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 harvest.org. Have you ever felt that God let you down? Where were you when my marriage dissolved? Where were you when my child went astray? Where were you when my loved one died?
Pastor Greg Laurie points out God can make Himself very real to us in times when our minds are just swirling with questions. I don't understand this. I'm hurting. This doesn't make sense.
Why did you? It's okay to say those things. Oh, Greg, no, that's blasphemy. No, it is not blasphemy.
You can ask why. 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 when the angels are singing.
This is the day, the day when life begins. Much of life is bittersweet. There are good times. There are bad times. It's only during the bad times that we ask why. But the Lord wants to walk beside us through it all. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie draws from his own bittersweet experiences to bring us fresh perspective on the faithfulness and compassion of the Lord. Well see it is okay to bring our hurts and questions to God.
But it is also okay to leave the perplexing, vexing uncertainties in His hands. This is the day, the day when life begins. Well let's look now at our text John chapter 11. This is a story of people who had lost hope. It is a story of the death of a loved one, a man named Lazarus, and how his sisters Mary and Martha reacted. It is also a story of how Jesus reacts to such circumstances and how God can be glorified in such situations.
But it is a hopeful message. We see how the Lord deals with these people and how He deals with us. Before we read these verses let's just point out that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were a tight knit family. They were three siblings that loved each other. And they had a great home.
Everyone knew Martha was a killer chef. And Jesus loved to come visit. Showing up with a bunch of His friends. Hey we are here. Brought 12 friends.
Is that okay? And Martha who was so hospitable would always make up a fantastic meal for the Lord. These guys Mary, Martha, and Lazarus could legitimately say that Jesus of Nazareth was their personal friend because He frequented their home, which was within striking distance from Jerusalem there in Bethany.
So now tragedy comes even to their home. And Lazarus is very very ill. That is where the story starts. John 11 verse 1. Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany. The town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sister sent to him saying, Lord behold he whom you love is sick. So what do we learn from this story? Number one. Life is filled with pain, sorrow, and the death of loved ones.
Again. Life is filled with pain, sorrow, and the death of loved ones. I don't know why but some of us may think we are going to get a pass. We are going to somehow make it through life unscathed. Never having a major tragedy. Never having any kind of illness.
Never losing a loved one. It is just all going to be great. But then when it comes our way we are shocked. Don't be shocked.
It happens to everyone. Jesus said, in this world you will have tribulation. So it is going to come your way. It is going to knock at your door.
Number two. God loves us. God loves us. Don't rush over that and don't misunderstand it. Let it sink in. God loves you.
Listen to this. Whatever He does or allows to happen in your life as His child is motivated by His everlasting love for you. God says in His Word, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.
He loves you and He loved them. And Jesus would act in His time and in His way. Look at verse 4 and 5. When Jesus heard that He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Therefore when He heard that He was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. What? He did what? It seems like we would have read that when Jesus heard this because He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He found the fastest horse and ran full speed to get to His sick friend.
Or we could read that Jesus just appeared there. Boom. Hello everyone. What's up?
How can I help? No. Because He loved them He delayed His arrival. Remember His delays are not necessarily His denials. Just as surely as God has His will, He has His timing.
Ecclesiastes 3.11 says, God has made everything beautiful in His time. So here is what is really happening. Jesus is trying to help Mary and Martha to get the big picture. Guys I know it seems like I should come there right now but what I am going to do is better than what you are asking me to do.
I am going to go above and beyond your request. But when He finally shows up things are looking pretty bleak. Lazarus is not sick anymore. Lazarus is dead. He has been that way for four days.
The process of decomposition has already set in. Jesus not only did not come and heal His friend, He even missed His funeral. And so seeing Him coming down the road Martha is going to give Jesus a piece of her mind.
