You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.
Sign up at harvest.org. Don't ever say, I will never be made to stumble. We're all vulnerable, and any one of us could fall in any area if we were to lower our guard.
Don't ever think you're above that. Pastor Greg Laurie has pointed out that an unguarded strength is a double weakness. As the Bible says, take heed lest we fall. Recognize your weakness. Recognize your vulnerability, but also recognize the power of God and His desire to sustain you. The internet is full of videos of people walking along, looking at their smartphones, and then suddenly falling.
Falling into fountains, falling into swimming pools, tripping over a plethora of obstacles in their path. Seconds before, they might have said, I got this. I can read my phone while I walk. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out many of us have the same confidence in our spiritual walk. Today, a message of caution.
Anyone can fall. Okay, let's grab our Bibles. We're going to turn to two passages. Number one, we're going to go to John chapter 18, and secondly, Luke 22. John 18, Luke 22, and the title of my message is How to Never Stumble or Fall.
Okay, quick question. How many of you have ever fallen unexpectedly? Just you fell.
Okay, pretty much everybody, right? So I've taken up racquetball again, and I was playing the other day. And you know, the funny thing, you know, the doctor will say, Greg, get on a treadmill or go out and walk, and I hate treadmills, and I hate cardio, but I will run endlessly around in circles to chase a stupid ball with a racquet, right? So I was running to get a shot, and I somehow pivoted, and I landed flat on my back, and my racquet went flat on the wood floor and made a tremendous thud.
Some guy on the second level was on a treadmill. He stopped and looked over and said, are you okay? And I'm just laying there on the floor.
Okay, I was okay, but I had to take a few Tylenol afterwards, actually. But the thing is, I wasn't planning on falling, and a lot of times that happens spiritually. People fall, and they weren't planning on it, but maybe in a way, though they weren't planning on it, they were setting themselves up for it. I think when a person falls away spiritually, it's because there's been a neglect in their spiritual life, and because they're failing to move forward, they naturally, not immediately, but in short order, start going backward again. And then one day, you wake up and you say, how did I end up in this state? How did I end up in this place that I'm in? I don't remember when this happened.
Well, that's because it was gradual, sort of like the frog and the kettle illustration, slowly heating up. And the Bible warns about backsliding in Jeremiah 2.19. The Bible says, your wickedness will punish you. Your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God, and have no awe of me, says the Lord God Almighty. Jeremiah 3.22, God says, return, faithless people, and I will cure you of backsliding.
Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God. So we wanna be very careful that we don't become one of those people, because as I've already said, if you're not moving forward, you're automatically going backward. Well, we're gonna look now at the story of a backslider. We're talking about Simon Peter. And we're gonna look at his denial of Jesus. But let's get to know Simon Peter a little bit better. Definitely one of the most colorful characters in all of the Bible.
Perhaps he's my very favorite, probably because I relate to him somewhat, as many of us do. Simon Peter had a terminal case of foot and mouth disease. You know, there's so much ink given in the Gospels to the statements of Simon Peter.
It's just nonstop action. Jesus was at a place called Caesarea Philippi. There he began to speak in great detail about the fact that he was going to be betrayed and beaten and crucified, and he would rise again on the third day, and Simon Peter takes it upon himself to rebuke Jesus. Who rebukes Jesus? Simon Peter did. And he didn't just do it once. He did it over and over. He kind of got in Jesus' face and said, what are you talking about? You know, what are you saying? This is crazy talk, Jesus.
There's no way that you can die and be betrayed and all that. And Jesus actually had to say, get behind me, Satan. Because at that moment, the devil was actually speaking to the great fisherman. But Peter, he just kept coming back for more.
He was knocked down, but he was never knocked out. Simon Peter, the patron saint of ordinary flawed people like you and me. We can relate to him. Another classic Peter story is when there was a great storm in the sea of Galilee, as there often was. It was so horrible that even this season fishermen started to freak out, thinking they were going to die.
They spent nine hours rowing against it, trying to get back to shore again. And then what happens? But Jesus appears walking on the water. What a glorious moment. Again, just take it all in.
Get a mental snapshot. No, Peter, he just has to say something. And in this case, do something. Lord, he says, if it's you, tell me to come. You almost wonder if Jesus is saying, oh, really, Peter? Okay. All right, buddy, come on.
It's me. And Peter throws one leg over the side of the boat and swings the other one over and steps down on the water. Hey, you've got to give him credit.
Nobody else even tried this, all right? And he takes a step and he's on top of the water. He takes another step. He's still on top of the water. As he makes his way to Jesus, he probably takes in the reality of what's happening, takes his eyes off of the Lord, begins to sink, and cries out, Lord, save me. And he's going underwater.
