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Loving God: Getting Back Where You Belong

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 16, 2021 3:00 am

Loving God: Getting Back Where You Belong

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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December 16, 2021 3:00 am

Sometimes we all NEED a new beginning, don’t we? When our spiritual lives have meandered and we’re not as close to the Lord as we used to be, it’s okay to make an adjustment. God allows U-turns. It’s legal in every state! Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how we may have come to this point, and how we can get beyond – way beyond. And you want to invite someone else to hear today’s study, just direct them to our website. They can listen for free at

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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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We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.

Learn more and sign up at If you've noticed your spiritual momentum has taken you backwards, today Pastor Greg Laurie says it's time for a course correction. The Saint Paul said, get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing.

This is the day, the day where life begins. Sometimes we all need a new beginning, don't we? When our spiritual lives have meandered and we're not as close to the Lord as we used to be, it's okay to make an adjustment. God allows U-turns.

It's legal in every state. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how we may have come to this point and how we can get beyond, way beyond. And if you want to invite someone else to hear today's study, just direct them to our website.

They can listen for free at Well let's turn in our Bibles to Matthew chapter 22 and Revelation chapter 2. So go to 22 of Matthew and then mark Revelation 2 and we are going to pop over there in a moment.

The title of my message is, Loving God. Jesus had just dealt with the Sadducees as you recall. Now the Pharisees feel it is their turn and they come with this question. And we pick it up in Matthew 22 verse 34. When the Pharisees heard He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together and one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question testing Him.

So understand this was designed to paint Christ into a corner if you will. Testing Him and saying, Teacher which is the greatest commandment on the law? Jesus said, You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all of the law and the prophets. So here is what Christ is saying. Instead of worrying about all these little commandments and which one is worse than the other get back to this. Love God with all of your being. And I say all this stuff will be sorted out.

But guess what. This love that we have for Christ can be walked away from. Sometimes we don't love Him as we once did.

We look back in our lives as Christians and we will say, There was a time in my walk with the Lord where my love was much stronger than it is today. I have effectively left my first love. This happens in marriage all the time. You know when two people are newly married maybe you see them out and about. They are so affectionate. You see this young couple holding hands. Gazing into each other's eyes. Kissing. You say, They must be newly married.

Why? Because people who have been married for a while don't do that anymore. Well this happens in our faith too. Where that affection is gone. That passion is gone. The communication is broken down.

And in effect the honeymoon is over. This was the situation with the church in Ephesus that Jesus spoke to in the book of Revelation. They were an active, busy, engaged church but they were lacking in love.

So let's read about them now. Go over to Revelation where I had you turn. Revelation 2 verse 1. To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, These things says he that holds us seven stars in his right hand. This is speaking of Christ. Who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. This is a picture of the church.

So here is Jesus walking through the church. I know your works, your labor, your patience. You cannot bear those who are evil. You have tested those who say they are apostles and are not. And you have found them liars. Verse 3. And you have persevered and have patience and you have labored for My name's sake and you have not become weary.

Nevertheless I have this against you. You have left your first love. Now is this really that big of a deal? Oh yeah. Big thing. They left their first love. Yeah.

Actually it is a real big deal. Because if you read the words of Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation you will find things get progressively worse. Starting with a breakdown of the first love to the church of Ephesus and culminating with the outright rejection of Christ in the church of Laodicea where we find Jesus is on the outside trying to get in. Say, behold I stand at the door and knock and if you will hear My voice and open the door I will come in. That verse is often quoted as we tell nonbelievers about how they can accept Christ but in its context it was to the church.

The unbelieving church. And so this is how things can get worse. So yes it is a big deal to leave your first love because it can lead to worse things down the road. So I mean think about how things were when you first started taking your wife or your husband out somewhere. You know you did all the right things. First of all you opened the door for her.

Right? For your car. Do you still do that? Or do you just get in and she has to knock on the window because the door is locked. Knock knock knock knock. And you kick it open.

When you would go to a restaurant you would open the door for her. Right this way my dear. And then you go over to the table and you pull the chair out.

