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It's Time to Pray | Praying Daily for Forgiveness

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
June 1, 2022 3:00 am

It's Time to Pray | Praying Daily for Forgiveness

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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June 1, 2022 3:00 am

Sin is a barrier. It keeps us from God. That’s the reason Christ died . . . and that’s why unconfessed sin is a barrier to our prayers. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie continues our series in the book of Nehemiah. We’re learning so much from Nehemiah’s leadership as the people rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. And today, we’ll see the importance of prayer . . . and how prayer led to great repentance and a great revival. We want to see that happen again in our time. Let’s find out how.

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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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We're glad you're joining us for a new beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.

Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. He's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Wipe the slate clean. Sin is a barrier. It keeps us from God. That's the reason Christ died.

And that's why unconfessed sin is a barrier to our prayers. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie continues our series in the book of Nehemiah. We're learning so much from Nehemiah's leadership as the people rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And today we'll see the importance of prayer and how prayer led to great repentance and a great revival.

We want to see that happen again in our time. Let's find out how. Grab your Bible and turn to Nehemiah chapter 9. And the title of my message is, It's Time to Pray. And I can't think of a better way to start than to pray.

So let's do that. Now, Father, what a privilege it is that we can call You, Father. That we can access Your throne through Jesus Christ.

Not because we're worthy or because we've been good boys and girls this week. But because of His blood that was shed for us, giving us access through a new and living way. Now we pray that You will speak to us as we open Your Word and that we will learn more about how to pray with passion. So we commit this time of Bible study to You now. In Jesus' name we pray.

Amen. Now, of course, the overall theme of this great book is about building. Specifically rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

But it's also about building our lives. And by the way, walls mattered in those days. Not to just keep enemies out. They had a greater significance. They were there as a center of power effectively. That's where the elders would be in the walls there.

They were very important. So Nehemiah arrives on the land. He faces a lot of opposition.

A lot of obstacles. But he manages to finish the job. Now they're at the completion of the walls. And it's time to bring Ezra out of mothballs. See this great priest had been there at the beginning but he hadn't been active in recent years. So they said let's bring him back out to preach a sermon. And Ezra preached for three hours. So there's a lot of pent up energy in old Ezra.

Right? He could hardly wait to speak. And as he spoke and opened the Word of God to the people they were deeply moved and they wept over their sin. And that's where we are in the story. Nehemiah chapter 9 verse 1.

Let's read together. By the way I'm reading from the New Living translation. On October 31st the people assembled again and this time they fasted and dressed in burlap and sprinkled dust on their heads. Those of Israeli descent separated themselves from all foreigners as they confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors. They remained standing in place for three hours while the book of the law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them. And for three more hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord. So are there any takeaway points for us? Yes there are.

I've got four if you're taking notes. Point number one. The people prayed with fervor. The people prayed with fervor.

And we should too. Verse 3 says for three more hours they confessed their sin and worshiped the Lord. And then point number two. They separated themselves from ungodly influences. They separated themselves from ungodly influences. Verse 2.

They separated themselves from all foreigners. Our modern interpretation would be to just get away from bad influences. Ungodly people or places that pull us down spiritually.

Point number three. They heard God's word and they acted on it. They heard God's word and they acted on it. It's not just hearing it.

It's doing what it says. The Bible must be our model for how we think and live. Sometimes people will say even Christians. Well I just did what I felt God wanted me to do.

What does that even mean? Do what the Bible tells you to do. Because your feelings can mislead you.

Emotions can deceive you. You say well I don't know what the Bible says about this subject. Well then talk to someone who has been a Christian longer than you. Talk to a pastor and ask the question does the Bible address this area because I'm dealing with this right now.

See God's word has something to say to you. Spend time in it every morning. In the afternoon.

In the evening. Continue in the word of God. That is the secret to spiritual success.

Ok that brings me to my fourth and last point. They confess their sin. So they rehearse their own history. They say man we have messed up so many times. And we confess our sin. Verse 33. We have sinned greatly and you gave only what we deserve.

That is so important. Are you willing to confess your sin to God. It is so easy to point the finger at someone else. It is not my fault. Take marital problems.

I will talk to couples and the husband will say to me. It is my wife. It is totally her fault. I am a perfect husband.

