Hey, everybody. You're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at gregg.harvest.org. Again, it's gregg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Pastor Greg Laurie comments, Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. Again, you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins.
They want their money back. Some people come to Christ full of passion and resolve. But today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out it's not how you start, but how you finish. It's our final study in Nehemiah where we'll learn to finish well. This is the day, the day when life begins. Hey, imagine for a moment what it would be like if you'd been saving for your big vacation to Hawaii. Your plane lands.
The warm, balmy breezes of the islands roll over you. You check into your hotel and the next morning you get up bright and early and you're going out for a cup of coffee and suddenly you get a buzz on your smartphone and you read this message that's on the screen. Emergency alert. Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter.
This is not a drill. Of course this happened, as you all know, at 807 in the morning to all residents of Hawaii and to visitors as well. And for 37 minutes people waited.
I read some articles about it. Some people were running through the streets screaming. Some parents were putting their children into little storm drains because there is no emergency shelter in Hawaii. There are no places for people to go if a nuclear weapon were detonated. That is not the kind of news you want to wake up to in the morning.
Thankfully it was a false alarm. Well we are back in the book of Nehemiah for a final message. And Nehemiah at this stage historically has gone back to Babylon.
Remember that is where he was originally. Serving as the king's cupbearer when he heard the news that the walls of Jerusalem were lying in burned, charred out rubble. So Nehemiah made the journey to Jerusalem funded by the king even with an armed escort. And he rallied the people and did the impossible.
They rebuilt the walls of the city. They prayed. They dedicated themselves to the Lord. They confessed their sins and a great revival broke out. But now he is given a message that things aren't going well back in Jerusalem and he needed to return.
Reminding us that just because you have a good beginning it does not guarantee you will have a good finish. 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 is 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 is what is not good. The greatest of starts and a horrible finish. If you are running in a race and you don't finish the race it doesn't matter if you have 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. 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. 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 back to Nehemiah. He has returned to Babylon. Mission accomplished.
Awesome. So glad I obeyed the Lord. The walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt. And everything is wonderful. There was a revival.
And someone says, Amen. Things aren't going well back in Jerusalem. First of all the people aren't giving. In fact it is so bad that the Levites have gone home. The priests there.
They are not being supported. And the people are intermarrying all these weird pagan people. And they are worshiping their false gods. In fact their kids don't even know the language of Israel.
They are learning these other languages. And everything is falling apart. And there is sin there. And so you have got to go back and do something. As Yogi Berra said, it was like deja vu all over again. So Nehemiah says, All right.
I will return. So he goes back and he finds this situation just as they described. Maybe even a little bit worse. And basically the temple wasn't functioning any longer. Imagine for a moment what the world would look like if the church were gone.
Think about how our city would be if there was no harvest. If there was no any other church here. You know we have been here well over 40 years helping people. Ministering to people. And even if people don't come to church as often as they like, they know church is there.
Right? They know there is a service Sunday. They know there is midweek studies. They know there is health. They know if they are having a problem in their marriage they can go in and a pastor will meet with them and help them. And by the way we have helped literally thousands of people with their marriages over the years we have been here. And we have seen them saved by God's grace.
It is true. And we don't charge for it. Some churches do. You have to pay to get counseling.
We don't charge. When you give here that goes toward providing this service for people. A lot of times we are leading people to Christ. And that is the first thing they need to get resolved to have a better marriage. I talked to a guy after first service and he was in gangs and was having a lot of trouble with his wife. And he came in and he says, it saved my marriage pastor.
So you see that is just one of many many stories. So you know think about what the world would look like if the church were not here. You know when it is time to get married we are here to offer free premarital counseling which we offer to you so you can have a strong marriage. Because it is not just about the wedding. It is about the marriage.
And we want it to last. If you have problems we are there for you as well. If you have problems with your teenagers or any age you know we have youth ministry here. You know that a youth pastor will take the time to minister to them and help them. You know that when a loved one dies you can come to the church and we will be here to comfort you and encourage you and help you with this service. What if the church was gone?
Think about what the world would look like. Thank God for the church. Thank God for this church and the like we have been able to be in this community.
That is right. And thank God for you that are a part of this church volunteering your time serving here so faithfully. Giving of your finances.
God bless you and thank you. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Well these folks the Israelites they are just like us.
We are just like them. They went back on their promises and to sort of show how bad it had gotten they let Tobiah back in. Do you remember Tobiah? We learned about him earlier in Nehemiah. Tobiah Sanballat.
This guy was a total creep. Remember that Tobiah along with Sanballat tried to stop the rebuilding of the wall 12 years earlier. First it was a potential military attack against Israel. Then he got involved in a plot to take Nehemiah out personally.