Here you go. Have a seat. Put it in. You would take her to her favorite French restaurant. You would have a little gift for her. You wanted to impress her. Then you got married.

Things have changed. You still open the car door for her. You just close it before she is all the way in. You still pull the chair out for her in the restaurant.

You just don't put it back in. And then when she falls on the ground you point and laugh. You still give her little gifts. Why you just gave her your dirty laundry yesterday. And you take her to the finest French restaurant. What was it?

Jean Kenzie Boxa. We will get some French fries. That is French isn't it?

Or we could go to Le Golden Arches. Ha ha. Now things have changed. And that can happen in your relationship with the Lord as well. Remember when you first came to faith in Jesus Christ. What a joy it was to pray. I mean you never knew that you could talk to God and you realized you could call upon Him wherever you were. No matter what you were facing you could pray.

It was a privilege and you utilized it. Then there was the Bible. The missing user's manual of life. Now you had the book that told you how to live your life. The book that told you what your priorities ought to be. The book that told you how to be a good husband, a good wife, a good parent.

The book that told you how to get to heaven most importantly. And then there was church. Man you couldn't wait to get to church. You would go to a Sunday service, a midweek service, even another service. Then you would listen to Bible teaching on the radio. Read Christian books. You couldn't get enough in your life. Sharing your faith.

Man that was easy. It was the overflow of a Christ-filled life. You are always looking for opportunities to talk to someone about Jesus. Well things have changed. You still study the Bible. It is not as much as you used to. After all you studied all those years.

That ought to be good for something. And you are not so sure you are going to read anything you haven't read before. So you will get to it if you find time in your busy schedule. Prayer. Oh yeah. You will pray.

It is not so much a time of prayer as much as it is just a quick prayer here and there. Oh yeah. Sure. You want to be at church and beg to sit in the same place every Sunday.

Thank you very much. And no one better try to take your stinking seat. But if that preacher goes over his allotted time you are not happy. And you also sometimes will leave early to beat the traffic.

Oh yeah. You still share your faith once in a while. But you feel now they should just look at your example as a follower of Jesus as opposed to actually going and starting a conversation.

You know how awkward and uncomfortable that can be. Here is my question for you. Have you left your first love? Jesus says, remember from where you have fallen.

Interesting word. Fallen. Is it falling to leave your first love? Why yes it is.

Because it can lead to worse things. A classic example of this is King David. We remember him as the man after God's own heart as he is described in Scripture. The sweet psalmist of Israel. The greatest king in the history of the nation of Israel. But also we have to if we are honest remember he was an adulterer and in effect a murderer.

How did that happen? Well that happened when he left his first love. He didn't start that way. When we are first introduced to David he is a young boy watching a flock of sheep writing love songs to God. I don't think he was some just really sensitive kind of an artist.

No. He would go out and fight wild animals as well and defend his sheep. He was a tough man but he also had a sensitive heart. But fast forward a number of years now. In the Bible says in the time when kings would lead their troops forth to battle David was back home. Just kicking back.

Sleeping in late. Walking around on his rooftop patio when he catches sight of a beautiful woman bathing herself appropriately named Bathsheba. David sees her. He lusts after her. He has her brought up to his chambers. He has sex with her.

She becomes pregnant. You know the rest of that story. And it all fell apart for him. But you see at this stage in his life you don't read of David writing these beautiful psalms that we read.

You don't read of David singing to the Lord as he often would out in the wilderness and later for King Saul. You don't see this tender heart. It is gone. He has moved beyond it. He left his first love and his life was a mess as a result. Have you left your first love?

It can happen so easily. So we need to get back to that love and love the Lord with all of our heart soul and mind. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Right after a quick look at the way a new beginning touches the lives of listeners.

Dear Greg Laurie. I'm 10 years old and I've been a Christian since I was age three or four. My family started listening to you as COVID hit last year. I really like your services and hope that when Jesus comes back that I can take my favorite cats with me.

I watched a rush of hope and loved it. I also love seeing your Bradley Brown and watch you on Harvest at Home. I hope you will preach on Matthew 4 1 through 11 as it's my favorite story. Love you lots. Wow. She that's a great little letter isn't it.