Look at John 11 verse 20. Then Martha as soon as she heard Jesus was coming when I met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Then Martha said to Jesus, Lord if You would have been here my brother would not have died, but even now I know whatever You ask of God He will give it to You. Jesus said, Your brother will rise again. Martha said, Well I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Do you believe this? Pretty fresh words from sister Martha here. Lord if You would have been here this would not have happened.
Allow me to loosely paraphrase it and I don't think I am taking any liberties here. Jesus Martha is saying, You blew it. We were bragging on You.
We were telling everyone. You were our close friend and You didn't show up when we needed You. Have you ever felt that God let you down? And have you ever asked God why?
God why? Where were You when my marriage dissolved? Where were You when my parents divorced? Where were You when my child went astray? Where were You when my loved one died? You might ask.
Now I want you to know something very important. Jesus does not rebuke Martha for what she said. You would have thought He would have said, Shut your mouth girl. Show some respect.
Do you know who I am? He didn't do that. He sort of absorbed it.
Why? Because in effect what Martha was doing was not all that bad. Oh sure she shouldn't have made these accusing remarks to Christ. But the fact is she was making them to Christ. In other words she was talking to Jesus. She wasn't running from Jesus.
She was running to Jesus with her problems. And that is what you need to do. You know people will say, Oh don't ever ask God why. You know what I would say? Ask God why as much as you want.
Don't expect an answer but ask away. You know what I say to you? Be honest with God. You think God doesn't see your heart when you pray.
So be honest. See God I am not happy right now. I don't understand this. I am hurting. This doesn't make sense.
Why did you. It is ok to say those things. Oh Greg no that is blasphemy. No it is not blasphemy. Jesus Himself said from the cross, My God.
My God. Why have you forsaken Me? Was that blasphemy?
No. He was calling on His Father. Underlying the words, My God.
My God. Lord I am calling on You. Look at the honesty of the psalmist as he deals with his problems.
And then he calls out to God. That is what we need to do. Don't withdraw from God and your Christian friends. Go to the Lord and cry out to Him. You can ask why.
You probably won't get an answer. You know old Job. We all know his story. And we remember that after he heard the horrible news of the death of his children that he worshipped God and said, Naked came I into this world.
Naked go I out. Blessed be the name of the Lord. And yet as you read through the book of Job he asked God why many times and he never really got an explanation. But let me ask you this. If the Lord were to actually tell you why certain things happened as they did would that erase your pain or heal your broken heart?
I mean let's just say God said, Ok. Ok. I am tired of you asking. Now I am going to tell you.
You ready? Write it down. I did this for this reason. And He gives it. What are you going to do? Oh ok.
I am great. Praise God. You are probably going to say, I don't agree with that. Yeah. I knew you would say that.
That makes no sense to me Lord. I mean I am sorry. Yeah. You know what.
That is probably why He doesn't tell you. Listen. We live on promises not explanations. And we shouldn't spend too much time asking why. Instead we should be asking the question what.
As in what am I supposed to do? You are to turn to the Lord. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Emails, letters and phone calls from listeners are so encouraging to us.
And they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Greg you have changed my life. I had graduated from college last year. I came back home and got a full time job and I was kind of putting my faith on the back burner as I was transitioning from being a student into full time work. And now in my mornings I listen to your podcast and I have never felt closer with the Lord.
I have been praying more and I have been going to church regularly. And your podcast has had an impact with my faith. So thank you for the work that you do in California.
I am here in Tennessee and I get to listen to you usually in the car on the way to the gym where I work out. And I love your message. I love the simplicity and I love the truth that you bring each and every single day. So thank you for sharing the word of the Lord and all that you do there with Harvest Ministries. What a great story of how Pastor Greg's teachings from God's word have made an impact on this man's life. And if you would like to listen to Pastor Greg's podcasts you can do that through Google, Apple, or Spotify. Or just go to Harvest.org.
That is Harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg continues now with his study. One of the most requested messages of the past year called Hope for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones. And now Jesus puts things in an eternal perspective.
Your brother will not die. Yeah. Yeah.
