Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie encouraging you.
If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. I think we would all agree that our world is a mess right now. We see global instability. Again, things re-erupting in the Middle East. We all know what's happening in Afghanistan. The tragic loss of American lives over there. Thirteen American service members lost their lives.
We see so many of them. We see the re-emergence of Islamic terrorism. Specifically, a group now identifies themselves as ISIS-K. Then we have the emergence of China as a major superpower. Come back home and we have the conflict we're seeing in the streets of America. And then the breakdown of the American family, which is at the root of so many people. And then the breakdown of the American family, which is at the root of so many of our social ills today. You can almost take every social ill, every societal problem in our nation and trace it directly back to the breakdown of the family.
And it's not just the breakdown of the family, it's the redefinition of the family. And in some cases, the redefinition of what a man or a woman actually is. We have immorality being promoted and pushed on us from every direction.
Not just in media, but in our classrooms. Pretty much everywhere we look around us, we see a breakdown in our culture. We're living in a time right now where it seems like wrong is being celebrated as right and right is being mocked as if it were wrong. Reminds me of a verse from the Bible, Isaiah 5-20. It says, what sorrow for those who say evil is good and good is evil and dark is light and light is dark and bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. It seems like everything is upside down right now, doesn't it? And add to this the fact that we still have a global pandemic called COVID with variants coming from it and there seems to be no end in sight.
What are we to do? I think these are signs of the times reminding us that we're living in the last days and what we are to do is we are to watch and pray. Jesus talking about as the signs are coming before us, reminding us of his imminent return, he said watch and pray. And Jesus also said, when you see these things begin to happen, look up for your redemption is drawing near. So we need divine intervention.
We need the Lord to hear our prayers and help us. We need, well, another Jesus movement. Now when we think of the Jesus movement or the Jesus revolution, as Time magazine described it, we remember long haired kids with beards wearing sandals and beads and bell bottoms and we remember how bad America was in the late 60s and the early 70s and how God heard the prayers of his people and sent a great spiritual awakening. In fact, many believe it was the greatest awakening in American history and we need to see that happen again. So I think as a point of reference, we need to go back to the late 50s and the early 60s.
No, I don't mean 1960, I mean AD 60. I'm talking about the first Jesus movement. I'm talking about the movement that Christ himself started on this earth after he was crucified and rose again from the dead. And by the way, things were very dark when the first Jesus movement happened. Mighty Rome had pretty much beaten the world into submission and Rome ruled with an iron fist. Immorality was rampant. If you would go into a Roman city, there would be thousands of prostitutes roaming the streets looking for people to pray upon and if that wasn't bad enough, you would open idolatry and spiritism and demon worship. And add to this the fact that the religious establishment was almost completely corrupt.
Sounds like a good time for divine intervention. And they had their Jesus movement because Jesus himself appeared on the scene and began his public ministry. Fulfilling hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament. At first he was welcomed with great fanfare and open arms and his followers numbered in the thousands as he healed their sick and raised their dead and gave the greatest teachings that people had ever heard.
Then suddenly, or so it seemed, everything just came off the rails. Jesus is charged falsely. He's betrayed by one of his own disciples. He's sent to the religious leaders and then ultimately to Pontius Pilate who has Christ scourged and then sent to a cross to be crucified.
But actually, this was not an aberration. Everything was going according to plan. God's perfect plan because history is his story. In fact, on the day of Pentecost, Peter summed it up when he said in Acts 2-24, this man, speaking of Jesus, was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge and with the help of wicked men, he was put to death by being nailed to the cross but God raised him from the dead. The Romans unwittingly fulfilled Bible prophecy because the Old Testament told us the Messiah would suffer and die.
Isaiah 53, written hundreds of years before Jesus died, told us that he would be beaten and you wouldn't even be able to tell he was a man. Psalm 22, written hundreds of years before crucifixion even existed, has the Messiah saying they pierced my hands and my feet. Again, in the Old Testament, we also read that the Messiah is answering the question, where did you receive these wounds?
