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Never Say Never | Overcoming Reluctance to Share the Gospel

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 22, 2022 3:00 am

Never Say Never | Overcoming Reluctance to Share the Gospel

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 22, 2022 3:00 am

If you find a great restaurant, or see a good movie, chances are you’re not shy in mentioning it to someone else. We like to pass along helpful suggestions. But so many of us just don’t feel comfortable in suggesting someone consider the hope of the Gospel. We’ll talk about that reluctance today on A NEW BEGINNING as Pastor Greg Laurie continues his studies in the book of Acts. We’ll learn to follow the example of our First Century forefathers and discover the thrill of spreading the 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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Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.

If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Jesus charged us with the responsibility to share the good news. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out it's the perfect time to do it. We are the first generation that could literally get the gospel to pretty much everyone.

So here's a challenge I have for you. Would you take the gospel to people who have offended you, or people you're not comfortable with, or people you don't even necessarily want to be with? Give them the gospel. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins.

If you find a great restaurant or see a good movie, chances are you're not shy about mentioning it to someone else. We like to pass along helpful suggestions, but so many of us just don't feel comfortable with suggesting someone consider the hope of the gospel. We'll talk about that reluctance today on A New Beginning as Pastor Greg Laurie continues his studies in the book of Acts. We'll learn to follow the example of our first century forefathers and discover the thrill of spreading the good news. This is the day, the day when life begins. Grab your Bible and turn to Acts chapter 10. We're back in our book of Acts series that we're calling The Upside Down Life.

And the title of the message is Never Say Never. Think about this for a moment. We are the first generation that could literally fulfill the great commission in our lifetime. Think about that. Because of all of the technology that we have today we could literally get the gospel to pretty much everyone on the planet.

But that's a big project. We can just stop and think about our own life and going into our own world. So the book of Acts. It's the work of the Holy Spirit that happened through the lives of ordinary people. It was the Spirit of God working through the Word of God in the hearts of the people of God. And it was said of them that they turned their world upside down. Well now in the book of Acts we have sort of a shifting of the gear if you will. And there's a change in the strategy of the church. Well they now seem to get a better understanding of the simple fact that they were to take the gospel to everyone. Everyone needed to hear it.

Not just the people that they were personally comfortable with. Also before he's here in Acts is a story of a man who was searching for God. He was a true seeker of God. And if a person is really seeking God God will make himself known to them.

God promises in Jeremiah 29 13, you'll seek me and find me when you search for me with all of your heart and I will be found by you. And the name of this man was Cornelius. And he was a centurion. And this is a pivotal moment with his conversion because now the church is going to leave not just bringing the gospel to their fellow Jews but to non-Jews or Gentiles as well.

To go out there and impact everybody. This reminds us that the early church was not perfect. They were people like us. They fell short of what God called them to do. They made mistakes. They had false doctrine.

They had division. They had issues that still infect the church today. And in some quarters of the church there was even prejudice where they were unwilling to go to people different than them. So God was changing the heart now of Simon Peter who at this moment is for all practical purposes leading the church along with James. And so Peter is being impacted by a couple of events that take place in his life. The first one is over in Acts chapter 9 verse 34 where he encounters a man named Aeneas.

He is in a non-Jewish city called Lod which by the way is modern Tel Aviv. And he is paralytic. And so Peter goes to him and says, Aeneas Jesus heals you.

Make your bed. And Aeneas got up and walked. And so that touched Peter's heart.

He is thinking, wow. This guy is not a Jew. And God just extended a miracle to him. And then there is also a story of a non-Jewish woman who was named Tabitha. She had died and her friends were in mourning.

Everybody brought the things that she had made for them. And Peter was so moved by this and God led him to raise her up from her bed. And he said, Tabitha get up. So you see God is starting to change Peter.

He is starting to soften Peter's heart and get him ready. Now we are introduced to Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 starting at verse 1. And by the way I am reading from the New Living Translation.

In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius who was a captain of the Italian regiment. He was a devout man. He feared the God of Israel as did his entire household.

He came generously to charity and was a man who regularly prayed to God. One afternoon around 3 o'clock he had a vision. And he saw an angel of God coming toward him. Cornelius the angel said.

Cornelius stared in terror. What is it sir? Which by the way when an angel appears it is a good idea to call him sir. Right. And though Cornelius is a powerful leader of others he knows greater power when he sees it.

And the angel replies your prayers and gives to the poor of not going to notice by God. Now send some men down to Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon a leather worker who lives near the shore.

Ask him to come to visit you. So we will stop there. Looping back now to Cornelius. He is a centurion. By the way it was not easy to become a centurion.

They commanded 300 to 600 troops. One of the historians of the day named Polybius described centurions as men who were not so much the venturesome daredevils as they were natural leaders known for their steadfastness and dependability in the heat of battle. So Cornelius. He is a leader. He is an intelligent man. He is a level headed man.

He is a respected man. And like most Romans of his day he would worship Roman gods. They had many gods that they would bow before. Jupiter. Mars.

Venus. Many of them would even worship Caesar as a deity. So this was the world he lived in.