10 years old. She wants to take her cat to heaven. I don't know what I can say about that.

But I'll tell you this much. I'm so glad that she's watching and it's getting through to her that she left a rush of hope. I'm always thrilled when I get a letter from a kid. I have to tell you I have a soft spot in my heart for little ones.

I love to engage them because you know you never know that might sow a little seed in their heart that will break ground later. But we love children and we're so thankful children are watching our ministry that we put out there online and on radio. And if you're a little kid and you're listening right now I'm so thankful you're listening.

And I know a lot of times you tell me you love the jokes so the jokes are going to keep coming kids and keep listening. You know these daily studies connect with people of all ages and connect with people all over the world. And it's only possible through the partnership of our listeners. Thank you for your support of A New Beginning.

And you can send a generous year end gift today by going to And now Pastor Greg continues his message called Loving God. How can you tell if you or someone else really loves God? Here are some tests if you will to see if your love for God is real.

Number one. If you really love God you will long for personal communion with Him. If you really love God you will long for personal communion with Him. When you really love someone you like to spend time with them. You enjoy their company and their companionship. When you hear of husbands and wives spending less time together and taking separate vacations this is not a good sign.

I don't say this to impress you but if it does good. I love to hang out with my wife. She is my best friend. I don't know how she feels about me but I like to be with her.

I value her opinion. And we are there together a lot. And we spend a lot of time together. And that is because we are in love. And if you really love the Lord you will want to be in fellowship with Him.

Number two. A person who loves the Lord will in turn love the things that He loves. You will love the things that He loves. And we know what He loves by what He has declared in His Word. The psalmist declares, Oh how I love Your Word it is my meditation day and night.

So here is my question for you. Do you love the Word of God? I mean love it. Not tolerate it. Not put up with it. Or go through your duty and read your five verses.

Glad that is over. No. Do you love the Word of God? God loves this Word. Do you love hanging out with the people of God? God loves the church.

Do you love lost people? God does. If you love the Lord you will long for fellowship with Him and you will love the things that He loves. And the flip side of that is if you love the Lord you will hate the things that He hates.

Because His nature is becoming your nature. Psalm 97 says, You that love the Lord hate evil. And God hates sin and we should do the same. The Bible tells us in Romans 12 to abhor that which is evil.

The problem is sometimes we are fascinated with evil. Well what is this? I want to check this out.

It is research of course. No. You should hate evil.

And see it is God sees it. That image comes up on the TV screen or whatever. Oh.

No. Turn it off. Turn away from it.

That is not right. I know that is something God hates and I don't want to be fascinated by something God hates and I certainly don't want to love it. Another thing to keep in mind is if you love God you will love other Christians. Don't tell me you love God who you can't see when you don't love people whom you can see. Your love isn't real for God if you hate other Christians. That is what the Bible says. We are told over in 1 John 3.14, If we love other Christians it proves we have passed from death to eternal life. But a person who doesn't love them is still dead. Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. So don't tell me you love the Lord and then you are harboring hatred toward fellow believers.

Number five. If you really love the Lord you will long for the return of Jesus Christ. You will long for His return. 2 Timothy 4a Paul says, There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me in that day, and not to me only, but to all who love His appearing. Do you love His appearing?

By that I mean are you longing for the return of Jesus? And number six and lastly, If you love the Lord you will keep His commandments. Jesus says in John 14 21, He that has My commandments and keeps them, He is the one that loves Me, and the one who loves Me I will love, and I will disclose Myself to him.

If you love God you will do what He says. Let's just say that I walked up to you and I said, I love you. You said, Thank you so much Greg.

You are welcome. Then I slapped you across the face. Wow. That hurt. Why did you do that?

I don't know. I don't know what came over me because I love you so much and I am so sorry. Will you forgive me? Wow.

My face is still stinging but ok. I will forgive you. I love you. I love you. And I punched you in the solar plaques. Oh.

You can hardly even breathe. Why didn't you do that? I don't know. I love you so much. And I just. Why did I do that?

