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The Real Thing | Sunday Message (with Pastor Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2022 4:00 am

The Real Thing | Sunday Message (with Pastor Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 13, 2022 4:00 am

Having a community of believers to surround you will support you in your walk and give you the opportunity to support others as well. In a special Sunday episode, Pastor Jonathan Laurie gives us a model of what a gospel partnership really looks like.

Notes

Priscilla and Aquila were ordinary people who made a profound impact.

To be “Corinthianized” meant to be morally corrupt to the extreme.

Priscilla and Aquila were missionaries, evangelists, teachers, and friends to the church.

Priscilla and Aquila built their life upon the rock-solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

Hope comes from being in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Priscilla and Aquila had spiritual community.

Don’t underestimate just how much Christian fellowship through a small group, “koinonia,” can change your life.

Salvation comes by faith in what Christ did on the cross.

“The path to public success is always paved with private discipline.” —Craig Groeschel

A fake salvation, a fake faith, a fake relationship with God hurts you the most.

The world is constantly telling you to do things for yourself, to be selfish.

The Bible says worship God, empty yourself, and live your life as a living sacrifice.

Scripture Referenced

1 Corinthians 2:1–5

Matthew 7:24–27

2 Corinthians 1:3–5

James 1:2–4

Psalm 103:2

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Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

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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. We'll be looking at Acts chapter 18. If you'd like to open up in your Bibles there, open up a web page tab maybe and follow along.

We'll be looking at Acts chapter 18 and a little bit into Acts chapter 19. When you hear the word power couple, what comes to mind? Who comes to mind?

What images pop into your head? Harry and Meghan come to mind. You know, right? He's the prince and she's the duchess or something. I don't know.

I stopped caring about what happened in England royalty in 1776. What about Jay-Z and Beyonce? They might come to mind. Maybe Travis Barker and Khloe Kardashian or Tom and Giselle. Come on, they're a power couple for sure. How about Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock, right? They're a real power couple. Wait, they broke up? Are you serious? This is revelation.

No, just kidding. What is a power couple though? What is a power couple and why do we call them that?

Well, usually today we refer to somebody as a power couple because they're rich and famous and they married somebody else or they're dating somebody else who is also rich and famous and beautiful and celebrated, whatever it might be. Now, sometimes these couples, they will use their influence for social issues or raising awareness for something good, whatever they might empathize with, but whether they like it or not, the attention is rarely on the things that they're trying to raise awareness for and the attention is solely on them. They could be supporting a super valuable cause. They could be supporting some great organization, but the cameras are always aimed in their direction. The news story is always, hey, celebrity endorses veganism is seen eating a taco at Del Taco, a chicken taco at Del Taco hours later, right?

That's the big controversy. And so power couples, while they might be celebrated today, we're going to be introduced in our text to a true power couple, a true couple that was influential, made an impact on one of the most important men in all of human history. And they weren't rich. They weren't famous. They weren't successful necessarily. They were humble, but they were committed to the Lord.

And so you might think that the power couple is a 21st century construct, but we will see that in the first century, in Acts 18, we see a true power couple and we see that they use their influence and their resources to change the world. Aquila and Priscilla, they weren't wealthy. They weren't famous. They weren't influencers. They weren't part of the social elite. And I am positive that they were not gluten free. What I love about Aquila and Priscilla is that they were normal.

They were average. They were probably blue collar, ordinary people who made, however, one of the most profound impacts on one of, again, the most important figures in all of human history. I'm speaking of the apostle Paul. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, God evidently does not intend us all to be rich or powerful or great, but he does intend us all to be friends.

I love that. And that's what Priscilla and Aquila did so well. They made friends. They made connections with the apostle Paul and we'll see also with a man, an evangelist named Apollos. And in our text today, we're going to see that Priscilla and Aquila, they were a tightly knit ministry duo. They were a married husband and wife and they were always mentioned together and they were considered by Paul to be some of his closest co-laborers in ministry.

This power couple was not powerful or strong because of their own fame and influence. They were exactly though what Paul had commanded the church to be in Ephesus and Ephesians six, when he says, finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Priscilla and Aquila, they were strong in the Lord. They were strong in their faith. They were a friend.

They were a co-laborer. There was somebody to provide community to the apostle Paul after he had just experienced a very tumultuous season in ministry. As Paul concluded his second missionary journey, we can look and see really it was fraught with revival, rejection, riot, repeat.

