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How to Live a Meaningful Life | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2022 3:00 am

How to Live a Meaningful Life | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 20, 2022 3:00 am

God wants us to have a successful finish and part of that means helping Him reach those around us. Listen in as Pastor Greg Laurie explores Acts 19 and 20 to share “running tips” from the apostle Paul!

Notes

God used Paul powerfully, and miracles were happening!

Whenever God is at work, the devil will be there to oppose.

Satan is real and powerful.

Jesus is much more powerful than Satan.

The best defense is a good offense.

Paul compares himself to a runner in a race (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Paul warned to not “get off track.”

Paul warned against looking back.

Paul wanted to "finish his race with joy."

It is a joyful thing to know and walk with God.

We need to “play by the rules.”

Paul compared himself to a steward.

Everything we have has been given to us by God.

Paul compared himself to a witness.

Paul compared himself to a herald. 

Paul compared himself to a watchman.

We all have 3 things to give to God:

Our talent

Our treasure

Our time

We are to be:

Runners

Stewards

Witnesses

Heralds

Watchmen

God wants all of us to finish well.

The greatest legacy you can pass on is your faith.

Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.

Scripture Referenced

Isaiah 55:12

1 Corinthians 9:26–27

Ezekiel 3:17

Luke 6:38

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Hey there, thanks for listening to the great glory part just a ministry supported by harvest partners on Greg Laurie encouraging you if you want to find out more about harvest ministries.

To learn more about how to become a harvest partner, just go to harvest.org so I want to talk to you about how to live a meaningful life. McPherson spray father we ask you to bless this time as we open up the word of God. Your word you've given to us and tells us everything we need to know about you, everything we need to know about life itself. Lord we want to live meaningful lives.

We want to live lives with purpose. So speak to us from your word. We pray in Jesus name, amen. What were in his series in the book of acts, and more. In chapters 19 and 20. So I hope you have a Bible nearby, or an up on your phone or tablet go to acts chapter 19. Again, the title of my messages how to live a meaningful life. So guess where I've been I've been back in Alabama all and I'll tell you what I love Alabama I love the people of Alabama and I love the food of Alabama like only in Alabama do you find biscuits and gravy everywhere, even at the airport, biscuits and gravy for breakfast deep-fried catfish blackened of course shrimp and grits effect. To be honest, a lot of their stuff is deep-fried and they always sweep the tea you have to ask for your tea unsweetened but the friendliest people ever you say why you been in Alabama while were shooting this new film called Jesus revolution so they are very friendly to the film industry. There and also we saw a lot of the scenes from this film and I have to tell you, watching the feature film be shot especially on based on my life is been a surreal experience.

It's not even like dj vu, it's like I'm seeing my whole life insertable flyover and to be honest, it's given me a whole new perspective on the life that I've lived. It starts when I'm just a little boy this is what I look like what I was a military school is a little boy and there's this very talented young actor's name is Jackson Robert Scott area with them onset and this little guy doesn't amazing job playing young Greg there's one scene in the film were a little Jackson playing Greg is sitting at a table in a bar and he's drawing and that's what I used to do when I was a little boy I would draw and create my own little cartoon worlds. As I waited for my mother to go home and in this particular scene. My mom is being picked up by some guy, which happened in real life and she was inebriated, and she is walking out in the selector stop. Some like mom what you doing in and it just I was sort of really living my life all over again. My mother is played by the actress Kimberly Williams Paisley. She has done an absolutely amazing job and I think this is going to be a very special film. I'm excited to be telling you more about it later but anyway I somewhat see my life being played out on the screen from my childhood to the moment of my conversion and it's for the stunning experience and it caused me to think you know God is.

Let me go to these things in my life for a reason hopefully to bring some kind of encouragement to other young people that are facing it.

What was then the exception is now become the norm. In other words, being a boy who came from a divorce told my mom was buried in the bore seven times most my friends had their parents at home with them. So I was the exception, but now so many young people. I'm sure a lot of you have come from broken homes, and you had a tough childhood and you wonder, is there any hope for me of the answer is yes and I hope I telling my story. The story of how God transformed a generation. In this new film called Jesus revolution that it will bring hope to people literally all around the world.