Lord I know resurrection. I have heard all that. Yeah. No. No.
No. Martha read my lips. I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me though he were dead yet shall he live.
Whosoever lives in him shall never die. Well that is Martha. She actually seems satisfied because we don't read much more than she said. But now along comes Mary. Now Mary is usually more soft spoken. Martha you always knew we had stood with her.
She spoke her mind. Mary more laid back. But Mary comes along in verse 32.
Look at that. Then Mary came where Jesus was and saw him and fell down at his feet saying, Lord if you would have been here my brother would not have died. Same statement as Martha. Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her weeping he groaned in the Spirit and was troubled. And he said, Where have you laid him? They said, Lord come and see. Now the shortest verse in the Bible. Verse 35. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, See how he loved him.
That brings me to point number three. Jesus weeps with us in our time of pain. Jesus weeps with us in our time of pain. Yes Jesus was God with all of his power and glory but he was also a man and he was a man who felt our pain and sorrows. Isaiah 53 says, He was despised and rejected. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with the most bitter grief. He carried our weaknesses and our sorrows weighed him down. He knows. He voluntarily put himself in the way of danger to bear our sorrows on the cross.
Why would he do this? Hebrews 2.17 gives the answer. It says, It was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect just like us and since he has gone through suffering and temptation he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Listen to this. If it breaks your heart it breaks his as well. Scripture reminds us that God keeps our tears in a bottle. In fact we are told in Psalm 56 says, You keep track of all of my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. When I was in Israel in 2008 before our son died we were running through town and we went to a Jewish antiquity store I had heard about and they had relics dating back to 3,000 years. Amazing. It is like a museum except they let you hold things.
Just don't drop them. It costs a fortune. And so I was looking around and it is a lot of fragments of pottery and you know a lot of just very weathered things understandably. And standing out in the midst of all of these antiquities was this beautiful translucent blue bottle. And I asked the man who owned the store, Sir what is this blue bottle? He says, Oh that is a Roman tear bottle. I said, Really? I have never heard of a Roman tear bottle.
What is that? He says, Well the Romans believed that when they lost a loved one if they put their tears in a bottle they would be recorded in heaven. Well I was immediately reminded of what the psalmist said where he says that you keep my tears in a bottle. Well I have a tear bottle.
Not this one. It was too much money. It is still there probably. But I have a tear bottle in heaven where God keeps record of every tear I have shed. Where God keeps a record of every tear you have shed.
God keeps our tears in a bottle so He may wipe them away some day. Let's read just a few more verses and we will end. Look at verse 33 of John 11. When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her He was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled and Jesus was troubled and they came to the grave and it was a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.
This word for trouble could be better translated. He was mad. Yes He was angry and He was ticked off. And why was Jesus mad? Was Jesus angry with the mourners and those who were crying? What is wrong with you people?
Absolutely not. He felt complete compassion. Don't forget He wept with them. Now I will tell you who He was angry with. He was angry with a grim reaper if you will.
He was angry with death itself. This was not the way it was meant to be. There should have never been death. There should have never been aging. There should have never been disability.
There should have never been sickness. I should have hair. Just thought I would throw that in to see if you are listening.
That is the least of the concerns right? I have often wondered if in heaven when we get our glorified body if we will all be bald like me. Maybe this is the perfected state and you that have hair it is a part of the curse.
Seriously. Death is an aberration. Death is not the way it was meant to be. But the curse came because of the fall and Jesus was angry about that. But now He is going to put God's glory on display despite this tragedy bringing me to my final point number four. God can be glorified through human suffering and bring good despite the bad. I am going to deal with this more in our next message in this series. But of course we all know what happened. Lazarus was raised from the dead.
