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How to Never Stumble or Fall | God's Grace

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
April 28, 2022 3:00 am

How to Never Stumble or Fall | God's Grace

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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April 28, 2022 3:00 am

In 1998, the Etch a Sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. With it, you can draw picture after picture, as complicated as you want. If you mess up, turn it upside down, give it a shake, and start over. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie says, no matter how your life is messed up, God offers you the chance to turn your life right side up and start over. Shaking is optional. We’ll see a case in point from our studies in the Gospel of John.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. Over again. It's too late for me. You know, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Well, first of all, you're not a dog. And these are not tricks. God can change any person, even if they've messed up many, many times. In 1998, the Etch-A-Sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

With it, you can draw picture after picture, as complicated as you want. If you mess up, turn it upside down, give it a shake, and start over. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie says, no matter how your life is messed up, God offers you the chance to turn your life right side up and start over.

Shaking is optional. We'll see a case in point from our studies in the Gospel of John. This is the day, the day when life begins. We're going to look now at the story of a backslider. We're talking about Simon Peter, and we're going to look at his denial of Jesus. Here in our series that we're calling Life, Studies, and the Gospel of John, we're now following Christ to the cross. But we sort of go over to the side for a moment, a sidebar story, if you will, as we look at how Simon Peter reacted to all the events that were happening, resulting in his full-blown denial. So if you feel as though you've let God down, I think you're going to find this a hopeful message, because this is not only a story of how a guy fell, but it's also a story of how he was restored. And if you've fallen away from the Lord in some way, shape, or form, I'll give you an opportunity at the end of this message to make a recommitment to him.

But let's 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 is 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.

So what are the steps that led to Peter's backslide? Step number one to Peter's fall, self-confidence. 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. You know, the Bible says, pride goes before a fall.

And it's a person that says, I will never fall that often falls. 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. 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. So it was prayerlessness. 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. Oh, yes, he was following, but at a distance. Not as closely as he should have been.

Now we come to his fourth step down. Verse 18, he was warming himself at the enemy's fire. Warming himself at the enemy's fire.

Verse 18, they stood around this fire made out of charcoal, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself. Now, he hoped to go unnoticed in the larger crowd and warm himself with the fire. He was already following at a distance. He was just a train wreck waiting to happen. Now, we want to give him some credit. He was around.

The others were nowhere to be seen. But at least Peter's there, but he's already compromising, because here's the problem. He was at the wrong place with the wrong people, and now he's going to do the wrong thing.

Right? This isn't rocket science, people. I talk to people that struggle with different things. I struggle with porn. I struggle with gambling. I struggle with drugs.

I struggle with alcohol. Okay, well, I didn't see you at church last Thursday night. Where were you?

In a bar gambling and looking at porn. Yeah, you're an idiot. Really?

Seriously? You hang around with the wrong people at the wrong places, and you're shocked when you go and do the wrong thing? You're just setting yourself up, and that's what Peter was doing. Change the people you hang around with. Change the places that you go to.

I mean, realistically, he shouldn't have been in this place. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Emails, letters, and phone calls from listeners are so encouraging to us, and they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Pastor Greg, this letter has been a long time coming. In 2017, my husband and I lost our three-year-old son to a sudden onset sickness.

We began asking questions, and no answers seemed to be found. One evening, I was watching TV and came across your message. I was about to change the channel, but something compelled me to watch. You were giving your testimony. The more I watched, the angrier I became, thinking, Oh great, another pastor with a perfect faith in life.

What does he know? At that moment, you began to share about the passing of your son, Christopher. Your testimony saved my life, because for so long, I thought I deserved what had happened to our son because of my disobedience to God's word. But hearing your testimony for God made me realize that God doesn't waste our pain. Then and there, I set my heart on seeking God. I started listening to your podcasts and devotions, and wouldn't you know it, you were in a series called Hope for Hurting Hearts.

I know it was the leading of the Holy Spirit for me to tune in. Thank God for that moment, His perfect timing, grace, and love. And thank you, Pastor Greg. You have done more than you realize. We're so blessed to hear how Pastor Greg's messages have comforted this woman.

Would you like to share a personal story with us? If so, drop Pastor Greg an email and let him know. Send it to gregatharvest.org. That's gregatharvest.org. Well, today, Pastor Greg is helping us recognize the steps that led to Peter's spiritual fall.

We're considering how backsliding happens and how we can avoid it. Let's continue. Now his fifth step down, the first denial. Verse 17, one of them says, You're not one of that man's disciples, are you? He says, No, I am not. Now you would have thought, wait, wait, deja vu, didn't Jesus talk about this?