Oh man. Can you forgive me? I will never do it again. Ok.

I am just starting to breathe again. Yes. I forgive you. I forgive you. Yeah.

You know what? I love you. Then boom. I hit you right across the jaw. Knocked you off your feet. And I said, I am so sorry. Why did I do that? I don't know why. I love you.

And you got up and started running. Every time I say I love you you want to get away from me. Here is the problem. My actions don't match my words. You say, well Greg that was bizarre. What did you say that for? Oh I love you so much Lord. I love you more than anything else. And then you go out and you sleep with your boyfriend, your girlfriend.

You are unfeatful to your spouse. Oh I love you so much Lord. You are so good. Let's get drunk today man.

Party. Oh I love you so much Lord. And then you tell a lie about someone. Wait a second. If you love him keep his commandments.

And if you are not willing to keep his commandments stop talking about your love for God. The proof is in the pudding. I have no idea what that expression means. Proof is in the pudding.

I have been looking for it. Is it weird? I guess it means the pudding tastes good.

Oh it is good pudding. The proof is in your actions and what you do. Well let's just say you have walked away from your first love. You have left it.

How do you get it back? Go back to Revelation. Jesus gives the three R's of getting back to your first love.

R number one. Remember. Remember. Or literally keep on remembering. Remember where you are at at your highest point of love for Jesus.

Another translation puts it, remember the height from which you have fallen. What was the high point for you? Is it a year ago? Is it a month ago? Is it a decade ago? Is it three decades ago?

I don't know. But there was a point where you say, Ok that is when I was firing on all cylinders. That was it right there. Yeah. Ok remember that. Keep that in your mind for a moment. That is a point of reference that you want to return to.

Now R number two. Repent. First you remember. Then you repent. What does repent mean?

It means to change your direction. Go back to where you were before. As St. Paul said, Get back. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged. That is St. Paul McCartney by the way.

Not St. Paul the Apostle. No. Get back to where you were before. First I remember. Then I get back. Go back there again. And here is the most important thing. Repeat.

Do the first works quickly. Repeat. What was it like when your Christian life was at its highest point? What did you do? Well every day I would get up and read the Bible.

Really? Do that again. What else did you do? Well you know after I read the Bible I read good Christian books. I would do that too. I would listen to Christian radio. Yeah do that as well. Praise music. Do that too.

What else? Well I prayed all the time. Prayed in the morning. Prayed in the afternoon. Prayed while I was driving with my eyes open of course. Yeah.

Go back and do that too. What else? Well I loved church. Man I couldn't get enough church. I just loved to hear the Word of God and fellowship with God's people and be a part of what the Lord was doing.

Yeah. Go back and do that as well. What else did you do? Well I actually looked for opportunities to share my faith. I prayed that the Lord would lead me. And as a matter of fact I was leading people to the Lord all the time. Why don't you go back and start doing that too.

Go back and do the first works quickly. This isn't rocket science. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, the core of your being. With all of your soul, your emotion.

With all of your mind, your reason, and your intellect. And with all of your strength, with everything you have, channel it into loving God. And then love your neighbor as yourself. And if you live that way everything in life will come into its proper place and balance.

But listen. Before I can fully love God I need to know how much God loves me. Did you know God loves you? The Bible says we love Him because He first loved us. Our love for God is really a response to His love. How do I know God loves me? I mean I read in a book. God loves me.

Ok. How do I know? Because He proved it. How did He prove it? By sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross on my place. Jesus said, Greater love is no man than this and He laid down His life for His friends. Jesus went and laid His life down on the cross.

It wasn't nails that held Him to the cross 2,000 years ago. It was love for you and me. For God so loved the world Jesus said, He gave His only begotten Son and whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. So let me ask you in closing. Do you know that God loves you?

And have you responded to that love? If Jesus died and rose again from the dead and as I mentioned earlier He does stand at the door of your life and He does not and He says if you will hear His voice and open the door He will come in. Would you like Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sin right now? Would you like to be certain that when you die you will go to heaven?