I want to talk about how you can live a meaningful life. How you can live a purposeful life. How you can live a life that matters. And you should think about it right now.

Even if you're young. This is really a good time to think about the course your life is taking why because the evening of your life is determined by the morning of your life.

The end of your life is determined by the beginning you decide what course your life is going to take so I want to talk to you about how to make the right decision. So in a look at the words of the apostle Paul to the elders of Ephesus as he gives to them his final message in one day were all going to give our final message. If you will were going to have our last meal we can assure our last words and let's make those countless three-car like elbow before we dive into that, let's go to acts 19 and sort of talk about what's happening in the narratives.

So here's the apostle Paul and he is on his third missionary journey God is using him powerfully and miracles are happily not just miracles but extraordinary unusual miracles again ask 19 verse 11 God keep all the power to perform unusual miracles.

When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases and evil spirits were expelled.

So this is really fascinating just garments up all came into contact with were being used to bring healing to people. Now again I want to emphasize these are unusual miracles.

There was no power in his clothing.

I think what it was was the people, but if I could just have this shirt that Paul Ward touched me I would be healed. I would call that sort of like a faith release that they're ready to be healed, but that sort of triggers their faith that reminds us of the story of the woman who of the medical problem where she was constantly bleeding and she reason. If I can touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed.

Speaking of Jesus. Jesus didn't say hey, whoever touches the edge of my rope gets healed today on your mark get set go now we just passing through a crowd this woman came up with this idea and sure enough, when she touched his robe. She was healed. I think this is one of the reasons why Jesus buried his methods of healing people from person to person. Sometimes he would touch a person and they would be healed. Other times, the person would touch Kim and they would be healed and even other times he would speak the word in a person would be healed. How about that time when there was a minute was blinded and Jesus spit on the ground. I mean how would you feel if you keep her prayer and the preacher spit in the dirt and why did in your eye or that's exactly what Jesus did that guy was healed. So he buried his methods of healing and God is at work and listen to this, whenever God is at work. The devil will be at work to look at how the devil now opposes the work of Paul and others.

We have a new group of guys introduced to is called the sons of Skiba.

There were seven of them in total. Now they were hardly the magnificent seven event. They made some big blunders. So we read about them in acts chapter 19 verse 13 it says these sons of Skiba tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in their incantation saying to a demon possessed person.

I commend you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches to come out and the evil spirit replies.

I know Jesus and I know Paul but who are you and then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them and attacked them with such violence. They fled from the house naked and better while you take away truths from this little story number one. Satan is real and powerful. It's not unusual to read of people who are possessed by demons having super human strength as illustrated in the text we just read and also we read the story of the Gospels of the men who is possessed by demons hanging around in a graveyard and they would put chains on them and he would break the chains apart and he was constantly shrieking.

Satan is powerful. Satan is real and we should never take on Satan in our own strength up with these sons of Skiba did number two. The power of Jesus is more powerful than the power of Satan. The power of Jesus is more powerful and the power of Satan. Yes, the devil has certain power.

He is a fallen angel, but on the other hand, God has ultimate power and Jesus was God walking among humanity and Jesus himself said, all power is given to me in heaven and on earth and so he has the ultimate power someone were walking with Jesus, and standing in his strength, then we are under his protection.

Don't ever try to take on the devil and your strength. Third and last point about this the best defense is a good offense.

The Bible says submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you to the prom with these sons of Skiba as he had no relationship with God.

They were just throwing the name of Jesus around like it had magical powers in it, but they did not know the Lord. Interesting that the devil said yeah Jesus I know for sure.

Paul I know, but who are you reminds us that the devil knows the people that are being used by God. There was one occasion when Jesus was with Simon Peter, and he turned to when he said Simon Simon, the devil is been asking excessively. You would be taken out of the care and protection of God question will freak you out of Jesus said that to you. Oh, what he's been asking for me by name. Yesterday Simon it's true then Jesus said these words but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail again. Peter was under the protection of Jesus, so are we when we come to Christ.

