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Better Together | Early Days of the Church

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 4, 2022 3:00 am

Better Together | Early Days of the Church

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 4, 2022 3:00 am

Christianity is a worldwide faith. Some say over 31% are Christians the world over. Yet, if you rewind history, Christianity began in a small geographic area on the other side of the globe, with just a handful of followers. How in the world did they reach the world!? Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us some good insight from the book of Acts that’ll help us encourage one another in the faith, and reach our world in our time with the love of Christ.

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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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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. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie shows how the early church turned their world upside down with their commitment to the gospel, and we can too. What are you passionate about? Some people are passionate about sports. Other people are passionate about food. That's what fires them up.

Other people, it's politics. Listen, it's fine to have an interest in all of these things, but make your primary passion about Jesus Christ. That's it.

Don't lose that. Christianity is a worldwide faith. Some say over 31% are Christians the world over. Yet, if you rewind history, Christianity began in a small geographic area on the other side of the globe with just a handful of followers.

How in the world did they reach the world? Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us some good insight from the book of Acts that will help us encourage one another in the faith and reach our world in our time with the love of Christ. All right. Let's grab our Bibles and turn to Acts chapter 2. Acts chapter 2. We're in our book of Acts series, and the title of this message is Better Together. I heard a story about a genie that appeared to a woman. True story. The genie said, Whatever you want, I'll give to you, and I'll grant to you as many wishes as you want.

Pretty good deal. So the woman replied, Well, genie, my wish is that my husband's eyes should only be on me during all waking hours. The genie said, All right. What else do you want? She says, Well, I don't want him to be concerned with anything else in life except me.

In fact, she said, I don't even want him to sleep without me right by his side all the time. Okay, the genie says. What else?

She said, Actually, I want him when he wakes up in the morning to see my face first. All right. Anything else? One more thing.

I don't want him to go anywhere without me. So genie said, Boom. You're a cell phone. She was turned into a smartphone.

It's funny. We call these things smartphones, right? I think they've actually made us more stupid. In many ways, I read an article in Inc. Magazine with this headline, We lost.

The gadgets won. And among other things, the article points out that the average smartphone owner unlocks their phones 150 times a day. 85% of smartphone users check their phones while speaking with friends and family. Have you ever done that? That's rude, by the way.

You want someone saying, I just want to share this. It's so important. Yeah, yeah. And I just say, yeah, okay. Are you listening? Yeah, I'm listening. I'm listening. Wait. No, no. You're not listening. Put the phone down.

We all have done that, haven't we? And I think not only have smartphones made us more stupid, they've made us relationally dumb. I think social media, in many ways, is making people antisocial. Because, you know, social media, back in the day, on Instagram, might be pictures of what you had for breakfast, or you might see a random cat video, or other fun things.

And now it's like people ranting, ranting about whatever it is they're upset about. And then there's the effect that it has on young people. Facebook has 2.8 billion monthly users. And they recently, this is a news story, they recently did an internal research program. They wanted to find out what their users were really thinking, and how Facebook and Instagram was impacting them. And they discovered that 30% of young girls who use Instagram, it makes them feel worse about their bodies if they were already having insecurities. Teenagers blame Instagram for increases in their rates of anxiety and depression. Another presentation found that among teens who felt suicidal, 13% of British users and 6% of American users trace their suicidal feelings to Instagram. So this is horrible. Now girls, let me just say something. Even the people you see don't look like those pictures, okay?

Because they're using filters and effects to make them look thinner, or taller, or whatever it is they're doing. That's not the real person. But this is the problem. Social media is not very social at all. In fact, Americans have probably never been more disconnected. I read an article that was done that came to the conclusion that Americans have never felt more alone. And this article described Americans as the loneliest people in the world. That article first appeared 30 years ago. If that was true 30 years ago, how much more true is it today? Cigna, a global health service company, recently released this article where they interviewed 20,000 people.

And here's what they concluded. Number one, half of Americans report sometimes they're always feeling alone. Number two, only half of Americans have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis. And number three, Generation Z is the loneliest generation and is in the worst health than any other generation. So we have a problem.

So what is the solution? Number one, we need God. And number two, we need each other.

It's as simple as that. We need God and we need each other. God wired you that way.

You're built for community. You're not meant to do life alone. In fact, the first thing that God said was not good was the aloneness of man back in the book of Genesis. It says Genesis 2 18, it is not good for man to be alone. Proverbs 27 17 reminds us as iron sharpens iron. So one person sharpens another. Ecclesiastes 4 9 says, two are better than one.

