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What Do You Live For? | Love and Discernment

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2022 3:00 am

What Do You Live For? | Love and Discernment

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 1, 2022 3:00 am

For some people, happiness is as elusive as a feather floating in a strong breeze. It’s in their sights, then escapes before they can lay hold. Is happiness just out of bounds for some people? Or are they looking in the wrong places? Pastor Greg Laurie is addressing those concerns in his current series here on A NEW BEGINNING simply called Happiness. We’re studying Paul’s counsel in Philippians. It’s some of the Bible’s strongest encouragement, even though the words were written while Paul was in chains.

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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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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free eBooks designed to help you grow in your faith. You'll have your feet on the ground, but your heart and your thoughts will be in heaven. For some people, happiness is as elusive as a feather floating in a strong breeze.

It's in their sights, then escapes before they can lay hold. Is happiness just out of bounds for some people, or are they looking in the wrong places? Pastor Greg Laurie is addressing those concerns in his current series here on A New Beginning, simply called Happiness. We're studying Paul's counsel in Philippians.

It's some of the Bible's strongest encouragement even though the words were written while Paul was in chains. What do you live for? If you were to sum up what you live for in one word, what would it be? Well, some would say, for me to live is, you know, to just live. Others might say, well, for me to live is pleasure.

Living for that experience, living for that rush, living for that buzz, living for that excitement. Others might say, well, you know what, I live to get even. They always have their nemesis. They always like to be in a fight.

They love to be in a conflict. There are people like this that live for these things. Another might say, well, man, I live for possessions. It's to get stuff. And then when I get that stuff, I want to get more stuff. And then when I get that other stuff, I need to get rid of this old stuff so I can make room for new stuff. Others might appear more noble and say, well, I live to acquire knowledge.

But if in your pursuit of knowledge you leave God out of the equation, you're just going to end up as a well-educated fool. So what are you driven by? What do you dream about?

What are you passionate about? I think some people are just enduring. They're just waiting for the next thing. Their favorite day of the week is someday. You know, someday their ship will come in. Someday their prince will come. Someday they'll get that promotion. Someday they'll build that dream house.

Or someday they'll retire. Now I've talked about what people live for. Let me tell you what the apostle Paul lived for. Philippians 1 21. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Oh, I love that. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now we're going to explore that a little bit more.

But let's just do a little backdrop on what we're looking at here. We're looking at the book of Philippians. And the theme that keeps bubbling up through this great epistle is happiness and joy. In fact, this is probably the most buoyant, happy letter that Paul ever wrote. But yet circumstantially he really had nothing to rejoice about.

I mean if we read that Paul wrote this book, you know, kicking back, you know, in the Mediterranean, enjoying life, we'd say, well yeah, I get it. But he actually wrote this under house arrest. And he was under the control at this point of Caesar Nero. And his case was waiting to go to court. And Paul had no idea what was about to happen. He might be acquitted.

He might be beheaded. But all he knew was he was a prisoner. He could not walk about freely as he wanted to. And if that wasn't bad enough, some of the believers in the church were against them. Some were even spreading lies about this great apostle. But he knew God was in control.

And here's what he wrote. Philippians one. We're going to start in verse 12 and we'll read down to verse 16. I want you to know brothers that the things that happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. So it has become evident to the whole palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ. And most of the brethren in the Lord having become confident in my chains are more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and strife.

Some also from goodwill. The former preach Christ from selfish ambition not sincerely supposing to add affliction to my chains but the latter out of love knowing that I'm appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way whether in pretense or in truth Christ is preached and in this I rejoice. Yes I will rejoice.

And that brings me to point number one. When you live for Christ you will accept God's will for your life. When you live for Christ which we all should be doing you will accept God's will for your life. See Paul went to Rome to preach but he ended up under house arrest.

Now how is that a good idea? Well he was reaching an elite group of people that would have not been reached otherwise so Paul understood God had his hand in it. Look at verse 12. The things that happened to me have turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.

