You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.
Sign up at harvest.org. What do all these people need? Young people, middle-aged people, older people. They all need a word of encouragement. They need to know that their lives matter.
People tend to listen to matters we talk about when what we talk about matters to them. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie says encouragement is always welcome. There's nothing as refreshing as an encouraging word or deed.
It's like a fresh drink of water on a hot summer day. The gospel can be an uncomfortable message. It's a message of sin and its consequences, but of course the remedy found in the Lord's sacrifice. But that discussion can be so effective in an atmosphere of encouragement.
It's what their heart needs wrapped in what their heart wants. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how to be an encourager in the tradition of Barnabas. As we study the book of Acts today, we'll see how we can follow in his reassuring footsteps. So I heard about a group of frogs that were walking through the forest. Why, you're laughing already. I haven't even told the story yet. Anyway, a group of frogs are walking through the forest and two of the frogs fall into this pit. The other frogs look over the side and they yell to the frogs at the bottom of the pit, you're as good as dead. You're never going to get out of there. Well, the frogs didn't want to stay in the pit and they started to jump and jump and jump. And the frogs up on the top said, you're not going to make it. You're not going to get up here. You're never going to get out of that pit.
You're going to die. And one of the frogs got so discouraged he just laid down and died. But the other frog would not give up. He kept jumping, jumping, jumping, jumping. Finally he jumps out of the pit. The other frogs say, didn't you hear us? We told you you couldn't get out of the pit. He said, sorry, I'm hard of hearing and I thought you were cheering for me. This is a true story.
And then I stepped on the frog and killed him. No, I did not. So that's sad, isn't it? It's all fake.
Okay. I bring this up because we live in a time now where there's just so much discouragement. So many people discouraging you and me each and every day. If you don't believe me, just go on social media and specifically on Twitter.
All the trolls out there with just their anger and hostility and attacks. You'll never make it. You'll never succeed. You'll never be the person you want to be.
They bully you online and on and on it goes. And this is why so many people are affected in an adverse way. I think it's affecting the mental health of our nation, especially young people. Depression rates among 14 to 17 year olds has grown 60% from 2009 to 2017.
That's really a lot. Suicide rates among young people have doubled in a decade. And 43% of millennials and Gen Zs are very concerned about their mental health. But it's not just young people that are facing this depression. It's affecting older people too.
People who are getting on in years feel left out, forgotten, unappreciated. They're seeking hope, wanting their lives to matter because they're dealing with struggles. Maybe their health is failing.
Maybe they've lost a mate or they're struggling with some kind of an illness. Suicide is up among older folks as well. Men who are 65 or older are the highest risk of suicide today. Adults 85 and older are the second most likely age group to die from suicide. So what do all these people need? Young people, middle-aged people, older people. They all need a word of encouragement.
They need to know that their lives matter. I can still remember discouraging things that were said to me as a kid when I was in high school. I didn't get very good grades I have to tell you. And so one teacher wrote this little commentary on my report card right next to D, C, D, F, et cetera. Greg Laurie spends too much time sitting in the classroom staring at the window daydreaming and drawing cartoons. And then she offered this encouraging word.
He will never amount to anything. Thank you for those encouraging words. When I was in elementary school I became a little bit of a troublemaker. I was sent to military school for a few years.
And boy I tell you what they got me in shape. I mean I was a good boy because you would get into big trouble including being swatted with a giant wooden paddle if you got out of line. I was on the honor roll. I was a good cadet marching around in my little uniform. But then when I got out of military school and went into the public school system of California and realized how much I could get away with I went from honor roll student cadet to juvenile delinquent. And it was so bad that one teacher in a classroom next to mine hearing of the constant harassment I dealt toward my teacher said to her class I would like to take Greg Laurie and bury him up to his neck in the sand in the blazing sun and watch the ants eat him alive. The kids told me this after the class and I actually thought that was kind of cool. I don't know what was. Really?
She said that about me? But you know encouragement really matters. 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. 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. Enter Barnabas. Enter Mr. Encouragement. Barnabas says oh you are a believer for sure. I have 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 is discipling Saul. He is teaching Saul later to become Paul.
He sees the potential. Acts chapter 9 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 am vouching for this guy. He is a real Christian. And that is 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. And your words matter and your encouragement matters.