If either one of them falls down, one can help the other up. I read an article from the Harvard Women's Health Watch. And I always read the Harvard Women's Health Watch. No.

I just came across it. And it said quote, dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, they have fewer health problems, and they live longer. End quote. And that's so true. Because God has wired us that way. And this is where the church comes in.

You see. Because the church is an oasis of hope in a desert of hopelessness. And that is why every one of us needs to be a part of the church. You'll be happier when you're a part of the church. And you'll even be healthier when you're part of the church. Physically Time Magazine did a cover story with the headline, Benefits of Faith and the Church. And here are their observations. Heart surgery patients who draw comfort from their faith have a significantly higher survival rate than those who do not.

Isn't that interesting? Secondly, the blood pressure of people attending church is lower than those who don't. Thirdly, people with faith who attend church on a regular basis experience less depression than non-church attenders.

And on it goes. So it's not only good for you spiritually. It's not only good for you emotionally. It's actually good for you physically to be a part of the church. So I bring this up because here in Acts 2 we're looking at the birth of the church. The church that Jesus started. The church that Jesus established.

He only started one organization if you will when He walked our earth and it was the church. By the way the word church means called out ones. It's not about a building.

It's not about a cathedral. The church is when God's people gather together. Because Jesus said when two or more are gathered together in my name I am there in the midst of them. The church is a place to find accountability. The church is a place to be spiritually fed. The church is a place to hear the Word of God. The church is a place to discover and then use your spiritual gifts. And the church should be your family.

Because we really are your family. So let's consider now the story here before us of what the early church looked like. The church that changed the world.

The church that was accused of churning the world upside down. I'm reading from Acts chapter 2 verses 42 to 47. And I'm reading from the New King James Version. Just to get context remember this is on the heels of the day of Pentecost. So the Holy Spirit has been poured out. And 3,000 people have come to believe in Jesus after Simon Peter delivered the inaugural message of the church.

Acts 2 42. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship. The breaking of bread and in prayers and fear came upon every soul and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believe were together. They had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all as everyone had need.

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to the church daily those that were being saved. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Whenever you send us a letter text and email or post a comment on social media we read every word. Pastor Greg I want to say thank you for your series on anxiety and worry. Just recently I found out that one of the facilities I work at is closing leaving me and my co-workers out of a job.

I'm uncertain what this outcome will do to our family and our financial situation. Your series however on anxiety and worry has helped me to have more faith in God and know that he is in control of the situation. Thank you again for your ministry and for what you do. It's encouraging to know that the resources at A New Beginning are helping listeners. If you'd like to share your story call us and let us know. Call 866-871-1144.

That's 866-871-1144. Well Pastor Greg is taking us to the early days of the church. It was an exciting time as scripture says the Lord added to the church daily those that were being saved.

Let's continue. So what can we learn from this church? If you're taking notes here's point number one. They were a learning church. They were a learning church.

Now let me apply this to you personally. If you want to be a growing Christian you need to be a learning Christian. There's always so much more to learn. I've been a Christian well pretty long now over 50 years and you know you would think that I know a lot and I know some things but I've discovered that I have so much still to learn. And then there's a problem as you get older with forgetting things you've learned right.

So it's a it's a process of learning new things and being reminded of old things that maybe you have forgotten. And the Apostle Paul after years of walking with the Lord said look I am pressing on because I have not reached perfection. Pressing on toward the mark toward the mark. And that should be the objective and the attitude of every follower of Jesus Christ.

These people were studying the Word of God. To those of us who are called to preach and teach the Bible scripture says in 2 Timothy 4 2 preach the Word. Be persistent whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct.

Rebuke. Encourage your people with good teaching. Then Paul goes on to say for the time will come when people will no longer listen to right teaching.

They'll follow their own desires and look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. So our focus at this church for 50 years now has been on teaching the Word of God. We offer theology without apology.

Pretty much whatever we're doing we're going to get around to opening up the Bible and see what it has to say. That is our focus. That will always be our focus. Now that is not always the focus.

I am glad you agree. That is not always the focus. Some churches are focused more on worship.

Maybe focused more on having an emotional experience. And then other churches are focused perhaps on entertainment. And another church might be focused more on politics. But our focus should be on the Word of God.

