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How to Look Up When Things Look Down | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2022 3:00 am

How to Look Up When Things Look Down | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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February 27, 2022 3:00 am

During crises or setbacks, we don’t have to lose hope. In this Sunday episode, Pastor Greg Laurie gives us reason to trust God’s plan for our lives. Glean assurance from this timely message!

Notes

Have you ever been in a situation that looked utterly hopeless?

Paul and Silas saw the hand of God in the darkest of places and praised Him.

Sometimes God closes a door and opens another.

The Lord directed Paul and Silas through a vision.

The Lord opened Lydia’s heart.

God is in control of a Christian’s life.

A Christian can rejoice in the most difficult circumstances.

The people reached by Paul and Silas in this chapter:

Lydia – the designer

The Slave Girl – the demon-possessed “snake” girl

The Roman Jailer – a military man

The Jailor asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

Scripture Referenced

Psalm 42:8

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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. And someone asked, why is your Bible green? And there was like all these responses, like 60 responses, and my answer was this.

Are you ready for it? Why is my Bible green? Because I like green.

That's why. People are trying to find a spiritual message and a green Bible cover. You know, I think green may be God's second favorite color. I think blue is probably number one, because when we look up, we see the sky, the galaxies, the ocean. But boy, he likes green too.

So blue and green maybe are his favorite colors. But I want to talk to you about how you can look up when things look down. Let me start with a question. Have you ever been in a situation that seemed utterly hopeless? It's like the bottom dropped out, and there was no way out that you could see.

It was sort of the worst case scenario come true. And so you just pretty much resigned yourself to it, but yet, because you're a Christian, you decided to praise the Lord despite your circumstances. Then suddenly, shockingly and wonderfully, God turned things around, and something really good came despite that thing that happened to you that was really bad. Well, here in Acts chapter 16 is a beautiful illustration of that and the story of two men, Paul and Silas, who saw the good despite the bad.

They saw the hand of God in the darkest of places and praised him. This is a record of the second missionary trip of Paul. His first missionary trip was with Barnabas.

Remember, he was nicknamed that, which means the son of encouragement. So Paul and Mr. Encouragement had parted company now, and now Paul has a new wingman, and his name is Silas. And so they decided that they were going to go and visit the churches that they left behind in Asia Minor. Paul proposed that they go and see how everyone was doing, but there was one small problem. God had a different idea as to what he wanted them to do.

How the Lord redirected them, we're not told, but he certainly did. You know, sometimes we have an idea, and we ask God to bless our idea, and then we go and pursue it, and God shuts the door. You know, you just knew you were going to get that job.

You turned in your resume, the interview went well, and they said no. You just knew that girl you were in love with was going to say yes to your proposal, and she said no. You just knew something else was going to happen, and it didn't happen, and it made no sense to you. There's a lot of ways God can direct our steps. Sometimes it's simply a lack of peace. You know, the Bible says in the book of Colossians, let the peace of God settle with finality all matters that arise in your mind.

There have been times where something looked like a good thing to do, but I didn't have what I would call a peace about it. That's one way God can stop you. Sometimes he can even use sickness. I know some preachers say you should never be sick and never have a day in your life where you have to stay home from work or whatever it is. No, the Bible actually shows us on multiple occasions that sickness can be allowed by God. It would appear that Paul had a disability, some kind of a physical ailment that followed him through his life.

He called it his thorn in the flesh. Even young Timothy, who was a friend and a protege of Paul, had some kind of an illness, and Paul told him, take a little wine for your stomach, using it in a medicinal way. So, sometimes God will allow sickness to stop you so you don't keep going forward. It might be another thing, but whatever it is, God stopped them from going and doing what they originally wanted to do. Acts 16 verse 7 says, coming to the borders of Messiah, they headed for the province of Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit did not let them go.

The Holy Spirit did not let them go. Sometimes God closes one door only to open another. Just as important as the will of God is the timing of God. And you will find when the Lord is blessing something, it's always the right man or the right woman in the right place at the right time. You can be the right person in the right place, but it's the wrong time.