But he knew this was not the answer. Something about the Jewish people and their worship of the one true god fascinated him. They were monotheistic. They worshipped one god. He was polytheistic. He worshipped many gods. He was drawn. But he didn't really know how to believe quite yet. He was a true seeker and God was about to make himself known to this man. Now here is what I find interesting. An angel appears to him and says go talk to Peter.

You are going to get the answers to all of your questions. Why didn't the angel just give him the gospel? Because the job of angels is not to preach the gospel. That is our job. Our job is to preach the gospel. How can they believe in him unless they have heard about him.

How can they hear unless someone tells them. Ask Paul in Romans 10 14. So here we have Cornelius and the Lord is getting him ready. Meanwhile back in Joppa we have Simon Peter. God is prepping him. He is getting these guys ready to meet each other.

It is going to be an explosive moment in church history and in the strategy of the church. Peter is sitting on the rooftop of the home of a guy named Simon the tanner. That doesn't mean that he laid out and got tans all the time. It means that he had hides of leather and such.

So he was a leather worker if you will. And Peter is hungry. And by the way I don't know about you but I am not a good hungry person. I am the person who gets hangry you know.

Sometimes I will start getting irritable and my wife will throw a sandwich at me to calm me down a little bit. And when I go to a restaurant you know and by the way I eat lunch at 11 o'clock sharp. I am one of those people that eats early. Is there anybody else that eats an early lunch.

Ok. Some people say oh lunch. I didn't even know it was lunch time. I am counting down the minutes till lunch time from 9 in the morning pretty much after I have breakfast. And so you know when you go into a restaurant and you sit down and you are looking for a server and one finally shows up they take your drink order.

Ok I will have water, iced tea, whatever you have. And then they disappear for like a month. Where do they go? Where do they go?

And then they reappear again. And you finally get your order in and then a little bit of time passes and here comes the big platter with your order. You are so excited and they walk past your table.

It is someone else's food. Then you start thinking wait. Didn't they get seated after us. Has anyone ever else thought these things. Is it just me. Yeah. And so you are getting hungrier and hungrier and in my case hangrier and hangrier. And finally your order arrives. And it is the wrong order.

They got it wrong. Or it is cold. Right. So you know Peter is hungry. He is just sort of laying there sitting there. And God is getting him ready for this big moment. Acts 10 now.

Go over to verse 9. The next day as Cornelius' messengers were nearing the city Peter is up on the flat roof to pray. It is around noon. He is hungry. He was hungry.

Not hungry. And while lunch is being prepared he fell into a trance. And he saw the sky open and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners and in the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. And then a voice said to him get up Peter.

Kill and eat them. Verse 14. Never Lord Peter declared. I have never in all of my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws.

The voice spoke again and said if something God says is acceptable don't say it isn't. Ok. We will stop there. Ok. This would be like a very health conscious person having a sheet or a sale or a picnic blanket if you like lowered from heaven with all of the foods that you are not supposed to eat. You know In-N-Out burger. Chipotle burritos. Nachos with extra cheese. Pizza. By the way I just named all of my favorite foods literally right there.

You just heard them all. And you know in Saint Edo I can't eat that. I am into healthy foods. Or it would be like me having a sheet lowered from heaven filled with wheat germ and kale and tofu and things of that nature right. And so but the idea here is this is not about food. This is about people. This sheet with all of these critters that were on it is a metaphor that God is giving to Peter and he is saying leave your comfort zone and go to a new group of people specifically the Gentiles. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We really enjoy hearing when Pastor Greg's teaching and preaching touch lives. Pastor Greg I'm a junior in high school was raised in church and saved at a very young age. But when I started high school I fell away from the Lord. One day I heard you on the radio and your message helps me see that I need to get my life right with God which I did. Thank you for all you do and allowing God to work through you. It's a blessing to know that listeners young and old are hearing these messages and God is using his word to touch hearts. How have Pastor Greg's studies impacted your life? Would you let him know?

Drop an email to Greg at harvest dot org. Well we're talking about the importance of sharing the gospel today as Pastor Greg presents his message from Acts 10 called never say never. You know we're in the time in the church now where I've I see unnet I don't think division is ever necessary but I see people dividing over really small things. Second tier.

Even third tier things. And your group gets narrower and narrower. It's down to pretty much us four and no more and I'm not sure about you other three right. And this is not the time to divide. This is the time to unify and get back to our primary mission that God has given to us. When a secular culture sees a divided church they don't care about what we say. And here's what Paul reminds us of in Ephesians 4-3. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the spirit finding yourselves together with peace. And so make every effort to get along with people.

Make every effort to not divide from people. And it's interesting that this happened in a place called Joppa. Does Joppa ring a bell with any of you Bible students? Of course you remember the story of Jonah. And God called Jonah to take God's message to the people of Nineveh who were renowned for their wickedness and cruelty. And Jonah flat out refused and he got a boat going in the opposite direction from a little place called Joppa. I've been to Joppa. It's a seaport in Israel and it's a beautiful little spot actually. And so there at Joppa Jonah ran from God. You know the rest of the story. A great storm came and he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. Ultimately he repented and was given a second chance and went to Nineveh and preached to them and a great spiritual awakening broke out. But it's interesting it's Joppa. Joppa is the place where God was directing Jonah and now Peter to go to people they were not necessarily comfortable with.