But these sons of Skiba did not have that protection in their lives. Another interesting incident happens here in the book about before we get to acts 20 is a story of a young man named Utica's and that he's at a meeting where the apostle Paul is preaching. So Paul was preaching up pretty long time on that particular night, and unit kids fell asleep and fell out of the window to his death. So some of some follow-up. Unit kids fell out the window when these dead pulses. Okay, let's let's go see him. Paul goes over to Utica's raises them from the dead and then Paul does what any normal preacher would do. He finishes his sermon. I love that story.

But now we come to acts chapter 20 Paul is giving his final words to the leaders of Ephesus, the elders of the church that he had established and in this message that he gives. He compares the Christian to five different kinds of people. Five pursuits that a believer should be engaged in, and in doing so he shows us how to live a meaningful life so trees act. Let's relax chapter 20 starting in verse 17 we landed at Miletus and send a message to the elders at Ephesus asking them to come in and meet him. When they arrived, Paul says, you know, from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until no, I have done the work of the Lord humbly with many tears I've endured the trials it came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear publicly or in your homes. I had one message says fall for Jews and Greeks alike.

The necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God and having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and now I am dumb of the spirit to go to Jerusalem, I don't know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me that suffering in jail lay ahead.

But none of these things move me, says Paul, and X 2024. Nor do I count my life dear to myself so that I may finish my race with joy underline that appraisal come back to it so that I may finish my race with joy in the ministry, which I received from the Lord Jesus Christ to testify of the gospel of the grace of God. This is an emotional moment for the great apostle is giving them his last message you know it is worth noting that this is the only sermon in acts that is addressed to Christians.

All the other sermons in the book of acts are effectively addressed to nonbelievers. So Paul says okay here's what really matters to me and Paul compares this to these different categories of people. Number one, Paul compares himself to a runner in a race he compares himself to a runner in a race.

Verse 24. None of these things move me nor do I count my life dear to myself, but I want to finish my race with joy in the ministry, which I received from the Lord. Now this was a favorite illustration of the apostle.

The idea of running a race he told us in first Corinthians 924. We must run the race of life to win.

He says remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets a prize so run in such a way that you will win look when you run a race run to win.

Go for the gold is a safe grade when the bronze of the silver but the gold is best for sure, and does so you give your best effort. You know, one of the problems that we have today in sports is we have in little kids games are like soccer games for children and other athletic pursuits that sometimes they don't keep score. I know this because I'm going to my grandkids soccer games and also what's the score, someone will say we don't keep score.

Everyone's a winner brother.

Then some guy will say it's 5 to 2 and also I think it's important to keep score. You know there's going to be a winner or loser of a game is going to be a winner and loser of the boxing match is going to be a winner and loser of the race, we should run this race to win another thing pulses about running races is that we can get off track in the race of life.

He wrote to the believers in Galatia and he said you guys were running a good race who cut in on you from obeying the truth.

Sometimes people get us off track.

They cut in on us, so to speak to good thing to periodically evaluate the friends that I have the people I spent time with and ask myself the question is this person encouraged me encouraging me and running the race of life as a Christian or are they discouraging me another way to look at it, are the a wing or are they await are they encouraging me or stopping me. So reevaluate who your friends are, you know someone says happy is the man or woman who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. But instead, their delight is in the word of the Lord don't hang around with ungodly people that may encourage you to do ungodly things.

Then Paul also uses the analogy of running the race when he tells us we should never look back. In Philippians 314. He says I got my eye on the goal were God's beckoning us onward to Jesus, I'm often running and I'm not turning back the ideas I've got my eye on the prize.

I'm not looking back you know Jesus said no men having put his hand of the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.

