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 harvest.org. We live in a time where everyone has so much expectation. They expect everything to revolve around them, everyone to cater to them, and the Bible teaches the opposite. Hey, if you want to be a happy person, think of others before yourself. Wouldn't it be a remarkable world if everyone tried to out-give one another? If we saw someone in need, we automatically took care of it. We were always looking for ways to help. But we don't live in a culture of givers.
It seems like we live in a culture of takers. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see how a spirit of generosity is part of the prescription for living a more meaningful life. We're considering the Apostle Paul's counsel about living in a way that honors God. This is the day, the day when life begins. We're looking at Paul's words to the elders or leaders of Ephesus.
This is the last time he would ever speak to them. So he's giving to them his final message and sum up what really matters in life. And he also compares the Christian to five different categories of people or pursuits. And what we need to be thinking about is followers of Jesus.
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've 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 in 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're doing. First of all, Paul compares himself to a runner in a race. So I want to finish this race, he says, with joy. Not just finish the race, finish this with joy. So I've been running this race for over 50 years now and I'm going to tell you a little secret. It is a joyful thing to serve God. I love it.
Don't lose your joy. Number two, Paul compares himself to a steward. A steward. In verse 24 he says this ministry I've received from the Lord. So a steward owns little or nothing.
They just serve their master. And it's very important to be reminded of the fact that everything you have has been given to you from God. Right? Everything. The ability to breathe, that's a gift from God.
Because someone's struggling right now trying to get that next breath, maybe they're in a hospital. The beat of your heart, that too is a gift from God. Your family is a gift from God. All of your resources, the roof you live under, the clothes you wear, those are all a gift from God. First Corinthians 6 20 says you're not your own, you are bought with the price so glorify God in your body and in your spirit which belong to God. So it's all come to me from the Lord. I'm just a steward.
Everything I have is a loan from God. So I want to use it for his glory. Number three, Paul compares himself to a witness. So he's a steward, now he's a witness.
Verse 24, testifying of the grace of God. Testifying. So I'm a witness. So let's think about maybe you see a fender bender and the police come and you're an eye witness.
So they interview you, what did you see? It's not my job to exaggerate or make stuff up or make it more interesting. My job is actually just to tell the officer what I saw and then if I'm called to give testimony in a court of law it's very important that I tell the truth.
Because a person's future could be affected by what I say. So in the same way as a witness, an eye witness, I'm testifying of what I have seen and what I know. It's interesting because it's implied in the original language to solemnly give witness.
This is a serious thing. I am to declare God's truth to people even if it's not comfortable. And sometimes there are things we don't necessarily want to say but we need to say because they're in the Bible.
Right? So we have to tell people the truth because we want them to get close to God and not be separated from him by some kind of sin. So we give testimony. John said that which we have seen and heard we declare to you that you may have fellowship with God.
So we have seen and heard these things. But then Paul compares himself to a herald. A herald. Verse 25.
You know I have gone among you preaching the kingdom of God and you will see my face no more. So a witness talks about what has happened to him. In contrast the herald tells others what the king has told him to tell.
So I'm an eyewitness but I'm also to herald it. To broadcast it. To proclaim it to others. Not just be a good example. You want to do that.
But to tell others how they too can become a follower of Jesus. When I was a little kid I had a paper route. I had a pretty cool bike too. It was a Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat. Do you know what a banana seat is? Anyway but my unique feature on my bicycle was I had a stick shift. They don't make those anymore for obvious reasons. Very dangerous. Who puts a stick shift on a bicycle?
Well Schwinn used to. And I had my bags there and I had all of my newspapers on my bag. And I got pretty adept at throwing those papers.
You know kind of the sideways thing over the edge. Or just an underhand throw or whatever it was. Or an overhand throw really hard at that one customer who never tipped me. And there were many of those people. Here here's two pennies.
Go away. So my job as a paper boy was. This sounds so deeded now doesn't it? Because we get all our news online. And I was a paper boy.
I feel like I came from the 1700's. But anyway my job as a paper boy was not to write the news. It wasn't to make the news. It was to deliver the news. Our job as heralds of Christ is to proclaim this message to others and deliver the good news. Now Paul says in verse 27. I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. The job of a pastor is to teach the Word of God. It's to feed the flock of God for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry. So my job is to teach the Bible and that's why we do that here.
And we've done that for so many years. Finally point number five. Paul compares himself to a watchman. Verse 26 I testify to you this day I'm innocent of the blood of all men.
What does it mean to be innocent of the blood of all men? Well over in the book of Ezekiel chapter three the Lord speaks to the prophet. And he says I've appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Same word.
Watchman. And when you receive a message from me pass it on to the people immediately if I warn the wicked saying you're under the penalty of death. But if you fail to deliver this warning they will die in their sins and I will hold you responsible demanding your blood for theirs. So when Paul says I am innocent of the blood of all men it simply means I've delivered the message as I've been told to.