Or it can be the right time, but you're the wrong person. So all of these things need to align and be that person that God wants you to be in that place. Sometimes the Lord will lead us differently than we wanted to go. We have a certain path carved out for our lives, certain dreams we would like to see fulfilled, and the Lord redirects us. Example, King David wanted to build a temple for the Lord, a house for the Lord.

The Lord said no, and instead that responsibility was given to David's son Solomon. Maybe there's something you have wanted to do with your life. You had a certain idea for a career path, a certain plan you had for marriage, a certain plan you had for something else, and the Lord redirected you.

I want you to consider this, God is in control, and if He closes one door, He can open another. You know, when I first started out in ministry, I wanted to be an evangelist. I was traveling around with a lot of the Christian bands at that time, and they would play, and I would preach a sermon, and people were accepting the Lord, and we could see God's blessing on it, and I thought that's what I want to do. I want to be an evangelist. I even went to a Billy Graham Crusade in the early 70s down in San Diego, and when he extended the invitation for people to come forward, I walked down to stand in front of the platform just to get a better look at this guy, and I thought to myself, this is what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be an evangelist. I never thought I would do anything comparable to what Billy did, speaking in a stadium, but I thought, hey, I want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, but then the Lord didn't open that door for me.

The idea was good, but it wasn't the right timing. Instead, He opened a door to do a Bible study in a place called Riverside in California. It was a bunch of young people that were meeting, and I started to teach, and it started to grow. I was doing a start-up church before anyone was even talking about start-up churches, and soon people were calling me Pastor Greg. I said, oh, no, I'm not called to be a pastor. I'm called to be an evangelist, and I was looking for someone to step in and become the pastor, but God was calling me to be that pastor. But even going back to my graduation ceremony in high school, here's a picture of me in my little gown, and you see I'm holding my Bible, pretending that I'm a preacher. I'd never preached a sermon at that point, but it was in my blood to do this. Well, I was building the church and speaking there at the church, and we're just getting ready to celebrate our 50th anniversary, by the way.

That's how long we've been doing it. But then a door opens up, and I meet Billy Graham, and I get to know him. This is the mid-'80s, and then we start our crusade ministry in the 90s as we're now meeting in arenas and ultimately stadiums. It kind of came on Billy's radar screen. He asked me to join the board of directors of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and then I had the privilege of helping him to write some of his messages. By the way, I talk about this some more in my book, Billy Graham, the Man I Knew. But at one point, Billy says to me, Greg, I think you should leave the pastorate and become a full-time evangelist.

So it's so funny. I wanted to be an evangelist more than anything, and the Lord opens a door for me to become a pastor. Then I love being a pastor so much, I don't want to be a full-time evangelist. So when Billy said this to me, I said, now, Billy, when you say something like that to me, it's like Moses is talking to me, and he sort of smiled.

And I said, let me get back to you. And after I prayed, I said to him, Billy, I feel called to be a pastor and an evangelist. So the Lord closes a door. He opens a door, but we were able to travel around the country, even the world, for 30 years proclaiming the gospel.

We filled Madison Square Garden, Dodger Stadium, AT&T Stadium, and it's been so great to see, and we've seen six million people in live attendance and 600,000 people walk forward at the invitation in these arenas and stadiums and make a profession of faith. Then the door closed, and all of a sudden we couldn't do a crusade for two years, so we pivoted, and we started this online ministry that you're watching right now called Harvest at Home. It also caused us to refocus our energies, and we did what we called a cinematic crusade, a film we did called A Rush of Hope, remember that? And that reached a lot of people. So since we started being online more aggressively, expanding into television, and doing films, we have seen 219,000 people make a profession of faith.

Now this is in two years. It took us 30 years to see 600,000 people make that profession of faith, but we've seen over 200,000 in the last two years. So the door opens, the door closes. You just respond to the leading of the Lord. So the Lord closed the door for one place, or Paul and Silas. He opened it for another, and they had a vision of a man from Macedonia saying, Come to us.