Why because the first step to going back is looking back ever been driving and you know to set up couples up behind you. I'm sure your first reaction is to slow down even if you're driving the speed limit you slow down your notice that I got a freeway there's a cop out. I had no one wants to pass the cop even if he or she is going under the speed limit. We all slow down behind them and wait for them to take the next offramp.

Then we go back to speeding again right. But if you're driving and you're looking in your rearview mirror at the officer behind you or your distracted by something that you could hit a car hit a person so you need to keep your eyes on the road in the same way as Christians running a race we need to keep our eyes on the prize, but is not just enough to run the race you want to finish the race impulses I want to finish this race with joy the next 2023 and I've been running this race as a Christian for over 50 years now and I'm in a tell you a little secret about running this race and it simply events it's a joyful thing to know and walk with God in Isaiah 55 it says you shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace. There's joy in knowing Christ.

There's joy in reading the Bible. There's joy in knowing other Christians who are your fellow brothers and sisters.

There's joy in sharing your faith as well. Joy in all of these things about the Bible says the joy of the Lord is your strength. Another thing we need to play by the rules were running the race of life. Paul writes in first Corinthians 9 hey I run straight to the goal with purpose and every step I discipline my body like an athlete training it to do what it should otherwise appear after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified, if applicable, the rules so if I enter a razor to move. The rules are after ball of those rules are. I will be as disqualified princes of I'm doing long distance run. I can't, you know, take a bus. I have to actually run with everyone else. I bring this up because someone actually did that.

It was a big race and so the starting pistol was fired and and one guy took off running with everyone else and then he disappeared into the forest. When he caught a bus to where the race was ending joined up with the runners at the very end of the race and came in one runner in particular notices man did not look winded. He wasn't sweating. He wasn't tired and he placed I think third in the race so they found out what he had done any was immediately disqualified soap to running a race you Take the bus and if you're running this race of life you go play by God's rules and you confronted with joy. You can finish this race with joy.

Here's a little secret found in Hebrews 12 it says for the joy that was set before him. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and now he is set down at the right hand of God question what Jesus going as he carried the cross of the streets of Jerusalem. People were screaming at him. There were beating him. They were mocking him. Yet he carried the cross all the way to the spot where they crucified him the answer is there. He did it for the joy that was set before him. What was the joy that was set before Jesus answered it was you it was me. He knew that he was going to pay the price for the sins of all of humanity.

The price for your sins and for mine and that's what kept him going. So Paul compares himself to a runner now uses a new illustration. Now Paul compares himself to a steward. Verse 24 the ministry which I received from the Lord towards this ministry was given to me from God. I didn't even choose it, but I received it as a gift from God. Every one of us is effectively a steward or a servant. Let me put it another way, everything I have is been given to me by God. Everything you have is been given to you by God. Your career the roof over your head, your family, your breath in your lungs right now. The beat of your heart, your very life itself is been given to you by God. So my objective is to find the will of God and walk in it so I need to realize that I am the purchased property of Jesus Christ.

He paid a price for me.

First Corinthians 620 says you're not your own. You been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's word about an old man who was asked the secret of his spiritual longevity summons an old man you been walking with the Lord.

All these years have you done it gives us will let me tell you something whenever I'm getting tempted by the devil. I just look up to heaven and I say Lord, your property is in danger again you're the property of Christ. He paid for you with this own blood. You belong to him.

You know it's interesting, Paul would often start his epistles with these words Paul bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of them. He, a bondservant well. Slavery was big and Roman these days, but there can be a time where a master would free his servant, and on certain occasions there would be a servant that loved his master so much he would say okay I'm no longer your slave as I have been, but I want to be your bondservant. A bondservant was someone who served their master because they wanted to, not because they had to. So Paul would often refer to himself as a bondservant I I want to do this.

Going back to his phrase finishing this race with joy. So we are a servant. I'm a servant you're a servant I'm just doing what I'm called to do. Sometimes people say all Greg, thank you for all the times you preach the gospel and thank you for doing this and doing that my symbol. Thank you for saying that. I appreciate it, but I'm just doing my job that Jesus told the story of a servant who had done what his master told him to do and their response was were unworthy servants.

