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. Then you're worthless, because the devil isn't wasting his time on you. Weightlifters know that if there's no pain, there's no gain.
If you're lifting weights that are easy and effortless, you're not helping yourself. But if there's resistance, if it's tough going, that's a good sign. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie says the same applies to our work for the Lord. We may face resistance. We may face opposition from the enemy. That's not the time to run and hide, not the time to give up. We'll learn from Nehemiah.
That means it's time to buckle down. Nehemiah, in many ways, is a book about leadership. We're all called to be leaders in some way, shape, or form. So let's learn from the leadership example of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 2, starting in verse 1. Early the following spring in the month of Nisan, during the 20th year of King Artaxerxes's reign, I was serving the king as wine. I had never appeared sad in his presence, so the king asked me, why are you looking so sad?
You don't look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled. Then I was terrified, but I replied, long live the king.
How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried in is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire. Then the king asked, well, how can I help you? With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, if it please the king, and if you're pleased with me, your servant, send me to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried. Well, the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, how long will you be gone?
When will you return? And I told him how long I would be gone, and the king agreed to my request. I want you to notice how Nehemiah had a plan ready. Look at Nehemiah chapter 2 verse 7. I said to the king, if it please the king, let me of letters address to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates, instructing them to let me travel safely to their territories on the way to Judah, and give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king's forest, instructing him to give me timber, and I needed to make beams to the gates of the temple fortress for the city walls, and for a house for myself, and the king granted these requests because the gracious hand of God was on me.
That's so practical. You talk about having a battle plan. He knew everybody. Oh yeah, Asaph, he's over the wood supply, so I need help there, and I need this, and I need that, yet it all figured out. Nehemiah had already gone down to Home Depot. He knew what he needed.
He just needed a purchase order signed by the king, and he was golden, and the king gives it to him because the king had so much respect, but yet just to show that he had a practical plan, he was yet still dependent on God, and he's praying and giving God the credit when he says in Nehemiah 2 18, and the king granted these requests because the gracious hand of God was on me. See sometimes Christians go to one of two extremes. We become either hyper spiritual, everything's spiritual, and we pray, and we pray, and we pray, and we talk about it, and we never execute, or we become so practical we forget about God, and then we take the credit personally. No, we need a plan, and then we need to pray that God will help us with that plan if that is the plan He has given to us.
We have to find the balance. Heard about three men that went out hiking. They came to a large, violent, rushing river. They needed to get to the other side, so the first guy prayed, God give me strength to cross the river, and poof he had massive arms and legs. This is true, and he's muscular, and so he dove in and swam across. He almost drowned, but he made it over in about two hours. So the second guy watched us, and he said, God I pray that you will give me the strength and the tools to cross the river. He too had the bulging biceps, but he was given a little canoe with paddles. It took him a little less time. He got over the river in about an hour after a lot of rowing. He did capsize twice though, but he made it to the other side. The third guy watched, and the first two guys said, Lord give me the strength, give me the tools, and give me the intelligence to cross the river, and poof he turned into a woman.
She looked at the map, walked a couple of hundred yards, and walked over the bridge that had been there the whole time. See. You girls like that? The guys are all like. There's a place for the practical, and there's a place for the spiritual. This happened to Moses and the Israelites. God had delivered them from Egypt. They were allowed to finally leave and go back to their homeland, and as they're making their way home they come to the Red Sea. Talk about an insurmountable obstacle. There's no way they can get across it. And then they turn and see the Egyptian army in hot pursuit.
So what do they do? Well they started praying. Moses is praying.
Oh God help us. And I love what God says to Moses in Exodus 14, 15. The Lord said to Moses, why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving. Pick up your staff and raise it over to the sea.
Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of it on dry ground. See there comes a point where you should stop praying and you should start doing. We have to find the balance. Pray, pray, pray. Good. Amen. Pray.
Now do. What's your plan? What's the plan of action?
What's the first step? Maybe you're praying, Lord heal my marriage. Oh God my marriage is unraveling. You're a husband. Lord help my marriage. Help my wife.
Oh she's so messed up Lord. Heal it. Wait.
Hold on. What about you? You pray for yourself. Pray that you be the husband God wants you to be. Are you loving your wife as Christ loves the church?
Why don't you start there? Well she doesn't deserve it. Who doesn't? You should love her anyway. The Bible even says love your enemies. You're not getting out of this okay buddy. So you're supposed to love her sacrificially.
So the wife is praying, oh Lord change my husband. He's such a loser. He's such a failure. He's such a disappointment.
