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No One Is Beyond the Reach of God | Spreading the Good News

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 18, 2022 3:00 am

No One Is Beyond the Reach of God | Spreading the Good News

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 18, 2022 3:00 am

There are several groups of people who used to say they’d never become religious, never darken the door of a church building, never be caught carrying a Bible. Today, we call one of those groups “believers” . . . another of those groups “pastors” . . . and another group “evangelists.” Pastor Greg Laurie is a member of all three groups! And today on A NEW BEGINNING, he brings us good encouragement about sharing the Good News with people who need to hear some good news.

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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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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free eBooks designed to help you grow in your faith. And bring them into the kingdom.

Why? Because no one is beyond the reach of God. There are several groups of people who used to say that never become religious, never darken the door of a church building, never be caught carrying a Bible. Today, we call one of those groups believers, another of those groups pastors, and another group evangelists.

And you know, Pastor Greg Laurie is a member of all three groups. And today on A New Beginning, he brings us good encouragement about sharing the good news with people who need to hear some good news. Let's grab our Bibles and turn to the book of Acts chapter 8. We're in a series in the book of Acts, as you all know. And the title of my message is No One is Beyond the Reach of God.

Right? No one is beyond the reach of God. So I want you to think for a moment of someone that you know that is not a Christian. We all know lots of non-Christians.

But I want you to think of someone that is a very antagonistic non-Christian. Maybe it's a neighbor. Maybe it's a spouse. Maybe it's a parent. Maybe it's a co-worker.

Maybe it's someone else. But there's someone you know, not only are they not a Christian, but they actually give you a hard time. They even attack you verbally for your faith. Now I want you to start praying for them by name. That God would get hold of them and bring them into the kingdom.

Why? Because no one is beyond the reach of God. That's something that we need to all remember. No one is beyond the reach of God. No one is unsavable, even if they seem that way. You know, we know people who have gone out and made a mess out of their lives.

They've made a lot of bad decisions and they've reaped the consequences of it. And we say, that person will never change. That drug addict will never get off drugs. That alcoholic will never stop drinking. That person will never stop living that way.

Why would you say that? With God all things are possible. He can change people.

He can change people. A funny thing happened to my grandson Christopher not long ago. He was out with a friend in the ocean and they were playing and the mom said it's time to go. And so they came back and Jonathan noticed that his son had all these little red marks on his face. He said, son what happened to your face? Christopher said, well we were playing with a jellyfish and mom said it was time to go so we kissed it goodbye. So I talked to Christopher about this. I said, you kissed a jellyfish goodbye?

He said, yes I. We thought we were kissing the top of the jellyfish. Which I don't even know if that's a good idea. But actually we were kissing the bottom of the jellyfish. And so you have these little red marks. And so the moral of the story is never kiss a jellyfish goodbye.

Right? Okay. So God gives us absolutes in the Bible. He tells us things that are right and wrong. Things to avoid. Sort of like when you go to Disneyland you know that ride Autopia.

You know. It has like those little concrete barriers that keep you in. So even if you are driving crazy you are not going to go off the road.

They are there to keep you in place. God gives us certain parameters. He gives us certain absolutes. And when we leave those parameters then we are going to face the consequences.

And we have seen people do that. But having said that no one is beyond the reach of God. And I want to look at two men in the Bible that are placed side by side. Saul of Tarsus and Simon the magician. One had a real conversion.

The other did not. And this is a reminder that time will tell if a person is really a believer. As I have said before there will be three surprises when we get to heaven. Some of the people we thought would be there will not be there. Some of the people we never thought would be there will be there.

Third surprise will be there. Time will tell. Time will tell who the real believers are. Because there are some that have a great big profession of faith. It is very public.

It is very loud. And then they just fall away. Jesus talked about them in the parable of the sower. The seed that was sown on the ground that shot up quickly.

But it withered in the heat of the sun because it never got roots. So we have seen people like that. Then there are some that make a profession of faith. They fall. They get up again. They fall. They get up again. They fall. And this just goes on and on and on. And then in the end they like really rally.