Would you like your guilt taken away? God can do that for you. If you want to make this commitment to Jesus respond to this invitation right now as we close in prayer. Ok. Let's all bow our heads and everyone pray please. Father thank You for loving each one of us. And Lord Jesus thank You for demonstrating that love by going to the cross and dying there in our place. And now we pray for any that have joined us who do not yet know You. Lord help them to see their need for You.

Help them to come to You and find Your forgiveness we ask now. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie pointing out the need we all have to put our hearts right with God. It's the first multi-season series about the life of Christ and it's also, get this, the highest crowd-funded TV series or film project of all time. It's a series that portrays Christ through the eyes of those who met Him and walked with Him and it's powerful.

The cinematography is stunning and the acting is really first rate. And how accurate is it to what we read in Scripture? Well, the show has biblical scholars from a variety of denominations reviewing scripts to ensure historical and biblical accuracy. The Chosen helps you see what it's like to live life side by side with Jesus as he encounters needy people who need a touch of the Master's hand. Pastor Greg says this is the best portrayal of the life of Christ he's ever seen on film.

And we want to make season one of the critically acclaimed series called The Chosen available to you on DVD. It's our thank you gift for your donation right now. That's an investment in changed lives through a new beginning and through our large evangelistic events.

We heard this from someone who just attended SoCal Harvest a few weeks ago. I listened with my heart instead of my ears and it became clear I need Jesus in my life. Not tomorrow, not five minutes from now, but right now. Well your investment helps people have a moment of decision like that, so we hope you'll make a donation today. You can donate securely online at Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call anytime around the clock at 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Well Pastor Greg, if somebody listening right now knows they need to ask the Lord to forgive them of their sins, could you help them with that right now? You know what Dave, I'd love to do that. It's an amazing thing to me that over the years I've heard so many stories of people who have come to know Christ listening to this broadcast and they'll say things like I prayed that prayer with you at the end of the program. One guy wrote me and said I pulled my car over to the side of the road and prayed that prayer and Christ came into my life.

Just incredible. And I'd like to lead you in that same prayer. Look, I don't have some super special prayer. It's just a basic prayer based on scriptural principles of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.

I mean if we want to get real technical, the only sinner's prayer, if you will, and we often call this prayer a sinner's prayer, the only real sinner's prayer in the Bible is a guy who just prayed God be merciful to me a sinner. So I'm going to lead you in a prayer similar to that, but this is a prayer where you will be acknowledging your need for Jesus and putting your faith in him. So listen, if you want to go to heaven when you die, if you want to know that you are a child of God, if you want the Lord to forgive you of your sins, just pray these words if you would.

Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, and I'm sorry for my sin, and I turn from that sin, but I know that you died on the cross of Calvary for my sin and rose again from the dead, so forgive me, Lord. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. I want you to be my Savior.

I want you to be my friend. I want you to be my God. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name, I ask this. Amen.

I know. Some of you are saying, oh, that's so simple. It is simple, yet it's profound, isn't it, to think that God Almighty just heard that prayer and has answered that prayer and that Christ has come to live inside of you? You might say, well, Greg, I didn't have an emotional experience.

This is not about an emotional experience. This is about the fact of what happens when a person believes. Jesus said it this way. For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, and whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. When you prayed that prayer, you were in effect putting your faith in Christ.

You were choosing to believe in Jesus. Now I want to help you start growing spiritually, so I have something to send you at no charge. It's my gift to you. It's called The New Believer's Packet, and in it is a copy of the New Testament in a very friendly, understandable translation called The New Living Translation. It also has some notes that I wrote, hundreds of notes, actually, that will encourage you in this commitment you've made.

These notes will answer a lot of the questions you probably have right now, and there's some other materials in this packet as well. So order your copy of The New Believer's Packet immediately, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to lead you in that prayer. And I wanted to be the first to say to you, welcome to the family of God.

I'm your host, Ken Ever wonder how long your life will last? Well, next time, Pastor Greg points out your life will last exactly as long as God planned it from the very beginning. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-08 18:28:56 / 2023-07-08 18:42:10 / 13

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