That's what he saw in almost every city. There was a revival. He was rejected. There was a riot.

And then you can repeat the whole process. He was beaten. He was put in jail, etc.

We learn in the last few weeks about how Paul and his friends, literally, they were put in jail. They were beaten. They were falsely accused. They were attacked by angry mobs. They were chased out of town. Then they were chased out of the next town by the people who chased them out of the previous town. They were forced to flee for their lives. And we see Paul arrive in an area that is maybe one of, in the modern day, back then, one of the most influential capitals of the world for cultural aspects, for philosophical aspects, for enlightenment.

I'm speaking of Athens, Greece. As Paul came and masterfully preached at the Areopagus to the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill, he built a bridge. He talked to them about the unknown God. He talked about the resurrection. He was relevant.

He was articulate. But ultimately, the Apostle Paul was rejected. They rejected his message and even was scoffed at.

And yes, there were some who believed, and so there's that. But ultimately, the Apostle Paul, as he left Athens, he did not spend much time there, he began his journey to Corinth, which is what we're going to read about in Act 18. And as he began that journey from Athens to Corinth and he began that 53-mile walk, we were given an insight into Paul's mental space by none other than the Apostle Paul himself in his first letter to the now church in Corinth that he would be planting. He says this as he began his journeys.

He arrived in Corinth. He says this in 1 Corinthians 2. When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn't use lofty words. I didn't use impressive wisdom to tell you God's secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you, I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who is crucified. I came to you in weakness, timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain.

Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied solely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom, but in the power of God. Again, the Apostle Paul, he is coming to Corinth after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi. He was ran out of town in Thessalonica and in Berea, and ultimately when he arrived in Athens and he gave this beautiful, eloquent message that we read in Acts 17 as he talked to the men there on Marsil, he was scoffed at, he was laughed at, he was dismissed, and ultimately he came into Corinth now humbled. He was ready to just rely solely on the power of the Holy Spirit, solely on the gospel message.

He didn't want to use any of his own verbal judo or anything like that. He saw the power of the gospel as where it was all about. As he came to Corinth, he was well aware that Corinth was a city that was renowned in the ancient world for its wickedness. And because of its location, it was a port city, it was a center for trade, a center for travel, a center for money and vice and new philosophies and strange new religions. Paul came there knowing that to be Corinthianized meant to be morally corrupt to the extreme. That was actually a term that was used and it's even used to this day to be Corinthianized. But even though Paul had every human reason to be discouraged after leaving Athens and after coming out of these cities, Philippi and others, the apostle Paul, he even may have been tempted to compromise as he came into Corinth.

Nobody knew him there. He was traveling there and he could have very easily given up this message that he was preaching. He could have been so discouraged in his faith, but that's not what happened.

He refused to change his message and ultimately what happened was God orchestrated exactly what the apostle needed in that moment at the exact right time at the exact right place. Enter Priscilla and Aquila, our first century power couple. They were missionaries, they were evangelists, they were teachers and they were friends to the church, a husband and wife team who were committed to Jesus as their Lord. Let's read about them now in Acts chapter 18, starting in verse one. After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth and there he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife, Priscilla, because Claudius, whose emperor at the time in Rome had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.

Yes, he banished them and he went to see them. And because he was on the same trade and they worked on the same things, he stayed with Priscilla and Aquila and worked for they were tent makers by trade. Point number one that we're going to learn about Priscilla and Aquila today. Point number one, enduring the storms, enduring the storms. Our president, Franklin Roosevelt, he said, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. Now, I told you that this couple, Priscilla and Aquila, they were not your ordinary power couple. In fact, they were refugees. They were refugees. They were leaving Rome because the emperor had decreed all Jewish people would be banned from Rome because the Jews there apparently were rioting over some issues. And they got lumped in with this group of people and they were banished.

All the Jewish people were banished from Rome. And so right away, we see this couple facing adversity, facing a trial, having to pack up all their belongings, whatever they could. And they were allowed to take with them on their journey and leave behind ultimately the things they probably cared most about, their friends, their family, their business, and ultimately their church. Bible scholars believe that this power couple had been a part of and likely helped to launch the church in Rome.

The church that Paul would write a letter to in his book, rather in his letter to the Roman church. And so for them to leave their community and come to a wicked city like Corinth, they must have been equally as pleased as Paul when they encountered each other. They would have been coming on this journey.

They would have arrived in Corinth discouraged, challenged, beat down, unsure of what the future held. And so we see this couple experiencing hardships just like we all do. We all experience storms. We all experience hardships.

