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How to Live a Meaningful Life | Giving It Your All

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
September 9, 2022 3:00 am

How to Live a Meaningful Life | Giving It Your All

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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September 9, 2022 3:00 am

In any gym, there are people there who are just getting it done . . . a certain number of reps, a certain duration of time, and–whew!–they’re done, and they’re gone. And there are others who push themselves, and they give it their all! And it shows. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out that this life is too important to muddle through. The Lord wants us to run this race with endurance, and to run this race to win. We’ll learn more about how to do that in Acts.

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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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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 Visit our all until the very end. In any gym, there are people there who are just getting it done. A certain number of reps, a certain duration of time, and then they're done.

They're out of here. And then there are others who push themselves, and they give it their all. And it shows. Well today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out this life is too important to muddle through. The Lord wants us to run this race with endurance and to run this race to win. We'll learn more about how to do that in Acts. So now we're in Paul's third missionary journey. God is using him powerfully, and miracles are happening. Acts 19 verse 11 says, God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles when handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people. They were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.

Stop there. So the emphasis says unusual miracles. These are not your normal miracles. Actual garments that have touched Paul are now being used by God to heal people. There was no healing power in something Paul wore. But it seems that in the minds of the people there was sort of a faith release, if you will, where they thought, if I just touch this shirt that Paul wore, this robe or whatever it would be, I too will be healed.

We see a similar situation in the story of the woman with the medical condition causing her to constantly bleed. And she reasoned, if I can touch the very edge of the garment of Jesus, I will be healed. Now Jesus didn't say that.

He didn't promise that. But she thought that. And sure enough, he's walking through a crowd of people. She reaches her hand through. She touches his robe. And suddenly the healing power of God is released in her life, and she's healed right there on the spot. But it's interesting to note how Jesus healed different people. Sometimes they touched him, like the woman I mentioned. Other times he touched them.

Other times he spoke the Word and they were healed. On one occasion a person was blind. He spit in the dirt and wiped the dirt with his spit in the guy's eye. Here's mud in your eye, buddy. Wow. Now what would you think if you came and asked me for prayer and I spit on the dirt?

What would you, oh no. You're not going to pray for me that way, are you? But the point is that the techniques, if you will, vary. So people would realize it's not in the technique. It's not in the garment.

It's not in the touch. It's from God himself. And by the way, God is still in the healing business.

And when we need a touch from the Lord, we should call out to the Lord and ask him to heal us. So whenever God is at work, the devil would be there to oppose. So the devil effectively enters the scene through a group of guys identified as the seven sons of Sceva. So this man Sceva has seven sons and they fancy themselves to be exorcists.

They think they can cast demons out of people. But they were not the magnificent seven. They were the foolish seven, as we see now in the story. Because they thought the name of Jesus was like some kind of an incantation or magic words, if uttered, would heal people. Go to Acts 19, verse 13. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in their incantation, saying, I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches to come out. The evil spirit replied, I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you? Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence they fled from the house naked and battered.

Wow. Don't mess with demons. So there's three takeaway truths from this little story.

Probably more, but here's three quick ones. Number one, Satan is real and powerful. And demons are real and powerful. And people can still be possessed by demons today. And it's interesting that this man who was possessed by the demons had supernatural physical strength. I mean, he takes on seven dudes and they leave the house stripped of their clothing and just running for their lives. We see the same thing illustrated in that man who was demon possessed who lived at the graveyard. And at night he would walk around shrieking and howling.

And they put him in chains and he broke the chains. So the devil is powerful. Never take the devil on in your own strength. That's why the Bible says in Ephesians 6, stand in the Lord and in the power of his might. Number two, the power of Jesus is much stronger than the power of Satan. Because it's kind of scary to think how powerful the devil can be, but it's really encouraging to know that Jesus is way more powerful.

Way more powerful, right? Jesus said, all power has been given to me in heaven and in earth. So we serve an all powerful God.

And the third thing is the best defense is a good offense. The Bible says, submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. You see, the problem with the sons of Sceva is they had no relationship with God. They just said, in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches. And the demon's response is almost humorous. Jesus I definitely know.

Paul I know, but who are you? It reminds us that the devil knows those who are a threat to his kingdom. So he knows, oh that person, that man, that woman, they're a problem. They're a threat. I'm going to focus my energies on them. Remember when Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, Simon, Satan has been asking excessively for you that you would be taken out of the care.

And protection of God. Will that freak you out if Jesus said that to you? You're just hanging out. All of a sudden he turns to you. Says your name twice. Satan has been asking for you by name.

Maybe he paused for a moment. Peter's shaking in his sandals. But then the Lord adds these words. But I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail. So yeah, the devil may come asking, but Jesus is going to answer the door.

Okay, so don't worry about it. But if you're a threat to the kingdom of Satan, the demons will be aware of you as they were in this story. After this, Paul is preaching a sermon. He's going pretty long. He's preaching until midnight.

So don't ever complain about me going like nine minutes too long, okay? It's midnight and he's still going. And there's some guy named Eutychus on the third floor of the building Paul was in sitting on the windowsill. Eutychus nodded off, fell out of the window to his death. Someone says, Paul, Eutychus just died. He fell out of the window. Paul said, he's okay.