I am always there for her. I shower her with love and affection and gifts and she won't even talk to me. She is the worst wife ever. That is why we are getting a divorce. The wife says, no this husband he is the worst. He mistreats me.

He abuses me. Wait. And then I talk to them both together and I find there is more to the story than each of them shared with me.

Here is the point. You need to accept responsibility for your actions. And the same is true with us individually before the Lord. We need to say, Lord I have sinned against you.

You might say, well Greg no. I don't know that I have actually sinned that much. In fact I certainly haven't sinned today. You probably just sinned when you said that.

It is called pride. I mean there are different kinds of sin right. There is sin of commission which is obvious. Breaking a commandment. Lying. Stealing. Slandering. Gossiping.

Lusting. Those are obvious sins. That is a sin of commission. But then there are sins of omission. A sin of commission is doing what you should not do. A sin of omission is not doing what you should do. And I am told over in the book of James, to him that knows to do good and does not do it.

To him it is sin. So maybe on the way into church you know you saw somebody over there. They looked like they could use a prayer or a hug or a word of encouragement. And you saw a person in need.

Whatever. And you walked right by. Lord now would you go help me. I have to get a seat. Service is full man. Come on. Maybe the Lord prompted you when we received the offering. I want you to give. Pretty much my money.

No way that is going to happen. Maybe yesterday the Lord led you to share the gospel with somebody. And He said I really don't want to leave my comfort zone and do that. Could that not also be a sin? To him that knows to do good and does not do it. To him it is sin. See there are lots of ways that sin can infiltrate our life. So my point is simply this. We all need to confess our sin on a regular basis. Listen to this. The more we grow spiritually the more we realize we need to grow spiritually. Let me put it another way. The more we see of Jesus the more we see how unlike Jesus we are.

And that is not a bad thing. Because as I see the need of my life as I look in God's mirror of His Word that is a good thing because I want to change more and more. Pain can be the tool that brings me to see my real need for God. So many listeners have commented on the help they receive from these daily messages.

God's Word ministers to them and it often gets them through some of their darkest hours. Dear Pastor Greg, I wanted to let you know how much your daily radio ministry has meant to my wife and I. At the beginning of the pandemic my wife started chemotherapy for breast cancer. It was a difficult time for us both but I was thankful that I was able to be home during this time to help. Many mornings I would make breakfast and we'd listen to a new beginning on the radio while we ate. Your messages and especially your kindness that you always expressed while preaching were so important to us. They gave us hope to face this difficult challenge. Looking back with my wife now healed of her cancer we both have such happy memories of those mornings spent listening to you. We will always be in your debt for your messages and your kindness. Thank you. How have these daily studies ministered to you and your family? Would you let us know? Tell us your story by calling 1-866-871-1144. That's a special number 866-871-1144. Well we're taking a look at the great revival recorded in the book of Nehemiah as Pastor Greg brings his message today called It's Time to Pray.

At our church over in Hawaii I was there a couple of months ago going to speak on a Sunday. And a couple of nights before I went to sleep and my legs kind of hurt. They kind of throbbed. Both legs throbbed. I had never had that before.

I thought, wow I didn't really walk that much today. What is going on? And then the next night it was even worse where it was actually kind of a low grade pain. So I thought, what is happening here? So I went to my computer and Googled.

And this never ends well when you try to figure out your own medical issue. Right? So I put in achy legs. I didn't know what else to put.

Achy legs. It took me straight away to Billy Ray Cyrus achy breaky heart. Right? That didn't help at all. Though I did the little dance he does. I am not sure. No. So I am thinking achy legs. I read a bunch of stuff and it just alarms you even more.

Right? And so I went to church that Sunday and so I am getting ready to go speak and a gentleman comes up to me and says, Hi Greg. I am a doctor. I am retired now. And I just wanted to say I would like to serve the Lord.

Maybe on the mission field or something. I am a heart specialist. Well that is great. And I told him about opportunities that he could have. And while we are talking I thought, Well Doc I hate to bug you but listen I have a question. And if you are a doctor this always happens to you.

Right? Doc listen. The weirdest thing my legs kind of hurt. And so he asks me all these questions and he goes, Ok. And after a while he says, Ok.