Number two. When you live for Christ as we all should you'll be a person of prayer. Again when you live for Christ you'll be a person of prayer. Have you ever wondered what to pray for when you pray for fellow believers? Paul actually gives us an answer here. Look at Philippians 1 verse 9. And this I pray he's saying to the church at Philippi that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment and that you may approve the things that are excellent and that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Interesting. So Paul's praying that they would grow in both love and discernment. Love and discernment. You know sometimes it seems to me as though the two are mutually exclusive. In other words some people seem to be very discerning but not very loving.

And some can be very loving and not very discerning. Now there are people that say well I have a discernment ministry which is another way of saying they like to argue and be obnoxious. And you know I just think you're awful little theologically brother and they're always challenging everything. And I get this sometimes because of my work that I do in evangelism and I'll go to different places and speak and come into contact with different people. And so maybe I'm at a conference and there's another speaker I would not agree with in every point theologically. And someone says well Greg endorses everything that that person says.

Well that's not true. And how do you know what I say to that person you know behind closed doors. And I say a lot of things to a lot of people but I don't talk about it publicly because my conversations with people are private. But I try to influence people I come into contact with in every way that I can to help them be closer to the Lord and do what He's called them to do.

I don't always do a good job of it but at least I try. But sometimes I say well guilt by association. You know you talk to that person therefore you endorse everything they say.

No not necessarily. But I've found some of these people they're just downright mean. It's like where's the love man. They don't even check out the facts. They just jump to conclusions. As J. Vernon McGee used to say the only exercise some Christians get is running down others and jumping to conclusions.

I think that's true. Some people are discerning but they're not loving. And I would even question if they're really discerning. Others are loving but they're not discerning. And by that I mean they just accept everything and everyone.

It's all good man. We all love the Lord you know. Whatever they believe it doesn't matter.

Well actually it does matter. There is a place for discernment. But look at Paul says here in verse 9 that they would grow in love. This I pray that your love will grow still more. Love is a mark of a true Christian. Don't say to me I love Jesus but I don't love the church. You can't love Jesus and not love the church. You can't love God who you can't see if you're not willing to love your brother or sister who you can see. And so a mark of real faith of real love is that you'll love your Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus said by this shall all men know you are my disciples. What?

If you have what? One for another. Love one for another. So we should be loving. And the Bible tells us in Romans 5 the love of God is poured out in our hearts. So the love is there. So you don't even need to pray Lord you know I don't have any love.

You have some love. But Paul is saying I pray your love will grow. And you know how your love will grow?

Just start doing loving things. Don't wait for the emotion. Just take that little step and that benevolent gesture.

That kind word. The word of encouragement. Paul says I pray that you grow in love. But he also says I pray that you will grow in knowledge. And the way that we grow in knowledge is through the study of Scripture.

That's why we're here tonight. To study the Word of God. This is called a Bible study and a worship service. And I love Bible studies don't you? Where we can just open up the Word of God and look at what it says and see how it applies in our lives. And it concerns me that some believers are in their knowledge of Scripture like brand new Christians still.

People that have known the Lord for 10, 20, 30 years that don't even know the basic Bible doctrines and thus they get misled. And that is why Paul also says you need to grow in spiritual discernment. Verse 10 he says that you may approve the things that are excellent.

The word approved means to analyze and examine. Think carefully. Think biblically.

Think analytically. Take all things and compare them to what the Scripture says. So we need to be praying these things for others. And we need to be praying that God will do these things in our life as well. In just a moment Pastor Greg helps us see how this attitude of living for Christ extends beyond the grave.

That's coming up in just a moment. Hey everybody Greg Laurie here. You know my uncle Fred Jordan had one of the first Christian TV programs out there. It was called Church in the Home.

I remember watching it as a little boy when I was living with my grandparents. Well we have Church in the Home for you every weekend. It's called Harvest at Home and you can find it at harvest.org. We have worship and a message from God's Word. So join us this weekend for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. Well we're considering the importance of living for the Lord as Pastor Greg brings his message today called What Do You Live For.

