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. An encourager sees the potential in others and cheers them on. Someone can brighten our day with just a smile or a kind word. Others seem to steal the sunshine and rain on our parade. Isn't it interesting that other people have that kind of influence on us? Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out we should take that to heart and learn to have a positive influence on others. It's not that hard to do, and the rewards are wonderful. You've joined us for a study in the book of Acts that Pastor Greg has called the upside down life.
Turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter 11. Acts chapter 11 and the title of the message is how to be an encourager. Encouragement really matters, and that's something that we all need in life. In fact, I read an interesting thing about two doctors who wrote an article called The Most Dangerous Word in the World. They wrote, quote, if you were to put yourself in an MRI scanner and take a video of your brain and flash the word no for less than one second, there would be a sudden release of dozens of stress-releasing hormones and neurotransmitters. The doctors continue to say these chemicals immediately interrupt the normal function of your brain, impairing logic, reason, and communication.
Just flashing the word no. But then they went on to say, but positive words like peace and love alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes, promoting the brain's cognitive functioning. So it reminds us that words really matter. What you say to people really matters.
What you hear from people really matters. Abraham Lincoln, the president of the United States, needed encouragement. He was really attacked in the media of his day. And after he was tragically assassinated in the Ford Theater, they found his personal belongings and among his items that he carried with him, a little pocket watch and some other things, they found a little folded up newspaper article from some paper some time ago. And it simply had these words written on it that President Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest statesmen of our time. And when Lincoln would get discouraged, he'd take out the little piece of paper and read it again for a little word of encouragement. Proverbs 25 11 says, the right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver. So I want to encourage you. And we need to encourage one another as Christians. First Thessalonians 5 11 says, encourage each other and build each other up. It does not say discourage each other and tear each other down.
And that's what some people do. No, encourage each other. Then in Hebrews 10 24 we're told, let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as a habit of some is, but rather encouraging one another and so much more as we see the day of the Lord approaching. We can all use some encouragement. So let me say this to you. I don't know what you're going through right now in your life, but I want to say whatever you're going through, you're going to get through it. You say, well, Greg, how do you know? You're not in my shoes.
No, I'm not. But I know what the Bible says. I think of the story of when Jesus said to his disciples, let's go to the other side, speaking of the Sea of Galilee. So they boarded their little boat and predictably a storm came and it was a big storm, so bad that even the seasoned sailors despaired of life. But what did Jesus say? He said, let's go to the other side. He did not say, let's go to the middle of the Sea of Galilee and drown together, shall we? He said that, I'd said, rather not board that boat if you don't mind. He said, let's get over to the other side. He did not promise them calm seas, but he promised a safe arrival. He said that to every one of us.
You say, well, what do you mean? I mean, ultimately, we're all going to get to the other side and of course the other side is heaven and you're going to get through whatever you're going through right now. Let me share some verses that may address what you're facing in the moment. You might say, I'm a failure. I'll never change.
I'll always be the way that I am. The Bible says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Believe what the Bible says, not what your emotions say. That's Philippians 4 13. You might say, well, I'm afraid of the future, but God says in Deuteronomy 31 6, be strong and courageous. Don't be afraid or live in dread of them for the Lord your God goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you. You might say, well, I can't go on another day. I can't handle what I'm going through this hardship, this illness, whatever it is you're facing.
I'm reminded of the words of the Lord to the apostle Paul as he talked about his affliction that he described as a thorn in the flesh. The Lord said, my grace is all you need. He'll get you through what you're going through. You say, but I have no future. I've given up on living. I have no hope. Psalm 38 15 says, you O Lord are my hope. You will hear my prayer. Psalm 135 says, I'm counting on you, Lord.
I'm counting on you. I put my hope in your word. Don't put your hope in your circumstances. Don't put your hope in your money. Don't put your hope in people. Put your hope in Christ and trust the word of God. They can't talk about hope without quoting Jeremiah 29 11 where the Lord says, I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord. Thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Okay, so I want to talk about a guy in the book of Acts that was known for encouraging others.