Lord, save me. You know, Jesus reaches down, pulls him up on the top of the water, and they walk back to the boat. But again, classic example of Simon Peter, either knocking it out of the park or striking out rarely anything in between. Whatever Peter committed to, he threw himself into it wholeheartedly, which sadly included his fall. You know, for the most part, with the exception of John, the apostles went into hiding when Christ was arrested. Now, Peter was walking close to the Lord, as we'll see in a few moments, but he ultimately denied him. And then he began to self-destruct.
So let's sort of get the backdrop here of what's going on, and then we'll look at our text together. So of course, Jesus has had the Last Supper in the upper room with the disciples, and he's washed their feet, really as the great servant he was. And now he's getting ready to go and die for the sin of the world. But before that, he has a conversation with Simon Peter.
So let's start with Luke, and then we'll make our way over to John. So go to Luke 22 first, and let's look at verse 31. So here's what Jesus says to Peter. Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith would not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, you might underline turn to me again, strengthen your brothers, Peter said, Lord, I'm ready to go to prison with you, even to die with you. Jesus said, Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even knew me.
Wow, what a bombshell. Jesus tried. Can you imagine Jesus saying something like this to you?
Oh, excuse me. Hey, Greg, Greg, Mary, Mary, whatever your name is, Satan has been asking for you by name that you would be taken out of the care and protection of God. You know, a lot of times we say the devil tempted me, right? Oh, the devil's hassling me. The devil's giving me a hard time. The reality is most of us have probably never been personally tempted by Lucifer himself. You have to understand sort of the hierarchy of fallen angels.
There's the devil who's at the top of the heap. He was a powerful angel, maybe even an archangel. And he was once a worship leader. And then he fell from his position in heaven and became Satan or the devil. Well, under him, he has fallen angels or demons, as we call them today. The Bible says he's the prince of the power of the air.
Some of the Bible says we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and all that. It's talking about sort of the rankings, think military now, sort of the rankings under the devil. So the devil's sort of like the commander in chief. The devil can only be in one place at one time in contrast to God who's omnipresent. God can be everywhere at the same time. If the devil's here, he can't be in Los Angeles. And if he's in Los Angeles, he can't be in Moscow.
And if he's in Moscow, he can't be somewhere else. So it's pretty rare that Satan himself would come and tempt a person, though it's possible. But it was probably a demon doing his bidding, which is in effect the same thing. It's a powerful demon power doing the work of the devil. It's one of his minions. No, not that kind of minion.
Not the cute minion with one eye. But one of his demon powers. So in this case in particular, the devil himself was gunning for Simon Peter because that's what Jesus said. He said Satan has come and asked that you be taken out of the care and protection of God. Then I love what Jesus says, but I have prayed for you that when you have returned, you can strengthen your brothers. Listen. If the devil ever comes knocking at your door, make sure you ask Jesus to answer it.
Because you're no match for him at all. I prayed for you, Jesus says. And when you have returned, you can strengthen your brothers.
Returned? Yeah, buddy. You're going to fall away. No, Peter says, not me. I will never deny you. Yeah, you actually will.
And to be specific, you'll do it three times. And also a little detail before the rooster has crowed twice. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We really enjoy hearing when Pastor Greg's teaching and preaching are impacting lives. Pastor Greg, I grew up with a Christian father who told me about God's love for me. But when I was 16, my dad died. At that moment, I said, how could a God of love do this to me? So I walked away from God. And over the next 11 years, God sent people into my life to nudge me back to faith.
And then about a year ago, I was listening to you on the radio in my car at four thirty a.m. one morning. And finally, I prayed with you leading me to ask Jesus into my life. I've started listening to your podcast every day and reading the New Living Translation Bible from you as well. Thank you for doing God's work.
Bless you. We're encouraged when we hear stories like that because it helps us know how these messages are impacting people. Have Pastor Greg studies in God's word touched your life?
If so, would you let him know? Drop an email to Greg at Harvest dot org. That's Greg at Harvest dot org. Well, today we're considering the spiritual downfall of Simon Peter. Today, Pastor Greg is helping us to keep from falling back in our spiritual walk with God.
Let's continue. So what are the steps that led to Peter's backslide? Step number one to Peter's fall. Self-confidence.
Self-confidence. Look at verse 33 of Luke. He said, Lord, I'm ready to go with you both to prison and to death. And Jesus said, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day before you deny three times that you know me. By the way, in Matthew's gospel, talking about the same topic, finds Peter saying, even if all are made to stumble, I will never be made to stumble.
Now understand what Peter's doing. He's making himself look good at the expense of others. I don't like it when people do that. When you come and say, you know, nobody else is working as hard as I'm working.
I'm your best person. You know, really, do you have to diss other people? Just do what you do and do it well.