You all experience trials and unwanted dynamics that take place in our lives. You lose your job. Your husband gets cancer. You find out that your wife can't get pregnant. You find out that your wife can't stop getting pregnant. There's a financial strain. You have a prodigal child and it's weighing on your heart heavy.

How can we weather these storms in life? Well, look at Priscilla and Aquila. How did they manage to go through this difficult journey of being banished from Rome and starting a new life?

Well, we see two things. And the first thing I want to point out to you is that they built their life on the solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ. They built their life on the solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ. There's a lot of things today that we are told we can build our marriages upon and a lot of things that people build their marriages upon. But they don't they don't support you.

They're not there for you. You can build your marriage on wealth. You can build your your marriage and your life on your appearance. You can build your marriage on your sexual chemistry with each other. You can build your marriage upon your your common love for a sports team, a TV show, a television or a movie series, whatever it might be.

Veganism, CrossFit, kittens, whatever. Honestly, people build their marriages on all kinds of things. Oh, this is our common love. This is what we do.

We love to collect, you know, glass mugs. And that's our life. Wow.

OK. But when the storms come in your life and you experience that difficulty, that trial, that unwanted phone call, there is only one thing that will sustain your marriage and will sustain your life. And that is the hope that comes from being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said in Matthew seven, anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. And though the rain comes and torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against the house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock.

But anyone who hears my teaching and it doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. And when the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. Listen, if you build your life on Jesus, he will sustain you. He will support you. When that rain falls and the waters rise and the wind blows, God will not let you down.

God will not leave you and he will not forsake you. Now, it's not just the storms of suffering you'll weather as a couple and hardship and sickness. It's also the storms of frustration and disagreement that you're going to face as a couple and maybe unforgiveness. You know, we've seen over the years that the celebrity marriages we so often see in the media don't often last very long, anywhere from a few days. Literally, I think the shortest one is like less than 24 hours a marriage all the way to, you know, a couple of years. But you don't read about many who last more than a decade or two. And you have to ask yourself, what did they build their marriage upon?

What were they built upon? Happiness? Fame?

I'm not really sure. I can tell you, though, that if it wasn't for my wife, Brittany, and I and our faith and our obedience to scripture and our spiritual foundations, I can guarantee you we would likely be another divorce statistic. If we didn't have Jesus, we probably would have thrown in the towel. If we didn't have that Christian support system around us, we would have given up.

It would have been so hard. But because we had the Lord, because we had our faith, because we had a deeper commitment to Jesus than we had to each other, we fell back on the things that mattered most, our faith in Christ. Let me tell you, when you were choosing that girl or that guy that you might want to date, aim for someone that has a faith that you want to have. Somebody that has a deeper faith in you, someone that has a stronger faith in Jesus, that has a deeper commitment, that is more enthusiastic, more in love with him.

Ask the Lord to make the decision on your behalf. Lord, would you have me marry this person? Would you have me date this person?

Is this who you have for me? But what if the Lord chooses some ugly guy for me to marry? Hey, listen, he may be hot, but so is hell, right? No, just kidding. The Lord is not going to have you marry some ugly guy.

Don't worry. God's not going to bring you some girl that you're not attracted to. That's not going to happen. You're not going to marry someone you think is unattractive. I'm a testament to that, because if you look at me and then you look at my wife, it's clearly obvious that I got the better end of the deal here. She's beautiful.

I'm not so beautiful, as you can tell. Thank you, Jesus. The second thing that I want to point out to you that Priscilla and Aquila helped them weather this storm was they had spiritual community. They had spiritual community. How stoked were these three when they found each other? Priscilla and Aquila finding Paul, Paul finding Priscilla and Aquila and being encouraged that they had similar things happening in their life, but they all had Jesus. Paul, on this spiritually low note, encountering this couple who, by comparison, were dealt a more severe blow, being banished from Rome, being banished from their home, having to leave everything behind, all comforting each other in the midst of persecution and rejection and uncertainty. Bearing each other's burdens, as Galatians 6, 2 says, bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

That's what these three were doing. They're bearing each other's burdens. They're empathizing with each other.

They were there for each other. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul says, all praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, God, who is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort others.

I love this. And when they're troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given to us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Listen, Paul was comforted in his trial. He was comforted through his discouragement by the Lord himself. Paul then took that encouragement that he was given, that comfort he was given, and he comforted others who were being discouraged. He was comforting with the comfort that he was comforted with.