Actually, his given name was Joseph, but he was given a nickname, and his nickname was Barnabas, which means the son of encouragement, or another way to translate it, he was known basically as Mr. Encouragement. Mr. Encouragement, I love that. I mean, is there someone you know that you could literally describe as Mr. or Miss Encouragement? That's who Barnabas was. Barnabas was.
He always had a word of encouragement for someone else. Now, if you were to be summed up in one word, what would we call you? Mr. Happiness. Miss Critical. Mr. Cranky. Miss Bible. I don't know.
But something to sum you up, well, Barnabas was Mr. Encouragement. Or are you Debbie Downer or Bobby Buskill, right?
Who are you? Are you always known for being the negative person, always having the critical word? Or are you known for being the positive person, always having the encouraging word? Now, let me say, to balance this, that there is a place for criticism.
There is a place for a reality check, right? That's why opposites are often drawn together in marriage. Because you'll find someone that you're attracted to, but often they'll be your very opposite in the way you approach life. I know that's certainly true of my wife and myself, and it may be true of others I'm talking to right now. But it is important if you love someone to tell them the truth, right?
Because the Bible says, Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Open rebuke is better than secret love. So sometimes there's a way of showing my love, I will say a critical thing, but I'll say it in the right way. I mean, if you're known for encouragement and compliments and affirmation, then when you bring your word of criticism, it will be received.
But if you're known for negativity, hyper-criticism, and meanness, when you come with another criticism, which may in a sense even be valid, it will not be received because you're mister or miss negativity. Instead, we want to be mister or miss encouragement, just like Barnabas. During the conversation, I found out that my uncle was given a copy of your New Believer's 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 Believer's Bible, just contact us at harvest.org.
That's harvest.org. You're joining us for a study in Acts 11 today called How to Be an Encourager. Here's Pastor Greg once again. So Barnabas pops up in the book of Acts, and he steps in at a critical time in the life of the Apostle Paul, before he was the Apostle Paul, when he was still Saul, the notorious Christian killer, the man who hunted down followers of Jesus Christ, the man who met Christ on the road to Damascus. The problem was a lot of people weren't buying it. They weren't believing that Saul was actually now a Christian. I mean, I don't even know what the modern equivalent of that would be.
Maybe it would be Alice Cooper. You know, I've gotten to know him a little bit, and I've interviewed him. We've hung out some, and I've mentioned this to people, or we post these things online, and people say, he's not a Christian. He's evil. Well, he did used to be evil. He did used to be a rock star, living a rock star depraved life by his own admission, and a drug addict, and everything else, but God got hold of him and changed him.
But some Christians are just unwilling to accept that's even a possibility. Mind seeing another friend of mine named Michael Franzese. Now, I met him years ago. Michael was being groomed to become the godfather or the dawn of the Colombo crime family. He's a good fellow, a made man, a mobster, and so I had heard that this guy named Michael Franzese is a Christian, and he wants to talk to you, and he used to be in the mafia. My response is, I'd rather not meet him, and then I asked, did he use the word whacked at any point in his conversation, or anything about sleeping with fishes, or anything related to that, and so I didn't believe this guy, A, was really in the mob.
I think he made that up. He wasn't in the mob. Nobody is in the mob and gets out and is still alive, and number two, I didn't believe he'd become a Christian if he was in the mob.
Well, I was wrong on both counts. He was arrested, sent to prison, and while in solitary confinement, also known as The Hole, he was given a Bible, which he started reading, and he committed his life to Christ, and because he never ratted out any other mobster, he eventually was released from prison, and he used to listen to me while he was in solitary confinement on the radio, and so he wanted to meet me, and we'd become friends since then, but look, this is the same thing that Saul was dealing with. No one believed he was really a Christian. Enter Barnabas. Enter Mr. Encouragement. Barnabas says, oh, you're a believer for sure. I've talked to you.