And they come through with flying colors. Then there are others that look like they will never ever come to Christ. And as I mentioned that is the kind of person that might mock, criticize, or embarrass you.

But here is something to think about. The person that is giving you the hardest time may actually be closer to the kingdom of God than the person who is not. You might talk to someone about your faith. Talk about how Jesus has changed you. Talk about how much you love to go to church and read the Bible. And then you say to them would you like to come to church with me sometime.

They say I would love to. How about this Sunday? I am busy. How about the following Sunday? Still busy.

How about the Sunday after that? I am busy. But I am so glad they say that you found religion. You seem like a happier person than you used to be. And I think this is great.

But they are very warm and they are never insulting. Then you go to someone else and they scream at you and throw you know the stapler at you or something. This person is crazy. It could be they are acting that way because they are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And that is exactly what we see here in the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

It has been said when you throw a rock into a pack of dogs the one that barks the loudest is the one that got hit. And this man was striking out against the church. Of course we already saw how he presided over the death of the first martyr of the church. The courageous young Stephen.

Instead of satisfying him this only seemed to throw more fuel on the fire. And then Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and he changed overnight. It was the most radical and unexpected conversion in church history. So unexpected that when the believers were told Saul had become a Christian their response was there is no way. That could not even possibly have happened.

But it actually did happen. And now this man who had previously been dedicated to the destruction of the church was now dedicated to the spread of the church. He who had been controlled by hate was now motivated by love. His conversion was so notable and significant that the Bible mentions it no less than three times. It was such an unlikely event that in the last century there was a man who thought it should not be that hard to disprove. And in doing so he felt he could also disprove the rest of the New Testament. His name was George Littleton. And he wrote a book titled observations on the conversion and apostleship of Saint Paul.

And as Littleton sought to disprove the story he became more and more convinced that the story was true. And in the end Littleton himself came to believe in Jesus Christ. And his conclusion was quote Paul's conversion and apostleship alone duly considered are a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a divine revelation.

End quote. And after his encounter with Jesus Saul later to become the apostle Paul blazed a trail leaving behind churches and converts. He preached to philosophers and Pharisees and rulers and soldiers and sorcerers and sailors and slaves and most likely to Caesar himself. This single man changed the world. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.

So many listeners have commented on the help they receive from the resources we make available at a new beginning like this listener. Pastor Greg I was sitting at my grandmother's funeral this weekend talking to my cousin about the recent loss of his father. During the conversation I found out that my uncle was given a copy of your new believers Bible.

On the last day of his life just before he died from a brain tumor he understood the simple faith that you spoke of and he knew where he was going after this life. I thank God for the hope of the gospel and its power. Thank you for being bold and using so many avenues to get out the gospel. If you'd like information about Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible just contact us at harvest.org.

That's harvest.org. Well today Pastor Greg is comparing and contrasting the lives of two men in the Bible. In a moment we'll talk about Simon the sorcerer but right now he's considering Saul of Tarsus.

So let's get a little background on him before we read his story. We call him Saul of Tarsus. That's because that's where he came from. Tarsus was a very important city in the Roman world. Famous for its university which ranked among the greatest there in the Roman world. And he was Roman in citizenship which was not a small deal and that would later work in his favor. He also was educated in Greek philosophy and he learned Roman law as well and he was very religious.

He was schooled under the legendary Gamaliel who was known as the teacher's teacher. And this zealous young Pharisee became a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. That was sort of like the supreme court of the day.

The difference between their version of the supreme court was they ruled over spiritual and civic issues. And so for Saul being so young to be a member of this court was a very prestigious position. He was a very powerful young man. A very religious young man.

A famous young man. And this very religion turned him from God. And this brings up a really important point because people say you know I think I need a little religion.

No actually you don't. You need a lot of Jesus. Because religion can literally keep you from God. Now I know technically speaking Christianity is what would be described as a religion.

But having said that if you really get down to the biblical definition of it Christianity is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And I'm amazed at how religion can blind people and sometimes people who claim to be believers can be filled with hate. And sometimes these haters are among us and they spend their time attacking anyone that is not exactly like them.