He said, I received them in the house of my friends. Yes, Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, Isaiah 53 reminds us. It was all part of the plan of the Messiah coming to the earth and dying voluntarily on a cross for the sin of the world but also to rise again from the dead. And after his resurrection, his followers were transformed into passionate preachers of the gospel so Rome tried to stop this new movement of followers of Jesus and they began to persecute the Christians. There was a series of persecutions that came starting with Caesar Nero ending with Diocletian, both Roman emperors. Nero was so cruel and twisted he would take Christians and cover them with pitch and set them on fire to light his garden as he would ride his chariot around. Diocletian was so certain that he had eradicated the Christian faith from the earth he even had a special commemorative coin struck with these words on it, quote, the Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the Roman gods is restored, end quote.
Famous last words. Ultimately mighty Rome was reduced to ruins and yet today the church still marches on. Persecution did not weaken the church, it strengthened the church and it caused the church to spread out around their area and ultimately around the world proclaiming the gospel. Today we name our children after apostles and our dogs after emperors. Here's Caesar, come on, get your food.
That's the way it works out. What is Rome remembered for? It's remembered for what, Caesar salad and little Caesar's pizza, a nice place to visit on vacation but the church is alive and growing around the world. By the way, where the church is heavily persecuted, it's growing. I've read many accounts of how the church is blowing up in a good way in Iran. Even though the government tries to suppress it, many people are coming to Christ. The same thing is happening in Afghanistan so God is at work through followers of Jesus Christ all around the world. So let's think about these first century believers that turn their world upside down. Why am I calling this upside down living?
Because there is a statement made in Acts chapter 17 verse six, it's a critical statement given by the religious leaders about the growth of the church when they said Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down and now they're disturbing our city. I love that they've turned the world upside down. By the way, that was not a compliment, that was a criticism. You can almost call it a complisalt. Now I don't know if that word exists. I think maybe I coined that word, maybe someone else has used it but for me, a complisalt.
A complisalt is what you might call a backhanded compliment. As an illustration, I went to the fair here in Orange County not long ago with my family and Levi Lusko and his wife Jenny and their family. So we went to that event where you ring the bell. You know, you pick up the big hammer and then you crush it down on the little spot and hopefully you ring the bell. So Levi went first, he's younger, stronger than I am, boom, he hit it, he did not ring the bell. Then I went, I took the same hammer, brought it down, I rang the bell. Then we did it again, he could not ring the bell. Second time, I rang the bell and Levi grudgingly said, well, you have old man's strength. That's a complisalt.
Oh, you have strength, thank you, old man's strength, come on, really? And we do this all the time. We try to compliment someone but in a way, we kind of insult them. For instance, when you say to someone that arrives on time, well, you're actually on time, you're implying that they're not usually on time. Or how about this one, you're a really good driver for a woman, that's not, that's an insult.
I don't even know if that's a complisalt. Here's another one, you look great for your age. I've heard that a few times.
You look great for your age. Here's even another, well, you're so pretty, why are you still single? What? Is that, are they a second class citizen because they're not married yet? Complisalts. So the religious leaders said these people have turned the world upside down and now they're disturbing our city. My prayer is that the church will disturb more cities. My hope is that more Christians will create a disturbance. There's a Bible commentator named G. Campbell Morgan who made this statement and I quote, organized Christianity which fails to make a disturbance is dead, end quote. You should be making a difference.
You should be turning your world upside down. Fact of the matter is wherever Paul went, there was either a conversion or a riot. Never a dull day with these followers of Jesus and they did not have modern technology at their disposal. Thomas did not tweet. Paul didn't have a TV show.
Peter didn't use social media. But yet in a relatively short period of time, these disciples changed their world. They permeated their culture. There's Tertullian, a Christian leader from many years ago that was a contemporary of these early followers of Christ and he made this statement. Speaking of the church, quote, we have filled every place among you. Cities, islands, fortresses, towns, marketplaces, the very camp, tribes, companies, palaces, senate, the forum. We've left nothing to you but the temples of your gods, end quote.