Yeah. Maybe that's part of the reason your marriage is failing because you say those things to him. And what does the Bible say to you wife? The Bible says wives respect your husband. When's the last time you showed him a little respect?
When's the last time you complimented him or thanked him for the sacrifices he makes for you and the family? See my point is yeah pray about it. Make sure you're doing your part as well. Or we're praying Lord that person has wronged me. I pray that you'll give me the strength to forgive them. Amen. Good prayer. Now go forgive them.
What? Yeah go do it. Just go say I forgive. I'm not doing that. I don't feel it man. I'm going to feel it.
No you don't need to feel it. You need to just do it. Because the Bible says be tenderhearted.
Forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. Just do it. Or you're praying oh Lord save this person. Lord just bring them to yourself.
Good pray for them. Maybe it's time to go share the gospel with them. Maybe it's time to text them. Email them. Call them. Whatever.
And say I want to talk to you a little bit. See there's a place where the practical and there's a place for the spiritual. They both work hand in hand. Nehemiah shows us that. That brings us to our next point. Leaders take initiative and risks for the glory of God. They take initiative and risks for God's glory. One good definition of a leader I've heard is a leader is someone who takes people where they don't necessarily want to go. But when they get there they're glad they went. I like that. See if God's called you to be a leader you see a little further down the road sometimes more than others do.
You kind of see where we need to go and let's go and do this thing. And so you rally people and that's exactly what Nehemiah did. He came to the elders there and the Jewish folk that had been there for some time and had settled for status quo. And he says to them in verse 17 of Nehemiah 2, hey you know what trouble we're in? Jerusalem lies in ruins. The gates have been destroyed by fire.
Let's rebuild this wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace. And he went on to tell them how the hand of God had been on him in his conversation with the king. The people had been discouraged. They had been downhearted.
They had settled for the status quo. But here comes a man on a mission. Here comes someone with a vision and someone with a plan and their hearts grow excited and they say let's do this thing. Bringing me to my last point.
Number eight. Leaders face opposition. Leaders face opposition. Nehemiah 2 19 when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan they scoffed contemptuously saying what are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king? Listen here's how to know you're doing the will of God. Whenever you're doing the will of God you're going to face opposition. Sometimes it's even criticism from fellow Christians. Sometimes it's opposition by by outright non-believers. But in some way shape or form there's going to be pushback when you're doing God's will. And you might say well Greg I never face opposition and I never get tempted and I never get tested.
Then you're worthless. Because the devil isn't wasting his time on you. But if you'd say to me oh no Greg I get pushed back all the time and I get harassment and I'm even persecuted at times that would indicate to me you might be on the right path. Yes you'll face opposition when you're doing the will of God. Whenever God's people say let's rise and build the devil and his people will say let's rise and oppose.
And the conflict only escalated from there. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. 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 today we're learning of the parallel between the opposition Nehemiah faced in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and the way we face opposition doing God's work in our time. Pastor Greg continues now. Let's think about the walls of your own life as we wrap this message up. When I talk about walls I'm talking about a person's relationship with God.
You have walls around your life. The wall of Bible study. The wall of prayer. The wall of involvement with the church. The wall of your devotional life.
And so sometimes we neglect those areas. And when I neglect the areas those areas of my life the walls will begin to crumble and the weeds will start to grow in and other problems will follow. Here's how walls break down.
Proverbs 24 30 says, I walked by the field of a lazy person. The vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds and its walls were broken down. If you neglect walls you'll soon be overgrown with weeds. I'm amazed at weeds.
They need no attention at all. You know you can have your little plant that you put out there in your backyard and you water it and you weed around it and you keep the snails away and you go and hang out with it at night. You hug it even. It's weird because it's small. But you try to hug it and you play classical music for it and it slowly begins to grow. Meanwhile a weed and a crack in the sidewalk is 20 feet high.
In the same time period. In fact a kid named Jack is climbing it right now. So how does that work? Well that's just the way weeds are. Weeds grow quickly and weeds just take over everything.
In fact they'll uproot the good growth. And Jesus used that as an illustration to talk about what it's like to be a believer. That there's real believers but the devil comes in in the parable that He told of the wheat and tares. These false plants or plants that look like wheat but are not wheat. Tares are called.
That uproot the wheat. And so the point of it is in a church like this right now we have true believers sitting next to fake believers. They look like believers. They talk the talk. But they don't walk the walk.
And it's not real. And that's one of the ways the devil works. But then another thing that Jesus talked about was how the seed of the Word of God is sown and some seed falls on ground that's embedded with weeds and the weeds choke out the growth of the good seed. He says it's the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things.