This first century church did that. So there is a need for strong biblical preaching. But there is also a need for good listening.

Good listening. You know it is easy to not pay attention. You remember those old Peanuts cartoons and when the parents spoke it was like wah wah wah. They never had the voices of the parents.

Just the kids. And sometimes that is how things can sound to you. You can tune something out. You are not paying attention.

You need to give your attention with intention. The fact of the matter here in verse 42 when it says continued steadfastly this speaks of passion. They were living in a first love relationship with Jesus and they had burning hearts. And let me ask you this. What are you passionate about? I mean seriously I know the default answer.

Jesus. Ok. Maybe. We will see. I will go check out your social media. And then I will see what you are really passionate about. What do you post most about?

What do you talk most about? Some people are passionate about sports. Sports. I have never cared that much about sports. I am sorry to tell you this. I may have to turn my man card in. But I just never cared that much.

You know never having a dad growing up. I just never really got into the sports vortex. And I know a lot of. And there is nothing wrong with loving sports and enjoying sports.

But is that your primary passion? Other people are passionate about movies. Or this new series on Netflix.

Have you seen this? You are going to watch this. And you will be talking about whatever. But the moment that topic comes up they get all fired up. Other people are passionate about food. Food. Everything is food you know. And that is what fires them up. Other people it is politics. Man they are not even interested in the conversation until you get to politics.

Now they come to life. Listen. It is fine to have an interest in all of these things. But make your primary passion about Jesus Christ.

That is it. Don't lose that. It is not that these other things are bad things. But if one of these things takes the place of Jesus and your passion is channeled in a different direction it actually can be a bad thing. So these people listened. They listened to what the Word said. They continued with passion in the apostles doctrine.

And that is the way we should be as well. We must come with a desire to hear the Word. Number two. It was a loving church. So number one they were a learning church. Number two they were a loving church.

Verse 42. They continued in fellowship. The breaking of bread and prayers.

And continued to do this together. Now as we grow in our faith we will want to do it with other believers. Gathering around the Word of God.

And the Lord loves it when we talk about Him together. There is a fascinating little passage over in Malachi 3.16 that says, Those that feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened and heard. The Lord listened and heard. So the idea is that the phrase listened and heard can be translated to prickly air.

So you hear something and all of a sudden you tune into it. The idea is that God bends down to us not to miss a single word. So we are talking about whatever and suddenly someone says, You know the Word of God or the Bible or Jesus all of a sudden the Lord says, Oh wait. What are you saying? I am really interested in what you are saying.

For instance if I am talking to an adult and one of my grandchildren comes up and says, Papa I hear that and I am going to tune out whatever is happening around me and put my attention toward one of my grandchildren. God likes it when we talk about Him together. Fellowship is praying together. Fellowship is serving together. Fellowship is suffering together. Fellowship is being blessed together. Fellowship is serving together. In fact the stronger your vertical fellowship the stronger your horizontal fellowship will be. By vertical I mean the closer you are to God the closer you will be with God's people. And if you are not as close to God as you need to be you will probably want to spend less time around godly people.

So this is something that is so important. Now I know sometimes people say, Well I don't know the church you know. It is so full of hypocrites.

Hey. There is always room for one more. So come join us. You have heard me and others say many times, Don't try to find the perfect church because when you find it you will ruin it.

Right? The church is made up of imperfect people. We all fall short.

We all make mistakes. But that is an excuse when you say the church is full of hypocrites. Sometimes people say, Well I don't know. When I go to church I feel judged. Let me say something that might surprise you. Maybe you need to be judged a little bit. Now let me explain.

Let me explain. Jesus said, Judge not lest you be judged. Every non-believer knows that verse. And they also know this verse, Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.

Right? But what does it mean when Jesus says, Judge not lest you be judged? Does it mean we should not make evaluations about people or situations? We should not make judgments of any kind?

Well it can't mean that. Because the Bible says judgment begins at the house of God. A literal translation of what Jesus said would be, Condemn not lest you be condemned. So if you went to a church and you were condemned that is wrong.

And I apologize for that if that happened. But if you went to a church and someone called you out because of a sinful thing you were doing. That is not condemnation.

That is love. No. There is a right way to do it. There is a right way to do it. Because you know some people they are so holier than thou and they are arrogant and condescending.