Maybe I should get out of here. Why didn't He run? Here's the answer. This is a profound point. I've made it before, but I'll make it again. Why didn't He run?

Ready for it? Sin makes you stupid. Sin makes you stupid. Sort of like someone who's drinking. People who are drinking don't know how stupid they're behaving.

They think they're really funny. Oh, yeah, I'm really funny when I'm drunk. Actually, you aren't. You're really obnoxious. Oh, yeah, I'm a whole different person. Yeah, I'm a much worse person.

Please don't get behind the wheel of a car and injure somebody where it says kill them. But, you know, the drunk person, the person coming under the influence, thinks they're so clever, they're so witty, this is so great, and then they find out the next day what they actually said and did. They're a little bit shocked by it. Sin is sort of like that.

It's sort of intoxicating. And you're not thinking clearly. I mean, think of Samson. He's hanging out with a woman named Delilah who tells him she wants to cut off his hair so he'll have no strength. So he hangs around with his head in her lap. Is that smart? Well, of course, you know the rest of that story.

You know, that's what happens. Sin makes you stupid. Peter should have got out of there.

He should have run. But sin is blinding him despite the fact that Jesus predicted this very thing. Now look at the sixth step down. Verse 25. And as Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, You're not one of his disciples, are you? He denied it saying, No, I am not. But one of the household slaves of the high priest, watch this now, said of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, Didn't I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus? Peter denied it and immediately a rooster crowed.

Okay, put all three gospels together. There's another denial in the middle of all of this. Okay, so it was three denials in total. By the way, Luke tells us a full hour had passed between the second and third denial.

A full hour. Why wouldn't he have gotten out of there? Again, sin makes you stupid. He's not thinking clearly. He wants to be near Jesus. He wants to help Jesus. But he's afraid to make his stand.

And now his sin is coming to haunt him. Yeah, you're one of them. No, I'm not. You're the guy who cut off Malchus' ear. Remember that story?

That guy who was a servant to the high priest, probably leading the charge. I'll get him. Ear comes off. Jesus heals the guy. No, I remember you. I remember you clearly.

You're the guy that actually doesn't know how to use a sword very well. And so now there was no denying it. And now Matthew's gospel gives us a very important detail. It says, Peter began to curse and swear. What does that mean? It doesn't mean Peter used profanity. Nor does it mean that he swore like a sailor, though technically he was one. But it's an interesting phrase in the original language that means to take an oath. So effectively, one was pronouncing death on themself. They were taking an oath before God.

Here's what he was saying. I swear to God, I take an oath before God himself. I never knew Jesus. Wow. Really?

Do you have to go that far? And by the way, that's clearly taking the Lord's name in vain when you say something like that. So he took an oath that he never knew Jesus and then the rooster crows again. And if that wasn't bad enough, according to Luke at that very moment, after the third denial, after taking an oath, I never knew Jesus. Jesus was led outside of the house of Caiaphas and he made eye contact with Peter. The eyes of Jesus meant the eyes of Peter.

Because we read, immediately while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. This is Luke 22. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord that he had said, before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times. And Peter went out and wept bitterly. Wow.

What a moment. Jesus looked right through him. How do you think that went down? Do you think Jesus rolled his eyes?

Seriously? Do you think he looked at him with anger and scorn? No, I don't think so. I think he looked at him with love. Like, not an I told you so, but a little bit of an I told you so. You know, not like, I told you so, but, hey buddy, I told you. Remember, I told you?

But just remember everything I told you. I said, when you have returned, you'll strengthen your brothers. Do you think he looked at him with love? I think Peter was broken hearted. Of course, then Jesus is taken to the cross and he's crucified. Then he rises again three days later. And the message goes out from the risen Lord. And what is that message? Go tell the disciples and who? And Peter. He's risen.

The reason he was singled out was, well, he just needed some extra encouragement. Do you need that right now? Because, man, I've just messed up so many times. I've fallen back into the same sins over and over again. It's too late for me. You know, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Well, first of all, you're not a dog. And these are not tricks. God can change any person.

Even if they've messed up many, many times. Did Peter fail? Yes, he did. Did he deny the Lord? Again, yes. Was he still a believer?

You better believe it. Because Jesus said when you are converted or when you've returned, you'll strengthen your brothers. His setback was temporary and Peter would be back and he would be able to use this failure as a way to encourage others who had also failed because he could tell people that there is a God who gives second chances. It would also serve as an example of the simple fact that nobody is above falling into sin.