I've done the job God has given me to do. Now Paul gives us the motivation for doing all these things in verse 35 of Acts 20. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus when he said it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Ah that's so true. You know when you learn to be a generous person with everything that God gives you God will bless you for it.
This word blessed could also be translated happy. So another way to translate this is you'll be a happier person if you give instead of always wanting to receive. And we live in a time where everyone has so much expectation. They expect everything to revolve around them.
Everyone to cater to them. And the Bible teaches the opposite. Hey if you want to be a happy person do the opposite. Think of others before yourself. We have three basic things we can all give to God. They are talent, treasure, and time. First you give your talent to the Lord. Everybody has talent.
Some kind of talent. And everybody has treasure. Some measure of treasure.
Those are your finances. And then your time. Every day you have time that you can invest serving the Lord or not.
So we want to give those things over to Him. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. What 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 glad you're joining us today for Pastor Greg's message in the book of Acts called How to Live a Meaningful Life. So let's recap and close. We're runners in a race. As verse 24 told us Paul wanted to finish his race with joy and the ministry he received. We run to win. Number two we're stewards or servants. Our sole responsibility is to please and serve our master. Thirdly we're witnesses as in a court of law. We are to solemnly give witness realizing the profound implications of our testimony. Fourthly we're heralds. The herald in contrast to a witness tells the message the king has told him to declare and finally we're watchmen. We are to declare the truth of God to others. If you do these things you will live a meaningful life. And the title of this message was How to Live a Meaningful Life.
This was Paul's last message to these people. What if you were going to be giving your last message? What would you talk about?
What would you focus on? I remember I asked Chuck Smith this question once. Chuck if you were going to give one last message what text would you speak on? He said John 3 16. John 3 16 we all know that one right?
For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. So one day you're going to give your final message. And I don't mean a sermon but you'll say your final words. You'll declare to your family and loved ones that which mattered to you. One day you're going to have your final meal. One day you're going to have your final moment on planet earth.
What would your final message be? Billy Graham wrote a book called Nearing Home Toward the End of His Life. He was 94 when he wrote it. He went to heaven at the age of 99. We all thought he might make it to 100.
He came just short of it. But in this interview for his book that he had written called Nearing Home Billy said quote. God doesn't want us to waste our latter years or spend them in superficial meaningless pursuits.
Instead he wants us to use them in whatever ways we can to influence those that will come after us. End quote. Those are great words. Finish with joy.
That's the idea. So we always want to run with joy because we don't know when it's going to be our last race or our last moment. So you run this race with joy.
You run it to win it. I love the story of Caleb in the Old Testament. He was this old guy who initially went into the promised land with Joshua as spies.
And so they kind of looked, checked out what was happening in this land of Canaan and what their challenges would be. And they went back and gave a report to Moses. And there were 12 that went in in total. Joshua and Caleb were two and then the other 10. The 10 that went in there were filled with unbelief. All these people are gigantic. We were like grasshoppers in their side. If we go in we will all die. And Joshua and Caleb said, now the Lord will give us the strength.
Let's go for it. Moses was swayed by the 10. They didn't quite make it in as soon as they should have. It took them 40 years which should have taken them no more than 40 days.
Meaning they were going around in circles. Well now they are coming back into the promised land and Caleb is in his 80s. And he says to Joshua who is now in charge, I am as strong this day as the day the Lord called me.
Now give me this mountain. And he raised up his bony old man arm. Maybe shook it a little bit.
And everyone looked at him and said, yeah he probably is. He is still a tough guy. Still a strong man.
But he had faith in God to the very end. You can do that. We can all do that. But again as they said earlier, you decide the evening of your life by the morning of it.
The end by the beginning. So don't say, oh you know when I am really old like 50 I will really commit myself to Christ. But up until that point I am going to just live the way I want to live.
Bad decision. Because number one you don't have a guarantee you will make it to 50 or 40 or 30. But then again you can establish bad habit patterns that you will not break free from.
So do it now. Serve the Lord in your youth. As Solomon said, remember the Creator in the days of your youth. I made my commitment to Christ at the age of 17. And I am so glad I did. And there is not one thing that I feel I have missed as a result of doing that.
But so many things I have gained because I followed Christ. So that is for you younger folks. Now you older folks, first of all, wake up. Because you may have dozed off. And let me say this to you.
Now your objective is to finish this race with joy. Maybe you have slowed down a little bit. Maybe you have lost that joy. Maybe you have been sidetracked. Maybe you have just gotten tired and you are just talking about retirement all the time. And I just want to kick back and just retire. I just ordered my La-Z-Boy. Well it is time to get off your big fat La-Z-Boy. And what did you think I was going to say? And serve the Lord.