How beautiful is that? And I want to tell you that community, spiritual community, will change your life. Being a part of a small group can literally change your life for the better. The first small group that I was ever a part of, I was in a transitional place, you could say. I knew I wanted to get close to God. I knew I wanted to be closer to him, and I knew that this lifestyle that I was currently living at age 21, I no longer wanted to live. I was in the throes of addiction. I was in the midst of just living really a double life. I hated who I was.

I had too much of the church to be happy in the world, and I had too much of the world to be happy in the church. I was really in no man's land, but I knew I wanted to get close with God. I knew I wanted to be back in church someday and really plugged in, walking with him, but I was just having such a hard time giving up addiction, giving up behavior, giving up groups of friends.

It was really challenging for me. Enter this little small group community that I was able to be welcomed into. I hung out with these kids. I hung out with these other Christian believers, and I was hearing them teach Bible studies, and while I was being convicted, the Lord was working on my heart. And yes, while I was kind of living this double life, and one weekend I'd be out over here partying with these guys, and the next weekend I was coming to church. I was not in a great place, but you know what? They were praying for me. They were challenging me.

They were calling me out for my behavior. Well, fast forward a few months after being a part of this little small group community, and one of the greatest and most devastating things that ever happened in my life takes place. My older brother Christopher was killed in an automobile accident unexpectedly. It left me devastated. It left me heartbroken.

It left me suffering. And as I was able to be a part of that spiritual community, who was it do you think that reached out to me and poured into me and let me know that they cared and sent me text messages and sent cards and let me know they were praying for me and encouraging me with Scripture and even bringing me food? No, it wasn't the people I partied with. It wasn't the people that I thought were my friends. It was the people that were part of this little church, this little Bible study that I was going to. They reached out to me, let me know they were suffering along with me. They're even crying along with me. They never met my brother, but they were hurting because I was hurting. That's right. People from that small group. It was a ragtag home Bible study that I was a part of.

It was raw, though it was genuine, and it was exactly what I needed. Fast forward a few months from there. Now I've committed my life to the Lord. I'm walking with Him. I've walked away from addiction to the power of the Holy Spirit.

That's right. God's made me a new creation. And after being at this Bible study for a little while, then I meet this girl who I went to high school with.

Her name was Brittany. Fast forward a few months after that. We're dating. A few months after that.

Or actually more like a year and a half after that. Now we're married. We've got kids together now. We've got three kids together in this April.

I'll be celebrating 12 years of marriage. Listen, don't underestimate how much a spiritual community, how much koinonia, Christian fellowship, that's the Greek word for it, through a small group can change your life. That's how Priscilla and Aquila were able to endure this storm was by having their life built upon the rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ. Their marriage was intact, and also because they had spiritual community. Let's continue in verse 18 of Acts 18. It says, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him, Priscilla and Aquila. Now they're a little team.

They're working together, a little missionary group. And at Cancrea, Paul cut his hair, for he was under a vow. Obviously, coming to the end of his work there in Corinth, I assume that he shaved his head because his work was done there.

This was a vow that he did. And as they came to Ephesus, verse 19, Paul left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. But when they asked him to stay for a period longer, he declined, and on taking leave of them, Paul said, I will return to you if God wills. And so he set sail from Ephesus. And when he arrived at Caesarea, back in Israel, he went up and he greeted the church. And then he went down to Antioch. And after spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples, verse 24.

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the scriptures, and he had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he taught and spoke accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only of the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. And when he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. Point number two, discipled the church. Discipled the church. That is what Priscilla and Aquila did. One of the greatest joys in my life is discipling other people.

One of my greatest joys in life is being a married person and with my wife, getting to minister to other people and to disciple other couples. Priscilla and Aquila, taking Apollos aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately, that's exactly what they were doing. They were discipling him, beautiful. Apollos was eloquent. He was well studied in the scriptures.

He was passionate, but he was an incomplete man with an incomplete message. He knew nothing about the baptism of Jesus. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn't have the full picture yet. You can read the scriptures. You can know what the Bible teaches about how to live and know what's right and wrong.

You can worship passionately. You can get all Pentecostal and wave flags around, but if you don't know Jesus, you don't know anything. If you don't know Jesus, it doesn't mean anything. If you build your life on knowledge or you build your life on emotion and passion, listen, it's going to fail you. Apollos knew these things. He was well studied. He was passionate, but he didn't know Jesus. If you build your life on knowledge or you build your life on emotion and passion, it's going to fail you. Knowledge doesn't bring salvation, and emotion and passion doesn't bring salvation.