I love that. Tertullian is pointing out that the church infiltrated, they permeated everything even in the palace of Caesar there were Christians and this is what we need today. We need Christians to go out and make a difference. We need more Christians involved in the arts, making great films, creating graphic design. We need Christians in politics, electing godly men and women to places of authority because the Bible says when the righteous rule, the people rejoice. We need Christian doctors. We need Christian lawyers. We need Christian business people. We need believers to go out and let their light shine in this culture today. And that's what happened in the first century because every believer understood they were called to do their part. They took risks.
They left their comfort zones. We see their fearless preaching, their expectant prayer, and their willingness to obey God. But listen to this. The book of Acts is simply a picture of normal Christianity. It's normal Christianity. Now as we read it we say I don't know if that's normal. That seems pretty radical to me.
Fact of the matter is it's normal and if it seems radical it's because we have a deluded virgin. We should be living like these first century believers impacting our culture. Now historically looking back the book of Acts was written over a 30 year period from around AD 33 to 63. Of course there's a lot of miracles and a lot of amazing events but it's over 30 years.
I don't think a miracle happened every day but I think what you see is believers living by faith doing what God has called them to do. These weren't perfect Christians. They made mistakes. They had their little divisions. They had their disagreements. They had their problems. They had their challenges. But despite that they made a huge difference and turned their world upside down.
Why can't we do the same thing? The author of the book of Acts of course is the Holy Spirit speaking through Dr. Luke. Now we remember Luke because he has his own gospel.
And what's unique about Luke is he was not one of the disciples that walked with Jesus. He came along later and apparently he was hired by a well-to-do Christian who had the name Theophilus. So Theophilus underwrote Luke's research project to get the story of what happened in the life and ministry of Jesus. And Luke with a great attention to detail and with a beautiful poetic pen gave us the gospel we call Luke. And now here's his second writing also sponsored by Theophilus called the book of Acts. But the difference between the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts is in this particular document that he wrote Luke was part of the story. He was in on the action.
He was an eyewitness to what was happening. By the way the name Theophilus means lover of God. So this book wasn't just written for Theophilus. It was written for all of us. For all of you who love God we have the book of Acts. And I might add it's an unfinished book.
It never really ended. In a way chapters are still being written. I'm not suggesting we write new chapters and insert them in the Bible to the book of Acts. But I'm simply saying we should not put a period where God has put a comma.
The work continues on. The work of the church and the world today. I could sum up the book of Acts this way. It's a spirit of God working through the word of God and the hearts of the people of God.
Let me say that again. It's a spirit of God working through the word of God and the hearts of the people of God. So let's read now some verses from the book of Acts and then I will give you my first point. Let's read Acts chapter 1 verses 1 to 3. And by the way I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Luke writes, in my first book I told you Theophilus about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions to the Holy Spirit.
During the 40 days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive and he talked to them about the kingdom of God. Let's stop there. Here's point number one if you're taking notes. Before you can change the world, you yourself must be changed.
Before you can change the world, you must first be changed. Look at verse 3. During the 40 days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles. Now when we think of the apostles, when we think of Peter, James, John, Matthew and later Paul, we put them on pedestals. They seemed like super human individuals but they were ordinary people just like you and me. We say, oh no, they were living, breathing saints. They didn't make any mistakes. Oh, they made mistakes. And the Bible is honest about the mistakes they made. But they were saints.
You got that part right. What is a saint? I heard about a Sunday school teacher that was talking to her class and she said, class, can any of you tell me what a saint is? One of the little girls thought about how she would see those apostles in stained glass and how the light would come through. So the little girl said, a saint, those are people that the light shines through.
And that's true. That's really what a saint is. And by the way, you're a saint if you're a Christian. I'm a saint not because I've performed a miracle and I've been canonized because the word saint is just another word for believer or follower of Jesus Christ.
But here's the thing we need to understand. These weren't perfect people. They were ordinary people. But God did extraordinary things through ordinary people. Listen, the disciples' greatness was not because of who they were. It was because of God's hand on them. 1 Corinthians 1 26 says, isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks? God chose those nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies. How true is that?