Come over here and help us. So they changed course, and that's where they went. Acts 16, 11 says, We ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the wind was at our back.

I love that. Have you ever felt like the wind is at your back? You know, you're going a certain direction, and it's like all the lights are green, all the doors are open, and in this particular instance, it started off powerfully, and then all of a sudden seemed to take a really bad turn. Then it took a really good turn, a little background on the place they were going to now. It's called Philippi. Philippi was a Roman colony. So the Romans established these colonies of areas that they had conquered, and they would work out a special deal for Roman citizens to leave Rome and move to one of these places.

One of the perks was you don't have to pay taxes, and it's sort of like a Rome away from Rome, if you will. So it was a Roman colony called Philippi. The interesting thing is when Paul finally arrives, it's not a man that is his first convert, but a woman.

And I bring this only to point out that it was a Macedonian call from a man, but he gets there, and it's a lady. And this one new convert, whose name was Lydia, started a chain of events and in many ways contributed ultimately to the collapse of Rome and the expansion of the gospel around the world. So Lydia was in business. She is what we would call today a designer. In fact, it's even been suggested that that was more of a title than a name, like the Lydian Lady. And she sold garments that were dipped in extremely expensive purple dye.

So these were luxury garments. This is a woman of affluence, a woman of influence, and she had a beautiful home there. And she worshiped God as best she knew Him, but she didn't really know how to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It reminds me of Cornelius, remember him, the Roman centurion. He was a worshiper of God, and an angel came to him and told him to connect with Simon Peter.

Simon Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius, and he and his family came to Christ. Okay, now here we are with Lydia. She is seeking God too, and the Lord says, Those that seek Me will find Me.

Just a side note. When someone says, I'm open to truth, I'm seeking truth, if they really mean that, they will ultimately find their way to Jesus Christ. And if they don't find their way to Jesus Christ, I question if they're really seeking truth.

And here's why. I've talked to people that have explored Eastern mysticism and New Age thought and every other religion you can think of, and you ask them, Well, have you read the Bible? And you pull a Bible out, and they'll say, Put that thing away. I don't believe in the Bible. Oh, have you ever read it?

No, but I don't even want to see it. See, that's not a person who's seeking truth. If you're really seeking truth, you will at least give a fair hearing to what the Bible says.

Why won't you do that? Maybe because you're afraid it will be true, and then your life will have to change, and you don't want your life to change. Maybe you're just looking for a faith that will justify the lifestyle choices you have made. If you're a real seeker of truth, you'll find your way to Christ. Lydia was a real seeker of truth.

And here we read about it in Acts 16, verse 14. Paul says, As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests, and said, If you agree, then I'm a true believer in the Lord. She said, Come and stay at my home. And she urged us until we agreed.

I love this statement. The Lord opened her heart. Jesus said, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in. Jesus also said, If you believe in Him, His Father in Him will make their home in your life.

So that's perfect. Here comes the gospel to the house of Lydia, the great designer, and she opens her heart to the Lord. Have you opened your heart to the Lord yet?

If not, I'll tell you how to do it. Jesus had now come in to her home. So just the other day, we had a very special house guest. His name is Jonathan Rumi. Now, if you don't know Jonathan, he plays the role of Jesus on the fantastic series called The Chosen. There's two seasons out there you may want to watch.

They have a third season that will come out in the future. And Jonathan is going to play the role of the evangelist named Lonnie Frisbee that was preaching when I came to Christ in the film that's going to go into production very soon called Jesus Revolution. So Jonathan texted me and said, Hey, can we check out some of the places where these events happened?

So we went to the high school where I accepted Christ, and then we went over to a little spot called Pirate's Cove where a lot of the baptisms were held. So I was just kind of hanging out with Jonathan. I said, Do you want to come to our house for dinner?