I don't think that is the big part of the story but it is the significant part. He calls him back from the grave. You know I feel kind of sorry for Lazarus. Honestly if you could interview someone in heaven and say, yeah we are kind of thinking it would be good if you came back to earth again but we want to give you a choice. Do you think they would come? That would be like trying to get a kid out of Disneyland that has been there for like 12 minutes. Time to go now. I don't want to go. Yeah. It is time to leave heaven now and come back to this stinking earth.
No. That is ok. I will stay here. But Lazarus had no choice. Because Jesus called to the other side. When Jesus calls people answer. It is a good thing Jesus did not just say come forth because everybody at every grave would have come out simultaneously globally.
He singled it out. Lazarus. Come forth. And up from the grave He arose wrapped in bandages. But the bad thing for Lazarus is he had to die twice. It is not bad enough to die once.
He had to die twice. So God was glorified through all of this. But listen to this. Sometimes God is glorified through the removal of the affliction. And you have some problem. And you have people pray and it goes away. Praise God for that. Or the doctor does a surgery and you are cancer free.
Or they take care of that heart issue or whatever it is. And we thank God. We thank our doctor.
Of course we pay him as well. But we realize God is the one ultimately in control. So that is wonderful. But then there are times when the surgery does not go as hoped. There are times when the illness is not removed. The problem is not taken away. And then God can be glorified through the enduring of the affliction.
And listen to this. It is through hardship we will develop hope. You would think the best way to find hope is to have a trouble-free life. Right?
No. The best place to find hope is through the crisis of life because Romans 5-3 says, We glory in tribulation knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, which means endurance, and perseverance produces character and character produces hope. Hope is going to come through hardship. So when a Christian suffers and still glorifies God it reassures the rest of us that there will never be a valley so deep that God will not get us through it. And it also reminds us that death is not the end. Physical death is not the end of existence. It is just a change in the state of existence. The tomb is not the entrance to death but the entrance to life. Heaven is the earthly life of the believer glorified and perfected.
When a believer dies they go into God's presence. That is the ultimate hope. Do you have that hope? What are you hoping then? Everybody hopes in something. Some may be hoping themselves.
They are like Maria in The Sound of Music. Remember? I have got confidence in confidence. What are you? Nuts? You have confidence in confidence?
No. That is not going to sustain you. Oh well I have my hope in technology.
Really? Oh I am putting my hope in politicians. I really feel sorry for you. Listen. This is a tried and tested truth I am saying to you now. Put your hope in God. He will never let you down.
That is it. It is true because the Bible says it is true. But let me just say personally I know it is true because I have put it to the test. And God has been there for me and He will be there for you. And no matter what you face in life He will walk with you through it. The psalmist said, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. You are either hopeful or hopeless. The Bible says in Proverbs 10 28, The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked are all in vain. Hope in God.
Let me ask you in closing is that what your hope is? Maybe you are facing crisis right now. Maybe you have just heard the worst news imaginable. Maybe you are going through troubles in your marriage. Troubles at work. Troubles with your family. Physical troubles. Health troubles. Financial troubles.
The list goes on. I am sure one of those categories applies to you. You are just in anguish or you are in anxiety right now. And you wonder what do I do.
Here is what you do. You call out to God. And here is the great hope the Christian has. No matter what happens in life we have the guaranteed assurance that when we die we will go to heaven. It is called win-win.
Win-win. Is Christ living inside of you? Do you know that you will go to heaven when you die? If not do you want this hope?
You can find it right now. We are going to close in prayer and I am going to give you an opportunity to put your faith in Jesus Christ. Let's all bow our heads. Father I pray for everybody here. Everybody listening to this message. I ask Lord that You will help them to see how much You love them. Help them to realize Jesus died on the cross for them. And help them to turn from their sin and come to You now and be forgiven. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer about coming to the Lord to find forgiveness of sins. And if you would like to do that Pastor Greg will help you in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. Well it's such a privilege to have Pastor Levi Lusko with us today.