God seems to go out of his way to choose unexpected people to go to unexpected places to do unexpected things. I read an article about some individual that paid one million dollars for a fender Stratocaster. Now, that's way too much money to pay for a fender Strat. You can go out and find one of those guitars for around six hundred dollars to maybe fifteen hundred dollars. So why did this guy pay so much for this guitar? Well, it's because it was the guitar that Bob Dylan played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. So prior to that, Dylan was known for playing an acoustic guitar in his little harmonica, right? And all of a sudden, Dylan comes out with a fender Stratocaster. He plugs it in and plays like a Rolling Stone that would later be declared by Rolling Stone magazine as the greatest rock song ever written.
And all the folk purists thought this was an abomination and they were so angry. So it became a historic event and that guitar that Dylan played at the Newport Pop Festival sold for one million dollars. Maybe that makes a little more sense than some guy who paid three hundred and eighty thousand dollars for a burned guitar. How would a guitar get burned? Well, Jimi Hendrix played it at the Monterey Pop Festival. He had just finished playing the song Wild Thing and he took his guitar off, put it on the stage, put lighter fluid on it and set it on fire. And then picked up pieces of the guitar and threw them into the audience and a part of that dismembered guitar ended up in someone's hands.
Later sold it to someone for three hundred and eighty grand. So it's not about the value of a burned guitar. It's not about the value of the guitar that is called a Fender Stratocaster. The value is in who played it. It's because Dylan played the guitar or Jimi Hendrix played the guitar. If I play the guitar, it would go down in value.
If Eric Clapton picked up that same guitar and recorded a song on it, it would be a collector's item. I bring all this up to simply say this thing. Jesus did not call these apostles because they were great. They were great because Jesus called them. It's not the instrument.
It's the one who holds the instrument. And God can take you, despite your flaws and shortcomings, and use you for His glory. And to their eternal credit, these disciples, later to be called apostles, left everything to follow Jesus. He was crucified.
They were devastated. He resurrected again from the dead and their lives were never the same. And this is what Luke is saying in Acts chapter 1 verse 2. He appeared to the apostles from time to time and proved to them He was actually alive. It says He was seen by them. And that's an interesting word that is used here because the word seen means to eyeball something.
Have you ever seen something and you thought, I can't believe my eyes? That's how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus again. Remember, I pointed out to you that Isaiah, speaking prophetically, said Jesus would be so beaten and His body so traumatized, you wouldn't even be able to tell He was a man. And the disciples thought, we'll never see Him again.
We'll never talk to Him again. Ah, but He was alive. He appeared to them. He still carried in His body the marks of the crucifixion in His hands and feet.
He appeared first to Mary Magdalene there in the garden outside of the tomb. Then He appeared after that to Simon Peter. Then He appeared in the upper room to Thomas, who had been doubtful up to that point. And Jesus said, go ahead, Thomas, put your hands into the wounds in my hands.
And all Thomas could say was, oh, my Lord and my God. Jesus appeared again to two disciples walking on the Emmaus road. Then He appeared again to Simon Peter by the Sea of Galilee and told Peter to go feed his sheep. On another occasion, He appeared to 500 people at one time. So for 40 days, Jesus was just showing up here, showing up there.
Everywhere you look, Jesus would turn up with some words of encouragement for all of them. So they're saying, we saw Him. We eyeballed Him. We know He was alive.
But listen to this. Before they could change the world, Jesus needed to first change them. In 1 John 1, verse 1, John writes, We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, who we have heard and who we have seen. We've seen Him with our own eyes. We've touched Him with our own hands, and He is the Word of life. Listen, if I want someone to follow Jesus, I must first be a follower of Jesus so I can show them what a living, breathing Christian looks like. As I've often said, you're the only Bible some people are ever going to read. A Christian is a walking epistle written by God and read by men.
So be a good example. I mean, think about this. Let's say you went to a dentist and he was missing most of his teeth. And he said, sorry, some of my teeth are missing from decay and neglect, but I can fix your teeth. Would I go to that dentist? How about this? Would I go have a trainer in a gym who was morbidly obese and needed help getting up? Or here's another one. Would you take voice lessons from someone who sang out of pitch?