And let's review the Great Commission. Jesus speaking. Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo I am with you even to the end of the age. It is given to every Christian. It is given to you. It is given to me. And it is interesting because in that statement lo I am with you even to the end of the age contextually in the original language it is implying that Jesus will be with us in a special way when we are fulfilling the Great Commission.
That is not to say He won't be with us all the time because He said I will never leave you or forsake you. But it is to say Jesus speaking I will be with you when you do this. I will open doors for you. I will put words in your mouth. I will direct you to the right people.
I will be with you. So your job, your mission should you decide to accept it is to go and make disciples teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. So Barnabas did this for the newly converted Saul. And God wants you to do this for somebody else. Because there are people that need your help right now. People that are hurting. People that have fallen spiritually. James 5 19 says brothers if any of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back remember that whoever churns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.
I love that. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there is nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together. So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well we're getting some good counsel on the importance of encouragement today.
Pastor Greg continues his study based in Acts chapter 11. Now sometimes what people need is just a friend. You don't have to know all the answers. They think we think I have to be a theologian.
No you don't. You can get on the job training. You can learn what you need to learn as you need it. But you can get in there and just engage in what I like to describe as a ministry of presence. Just being there. Let's say someone is in a hospital room and they are in pain and they are in need.
Sometimes just being there. You don't need a sermon. Everything isn't a sermon. You might be surprised to hear me say that because I am a preacher right. But there is a time to sermonize. And then there is a time to just empathize and just care and offer the appropriate scriptures at the right time.
And here is another thing to think about. Whatever you are going through in life is preparing you for something else and He can take the pain of your life and use it. Look I wouldn't wish my childhood on anyone. But now I use it as a tool to help other people because they will tell me about their upbringing and I will say well here was my upbringing and here is what God did for me and He can do this for you. And having my son go to be with the Lord in 2008 if I could bring him back I would do it in a moment. But I realize that this happened.
I don't know why it happened. But I will not waste my pain. And I use it as a tool now to help other people who have heard the devastating news that their child has died or their spouse has died or a loved one has died. And so I know that I can come and just help them through that.
I don't really have that much to say. But if I can in some way shape or form help them through that difficult time that is what I want to do. We all want to be that encourager because there is nothing as refreshing as an encouraging word or deed.
It is like a fresh drink of water on a hot summer day. Proverbs 25 25 says good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty. I think encouragement may be the greatest need in our world today.
That brings me to my second point. If you want to be an encourager you will help other Christians grow in their faith. If you want to be an encourager you will help other Christians grow in their faith. So Barnabas and Paul went on a missionary journey together. And it became pretty clear that Paul had a great gift to preach. Even greater than Barnabas's gift. So Barnabas sort of stepped aside and let Paul do what he did. He was doing his job well. Now they did have a conflict.
And we will talk about this later. And they parted ways as friends. But they did part ways. But the point of it is Barnabas had done his job. What was his job? To disciple Paul. To help Paul get acclimated to the church.
To help Paul discover cultivate and use the gifts that God had given to him. Once that was done now Barnabas can exit the scene and go do it again. That is our job. It is sort of like wash rinse repeat.
Right. In the same way preach encourage disciple repeat. Preach encourage disciple repeat. You just do it over and over again for as many people as you can.
Mr. Encouragement. Here is an instance in Acts chapter 11 now. The verse we turned to. When they dispatched Barnabas for a special project. God was working. People were coming to Christ. And they said, hey let's send Mr.
Encouragement over there. Acts 11 22. When the church of Jerusalem heard what had happened they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God's blessing he was filled with joy and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man. Full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith.
And many people were brought to the Lord. I love that he was a good man. Full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. Let that be said of you that you are a good man.
A good woman. Full of the Holy Spirit. Encouraging others. And I love the word that Barnabas gave to the believers there. He encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. And I want to encourage you to do the same right now. Stay true to the Lord. Hold the course that you are on.
Don't deviate from it to the left or the right. I have mentioned Chuck Smith a couple of times in this message. There is one left.
Last story. I was having lunch with him once. He said, we are sitting there. I said, Chuck if an older Chuck could speak to a younger Chuck what would you say to yourself? And Chuck said, Greg will you stop asking me these stupid questions.
I just want to eat my food. No. He didn't say that. But he should have. He said hold the course. What he meant was just stay on that path that you are on. And don't get off that path. And that is what Barnabas was saying to the believers.
He encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Let me close with this. Hold your course. I know it is hard. Maybe you have hit a rough patch. Maybe there are some problems. Maybe you have stumbled and you have fallen in the gip of the cross.