Salvation comes by faith in what Christ did on the cross. Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos' message. They saw that it was incomplete, and they took him aside privately, they took him aside privately, respectfully, authoritatively, and they shared with him the whole gospel message. Now, they didn't call out, you know, Apollos, hey, what you're saying is incomplete.

You need to share the whole story. They didn't embarrass him. They didn't diss him. They didn't talk about him behind his back.

They didn't try and cancel him or publicly shame him. No, they probably took him to their home. They ministered to him, and they began to disciple him. One commentator said, the fact that this mighty preacher and scholar would consent to being taught by a lowly tent maker and his wife attests to his godly humility. Apollos was willing to be taught. He was willing to learn. He was willing to have things shared with him and even be corrected. You know, there's a lot of things as a couple you can commit your time to with your wife.

There's a lot of things that you can commit your time to with your husband today. It could be coaching your kids' sports teams. It could be working really late hours and working hard in your career. It could be climbing the social ladder.

It could be binge watching the latest Netflix series. It could be having a wine and cheese club. Hey, it could be even serving, ministering, and attending a small group, but here's the reality. Our job, our primary goal as Christians, as married couples together is to be missionaries to our families first and foremost, to disciple our children, to disciple our spouses.

That is the best thing that you can do in your marriage. Priscilla and Aquila, they had their home life all ironed out. They were disciplined. They were committed to Jesus, and they were using what resources they had available to them to build the church and to disciple Apollos. Craig Groeschel says that the path to public success is always paved with private discipline. The path to public success is a result of private discipline.

I love that. President Harry Truman once said, upon studying the lives of great men in history, he said, the first victory they ever won was over themselves. It was the victory of self-discipline and effort. Discipline is not something you can fake. Discipline is not something that you can manufacture.

It has to be real. Otherwise, the results will speak for themselves, right? You can't claim to be like an all-star athlete, and then when the time comes to go and swim that lap in the pool or to go play that game of tennis or to go and throw that football, and you've claimed to be this all-star athlete, when it comes down to it, you're not gonna be able to do it unless you've really put in the time and effort and discipline. People are going to see that you are a fake. They're gonna see that you're a fraud because the evidence of who you really are will be on display.

Unless you have paved your private life, your personal life with discipline and commitment to whatever it is, you're not going to have that public success. The worst thing that you could ever pretend to be is a Christian. The worst thing you could ever pretend to be is a Christian because you can fool people for some of the time, but you can't fool God any of the time.

As long as there is value in a name, as long as there is equity in a brand, there will always be people coming up with fakes, coming up with phonies. We see that with Christianity. How many false religions have come trying to manufacture, oh, I've got a new revelation from God.

Oh, I've got the whole picture. Oh, it's this and it's that and it's this. No, listen, there's only one revelation and it's Jesus Christ.

It's him crucified and that is the way to heaven. And as long as there is a faith in Christ, there's going to be false faiths. There's going to be people claiming that they have a new revelation, whatever it might be. And we see the same thing in the world today with brands. Yeah, seriously, with clothing.

We see it all the time. People that wanna have that nice clothing item and so they buy a replica, right? Or they buy what's called a counterfeit. They buy a fake version of it. They wanna wear some nice jewelry and so they wear some fake coat or they wear some fake earrings or whatever it might be. It's fake diamonds.

You know that stuff's all out there, by the way, right? Fake watches, fake handbags, fake works of art, fake sunglasses, it's all out there. You can even get fake cars. People will literally take, like there's this car called the Pontiac Fiero, this small little mid-engine, little rear-wheel drive car, kind of a cool little sports car, but for whatever reason, this is like the go-to car for people to make fake cars out of. So you'll see someone take this little Pontiac Fiero, this little car from the 80s and 90s, and they'll put all this bodywork, this little $1,200 Pontiac, and they'll put like $25,000 worth of bodywork into it. And what do you get? You get some kind of like mutilated Maserati, this fake-looking car.

The proportions are all wrong. It always seems so funny to me that people are willing to do this. But as long as there is value in a brand, there will always be fakes. I have a friend who makes these things called market bags. They make these really cool bags for groceries and stuff.