He said, Sure. So I told my wife, Kathy, and I went home. I headed Jonathan. And so Kathy says, I'm making the food.

I'm cooking the green beans. And I look out the window, and this car drives by, and it's Jonathan looking for our house. But she said, I was just struck because he looked so much like Jesus. You know, she knows he's not Jesus.

But here's this guy driving the car, and he's looking around. And he looks so much like Jesus, at least the pictures and the paintings of Jesus. I even said to Jonathan when I greeted him as he was getting out of his car, Jonathan, you're looking more Jesus-y right now.

It's because he was growing his hair out a little bit longer and his beard out for this role he's going to play in this film called Jesus Revolution. So he came in, and we didn't think about it until later. We served him fish. That's like an appropriate thing to serve Jesus, right?

We'd have him eating fish. We had a wonderful night. We prayed.

We talked about the Lord and the Word of God, and it was a great time. We know Jonathan's just an actor portraying a part, but it just sort of reminds me of the idea, what if Jesus came to your house? So he's driving along. He doesn't need GPS to find your house.

He knows where you live. But imagine Jesus Christ walks into your home, and he sits down at your table, and you serve him a meal. That's effectively what happened to Lydia. Jesus had come into her home, and so she opened her heart. It would appear that she didn't just open her heart, but she opened her home, and then she opened up her finances.

I bring this up because she was supporting Paul and Silas. So this woman of affluence was using that to help out these two men of God. You know, the story is told of Sam Houston, the famous hero of Texas history. So later in life, General Houston came to Christ, and he went down to the pastor and said, I want to be baptized. So they went down to a little river, and he was getting ready to baptize Sam Houston, and he noticed that he had his glasses in his pocket. He said, General Houston, let me hold your glasses.

I don't want them to get wet when you're baptized. And then he noticed in General Houston's back pocket was his wallet. He said, you may want to give me your wallet too, General.

You don't want to get that wet. And General Houston said in response, if there's any part of me that needs to be baptized, it's my wallet. So he was baptized, wallet and all. Lydia's wallet, if you will, was baptized. I make this point to simply say, if you open your heart to Jesus and you open your home to Jesus, you should also open your wallet for Jesus and let him have control of every area of your life. Jesus said, where your heart is, there your wallet will be also.

Well, he didn't say that technically. He said, where your heart is, there your treasure will be. But the idea is, open everything up to Jesus. So God's at work. This well-known woman of affluence is saved now. Lydia and the devil sees this and he's not happy about this one bit.

So now here's the counterpunch from the devil. Acts 16, verse 16. As it happened, we went to prayer.

Notice it's when they went to prayer. We went to prayer and a certain slave girl, possessed with the spirit of divination, met us who brought her masters much profit. Actually, if you go back to the original language, it says she had a spirit of Python. I know that sounds weird, but according to myth, Python was a snake that guarded the temple of Apollo. So this is sort of a mythology wrapped up in occultism and this is brought out by Luke in the book of Acts. And so the spirit of Python, this evil woman who was under the control of her masters and she was sort of their fortune teller and they were effectively controlling her life.

She had nothing to speak of. Speaking of Pythons, I used to have a Python when I was a kid. I was an avid snake collector. I had all kinds of snakes. Gopher snakes that I would catch in the wild. King snakes.

Boas. You name it, I probably had one. No poisonous snakes. But I had this little Python and there was something with this snake.

He didn't like me. Every time I put my hand in his cage, he'd strike, bite me, bite me, bite me every time. Other people would put their hand in the cage. He wouldn't bite them. It was always me he bit. And I was thinking of getting rid of this snake and one day I fed him a mouse. Sorry to break this to you, but that's what snakes generally eat.

A live prey. So we put this little mouse. Now normally what happens when you put a mouse in a snake's cage, the mouse sees a snake, goes over in the corner and shaking, and the snake strikes and swallows it whole. This mouse was unlike any other mouse I've ever seen. He walked right over to the snake, kind of smelled him, walked on top of him, stepped on his head, and before you knew it, that mouse was in control and the snake was in the corner hiding from him. So I took that mouse out and made up my personal pet. I thought, this mouse is my hero because he overcame the snake, the Python.