Invite others to hear this counsel by going to harvest.org. Now Paul tells us how living for Christ affects us in this life and the afterlife. Look at verse 21 Philippians 1 still. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. And to die is gain. But I live on in the flesh that will mean fruit for my labor yet what I shall choose I cannot tell for I'm hard pressed between the two. Having the desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you and being confident of this I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

Look again at verse 21. For me to live is Christ. Now when we hear someone say for me to live is Christ we wonder you know are these people in touch with reality really. To live is Christ.

I mean what does it even mean. Some will say well you know some are so heavenly minded they're no earthly good and my counterpoint to that is some are so earthly minded they're no heavenly good. And I think when you're really heavenly minded when you're really living for Christ you will be of the greatest earthly good. I mean you think about the great hospitals and the great universities and other things that have been done historically in our country in almost every case at least in their original state they were started by followers of Jesus Christ. And you look at the great relief organizations in the world today.

They're Christian organizations. Christians are always on the front line wherever people are suffering. It doesn't matter if they believe or if they don't believe.

It doesn't matter if they're Christian or if they're Muslims or if if they're Buddhists. We if someone there's a tragedy if there's a calamity Christians give. Christians help. Christians are always doing these things. When's the last time you heard of an atheist relief organization. You know heathen purse. There's no such thing. But there's Samaritan's Purse isn't there. You know non-believers vision.

No I've never heard of them but I've heard of world vision you know. Because they don't care for the most part. There might be some out there. There might be some exception. But by and large it's believers out there doing this work. You see real spirituality is practical.

And Paul was a balanced Christian. And the most godly men and women I've had the privilege of meeting over the last 40 plus years have always been very down to earth. You know not holier than thou kind of people looking down on you. But very genuine people often fun loving people. People with a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Not that spacey wide-eyed one clown short of a circus look. You know what I'm talking about. Heavenly minded people are gracious. They're approachable.

They're accessible. And religious people are just weird. I so don't want to be a religious person. I you know they get this religious vibe and they talk religiously and they look at you weird religiously. It's like just stop.

And here's my suggestion. They were always weird to start with. Ok. Their faith in Christ did not make them weird. They were weird and now they just talk about Jesus and they're still weird. Now maybe they're saved weird. I don't know. But they're weird.

Ok. That's all I know. Your faith in Christ will not make you that person. If you have faith in Christ and know what it means to live for Christ you'll have your feet on the ground but your heart and your thoughts will be in heaven. And I think Paul is an example of this in so many ways. I mean there's no greater example of this than Jesus himself. You know Jesus was a practical man. He was God in human form walking among us. But Jesus lived a real life on planet earth. He was a real living human being. But he was God walking among us. So Paul is saying to live is Christ.

And that was pretty much not just Paul's motto but I think the motto of pretty much everyone in the early church. You know if you look at the church of the first century they changed the world. They changed the world. They turned the world upside down.

And imagine it. They did it without media. You know Thomas didn't have a Twitter account. Peter didn't have an Instagram page.

Paul didn't have a Facebook page. But they had a lot of followers and a lot of friends. And they changed the world that was there at the time.

The world that was under the rule of Rome. And it's amazing to think about how they did it. The first Christians did not out argue the pagans. They outlived them. They didn't conquer paganism and dead Judaism by reacting blow by blow.

Instead the Christians of the first century out fought, out prayed, and outlived the non-believers. Their weapons were positive not negative. They didn't stage protests. And they didn't hold boycotts.

Have you ever noticed that? They didn't have a campaign to unseat the emperor. They would have died if they did that. Instead they prayed and preached and proclaimed the message of the death of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. And they backed up that message with actions to match. And they changed the planet.

They were out there loving and giving and healing and doing all the things God called them to do. So the slogan of the first century church, the church that changed the world was to live as Christ and to die as gain. What would the slogan of the 21st century church be?

What about my needs man? Something like that maybe. You know I go church shopping and I am going to try to find a church that meets all of my needs. Or maybe I go to multiple churches. Well listen if we train people to be consumers instead of communers we will end up with customers instead of disciples.

Let me say that again. If we train people to be consumers instead of communers we will end up with customers instead of disciples. So this is the church that changed the world.

