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 to get perspective. Because if you have a big God, you'll have a small problem. But if you have a big problem, is your God too small? So I magnify the Lord.
I see Him in His greatness. And it puts my problem in perspective. The Lord has many options for reaching us in a time of need. Certainly one of the most obvious and most important is the local church.
In a crisis, hell may be as close as the church down the street. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us learn from the early church. As we study the book of Acts today, we'll see they set the example for reaching out with the care and concern of Jesus Christ.
And they provide us with an opportunity to serve, to give as we've received. 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. And 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.
We'll stop there. 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 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. And that should be the objective and the attitude of every follower of Jesus Christ. These people were studying the Word of God. 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'll see. I'll go check out your social media. And then I'll see what you're really passionate about. What do you post most about?
What do you talk most about? Some people are passionate about sports. And I know a lot. And there's 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're going to watch this and you'll be talking about whatever. But the moment that topic comes up they get all fired up. Other people are passionate about food. Food.
Everything's food. You know. And that's what fires them up. Other people it's politics. Man they're not even interested in the conversation until you get to politics.
Now they come to life. 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. It's 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's the way we should be as well. We must come with the 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. 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'll be with God's people. And if you're not as close to God as you need to be you'll probably want to spend less time around godly people. And these first century believers looked out for each other.
Look at verse 44. They met together in one place and shared everything. They pulled the resources for a time. By the way this was strictly voluntary.
No one was forced to do it. But they did it because they wanted to. They helped each other out. And we do the same. You see someone that's in need. Maybe they need food. Maybe they need clothes. Maybe they need encouragement. Maybe they need something else. We help one another. We don't just pray for each other. Hey can I do something for you?
Can I help you with that need? This happens all the time. But this is the thing. We need to move beyond the phase of our life as a Christian where we come to church only to receive. You know someone might say well I don't get fed here anymore. Ok well how long have you known the Lord?
30 years. Ok. Maybe you want to start learning how to feed yourself buckaroo. I mean do you ever think about that? Time to grow up. Now I'm not excusing the pastor or the teacher from expositing the word of God to you.
But maybe you need to start learning how to dig into the scripture on your own. You know when my sons were young little boys they didn't always like to eat their food. So I had to find creative ways to get them to eat. Here comes the airplane.
You have done the airplane right? The food is done. Or then the bribes. If you take two more bites I will give you your dessert. And in my case I would say take monster bites. Take a monster bite. Two more monster bites.
Ok you are good to go. So that's cute when they are little kids. If I had to turn to Jonathan today in his 30's and say take a monster bite.
Something is wrong with this picture. And some believers want to be catered to. They want everything to be cut up into little bite sized pieces for them. Grow up and learn to study the word of God. And even more recognize that you need to come with an attitude of serving not just being served.
Right? News flash. It is not about you. Jesus said the Son of Man did not come to be ministered to but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for others. Listen to this. You are going to find that great happiness and joy comes from serving other people.
Because you have been blessed to be a blessing. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. 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 we are learning some important principles from the example of the early church. Pastor Greg is presenting his message called Better Together.
Here is another interesting thing. The early church met house to house. Look at verse 46. They met house to house breaking bread. This was the first century equivalent of small groups. This is why we have placed such a great focus on getting together in a small group. Because you are going to be blessed. You are going to learn more. You are going to build relationships. You are going to receive encouragement. You know we have found that people who are in small groups have less marital problems. Less need for counseling.
Why? They have some people already in their life to talk to. And they meet with these people on a weekly basis and it makes all the difference in the world.
Number three. They were a worshiping church. They were a learning church. They were a loving church. They were a worshiping church. Verse 47. Praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily those that were being saved. This is one of the great things about gathering together for worship. Isn't it great to be together in person all at the same time? Don't you love it?
Yes. We are so thankful that we have been able to reach a lot more people than we have ever reached in our history online through what we call Harvest at Home. But still I love to be in a room with God's people worshiping the Lord because the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. And this is what we do together as the church. We worship the Lord. Now sometimes we don't feel like worshiping.
We are not in the mood. But the Bible doesn't say give thanks to the Lord when you feel good. It says give thanks to the Lord because He is good. And His mercy endures forever.
Right? Job had so many calamities befall him literally in one day. And yet we read in his book that Job worshiped the Lord and said, Naked came I into this world.
Naked go I out. Blessed be the name of the Lord. And look how there is a connection between worship and witness.
Listen to this. If your Bible study and your worship and your fellowship does not make you want to share your faith then something is wrong. This should be the natural overflow of a follower of Jesus. See when a Christian can worship God in times of adversity it is a powerful testimony to a lost world. When they see you are facing cancer or you are facing a layoff at work or you are facing some difficulty and you are still worshiping the Lord and your faith is intact.
