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. Thank you for listening to this Truth Network Podcast. Every Sunday morning belongs to God. Unless it's a beautiful day, then you've got to get out in the fresh air. Every Sunday morning belongs to God. Unless the weather's awful, then you've got to watch the forecast. Devotions every morning.
Unless you didn't sleep well or were out late the night before. God isn't content with the leftovers of our lives. He wants to be top priority. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out that principle even extends to our financial management. The story is told of when the Constitution of the United States had been signed and America officially became a nation. A crowd of people were standing outside of the meeting room where our founding fathers were waiting to find out what happened. A woman saw Benjamin Franklin and said, so, Mr. Franklin, what type of government have you and your delegates given us? And Franklin famously responded, a republic, madam, if you can keep it. The idea was, okay, we've laid the foundation.
Now it's up to you to see what you do with it. Well the foundation was laid in Jerusalem. The walls were rebuilt.
The temple was there. But they were not keeping it. They were not doing well at all. They started well but they were not finishing well.
Listen. It's great to have a great start and a great finish. But you can even have a mediocre start or even a bad start and have a great finish.
But here's what's not good. The greatest of starts and a horrible finish. If you're running in a race and you don't finish a race, it doesn't matter if you've held the first place position for nine out of ten laps. If you don't finish the race, you don't win the prize. And the same is true of the Christian life. We want to finish strong.
And you know what? You decide right now how you're going to do later in life. You don't decide later. The evening of your life is decided by the morning of your life.
The end from the beginning. So here you are. You've been married two years. And you say, I want to have a strong marriage 42 years later. OK. Great. You decide that right now.
And every day you do everything you can to strengthen that marriage. Don't wait until you're older. Because when you get older the problem is you get set in your ways.
Right? You like routine. You like predictability. You like to do things the way you've always done them. No. Decide now.
Establish good habit patterns now. You're the one who will decide how it's all going to end up. And the same is true of the Christian life. You know we start out with a bang.
But if we put it into cruise control Houston we have a problem. The key is maintenance. The Bible says, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure.
That does not say work for your own salvation. Because you can't. No. You work it out. You see it's given to you as a gift of God. You can work it out.
As the apostles John and Paul said, we can work it out. John Lennon. Paul McCartney.
The Beatles. Forget it. Obscure cultural reference.
OK. What? What verse is that? It's not a verse. It's a song. Forget it. OK. When you have to explain a cultural reference it didn't work. But we can work it out. So when Paul says work out your own salvation it means discover what God has given you.
He uses a word that speaks of being in a mine and pulling the gold out. So it's a lifelong discovery of growing and learning and being transformed. You never reach a plateau where I am good. I don't need to go to church anymore. I don't need to read the Bible anymore. I have arrived.
No you haven't. I think the one way you know you are growing spiritually is when you realize you need to continue growing spiritually. That's something to keep in mind.
And one of the ways you know you are not doing well spiritually is when you think you don't need to keep growing spiritually. So let's backtrack a little bit. Then we will kind of get to the conclusion.
But let's pick up chronologically where we left off last time. You remember Nehemiah returns. They rebuild the walls.
Ezra is brought out of mothballs. He led the first wave of Jews returning to Babylon. He helped to rebuild the temple.
He had been largely inactive. They bring him out again. He reads Scripture to the people for three hours. Then they confess their sins to God for three hours. And there is this great revival that breaks out. And now the people make a series of very significant commitments to the Lord. And that is where we pick up. We are in Nehemiah 10.
Point number one if you are taking notes. They surrendered to the Word of God. They surrendered to the Word of God.
Nehemiah 10, 28. Then the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who had separated themselves from the pagan people of the land, in order to obey the law of God together with their wives, sons, daughters, and all who were old enough to understand, they swore an oath. They bound themselves with an oath. And they swore a curse on themselves if they failed to obey the law of God as issued by His servant Moses.
They solemnly promised to carefully follow all the commands, regulations, and decrees of the Lord our God. We will stop there. So this is serious.
Now there is siding on the dotted line. You know you can go look at a car all you want. I love this car. I might buy this car.
