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Never Say Never | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2022 3:00 am

Never Say Never | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 9, 2022 3:00 am

Our love for God and for others should motivate us to take the gospel everywhere. In this Sunday morning episode, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us how to put away prejudices and share the Good News widely in his message, “Never Say Never.” 

Listen in for the latest message from the book of Acts!

Notes

Our marching orders are clear:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel, making disciples of all nations.”

God can and will be found by the true seeker. 

This was not about food but people, people that God happened to love.

It’s time to stop dividing and start uniting.

We too can be hard and angry toward people who have hurt us in life.

Take the gospel message to the people who have mistreated you. 

“Everything in life is preparation for something else.” —Pastor Chuck Smith 

Because a man overcame his personal prejudice, revival came. Can you overcome yours? 

Maybe certain things have happened to you that mystify you … remember, God is in control and the “steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” 

Never say never!

Never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God.

Before Jesus prayed “if it is possible, let this cup pass from me,” He said, “Abba Father, all things are possible for You” (Mark 14:36).

We are not childish but childlike; open to and dependent on God without embarrassment.

No life is an unfinished life.

Even if it’s a short life, if it’s lived for God’s glory, it’s still a success.

Not my will, but Yours be done!

If we believe in the providence of God, we know that the Lord is in control of all things.

If we are a true Christian, we do not have the liberty of saying, “never, Lord!”

Who is God calling you to reach out to right now?

God has prepared you to bring the gospel to other people.

Jesus Christ died on the cross for you!

Scripture Referenced

Jeremiah 29:13

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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. Don't forget to subscribe to our channel. Thanks for listening.

Don't forget to subscribe to our channel. Thanks for listening. Thanks for listening. Thanks for listening.

Don't forget to subscribe to our channel. Thanks for listening. Thanks for listening. Thanks for listening. Thanks to you to subscribe to us. Don't forget to subscribe to us.

Don't forget to subscribe to our channel. Thanks for listening. Thanks for listening. Thanks to you to subscribe to our channel. Thanks for listening. sheet was let down by the four corners.

And the sheet was filled with all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. And the voice said to him, �Get up Peter. Kill and eat them. Never Lord,' says Peter." I want you to underline those two words. Never Lord.

We are going to come back to them a little bit later. �Never Lord,' says Peter. �I have never in all of my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws.� The voice spoke again and said, �If God says something is acceptable don't say it isn't.� So imagine this. Here is Peter. He goes into this trance. And here is this big sheet. Sort of like a sail. Think of a picnic blanket.

Just really big. Filled with all of these critters that the Mosaic Law says a good Jew should not eat. And God then says, �Kill and eat.� This would be like a very health conscious person having a sheet lowered in front of them and it has In-N-Out burgers and Chipotle burritos and nachos with extra cheese and malts and Italian food or pizza or whatever lowered in front of you and being told to eat it. By the way I think I just described all of my favorite foods. Or then again it might be someone like me having a sheet lowered and it is filled with vegetables and kale and things I don't like.

The idea is this was alien. But this actually is not about food. This is about Peter leaving his comfort zone. God was using the food that was in this sail or this picnic blanket if you will as a metaphor to say you need to get out of your comfort zone and reach someone you would not normally reach. And as it turns out that someone was this man named Cornelius whose messengers are now coming to Peter's house. I think in the church today we are dividing over minutia.

And I think the devil is in the details. I know people who have left churches because why. They are not political enough or they are too political or I don't like the way that they are dealing with COVID or they have these different ideas about all these things and we just get smaller and smaller and smaller and pretty soon it becomes us four and no more and I am not sure about the rest of you. And I think this is a time right now in the church where we need to stop dividing and start uniting. Let's not let secondary issues keep us from the main issue which is the gospel and specifically bringing the gospel to our generation. Paul writes in the book of Ephesians chapter 4 verse 8, make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit. Building yourselves together and binding yourselves together with peace. Paul is saying make every effort to just get along. To stand together. Because when a secular culture sees a divided church they don't want to hear what we have to say.

Let's stand together in this crucial hour especially as we are entering into a new year. It is interesting. Peter was hanging out in a place called Joppa.