I will tell you what you have. You have restless leg syndrome. That doesn't sound good. Restless leg syndrome. I said, Well what does that mean?

And his answer was so simple. He says, You need to take magnesium. Magnesium? Do you take magnesium now?

I don't think I do. Actually I take no vitamins at all. Are there vitamins in Krispy Kreme donuts? Is there magnesium in this?

No. Take magnesium. In fact I will get you some.

No that is ok. No. I will get you some. I want to get you just the right kind.

So I went over to his house. He gave me a bottle of magnesium pills. He says, Take these right now. And you will feel better in a few hours. Really? Because they are hurting even worse now Doc.

He says, Take them. Three hours later all the pain was gone. So I said, Thank you doctor. But more importantly, Thank you Lord.

Right? So here is my point. Pain comes our way in life and it brings us to God who gives us a solution to our pain.

I don't like the pain but it got me to the one who can remove the pain. So when I come to the Lord and I have sinned in my life he says, Here is what you need to do. You need to confess your sin. Because 1 John 1 says, If we will confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And what does it mean to confess your sin?

It is a word that means to agree. So let's say you and I walk out of the church and we look up in the sky and I say, Look at that cloud up there. That is a beautiful cloud formation. You say, Man I agree.

That is really beautiful isn't it? We just agreed on something. So here is God and he says, That is a sin and I don't like it. And you go, I so agree.

I don't like it either. You agree with God. You see it for what it is. You don't make excuses for it. You don't rationalize it. You own it.

You take personal responsibility. If you will confess your sins before God he is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Think about that. All unrighteousness.

Wipe the slate clean. Some will say, Well we don't need to do that because we are justified before God. That is ridiculous.

Well wait a second. It is true when you become a Christian you are justified. That means that you are positionally made right with God. That means that all your sin is forgiven and the righteousness of Christ is placed into your account.

So that is covered. You are a child of God. This is not about whether or not you are a child of God. Confessing your sin is not so you become a child of God. It is something you should do as a child of God. We don't confess our sins as Christians to be a child of God.

Rather we confess our sins because we are a child of God and we want to be in close fellowship with our Father. Sort of like my wife. You know I asked her to marry me years ago. By the way she says it was a really lame proposal. She says you never really did it properly. You didn't get down on one knee. We are just sitting in some restaurant and you said, Well I guess we are getting married.

Huh? Ok. So if you are single don't do that. Ok. However I have been married 43 years so there is that. Ok.

But anyway I digress. It is just because I got a great wife. Not because I did a great proposal.

Ok. So ok. She accepted my proposal and we are married. So let's say yesterday I wake up in the morning and say, Kathy will you marry me?

She might think, Oh that is so sweet. He wants to marry me again. Yes Greg I will marry you. Ok.

Thanks. And the next morning, Kathy will you marry me? That is kind of cute when you said that yesterday.

But we have been married kind of a long time. But yeah I will marry you. Ok.

Number three. Kathy will you marry me? Greg do you have restless brain syndrome now to go with the legs? What is happening? You are taking too much magnesium.

What is going on? I don't have to keep asking her to marry me. We are married. So in the same way you become a Christian Christ is in you. You don't have to keep asking Jesus into your heart again and again and again and again. You don't need to be born again again and again and again. You are born again.

We have got that covered. So this is not about if you are a child of God. This is about are you a child of God in close fellowship and communion with your Father. That is why I need to confess my sin.

And guess what? Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer. Give us this day our daily bread.

Right? Then forgive us our sin as we forgive those who have sinned against us. In other words do this all the time. Do this regularly. Do this continually. Just as you pray for daily provision.

Pray for daily forgiveness. The classic illustration is the prodigal son. He ran away from home. Drugged the family name to the gutter.

Finally came to a census and decided to return home. He said to his father, Father I have sinned against heaven and you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Take me on as a hired servant. And the father could have said that is true.

Now go out and work with hired hands. You are not a son anymore. But the father didn't even listen. He said, Oh hey someone get the ring.

Put it back on his finger. Implying sonship. Let's get the fatted calf ready.

Let's have barbecue. This my son who is dead is alive again and he was lost is found. See this is a returning to his father again in fellowship. Communication.