And I pray that we could be the church that changes our world as well. Paul lived for Christ. But he was human. He was not perfect.

Did you know the apostle Paul was not perfect. He would get irritated at times. You know when he was being mistreated by the high priest's servant and actually a guy struck him. He shot back at us.

Might you you whitewash wall. The guy was like what did you say. I didn't know you were the high priest's servant. He got ticked off.

Who likes to get hit in the face. Not the apostle Paul. When it was revealed to Paul that there were some guys that wanted to kill him Paul didn't walk out into the town square and say here I am. Kill me. No.

He was lowered over the side of the wall in a basket. Why cause Paul wanted to live to see tomorrow. You know a Christian doesn't have a death wish. We don't walk around saying man I hope I die today.

But here's what we do say. To live is Christ and to die is King. I want to live today. And I want to live tomorrow. And I want to live as many days as God has given me to live. And when that day comes when I am called to heaven then that day will come.

But I am going to do everything I can to live in this day. So Paul was a practical guy. And he cared about the church. Look at verse 23. I am hard pressed between the two having the desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better. But it is important for me to remain in the flesh for you.

Yeah he wanted to help them. But notice what he says. He says having the desire to depart with Christ which is far better.

Listen to this. Death for a Christian is something that's going to happen as it will happen for every person. But Paul understood that when death came and it did come for him it was a conscious existence not an unconscious oblivion.

It was to be with Christ. For me to live is Christ to die is gain. In other words he was not going to just go into a grave. It was the continuation of life not the conclusion of life.

And that life ahead was a greater and better life. Death for the believer is a promotion. Death for the believer is a graduation. Death for the believer is a coronation. When you live for Christ you are not afraid to die. Again only the person who has said to live is Christ can then say to die is gain. Good perspective from Pastor Greg Laurie today from his series called Happiness a study of Paul's counsel in Philippians. And there's a lot more to come as this study continues here on the New Beginning.

And then we want to share a listener comment we received. It says, Pastor Greg I wanted to thank you for today's sermon. It really spoke to me. I read a comment by a person I consider a friend mocking the faith in those who follow Jesus. I was hurt and wanted to reply but instead prayed for them and gave it to God. Then I heard your message and you said all that live a godly life will be harassed and persecuted for the faith.

That means you were on the right track with God. I wept listening to your words because it was the reassurance I needed to stay strong in my faith. Thank you for continuing to preach the word.

Well we're so blessed that God is using these daily studies to impact people's lives to give them encouragement and an anchor. And if you've partnered with us to help make these programs possible thank you for being used by God. And Pastor Greg we appreciate that listener partnership.

Yes. And we have some unique ways to say thank you don't we? That's right and you know who you are out there that support us and thank you so much and God bless you. I wish I could walk up to you and shake your hand and have a few moments with you and I do run into people all the time Dave wherever I go that listen to our listen to our radio broadcast that's a part of their daily routine and we're thankful for that. But thank all of you for that and hey I'd like to have a few more of you become a partner with us because I know a lot of you make a new beginning a part of your daily life or you listen to the podcast or you tell others to listen to it. Well thank you for doing that and by ordering these great resources we offer we don't offer junk resources people. I think you know that if we're going to send you something it's going to be something you want to have in your library and whatever you send will be used to continue this ministry called A New Beginning as we teach the word of God and proclaim the gospel all around the world. Yeah that's right so we hope you'll make an investment today and we want to say thank you tangibly go to harvest.org and get all the details or call us at 1-800-821-3300. Reach us anytime 24 7 at 1-800-821-3300. Are you receiving Pastor Greg's daily devotions each day via email?

If not let's take care of that right now. You can sign up today free of charge at harvest.org and you'll receive a daily inspirational thought from God's word each day in your inbox. Again go to harvest.org. Well next time join Pastor Greg for more insight on the importance of living for the Lord and how that's the key to finding the happiness we're all looking for. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Lord. 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 harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-28 17:49:22 / 2023-05-28 17:58:50 / 9

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