No. We are not talking about that. But I am saying if there is someone that loves you enough to say, I am concerned about you spiritually. That is a true friend. Because the Bible says, Faithful are the wounds of a friend but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

See a true friend will stab you in the front not the back. Right. The Bible says open rebuke is better than secret love. So we do need to be accountable to one another. I think this is one of the reasons people church hop. Because people get their number. Hey man. I see you are still doing this thing.

Why are you doing that? I am feeling called to another church. Then they end up in the other church and people find out and then they move to another church.

It reminds me of a story of a guy who was stranded on an island out in the middle of the ocean. They finally came and rescued him. Saw that he had three buildings that he had built. Three. And so they asked him, well three buildings. What are these buildings? He says, well the first building that is my house. Ok. What are the other two buildings? Well the next one, that is my church.

Ok. Your house, your church. What is the third building? He says, that is the church I used to go to. The church a place to develop a consistent theology. A place to develop friendships.

A place to grow together. Pastor Greg Laurie with important insight on the role the church should play in our daily lives. We are learning a lot from his new series on a new beginning called The Upside Down Life based in the book of Acts. Pastor Greg, your book, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, has touched a lot of lives. And in fact, we have heard from so many who have had their lives touched.

In fact, let me read this example. It says, Hello Greg, I just finished reading your book and wanted to say thank you. At the end of the book, I prayed the prayer out loud and made one small change. I simply added the word back. I asked Jesus to come back into my heart and life and to be my God and friend.

I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior as a teenager and would describe my walk with the Lord as somewhat of a rollercoaster ride. I contracted COVID a short time ago. It finally forced me to stop and rest. My wife just happened to bring home your book on Steve McQueen.

She was getting it for herself, by the way, and not for me. I began thumbing through it. I had no idea who you or Steve McQueen were before reading it. However, something in your book spoke to me, and by the end of the book this morning, I was fighting back tears. I walked upstairs, knelt by my bed, and did my best to say the prayer out loud without completely bursting into tears. Thank you for writing this book and for your ministry. It has made a difference in the life of someone that lives on the opposite side of the country from you.

May God bless you. Wow, I love that. You know, people have asked me, Greg, why do you write these biographies? I've written four in total.

First there's Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, then Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon, then another one called Billy Graham, The Man I Knew, and finally, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus. I write these stories because, well, everyone loves a good story. And these are the stories that I've written. And these are the stories of people that are well-known who realized that they needed God in their life. And I use their stories sort of like a testimony to tell the bigger story of who Jesus Christ is.

And this guy who just wrote that letter got it. So I look at it this way. Jesus has called me to be a fisher of men. And sometimes I fish in a pond, and I might do that through a biography I write. And I might show up in a Barnes & Noble, on Amazon.com, and someone takes a bite of the hook, or the bait, in that pond. And then I have a crusade, and someone else comes to Christ in that lake, let's say. And then we do another event, and someone comes to Christ at that, or they watch one of our movies, and they come to know the Lord. So it's just a whole bunch of ways of going fishing for men to bring people to Jesus Christ.

And I think that these are great tools, because you can read it, and you can have your own life impacted, but then you can share it with someone else. I mean, this lady, this man's wife, she bought it for herself, and her husband ended up coming back to the Lord as a result. After Steve McQueen, who in his day was the most famous movie star in all of the world, he realized he wanted to tell people about it. But tragically, his life ended sooner than he expected, and he got cancer and died of it. But he did make this statement, my only regret in life is that he was not able to tell more people about what Jesus Christ had done for me.

When I read that statement, I thought, well, I want to right that wrong. I want to help Steve give his testimony, because most people have never heard it. So I wrote a book, and we even made a documentary film that, by the way, you can watch on Apple, or Amazon, or on YouTube, that's called Steve McQueen American Icon. But you can have this book that I wrote, where it all started, called Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, for your gift of any size. Whatever you send us here at Harvest Ministries will be used to reach more people with the gospel, and to continue our mission of teaching the Word of God. So thank you in advance for what you can do, and let us send you your own copy of Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. And hey, when you're done, hand it on to someone else. They may come to the Lord, or come back to the Lord, just like that man who wrote the letter.

Yeah, that's true. In fact, consider it a part of your personal outreach ministry. We hope you'll contact us today with your investment in these daily studies, and that you ask for Pastor Greg's book, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. We'll send it right out. You can call us any time, night or day at 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go online to harvest.org. 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, next time, more insight on how we need the church and the church needs us. More from our studies in the book of Acts. 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 11:30:28 / 2023-03-16 11:41:07 / 11

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