And that is why we need to confess our sins because we sin each and every day. So what do these people do? They prayed with fervor. Number two. They separated themselves from ungodly influences. Thirdly they heard God's word and acted on it. And fourthly they confessed their sin.

Great steps for us to follow as well. Pastor Greg Laurie with practical insights from our studies in Nehemiah. And he'll come back before today's edition of A New Beginning is finished to close in a word of prayer. But if you missed any of the four characteristics Pastor Greg highlighted today, be sure to listen to the full study by going to harvest.org. Look for the title It's Time to Pray or simply subscribe to our podcast by going to Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. Well Pastor Greg, we're making available your new book, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus, The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll.

Let me ask you this. What is it that drives your interest in cultural icons, especially in the music industry? I've always been a fan of pop culture, always been interested in it. You have to understand that God has called me to be an evangelist. An evangelist builds bridges to the culture he lives in or she lives in.

Take Paul on Mars Hill recorded in Acts 17. At that time Athens was the cultural and intellectual center of the planet. It also was a city that had thousands of altars erected to various idols, various gods that they worshiped. So Paul went sightseeing and took in the sights and sounds of Athens and the Bible says his spirit was disturbed. And so he got up in front of the people in the town square there, effectively the Areopagus, and began to speak to them.

But it's interesting how he started. He said, men of Athens, I perceive that you are spiritual. One translation says religious. We might say today, I see you're into spirituality. Then Paul quoted their own poets to build a bridge to the message that was based on the gospel. So I take this concept and I use it in my preaching. I'll often start one of my evangelistic messages that I would do at one of our events that we call Harvest Crusades. And I might start by quoting a movie star, quoting a rock star, quoting a billionaire, seeing something that lines up with what the Bible tells us as an example. I would quote actor Jim Carrey, who would say, I wish everyone could be rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of so they would realize that's not the answer. Now I'm not basing my message on what actors or rock stars say, but I use that to build a bridge to my listener and then I tell them what the Bible says. Okay, so now, shift gears over to this book I've written titled Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus.

So I'm exploring the lives of these people who have had it all, who've been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt, and in some cases have been the t-shirt, and I'm showing through their lives that the things this culture offers are not really gonna meet the deepest needs of our life. Success isn't gonna do it. A new record isn't gonna do it. Global fame isn't gonna do it. A bunch of cars or a mansion, that won't do it.

A bunch of girls, that won't do it. No, they need Jesus, and I tell the stories of those that found the answer they were looking for and became believers. People like Richie Furet, Kerry Livgren of Kansas, Alice Cooper, Dion Demucci, Roger McGuinn of the Birds, and many others. And then I also tell the tragic stories of those that did not find the answer and how their lives ended, like Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse, and Chester Bennington, and the list just goes on. So it's a book that shows what happens when you make the right and the wrong choices, but ultimately it's a book that I think will offer hope and say to you, there is no one that you know that is beyond the reach of God.

Yeah, that's right. And maybe you've been looking for some help in reaching out to someone who seems so far from God. Maybe the things of this world have captured their attention. Well, this can be such a great resource. Read it for yourself and then pass it along to someone who needs this message.

Again, it's called Lenin, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus. And we'll send it to say thank you for your investment in spreading the gospel through Harvest Ministries and A New Beginning. We're completely listener supported, and we're so thankful for your partnership. So call us today at 1-800-821-3300. We're here to take your call around the clock. Again, that's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

Or just go online to harvest.org. Well, next time, Pastor Greg launches the final message in his series in the book of Nehemiah, important final insights from this account of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. But before we go for today, Pastor Greg comes back to close our time together. Let's pray together. Now, Father, we come before you as broken people, as sinful people, as people in need of forgiveness. And we pray that your Holy Spirit will now search our hearts. And if there is something, Lord, in our life that we're doing, some activity, some vice, some sin, some relationship, whatever it is, some pattern, some lifestyle, things we say, whatever it is, Lord, would you show us now? Show us now that we would just see it dishonors you. It displeases you. It separates our communication with you. And, Lord, we don't want that. We want to be as close to you as we possibly can be. So, Lord, show us what that would be even now. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-10 01:43:02 / 2023-04-10 01:52:35 / 10

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