I want to get this car. And one day you say, I am going for it. So you go in and you say, I am ready to buy the car. And they bring out hundreds of sheets of paper that you have to sign, sign, sign, sign, sign, and sign. The same is true when you stand in front of a pastor and before your friends and family and state your vows to your husband or your wife to be. You are making a commitment publicly. And that is why I think it is such a great thing to make a public stand for Jesus Christ.
You sort of seal the deal. When you are baptized that is a public commitment. People can see it. They should see it. When you make that first stand in front of your non-believing friends at your workplace or on your campus and you say, I am a Christian. Have you made a public profession of your faith? Does your family know you are a Christian? All your family?
Your extended family? Do people in your neighborhood know you are a Christian? Do people in your workplace know you are a Christian? Do people on your campus know you are a Christian?
Do people that follow you on social media know that you are a Christian? Make your stand for Christ publicly because Jesus said, if you will stand up for me I will stand up for you. And so we make that stand. And we stand by that stand that we have made. Now often we will say we believe the Bible. We will say we love the Bible. And we will quote the Bible. But will we surrender to what the Bible says? This is the big question. Don't just quote it to me.
Don't just say how much you love it. Will you surrender to what the Bible says? Let me restate it. Will you surrender to what the Bible says on every single topic?
I used to have a little plaque years ago that said God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Does that sum up the way you feel? We will come back to that point in a moment.
Point number two. They separated themselves from ungodly influences. They separated themselves from ungodly influences. Look at verse 28. Then the rest of the people, the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants, and all who had separated themselves from the pagan people of the land in order to obey the law of the Lord. We promise to not let our daughters marry the pagan people of the land and not let our sons marry their daughters.
Note the cause and effect. They separated in order to obey. Look at it again. They had separated themselves from the pagan people in order to obey the law of the Lord. Listen to this. If you want to live a godly life you will need to separate yourself from some things and some people and in exchange surround yourself with other things and other people.
Someone sums it up perfectly. It says, blessed is a man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord.
In it does he meditate day and night. So you had to separate from one thing and join yourself to another. The problem with the Israelites is they had a constant problem with this.
They kept getting pulled down by ungodly people. They would intermarry with pagan people and end up doing pagan things you see. And that is usually what happens when believers marry nonbelievers. See the problem is generally the believer does not pull the nonbeliever up but rather the nonbeliever pulls the believer down. Now having said that, when I am saying don't marry a nonbeliever I am not saying don't have contact with nonbelievers. Because how are we going to reach people with the gospel if we don't have contact with them?
Separation does not mean isolation. You might be surprised to know that when I have friendships with nonbelievers and I have friends that don't know the Lord and we talk and I stand for what I stand for and they know what I believe. But I don't expect nonbelievers to behave as believers. I am not going to harp on those things that you happen to be doing as much as I am going to try to point you to Christ. Because once you come to Christ all those other things will get sorted out. So that is my main objective with a nonbeliever.
Bring them to Christ. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. 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 Pastor Greg is bringing us practical insights on standing for our faith from the book of Nehemiah.
It is a message titled, This is Not a Drill. Ok now point number three. They were invested in God's kingdom. They were invested in God's kingdom. They are making this vow. Look at verse 32. In addition they say, We promise to obey the command to pay the annual temple tax of one-eighth of an ounce of silver for the care of the temple of our God.
Verse 35. We promise to bring the first part of every harvest to the Lord's temple year after year whether it be from a crop, the soil, or from our fruit trees. This was primarily an agricultural culture. Livestock culture. Sunday would bring their offerings. It would often be something from the field or something from the flock etc. Today we would not do that. We would bring finances.
But the point in principle is still the same. But you know a lot of times we don't want to give God our best. Notice they brought the first fruits.
The best. We want to give God leftovers. The other day I was with my son Jonathan and his son Christopher. My grandson and Jonathan gave Christopher a little bag of chips. So he is eating these chips.
Enjoying them. And Jonathan says, Hey buddy can I have a chip? Christopher is like, No. He says, Son can I have a chip? Can Dad have a chip?
Christopher's face is crunching up like he is in pain. No. Son give me a chip. I need a chip. I gave you those chips.
Now give me a chip back. He is like in agony. He reaches in and pulls out the most pathetic little chip.
It is just microscopic. And it is even hard for him to give it over. He is like turning away like here. Take it. And his dad says, No. I want a big chip.