Or another translation puts it this way. They're overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. And the stress strangles what they heard and nothing comes of it. Listen to this. Sometimes good things can become bad things if they keep us from the best thing.
Let me say that again. Sometimes good things can become bad things if they keep us from the best thing. See people when they slip spiritually it's not always because of overt sin.
It's just because of a lack of passion going in the right direction. They just sort of neglect areas of their spiritual life and let other things become more important. It's not like they say I don't like the Bible.
I don't believe in the Bible. They just say I'm too busy to read the Bible. I have too much going on in my life.
I have all my social media accounts to manage. And I have things to do and movies to go to and fun things to participate in. Those aren't evil things. But if a good thing takes the place of the best thing it can become a bad thing. You see.
And so there's other areas. I just let them become more important to me. Well my career. It's all about my career. I've got to get ahead in my career. I don't have time for church. I can't go to church on Sunday. Ok. A career is a good thing. But if a good thing takes the place of the best thing it just became a bad thing. So remember this seed that Jesus is talking about is choked out by weeds which are the cares of this life.
See if you want to stay strong spiritually you have to constantly be moving forward. I heard it said that at Disneyland they are always painting it. They start on one end of the park and go to the other and then start over again.
I have also heard that's true of the Brooklyn Bridge. They are always painting the Brooklyn Bridge. They paint one side. Go over to the other side.
Go back to the side. They start it out again and do it again because by the time they finished it the early coat of paint now needs to be repainted over again. That's the Christian life. You never stop growing. You never stop learning.
You never stop developing. And the moment you do you are going to go the wrong direction. It's like if you are driving down the road you have your hand on the wheel. If you take your hand off the wheel it's going to veer to the side. If you take your hand off the wheel your car is not going to drive itself home parking the garage perfectly.
No. It will go off to the ditch on the side of the road. And in the same way in the Christian life the moment I stop moving forward I am going to veer off in the wrong direction. I don't know about you but when I drive I think strategically.
I wish I didn't think this way. But I will come to a light and I am watching everything. And I try to get in that open lane. I just drift over to that open lane so I have no one in front of me. Now I am driving along and I need to get around the Prius in the fast lane. Because Priuses are always in the fast lane. In fact I think now when people buy a Prius they make some kind of a vow. I really believe this. I think Prius owners all get together and they hold up their hand and they say, I vow I will always drive in the fast lane under this speed limit.
It has to be something like that because I see it too often. So I get around the Prius. Right?
Who made the vow. And now ok I am going to go up here. I am going to get in this lane.
I am going to get a jump. That is the way I drive. I am not saying it is good. It is just saying the way I drive.
But you know in the Christian life it is not a bad way to live. Ok I want to move forward. I want to get over here and I want to do this thing.
The moment you are just cruising you take your hand off the wheel right off the side of the road. So this is how walls get broken down. A little bit at a time. Houston we have a problem. Those are the words from Apollo 13. And so NASA changed the mission. The original mission was for them to go land on the moon. The new mission was to get the astronauts back to earth alive.
And so Houston began to work with those aboard Apollo 13. And thankfully they were able to get back to the earth alive again. And it is interesting because NASA classified that mission as a successful failure. Not an interesting phrase. A successful failure.
Why? Well because they gained much needed experience in rescuing a crew the crew survived. No the original mission was not successful.
But the new mission was they were alive. A successful failure. So maybe you mess up in your life. You make mistakes. You make bad decisions and you call out to the Lord and ask Him to forgive you of all of your sin and He does.
That is called a successful failure. Or you go and mess up and you do some things you should not have done and you come and say, Lord my walls are broken down. I need You to rebuild them again. I have broken relationships. I have broken promises. I have broken so many things. But help me Lord. And He will.
And you will have a successful failure because hopefully you will learn from your mistakes. I want to close this message by simply asking a question. And this is your favorite part of the sermon because I said close. Yes I am almost done. My question is do you have a relationship with God? Do you have a relationship with God? That is the most important thing there is. Do you have complete confidence you would go to heaven or do you worry about that sometimes?
Well listen that can be resolved right now. I am making a guarantee to you that if you will ask God to forgive you of your sin and ask Christ to come into your life you can leave knowing you will go to heaven. Whenever that day will be you will know it for sure. Because Jesus died on that cross and He defeated death at the cross. Oh yes believers die.
Yes we do. But death is not the end for us. Because there is life beyond this life. There is heaven and there is the hope that God gives to us.
And that is because we put our faith in Jesus. And if you have not done that you can do it now as we close in prayer. And there might be some of you here that have the walls of your life broken down and you need to recommit yourself to the Lord.