We've only done what our duty is to do. That's Luke 1710. That's all I'm doing. That's all. In the event should be doing now number three, Paul compares himself to a witness, a witness so he said I'm a runner in the race I I'm a slave around his servant, and I'm also a witness first 2024, testifying to the grace of God. Your witness. So let's say that there's an automobile accident of fender bender so the cops come and they try to find eyewitnesses so they will say to you, an eyewitness, tell me what did you see and hear. Can you describe it to me and they put that in the report now. My job is not to make up something.

It's hard to exaggerate what I saw is not to edit out things that I saw is to simply be a good eyewitness and describe what I've seen, we are to do the same. The apostle John said that which we have seen and heard we declare to you that you may have a relationship with God. So I think when you're really walking with Jesus Christ telling others about him comes naturally. You're sort of like a sponge, filled with water. It comes out easily and you just overflow with your faith in, and what the Lord is done for you, so we are called we are called to be a witness before others, but it's interesting because there's a seriousness to this statement because the word testifying.

When Paul says in verse 24, testifying to the grace of God it means to solemnly give witness it's really important that I'm accurate and what I say, going back to you talking to police officer. If you ID the wrong person as a criminal or you gave false facts that could result in someone being sent to jail or even prison if they were guilty so we need to be Solomon.

This we need to get our facts straight. We need to know what the Bible says and be a good witness of what Christ is done now number four Paul compares himself to Harold verse 25 I know that among you are gone. Preaching the kingdom of God in you will see my face no more. So now is a Harold, so a witness talks about what the UMC I Harold proclaims the message is master gives we have a message to declare I used to be a paperboy and I had a pretty cool bike. It was a Schwinn stingray with a stick shift and I like that bike and I had these big bags with the newspapers on it and I would run around and I would throw those newspapers and they were wrapped in sort of a plastic and so I got pretty good. I can clear hedges that could give them right on the doorstep and so my job as a delivery boy was not to write the news, it wasn't to make the news. It was simply to deliver the news that's her job as well, except for delivering the good news of the gospel to others. So were I Harold getting this message out. Now Paul says in verse 27 to the leaders about the says I have not shown the declare to you the whole counsel of God. The job of a pastor in teaching the Bible is to declare God's counsel to you on every topic, not just pick the subjects we like to talk about is to feed the flock of God to pulsing Hague guys I told you the truth I didn't hold back. I said a publicly and I said a privately by the way, that's a really good friend of friend who will tell you the truth.

We all know people think that we don't always like it because sometimes I'll see something we don't want to hear.

But if you have a friend who will honestly tell you the truth, that is a true friend. Finally, Paul compares himself to watch it. Verse 26, about 20. I testify to you this day, I'm innocent of the blood of all men. So now he compares himself to a watchman on a wall by the way my name Gregory actually means watchman and I feel that God has called me to be a watchman as he is called you to be as well. This is an interesting phrase when Paul says I'm innocent of the blood of all men. What does that mean will over in the book of Ezekiel chapter 3 verse 17 we read the Lord saying that the prophets of the men I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message for me pass it on to the people immediately. I warn the wicked, and I tell them there under the penalty of sin. But if you failed to deliver this warning though die in their sins and I'll hold you responsible demanding your blood for. There's so that's the origin of the statement of Paul.

I am free of the blood of all mentoring innocent of the blood of all men. In other words, I've been a good watchman. I've delivered the message God wants me to deliver.

We need to do the same. Be faithful in giving this message to others to fail to do so is to be a poor watchman now Paul closes this message to the leaders of Ephesus with the motive for doing these things.

Look at what he says in verse 35.

Remember the words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Have you found that to be true by the way, the word blessed can be translated happy. So if you want to be a happy person to give her there's three things that we can give to God talent, treasure and time God is giving you certain talent, certain abilities dedicate that talent to the Lord. Secondly, is giving you treasure your resources, your finances, give those treasures to the Lord invest in the work of the kingdom of God.