That's always biting me. That has nothing to do with what we're reading here. But this woman was under the control of these evil men and the power of Satan himself. So now she starts following Paul and Silas, and she's shouting out, Acts 16, 7, These men are servants of the Most High and have come to tell you how to be saved. Well, that was true, but Paul and Silas really didn't want this demonic woman to follow them around and say this, and it just went on for a while. And by the way, the word that is used here for her saying this means she shrieked it.

These men are servants of the Most High. Paul's going, this is not good. People probably think she's part of our missionary team here, and this is not a good thing. So finally, one day, out of frustration, Paul just turns to her and casts the demon out. Now the demon that was possessing this woman is out of her, and she also is saved and transformed by Christ.

And so when he exercised the demon, he also exercised a source of income for her owners. And they were outraged because they got a lot of money from this witchy woman who was a fortune teller. And so they were upset, so they dragged Paul and Silas down to the town square. And we read about it now, Acts 16, verse 20. The whole city is in an uproar. Because of these Jews, they shouted. They're teaching the people to do things that are against Roman customs. A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beat them with wooden rods. So this is a bad situation. I mean, things were going well. The wind was at their back.

The door is open. Lydia, the designer lady, comes to Christ. Now we have this demon-possessed woman who's bothering the apostles. They cast the demon out, which was a great thing to do, but her masters are angry, and they accuse Paul and Silas of things that are not true.

They weren't doing anything to violate Roman customs. I think this was actually quite anti-Semitic because the accusation was these Jews have come into our town. And it was sort of the idea that Romans are better than Jews and look at these outsiders coming in with their weird message and violating our customs, et cetera. So now Paul and Silas are beaten, and they're in great pain because of this.

Now we shift gears and come to the real thrust of this message in Acts 16, starting in verse 23. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape. So he took no chances and put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

You might wanna underline that. I'll come back to it. Verse 26, suddenly there was a great earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off. The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open.

He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. Paul shouted to him, don't do it, we're all here. Trembling with fear, the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them out and asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They replied, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved along with your household. Then they shared the word of the Lord with him and all that lived in his household.

In that same hour, the jailer washed their wounds. He and everyone in his household were immediately baptized, and he brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Isn't that a powerful story? What an amazing turn of events this is. Paul starts out in prison and ends up leading the jailer to Christ. So another heart is open, like Lydia, now another house is open, and the Roman jailer's home was much different than the home of Lydia, but the effect was the same. Christ had come into their life, into their home, and turned everything around, and the whole family came to Christ.

That's how it often happens. One family member will come to Jesus. Sometimes they're met with opposition, especially at a family reunion. You know, maybe Thanksgiving, everybody likes to drink and party, and all of a sudden, you're a Christian, and you dare to suggest that you pray before you eat the Thanksgiving meal. Everyone's uncomfortable with it, and you pray your prayer, and you're the only Christian there, but as time passes, then another comes to faith, then another comes to faith, and in time, perhaps the whole family comes to the Lord.

I've seen this happen so many times that happened for this Roman jailer. This whole family came to Christ, but let's go back to the scene now. So here's Paul and Silas. Their backs have been ripped open. Their feet are fastened in these stalks, spreading them apart, causing excruciating pain, and they're in the back of the dungeon. This is like a hellhole filled with vermin and filth and feces and everything else you can think of. It's just a horrible place to be, and what do the apostles do?

Well, what would you do? Well, here's the amazing thing. We read at midnight, Paul and Silas sang praises to God.

Here's the interesting thing. They had no assurance they were ever getting out of this prison because they could reflect back on Peter and be reminded of how the Lord had delivered Peter from prison. We read about that in Acts 12, but they could also reflect back on Stephen, who was martyred. They didn't know if they would be delivered or martyred, but still, they sang praises to God, and notice when they did it at midnight, at midnight. You ever wake up in the middle of the night? That's a good time to bring your praises to God.