Don't do it at the expense of others. But the reason Peter made this statement is Jesus had just revealed that Judas Iscariot was a traitor. And then he said to Judas, hey, whatever you do, do it quickly. And Judas left the room. And then Peter says, hey, if everyone denies you, I'll never deny you. I'll never do what Judas did. And I don't know about the rest of these guys in this room, but I'm telling you, you can depend on Simon Peter, Jesus, just telling you. Remember, I'm the rock. Jesus says, well, since you brought it up, buddy, you're going to deny me three times.
There is no way that will ever happen. Self-confidence. You know, the Bible says pride goes before a fall. And it's a person that says, I will never fall that often falls. Don't ever say, I will never fall in that area.
I see that person did that thing. I would never do that. Now, careful, buckaroo. Pride goes before a fall. Listen, you, me, us, we're all vulnerable.
And any one of us could fall in any area if we were to lower our guard. Don't ever think you're above that. Recognize your weakness. Recognize your vulnerability. But also recognize the power of God and his desire to sustain you.
So don't worry about it. It's not like the devil can just pick us off and, well, I'm taking you down tomorrow. Because sometimes people have fallen to sin and say, the devil made me do it. No, he didn't. He tempted you.
He didn't make you. That's exactly what Eve said, you know. What did you do, Eve?
Did you tell Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit? She said, the devil tricked me. It was the devil's fault. The serpent tricked me.
Well, yeah, he tricked you, but you gave in to it, see. So here is the devil now attacking. And here's Peter being prideful.
And this was a big mistake. And that brings us to the next thing that he did that resulted in him falling. Number two, prayerlessness. Prayerlessness. We could also say a lack of prayer. I don't even know if the word prayerlessness exists. But I think it ought to.
It's a good word. So a lack of prayer, prayerlessness. But why do I say that? Because come now to verse 39 of Luke 22. Coming out he went to the Mount of Olives as he was accustomed and his disciples followed him. When he had come to this place, he said, Pray that you may not enter into temptation. And when he was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, he knelt down and prayed, saying, Father, if it's your will, take this cup from me. And nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done. And when he rose from the prayer, he came to his disciples.
That would be Peter, James, and John. He found them sleeping from sorrow. And he said, Why do you sleep? Rise and pray lest you enter into temptation. Now they were sleeping again from sorrow.
So let's understand. These guys were brokenhearted. The world was falling apart around them. They had left everything to follow Jesus.
And all of a sudden he's being arrested and everything seems to be going off the rails. And Judas, one of their own guys, has abandoned them and even betrayed Christ. So they don't know what's happening. They're just so in pain. And so they fell asleep from sorrow.
Effectively cried themselves to sleep. But what did Jesus tell them to do? Stay awake and pray. Pray that you don't enter into temptation. And I think there are times the Lord might be telling us to pray and we don't pray. And we get ourselves into a lot of trouble when we don't pray. Because we need to pray for wisdom. And we need to pray for protection.
And we need to pray for provision. And the Bible says you have not because you asked not. And I suggest to you there are things that God would like to do in your life and give to you that may not be happening because you simply failed to pray about it. Ask and it shall be given says Jesus.
Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened. So it was prayerlessness. And now we shift over to John chapter 18 and see what else happened to Peter. Go over to John 18. Now we read in verse 15.
Simon Peter. By the way I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Simon Peter followed Jesus as did another of the disciples. The other disciple was associated with the high priest so he was allowed to enter the high priest's courtyard with Jesus. It's assumed that this other disciple is John the author of this gospel. And John often referred to himself in this way the disciple whom Jesus loved.
He wouldn't use his own name. Peter had to stay outside the gate. The verse continues on to say then the disciple presumably John who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate and she let Peter in.
Now look at this. The woman asked Peter you're not one of that man's disciples are you? No I am not said Peter.
Because it was cold the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it warming themselves and Peter stood with them warming himself. Here's Peter's third step down. Step number one self-confidence. Step number two prayerlessness. Step number three keeping his distance from Jesus. Keeping his distance from Jesus. Look at verse 15. Simon Peter followed Jesus. You go well wait it says he followed Jesus.