And when those efforts failed he did everything he could to discredit Nehemiah and slander him. Tobiah was troubled with a capital T. So Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem. And what does he find? He finds they have given him a guest house to Tobiah in the temple. Tobiah is in the temple. It is like what are you guys crazy?
What are you doing here? The fox was in the hen house. And Nehemiah was seriously and righteously angry.
And he took immediate action. Go over to Nehemiah 13 verse 8. I became very upset and threw all of Tobiah's belongings out of the room and then I demanded all the rooms to be purified. And I brought back the articles for God's temple.
The grain offerings and the frankincense. I love that. Out with the old in with the new. When something is dirty you need to clean it. And Nehemiah says fumigate the place.
It still smells like Tobiah. Pastor Greg will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there is nothing like hearing the word of God and worshipping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg is presenting a message today called This is Not a Drill. We've just learned how Nehemiah essentially cleaned house. Including evicting a certain man named Tobiah. Tobiah was trouble with a capital T. Give a Tobiah in your life. You know someone that just always gets you going the wrong direction.
It might be a guy or girl in a romantic relationship of sorts or someone else. They just bring you down. You have got to separate from this. This reminds us of when Jesus went into the temple and cleansed it. Remember he overturned the tables. By the way did you know he did that twice?
Isn't that amazing? So first he goes into the temple and in the outer court of the Gentiles they have set up all these tables with these jacked up prices ripping people off. So people come in. They bring their little lamb for the offering. And one of the guys at the tables would say, oh that is never going to pass muster. You can't offer that lamb.
But we will show you this other lamb at a higher price. And this is horrible. Instead of praying for the people they were praying on the people. So Jesus came in. Literally turned the tables over. Drove them out.
Even used a whip. Which I love. You know Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Whack. You know. But then a little bit of time passes and someone sets up the first table. Then the second. Then the third. Next thing you know it is happening again.
And he has to drive them out a second time. You have got to stay on top of things because it is very easy to take one step forward and two steps back. This might be a good time for me to admit a serious addiction I have struggled with for a great part of my life. I have never shared this before publicly.
But I am going to share it now. My addiction. I bite my fingernails. It is the worst habit ever. Does anybody else bite their fingernails? Hold up your pathetic little hand.
It is so bad. Usually when I am under stress. And when you bite your fingernails you are very limited. Like if you drop a dime on the floor forget about it.
You can't get it. No nails. Your little nubs.
I will take a piece of paper and slide it into the dime. You learn little tricks. When you go to scratch yourself it is just like. No nails. You need the nail man. Nails are good. So I have victory right now.
My nails have grown out. For now. I am not making any promises. There is always tomorrow. I get under a little stress.
You know. Ok. That is life isn't it? I am doing well. Look at my life. Everything is together.
All my ducks are in a row. Ok. Good. And there is tomorrow. And there might be a little problem. And a little problem will turn into a bigger problem. Then one thing will lead to another.
That is what happened here. But God gave them a chance to repent and they did. Isn't it great that God gives second chances?
He will give you a second chance today if you need me. Alright. Well as we come to the end of this message. Back to that ominous warning about ballistic missiles headed to Hawaii. Look at it again.
I mean imagine. You look at your phone. Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter.
This is not a drill. I read some articles about what was happening. I already told you people were panicking. Freaking out.
But not everybody. We have a friend. Her name is Shelly. She has a second home over in Hawaii on the north shore of Oahu. And so she texted my wife Kathy after they gave the all clear. What was it?
37 minutes later. She said I had a neighbor come over to my house panicking saying what do we do? Shelly said the first thing we do is we pray. And then she prayed with her neighbor and then she said now we need to make sure that we know where we are going when we leave this earth. Everybody needs a neighbor like this. You need to be a neighbor like this. You know Shelly could have said, hey man I am freaking out. I don't have time to deal with your drama.
No. She took time for her. To help her.
Just like Nehemiah left the comfort of the palace in Babylon to go help his people. And we need to do that same. Be that neighbor.
Let me be that neighbor for you right now. One day a real threat will come your way in life. It could be a nuclear threat. More likely it will be a personal one. That unexpected heart attack.
Car accident. One thing is certain. No one gets out of here alive. Do you know where you are going? I heard about an inscription on a tombstone.
These words are written on it. Pause now stranger as you pass by. As you are now so once was I. As I am now so you will be. So prepare for death and follow me. Someone reading that tombstone was overheard to say to follow you is not my intent until I know which way you went. So which way will you go?
You have two options. When you die and you will. Unless the Lord comes before that and he could. But if you die or when you die you will either go straight to heaven or you will go ultimately to hell.