They make them out of burlap and leather, and they source all the materials overseas, and they pay them a fair wage, and it's very cool. And they've become really successful. They've sold over hundreds of thousands of these bags.

They've done really well. And what's happened now is there's a bunch of people that are making counterfeit versions of these bags, because they sell for like 50 bucks. There's people that are saying, oh, I could get it made here for way cheaper, and I'll sell it. And so what they've done is there's tons of these fake bags now all over the place. And that's a big discouragement to my friend. He gets pretty bummed out, because first of all, they're doing a cheap replica of his bag.

And also, that's eating into his bottom line, that's eating into his costs, and it's affecting him and causing him to lose business. But here's the reality, again, fakes are nothing new, and they're not going anywhere. There will always be replicas out there. There will always be people saying that they are one thing when they are actually another.

And again, the worst thing that you can be is a fake Christian. I heard about the story of a guy and his wife, and it was their anniversary, it was a big one. And his wife was dropping hints all over the place that for her anniversary present, she wanted a brand new four by four. She wanted an awesome vehicle that she could take off-road, and that's what she wanted. That sounds like a pretty cool wife.

Well, the husband, after just looking around, it was really hard to get the right one. And so he ended up on their anniversary day, there's a big group of people, they're celebrating them at dinner. And he gives her her present, it's a small little box, and she opens it up, she's expecting a key, but there's no key. Instead, there's a massive diamond ring. She forgets all about the car, right? She forgets all about the four by four, and she's in love with this ring right away. Wow, it's beautiful, oh my goodness, look how beautiful it is, and it glistens, and you know, this diamond is so big.

Wow, look at it, she's so excited. His buddy leans over to him and he goes, hey, I thought that she wanted a four by four, why'd you get her a diamond ring? And he leans back over to his buddy, the husband, and he says, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a fake Jeep?

Do you get the joke? I hope so, it's a fake ring, right? Okay, so the point is, there will always be replicas out there, but here's the thing, a fake car will still get you from point A to point B.

A fake bag will still carry your stuff. A fake diamond ring still looks the part, but a fake salvation, a fake faith, a fake commitment to the Lord, being a hypocrite, that only, not only will hurt people around you, it will hurt your family, worst of all, it's gonna hurt you. That's exactly what we see happening here in our next passage of scripture, in Acts chapter 19, starting in verse one, we're gonna read together about a type of faith that wasn't the real thing.

It wasn't the real deal, it was lacking something. It says this in Acts 19. And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus, and there he found some disciples. And he said to them, did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?

And they said, no, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. You can hear the disdain in Paul's voice here in verse three. And he said, into what then were you baptized? They said, into John's baptism. And Paul enlightens them in verse four. Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe and the one who was to come after him, that is Jesus. And on hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on him, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

There were about 12 men in all. These men had an incomplete faith that lacked in salvation. They were like Apollos, an incomplete man with an incomplete message. Paul explained it to them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and Paul stayed with them for about two years after this, further explaining the scriptures to them. That brings us to our third and final point. An incomplete faith brings an incomplete salvation. These were men whose knowledge took them as far as it could take them.

They were lacking, though, a key component in their walk with God, and that was the filling of the Holy Spirit, something that is promised to every follower of Jesus Christ who puts their faith in him. I have an electric bicycle, and I took my daughter for a ride on it recently, and I realized as we were halfway to our destination that the battery was at about 10%. This is not good. The bike's got these big fat tires. I've got my daughter on the back. She's 11, so she's not a baby anymore, and this electric bike has no gears. I'm totally reliant upon the motor on the bicycle to get me around town, and so as the bike ran out of electricity, what happened? It turned back into a regular bike, and not just a regular bike, but a super heavy bike with a big kid on the back of it, and now I'm being forced to pedal this bike around and get it from point A to point B, and it was so heavy, it was not fun.

This was not a fun bike to ride anymore. That's what these guys were trying to do living the spiritual life. They were trying to walk with God without the filling of the Holy Spirit. It's like trying to ride a bike, an electric bike with a dead battery.

It's like trying to drive a car with no gas in it. They were trying to get close to God on their own ability. That is a pretty futile pursuit, and I gotta be honest, even in the church today, we sometimes see this take place. There are ministries today that seem to lean in one of two directions. The church either has an emphasis on emotional experiences, the promises of God, what you could almost consider an Epicurean mindset maybe, meaning that they are looking for fulfillment here on earth, that incredible worship experience, that incredible and perfect message, that mountaintop experience. There are those that are looking for that. Then there's other ministries that only sing traditional hymns written in King James speech, and they speak in these and thou's and thy ist in it, whatever, and they only cover topics in Scripture.