Because you have been called by God. Moses didn't really get started until he was like 80. He is a late bloomer for sure. Whatever your age is, young, old, somewhere in between. Let's get back in this race. We are heralds. We are witnesses. We are runners.
We want to run it with joy and finish it well. Listen, the greatest legacy you can pass on to your children and grandchildren is not your money. In fact I have seen situations as you have where people who maybe are wealthy have passed those things on.
And we have seen multiple generations of children, trust fund babies we might call them, have their lives ruined. The greatest thing you can pass on to your children and grandchildren is not your money or other material things. The greatest legacy you can pass on to them is the legacy of your character and your faith. That is the thing we pass on. Because one day our most precious things will fit in a hospital drawer.
And the only wealth that will endure is that which has been invested in others for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel. So if you were going to give your last message, what would it be? You need to be prepared. You never know when that moment will come.
Just be prepared. And I don't say this to freak you out or depress you. Because Paul said, hey, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I am living for Christ in each and every day. If this is my last day, okay, great, I will be in heaven.
But until that day, I want to make every day count. Because heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. And the Bible says, prepare to meet your God. Are you prepared? In closing, let me ask you this question. Do you know with certainty that you will go to heaven when you die?
If you don't know that, you can know it right now. Let me come back to that verse that Pastor Chuck said. He would base his last sermon on. John 3 16. For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
That is the good news in a nutshell. God loved you. He sent his son to die for you. If you will believe in him, you will not perish and be separated from God. You'll have everlasting life.
It's a gift that God offers. And if any of you listening here, watching, or wherever you are, if you are not sure that Christ is living in your life, you can ask him to come and forgive you of your sin right here, right now. Let's pray. Father, I pray for any person who does not yet know you. Help them to see their need for you, and help them to come to you, we ask.
Amen. And then we want to mention Pastor Greg's compelling resource called Revelation, a Book of Promises. Pastor Greg, nearly everyone can think of a question they'd like to ask about the Book of Revelation, maybe something about the 144,000, or if believers will be here when the Antichrist is revealed. Will they find answers in your new book? One hundred percent, they will.
Let me just give quick answer to every one of those questions. Who are the 144,000? There are 144,000 Jewish people who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. There's sort of like 144,000 kosher Billy Grahams combing the planet, sharing the gospel, and they're under divine protection. And then you mentioned, will believers be here to see the Antichrist?
I think the simple answer is no. Because the Bible says, he who now restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way, and then will that wicked one be revealed whom the Lord will destroy with the brightness of his coming. The restraining force in the world today is the work of the Holy Spirit through the church. It is my opinion that Antichrists cannot be revealed until the church is removed. So we should not waste time looking for Antichrists, but instead be looking for Jesus Christ. So the main thing we want to focus on is being ready to meet the Lord.
So I answer those questions and a lot more in this book called Revelation, a book of promises. It's hardcover. This is a pretty thick book, folks.
And we're going to send it to you for your gift of any size. Because I believe this is going to be a resource that you can go to time and time again as you study this book. It's understandable. It's down to earth.
It's practical. I don't use a lot of theological language. I speak in a way that you can grasp it. And I want to send you this book again for your gift of any size. Whatever you can send, we'll use to reach more people with the gospel and the teaching of the word of God. And we so much appreciate that investment.
It's really an investment in touching and changing lives. So get in touch today with that donation. And we'll thank you with a copy of Pastor Greg's book, Revelation, a book of promises. And by the way, we'll include a bookmark designed by our team to show the timeline of end times events very clearly. What comes before what?
What comes after what? So write us today at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call us anytime around the clock at 1-800-821-3300. 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to Harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg, you pointed out the importance of asking Jesus to forgive our sins a few moments ago. Could you help those who want to do that very thing right now? Yeah, you know the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ stands at the door of our life and he knocks. And if any man will hear his voice and open the door, he will come in. Maybe as you've heard me speak today, well you've heard another voice speaking to you.
It's the voice of God. And you realize you need Christ in your life. You need your sin forgiven. You want the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die.
Well here's what you need to do. You need to pray. And I would like to lead you in a prayer right now where you will be saying to Jesus, Lord come into my life, I choose to follow you.
So let's pray. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I turn from that sin now and I put my faith in you. Be my Lord, my Savior, and my God, and my friend. I choose to follow you, Jesus, from this moment forward.
Thank you for loving me, and calling me, and accepting me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Listen, if you just prayed that prayer, I want you to know on the authority of scripture that Christ himself has come into your life. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
If you just prayed that prayer in minutes, you can know today you have eternal life. And may I be the first to say to you, welcome to the family of God. Yeah, and we want to help you grow as a believer. So let us send you our New Believers Growth Packet. We'll send it free of charge if you prayed with Pastor Greg today. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime.
Again, that's 1-800-821-3300. Or go to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well next time, Pastor Greg points out how we can have courage when we face opposition for doing the work 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.
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