That is a powerful testimony. But worship brings things into perspective. Because sometimes we can come to church and we have a big problem. And then as we begin to sing to the Lord and worship the Lord we start to get perspective. Because if you have a big God you have a small problem.
But if you have a big problem is your God too small? This is why the psalmist said, Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together. What does magnify mean? It means something larger.
Right? So I magnify the Lord. I see Him in His greatness.
And it puts my problem in perspective. That is why Jesus in the Lord's Prayer taught us to pray as follows. Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Then give us this day our daily bread. It doesn't start off with our Father who art in heaven give us this day our daily bread. Brother it starts with the exaltation of God. Giving glory to God. And I begin to see things properly. C. H. Spurgeon the great British preacher made this statement. And I love it. Quote, The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night giving perfect peace.
Isn't that a great statement? You understand it? The sovereignty of God means God is in control.
So when you lay your head down on your pillow and you are getting ready to go to sleep and suddenly your mind is filled with worries and anxiety. And what about this and what about that? I go back to the sovereignty of God.
What does that mean? Oh God you are in control. You have everything in hand. And that is a soft pillow.
I lay my head on giving me perfect peace. So this was a worshiping church that came together to bring worship to the Lord. One final point. They were an evangelistic church. They were an evangelistic church.
Verse 47. The Lord added people daily to the church who were being saved. The early church's evangelism was not a sporadic or occasional activity. Just as their worship was daily so was their witness. They had a constant flow of new believers coming into the church. Sometimes churches grow not through new convert growth but church transfer growth.
Right? So people come in. We don't like our old church. Now we want to come to this church.
Hey you can go wherever you want to go. But the best kind of growth in this church of a church is when people are coming to Christ and coming into the church. And that is the kind of growth we have had for years at Harvest and we pray continuous on.
Why? Because new believers are the lifeblood of the church. You show me a church that doesn't have a constant flow of new believers coming in and I'll show you a church that is stagnating.
As I've said before we have a choice. We can evangelize or we can fossilize. Why are new believers important for the church?
Let me personalize it. Why is it important to have a new believer in your life? Because they will energize you and you can stabilize them. Right? Because they are full of energy and passion and vim and vigor.
And I don't even know what vim and vigor are but they have it. But they have some weird ideas because they don't know yet. And you are full of knowledge and years of walking with the Lord so you can impart that knowledge to them to stabilize them. But at the same time you can rediscover things again through their eyes as they are seeing them for the first time. The Lord added to the church daily those that were being saved. That is why we need to do everything we can.
Think of all the people you know that you can invite and have them come and join you and pray that they would make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ. I went to one of our small groups this last week that my son Jonathan has. It was an interesting collection. It was all guys. So one guy is a jujitsu instructor. Another guy is a real estate agent. Another guy is a barber.
So we are talking about the book of Acts and what it has to say and asking each one how they use their platform. And the jujitsu instructor talked about how he was able to share his faith with his students. And then the realtor talked about how he integrated his faith into what he did. And the barber to me was the most interesting because I think any time a guy has a blade up to your throat they might have an advantage.
I don't know. I told him a joke I heard years ago of a Christian barber that was at church and the pastor said you should share your faith. And he thought well I have never really done that. So he said the next customer that comes to see me I am going to share the gospel with them. So the man sat down and the barber put the apron around his neck and he pulled out that straight edge razor. Put it up to the man's neck and said friend are you ready to meet God? And the guy ran out of the barbershop keeping all.
Right? So don't do that. But actually the barber said the way he does it is he just talks about it. You know because people for some reason when they are getting their hair cut or their hair done in my case there is nothing there. But they start talking.
You ever notice that? Just talk and talk. So he said so what I do is I just talk about how my faith works in my life and how the Lord answered a prayer the other day. I said oh you know what you are doing? You are chumming. Does that make sense?
Chumming is when you put the bait in the water to get the fish to start biting. So instead of assaulting a person with the gospel you just sort of drop some hooks in the water with some bait talking about what Jesus has done for you. Listen to this. The hardest two things about evangelism are getting started and then closing the deal.
Let me put it another way. Take off and landing. By the way the most dangerous times of your flight are take off and landing. So if you survive the take off you are pretty good. So relax a little bit. Okay.
And I am sure your landing will be just fine. But it is getting started. Starting the conversation.
Getting into the conversation. And then if the Lord leads you and I emphasize only if the Lord leads you. You seek to close the deal and say would you like to accept Jesus Christ right now.
What a joy it is when they say yes. Let me just say this final thing. Maybe there is somebody here that has joined us and you don't have Christ living in your life. Do you want to know that when you die you will go to heaven.
Do you want to fill that hole in your heart. Do you want your sin forgiven and your guilt removed. Let's all bow our heads. Father thank you for your word to us.