As they present themselves, they never talk about application necessarily. They dress in suits and ties, and they're all about keeping up appearances, and you could say they have maybe more of a stoic mindset. For some, the keeping of the rules and discipline and unreliance on emotion is what brings them closer to God. It's their commitment.

Listen, not one of these approaches are better than the other because they are both lacking. If you wanna isolate from the world and remain in your holy huddle, and you only wanna do certain things a certain way and only sing songs from when you first came to faith, how are you ever going to reach a culture that is out there suffocating, looking for oxygen? We have the answer, and it's Jesus. And if you're always chasing that mountaintop experience and only want to worship God when He's blessing you financially and physically and prospering you, where do you see that in Scripture? What does the Bible have to say about that mentality?

It sure seems like there's been a lot of Christians who have suffered and have been murdered and persecuted for their faith to have that belief system. Oh, we only worship God. God only wants to bless us financially, and He wants us rich, et cetera.

James doesn't seem to believe that. The half-brother of Jesus, he says in James 1, he says, to count it all joy when you encounter trials of various kinds, hardships of various kinds. He goes on, because your endurance has a chance to grow. And when your endurance in trials is fully developed, you'll be perfect and complete, needing nothing. Count it all joy when you experience trials of various kinds.

Okay, Yoda, yeah, I don't know how that works exactly. But listen, when you have those times during worship and you do experience those emotional highs and you get so blessed by the Lord and you're just thinking of how God has blessed you and you're so thankful and you are gracious and your heart is full, hey, praise God. He allows us to experience that and He allows us to enjoy worshiping Him. He did create us mind, body, and spirit. And so it's appropriate for us to worship God when we are happy.

It's appropriate for us to worship God also when we're sad and when we're downcast. It's a discipline and it's spiritually maturing when we worship God when the bottom drops out and we get the bad news. The world is constantly telling you to do things for yourself, to be selfish and to do whatever makes you feel good, to get this possession, to get this relationship, to get this status, to get this new whatever it might be, to get this higher status.

It could be this next thing. It's on and on and on it goes. You're constantly climbing the ladder. The world says, worship yourself, satisfy that desire, give into that impulse. But the Bible says, worship God, worship the Creator, empty yourself, live your life as a living sacrifice. That is what we see Priscilla and Aquila doing. They were not just living for themselves. They were not just living for their own personal benefit. They wanted to help the church along. They wanted to pour into others that were around them, encouraging the Apostle Paul at a difficult time in his life coming alongside Apollos, this amazing evangelist, and helping him understand the fullness of the gospel and what it really means.

The Bible says, worship God, empty yourself, live your life as a living sacrifice. That's when you'll be fulfilled. The other day, my son Christopher, he's got a pet snake at home now. And so everything that he wants to get now is like snake themed. He wants a backpack with a snake on it. He wants a t-shirt with a snake on it. He wants this with a snake, whatever it is, stuffed animals, you name it.

That's what he's so stoked on. And so occasionally when he gets bored, he'll go on my wife's phone, and he's looking on her Amazon account. He starts texting me things like, Dad, can I get this? And sometimes it's like a little $3 stuffed animal snake or a snake sticker or something.

So I'm like, oh, sure buddy, that's OK. We'll get that for you. And he sent me a text, and he's like, Dad, can I get these? And I look at it, and it's like all these snake rings, like rings that you wear on your fingers with snakes on them. I'm like, dude, I don't think you want those. Like, you want to be like a nine-year-old little boy wearing rings on your fingers with snakes on them?

It's a little weird. Now, I understand why he wanted them. It's not because he wanted to wear jewelry or whatever. It's because he saw something with a snake on it, and he thought it was cool. His little brain is like, oh, that's cool. It's got a snake on it.

I want that. And he was so bummed out that I told him no. And we went back and forth, and I was like, dude, you're going to have to take them off when you play?

Like, do any of your other friends wear rings when they play? He's like, no, but I don't really care about that. And so we're going back and forth about this.

And I saw that he was actually pretty bummed, and he couldn't shake himself out of it. So I called him over to the dinner table, and I sat down with him. I wrote down on a pad of paper, and I drew a little list.