So here's a challenge I have for you. Would you take the gospel to people who have hurt you? Would you take the gospel to people who have offended you? Would you take the gospel to people who have mistreated you? Or people you're not comfortable with? Or people you don't even necessarily want to be with? Let me illustrate it from my own life.

As you know my mom was married and divorced seven times and she was an alcoholic and went from husband to husband. And there were a lot of boyfriends in between and I went along. Her name was Charlene. I was on Charlene's wild ride.

You've heard of Mr. Toad's wild ride. I was on Charlene's wild ride. And so after I came to Christ I pretty much had a full-time ministry sharing the gospel with my old dads.

I'll put them in quotes. Some were successful. I was able to share the gospel with Oscar Laurie the man who adopted me and whom my mom left. And I was able to lead him to the Lord toward the end of his life.

That was fantastic. Well my mom leaves Oscar who was like a great dad. Though he was not my biological father. He treated me as a father should treat a son. He taught me things. I stole something once as a kid and he took me down to the jail and introduced me to prison. We got people in jail.

And the problem was I thought it was kind of cool and that didn't work so well. But thankfully I didn't go into life of crime. He gave me an allowance. He was a good dad.

A real functioning dad. And one day my mom leaves him abruptly. I get out of my classroom and the Cadillac is loaded with a bunch of luggage and we are on our way to Hawaii to meet my quote new dad who I had never heard of before. So I land in Honolulu and here is this guy I have never seen before.

They take me to his home. And they took my room that I had in New Jersey and literally recreated it in Hawaii. It is like my same room.

Same stuff in my room. But it wasn't my room and the whole thing was bizarre. Well he too was an alcoholic and a violent drunk. And one night they got in a fight and he took out a wooden statue and hit my mother. Knocked her unconscious.

She landed on the floor. I came out of my room as a little boy and saw my mom lying in a pool of blood and he was holding the statue up in a menacing way. And I remember it. It was such a weird statement.

He said, go back to bed. She is fine. It is just ketchup. Well I knew what it was. And I climbed out the window of our house and went to a neighbor and the police were called. But she left him. Understandably.

So now fast forward. I am a Christian. I am a pastor. And I am preaching in Honolulu. And someone comes up to me and says, hey your dad is very sick.

I don't know how long he is going to live. Maybe you should go talk to him. And I said, no thank you.

Why did I say no thank you? Because he hurt me. Because he hurt my mother. I had a hard heart against this man.

Even as a Christian I wanted nothing to do with him. And the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, go talk to him. So I went and I sat down with him and I told him all about Jesus and what Jesus had done for me.

And he was like, yeah well that is good. Well I am preaching across the street here. Literally across the street from where you live at this place called Waikiki Shell. Would you like to come? No. He wanted nothing to do with it.

But here is my point. I have never converted anyone. My job was to obey God.

And I went to Him and did what God wanted me to do. Is there a guy like that in your life right now? Maybe it is your father. Maybe it is a stepfather. Your mom. A stepmother. Somebody else.

You are so hard against right now. Go to them with the gospel. That is effectively what Peter was being commanded to do. And so he obeyed the Lord.

Unlike Jonah who went the wrong way but got rerouted and eventually got it right. Peter did immediately what God called him to do. Go to Acts 10 verse 24.

They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for him and called together his relatives and close friends to meet Peter. Peter entered his home and Cornelius fell to the floor before him in worship. Peter pulled him up and said, stand up. I am a human being like you. Cornelius got up and they talked together and went inside where the others were assembled. And Peter said, you know it is against the Jewish laws for me to come into a Gentile home like this. But God has shown me that I should never think of anyone as impure. So I came as soon as I was sent for.

Tell me now why you sent for me. Such an amazing story. God is getting both of these guys ready. The Roman centurion bows before him which is pretty amazing. I mean the centurion an officer in the Roman army. The occupier is bowing before the occupied.

The Jewish people. And this was a great act of humility but it was really an act of worship. Peter says, get up on your feet man. I am just an ordinary human being just like you.

But now Peter is getting it. Ok ok Lord I think I have got to figure it out. I am putting two and two together. The sheep.

All the weird creatures. Kill and eat. This is the Gentile. I am supposed to go to Gentiles.

I got it. All right Lord. And Peter preaches the gospel to Cornelius. And the result was he is converted.

Think of what God can do to the life of one person. Pastor Greg Laurie with great encouragement today on what God can do if we will follow His leading. There is more to come in this message here on A New Beginning, a study titled Never Say Never. Well Pastor Greg we are all called to share the gospel. You have made that point many times. It is not just the job of the pastor or the evangelist. And if we work together we can reach so many more people.

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

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. Well next time more insight on the importance of sharing the gospel even with those outside of our comfort zones. 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 / 2023-03-07 11:28:36 / 2023-03-07 11:38:15 / 10

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