Ever heard of that place before? If you know the story of Jonah you remember that when the Lord came to Jonah and told him to go take the gospel to the massive city of Nineveh Jonah got on a boat and went to Joppa. You see he was running away from God. Why did Jonah not want to take the gospel to the Ninevites? Because they were the enemies of Israel. And he thought well if I don't take God's truth to them and tell them to repent then God will judge them.

And that will be one less enemy we have to deal with. And so he went in the opposite direction. You know the story. The Lord got Jonah's attention through a great fish that swallowed him that came right on the heels of a storm. So God said go. Jonah said no. God said oh. God will always have the last word. Finally Jonah repents and he does what God told him to do in the first place.

But here is the point. In this place called Joppa two events happen. In one instance Jonah is told to go bring the truth of God's Word to wicked people and he refuses and he eventually capitulates and not only does he preach to them but they have a great spiritual awakening in that city. And also in this city of Joppa Simon Peter is told to take the gospel to people he doesn't necessarily want to take the gospel to. That is non-Jews or Gentiles. But in his case he does what the Lord has told him to do.

Here is something I want you to think about. Would you consider taking the gospel to someone you are not comfortable with? Someone different than you. Now let me take it a step further. Would you consider taking the gospel to someone who perhaps has hurt you in life?

I have a challenge for you in 2022. Take the gospel to people who have mistreated you. I know I am talking to somebody right now that has been hurt in life. Someone who has been ignored.

Someone who has been neglected. There is someone that has made your life much harder and you are hoping that one day they will get theirs. That they will get judged for it. But instead you should be thinking about them and praying for them. Because Jesus said in Matthew 5 44, love your enemies. Bless those that curse you.

Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spiritually use and persecute you. I saw an interesting interview the other day with billionaire Elon Musk. He did it with the Babylon Bee.

Now the Babylon Bee is a satirical Christian website. And they noticed that Musk followed them on Twitter. So they asked for the impossible and said to him, would you be willing to let us interview you. Much to their shock and delight he agreed.

But he said, you have to come to me. So they went and they sat down with Elon Musk for an hour and a half. They talked about a lot of things. Electric cars.

Space travel. But then they had a conversation about faith. And one of the guys that works there at the Babylon Bee asked Elon if he would like to accept Jesus Christ into his life as his personal Lord and Savior. This is the richest man in the world.

This man I think certainly is a genius. And they ask him this question. He ponders it. He thinks about it. He says, I admire many of the teachings of Jesus including turning the other cheek and going the extra mile and forgiving people.

And I found that really interesting as the conversation began to open up. And these are admirable teachings of Jesus Christ of course. That we are to forgive. It is much easier to talk about than it is to do. Right.

It was C.S. Lewis who said, everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until you have someone to forgive. Would you be willing to leave your comfort zone and go to a person who has even hurt you? Now you may know this about me already but if you don't I was not raised in a Christian home. My mother was a raging alcoholic and she was married and divorced seven times. And so this was hard for me as a little kid growing up. And after I came to Christ at the age of 17 I felt led to go back to my mother's old husbands and share the gospel with them. My dad's if you will.

One was very successful. His name was Oscar Laurie. He adopted me.

Hence my last name. And Oscar was older when I made contact with him. I had not seen him since my childhood.

He was living in New Jersey practicing law. But he had some heart problems and had blacked out behind the steering wheel of his car and driven into a post. And his doctor had him on special medication.

He had to exercise every day. Anyway I reconnect with Oscar who I always loved and respected because he was the only guy my mom ever married that cheated me as a father ought to treat. A son. He gave me an allowance. He disciplined me. He gave me fatherly advice. It was really hard when my mom left him and tore me away from him. So I go back to see him.

I am a young adult now. I am married. I go there with my wife Kathy and our oldest son Christopher who was just a little boy. And so that first night we were together. We went and stayed at his house for a couple of days.

He had remarried a lady named Barbara. And so she asked me to tell my story of how I came to faith, which I did. And she was very responsive to everything I was saying. And my dad sitting on the other end of the table, remember he is an attorney, felt like I am in a courtroom giving my testimony. And he doesn't even react. He has his hands up to his face. He is listening.

It felt like he is the judge and I am not doing very well. And after it was all over he said, Greg will you walk with me in the morning. And I said yes. And so we got up very early in the morning. Six o'clock East Coast time. Three o'clock California time. We start our walk.