Nobody. Anyone can fall. But here's what we want to say in Peter's favor. He wept bitterly. And the Bible says godly sorrow produces repentance. Repentance means to change your direction. Peter went out and wept bitterly, but Jesus forgave him. Again, go tell the disciples and Peter he's risen.

And Jesus not only forgave him, he recommissioned him and we'll see that later in the Gospel of John. So in conclusion, maybe you have fallen spiritually. Maybe quite expectedly. You're like that lady in that commercial. I've fallen and I can't get up. I'm not making fun of her, by the way.

Though I think she's an actress. But I'm not making fun of anyone who falls and can't get up. But maybe you feel that way spiritually. You know, I've fallen and I can't get up. Well, you can't get up on your own, but God can pull you up.

God can help you get back on your feet again. Jesus forgave Peter and he will forgive you as well. You say, well, I'm just so ashamed. I'm not even worthy to be here at church.

Can I tell you a little secret? You've never been worthy to be at church. You've never been worthy to pray. You've never been worthy to read your Bible. What, are you saying you're worthy?

No. None of us ever were worthy. On that one week when you did so well and did two-hour devotions every day and prayed and fasted and led four people to the Lord, you weren't even worthy on that wonderful week. Because this has never been about worthiness. This has always been about the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for us, giving us access to the Father.

And it will always be about that. So let's lose the worthy stuff. There's no worthy. No one's worthy. But I'm invited.

I have access. Not because I deserve it. I don't deserve it. I deserve judgment.

As do you. But God says, I love you and I want to have a relationship with you. And this is exactly why Jesus was going to the cross. To die in our place and to bear all of our sins as he shed his blood for us and to rise again from the dead so we can have this relationship with God. Going back to the Garden of Eden where our first parents sinned. That big wall went up that separates us from God.

But now the wall is torn down through the death of Jesus. So I can know God. But it's only through Jesus I can know God.

And he calls me to himself. So we're going to close now in a prayer in a moment. And I'm going to extend an invitation to someone here tonight who maybe is here at church for the first time. Or you've been here before but this is all starting to make sense to you. And you want Jesus. I talked to a young man last Sunday and he said he had just come and he was looking into this.

Wants to know more about it. And heard about us and wanted to know more about Jesus. He had questions and so we talked for a while and we're discussing this and I said, well you know what?

I just pray that you will come to Jesus. And I was just thinking about it and I thought, you know what? I think this guy's ready to come to Jesus right now.

I don't think he really needs to wait at all. I'm just going to ask him. So I popped the question. Let me ask you a question. Would you like to accept Jesus Christ right now?

And he said, yeah I really would. See some people that's what they want to do. They just don't know how to do it. Well because they've never done it. How would they know? So maybe you're that person. I'd like to do this.

So like does it take a year to convert or a month? No, listen it can happen just like that. Just in a flash where you say, Lord forgive me of my sin and ask Christ to come inside. And I prayed with him and led him in a prayer and that was his moment.

This can be your moment right now. You say, well I have some questions and, yeah it's fine. But you know what? I believe if you will come to Jesus so many of those questions will be answered. Maybe not every single one but a lot of them will be.

The big ones will be resolved. You'll find what you're looking for. So it's not like get all these things together then come to Jesus.

No it's like this. Come to Jesus and he'll help you work all those things out. Just come to him. With as much faith as you have.

But one final thing. There might be someone here that maybe you've been raised in the church. Hey maybe you've been raised in this church. You knew me when I had hair which is a long time ago. And you, you know you've heard these things before but if you're really honest with yourself you'd say I've backslidden.

It wasn't overnight but it was over time. And I'm not walking with God. I'm doing stuff I know I shouldn't be doing.

I'm living a miserable compromised life. Well look it's time for you to come back to the Lord. It's time to come home to your father who loves you. And he'll forgive you just as surely as he forgave Simon Peter. Return to me the Lord says you backsliding children and I will smack you around. No it's not what he says. Return you backsliding children the Lord says and I will heal you.

That's what he says. Come on here I'll give you a big hug. And I'll forgive you just like the father did for the prodigal son. When the son returned home did the father smack him around chase him with a stick?

No. He threw his arms around him and said this my son who is dead is alive again. He who is lost is found.

That can happen for you. We're gonna close now in prayer. If you need to come to Jesus or come back to Jesus why don't you do it right now.

Let's all pray. Father thank you for loving us so much that you sent Jesus to die on the cross on our place. And thank you Jesus for coming and making that great sacrifice.

And then rising again. And now you're here with us in this place ready to come into the heart of any person who calls out to you. I pray that your Holy Spirit will convince those that don't know you of their need for you. We commit them to you now in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important closing prayer. And if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord today Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before this edition of A New Beginning concludes. Now we're making available a wonderful new book about the afterlife.