No. If you're going to teach me how to sing, you better know how to sing. If you're going to teach me how to get in shape, you better be in shape.
If you're going to fix my teeth, you better have a great set of teeth yourself. And if you're asking people to follow the Jesus you follow, you need to be a good example. The apostle Paul said, follow me as I follow Jesus Christ.
Point number two. This early church, they had a job to do and so do we. Let's go back to Acts chapter one. Look at verse seven. He replied, Jesus speaking, the Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they're not for you to know. But you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Listen, those words are not just given to those first century believers. They're still called to tell people about Jesus everywhere. This statement of Christ was prompted by a question from the disciples when they said, Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore your kingdom?
See, here's what was going on. Many of the people, including the disciples, had a misguided notion about Jesus. They thought, as Messiah, he was coming to establish the kingdom of God on the earth then. That's why it seemed like an aberration or a mistake when he was crucified. If they had read their Bibles more carefully, they would have discovered Messiah was coming first to suffer and die for the sins of the world, and later to return back to the earth and establish his kingdom.
So basically, they're going back to original settings. Okay, Lord, we're so glad you're alive again. Are you going to establish the kingdom? And Jesus is effectively saying, guys, will you get over that? I'm not establishing my kingdom on the earth right now. So the disciples ask, Lord, when are you going to establish your kingdom? And Jesus says in response, in Acts 1, verses 7 to 8, the Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times.
They are not for you to know. Jesus is effectively saying, guys, will you get over this already? I'm not going to establish my earthly kingdom right now. That's coming later. Stop focusing on when I am returning and instead focus on what you are to do until I return.
Let me say that again, because it applies to us. Stop focusing on when Jesus is returning and instead focus on what you and I are supposed to do while we await his coming. People still ask today, when is Jesus coming? Why has Christ not come back yet? And then there is the occasional misguided person who will say they know the exact date of the return of Christ or it's going to happen in this month.
Don't believe those people. Jesus says no man knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return, not even the angels, only the Father in heaven. Our focus should be on what we should be doing as we await his return. And what is it we should be doing as we await the return of Christ? Verse 8, you will be witnesses telling people about me everywhere.
You can't escape it. It's the great commission given to us in Matthew 28, also in Mark 16. Jesus says go into all the world and preach the gospel, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you and lo, I am with you even to the end of the age.
You know, it's a funny thing. When it comes to the subject of studying Bible prophecy, sometimes folks miss the point. By the way, you remember I taught on the book of Revelation not that long ago. It's now out in a book simply called Revelation, a book of promises. You know, as we designed this, I spoke to our lead designer.
His name is Josh Huffman, very talented guy. I said I want it to be a bright, hopeful, happy cover. Usually when you see a commentary on the book of Revelation, it's black and red and ominous looking. I said no, this is a hopeful book. It tells us that God is in control.
Heard the story of a man, and by the way, you can get this book from us now at Harvest Ministries for your gift of any size. But I heard about a man that was not a great Bible student and he had been reading Revelation, and he was talking with some other better educated theologians and telling them he understood Revelation. They said you don't understand Revelation. No one understands Revelation. It's a mystery.
It's an enigma. No one can understand it. This man said no, I understand it. They said no, you don't.
He said actually I do. All right, explain to us the book of Revelation. And this guy said the book of Revelation tells us we win in the end.
That is not a bad summation. But sometimes we can become sort of obsessed with things that we think are fulfillments of Bible prophecy that actually are not, and we forget the fact that Bible prophecy is not given to inflate our brains but to enlarge our hearts. If we really understand what Bible prophecy is about, it should cause us to want to live godly lives. No, the Lord is not late in returning to planet Earth. He's being patient. Here's what 2 Peter 3, 9 says. The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think.
He's being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed. He wants everyone to repent. See, God's waiting for more people to believe. I remember back in the early 70s when I became a Christian, everyone was talking about Jesus returning. We were praying, Lord, come back.