Maybe you have stumbled and you have fallen and you get back up again. God gives second chances and He will see you through whatever you are going through because He is bigger than your problem. It is going to get better. But you know I mentioned in the beginning of this message that there are some that are so down. They are so discouraged. They have even thought of taking their lives. And let me just say if I am talking to anyone who has entertained those thoughts please reject them.
Push them out of your mind. Because you are loved by a lot of people. More than you know. You are needed. You are wanted. And best of all you are loved by God. And no matter what things you have done wrong He will forgive you.
But you must come to Him. Don't even think of taking your own life. Instead give your life to Jesus Christ. And you will find life. Jesus said whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. What does that even mean? To lose your life means I take my dreams, my aspirations, my hopes and I say this is what I would like to do but Lord I want your will more than my will. Even if there is a conflict.
I want it. And here is what you will discover. You will discover God's plans for you are far better than your plans for yourself. But it starts with giving your life to Jesus Christ.
And so I am going to close by extending an invitation to anybody here. If you are not sure if Jesus is living in your life if you haven't asked Him to forgive you of your sin it can happen right here right now. My whole life changed on a Friday in 1970. I didn't wake up in the morning and say hey I think that I will change my entire course of living and become a Christian and then maybe one day I will even become a preacher and lose all of my hair. That is my goal.
No. That thought did not cross my mind. But that is what God had in store for me. Who knows what God has in store for you. So we are going to close in prayer. And if you don't know Jesus yet this is your moment to come to Him and believe. Let's pray. Father thank You for Your Word to us.
Thank You for Your encouragement to us. And thank You for Your promise to us. The promise to forgive us of all of our sins if we will turn from them and put our faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sin and rose again from the dead. I pray for any person here if they don't know You yet Lord let this be the moment they believe. If you want Jesus Christ to come into your life and forgive you of your sin just pray this simple prayer. Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that You're the Savior who died on the cross for me. I turn from my sin now and I choose to follow You. I want Your will for my life. I ask this now in Jesus' name. Amen.
An important moment in the lives of so many listening right now. Pastor Greg Laurie praying a prayer with those who are asking Jesus to be their Savior today. And if you've just prayed that prayer and you've meant those words sincerely, well we want to help you begin to live this new life of faith. Pastor Greg wants to send you his New Believers Growth Packet. It's free of charge and it'll help answer some questions you might have and get you started off right as you walk with the Lord. So ask for it when you call 1-800-821-3300.
We can take your call anytime that's 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4,000 Riverside, California 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg, we know many of our listeners tune us in on a regular basis and we'd like to invite them to consider helping us on a regular basis. Isn't that right? Yeah.
I heard somebody say if you're going to eat at the table you should help stock the refrigerator. Yeah, very true. And you know there's a lot of effort that goes into producing this time of teaching you hear every day via radio or podcast and it's something that's very important to us and we know it changes lives. We know that people come to Christ as a result of listening to a new beginning and we know more are going to come to Christ but we can't get to them without your help. See this is an effort that we all do together as a team or going back to your analogy Dave as a family. Doing it together as a family so we can add more people to God's eternal family. So would you prayerfully consider investing in Harvest Ministries financially? In doing so you will become a Harvest partner if you offer to us a reoccurring gift and what that means is you give us a gift each and every month and that enables us to be a part of and that enables us to respond to opportunities that come our way to reach new people with the gospel. Listen here's our objective we want to reach unexpected people in unexpected places with an unexpected message. So help us to do that and become a Harvest partner.
Here's Dave to tell you a little bit more. Yeah that's right you can choose the amount of a gift you send each month it's totally up to you and we have some special ways to say thanks to our Harvest partners each month. Right now we're sending Pastor Greg's book Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon to our new partners. With so much going on in our world right now you know with an alarming amount of tension and divisiveness and hopelessness we want to reach out as far as we can with the hope of the gospel and so we're inviting new Harvest partners to team up with us to meet the need. Can we count you in? 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 and we'll only be able to mention this resource 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 partner and while you're online with us why not begin receiving Pastor Greg's daily devotions via email every day they're free of charge we'll send them to the email address you provide for us and when they arrive you can read them or with one click listen to the audio version sign up today free of charge at harvest.org well next time Pastor Greg addresses a challenging subject tune in for a message called why do Christians have to suffer 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
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