He's author of the new children's devotional book Roar Like a Lion. And it comes at a perfect time because of what's going on in the world. You know COVID caught the world by surprise. It just upended everything but it didn't catch God by surprise. Levi what does your book tell us about trusting the Lord and the unexpected trials of life?
Yeah absolutely Dave. I think this book is hopefully going to help people to train for the trials they're not yet in. Every single person, every single family is going to suffer some sort of difficulty or loss. It's not a question of if but rather when. And the Bible says that if we have a righteous heart we have an everlasting foundation and when the whirlwinds of this life come we won't be moved.
But the person who builds their house on sand is going to have the trial destroy them. So we talk a lot in the book about how to get ready for hard things that are going to come and how to respond to them when they do by fixing our eyes on Jesus and by having faith. And we talk specifically in the book there's a whole entry just to help people kind of view hard things differently and to believe that good things can come out of hard situations just like the cross which led to our salvation. Yeah there's a little sidebar in this particular chapter that's called Stuck where he talks about what happens when you do get stuck and he said, Did you know? Have you ever seen a movie or a cartoon where people get stuck in quicksand? The more they move the deeper they get pulled in. You may thought that only happens on TV but quicksand is real. It's a mixture of sand and water and because the water doesn't reach all the way to the top quicksand looks like regular sand but if a person or an animal steps in it they'll begin to sink. If you ever find yourself stuck in quicksand move slowly spread out your arms and legs and try to float on your back to safety.
So not only is this a spiritual book it's a practical book because I've often wondered if I stepped into quicksand what do I do? Now I know because I've read Roar Like a Lion by Levi Lasko. Isn't that just so amusing? And you know that's the thing like I think one of the things that's fun for me about this book Greg is that there has to be something that keeps adults interested too. And finding out that Frank Sinatra paid $60 for his first microphone and before that he used to sing at his concerts through a megaphone.
Like little things like that that will hopefully be interesting to the kids but also keep the adults paying attention as well. That's right. So we want to send you this new book by Pastor Levi Lasko called Roar Like a Lion subtitled 90 Devotions to a Courageous Faith for your gift of any size to help a new beginning continue on ministering to people literally around the world.
Yeah that's right and it's such an important time for that work. Hearts are hungry. We even saw it several weeks ago at SoCal Harvest. One person wrote and said can you believe how many people are here? We came from Los Angeles and frankly we would have driven across the country to be here.
We wouldn't have missed this for the world. It's such an important time to reach out with the love of Christ and your investment makes that work possible. And with your donation right now we'd like to send you Levi Lasko's new book called Roar Like a Lion. You can donate securely online at harvest.org or write to us at A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, CA 92514. And we have operators who can speak with you by phone anytime 24 hours a day at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. Well Pastor Greg you pointed out the importance of asking Jesus to forgive our sins a few moments ago.
Could you help those who want to do that very thing right now? Yeah you know the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ stands at the door of our life and he knocks. And if any man will hear his voice and open the door he will come in. Maybe as you've heard me speak today, well you've heard another voice speaking to you.
It's the voice of God. And you realize you need Christ in your life. You need your sin forgiven. You want the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die.
Well here's what you need to do. You need to pray. And I would like to lead you in a prayer right now where you will be saying to Jesus, Lord come into my life I choose to follow you.
So let's pray. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner. But I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I turn from that sin now and I put my faith in you. Be my Lord, my Savior, and my God, and my friend. I choose to follow you Jesus from this moment forward.
Thank you for loving me, and calling me, and accepting me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Listen, if you just prayed that prayer I want you to know on the authority of Scripture that Christ himself has come into your life. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
If you just prayed that prayer and meant it, you can know today you have eternal life. And may I be the first to say to you, welcome to the family of God. And we want to help you grow as a believer.
So let us send you our new believers growth packet. We'll send it free of charge if you prayed with Pastor Greg today. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here to take your call around the clock seven days a week.
That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or just go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well next time as our Best of series continues, Pastor Greg brings us insights from the great hero of our faith named Noah. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org
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