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Sign up at harvest.org. Believers are to be salt and light, to influence our world for the kingdom. But Pastor Greg Laurie points out we can't influence our community if we're isolated from our community. We need to go out and permeate our culture. We need Christians in the arts. We need Christians in politics. We need Christian doctors, lawyers, and business people. Instead of isolating, we need to be infiltrating.
That's what's needed in the world today. Before COVID, few of us had ever been subjected to a quarantine, but that experience effectively isolated us in a bubble. In a spiritual sense, sometimes believers are constantly isolated from the world in a self-imposed quarantine. We don't want to be of the world, so we try not to be in the world. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how that neglects one of our most important responsibilities.
It's the kickoff of a new series in Acts called The Upside Down Life. I think we would all agree that our world is a mess right now. There's global instability.
We see Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. And then you have the breakdown of the family and the redefinition of the family and even the redefinition of the sexes. It reminds me of what Scripture says in Isaiah 5 20 when it says, What sorrow for those who say evil is good and good is evil. For those who say that dark is light and light is dark and bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
I mean that is the way it is right now. Things that are virtuous and wonderful are mocked and derided. Things that are evil and wicked are celebrated and promoted in our classrooms, in our culture. And you can become very frustrated by all this.
Now add to this a global pandemic and shake it up and you have a lot of trouble. What are we to do in a time like this? Well it's clear what the Bible says. It says when you see these things beginning to happen watch and pray. And we're also told to look up because our redemption is drawing near.
Here's the answer. We need divine intervention in our nation. We need divine intervention in our world. We need another spiritual awakening desperately. And that's what we should be praying for.
That's what we should be praying for right now. We need another Jesus movement. And when we hear the phrase Jesus movement our minds race back to the late 60s early 70s and we think of the hippies with their long hair and their bell bottoms and their beads. And I never wore beads really. But you know all those things that we think of in the 60s.
But I want to go further back. There was long hair and there were beards but no bell bottoms. But most importantly guess who started the first Jesus movement.
Guess. Jesus himself started it and it was a very dark backdrop when it happened. The first time mighty Rome ruled the world with an iron fist. Immorality was rampant.
In Roman cities like Corinth thousands of prostitutes would walk the street. Idolatry. Spiritism. And demon worship. All was openly practiced. Add to this the fact that the religious establishment was completely corrupt. Sounds like a good time for a Jesus movement.
And who starts it? But Jesus himself. He bursts on the scene fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Giving the greatest teachings ever heard. Performing miracles and openly declaring himself as the Messiah. His followers numbered in the thousands. His name was on everyone's lips.
And then seemingly it appears that the whole thing came off the rails. Jesus is betrayed by one of his own followers. He's brought before religious authorities with false trumped up charges.
Ultimately placed into the hands of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who has Jesus flogged and then sent to be crucified. But actually God was at work in everything that was happening. Because if people read the prophecies carefully they would discover the Messiah would first suffer. Messiah would die.
Messiah would rise again from the dead. And these demoralized discouraged disciples that were beginning to scatter were now empowered by the Spirit and the church was born. And that's really what the book of Acts is all about. It's about the birth of the first century church. And this church changed their world. So Rome tried to suppress them. Rome tried to stop them. And a wave of persecutions came against the church starting with the wicked and twisted Caesar Nero and eventually ending with Diocletian.
Caesar Nero was so depraved he took Christians and covered them in pitch and set them on fire to light his garden as he rode around in his chariot screaming with the light. The Roman emperor Diocletian was so certain that he had effectively eradicated Christianity he had a special coin struck with these words. Quote, the Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the Roman gods is restored. End quote.
Famous last words. Where's Rome today? Mighty Rome was reduced to ruins but the church marches on and always will. Because the gates of hell will not prevail against us.
The gates of hell will not prevail against us. The church continues to march and when persecution comes it actually strengthens the church. Do you know where the church is growing dramatically globally right now?
In Iran. Thousands of people are coming to Christ despite the efforts of the Islamic government to suppress them and stop them. They're coming to Christ. You can't stop the work of the Holy Spirit.
It's true. And another place where thousands of people are coming to Christ is in Afghanistan. So God can work no matter the circumstances that are happening in the world. So Rome. What do we know of Rome? What do we remember of Rome? We name our children after apostles and our dogs after Roman emperors.
Right? Here Caesar. Come on Caesar. Caesar sit.
What do we know of Rome today? Caesar salad. Little Caesar's pizza. Pizza. Pizza. You know what?
Not much left. But the church continues to grow and within 30 years the original 120 of followers of Jesus and their comrades changed the world. How did they do it?
Answer. Through upside down living. They turned the world upside down. That's why we're calling this the upside down life. In fact there's an interesting statement given to us in Acts chapter 17 verse 6. It was a criticism when the religious leaders said Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down and now they're entering our city. That criticism was in effect the greatest compliment of all.
These guys they're turning the world upside down and now they're rendering our city. This is what you call a complisult. Do you know what a complisult is?