Finally time every hour of every day is a gift to us from heaven. Don't waste your time and understand that speaking of finances, you cannot out give God. Jesus said in Luke 638 if you give you will receive your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over whatever measure you use in giving large or small it will be used to measure what is given back to you.

Generous giver and God will bless you and replenish you as a result. Sadly, so many believers are keeping this all of themselves.

There are some Christians I can't remember the last time they initiated a conversation about Jesus. They can't remember the last time they invested a dollar into the work of the kingdom of God, you're missing out on so much. Remember, it is more blessed or happy making the give than to receive. So let's wrap this up were runners in a race, as Paul tells us in verse 24. We need to finish this race with joy. We need to run this race to win number two were stewards or servants are sole responsibility here on earth is to praise and serve our master. Thirdly, were witnesses like when a court of law.

We are to give witness solemnly give witness tell the truth were also heralds the witness tells what is happened to him.

But the Harold gives the message. The King wants him to declare and finally we are watchman sagrada wall of the city and were given a message and we faithfully deliver that message to others. Listen if you do these things you will live a meaningful life. You never know when you're going to give your last message Paul knew this is it on never see these guys again. So this is what matters to me one day as I said earlier, you are going to give her last message. What if this was the last message you would ever hear.

What if this was the last message I would ever give. If you will get to give a final message. What would you say to someone else and an interview for his book called nearing home one of the last books at Billy Road. He was in his late 90s when he wrote it. He said that as God doesn't want us to waste our letter years or spend them in superficial meaningless pursuits.

Instead rights Billy. He wants us to use them in whatever ways we can to influence those that will come after us." God wants us to finish well. He wants us to finish our race with joy. Listen to this. The greatest legacy you can pass on to your children and get grandchildren is not your money or material things that you've accumulated in your life.

The greatest legacy you can pass on to them is the legacy of your character, and of your faith. One day the most precious things you have will fit the hospital drawer.

The only wealth that will endure is that which is been invested in others for the sake of Christ and his gospel. I said earlier, what if this were your last message to hear. I want to make sure you hear what I'm saying.

Everybody has a beginning, middle and end of their life God determines the length of our days. God determine former born. He determines when we will die and we have everything to do with that little in the middle, but I want you to be prepared for the afterlife because heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Why did Jesus come to this earth and walk among us is a man and then go and die on the cross he came to die for your sins.

Jesus said for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but they will have ever lasting life. Are you ready to go to heaven if you die today or tonight would you go to heaven. Is it why I believe I would because I'm a good person.

Are you really. I'll give you the answer here not as good as you think you are. Oh I'm sure you're a nice person. I'm sure your kind and consider. Then again, if you want, but there are a lot of nice people out there being a nice person will not get you to heaven. Being a good person will not get you to heaven because you and I we have sinned against God, we broken his commandments. We have fallen short of the standards. So heaven is not for good people. Heaven is for forgiven people. So here's my question. Have you been forgiven of your sin is a well how does that happen.

The Bible says that we will confess our sin. These people and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose again from the dead and is alive in these with this right here right now is standing at the door of your life, and he is knocking the scene if you hear his voice and open the door he'll come in the deal say Lord, I'm sorry for my sin. I turned from, and now he will forgive you and you can know with certainty that you will go to heaven when you die. In the meantime you can live a meaningful life. Would you like to us Jesus to come in your life. If so, I'm in the previous simple prayer I'm good to us that you would pray this prayer after me. You could print out loud if you like you can pray quietly in your heart but pray this prayer and mean it and Jesus Christ will come into your life to be your savior, your Lord, your God and your friend. If you would like him to come into your life. If you would like to be forgiven of your sins. If you would like to know that you will go to heaven when you die if you would like to find the meaning and purpose of life.

Pray this prayer with me right now. Just pray these words Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you are the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead, I'd churn from my sin. Now that I choose to follow you from this moment forward in Jesus name I pray, amen. Everybody thinks or listening to this podcast to learn more about harvest ministries follow the show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and find out how to know God personally go to harvest.org and click on know God


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