Isn't that good? Yeah it's good but Luke gives us a detail that's important. He says he followed at a distance you see. So he was close enough to sort of see what was going on but he was far enough away where he was in a bit of trouble. You ever watch those shows on television you know where they show the predators like the lions or the alligators even and and they're waiting for an unsuspecting animal and often there'll be a flock of you know whatever gazelles you know jumping along and they're all together or zebras right and and the lion you know lions don't like to waste energy right they just sit there out in the sun out in the sun and they're waiting for the one guy that separates from the pack the slow one. So there goes all the gazelles and the one guy in the back kind of just looking around lion says that looks like lunch to me and he grabs that one and he pulls it down and that's what happens to us when we're with God's people we're moving in harmony there's safety in numbers praying for one another encouraging one another but when you're the straggler when you're far away from everybody else oh you come in sorta you're in enough to kind of know what's going on but you're at a distance you know when you come to church you always sit in the back row. I'm kidding it's okay to sit in the back room but seriously sometimes these are the ones who are the last to get here I don't get it now I know when you're working it's hard to get in on time but you know don't miss worship if you can avoid it okay if you can't get here until you get here at that time fine you're welcome but but you know when worship is happening you want to be a part of that engaged in it and don't be the first to leave I gotta get out of here you know engage meet some people develop some friendships of Christian brothers and sisters that you can engage with and even have an accountability to and have people to pray for you and and help you through life you know there's a great things to do don't be the straggler don't be the person following at a distance who has too much of the world to be happy in the Lord but too much of the Lord to be happy in the world that's a miserable no man's land don't go there don't go there that's what Peter was doing oh yes he was following but at a distance Pastor Greg Laurie is helping us learn from Simon Peter's fall we're considering the steps that lead to backsliding so we can avoid them and there's more to come in this message here on a new beginning well we're so grateful to have Lee Strobel with us today best-selling author former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune and he's just finished a book on the afterlife an eye-opening book called The Case for Heaven Pastor Greg you've made the point before that after your son went to heaven so unexpectedly it piqued your interest in heaven yes isn't it right it did I wouldn't say I'm an expert on heaven but I would say I'm a student of heaven I've always believed in it obviously I've always taught on it but when my son went to be with the Lord I just really started digging in like never before into the topic of heaven wanting to know more details of a better sense of it something I could almost imagine it's very hard to imagine but try to wrap my mind around it a little bit more and and so I'm always interested in talking about this subject learning about this subject and that's why I'm so excited that my friend Lee Strobel has written a book The Case for Heaven and the cool thing about Lee is you know Lee I think it's true to say that there's still a skepticism in you and I think there can be a healthy skepticism yeah you know it's been said skepticism is not necessarily a sign that a man is wrong it may be a sign he's thinking yeah and Christians can be gullible yeah and just believe what anybody says oh someone says I went to heaven and saw x y and z and I wrote a book about it and they may just believe it but no we need a reliable source which of course is the scripture right but you go with the degree of skepticism looking at these things and you do research to well sort of like you're in a courtroom and it's a case and tell us about how your brain works when you come to a subject and specifically the topic of heaven yeah I mean I spent a lot of time trying to determine who are the best experts in the world to talk to because you know I can't be an expert on everything but as a journalist you seek out people who have spent a lifetime investigating these issues and so I have interviews in this book with Dr Sharon Diercks who's a neuroscientist with a PhD from Cambridge University talking about the existence of a soul that we do possess a soul that continues after the demise of our physical body I interviewed John Burke who's a studied a thousand near-death experiences and has written a profound book about him I interviewed Clay Jones a professor who wrote a book called Immortal which deals with how people try to cope with their fear of death I interviewed probably the most profound interview I wanted to interview someone who was headed for heaven soon and so I sat down and had the last interview before he died with Luis Palau who was one of the great evangelists of our generation shared his faith with a billion people around the world he knew he was dying he had stage four cancer and I sat down with him to say you know what's it like knowing that you're going to be going to heaven like any time now yeah he'd already exceeded the lifespan that they had expected him to have and and so we had a profound conversation and that is in the book and I think that'll encourage a lot of people because even Luis Palau said you know in these last days satan whispers in your ears say oh you've you've pointed millions of people toward heaven but you're not going wow you know you you've been disqualified you don't you're never headed for heaven and you know the pilgrims wrote about this that the puritans rather that satan will whisper in your ear in those those last moments and and luis said you know he had to come against it with the word of god and say it's just not true and so he gives some great insights into what it's like to be on the precipice of entering into heaven beautiful that's all in these new book the case for heaven brand new and we'll send it to you for your gift of any size this month yeah that's right and we'll take that gift that investment and reach out on your behalf we're all about teaching believers and reaching unbelievers in fact since march of 2020 we've seen 220 000 professions of faith through harvest ministries that's what your investment helps accomplish so we hope you'll send a generous donation today and ask for lee's new book the case for heaven and we'll only be able to mention this resource a short time longer so get in touch as soon as possible you can call us anytime 24 7 at 1-800 821-3300 that's 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 riverside california 92514 or go online to harvest.org hey i don't know if you know about this but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world listen to this we even have harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the word of god so join us this weekend saturday and sunday for Harvest at Home at harvest.org well next time pastor greg points out that no matter what we've done god can forgive us and restore us good encouragement on the amazing grace of our lord join us here on a new beginning with pastor and bible teacher greg laurie 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 / 2023-04-26 11:50:16 / 2023-04-26 12:01:10 / 11