It's when someone compliments you but really it's kind of an insult. A few days ago I was at the Orange County Fair with my family and Levi Lasko and his family. So there was the you know the thing where you bring the hammer down and ring the bell.
Right? So we went to that and Levi says Greg you want to do it? I said sure. So he went first. He didn't ring the bell. Then it was my turn. I rang the bell. Then Levi went again. He still didn't ring the bell. I went again.
I rang the bell. Levi says you know what that is? It's old man strength.
Okay. That's a complisult. He acknowledges my strength but it's old man strength.
Right? It's like someone says to you you look great for your age. Yeah that's kind of a complisult for sure. Or you say to someone you're actually on time. I'm amazed. Which means they're usually late.
You're a really good driver for a woman. Don't say that. That's a complisult. Or saying to somebody you look so great why are you still single? I mean what is that all about? Don't say that. Oh wow you look really nice for a change.
Another complisult. Your hair looks great when you actually do something with it. Implication they don't normally do something with it. So and by the way I never hear that compliment about the hair. But here's the point.
This was meant as an insult but it was the ultimate compliment. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there's nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping 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 as Pastor Greg presents his opening message in the book of Acts he's pointing out how those first century believers were impacting their culture. It says there in Acts 17 6 they're disturbing our city. We need to disturb more cities with the gospel. That's what's needed in the world today. We need a holy disturbance. Bible commentary G. Campbell Morgan said and I quote, organized Christianity which fails to make a disturbance is dead. End quote. That's true. You know the fact of the matter is wherever Paul the apostle went something happened. It was either conversion or a riot.
It was action constantly. And think about this. These guys didn't have all the tools we have at our disposal. Thomas did not tweet. Paul did not have a Facebook page.
Peter did not have an Instagram page or a YouTube channel. But yet they were able to change their world. And here's an amazing thing to think about. For the first time in human history our generation literally has the ability to fulfill the great commission in our lifetime. You ever thought about that? We literally have the ability the great commission to get the gospel out with all the tools of tech. With all the mass media we can do more than we could ever do before. But the point of the matter is these guys didn't have any of that tech.
And look what they did. They permeated their culture. Everyone was aware of their faith. Tertullian a church leader wrote these words around 200 of the early church. Quote, we have filled every place among you. Cities, islands, fortresses, towns, marketplaces, the very camp, tribes, companies, palaces, the senate, the forum. And then he says we've left nothing to you but the temples of your gods.
End quote. See here's the way the early church thought. Everybody had a part to play. Everybody had a role to fulfill. Everybody had gifts to discover and use.
And that's the same for us today. We need to go out and permeate our culture. We need Christians in the arts making music, film, and doing graphic design. We need Christians in politics bringing godly wisdom and the leadership of our nation because the Bible says when the righteous rule the people rejoice. We need Christian doctors, lawyers, and business people.
Instead of isolating we need to be infiltrating. Every Christian in the church of the first century at least most of them understood they had to do their part. And as we read the book of Acts and we'll do that in the weeks ahead what happens may seem radical to us at times. But in a way it wasn't radical at all.
Because anything short of that is a watered down version. So we need this radical upside down Christianity today and that has to start in our life. Yes we need a revival but before revival can start in the church it needs to start in you and it needs to start in me. So let's look now at a few verses from the book of Acts chapter one. I'm going to read verses one to four and share some points with you. And I'm reading from the New Living Translation. In my first book I told you Theophilus, Luke writes, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit.
During the 40 days after he suffered and died he appeared to the apostles from time to time and he proved to them in many ways he was actually alive and he talked to them about the kingdom of God. Okay we'll stop there. Here's point number one if you're taking notes. Before you can change the world you yourself must first be changed.
Before you can change the world you must first be changed. Look at verse three. During the 40 days after he suffered and died he appeared to the apostles. The apostles. Now when we think of these guys we see them in stained glass, standing on pedestals, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Matthew, later Paul.
The list goes on. These great men of God. But one thing we see clearly in the gospels and in the book of Acts is these guys were humans just like we are. They had their shortcomings. They made their mistakes. But God used them. We say oh but they were saints. I can't connect to them.
I can't relate to them. Well they were saints but technically you're a saint too. Heard about a Sunday school teacher that was talking to her class and she said hey kids can anyone tell me what a saint is?
Little girl raised her hand up. Teacher called on her and the little girl said thinking of the stained glass windows with the saints in them she said saints those are people that the light shines through. And that's true. That's all a saint is. A saint is a true believer. You're a saint.
I'm a saint. We're all saints and we can be used by God as well. Listen the greatness of the disciples was not because of who they were it's because God put his hand on them. It's almost as though the Lord went out of his way to find the most ordinary people to do the most extraordinary things through. 1st Corinthians 1 26 Paul says isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks.
God chose these nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies. Interesting insight there. I heard the other day that a while ago now but someone paid one million dollars for a Fender Stratocaster guitar. Now this is a very popular guitar and and they normally would cost you somewhere around six hundred dollars to fifteen hundred dollars but this guy paid one million dollars for a Fender Strat.