It is very brisk and cold out. He says, Greg I have been thinking a great deal about what you said last night. I said, right. He said, I want to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior right now. Well talk about a wake up call.

Boom. I just jolted awake and I said I couldn't believe he said this because I didn't think he was really all that responsive. I told him how to accept Christ again. He said, I want to do it right now. He says, what do I need to do? I said, well dad we need to pray. He drops to his knees.

We are like in a park. He is on his knees. Oh I wasn't going to get on my knees but since he was on his knees I got on my knees too. I let him in this prayer. And he says, Greg pray that God heals my heart. I said, well dad, ok I will pray. And we prayed. And he says, I want to go to my doctor and tell him I have accepted Jesus and God has healed my heart.

I am thinking, well we don't know if he healed your heart. No let's go to him because he is not far from here. We can walk over. So we walk over to this doctor's office. Nice Jewish man. My dad walks in.

Hey doc this is my son Greg. He is a preacher from California. I just accepted Jesus and Jesus has healed my heart as well.

I am thinking oy vey what is going to happen here. Well they did tests on my dad and as it turned out his heart was healed. He went on to live another 15 years. Got very involved in this church. A beautiful story. Redemption from my old life. Well there was this other guy my mom married.

One of the seven. He lived in Hawaii. In fact after my mom left Oscar she went to Hawaii.

And this is the guy she left Oscar for. This guy was a violent alcoholic. And so him and my mom would drink and get into fights.

But I mean real fist fights. And one night he took a wooden statue and hit my mother on the head. Knocked her unconscious. I heard this loud thud as her body hit the ground. I came out of my bedroom and there lying on the floor is my mother with blood coming out of her head. He is holding this statue in a menacing way.

He says, go back to your bed. It is just ketchup. Well I knew what it was. And so I had a real hardened heart toward this man.

So now fast forward many years. I am over in Hawaii preaching at the Waikiki Shell. And someone contacts me and says, you know your dad lives not far from here and he is very sick and he might die. Will you go to him? You know what my reaction was?

No thank you. I didn't want to go to him. I didn't want to share the gospel with him.

I didn't care about him at all. In fact I was angry at him still. The Lord spoke to my heart. You go to him right now.

So I did. And I told him all about my faith, what Jesus had done for me. He was the very opposite in reaction to Oscar.

Oscar embraced Christ. This man wanted nothing to do with it. And here is the point. My job is to deliver the message. God's job is to convert people. But I bring this up simply to say sometimes God will lead us to leave our comfort zone and go to people we don't necessarily want to go to.

So look at how this story unfolds. Acts chapter 10 verse 24. So now Peter has left Joppa. He has come to Caesarea. That is where Cornelius was.

They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for him and had called together his relatives and close friends to meet Peter. As Peter enters his home Cornelius falls to the floor before him in worship and Peter pulls him up and says, hey man I am a human being just like you. Cornelius got up and they talked together and went inside where the others were assembled and Peter said, you know it is against the Jewish law for me to come into a Gentile home like this but God has shown me I should never think of anyone as impure and so as soon as I was sent for I came.

Tell me why you sent for me. What a scene. A Roman centurion. Remember a powerful man. A commander of a lot of other troops is down on his knees. This is the occupying force bowing before the occupied.

Peter immediately says, hey I am just a guy like you. But now I get it. He is putting two and two together. Now I understand the sheet coming down from heaven with all the creepy crawly animals they don't normally eat. It was never about food. It was always about reaching people like you. What a beautiful story this is. This reminds me of a story of a man I got to know very well. His name was Chuck Smith.

He left his comfort zone and a revival happened as a result. Chuck once said to me, Greg, everything that happens in life is preparation for something else. You might be going through something right now that makes no sense to you.

Why is this happening to me? You are asking God. God is preparing you. God was preparing Peter to meet Cornelius. God was preparing Cornelius to meet Peter. So Chuck Smith.

He is a pastor of a small church. And it is not growing as quickly as he hoped it would. And this is now the late 60s so the whole counter cultural generation is happening. And kids are changing overnight. When you go to the early 60s this is what kids look like. Fast forward a few years to the late 60s.