He's just sleeping. Take me to him. They go over. Eutychus is dead. Paul raises him from the dead. And then like any self-respecting preacher, what does Paul do after that? He finishes his sermon.

He still had a few more points to cover, right? So there's that amazing story. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We love hearing from our listeners. Whether it's a short word or they take some time to tell us what's going on, we read every word. Pastor Greg, I'm thankful for your devotions and tweets each day.

They always seem to have a direct impact on what I'm going through. And that is indeed the case today. Thank you for staying true to the word through all these years. I can trust your teachings and that's golden to me. Thank you, Greg.

How have these studies in God's word touched your life? If you have a story to share, why not call us and tell us about it? Call 866-871-1144.

That's 866-871-1144. Well, you're joining us today for Pastor Greg's study in Acts called How to Live a Meaningful Life. Get a replay of any part of this insight at Now we shift gears in the story as we come to Acts chapter 20. As I said, Paul is saying goodbye to these leaders. You know, it's worth noticing that this is the only teaching sermon in the book of Acts. All the other sermons that were preached were evangelistic in nature. But in this particular message given to the elders at Miletus, a little seaport there, he is giving final words to followers of the Lord.

And so let's pick it up. Acts 20 verse 17. When we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church of Ephesus asking them to come and meet him. When they arrived, he declared, You know from the day I set foot in this province of Asia until now, I have done the Lord's work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews.

I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike. The necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God and having faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don't know what awaits me except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lay ahead. None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Wow. Five categories Paul identifies that we are in. Things that we are doing. First of all, Paul compares himself to a runner in a race. So I want to finish this race, he says, with joy. This was a favorite analogy of the apostle. The idea of running a race.

He used it many times in his writings. For instance, over in 1 Corinthians 9 24 he reminded us that we must run to win in the race of life. He said in a race everyone runs but only one person gets a prize. You should run in such a way that you will win. Run to win. Run for first place. Not for honorable mention. You know in schools today or in athletic events they will give participation trophies.

This is not good. There are winners and losers in a race. And there are winners and losers in the race of life. And we should go for the gold.

Silver is good, so is bronze. But definitely give it your best effort. Run that race to win. He also warns us about getting off track in the race of life when he writes to the believers in Galatia. And in Galatians 5 70 he says, you guys were running a good race who cut in on you from obeying the truth.

So you know when we are running this race try to run with people that have the same passion that you have. Let me put it another way. Hang around with godly people and do godly things. Don't hang around with ungodly people which will lead you to do ungodly things. Someone as happy as a man that does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in God's Word.

So there are godless people, scornful people. People that will slow you down in the race of life. So it is a good thing to periodically evaluate relationships you are engaged in. And this is a big one for you guys that are single. You know when you are looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with look for a godly man or a godly girl.

Someone who inspires you. Years ago I told my wife before we were married when she was, she wasn't even my girlfriend yet. But we were getting close. And I said this really romantic thing to her. I said Kathy if you ever get in the way of my relationship with God you are out of here. Wow.

You are thinking that was the craziest thing you could have said Greg. The fact of the matter is that is the best thing I could have said to Kathy Martin. That was her name then. She said I was looking for a guy who had conviction.

A guy who knew where he was going in life. I wasn't looking for a guy that I could manipulate. Ah admission. Sometimes girls manipulate guys.

It happens. Anyway I was thinking for a godly man. So you know the idea is that we should spend our time with people that will encourage us. Here is sort of a way to think about it. Of this relationship. Of this pursuit you are involved in. Is it a wing or is it a weight?

Does it help you go faster like a wing or does it slow you down like a weight? So don't let someone else cut in on you. Paul also warns in Philippians 3 about looking back in the race of life.

You know you have got to look forward. It is a bad idea to look over your shoulder. That half of a second could cost you the race. You know when you are driving on the freeway. And have you ever noticed that if there is a cop. A CHP driving ahead of you. You always slow down.

No one wants to pass the CHP right? And even if they are under the speed limit. You go under the speed limit. If they slow down to 20 we will all slow down to 20.

Right? Sometimes I think they do that just to mess with us. I wonder if I go slower if they will all go slower. But the problem is sometimes if you are driving and you look in your rearview mirror.

And you see a police officer driving behind you. You know you get focused on that. You are not paying attention to where you are going. In the race of life you have got to always be looking forward and not looking backwards. Because the first step to going back is looking back. Remember Jesus said remember Lot's wife.

Three words. Remember Lot's wife. Why should I remember Lot's wife?

Because after she was delivered by the angel of the Lord from Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot's wife along with Lot and their children were warned. Don't look back.

And she deliberately looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt. Jesus said no man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God. So in the race of life keep looking forward. Not looking backwards. And then Paul says I want to finish this race with joy in verse 23.

I love that. Not just finish the race. Finish the race with joy. I have never felt joy when I am running.