And they spend little to no time trying to reach a lost world. Instead they channel their energies in tearing each other down. As the great theologian Taylor Swift noted haters gonna hate hate hate right. We've met people like this. The problem with a bitter person is they're never content to keep their bitterness to themselves. They want to spread it around.

The only exercise they get is jumping to conclusions and running others down right. And this makes the Holy Spirit sad. It actually grieves the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4 31 from the Phillips translation let there be no more resentment. No more anger or temper. No more violent self-assertiveness. No more slander.

No more malicious remarks. Be kind to each other. Be understanding. Be ready to forgive others for God for Christ sake is forgiven you. Listen whatever your cause is be it doctrinal. Be it something else. If it makes you a mean argumentative malicious person you've missed the point.

Our primary mission is Christ and the gospel. That is where our energy should be primarily challenged in the culture today. I disagree with that. And I hate you. Oh you need a hug.

Not from me because I think you might hurt me. Don't be surprised to find that the person who whines and complains the most and is critical of the most minute things in the lives of others is often guilty of something far worse. When I see a person constantly lashing out whatever their cause is I think there's something wrong with that person spiritually. And they need to get reconnected to the Lord and they need to get their priorities in order and they need to return to their first love. Let's look at our Bibles. Acts 8 verse 1 to 4. Backdrop of the story now.

New Living Translation is what I'm reading from. Saul was one of the witnesses. And this of course is a witness to the death of Stephen.

And he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day sweeping over the church in Jerusalem. And all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning. But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison. But the believers who were scattered preached the good news about Jesus wherever they went. All right we'll stop there.

Let's set the scene. So Stephen's been martyred and the church is spreading out fast. And in a way Saul of Tarsus even before he was converted was helping the work of the kingdom of God.

How? By attacking the church he caused them to spread out. You see the believers would have been content to have a nice little holy huddle in Jerusalem. They were in Jerusalem and just hang out together. Christians love to hang out together. And that's a good thing.

And so we should. But Jesus did say go into all the world and preach the gospel. And he did tell them that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. And frankly they weren't doing that. Along comes Saul persecuting them.

Now they're doing it. And so why was Saul so angry at Christians? Well as I said he was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And I think he was under the conviction of the Spirit after he saw the courageous death of Stephen. Stephen preached to the Sanhedrin and then as they began to stone him the Bible says his face shined like an angel.

Have you ever seen someone's face shine like an angel? Years ago I was with Billy and Ruth Graham when they were both alive still. And they're alive now in heaven of course.

But when they were still alive on earth in their home. And Dennis Agogine was there. And so Billy asked Dennis to play a song on his guitar.

And Dennis started to play the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah. And Ruth was very ill at this point. She preceded Billy to heaven. Very ill.

Very frail. But her face just lit up. Literally she was glowing.

I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. I just noticed this. And I looked over at Billy and he was looking at Ruth and smiling. And then after Dennis finished the song Billy said that's the song they played on our first date.

And so apparently Billy took Ruth to go see Handel's Messiah on their first date. And but I saw her face shine like an angel. And I think of that when I read of Stephen.

Just that radiance and that glow coming from inside. And then he said, Lord don't hold this in against their charge. And of course he died and went into the Lord's presence. So as I pointed out earlier Stephen did not live a long life. But he lived a very full one. Stephen did not reach thousands but he reached one. And the one he reached was a whopper.

He was a whopper. Because I think Stephen played a direct role in the conversion of Saul. Of Tarsus. Later to become the great apostle Paul. Now think about this for a moment. How many of you have ever heard of Mordecai him?

Yeah not many. That sounds like something you'd order in a deli doesn't it? I love the Mordecai him on this sandwich all right. Mordecai him was an evangelist that went to Charlotte North Carolina and held some meetings. And most of us don't know much about him.

But one of the young men that walked forward was a dairy farmer young boy named Billy Frank. Later to become Billy Graham. So we don't know Mordecai him but we do know Billy Graham. How many of you have ever heard of Edward Kimball. Edward Kimball.