I know your conversion is real. That brings me to point number one. An encourager sees the potential in others and cheers them on. An encourager sees the potential in others and cheers them on. So Barnabas, Mr. Encouragement, takes Saul of Tarsus under his wing and encourages him, and he even says, let's go on the road together.
Let's go share the gospel together. So Barnabas is helping Saul. He's discipling Saul. He's teaching Saul later to become Paul.
He sees the potential. Acts chapter nine, verse 26. Go back a few verses, chapters. When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him, and they did not believe that he had truly become a believer. Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them Saul had seen the Lord on the road to Damascus, and the Lord had spoken to Saul, and he told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
I love that. So Barnabas takes his credibility, and he had a lot of it. He was loved by everybody, and he put it on the line for the newly converted Saul to listen.
I'm vouching for this guy. He's a real Christian, and that's something that we all need in life. We need a Barnabas, or you need to be a Barnabas.
Let me say that again. We all need a Barnabas or an encourager, or we need to be a Barnabas encouraging others, because sometimes people don't believe you're really converted. After I became a Christian, the funny thing is I grew my hair and beard out after I was converted. Prior to that, I had longish hair, but then I became like a hippie type looking guy, and so I was attending Calvary Chapel where there are a lot of people that look like me, and I decided to go to another church one Sunday, a very conservative church, and I walked in, and they were just ending their first service. They had the choir, and the preacher was in a suit and tie, and everybody was, all the men were in suit and ties. They were dressed very nicely, and they had the pipe organ and all that, but I heard the tail end of the first message, and I thought, that's a good message.
I'm looking forward to listening to it. So I come walking in, and my bell bottoms, and my hippie shirt, and my long hair, and my beard, and I take a seat. Everyone literally is staring at me. I mean everyone's staring at me.
Okay, I guess they don't have any people that look like me here. Then the preacher gets up for this second service, and I notice the message is different this time. It's evangelistic, and at the end he is saying, there's somebody here that needs Jesus, someone who was lost. They're probably on drugs, and I notice he's looking right at me, and I'm thinking, oh man, this preacher thinks a sinner is here. Well, I am a sinner, but I'm converted now, and I'm literally listening to him, and I have my Bible, and I'm sort of pushing it up like look. I'm a Christian.
Stop. He keeps preaching. Then we're going to invite you to come to Christ. The choir starts singing just as I am, and he's looking at me. Everyone, I'm not exaggerating.
Everyone's looking at me. Finally the preacher, I'm not making this up, gets up from behind his pulpit, walks down the stairs, walks right over to me, and says, are you saved? I said, yes I am.
He looked very disappointed. I wasted an entire evangelistic message on this guy. Then he said, are you baptized? Yes, I am.
Then he says, are you coming to the church picnic? I don't know. So the service ends, and literally 20 people or more ask me three questions.
The same three questions. Are you saved? Yes, I am. Have you been baptized?
Yes, I have. Are you coming to the church picnic? No. I don't want to be with you people any longer. You're a little weird. I needed someone to help me in that time in between after my conversion because it's really easy to fall back into your old life and get pulled back by your old friends.
You know what I'm talking about? Then you're doing the old things again. I was a new Christian. I wasn't raised in the church. I didn't understand their lingo or vocabulary. I went to this little Bible study in my high school campus after I was a Christian.
The guy they brought in that week was a little different. I felt very uncomfortable. I thought, I don't know if I really want to hang around these people, but I'm not really comfortable around my old friends anymore. Maybe I'll just sort of be a solo Christian. I'm telling you, I could have fallen through the cracks so easily. But thank God some guy who was my Barnabas came up to me. His name was Mark. He said, hi, your name is Greg, isn't it? Yeah, yeah, it is. I saw you accept Christ the other day at the Bible study at lunchtime. I said, yeah.
I was kind of even defensive. Yeah. He goes, that's great. Okay. He goes, you want to come to church with me? I said, no, thank you. No, I want you to come to church with me. No, I don't want to go to church with you. No, really, you've got to come with me. I don't want to come with you. He says, where do you live?