You don't have to sing. You might wake your wife or husband up or your kids up or someone else up, but to give glory to God, not because you're saying, I know he's gonna get me out of this, but you're saying, I know God's in control of my life. I know God loves me, and I know God can cause all things to work together for good because I love him, so I'm not gonna worry about it because sometimes we wake up with fear and panic, or maybe we have a bad dream. What if this happens?

What if that happens? Just give praise to God. The Bible says give thanks unto the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever. It doesn't say give thanks to the Lord when you feel good because we don't always feel good, but God is always good all of the time, and they gave thanks to God at midnight. Now I'm thinking of the Psalm of David in Psalm 42, verse 8.

He says, through each day, the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night, I'll sing his songs, praying to the God who gives me life. So people were eavesdropping. We read that the other prisoners were listening in verse 25. The word used here for listen is very important. It means to listen with pleasure.

You know, like when your favorite song comes up, maybe on the radio, and you turn it up so you can hear it because you love that song, brings back a childhood memory or something else. The other prisoners were listening in. Now we're Paul and Silas doing a two-part harmony, sort of Lennon McCartney or Everly Brothers. I doubt it, but it was music to the ears of everyone in that prison because, frankly, I don't think anyone had ever sang praises to God in that place before. Not only were the other prisoners listening, the jailer was listening too.

This just is a good reminder that there's a lost world out there watching you. And when adversity comes into your life as a follower of Jesus, and you still have your faith intact and you can sing praises to God and thank God, that is a powerful testimony to a lost world and it's a platform for sharing your faith. And that's exactly what Paul and Silas did. They knew God was in control of their lives. And this guy was listening, this jailer, as we already saw.

And so here is a powerful example of why it's important to give glory to God no matter what your circumstances are because the Christian can rejoice in the most difficult of circumstances. Now, the Lord sent an earthquake. Paul and Silas didn't know an earthquake was coming and this was quite an earthquake because the doors fly open, the chains come off their arms and legs, so the Philippian jailer, a soldier, pulls out his short sword and he's getting ready to kill himself.

Why? Because he knew if his prisoners got out after he had been strictly ordered to especially not let Paul and Silas out. But if the prisoners got out, he would be put to death so why not just cut to the chase and do it himself? And Paul interrupts him and says, don't hurt yourself, we're still here. And this man, this hardened jailer, this Roman soldier comes before the apostles and says, sirs, notice the deference and the politeness, sirs, what must I do to be saved? He probably had been a pretty hard-hearted guy. To beat these guys as he did shows he was pretty callous but I think Paul probably connected to him.

Paul used to be a pretty hard-hearted guy too. I mentioned that Stephen was martyred, put to death for his faith and of course it was Saul of Tarsus later to become the apostle Paul who presided over this execution, hunting down Christians, imprisoning them, but his life had been changed by Jesus on the road to Damascus. So he looked at this Roman soldier and probably thought, he's just like I used to be. And then he gives that jailer the great news, you need to believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

Verse 33, the same hour the jailer washed their wounds and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. So let's now consider these three characters in this story. We've got Lydia, the designer.

We've got the snake girl and we've got the Roman jailer. So we have an up and outer, we have a down and outer and we have someone in the middle. First the up and outer, Lydia, who comes to faith in Jesus. Then the down and outer, the demon-possessed woman, probably didn't have a dime to her name under the control of these wicked men that were effectively trafficking her. They were pimping her out, if you will, and making money off of her.

Then we have the soldier, probably a retired military guy. So we have the upper class, we have the middle class and we have the lower class, all reached with the gospel, reminding us that everybody needs Jesus. The guy driving the Ferrari and the lady driving the Prius and the guy who doesn't have any money and the other guy who has a lot of money, everybody needs Jesus and we see this in this story.