I don't say that with any pleasure. I just say that because it is gospel truth. And the last thing God wants is for you to go to hell. That is why he sent Jesus to this earth as one and only beloved son and poured his judgment upon his son. You know we deserve the judgment. We have rebelled against God. We have defied God. We have broken the laws of God. And yet God took his only son and put that judgment on Jesus so we didn't have to face it.
Man that is love. And he will forgive you of any sin you have ever committed but you must say God forgive me. This can happen for you right now. Or if you are one of those people I talked about earlier that you know you have kind of veered off the path. You say you are a Christian. But you are doing things that Christians should not do. You can come back to Jesus.
Let's get that resolved right here right now. Let's all bow our heads in prayer. Everyone praying. Father I pray now that you will speak to the heart of every person that is here. Every person that is listening and watching wherever they are. If they don't know you yet Lord help them to come to you now we pray.
Amen. It's a look at the lives of dozens and dozens of well-known music icons. And the way their lives rose to the top and then often crashed to the bottom.
And the reasons for that. Now some of the people you talk about in the book obviously have passed on. Which one of them would be at the top of the list of those you would like to meet and have a conversation with if that were possible?
Yeah that's a really good question. I wish, oh my, there's so many. So many. I think of Janice Joplin. Very talented young lady, harassed, made fun of when she was a young girl.
Extraordinarily talented. Died so young, 27. I wish I could have sat down with her and said Janice God loves you. And even if others don't love you as they ought to you are loved by the Lord and He has a plan and a purpose for your life. I wish I could have sat down with John Lennon and said John you need to just follow Jesus. You've made a profession of faith in Him.
Now you need to just grow in your faith spiritually and continue on to discover all that God has in store for you. I wish I could have sat down with Jimi Hendrix. In my opinion the greatest guitar player who ever lived. By accounts of people that knew him he was a kind person. He was a humble person.
But he was a man who was searching as well. And I just wish I could have told these people that there's a God in heaven who loved them and had a plan for their life. I wish I could tell them that their life matters and so many people care so deeply about them. And I can't tell them that unfortunately. But I can talk to people who are alive today who maybe are despondent. Who maybe have thought about taking their lives. Some who have even attempted to take their lives and say look this is not the way you want to go.
Here's the way you want to go. You want to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and discover His plan for your life and get to know Him. And then you'll have that happiness and that peace that you've longed for throughout your entire life.
Yeah, yeah that's right. And you know there are some listening right now who have a close friend or loved one who's at that same crossroad today. They need to hear that message of hope. Let us send you a copy of this new book, Lennon, Dillon, Alice and Jesus. Read it yourself and then pass along this good news to the person you care about. It's a strong wake-up call and it's a message of hope. And we'd like to send the book your way to thank you for your investment in Harvest Ministries and A New Beginning.
We're listener supported and without listener partnership we simply couldn't be here each day. We're so grateful for your generosity. And when you make your donation today, we'd like to thank you with Pastor Greg's new book, Lennon, Dillon, Alice and Jesus. So call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-hour phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to Harvest.org. Pastor Greg, a few moments ago you spoke of how someone can accept God's offer of eternal life.
That's right. Could you help the person who wants to do that right now? Yes, I'd be delighted to. Listen, as you've listened to this program today, maybe something's been happening inside of your heart where you're sensing, I need to do this personally, but how do I do it and what do I do? Let me help you. It's very simple.
In fact, it's so simple you may be shocked. God, this relationship with him is just a prayer away. The Bible says if you will call upon the name of the Lord, you'll be saved. So I'd like to lead you in a prayer where you do just that. You call on the name of the Lord. This can be the moment where you change your eternal address literally from hell to heaven. Just 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 me and rose again from the dead.
Jesus, I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In your name I pray. Amen. I know. It's such a simple, short prayer, but you just called on the name of the Lord.
And you know what? He heard that prayer. And if you meant that prayer in your heart, he answered that prayer. Now let me help you to get started on the right foot in your new life in Jesus Christ. The greatest adventure awaits you, the life of walking with God. I want to send you what we call a New Believers' Growth Pack that includes the New Believers' Bible and a whole lot more.
And let me be the first to say to you congratulations and welcome to the family of God. And to get that free New Believers' Growth Pack, just ask for it if you've prayed along with Pastor Greg to receive Christ. We'll be glad to send one your way. 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 us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to Harvest.org and click Know God. Well, next time Pastor Greg launches a compelling series in the book of Esther. We'll learn that maybe we're where we are for such a time as this.
That starts next time. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at Harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-08 19:11:40 / 2023-04-08 19:21:13 / 10