He is just like, Oh. Give me a big chip son. Give me a good chip. He finally gives it. I thought this is so much like us and God. God gives us everything. God gave you the bag of chips man. He gave you your life. He gave you your job. He gave you your health. It is all from God. God says, I would like you to give back a percentage to me.
I do your pain. Right. That is what this is all about. They were going to bring their very best to the Lord. God established certain laws for the nation of Israel regarding tithing. The people were to bring one tenth of their material resources to the temple. And bring the best not the worst to God. Now some would say, Well tithing is not in the New Testament.
Therefore I will give nothing to God ever. Brilliant deduction. I am being sarcastic by the way. Listen to this. Ten percent is entry level. That is not where you stop.
That is where you start. Listen to this. In the New Testament the standards of the Old Testament are always raised never lowered. Let me say that again. In the New Testament the standards are never lowered.
They are always raised. For instance Jesus said, You have heard that it has been said you shall not murder. But I say to you if you look at someone with hatred in your heart it is like you murdered them.
You have heard, speaking of the Old Testament, that it has been said, Ten Commandments, you shall not commit adultery but I say unto you if you look at a woman with lust in your heart it is the same as committing adultery. What did He do? Did He lower the bar? No.
He actually raises the bar. So it comes down to this. Listen.
Every believer should give of their finances to the Lord. Now we say, I don't like this stuff. Preachers talking about money. Wait a second.
What is your discomfort really over? Remember our earlier point? We surrender to the Word of God. Oh we love to hear what the Bible says about prayer, about hope, about the return of Christ, about comfort. Yeah. Amen. Amen. And then there is giving.
And we are like Christopher with the little chip. We should welcome everything the Bible says about everything and just do it. So what does the Bible say? Paul deals with it extensively in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 16.
Here is what we learn and you can write these notes down and look these things up later. Every believer should give systematically. Every believer should give systematically. Paul told the believers in Corinth to set aside a sum of money on the first day of every week.
For them that would be Sunday. Christians already give systematically not sporadically or when it occurs to them. I think that is why electronic giving is so fantastic. That is how we give in our home. And by the way that is just we tithe of course. But then we give above that. And I don't say that to boast. I am just doing what I am supposed to do as a Christian and I am happy to do it.
But you know you can do it electronically and it happens automatically. But however you do it you should give systematically. Number two. We are to give proportionately. We are to give proportionately. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16 everyone should give in keeping with their income. So look some can give more. Some can give less. But everyone should give something. Number three. We are to give joyfully.
Joyfully. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9. Remember this. A farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure for God loves a person who gives cheerfully. We will say well I can't give cheerfully. Therefore I will never give again. That would be like saying I can't pray cheerfully so I will never pray again. I can't read the Bible happily because I get bored so I will never read the Bible again.
No. Change your heart man. Get in sync with God. What did Jesus say? It is more blessed or happy to give than to receive.
Do you understand what He is saying? You think keeping your stuff makes you happy. Jesus says giving your stuff makes you happy. If you want to be happy do what He says and you watch the blessing that will come your way.
One last point. If you follow God's principles about giving you can expect Him to meet your needs. If you follow God's principles on giving you can expect Him to meet your needs. 2 Corinthians 9.8. God will give generously and provide all your need and you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. You see so God does not promise to supply your greeds but He does promise to meet your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.
Listen. This is like a double test. God tests us and we can test God in this rare moment. It is a test of us. Oh I love Jesus.
Oh it is so wonderful. Ok are you following these principles? It is a test of really your commitment. Because where a man's treasure is there will his heart be also. But then we can test God.
You say what are you talking about? The Bible says don't test God. Hold on. One time God says test me.
Do you know where it is? Malachi. God says put me to the test on this one. Bring your tithes and your offerings into the storehouse. Listen. God says and watch this. I will open up the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing so great you will not have room enough to receive it. Put me to the test on this one. So it is a double test. Put God to the test. Give faithfully to him and see what he does. And 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 is 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 is an important cautionary tale. 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. 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. 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. 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, Dillon, 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, Dillon, 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 write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.
Or go online to harvest.org. Well next time, Pastor Greg returns with one final installment in this wrap-up message in the book of Nehemiah. Some of the most important counsel yet coming next time. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org. And to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-09 10:15:57 / 2023-04-09 10:25:50 / 10