I have only felt pain. But he goes I want to finish this with joy. So I have been running this race for over 50 years now. And I am going to tell you a little secret. It is a joyful thing to serve God.

I love it. Don't lose your joy. After his sin David said in Psalm 51 a psalm of confession. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation. And then sinners will be converted to you. Isaiah 55 says you shall go out with joy. You will be led forth with peace. And the mountains and the hills will break forth before you into singing.

And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. And then we are also told in Nehemiah 8 10 the joy of the Lord is your strength. Paul says I want to finish this with joy. Do you have joy? Do other people see that joy in your life?

It is really important. Again what David said restore to me the joy of your salvation. Then sinners will be converted to you. A nonbeliever sees you having joy not just when things are going well. But when things are going badly that is a powerful testimony. Paul also points out that as we run the race of life we need to play by the rules. He says in 1 Corinthians 9 27 I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I discipline my body like an athlete training it to do what it should.

Otherwise my fear is after I preach to others I would be a hypocrite. And I would be disqualified. So when you enter into a race or whatever it is there are rules. These are the rules. Do you agree to play by the rules?

Yes. I read about one guy that entered a marathon and he agreed to play by the rules. And they noticed that when the race was coming to a close this guy comes across the finish line.

No sweat. He was just acting like he had not done anything. And he won the bronze. And someone complained and they found out the guy had started the race. Ran through the forest. Got on a bus. Went to the place where the race ended. Got off the bus and then ran across the finish line.

Needless to say he was disqualified. So we have got to play by God's rules. That is the way to do it. And we want to run all the way because it is not just starting this race well. It is finishing this race well. I have found that the best way to run well in the race of life is to have a good motivation. Why am I doing it?

What is my objective? And the author of Hebrews. Many think it was Paul.

I would think that too. But we don't know for certain. But the author of Hebrews tells us the secret. He says, We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses so let's lay aside the weight and the sin that so easily besets us and run with endurance the race that is set before us looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and now is set down at the right hand of God.

So that is how you look to Jesus. I don't run this race for people. I don't run it for applause. I don't run it for likes on my social media.

I don't run it for any of those things. I started it this way and I hope to end it this way. I am doing it for Jesus and that is what will keep you going no matter what you are facing. Because people will let you down.

People will disappoint you. Circumstances will overwhelm you. Just keep your eyes on the prize and specifically keep your eyes on the Lord. In fact that is what kept Jesus going. Because it says for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross. What was the joy set before Jesus? The apostles were pretty much in hiding.

John was present at the cross but most of the others were hiding in the shadows. Peter even denied him. The crowds were cheering him.

Insulting him. But something kept Jesus going. It was the joy set before him. And folks the joy was you. It was me.

It was us. It was knowing that our salvation would be purchased through his death on the cross. So we are a runner in a race. Great encouragement to keep us going in our Christian life. Pastor Greg Laurie with our studies in Acts chapters 19 and 20 today here on A New Beginning. Well Pastor Greg we are excited to make available your book on Revelation.

Yes. Now many Bible students know that Revelation promises a blessing to those who read, hear, and keep the words of this book. That's right. So it seems even the Bible acknowledges that Revelation is no ordinary Bible study.

That's right. It stands out from every other book of the Bible. Of course it's the final book at the end of your Bible. And the word Revelation means unveiling because it's not God's desire to conceal but to reveal. And Bible prophecy is not given to scare us but to prepare us. And there is a special blessing attached to this book in particular.

And it's in the first chapter of Revelation. And that promise is blessed is the person that reads, hears, and keeps the words of this book. So David it's interesting because that phrase read means to read out loud. So there's a blessing on you if you will simply read this book but then it says you must hear it. You know Jesus would often say he that has ears to hear let him hear.

Our amount of vernacular would be listen up, pay attention. So I have to read it, I have to hear it, and then finally I need to keep it. Meaning I need to take these truths in this book and apply them in their own life.

When we study Bible prophecy it's not just to know more about the future but it's for us to know how we should live in the present. And I've written a book simply called Revelation subtitled A Book of Promises. This is a thick book. This is a hardcover book that will be a resource that you can go to again and again. Here's what I've had a lot of people say to me for the first time I understood how this book applied to me.

I think this is a very understandable book, a very relevant book especially for the times in which we are living. So for your gift of any size we're offering you this book Revelation A Book of Promises. So whatever you can send to help our ministry is greatly appreciated. This helps us to get the gospel out, get the teaching of the word of God out. So order your copy of this book available from Harvest Ministries right now. Yeah that's right and we'll rush a copy back to you to thank you for your investment in these daily teaching opportunities.

It's only through listener support that we can continue to come your way. So get in touch today for Pastor Greg's book Revelation A Book of Promises. And by the way we're including a custom bookmark along with the book. It shows the timeline of God's end times events graphically.

It helps you see the order of events very clearly. It comes automatically with the book. So send your donation today to A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, CA 92514. Or call us at 1-800-821-3300.

We can take your call anytime 24 hours a day at 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to You know there's 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 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 Well next time we'll return to Acts chapter 20 for more insight on how we can live a meaningful life. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Warre. 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
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