Aren't you glad Jesus didn't answer our prayer? Because I bet there's a lot of you right now that are watching me that have come to Christ since 1970. The Lord is waiting, and I believe there may be walking this Earth somewhere a person who is the last one to believe before the Lord calls this church home to heaven, and what we often call the rapture of the church, when the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout in the voice of the archangel that dead in Christ will rise first, and we which are alive and remaining shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, so we will forever be with the Lord. But what if you knew who that last person was?
Man, be tempting to apply a little pressure. Can you believe in Jesus now so we can go to heaven? Imagine, you could be talking to someone, share the gospel with them, leave them to Christ, and boom, we're all in heaven.
I just woke up a bunch of people with that clap. Good, you need to pay attention. Here's what we know. God is waiting for more people to believe. So Jesus lays out for the early church his battle plan on reaching people, and it's the same battle plan we should follow today. Again, Acts one, verse eight. You will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the Earth.
There it is. So it's Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the Earth. So apply this in your life. Jerusalem is your home. You start at home, and by the way, the hardest people to reach of the gospel are your family, because they've known you all your life, and now you believe in Jesus. I remember when I became a Christian.
It was not well received by my family. It took me years to reach my mother, well over 30 years before she actually prayed and committed her life to Christ. Even Jesus did not reach his family before he died and rose again from the dead. We read that his family would show up and they would say he's lost his mind. We need to take him home again. We read that Jesus could do no miracles in his hometown of Nazareth because of their unbelief, because the people said, Messiah, we've known Jesus since he was a little boy.
Is this not the carpenter's son? The hardest people to reach are your family, but start there. Start with your spouse if you're married.
Start with your mom, your dad, your grandparents, your children, your extended family. That's your Jerusalem. Then you go to your Judea. Now you're sort of leaving your comfort zone.
It's not just your home. Your Judea would be maybe your workplace, your sphere of influence, the people that follow you on social media. Now you go out to your Judea, your larger circle, and you share your faith.
Then finally you go to people everywhere. Jesus says, Samaria and the ends of the earth. By the way, to say to a Jew that they should go to Samaria was not appealing because as you know, there was a conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews. You remember when Jesus went to the woman at the well who was a Samaritan. She asked the question, why are you a Jew talking to me a Samaritan? Don't you know Jews and Samaritans have nothing to do with each other?
That was largely true. But what did Jesus do? He went out of his way to reach someone way out of his comfort zone, if you will.
Are you willing to do that? Jonah was actually called to preach to the people of Nineveh. They were the avowed enemies of Israel and he didn't want to do it. God wants you to reach people everywhere.
Go outside of your comfort zone. Go even to your enemies with the gospel. As we look at our own ministry and we've been doing this now for around 50 years, first we reached our Jerusalem and when we first started our church in Riverside, here's a couple of pictures of what it looked like back then. That was our Jerusalem. Then we went to our Judea. That was what was called the Inland Empire, the area around Riverside. Then we planted a church in Orange County and that's the larger area of Orange County, our Judea. Then we have our church on the island of Maui called Harvest Kumalani. We start there and then we reach outside of that area and we reach the island and the other islands as well. Then our Samaria would have been the United States, say, reaching the rest of our nation and then the uttermost parts of the earth. That's when we've gone global and God has opened up doors for us to reach people all around the world and I know this because I read comments from people who watch us.
In fact, if you do me a big favor right now, if you're watching on our YouTube channel or my Facebook page or perhaps at harvest.org, there's a place for you to comment. Tell me where you're watching from. I know in the past I've seen people say, we're watching from the Philippines. We're watching from Australia. We're watching from New Zealand. We're watching from Japan or the United Kingdom and on it goes, Singapore. People watching from all around the world. Where are you watching from right now? Comment.
Let us see where you're from. But that's the idea. We go first to the people closest to us and then the people around us and then we go wherever God calls us to go. One final point and then I'm done. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to do what God has called us to do. Let me say that again. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to do what God has called us to do. Look at verse eight, Acts one, one more time.