Not heard of him either. Well Edward Kimball worked in a shoe store. And he had a co-worker named Dwight. And Edward was sharing the gospel with Dwight. And he kept sharing with Dwight. And finally Dwight came to Christ. Dwight went on to become the great evangelist D.L.

Moody. So we haven't heard of Edward Kimball. We haven't heard of Mordecai him. But we have heard of Billy Graham.

And we have heard of D.L. Moody right. So here's my question. Who's your one? Everyone should at least have a one. Someone you can point to and say by God's grace I played a role in that person coming to Christ. Every one of us should have one two three four ten twenty.

However many the Lord gives you in your lifetime. But there should be someone you can point to and say I played a role in that. Maybe it was just praying. Maybe it was sowing a seed.

Well Stephen's one ended up being the apostle Paul. Look there are times when you're sharing the gospel and people don't seem to be listening. But I want you to know that when you quote the word of God it is alive and powerful. And it will not return void.

It won't. That's why I love to just always quote scripture in my messages. And especially if it's an evangelistic message. Quoting the bible.

Why? Because there's power in the word of God. And sometimes it's like a time bomb. It detonates later right. So they I don't care about that. I don't believe that. And they go home and they wake up at three in the morning and then all of a sudden something new said comes back to them. That scripture comes back to them. So have confidence in the word of God. Good encouragement today about the need to share the message of the gospel with those around us. Pastor Greg Laurie's message today here on A New Beginning called, No One is Beyond the Reach of God. Well Pastor Greg we're all called to share the gospel. You've made that point many times. It's not just the job of the pastor or the evangelist. And if we work together we can reach so many more people.

And that's why you're inviting our listeners to be teammates with us. Aren't you? Yes.

I would I would use another analogy. I would say co-builders. You know one of my favorite stories in the bible is the story of Nehemiah who was in a position of great authority next to the king. He was called the king's cup bearer which meant that he tried the food before the king ate it or drank what was served to the king before the king drank it.

But he would end up being a counselor to the king. But one day he heard about the plight of his fellow Jews and how the walls of Jerusalem were lying in charred rubble. So he leveraged his opportunity and his place of influence to help his fellow Jews. And he went back and led a building program to put the walls back up again.

Everybody participated. Everybody had a part to play and everyone built that part of the wall that was near their own house so they would be extra concerned about it because obviously they needed that wall around them. Everybody matters and so when we reach out to people and say become a Harvest Partner we're asking you to build the wall. You know the the foundations of our nation are crumbling. This is why we have this violence on the street. This is why we have these shootings in schools. This is why we have all of the problems in our culture. It's the breakdown of the family.

It's the breakdown of our value system and ultimately it's because we've turned from God. It's time to build the wall back up again. And every stone matters and every gift matters and everything you can do to help us here at Harvest Ministries to rebuild the foundation of the United States matters as well. So I'm going to ask you to join our team and become a part of our building crew and help us reach out to our nation with the only hope that can change the human heart. It's not a political answer.

It's a spiritual answer. We're calling people to Christ. Join us and you can do your part along with others and together we can change the world.

Yeah that's right. It's it's a privilege to impact our world. In fact it's not just a privilege but a responsibility and we hope you'll partner with us to make an impact for good. Pastor Greg is extending an invitation for a thousand new Harvest Partners to help with what God has called us to do in the coming months. Now given the size of our network that's really just a handful of new friends in each area who would step forward and say yeah count me in.

So can we count you in? Harvest Partners support us each month and the amount is up to you. We have some special ways to thank our new Harvest Partners.

This month we'd like to say thanks with a copy of Pastor Greg's book Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon. So contact us today. Just call 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org partner. We hope you'll let us hear from you today. Hey everybody what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. When is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and Bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place so you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home.

Join us this weekend Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. Well next time Pastor Greg continues his insights from the book of Acts in the message no one is beyond the reach of God. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. 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 / 2023-03-09 07:44:20 / 2023-03-09 07:53:44 / 9

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