He will help you with that as well. So let's all pray. Father thank You for loving us so much that You sent Jesus to die in our place. Lord Jesus thank You for coming. And now we pray that Your Holy Spirit will convict and convince those here that do not yet know You of their need for You. And help them to come to You now we pray.
Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important word of prayer. And if you'd like to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will come back in just a moment to help you do that before today's edition of A New Beginning wraps up. And then have you checked out Pastor Greg's new book, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus?
You can get the details right now at harvest.org. It's a look at the lives of so many rock and roll icons whose lives went from the top to the bottom and often to despair at lightning speed. It's an important cautionary tale. And Pastor Greg what are you hoping the reader takes away from this book, again called Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus? I hope they take away this simple thought. No one is beyond the reach of God. I don't care how famous they are.
I don't care how powerful they are or what they've accomplished. Everyone needs Jesus. There's something to keep in mind. Everybody is empty. The Bible says that the creation was made subject to emptiness. That's King James 4. There's sort of a hole in our life.
The Bible says God has put eternity in our hearts, which means we're on a search for God. Listen, you may see a person drive by in a Rolls-Royce. They're empty.
Another person drives by in a Prius. They're empty. One person has a beautiful home. They're empty.
Someone has a simple little shack they live in. They're empty. Everybody's empty. Number two, everybody's lonely. No matter how many fans you have or how many friends you think you have or how many followers you have on social media, you're lonely. And really there's a loneliness in your heart for God himself. Thirdly, everyone's afraid to die. Oh, I know some people say, oh, I'm looking forward to dying.
No, they're not. They're afraid to die. And lastly, I would say everybody just needs Jesus.
So rock stars, movie stars, billionaires, unknown people, people that can't play two chords and a guitar, everybody needs Jesus. So this book shows that those who've been there and done that and bought the t-shirt have still found that's not the answer. And some of them made wrong decisions and reaped the consequences.
Some of them made right decisions and got on the road that leads to life and started following Jesus Christ. So my hope is when you read this book, you'll say, this gives me hope for my son or daughter. This gives me hope for my husband or wife. This gives me hope for that crazy neighbor that's always giving me a hard time.
Oh, this gives me hope for my boss or my coworker or my friends from my past. But also I would encourage you. This would be a great book after you've read it to share with someone that's not yet a believer. At the end of the book, as always, I present the gospel and I even have a prayer that a person can pray to accept Jesus Christ. It's such an important tool in sharing the hope of Christ.
You know, the Great Commission was given to all of us, not just pastors. And if there's someone in your circle of influence who needs hope, well, we hope you'll share a copy of this book with them. Again, it's called Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus. The subtitle is The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll, and we're sending it to say thank you for your partnership. We couldn't be here each day without the partnership of our listeners. We're fully listener supported, so thank you so much for your generosity.
And with your donation, we hope you'll ask for Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here around the clock to take your call. That's 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to harvest.org. Well, Pastor Greg, if somebody listening right now knows that they need to make a change in their relationship with God, they can do that right now, can't they? They really can. And I think some people might say, well, what, pray while listening to the radio?
Absolutely. Because guess what? Jesus Christ is with you right where you are right now. And if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life and forgive you of your sin, if you want to invite him into your life, why don't you pray this prayer after me right now? In fact, I would even encourage you to pray it out loud.
Let's pray. Lord Jesus, I want you to come into my life and forgive me of my sin. I thank you for dying for me on the cross and then rising again from the dead.
I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Be my Savior, be my Lord, be my God, and be my friend. Thank you for loving me and calling me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Now listen, as you just prayed that prayer, maybe you felt something emotional. I've had people write me and tell me of how they prayed with me at the end of our radio broadcast and tears came down their cheeks or they felt a great joy. Maybe one of those things happened to you or then again maybe you felt nothing. Listen, irregardless of how you feel right now, I want you to know a fact. If you prayed that prayer and meant it, Jesus Christ has come into your life.
Why do I say that? Because the Bible says these things we write to you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. That first doesn't say so you can think you have eternal life or hope if God's in a really good mood you may have eternal life.
No, it says you can know it. And if you just prayed that prayer and meant it, Christ has come into your life. So let me say to you, welcome to God's family. And we'd like to help you get started in living your new life with the Lord. We'd like to send you some free follow-up materials called our New Believers Growth Packet. Just get in touch and we'll send that packet right out to you.
As I said, it's free of any charge. And a special thanks to our Harvest partners and others who support this ministry for helping us make these resources available. You can call us anytime 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.
Or just go online to harvest.org. Well next time, Pastor Greg points out the way to be used by God is to make ourselves useful. It's to make ourselves available. 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.
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