Now this is what the same kids look like. People thought we were losing our nation. There were riots in the streets and these kids were rebelling against society and rejecting all the values that had been given to him. It was actually a very dark time in American history. You think we are divided now.

We are. But we were very divided then. So Pastor Chuck Smith saw these long haired kids.

He wanted nothing to do with them. But his wife Kay saw them differently. She saw underneath that hair was a generation of kids searching for God. So she started praying for them. Sometimes she would go down with Chuck to Huntington Beach in Southern California where there were a lot of hippies roaming around and she would just pray.

And Chuck really wanted nothing to do with them. He thought they all needed a haircut and they needed to have a bath and get a job. By the way when I became a hippie I was a clean hippie. I don't know why. I even ironed my clothes. My hippie clothes.

Whatever. So they are praying. They are praying that God will touch this generation. And so they started praying, Lord we want to meet a hippie and try to understand these people better. One day a genuine living breathing hippie shows up at their door who is a Christian. They start talking to them. And Chuck decides to open up his church to these kids.

Now this was a radical thing to do. But they let the kids start coming in. Next thing you know there is tons of kids. But the funny thing is the young counterculture kids sat on one side of the church and the more conservative buttoned up people sat on the other side of the church. And the church is growing. And Chuck is very excited about this. And so they had just laid down some brand new carpeting. Green shag as I recall which was very big in the late 60's and early 70's.

And avocado green to be specific. But anyway so the kids were showing up at church barefoot. And the elders said to Chuck, you can't have those barefoot kids come in the church.

They have to wear shoes. So the next Sunday Chuck was sitting in the foyer where people came into the church with a wash basin to wash the feet of the kids so they could come to church while the board stopped hassling them or the elders stopped hassling them about that. And then this revival broke out. And in this revival which was the last great spiritual awakening in American history known as the Jesus movement all kinds of amazing things were happening. Thousands of these kids were coming to Christ. I was one of them that came to Christ back then. And a whole new form of music was born called Jesus music. We now call it contemporary Christian music.

And contemporary worship was born right before our eyes and the impact of this movement continued to this day. And by the way we are going to start shooting a film called Jesus Revolution. God willing this year it will be directed by John Irwin of the Irwin Brothers. It will be a major theatrical film that will be released in the following year.

2023. But we want to tell the story to a new generation to say God can send a spiritual awakening again. But I brought the story up because this is a guy that like Peter left his comfort zone and obeyed God and the result was thousands of people came to believe in Jesus. So Peter had gotten the memo. He preaches the gospel to Cornelius.

Cornelius believes. Imagine if Peter had disobeyed. Peter said, no I won't do it. It would have changed everything.

But because he obeyed Cornelius was impacted as were many other people and even to this day we see the impact. So Peter's initial response was never Lord. By the way those words don't go together. Never Lord. No.

No. If it is Lord it is yes Lord. It is never Lord.

So never say never. To say no Lord or never Lord is what I would call an oxymoron. You know what an oxymoron is. It is a term that seems to contradict. For instance jumbo shrimp. That is an oxymoron.

How can it be a shrimp if it is jumbo? Or true fiction. Oh wait. If it is fiction how can it be true? Or virtual reality. That is very big today with the metaverse. Virtual reality.

Well it is not really reality if it is virtual is it? How about this one. Civil war. If it is a war it doesn't seem like it is civil. Deafening silence.

How can silence be deafening? Or genuine imitation. This is genuine imitation leather.

Well how can it be genuine and an imitation. Here is a couple more oxymorons. Buying food. Here is another one. Government efficiency.

We don't have government efficiency. And here is one more I will add to the list. Never Lord. Or no Lord. If He is Lord you should always say yes.

Yes Lord. Or maybe how Lord. Or when Lord.

Or where Lord. But never say never. Never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. Has God called you to do something but you have said to Him no Lord.

Or never Lord. You know Jesus faced this when He was on His way to the cross to die for our sins. In a garden called Gethsemane Jesus is under such intense pressure Dr. Luke says He sweat as it were great drops of blood. This may have been a medical condition called hematridrosis where when a patient is under intense pressure and stress they literally sweat blood.