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you'll be witnesses for me telling people about me everywhere. I mean, think about it. How is this ragtag group of individuals gonna change the world? There were 12 in total. There was a movie, it's been around for a long time, not long ago, called The Dirty Dozen. I'm not saying these guys were the dirty dozen but I'm saying that they were a flawed group of individuals.
We have some fishermen, we have a tax collector, we have others, very ordinary people. How are they going to do it? I mean, their leader next to Jesus was Simon Peter. If Simon Peter would be demoralized by the words of his servant girl in the high priest's courtyard causing him to deny Christ, how could any of them go out anywhere preaching this message? Jesus answers the question. You'll receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you. The way they're gonna do it and the way we're gonna do it is with a power we don't possess naturally. It's supernatural power, a power to do beyond what we have done before, a power to change the world, a power to be a witness, a power to share your faith, a power to turn the world upside down. Good news, we'll read about this later, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on those first century believers on the day of Pentecost. That same power that set the church in motion is available to you right now because we read Peter saying in Acts 2 39, this promise is to your children and to the Gentiles and all who have been called by the Lord our God. What promise?
The promise of the Holy Spirit. The word that is used here for power is noteworthy. It's the Greek word dunamis. Years ago, there was a man named Alfred Nobel. We know him best for the Nobel Peace Prize, but before he created the Nobel Peace Prize, he created an explosive substance known as dynamite, but he didn't have a name for it at first. He invented this explosive device or this explosive substance and he went to a friend who knew Greek. He said, what is the Greek word for explosive?
And the man said, it's the Greek word dunamis. And so Nobel says, okay, I'm gonna call it dynamite. So basically, the Bible is saying God is gonna give you explosive dynamite power in your life from the Holy Spirit to do what he has called you to do. This is real power. People want power. You know, when guys get cars, they like to get the most powerful engine so they can brag on it, right?
You know what I have under this hood? We like power. We like horsepower. We like manpower. Oh, we like political power too.
Just watch the news and you see people grappling for more political power. God is talking about spiritual power, power to change your life, power to change the world. One of the ministries we do at our church is into assisted living homes and there's a man that was teaching one of these studies.
His name is Steve. He was telling the older folks how God wanted to use them and he told them, he's teaching from the book of Acts, how the early church impacted their world because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and he encouraged them to do the same. So there's a lady, 82 years old, and she prayed every day for God to fill her with the Holy Spirit and that he would give her a boldness to share the gospel. And so while Steve was leading the study, this lady raised her hand. She said, I have a praise report. I've been praying for God's power in my life and I was able to lead an 85-year-old gentleman to Christ the other day. Isn't that great? So this isn't just for 18-year-olds.
This is for 82-year-olds. This is for everybody to go out into all of your world and preach the gospel and you can do this. This is the message we're given to proclaim. What is the gospel?
I've used that word a few times. The word gospel simply translated means good news. So I have some good news for you. God loves you.
Now I have some bad news for you. You're separated from this loving God by your sin. And when I say you, I mean me, I mean all of us because the Bible says we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There's nothing I can do through good works or moral living or even religious rituals to reach God. But the good news is God sent his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sin.
Remember I told you earlier it was God's plan. Jesus summed it up when he said, for God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son and whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. The father sent the son and the son willingly went and died on the cross for your sin. Now if you will turn from your sin and believe in Jesus, he will forgive you. Have you been forgiven of your sin?
Do you know that you'll go to heaven when you die? Are you ready for the Lord's return? If you would like Jesus Christ to come into your life, if you would like him to forgive you of your sin, if you would like to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ, I'm gonna stop right now and pray a simple prayer. I ask that you would pray this prayer with me and if you will pray this prayer and mean it, God will hear you and God will answer this prayer. So if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you wanna go to heaven when you die, if you wanna fill that hole in your heart, pray this prayer with me right now wherever you are. Just pray these words, Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I also know you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I choose to follow you now, Jesus, from this moment forward as my savior and Lord, as my God and friend. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer in Jesus' name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-03 16:37:12 / 2023-09-03 16:54:09 / 17