Lord, and ask you in a moment to get up out of your seat and come down to this field and stand in the back of this plot and we will get down to reveille doing a prayer of commitment or recommitment. I'm calling you that have never asked Christ to come in your life you that don't know what it is they have the hope of heaven, but I'm also calling you that of fallen away from the Lord, the need to come back to him tonight. You prodigal son and daughter time to come home.

You need to be willing to turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and then follow him from this night forward, and he just like with the prodigal role as arms around you. He will forgive you, smother you with kisses. He loves you and you can come to him tonight so if you want your sin forgiven, if you want to know that when you die you will go to heaven if you want that void in your life, fill, or you want to be ready for the Lord's return to come back at any moment, or you want to come back to Jesus Christ tonight.

Right now, wherever you are.

Get up out of your seat make your way down the stairs come down to the field behind it will lead you in a prayer of commitment 10 ask you to come publicly because Jesus says if you will acknowledge me before people, I will acknowledge you before my father in the angels in heaven, but if you deny me before people all deny you before the father and the angels. This is a way to acknowledge and publicly.

I would ask my Christian friends out there do not get up and leave early. The only movement I want to see in the next moment is the movement of those making this commitment or recommitment everybody else be praying as people come the crimes you in the top level take you a little bit longer to get down here. Don't feel this does not apply to you. You come on down.

Make your public stand for Christ men and women Boys and Girls Club whoever you are. Come to the God who loves you and receive his forgiveness denied as delirious places so 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 By the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God.

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