Thank you for the truth of it. And I pray for any that have joined us wherever they are. If they don't know you yet. If Jesus Christ is not living in their heart. Our prayer is that your Holy Spirit will work on them now.
Show them their need for you and draw them to yourself we pray. Amen. An important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie. And if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord today. Pastor Greg wants to help you do just that. He'll do so in just a moment before we wrap up today's edition of A New Beginning. And then we have a wonderful resource to make available to you.
It's the revealing book called Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. And Pastor Greg I have a letter I want to read to you. It says, I had the most amazing testimony of my husband of 36 years. He was not a believer and was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. He told me that he was not going to turn to my God.
Being the Christian that I am, I said to myself, God is bigger than you. We did a lot of talking while he was in hospice. I was talking to him about Jesus and the stories in the Bible. Then I gave him the book on Steve McQueen that you wrote. I believe it was because of that book and the conversations I had with him that he came to Christ. I have the most immeasurable amount of peace because of that. It is not goodbye, it's see you later. As you've said before Pastor Greg, God is so good for blessing you to be able to bless me to bless my husband.
Wow. Well that is why I wrote this book. To reach an unexpected person in an unexpected place with an unexpected message. Because people have asked me, why would a pastor write a book about Steve McQueen or about Johnny Cash or about a bunch of rock stars. Well I've always been interested in culture. But I'm an evangelist and I want to build bridges to people. And I can take these stories as testimonies to reach other people with the gospel.
One of the most powerful tools we have in our evangelistic toolbox is our personal story of how we came to faith. But very few people know the story of Steve McQueen. I mean McQueen was the man's man. He did it all. He did his own stunts. Rode the motorcycles, drove the race cars and when he was off not making a film, he was out doing motocross. So this guy was living the dream.
The women threw themselves at him. He had tons of money, incredible collection of cars and motorcycles and planes. But there was a big old hole in Steve's heart. And it sent him on a search and when he was at the very peak of his fame, he walked away from Hollywood.
He didn't know what he was walking away to, but he walked away. But God was setting everything into place so Steve would meet the right guy that he could relate to. A man named Sammy Mason who was a pilot who would teach Steve how to fly his antique Stearman biplane. And it was through those conversations in the cockpit as Steve and Sammy spent hours together that Steve realized he wanted what Sammy had, a relationship with God. So McQueen made a commitment to follow Christ and then he went on to serve the Lord. But tragically his life did not go as long as he had hoped and he did get cancer and ultimately he died of it.
But before that his faith was strong and his faith was real. But a lot of people haven't heard his story so I wanted to tell a story in this book that I wrote, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. And I would like to send you a copy of this book. I won't charge you for it, but I'll ask for something in exchange. I would like you to send a gift of any size, whatever you can do. Now some can only send a little, that's okay. Some can send more, that's great.
Some can send quite a bit more, that's fantastic. Send what you can and I'll send you in return a copy of this book, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. Yeah, we have a copy waiting for you and we'll send it just as soon as we hear from you. And thank you for partnering with us in our efforts to teach believers and reach unbelievers. Our mission statement is knowing Him and making Him known. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300.
We are here around the clock to speak with you. That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.
Or go online to harvest.org. And then Pastor Greg, just before we go, would you mind praying with the person listening who wants to make a change today in their relationship with the Lord? I'd be happy to Dave. You know, as you've been listening to this today, maybe you've heard another voice. By that I mean, yeah you've heard me say a few things, but you heard God's voice speak to you. Deep in the recesses of your heart and it suddenly dawned on you, this is what I need. And if you want to state it more accurately, this is who I need. I need Jesus and I want Jesus.
But maybe you don't know how to make that connection. Let me help you. Pray this after me right now if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. And I am sorry for my sin. And I need your forgiveness right now. Would you come into my heart and my life as Savior, as God, as friend?
I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for calling me and accepting me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. I know that was a relatively short prayer. Maybe you felt something as you prayed it. Maybe you felt nothing.
That doesn't really matter. God's Word says these things we write to you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. It doesn't say so you may think you have it or you may hope you have it if God's in a good mood.
No, that you can know it. And I want you to know if you prayed that prayer and meant it, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come into your life. So congratulations. You're now a Christian. Now continue to follow the Lord. Yeah, and to help you, we'd like to send you some resource materials we call our New Believers Growth Packet.
It'll answer many of the questions you might have and get you started off right in your new relationship with the Lord. So get in touch and ask for it. We'll send it free of charge. Call us at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime 24-7.
That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write to us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or you can just go online to harvest.org and click the words, Know God. Well next time, Pastor Greg brings a study of the spiritual gifts God makes available to believers. We'll see they enable us to do the work He's called us to do. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. 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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