No, I don't want you to come. Next thing I know, he's at my house. He picks me up. He drives me to church. I love this guy.
He was so persistent. That was Calvary Chapel in the middle of the Jesus movement. I walked into a spiritual awakening and I didn't even know it. I walked into this building and it's filled with people. All this excitement. So many younger people as well.
Older folks too. I was a little overwhelmed by all this love. I actually didn't want to be there. I was hoping I could just leave because there were no seats. Someone in the front row waved, Greg, Greg.
They're from my high school. We have a seat for you. So I walk. I take a seat in the front row.
Out walks Chuck Smith. I heard the Bible presented in a way for the first time that I understood. Then they couldn't keep me away from the place because I just wanted to grow and learn more. Listen, we're all called to be a Barnabas. Some people want to be the Billy Graham. They want to be the apostle Paul.
Someone's got to be the Barnabas. Working behind the scenes because that person you're discipling, that person you're encouraging may go on to change the world. And your words matter. And your encouragement matters. Important insight today on how we can step up and be a source of good positive reassurance in someone else's life. Pastor Greg Laurie with counsel from our study series in the book of Acts, a series called The Upside Down Life. You know, Pastor Greg, every day we get such wonderful correspondence from our listeners.
Letters, emails, texts, social media postings. And many times the listener will mention they're a Harvest partner. And that just makes us smile because that means they're part of our family. Explain that. Well, Harvest partners, in case you don't know, are people that stand with us every month.
You know, so many of us listen to Christian radio and we listen to great teachings or we listen to our favorite Bible podcast. And these things become a part of our life and sometimes we take them for granted. And so, you know, when they say, hey, help us financially, we think, oh, well, someone else will do it.
Well, sometimes someone else doesn't do it. And so I'm asking you to be a partner with us. What does it mean? It means that you make a commitment to stand with us financially every month.
You decide how much that will be. But every month as that gift comes in, that enables us to plan for the future and think about new opportunities that are out there. And many opportunities pop up all the time to reach all the time, to reach more people with the Word of God. Now, look, there's a lot of great ministries out there that are well worth supporting.
But let me just toot our own horn for just a moment. A unique thing about Harvest Ministries is we invite people to Jesus Christ all the time. You know, if you listen, that I'll end one of my messages with a prayer that a person could actually pray. And did you know thousands of people pray that prayer with me every year?
I'm not exaggerating. Thousands of people. I've heard stories of people pulling off the freeway when they're driving their car and they bow their head and they pray that prayer.
I've heard so many incredible stories. So know this, when you support Harvest Ministries, you're not only supporting the teaching of the Word of God, but you're supporting the proclamation of the gospel and not just the proclamation. You're supporting a ministry that believes in closing the deal. And by that, I mean we throw the net and we pull the net back in and we ask people, would you like to accept Christ? Here's how to do it.
Why don't you do it? And then we send them a new believer's Bible. Do you believe that's an important thing for our nation right now? I sure do. If you want to be a Harvest partner, here's Dave to tell you more. Yeah, it's an opportunity to invest in something that matters for eternity. Pastor Greg is looking for a thousand new Harvest partners to join us right now and working together to reach people in such a critical time.
The world is a mess, I'm sure you've noticed. But it's the perfect opportunity to invite them to look beyond this world. A thousand new partners may seem like a lot, but these studies are heard all over the country and it's really just a small group in each area that say, yes, this is important and I want to do my part. So can we count on you? We'll say thank you for becoming a new Harvest partner with a copy of Pastor Greg's book, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. We'll only be mentioning this a short time longer, so call us at 1-800-821-3300.
That's a 24-7 phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to harvest.org slash partner. 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, next time more insight from Pastor Greg's study called How to Be an Encourager. 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 / 2023-03-05 19:45:56 / 2023-03-05 19:55:40 / 10