And I just wrote two headings, like one of those little charts, pros and cons. And I said, at one side, I said, things that I'm thankful for. Then on the other side, I said, things that I have that other people would be thankful for. And he spends his time, he's writing down on this thing, and he's writing down all the things that he's thankful for. And then he's going down on the other side and writing down things that maybe he's not thankful for, but somebody else would be thankful for.

And I come back after 30 minutes, and he's still working on this thing. And I could see something had changed in his countenance. He wasn't discouraged anymore.

He wasn't bummed out. And I sat down next to him, and I was like, wow, I was moved. And I saw how much he had written down.

He wrote down his bed, his family, warm clothes, his iPad, his books, his pet snake, his sisters, his dog, all the stuff he had written down, church. And I said, Christopher, how are you feeling now? He says, I feel better, Dad. I feel so much better.

I said, well, what happened? He said, well, I just saw all the things that I had, and I realized that I hadn't been thankful for him. But now I wrote him down, and I have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes we need to do the same thing. We need to remind ourselves of what God has blessed us with. Psalm 103 tells us to bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all of his benefits. Sometimes when we're seeing, oh, I need to get that next car.

I need to get that remodel on my house. Oh, I need to get that next job that's going to pay me more. This is what I need to make me happy in life. Impulse, impulse, impulse, scratch that itch, whatever it might be. But sometimes we need to pause. We need to reflect. We need to look at all the benefits that God has given to us. Wow, look at where God brought me from. Wow, look at this person that God brought into my life. Wow, look at this church that I'm involved in. Look how much they're helping me. Look how much it's blessing me. Look at all that God has done in my life. Thank you, Jesus. You are what I desire, not just the things in this life. For those of us that started down the road of living a life of sacrifice to God, we know that the more we give to God of ourselves, the more we are blessed. Mountaintop experiences are nice.

They're great when they happen. But for the other 99% of our time, we need to be committed to the Lord. Don't forget, memento mori, memento mori. This is a Latin phrase that was used a lot in times past that we don't talk about too often anymore. Memento mori is simply translated, remember death. Remember that you are mortal. Remember that this life is not going to last forever. They used to actually put it on top of your bank statements.

Yes, the bank would send you a statement with all of your current checking balance and whatever else, your credits and your debts and all that stuff. And it would actually say at the top, memento mori. And it was telling you, remember, you can't take this with you. Remember what you're going to leave to the next generation. And I want to encourage you today, memento mori. Think of the things that matter the most in this life. Someday you're going to look back upon the life you lived. And it's not going to be the amount of YouTube shows that you watched or how many TV series you binge watched on Netflix that brings you comfort and happiness or how much money you made or how many vacations you went on or how many parties you went to. No, it's going to be your relationship with Jesus, what you did for him and what you did for others in your spiritual circle and how you can bless them.

Listen, the best thing that you can do is have a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you see this pattern of how Priscilla and Aquila lived their life, we can see it was a life based on Jesus Christ. We see that these men in Acts 19, that they didn't have the full picture of who Jesus was. And once they were exposed to that, the salvation, the thing that they were looking for in this life, they found. They were trying to find God.

They were trying to get to him on their own. Praise God, we don't have to do that today. He sent us his son, Jesus Christ, 2,000 years ago to die on a cross in our place. In closing, I wanna invite you, if you have not yet already, to make a decision to follow Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. It's the best decision that you will ever make. Everything you are looking for in this life is going to let you down.

It's going to let you down. What you are looking for is found not in a religion, not in a possession, it's found in a relationship with the creator of the universe. Giving your life to him, committing your life to him, giving him your time, your job, your family, your career, your children, everything. As you commit those things to him, you're going to see God not only gives those things back to you, he blesses them. But before you give him any of those things, you need to give him your heart.

You need to give him your life. And I promise you, he is going to bless you as a result. And so in closing, I wanna invite you to pray this prayer with me, asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. If you'd like to pray it out loud, wherever you are, you can do that. You could pray it while you're driving. You could pray it while you're on a walk, wherever you might be.

You might be listening to this as a podcast or watching, you know, wherever, wherever. You can pray this out loud. You can close your eyes.

What really matters is your heart. So just say this, pray this, say this to God. Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I've fallen short of your standard, but I know you sent Jesus to die in my place and to die for my sin. He was the sacrifice for my sin and I thank you for him. And so I turn from my sin now and I turn from that life and I turn to you from this moment forward. Help me to walk with you, help me to grow with you as I give my life to you, 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 / 2023-05-23 00:03:34 / 2023-05-23 00:24:46 / 21

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