It's Lee Strobel's book The Case for Heaven. And we're glad to have Lee with us in the studio today. You know Pastor Greg speaking of the afterlife just recently a very dear man died. He was like a second father to me. I hadn't seen him in years. And I learned from his funeral that he accepted Christ at the age of 70.

Wow. And I can't tell you the joy I felt when I knew I'd see him again in heaven. But can you imagine if you didn't believe in the afterlife how much harder it would be to grieve for loved ones who pass? Yeah. You know everybody grieves when they lose a loved one.

Even Christians. The difference is we don't grieve hopelessly. We grieve hopefully. We have hope.

We know we'll see him again. But the depth of our sorrow is an indication of the depth of our love because we loved a person. We mourn. We grieve. Even when Stephen was martyred it says godly men mourned over him.

Well why? He was in heaven. Well because they loved him. And they missed him. And they wanted him there with them still.

There's nothing wrong with that. The Bible even says there's a time to mourn. But at the same time there can be comfort that will come from the Lord because Jesus said blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. And the comfort is knowing we'll see our loved ones again.

The comfort is in knowing they're happier than they've ever been. And so it puts things in perspective. You know I would like to ask Lee a question that illustrates how no one is beyond the reach of God because you mentioned your friend who is 70 years old. Lee tell us a story of famous daredevil Evel Knievel. And you received a phone call from him because a lot of people don't know the story about what happened to Evel Knievel.

Yeah Evel Knievel, a man who lived, he was a womanizer, he was a drunk, he went to prison for beating up a guy with a baseball bat. Just lived a very godless life. And one day my phone rang and I picked it up and I said hi this is Lee. And the voice says is this Lee Strobel?

I said yes. And he said this is Evel. And I thought oh my gosh Satan has got my phone number.

Can Satan do that? No no he said is Evel Knievel? Oh oh oh. And he told me the story. He said I was on the beach in Florida and God spoke to me.

I said I felt it on the inside. And God said to me, Robert was his real name, he said Robert I've saved you more times than you'll ever know. Now you need to come to me through my son Jesus. He had a absolutely profound conversion experience. How old was he when this happened?

You know, golly, he was around 70, around 70. And as I got to know Evel, because we became friends before he died, he used to call me up, he said Lee, what if I had received Christ as a kid, as a teenager? My life could have been totally different. And I think about that when I speak to teenagers. And I think you've got your whole life ahead of you. And Evel would have given anything to go back, receive Christ and live a godly life.

He just had that sense of regret. So I tried to encourage him and he became a dear friend. That's Lee Strobel you're hearing from everyone and he has a brand new book out called The Case for Heaven, subtitled A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death and we're sending it to you for your gift of any size this month.

Yeah, that's right. And you're gonna love this book. It's so full of rich insights and deep research but it's presented in a way that's easy to understand and fascinating. So I hope you'll send an investment today that we can put to use in teaching believers and sharing Christ with unbelievers and then ask for The Case for Heaven by Lee Strobel. 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 at 1-800-821-3300. You can reach us any time there at 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514.

Or go online to harvest.org. And then here's Pastor Greg once again. Let me close with this thought. Would you like to know that you will go to heaven when you die?

Would you like to fill that big hole deep inside of you? Listen, it's about a relationship with God and here's the good news. God loved you so much that 2,000 years ago he sent his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins and then to rise again from the dead. And now Jesus, who died and rose, is standing at the door of your life and he is knocking. And he says if you'll hear my voice and open the door, I'll come in. Would you like Jesus Christ to come into your life? Would you like your sin forgiven?

Would you like to fill the hole in your soul? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? If so, just stop what you're doing and pray this prayer with me. You can pray it out loud if you like. You can pray it in the quietness of your heart if you choose but pray this prayer. This is a prayer of asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. Pray these words.

Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from that sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. Hey, did you just pray that prayer? If so, I want to congratulate you and be the first to say welcome to the family of God.

Yeah, that's right. You have a whole new life in front of you now. And to help you begin living this new life, Pastor Greg would like to send you some free follow-up resources called our New Believers Growth Packet.

It'll help you get started in living your life for the Lord. So can we send it to you? Just ask for the New Believers Growth Packet. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here to take your call around the clock. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well, next time, Pastor Greg gives us a close look at the role Pontius Pilate played in the trial of Jesus. Fascinating insight from the Gospel of John. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-25 21:11:12 / 2023-04-25 21:24:11 / 13

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