Lydia the designer, the former python woman and the jailer. The rich and the poor, the slave and the free, the man and the woman now are all one in Christ and they form the impetus of what was to be the church in Philippi. And by the way, Paul wrote a powerful letter to them that we call the book of Philippians. So let me close with that question of the jailer who asked Paul and Silas, what must I do to be saved?

Paul's response is significant. He says, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Okay, what does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? To believe does not mean to simply acknowledge that there is a God out there somewhere who exists.

The word that is used for believe in the Bible means to trust in, to cling to, and to rely on. Jesus said, for God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. So you're putting your full faith in Christ and Christ alone and if you do that, you'll be saved. And saved's a perfect word.

We use this word to describe something dramatic. For instance, if a firefighter rushed into a home that was on fire and brought people out alive, they'd say, he saved those people. If someone was drowning and a lifeguard went and rescued them, we would say, she saved that person and God will save you. You say, save me from what? Save you from the ultimate effects of your sin. Romans 5, 9 says, those of us who have been made right in God's sight have been made right by the blood of Christ to save us from God's judgment.

Listen, you have broken the commandments of God and so have I. And the Bible says the wages of sin are death. And so the idea is I'm gonna face God's judgment unless I call upon the name of the Lord and then He can and will forgive me of all of my sin whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Scripture reminds us. I think the problem is is there are some people who may think they're saved who are not because they give mere intellectual assent to the person of Jesus acknowledging He existed but there's been no change in their life. We wonder, are they really saved? Have they really admitted their sinners? Have they put their faith in Christ and Christ alone? Christ alone to save them? I've heard people say, well, I tried Jesus Christ and it didn't work for me.

That's ridiculous. That would be like somebody going to a doctor and saying, Doc, I'm sick. You describe your symptoms. The doctor says, all right, you need to take this medication twice a day so you don't go down to the pharmacy, you don't fill that order and you just keep doing whatever it is you're doing and you get even sicker. Someone says, I thought you went to the doctor. Oh yeah, I went to the doctor but the whole medicine thing didn't work for me. Excuse me, you never did what the doctor told you to do.

That's on you, not on your doctor. Or someone might say, you know, I'm out of shape and I need to get in a better shape and so I'm gonna go to the gym. So you join the gym and you never go to the gym once. You just go to the donut store instead and you're gaining more weight and someone says, I thought you were going to the gym. Oh yeah, you say, the whole gym thing didn't work for me. No, you didn't do what you're supposed to do. So when someone says, I tried Christianity and it didn't work for me, I'm sorry but that's not on God, that's on you.

If it didn't work, that's because you didn't really understand what you were doing because you're not dealing with an it, you're dealing with a him. And Christ has said, he that would come to me, I would in no way cast out. You need to put your faith in Jesus and turn from your sin and when you invite him into your heart, into your home as Lydia did, as the Roman jailer did, everything will change for you.

Have you done that yet? Have you believed in Jesus? Would you like to believe in Jesus? You might say, well Greg, there's no hope for me. I've done too many horrible things. Well, what about that demon-possessed girl?

What about this hardened Roman jailer? God forgave them and he'll forgive you. But you must come to Jesus and say, I need to be forgiven. I need a fresh start in life.

I need a relationship with you. As I said earlier, Jesus says, I stand at the door knock and if you'll hear my voice and open the door, I'll come in. Would you like Jesus Christ to come into your life right now?

Would you like to be saved as the Bible says? Would you like to know a certainty that you will go to heaven when you die? If so, I want you to pray this prayer after me. You can even pray it out loud if you like or in the quietness of your heart, you may be in a room with other people.

You may be all alone watching this on a little phone or a tablet or a computer. Wherever you are, whoever you are, if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you want to know that you'll go to heaven when you die, pray this prayer after me now if you would. Let's pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for me. I turn from my sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward.

In Jesus' name I pray, amen. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org. And to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-29 13:19:33 / 2023-05-29 13:35:38 / 16

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