Why? Because it was the guitar that Bob Dylan played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. This was a defining moment because Dylan was known to play acoustic guitar in his harmonica but he busted out a Fender Stratocaster plugged it in and all the folk purists freaked out and they thought it was some form of heresy in their folky world but that became a seminal moment in rock history. Thus the guitar sold for one million dollars. Maybe that makes a little more sense than some guy that bought a piece of a burned up Fender Stratocaster. That one was played by Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival and at the end of playing the song Wild Thing Hendrix poured lighter fluid on it set it on fire and threw pieces of it into the audience. Some guy grabbed a piece and that piece of the guitar was sold later for three hundred and eighty thousand dollars.
Okay so here's the point. The value clearly was not in a burned up piece of a guitar. The value was in who played the guitar. See if I pick up a guitar and play it and try to sell it it goes down in value. But if Eric Clapton picked up the same guitar and played it it goes up in value. Jesus did not call these men who became apostles because they were great. They became great because Jesus called them.
That is a difference. And God wants to use you. Maybe you are like a burned out guitar. Maybe you don't have a lot to bring to the table. You don't have a lot to offer to the Lord.
God can work through you. So these apostles. They had their lives changed when they saw Jesus risen from the dead. See they never thought they would see Jesus again when they looked at His beaten traumatized body hanging on the cross of Calvary, which according to Isaiah 53 as the prophet spoke prophetically He was so beaten and marred and traumatized you could not even tell He was a man.
But Jesus rose again and appeared many times over a 40 day period. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene who came to anoint His dead body at the tomb. He appeared after that to Simon Peter. Then He appeared in the upper room to the disciples and specifically to Thomas who said I won't believe until I can put my hand in the wounds in His side. He appeared to two disciples walking on the Emmaus road. He appeared to Simon Peter again at the Sea of Galilee telling Him to feed God's sheep. And He appeared to over 500 people at one time.
This transformed them. Jesus was basically popping up everywhere. And they knew He was alive and they knew He had risen. You see before they could change the world Jesus needed to change them. In 1 John 1 says, John writing, we proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and we touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. Listen to this.
If you want people to follow Jesus you must be a good example as a follower of Jesus. Example, would you go to a dentist with half of his teeth missing? You couldn't even understand what he was saying.
What? Well sir what happened to your teeth? He tells you well I never really brushed or took care of my teeth.
Well I don't want you to do dental work on me. How about this one, would you go to a music teacher who is tone deaf? Would you go to a gym and have as your trainer someone who was morbidly obese?
I don't think so. You would want that person to be an example of what it is they're teaching you to do right. So in the same way we say that people follow Jesus well they're looking at you. They're looking to see if you yourself are following Jesus. Paul said follow my example as I follow the example of Christ. First Corinthians 11.
So first it must happen to us. Pastor Greg Laurie with the first lesson of many to come from our new study series in the book of Acts. A series called the upside down life and we'll bring the whole series your way here on a new beginning. Tell me your name and what you do in the music industry. I'm Amy Grant and I have been making music and telling stories since I was a teenager. I don't want to make this thing negative but at the same time I want to be honest. I can't believe I'm getting emotional. I don't know how to say this. I've never shared this with anybody. I don't want to say this. The whole thing came aloud.
Allow me to be proud. I don't understand it. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.
This thing on paper shouldn't have worked. The Jesus movement is no longer a California band and we see all the intricacies and everything. We're just going to go. The story was so massive. That's an excerpt from a brand new film called the Jesus music produced by the Irwin brothers. You know them best for their films like I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe and next year they're releasing a feature film based on my life and on the spiritual awakening called the Jesus movement and the title of that film will be Jesus Revolution. Well out of this movement of God that happened in the early 70s a whole new form of music came to be that we call contemporary Christian music today but in the initial stage it was just called Jesus music. It became an industry with all kinds of people involved and there's some drama in this story as you'll see but what I love is it's a story of redemption.
How God has used flawed people to bring this music to us but listen God always goes out of his way to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. You're going to be surprised by, blessed by, encouraged by this movie that we're going to send you for your gift of any size on DVD, Blu-ray and also downloadable. Again it's called the Jesus music.
You may have seen it in the theaters or on streaming platforms. Now you can have your own copy. Now listen whatever you send will be used to help us here at A New Beginning and Harvest Ministries to teach God's word and proclaim the gospel. So order your copy right now of the Jesus music. You're going to love this. Yeah it really is a terrific film.
It's a fascinating story along with plenty of surprises. We hope you'll let us send it your way. We're sending it to say thank you for your partnership. Every day we hear from people whose lives have changed because of the teaching of God's word and when you invest you play a part in that. So thanks for sending a donation today and be sure to ask for the Jesus music and today is our last opportunity to mention this so just give us a call at 1-800-821-3300.
We can take your call anytime again at 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time more insights to help us reach out and impact our culture from this new series in the book of Acts. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to harvest.org.
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