That is blood is combined with their actual perspiration. So Jesus is most likely sweating blood as He contemplates the horrors of the cross. He knows He is going to be scourged. He knows He is going to be beaten. He knows His beard will be ripped from His face and a crown of thorns will be placed upon His head. He knows that He will be nailed to a cross. But worst of all He who has never sinned knows He will have to bear all of the sin of all of humanity.

And from this He recoils. And in the Garden of Gethsemane He says, Father if it is possible let this cup pass from Me. He wasn't saying no Lord. But what He was saying was, Lord if there is any other way let's go that way.

And it is not a bad thing to ask the Lord to make the cup pass. And by that I mean you say Lord is there a way out of this. This storm I am in. Could You get me out of this storm? This medical problem I have.

Could You heal it? And sometimes God will calm the storm. Sometimes God will heal the illness. And sometimes He will just walk with us through it.

And so Jesus knew that this is what He had to do to deal with the sin of the world. Sometimes in life things happen. A loved one will die unexpectedly. I know with COVID so many have lost their lives and it is so tragic. When we see a young person die we think this is the worst tragedy of all.

And in many ways it is. We say they died before their time. Their life was cut short.

But I want you to think about this for a moment. No life is an unfinished life. We think success is a long life. Betty White the comedic actress just died at 99. Everyone expected her to make it to 100.

People Magazine even had an article about how Betty White is now 100. Well she didn't make it but she lived a very long life and she has been celebrated in the press for all of her accomplishments and so forth. But success is not merely a long life. Success is a life that is lived for the glory of God. Even if your life is short. If it is lived for God's glory it is still a success. Stephen had his life cut short if you will but his life impacted many.

As I have said before quoting Corrie ten Boom, the measure of a life is not its duration but its donation. So Jesus prays, Father not My will but Yours be done. I don't really want to do this Father. I don't want to bear the sin of the world but not My will but Yours be done.

And then He went and died on the cross for all of my sins. Every believer needs to say the same thing. All of us should say now at the beginning of 2022 not My will but Yours be done. Lord what do You want me to do with my life? What do You want me to do with this year?

What do You want me to do with the opportunities that are before You? Are You willing to reach out to someone that needs to hear the gospel? Maybe it is someone that has hurt you.

Maybe it is even someone You regard as an enemy. But listen they are loved by God. God loves the world. In fact He so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Let me come back to Elon Musk. Remember he was interviewed by the Babylon Bee. He talked about how he admired the teachings of Jesus. Then he said, I believe in what Einstein said. And Einstein said he believed in the God of Spinoza.

What does that mean? Well Spinoza's theory or idea of God was that God is disconnected from day-to-day life. He has sort of established an order in the universe and that is the extent of it. But if I could sit down with Elon Musk or anybody else I would say no God is very interested in our lives.

He is interested in the details of our lives. In fact God has a plan for our lives. He loves us. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29 and 11 where the Lord says, I know the thoughts that I think toward you says the Lord.

Thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope. Do you have this relationship with God? Do you see God is disinterested?

Disconnected? Did you know God loves you? Did you know God has a plan for you?

Coming back to Cornelius. He was seeking God. Am I talking to somebody right now that has been wondering how they can come into a relationship with God? Am I talking to someone who has just thought about their life and where it is going?

Or maybe someone you care about died and it was sort of a wake up call to you. You wonder where am I going to spend eternity? What happens when I die?

What am I supposed to be doing with my life? God made Himself known to the true seeker named Cornelius and He will make Himself known to you. Again as Scripture says, God speaking, those that seek Me will find Me if they search for Me with all of their heart. Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sin.

He rose again from the dead and He is alive and He is here with us right now and He is standing at the door of your life and He is knocking and He is saying if you will hear His voice and open the door He will come in. Would you like to find the meaning of life? Would you like to have the certainty that when you die you will go to heaven? Would you like to begin a relationship with this God who loves you? If so I am going to lead you in a simple prayer and I would ask you to pray this prayer out loud after me or in the quietness of your heart if you prefer. 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 hole in your heart filled. If you want to find the meaning and purpose of life pray this prayer right now after me. Ok. Pray these words. Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner but I know that You are the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin now and I choose to follow You from this moment forward. Thank You for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer in Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-30 15:19:26 / 2023-06-30 15:31:15 / 12

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